A Chivalric (Mis)Adventure
As another round of duels wrapped up in the arena below, in the box overhead, a red-haired man gave a contemptuous huff, and the silver-haired elder seated next to him laughed. While the former Lord Marshal seemed quite pleased at the turnabout match that had concluded the set -- no wonder, given the victory had been performed with a Snow Incantation, a form of magic few other than Ser Ward could even use in the first place -- the head of the Eastern House was, predictably, disgusted.
It was no wonder, the raven-haired man mused, his armor clicking as he shifted in his chair. Though the other Knight-Commanders had donned more comfortable clothing for this little occasion, Commander Gilbert Tervellan alone had chosen to attend in full battle dress. Perhaps the others thought him foolish, or a mere braggart seeking to make an imposing first impression -- but Prince Laurentius, the Lord Marshal, had merely given him a wry, knowing smile and said no more.
Yes, it was no wonder indeed. Aside from a select few worthies, the lion's share of this year's candidates were lacking, by all objective measure -- moreso, even, than the usual fare of the previous years. Most of the commoners who weren't already known the order thanks to the prestige of their teachers or their victories in other, provincial tournaments were... well, just that. Common. At best, they knew how to hold a sword -- at worst, they didn't even seem to know how to swing it.
And even if things went according to plan, most, if not all of those nobodies were going to end up under his command. It was ironic, then, that Vallentin was the one complaining -- though, Tervellan supposed, he didn't know yet just how fortunate he was going to be. Not that he'd appreciate it, even if he did know.
But, his annoying co-worker aside, at least some of the nobodies made up in other fields for what they lacked in swordsmanship. The young man with the Snow element was only the most obvious in this regard. Really, some of them were quite inventive, actually. Though, that wasn't always a good thing. As if on cue, one of the matches down in the arena concluded rather abruptly as a short blonde boy who'd just moments before been running away from his opponent's wind incantations suddenly reversed directions, dashing headlong into him the moment he started chanting again. Before the taller youth could even finish his spell, the blonde had... thrown his cloak over the young man's head?
...Wait, why was it wrapping around his neck like that? Struggle though he might, forgetting not to drop his sword in the process, he couldn't seem to remove it, either. It was almost like something was --
A loud whack split the air as, blinded, muffled, and his concentration broken, the taller lad was knocked to the floor with a solid -- albeit utterly uncoordinated -- blow. And as he fell...
-- weighing it down.
From every pocket of the dislodged cloak, rough and heavy rocks began spilling out onto the floor, and though Tervellan couldn't make out all of the rather heated words between the boy and the horrified referee for his quarter, he could have sworn he heard the lad vehemently insisting that "You said we could bring our own weapons if they're blunt! These are blunt rocks! What's the problem?!"
The ref cast a glance up to the box, and it was only then that Tervellan realized the match had happened in the quarter flying his banner. He supposed it fell to him, then, to adjudicate. He raised a hand in acknowledgement, and gave a slight, authoritative nod. He'd respect the victory for no reason other than the fact that it had amused him -- but he also wouldn't allow such a thing to happen again. The referee seemed to adequately grasp his intentions, as a moment later, the fiery blonde's cloak had been confiscated and he was grumbling his way back over to the sidelines.
...He turned back to the other commanders. Laurentius looked like he wasn't sure whether to laugh or gape in confusion, and so had elected to do neither. Caius, on the other hand, had decided immediately upon the former and was laughing uproariously. "They might not be as skilled as last year's, but it seems this year's candidates aren't lacking in audacity!" He chortled.
Vallentin, on the other hand, mostly just looked like he wanted to strangle someone -- and whether it was the blonde boy who'd just committed such a dishonorable act in front of the entire crowd, or Tervellan himself for letting him get away with it, the raven-haired knight couldn't say for sure.
...But, well, he was going to be getting his pick of the dregs, anyway. He had to take what talents he could get -- even if those talents weren't those of a knight.
As the next set of contestants was announced, he sighed, sinking back into his seat with a creak and a clattering of mail. His hopes had been negligible, but, well... perhaps this year's worst candidates might surprise him, after all.