AOH – Chapter 10

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CHAPTER 10: NEW ENVIRONMENT

1007 AF WhiteMonth Day 68
They have finally arrived at the entrance of the Academy. They dismount from their horses.
“We’re arrived” I declare.
Kyle was looking at the distance. His face is pale, his hand twitching.
He must be nervous, I mused
“I’m going to call it” Suddenly Kyle spoke while holding his stomach
“Call what?” I asked
“Your pumpkin soup make my stomach hurt” Kyle accuse me. He seems to want to ride the horse back to Danoba.
Lisa rolled her eyes in disbelieve
“No. That just your nervousness Brother” Lisa said giving him slap on the head.
“Ouch, that hurts Lisa”
“I know. That’s why I did it” Lisa said chuckling
From the distance they could see it. It was majestic and bigger than they expected.
200 years of history.Arial could see the towers, the observatory and the numerous castles
Lots and Lots of towers and lots and lots of castles.200 years of history he reminded himself again.
Well, every time a new Knight Master is chosen they always do some new construction. No wonder they have so many buildings.
It is almost like a city. A city of Knights. Sons of nobles, unlanded sons, unwanted sons, brave sons, craven sons.
They will be a lot of people here with different ideals and perspectives as many as the reason they came here.
Arial knows some noble sons just enter here for the prestige, some hoping to strike it big, while some have some fantasy about Knighthood.
But for all its fault, Arial respect the Order of Alan.They help when even the Four Immortals did not.
Though it’s not fair to blame all Four of them, Northern Badger and Southern Healer did protect the Kingdom of Vangua and Vern Empire from the Dark Lands invasion….though unsuccessfully
Then Arial realizes the siblings. Lisa mouth is wide open while his brother is the same.
They were all in awe. I guess they don’t see this kind of building usually. Arial is accustomed of seeing large buildings after all he once dined in the Palace of Vern Empire, sipping wine from the wine collection of the emperors, eating exotic food from the ice storage in the bottom of the larder of the Imperial Palace.
Arial even have sit himself on the Imperial Throne, pretending he was an Emperor of a great Empire when he was bored.
Arial was just about to go in when he was stopped by the guard
“Where do you think you’re going kid?” The guard ask, his voice stern
“Inside” Arial reply
“I need to see some papers”
Arial open up another knapsack and search the pocket.
Here it is! He handed the letter to the guards.
“Here. This is for my passage and this is for my friends”
After checking the validity of the letter, he gestured us to go inside.
“Welcome to the Academy kid. Hope you survive”
With that happy note, we enter. But we were not done. There was an entrance before we could go really enter the Academy.
It was like a reception with a young woman probably 18 years old. She has auburn hair and a plump body.
“New recruits?” She asked
I nodded.
“Here take this. Read it when you have the time. No, read it” she said her cheek flushed.
It seems she is new at her job.Then he gave us a key.
“Here is your room and your room number. Don’t get lost. There are still old traps from the other Knights graduation party last year”
Lisa and Kyle face turn pale.
“D-D-Don’t worry” she stutters seeing the sibling faces.
“It’s mostly harmless. The worst you will encounter is that you will be splashed with cow dung, or some poison. Most of which is harmless. They went into the swamp and concocted something from the Green Tree. There is also some weirven herbs there thus many Knights usually goes there to get some”
“Doesn’t seem that appealing” I said.
The siblings just nodded while the receptionist girl just sitting there uncomfortably.
After that we started went to the towers. This is really tiring. But when you think about it, the Knighthood training is really tiring then this.
Knighthood training was a long and often arduous process. Knighthood training always began in early childhood.
At the age of 7 young boys were sent away to the castles and homes of wealthy lords or relatives to embark on their knighthood training.
Well I could be considered wealthy too. Arial looked at the siblings.Well, they got in because of my recommendation.
They kept climbing the towers while Lisa kept whining. I swear she acts like she’s royalty sometimes.
“Is it there yet?” Lisa started complaining
“Like I said a moment ago, NO” Kyle repeated while shaking his head
They will learn to perform the duties of Knights in this Academy. I hope that will discipline them.
Arial looked at the outside of the windows of the tower. Forest can be seen. Vast forest and green all around.
There are many duties that a Knight performs.
The duties of a knight were seen as the combat duties and those duties related to serving the lords and ladies.
One of the Knights training is practiced in their daily life in the Academy.
All their games and sports were geared towards learning skills related to horsemanship, the two-handed sword, battle axe, mace, dagger and lance.
They’re also taught internal energy cultivation.I’ll pass on the internal energy teaching, Arial mused.
I learned from the greatest teacher, the founder of martial art technique, Levitia. Obviously dangerous weapons will not be used. That’s true for most Knights.
But not the Order of Alan.
There have been crazy Knights in their history but no craven. Great emphasis was placed on physical fitness,bravery and strength.
They’re the internal energy class, the barehanded fighting class, the swordplay class, the horsemanship class. The two handed class (that will be perfect for Lisa).
And the weapon class. Oh, and the physical class.
“Alright, there is a lot of class” Kyle said reading the leaflet they give us at the reception.
“Yeah, this place is no joke” Lisa muttered
Sword play is practiced using their own swords and shields. Fighting on horses introduced the young knights to the balance and skills required in mounted combat.
Knighthood Training in other physical class included climbing, swimming, throwing stones, javelins, archery and wrestling.
“I’m here” Lisa said checking her key.
Kyle also looked.
“Mine upstairs, I guess”
Lisa stopped at level 6 of the tower.
“See you later tonight, Arial” she waved at me and kissed her brother cheek
Then we continued upstairs.
“Thank God, we’re in the same level”
Kyle and I are on level 8 of the tower. Though when we looked at it looks more like a dormitory.
We open the door and began cleaning the room, cleaning the windows, dust the rooms, and began putting our stuff.
There is the painting of my father and my mother that I brought from Danoba.
I put it on the wall at my bed, I take out the books that I buy from the traders and put it in the desk beside the desk in chronological order.
“Want an apple?” Kyle throws me the apple.
We also began cleaning the leftover food.
I already told my father I don’t need that much food. But he insists. The room can accommodate six people but there’s only 4 beds.
“You think someone else going to join us?” Kyle asks his tone clearly nervous.
I understand why he felt that way.
He enters by my recommendation not because he was a noble of great pedigree or because of his own effort but because of me.
But I know better. He is stronger than he believes. In a way he reminded me of myself in the past.
He believes he could not go higher, soar higher. I say, he can. He just needs a little confidence.
I train him since he was a kid.
He is a little slow but compared to the nobles that will enter here he is more talented than any of them.
He just doesn’t know. He lives in cages with bars built from his own fears and doubts.
And I believe someday he will break free of that cage with his arm open wide and that time he will fly and soar higher than anyone.
“Looks like it” Arial reply and continue cleaning. We take the brooms and the washing cloth from the store.
“Tonight will be the feast for the new student’s right?” Kyle asked while dusting his desk
“Yeah, though not many people register yet. The class begins at Seedmonth First Day.”
Then we kept working in silence. Then after we finished we both crashed and sleep.
“Knock, Knock”
Then the door creaked. Lisa is standing in the room watching his brother and Arial is snoring. He woke Arial.
“Tired, Arial?”
“Yeah” Arial reply yawning. Kyle was also sleeping soundly.
“Let me wake up Kyle” Arial offered.
“No, let me” Lisa said her eyes mischievous.
*************************
IN FRONT OF THE GRAND HALL
“You shouldn’t have done that. And you, Arial, I thought you were my friend”
“I didn’t know that is what she planning” Arial said apologizing.
Kyle eyes were red and his hair is disheveled, there’s a smudge of ink in his nose and eyes.
“You should know her by now, Arial. She never plans anything good.” Kyle was doused with cold water but not before Lisa paint his brother face.
She is mischievous that kid, Arial thought to himself.
“It’s payback” Lisa said confidently not even a shred of guilt.
“Payback for what?” Kyle asked incredulous with his sister attitudes.
She rubbed her chin then she said “Everything, I guess? Hehehee” then she enter the Grand Hall to join the other people.
Arial could see some of the kids. He recognizes some of them. Helia Zephyr from House Zephyr, Emerson of House Villion and Nella from House of Rodan.
Noble kids. Some of them are first sons, poised to rule, while some of them are seconds sons and daughter.
The Knights of Alan make no distinction between girls and boy. The only Order of Knights in the Continent that allowed woman to join their ranks.
Then I enter the Grand Hall with Kyle. The Grand Hall is grander than Arial imagined.
The portraits of great Knights were hung in the wall.Selia The Fool, Arial noticed. There’s Fareon with his Golden Shield.
They were thousands of candles in the Hall making the place brighter and livelier. It seems only about 50 people in the Hall.
The other must not reached here yet. Instead of a feast it is a banquet. 5 long tables can be seen. And each of them has their own banner blue banner, red banner, purple banner, golden yellow banner and black banners.
And each banner has a motif as its symbol.The red has a dragon, the blue has a wolf, the purple has a fairy, the golden yellow has a lion and the black has a raven with black eyes.
Arial doesn’t know what it means or what it symbolizes. Then he looked at the five tables.
The tables have a lot of plates and goblets, of spoons and fork, of jugs and kitchenware.All for the students. No wonder the High Lords also sent their sons here.
At the top of the hall is another long table where the teachers are sitting.Arial could see the Knight Master and his Right Hand man sit side by side.
The Knight Master is the one who rules and gives the acknowledgement and decides which of the students can be inducted into the Order.
Many enter the Academy but only a few will sign their name in the Ledger proving he is one of the proud Order.
Others will be a normal Knight but still receive the admiration for finishing the test and trials.
Since there are not that many students the banquet is low key. Maybe after this month ends the Knights will hold a feast again.
“Hello, my name is Helia” a girl came to our table and held out her hand to me. She is elegant in her manner, fair skinned and she has a mesmerizing brown eyes.
Nobles daughters. I shake her hand “I’m Arial”
“Vermont. Isn’t it?”
“Yes. And you’re House of Zephyr if I’m not mistaken”
She nodded.
“We met when we were 5. Your father and you were selling bread and trading products in our land and buying sea product from the harbor” she said happy that she remembers.
“Glad to meet a familiar face here. Heard about your new family status. Well, I say it was only a matter of time. Wealthy families like yours.” She said not stopping.
Well, this a strange place, with strange people and strange rules.
Especially for a lady of noble birth
“My lady” Lisa said she curtsy slightly
Kyle bowed his head slightly, his eyes was admiring Helia. I could see it clearly that Kyle is flushed red in the face and there is some trace of shyness.
“Who’s this?” She finally realizes Lisa and Kyle.
“My friends and companion” I quickly reply
“Then, it’s a pleasure to meet them” she said smiling.
She handles herself quite well for 7 years old.
“Can I join you?” she inquired while looking at the tables she just sat before. Arial could feel that she is uncomfortable sitting there.
“It would be an honour, my lady” I reply courteously
So she sits.
Arial is curious of course. She is not a daughter of minor Lords or a daughter of a poor noble family.
Her father is Helve Zephyr, one of the wealthy families that swear fealty towards the House of Palais.
Why become a Knight?Still Arial held his tongue. That is her personal privacy. I have no right.
And it’s not like we’re close enough to share that kind of stories.Then the servants came and began pouring drinks and serving us food.
“Brother, don’t show that you’re that hungry” Lisa said looking at the sloppy way his brother eat.
Helia is chuckling. All in all it was a festive mood and I make a new acquaintance today.
It is productive day. Now I just need to wait 23 days before the Academy starts training.
Maybe I should gather information before the classes start. That night I also traded greeting with some of the other students.

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