Ch. 218 The Opening Of The Competition (1)
The highly anticipated tournament finally begun. The largest stadium in the empire attracted numerous participants, and tens of thousands more spectators to watch them. Seats were arranged by hierarchy, with commoners filling up the ordinary seats, while the nobles sat on the upper deck overlooking the stadium.
The most exclusive box was reserved for only the Imperial Family, and among them included Emperor Sullivan, Empress Ophelia, Second Prince Redfield, and Grand Duke Paveluc.
Everyone was in attendance, and they all looked down at the arena with eyes shining with excitement. That also included Carlisle and Elena. Elena’s sharp eyes managed to pick out Derek among the assembly of knights.
Fortunately, Derek had his usual calm, and he had no sign of nervous tension. Elena cheered for him inwardly.
It was then that the tournament host’s voice echoed loudly in the air.
“Now let’s begin the first game, archery. All knights in the first group must stand in their designated positions.”
As the host’s voice announced the start of the games, all the spectators’ eyes turned to the knights in the arena. Not one was left out, and there were a considerable number of people waiting for their turn to shoot their arrows. It was difficult to discern who was who among the crowd of participants.
Anyone who failed to land at least fifteen out of twenty arrows were automatically eliminated. From then on, extra points were awarded depending on how close to the center of the target their arrows landed.
At the host’s signal, the first knights in line let loose their arrows in unison.
The sound of arrows slicing through air reached the audience stands. Most of the arrows hit their target, but some of them were wide. Eventually, several of the participants were eliminated.
Finally, it was Derek’s turn to step up. Elena watched with her hands folded over her chest as he lifted his bow and calmly fired his first arrow.
His arrow pierced the target. It was a bullseye. Although it was only a single shot, Elena’s face brightened.
Derek fired his remaining shots with effortless grace, packing the bullseye with arrows. Elena looked at the judge overseeing Derek and read his mouth.
Elena breathed a sigh of relief. Carlisle, who was watching her closely, smiled.
“Do you see something good, my wife?”
Elena flushed at the fact that she was so noticeable, but she gave him a small nod.
“Yes. It’s the knight I’m cheering for the most.”
Although she didn’t say Derek’s name, Carlisle already had a clear idea who she was referring too. He couldn’t help the sliver of jealousy that stuck in him at her remark.
“If I had participated, would you have supported me like this?”
“Of course. In fact, I would support you even more.”
Elena replied without hesitation, and a smile crossed Carlisle’s face.
“I think my wife knows me too well now.”
“Of course. Who would I be if I didn’t know my husband?”
Elena’s eyes softened as she laughed playfully. Carlisle was being possessive, but even his jealousy at her brother was cute.
“If you cheer for me like you’re doing now, then maybe I’ll have to take part in the tournament if I get a chance later.”
Although Imperial Family members were not barred from competition, they usually abstained because they were considered too valuable to the Empire. But Carlisle wasn’t a man to jest.
“With your support, there’s nothing I can’t do. All you have to do is look at me with those beautiful eyes.”
The corners of Elena’s mouth twitched, and she slightly tilted her head towards him and whispered in his ear.
“I will…and I would participate for you, too.”
Carlisle’s eyes inadvertently flickered towards the archery competition taking place in the arena, and he gave a faint smirk.
“You’d hit all the targets.”
Carlisle was familiar with Elena’s proficiency with the bow. Even from this distant vantage point, she could easily hit all the targets. No one else knew it, but the Crown Princess was far superior in ability than anyone else in this tournament right now.
Carlisle looked back at Elena with an admiring expression.
“It’s hard for me to resist you.”
Ordinarily, Carlisle, a man, would have competed for the championship and shared the glory with his lady. But now, he imagined Elena winning the tournament with her own abilities and sharing the glory with him.
He gave a faint smile at the idea.
A short break was declared at the end of the archery competition, and in the meanwhile obstacles, were installed for the next trial. The number of knights participating had been cut down to about three-quarters of its original number.
The next competition was a racehorse, but a far more dangerous version with the various traps and obstacles that could cause serious injury. The large number of participants were divided again into groups, and only those who won first through fifth place could proceed to the next round. The starting line was arranged so that about thirty knights could race at once. When all the preparations were complete, the host of the event spoke to the crowd again.
“The archery competition before was just a warm-up, wasn’t it? Going forward, we will compete with full force. At the signal, race towards the finish line. Now! Ready!”
The riders’ eyes shone with steely determination at the host’s words.
3, 2, 1…Ppiiig!
As soon as the signal went off, the riders took off like a stampede. The sound of hooves thundered in the arena, and enthusiastic cheers and whoops rang from the stands.
Meanwhile, Derek silently watched the race as he waited for his turn. It was then that he overheard a loud voice not far away.
“Lord Wickley, you got a perfect score at the archery competition, didn’t you?”
“That’s amazing. You’ll definitely be the winner of this tournament.”
A group of knights were gathered around Lord Wickley and praising him. For some, the purpose of the tournament was not to win, but to simply to test their limits, or just to take part. Others wanted to talk about the potential winners, just like now. Their noisy voices continued in an endless stream.
“The other favorites to win are Lord Joel from Lunen and Sir Derek from Blaise, is that right?”
“Neither are a match for Lord Wickley.”
“No, Lord Joel made a name for himself at the Duchy of Lunen, but I don’t understand why Sir Derek is picked as a favorite.”
Derek decided to move somewhere else when he heard his name mentioned. It was a waste of time to listen to what people said about him.
“Derek? He’s the princess’ older brother, so he’s being tossed around as the winner.”
Derek’s footsteps stopped. He slowly turned his head and looked at the person who spoke. It was Lord Wickley, a large man with bronzed skin and a long scar in the middle of his face, giving him a tough appearance. At his words, the men around him laughed in response.
“Hahaha. That’s true.”
“Well, if he’s the princess’ older brother, then I’m sure he’s getting some help.”
Instead of walking away from them, Derek turned his heel and approached the group.