In Valvas, word spread around at a frightening pace.
Its unique geography of being surrounded by high, long mountain ranges contributed greatly. In only a few days, the story of a cavalier claiming to be the descendant of the Knight King spread throughout Valvas. He was also said to be the nephew of Count Herreran.
Many people were half doubtful, half expectant at the surprising rumor. Even though Count Herreran had vouched for the man, many people were still suspicious. In particular, the large clans representing Valvas dismissed the claim, saying that it was only nonsense.
However, the situation changed rapidly when letters from the Herreran County started to arrive at the bases of the Seven Clans. The letters described the entire situation in detail, and surprisingly, it included the seal of Ortiz, the Guardian Spear of the Valencia Clan.
A humongous shockwave spread out throughout Valvas and among the clans. Some suggested that the Herreran County and the Valencia Clan were working in cahoots to devise some kind of plan, but they had no choice but to head to Count Herreran’s manor to confirm the truth.
In less than six days after the rumors started spreading, all six clans, except Valencia, sent their representative cavaliers to the Herreran Manor. In addition, the general public became thrilled that the Seven Great Days of the King might be recreated after a hundred years. Countless people, including those from the minor clans, began to head towards Count Herreran’s manor.
However, hundreds of people had no choice but to turn around when they arrived at the main gates of the manor. Only renowned cavaliers, those stemming from the Seven Clans, or members of the minor clans were allowed to enter.
Naturally, the pubs and inns near the manor became bustling with people, and those who were unable to grab a room were forced to set up tents outside the manor’s walls. The Valvas people’s blood began to boil as they watched famous cavaliers arrive one after another.
Battles between clans and cavaliers took place behind closed doors, not available for the public to observe. Even so, everyone became excited by the appearance of celebrity-like warriors, who seldomly appeared in the public’s eye.
Five days after the letters were delivered, the last representative cavalier arrived from the Samorah Clan. All remaining six cavaliers had gathered in the Herreran Manor.
“I would like to thank everyone for making the trip in response to the invitation.”
Count Herreran gave a polite greeting. Unlike not long ago, the hall was rather quiet.
“I greet Your Excellency Herreran.”
“Don’t mention it.”
The reactions of the cavaliers were all different. They had gathered from all over Valvas, some stemming from the Seven Clans, others renowned fighters in their own right. Some responded calmly, some nodded with a relaxed smile, and others glared at Count Herreran with arrogant eyes.
However, the eyes of nearly 50 men were glued to Count Herreran. No, rather, they were observing the arena he was standing on. The platform was around 20 yards wide.
A duel of life and death would soon begin in that place.
“As I have already said, this was an important matter that could not be decided only by me, Sir Ortiz, Guardian Spear of the Valencia Clan, and Elkin Isla, the descendant of the Knight King and my nephew. That is why I invited the Seven Clans representing Valvas and the well-recognized, prestigious cavaliers.”
“You are calling him the Knight King’s descendant already? Ha! Aren’t you being too hasty with your certainty, Your Excellency?”
A man in his mid-30s with a thick beard spoke coldly.
“What are you…”
Teyo started to retort with wiggling eyebrows, but Count Herreran stopped him with a gaze before turning back towards the bearded man.
‘Ivan Fienar of the Fienar Clan…’
The Valencia Clan was the most powerful in Valvas. After them, the Medien Clan and the Fienar Clan were considered the most powerful clans. The man who had spoken, Ivan Fienar, was the young head of the Fienar Clan.
Although the Fienar Clan possessed fewer members compared to the other clans, each of their members was rough and possessed a fierce spirit. As the clan head and the strongest member of the Fienar Clan, Ivan’s attitude was befitting his position.
“You have a point there. I apologize for my expression of the term.”
When Count Herreran bowed politely, Ivan Fienar narrowed his eyes. The other figures also shared curious gazes. Although it was no match for the Seven Clans gathered here, the Herreran County was not an easy opponent. Above all, Herrarn’s griffon knights were powerful. They possessed 30 griffons, which was only less than the Valencia and the Medien Clans. The other members of the Seven Clans only possessed 10 griffons.
‘Is it confidence? Or… does he think it’s real?’
It seemed that the others also possessed similar thoughts. Everyone’s expressions turned a little bit more serious.
“Then can I continue?”
“Ehem! Do as you want.”
Count Herreran was the only lord in Valvas, and above all, he was much older than himself. Even though Ivan Fienar was famous for his fierce personality, when Count Herreran took on a respective tone, Fienar was forced to take a step back.
“The letters I sent already explained everything, so all fifty-four cavaliers gathered here should know how this matter will be addressed. I will not bother going into any further detail. Do you all agree with the proposal of Sir Ortiz, representing the Valencia Clan, and I? If anyone objects, please voice your opinions in our way.”
Only a few coughs broke the silence. No daggers or hats were thrown to represent anyone’s objection. After looking around the cavaliers for a moment, Count Herreran nodded before continuing.
“Then I will assume everyone is in favor. I will proceed.”
Count Herreran stopped talking and gestured towards Teyo. The knight stepped up and spoke.
“Let me do the introductions. This is Sir Elkin Medien Valencia Isla. He is the son of Lord Herreran’s sister, knight of the Pendragon Duchy, and a cavalier with the blood of the Knight King Mara Valencia.”
Teyo raised his hand and pointed towards Isla.
Then, the gazes of the cavaliers turned together. The gathering of Valvas' representatives was quite a fearsome sight. They would be considered a powerful force, no matter where they were in the empire.
Until now, none of the men had seen Isla’s appearance ever since they walked through the main gates and arrived at Count Herreran’s manor. It was customary. Isla stayed isolated in his own space and trained. Moreover, most of the clans present had hostile relationships with each other. None of them would be able to break the custom and see the person responsible for this commotion, lest they risked inciting the anger of the other clans.
Low exclamations and noises leaked from the crowd. A young cavalier was walking out, dressed in traditional Valvas clothing and equipped with a spear in his hand.
‘That man is…’
The cavaliers’ eyes became filled with surprise.
The men of Valvas did not easily judge others based on their appearance. Any man of Valvas, whether they were a skinny boy who was all bones, or an old man on the brink of death, possessed skills with the blade. However, everyone could tell that the young cavalier, who was now walking past Count Herreran towards the arena, was a strong warrior based on his outward appearance.
His stride was steady and steps even. His shoulders remained immovable in his walk. His eyes were unshaken even though he was facing countless, powerful cavaliers of Valvas. His appearance came as a surprise to many people.
While receiving everyone’s attention, Isla came to a stop in the middle of the arena. Then, he started to speak.
“Elkin Medien Valencia Isla. I am a knight of the Pendragon Duchy. I have come here to continue the name of Mara Valencia, the Knight King.”
As the butt of his jet-black spear hit the ground, a small crack appeared on the granite floor.
Even though he was arrogant, he seemed qualified to speak such words. The cavaliers let out vain laughter at the sight. However, in Valvas, everything was conveyed through skill.
They all glared at Isla with burning gazes.
“According to the old customs, regardless of the clan, the first challenger will be the one who steps up firs…”
“I am first.”
Before Count Herreran could finish his words, a giant man equipped with thick gauntlets stepped up.
When the cavaliers saw the challenger, some of them nodded while stroking their jaws, while others took on cold, calculating gazes. The giant quickly made his way to the arena. He confronted Isla before opening his mouth. A huge scar ran from his cheek to his lips.
“Arturo of the Claudio Clan. I stand here today because I heard that there was a man perverting the name of the Knight King!”
As soon as he finished speaking, Arturo swung his arms widely and crescent shaped blades popped out of the gauntlet.
Unlike his rugged appearance, he had only turned 24 this year. His main weapon was the crescent blades attached to his gauntlets, which were around 2 feet long. He had achieved over thirty victories in his battles against other cavaliers while using the unique weapons.
He was tall, easily over 6 feet. As his appearance suggested, he was considered one of Valvas’ strongest in terms of brute strength. He was a powerful warrior and easily knocked down sword users as well as spear users with the gauntlet blades on his unusually long arms.
“It’s Arturo, huh…”
“Not bad as the first opponent.”
The giant man was emitting a fierce energy, and some cavaliers nodded in approval as they looked at Arturo. However, that was not the case with everyone.
‘This is strange. Even though Arturo is a strong warrior, there are a few stronger cavaliers in the Claudio Clan…’
Ortiz’ eyes glistened fiercely. He stood in a section of the hall, watching the arena along with the two other cavaliers. The Claudio Clan was strong. They had more than 100 members. Arturo was talented and could be considered one of the ten strongest fighters of the Claudio Clan. His record was also excellent. However, Ortiz knew that the Claudio Clan possessed at least three more members stronger than Arturo.
‘What are you up to, Martin…?’
Ortiz’ gaze headed towards a member of the Claudio Clan. It was a blond, young man in his late 20s. He looked somewhat small, but firm. Perhaps feeling Ortiz’ gaze, the man immediately greeted Ortiz with his eyes before turning his gaze someplace else.
Ortiz’ eyes glowed even colder.
The Ades clan was ranked 5th among the Seven Clans. The head of the Ades Clan and Martin Claudio were known to possess a good relationship, and now, they were sharing a meaningful gaze.
Moreover, their actions seemed rather intentional, as if they wanted Ortiz to notice it.
‘Huh! Is that it…?’
After sinking into deep thought for a moment, Ortiz slightly raised his eyebrows. Arturo, who was about to start his duel against Isla, was definitely strong. However, he was not strong enough to achieve an absolute victory against the other clans’ elite swordsmen.
In other words, he was a cavalier who could put up a fierce fight against any opponent, regardless of whether he won or lost. The representatives of the clans had an important role to defeat the one claiming to be the Knight King’s descendant, and for the Claudio Clan to send out Arturo in such a situation meant…
‘You have already made up your mind. To stand by the Herreran County and the Pendragon Duchy…’
Ortiz came to a logical conclusion. Arturo was by no means weak. He was a strong challenger, and none of the other clans would object to his appearance. They had already decided to board the ship with the Pendragon Duchy. As such, it did not matter to them whether Arturo lost, regardless of whether Isla was defeated by a cavalier from another clan. Above all, they couldn’t wish for anything else than for the cavalier named Isla to defeat all Seven Clans and complete the Seven Great Days of the King.
A new Knight King would be born after a hundred years, and the Claudio Clan would have been the ones who took the initiative and bravely challenged him first.
A cold smile appeared around Ortiz’ lips.
“Things will not flow the way you want them to…’
As he murmured in his mind, Isla and Arturo clashed.