Romel Riveria had tears in his eyes. One slap shattered his honor, crushed his ego, and butchered his arrogance. Just some time ago, he was boasting about his bloodline to his new friends, but now he was a joke. All the talk about training since the age of six months fell flat against a reality-checking slap on his face.
His breath gradually became hurried. The more he thought about the slap, the more his blood boiled. Then, finally, when he looked at his opponent's face, the barrier broke, and the anger poured out in wild screams as he charged ahead with his fist once again.
"I will kill you!"
For Sylvester, seeing a kid charging at him was nothing but comedic. Fighting him was a pipe dream for someone who couldn't even hold their anger. On top of that, he remembered something. 'Wasn't it the King of Riveria who used his reach to send Sir Dolorem away?'
No longer wishing to hold back, he took a boxing stance and started doing the footwork. This was new to all, as when it comes to physical fighting, one only thinks about brawls or using a weapon. There were rarely any weapon-less fighting styles.
"Deacon Riveria, this is merely a mock fight. Do not let your emotions guide you." He tried to warn the boy just so there were no repercussions for what he was about to do.
"Take this!" Romel threw his punch with no tricks this time. It was apparent that he never learned much about hand-to-hand combat. All he knew were some tricks.
Sylvester smirked and ducked down to avoid the fist. But that left him with a clear view of Romel's nice smooth jaw. So he kicked his feet and pushed his right fist up, along with an uppercut move.
Bam!—It connected clean and knocked Romel off of the ground. His body was thrown a foot in the air as Sylvester jumped up. It happened in a split second, Romel fell back with a loud thud, and Sylvester landed on his feet.
He didn't stop and quickly moved to put his foot on Romel's neck.
But only a deafening scream came. Blood oozed out of Romel's jaw. It was shattered, along with its teeth that fell apart. He stared at Sylvester in utter fear, seeing the kick was coming next.
Sylvester stared into Romel's eyes like a predator trying to incite fear in the prey. He was asserting his dominance, for that was the only way to bring down the likes of Romel.
'Brats like him don't respond well to kindness or threats. So the only way to deal is to mentally break them and then rebuild.' He reminded himself, not wanting to feel bad for beating a kid bloody. 'Everyone is a threat, or at most, a possible pawn. No one can be an ally.'
"Deacon Sylvester Maximilian triumphs. Fabulously done, young lad. Do not worry about Deacon Riveria. He shall spend a day in the infirmary and be healed. Next, Deacon Griffin Blazekin and Felix Sandwall."
The class went on as if nothing had happened. But Sylvester was satisfied because the aroma had changed slightly. Now with the mix of sourness and salt of jealousy, there was a faint hint of tulip. 'So they have started to admire me now.'
While enjoying the fruits of his labor, he waited for his next fight. Slowly, the numbers thinned to just four, and Sylvester's next fight came. This time, his opponent was Markus Lionis, the flexible kid. His magic talent was average, but in combat, he was great.
As Sylvester entered the fighting circle, he devised a plan. 'His acrobatics are incredible, his reach is wide, and I need to fight him from a distance. Unfortunately, judo is out of options since he's flexible. Taekwondo it is then.'
He kept the stance of boxing but slightly changed the stepping to accommodate the quick movement of his feet. Then he slowly inched closer to Markus. "You're a great fighter, Deacon Markus."
Seeing genuine praise, Markus chirped back. "Thank you, Deacon Sylvester. Your fight was… jawbreaking."
"Hah." Sylvester chuckled and brought down the seriousness. Subtly telling that he did not wish to wound him beyond necessary.
Markus continued, "I thought you would be like Romel, a pompous fellow."
"Because I have high talent? I see no difference between us right now. Talent is the future while this fight is now!" Sylvester made his move and threw a jab.
As expected, Markus easily dodged it and tried to make a backflip to make distance and kick Sylvester's face.
"You took the bait!"
Sylvester chuckled and kicked a roundhouse the instant Markus's body was in the air. He didn't waste a moment and jumped at the opportunity to kick in the stomach when Markus fell to the ground.
Sylvester stopped mid-kick and looked at Sir Baldfreak.
"Deacon Sylvester wins! That's the end of this little tournament." Sir Baldfreak announced.
But Sylvester and Felix glanced at each other's faces intuitively. They were the last two boys left and were honestly looking forward to this spar.
Sir Baldfreak seemed to notice the confusion, so he addressed it while laughing loudly. "Haha, you two young lads have the talent of Platinum Knight. I will not allow you to fight before you complete your Knight's training, and then the world shall witness the true martial duel."
Sylvester didn't give two cents about a future duel. Instead, he had his eyes on that gold dagger, and right now, there was no winner. "That's very exciting, Sir Baldfreak… but what about the gold dagger?"
"Oh, this?!" Sir Baldfreak took the short golden dagger from his pouch… then he took out another identical one. "I've got dozens of these. Gathered them myself from those Desert cannibal heathens. Each one of their team leaders carries this. Here, take one each."
"Class for the day is over. Return to your dorm rooms. Go!" Sir Baldfreak dismissed the class and left swiftly.
Sylvester and Felix dumbly looked at the gold dagger without moving. It appeared unique but apparently, it was a common thing.
"I thought this was a Desert cannibal Chieftain's dagger. This is a scam!" Felix annoyedly muttered while inspecting the 'trophy'.
"Indeed." Sylvester couldn't help but nod. However, his priority was clear. "Do you want to buy it from me?"
Felix was the son of a count. Money was something the latter didn't lack at all, so he made an offer. "Hmm… These daggers aren't worth much. There is too much impurity in them. I've seen them back home. At best, it will get you two Gold Graces."
'That's not a lot? Look at this rich brat! With this, I can buy meat, bread, and bananas for a whole month. But… he's lying.' Sylvester had felt the sourness.
"Sure, I'll sell it for three Gold Graces. I know it's worth a lot more to you." Sylvester haggled. Like hell, he was going to let a child rip him off.
Felix tried to keep a straight face, but his eyes deceived him when they twitched. "No, I can't. They are worth three in the market. So why would I buy it for that price from you?"
It was another lie.
"You think I'm a baby? Fine, I will sell it for four Gold Graces. I know warriors in Sandwall County collect these daggers to show the number of kills. It's a matter of pride to have these. You want more pride or not?"
Felix greedily looked at the dagger in Sylvester's hand. He cursed himself for falling into the trap, but he needed it… he wanted it… he wished for it from Solis for weeks. They were hard to find unless won in a battle.
"FINE!... Here, take these."
He took out a money pouch from his robes and handed four shiny gold coins to Sylvester.
'This is brilliant. These nobles are as dumb as they come.'
Sylvester slowly came to realize that he was surrounded by golden gooses who were worth more if befriended. 'I need to work harder on my cult.'
It was merely the first day, and so much transpired. He was feeling tired so he decided to return home and take a nice bath. Unlike others, he did not need to stay in the school dorms.
"How do you know so many things? About my home's culture, about fighting?" Felix questioned.
Sylvester stopped and looked back with a grin. "I wasn't sleeping for the past eight years, kid."
Suddenly, Felix angrily glared, showing anger on his chubby face. "Don't call me that! I'm not a kid."
Sylvester felt there was genuine anger. He quickly thought about what triggered him. He reminded himself of all the things that Felix told him about himself. 'Ah! He's a second son!'
Insecurities and a desire to prove oneself could hollow a man from within. It was one of the main reasons why sons of kings and wealthy men often turned into wastrels. It happens because they can not keep up with the expectations.
Sylvester weighed his options. That money exchange was business, but this matter was personal. There was no reason for making an enemy out of such a small thing. 'I shouldn't forget I'm dealing with kids here.'
"I apologize, Deacon Felix. I was merely joking."
Felix's shoulders fell as anger dissipated. He took a long breath and shook his head in shame. "No, I was being a brat. You were clearly joking, Deacon Sylvester."
"Just call me Sylvester. We're around the same age and serve Solis."
Felix fast-walked to Sylvester and extended his hand. "Then you can call me Felix."
Since there were no lies in Felix's recent words, Sylvester warmly shook the hand. It was worth making acquaintances. He may never come to trust anyone other than Xavia, but even he knew he couldn't survive in this world alone.
And to know someone who might become a Platinum Knight one day was a real boon.
"I will see you tomorrow then, Felix." After that, Sylvester decided to head home.
"Wait, dorms are this way."
"I don't live in the dorms. My mum is a Bright Mother, so we have a little home. I will show you the place sometime later. Goodnight." He waved his hand and left Felix confused about how a Bright Mother could have a child despite celibacy vows.
Meanwhile, Sylvester had no thoughts of Felix in his mind. For he had a mischievous smirk on his face while asking the cat on his shoulder, "Chonky, did you get it all?"
"Aye-aye, Maxy. I ate all the gold chains and bracelets the Romel boy gifted us!"
"Hah, he didn't gift them. We simply took them, albeit without permission. Who told him to enter a fight while wearing jewelry? I merely took my loot for defeating him."
Miraj confusedly asked, "Maxy, are we bad?"
"No, Chonky. We're just poor and live in a vicious society. To survive and thrive, we must stomp as many skulls as we need. In this world, that is the only way for us to succeed."
Miraj dutifully saluted with his paw. "Aye-Aye, Maxy. I eat skulls!"
"Well, you got the gist of it."
[A/N: The currency in this fictional world is this => 1 Gold Grace(standard is 20gram) = 100 Silver crown(20 gram) = 1000 copper muds/pennies.
The reasoning behind the naming is that Church and Solis are supreme, so gold is grace. Below are the royalties and nobles, hence Silver is the crown. At the bottom are common folks, so Copper is mud.