Chapter 3: To the Order
The summer I turned 8 years old.
I have finally arrived in the territory of the Moore Duchy, where William-sama is, after tightly grasping the barely enough travel expenses I had earned through hard labor for two years.
This territory, located along the coast, is rich in seafood and is known for its lively trade using ships.
It is also close to the capital city and has many prosperous towns.
The training facility of the knights I will be taking the entrance examination for is located on a prime spot with a good view due to security reasons, so I could see the beautiful sea from the hill road leading to the facility.
I turned around to look at the sea and gasped at its radiance.
I had never seen the sea in this life, and the level of transparency of this sea that boasted a level of beauty that I had never even seen in my previous life left me mesmerized.
After gazing at the sea for a while, I tightly clenched my fist.
(From now on, I’m not “she”. I’m “he”. In order to protect William-sama, “he” will live as a man, not a woman.)
I turned my heel from the sea as if cutting off my lingering feelings and began climbing the hill road again to head to the facility.
“Hello. I’ve come to take the entrance examination to join the Order.”
I approached a man who seemed to be a watchman knight and spoke to him, and he slowly turned his head towards me.
“Oh, hello. What’s your name?”
“My name is Leah Flores.”
“Leah Flores… I see.”
As he muttered, he quickly wrote something down with his pen.
“Okay, your name is recorded. You can go through.”
He says so and quickly opens the door to the side.
“Just go straight and wait inside the building at the end of the path.”
The watchman knight said only that, without even a forced smile, and pointed ahead.
“Thank you very much.”
“Yes, have a good day.”
I entered the building that was told to me, there were young boys older than me standing in a narrow space.
I also line up in the same way.
(I wonder what kind of test will be given to us. The young boys here are older than me and all of them are boys with good physique. I may lose in a strength contest.)
I’m feeling a little anxious, but I keep it hidden and wait for a while.
A knight who seems to be the examiner entered the training facility.
The test officer glanced at us with a tense face. Then,
“Hey, I kept you waiting! All of you here, permission to join the knight squad is granted!” …That’s all!”
He made the announcement with a loud voice that seemed to penetrate the eardrum.
The inside of the training facility became quiet as if water was poured, but soon a confusion spread.
One of the boys involuntarily spoke in a voice.
“Excuse me … Can I ask a question …?”
The examiner narrowed his eyes at the question.
“Permission to speak.”
The boy timidly said.
“I came here to take the test, but what does it mean to have permission to join the squad without doing anything?”
The boys in the training facility nodded to each other as he said the most natural.
The examiner probably anticipated such a question and opened his mouth without moving his eyebrows.
“There is no need for a test. The training of the Duke of Moore’s knight squad is the toughest in the country. When the training begins, apprentice knights who cannot keep up will quit one after another. That’s about it … this is expected, but …”
When the test officer looked around at us,
“Half of these people will be gone in a week. And by the end of a year, it would be good if 20 percent of them are still here. That’s usually every year.”
He said those words…
The boys looked at each other.
“I’ll guide you to the dormitory! All line up!”
At the command of the knight, we straighten our backs in a panic.
Night, in the dormitory.
I sighed long while lying on the bed.
(Somehow, I was able to join the squad)
I am relieved to be able to become a member of the knight squad, even as an apprentice, since I could have been turned away if my gender was revealed.
(Surely, the strict training will begin tomorrow. Will I be able to endure it?)
I stare at the moonlight leaking through the curtain gap.
(… endure. No matter how much I suffer, I will survive in this knight squad and become a shield for William-sama. That’s what I decided)
I quietly close my eyes.
I didn’t dream.