Magic Apprentice Chapter 96
The judges seemed to have found fault in everything they did almost from start to finish. The scene with the most criticism were the scenes with Elric. The judges felt that Elric simply didnt seem interested at all in playing his part and brought about a terrible rendition. It was a critique Elric was rather embarrassed about since it was true. He had been so uncaring about the performance that it clearly showed, and the evaluation was by no means a dishonest one.
One scene in particular that gained praise was the fight scene between the thorn dragon and Elric. The actor for the thorn dragon, proclaimed a judge, made up for their lack of acting talent with raw enthusiasm and spirit. Determination to pour ones heart and soul into a performance was something none of the judges could fault.
The next to be critiqued was the actor who played Vantus. When mentioned, the actor began to remove the costume as was customary after a performance. But when the headpiece was removed and the actors face was shown, every single judge seemed to suddenly fall silent as if they werent sure of what to say. Not a single one of the judges expected Archmagister Kebrilio of all people to be the actor for Vantus.
In light of this new information, the judges who had been critical of Kebrilios acting before turned their attention onto the actor playing the tail. The tail, one judge spoke, was the only flaw in the wolfs acting. The actor controlling the tail had been unable to follow up on the masterful acting of Kebrilio and ended up creating a jarring display where Kebrilios acting was marred by it.
The actor for the wolfs tail pulled off their costume in embarrassment. This time, even Elric was surprised to discover that the actor for this part wasnt Hamon, but actually the Archiereus of Karth, Myron.
None of the judges seemed willing to critique their performance. In fact, several of them had already erased their previous evaluation and were adding on bonus points for a spectacular showing whose appeal could only be seen after careful consideration. Full points were awarded in the cases of some judges, much to the humbled embarrassment of a few actors still on stage, but not Elric. Elric didnt care at all about what points he received or lost. First or last place held the same meaning to him, though it was a rather comedic sight seeing how Kite looked ready to burst with a few choice words.
The knights son looked ready to go on a rant about the unfairness of the evaluations and how the scoring was based on a persons station rather than their acting prowess. It was something that cheapened the sacred meaning behind the performances. But Kite desired to be the victor and have the chance to try on a hallow. In the end, his desire to win won out against his desire to call out this injustice.
The Sovereignian performance won a perfect score in the end (Elric knew this was only because the judges feared angering Kebrilio and Myron). The performers who had yet to perform all despaired at this, for though they knew their parents held plenty of influence in the Empire, it meant nothing in the face of this Sovereign-Karth acting troupe. These performers could be the greatest of actors and receive an outstanding evaluation (primarily due to bribery from their parents) from the judges, but there was absolutely no chance theyd be able to beat a perfect score. No one was even willing to get even close in fear of offending either of the two greatest magi the Empire had to offer.
The performances all came to an end with an easily predictable outcome. Elric and his friends ended up becoming the champions, much to Kites utmost joy. All of his previous doubts and dejection immediately turned into smoke the moment the emperor announced the results.
And so the four friends went back on stage to line up and await the emperor to bring them their prize.
The emperor and three attendants made their way onto the stage. Each of the attendants were responsible for holding a vermillion platter and cushion with a hallow laid carefully on top. Elric recognized the bow-shaped hallow held by the attendant in the middle straight away as Vindrhorn. The bow he first laid eyes on back in Hughesins home. The bow given to him by the duke after it accepted him as a master and took on his handprint. The bow Elric remember storing away in a cupboard in Hughesins room, though it was clearly taken out from its hiding spot to be used specifically for todays reward.
A silver longsword rested upon another one of the vermillion trays. It was a hefty two-hander whose hilt and blade was abnormally long for whatever reason Elric couldnt understand. He was curious, however. Was Sloan, the Sword Saint, a colossal person like Kebrilio was? Did he have just as big of a head as Kebrilio?
The third hallow was a staff both slender and long. So long, in fact, that it looked out of place on the tray it was on. But solemn tradition dictated the usage of these trays, and so that was how it was going to be.
Hail, O guests of honor. Hecaris III broke out into a congratulatory speech. A crown for an excellent performance. Your performance was an excellent one, one I loved, truly. Your acting, Ser Kite, was extraordinary. Yours as well, Ser Jerry. And lady Belladonna, your role was absolutely lovely. And even you, Ser ElricI believe you have the greatest talent for acting.
The emperor winked at Elric, causing the latter to grow flush in the facea habit he unfortunately gained after pretending to be a woman for so long.
Champions, with honor do I present to you in glory, the sacred hallows used by the Heroes of lore.
The three attendants came forward with the hallows at Hecaris IIIs beckoning. They were hardly even close enough to present when an eager Kite stretched out his hands to grab one. Before he could, however, a voice thundered out:
A tall and burly man with a thick and flush beard stepped onto the stage. His skin was tanned immensely by the sun and his nose was thick and stubby. Though his eyes were rather narrow, the intensity behind his glare was immense.
Elric was rather taken aback. The mans appearance lacked a nobles presence and demeanor. But surely he had to be a powerful noble if he was here for the performances?
He got his answer when the leader of the Paladin Order (whose name Elric had yet been unable to pronounce) flew to his feet, Bastard, Snarled the man as he drew his sword, explain your insolence!
But Father, protested the man, where is the impartiality in this? In winning a prize earned by Sers Kebrilio and Myron? The ancient Heroes would be insulted to know their glorious armaments be worn by the undeserving likeso.
So this man was the son of the Paladin Orders grandmaster! Elric nodded in understanding. It made sense why this man was arguing and argued quite well just what kind of person the man was. Men of principle were quite interesting to Elric.
Eyes wandering to his companions, he took a look to see what their reactions would be. Kite, for as conflicted as he was on the matter, seemed to be quite glum; he evidently felt the same as Elric. Jerry, on the other hand, seemed to be grinding his teeth as if thinking hard about something.
In the end, it was Kite that took action first.
Good Sire, though it pains me to admit it, I cannot disagree with what you have said. Our performance won only by the merits of Sir Kebrilio and Sir Myron. But surely you must also see the other side of the coin. The evaluation of our performance would be biased regardless of their addition or not. It is because of this bias that I am hesitant to give up the glory. What compromise might be reached instead to see if we are worthy of being champions?