~ 78 ~
“N, no…! This dress was prepared by my nanny without notice to me… therefore, I never had any intention of participating in this Flora! There must have been a mistake in the selection process. Please check again. I never put my name in the participation!”
“Eleanor is right. I was with her throughout the festival. She never did such a thing.”
Selena stood by and took her side, but the paladin’s expressions remained unmoved. The knights closed the distance between them in a high-pressure manner, making the clattering of their armors.
Eun-woo looked up at the men who had the momentum to drive her out of the White Cathedral at any moment with a puzzled look.
A paladin with a black beard on the tip of his nose stared at him like that, and then he opened his mouth and kicked his tongue.
“It’s not easy for us to kick this Young Lady. But there are definitely rules and traditions of the competition.”
“But Eleanor said she had a big accident earlier and she is very tired. She even injured her hand. If you kick her out, she might get a serious illness. Please just tonight….”
“There are no exceptions.”
Even after mentioning the circumstances, the Paladin only twisted his eyebrows as if Eun-woo got into trouble.
He crossed his white gauntlets across his chest and crossed his arms. He opened his mouth with a different posture.
“I don’t understand…! A very simple procedure, all you have to do is to lend something. To say you didn’t care about that is an insult not only to your qualifications as a Flora candidate, but also to the entire contest!”
“Wait a minute, that kind of coercion…!”
Selena rose to her feet, shaking off the seat in the arrogant anger of the Holy Knight. But the knights were outspoken.
Eun-woo groped all over her body to rummage through items that could be used for evaluation screening.
No matter how much she thinks of it, the only thing she has right now is the necklace of Tashian, which she had lost before. The tension and fatigue were making her feel low, as if she was going to faint.
She was drenched in her despair. It felt like she was falling to the ground just by losing his belongings, and this is going to make her frustrated again.
“This is absurd…! Follow me!”
In the end, the paladin’s wretched arm grabbed her slender forearm.
Eun-woo screamed at the touch that made contact with her arm and was dragged along in the direction the man was leading. Selena’s screams were heard from behind.
“Wait! Eleanor is very hurt! Please, just for one night…!”
“You’re too noisy! From now on, your words will be regarded as giving up your candidacy.”
Eun-woo frowned at the pain from the grasp of the knight, as if he was going to tear her apart. A grunt burst out amidst the crowd.
Her mind was jumbled up. Eun-woo staggered, dragging her feet like a dog being led to the slaughterhouse.
Selena’s sad calls could be heard from behind her.
“Eleanor, think about it! Is there really nothing…? Even a handkerchief, or at least a small cloth bag…!”
Then something like lightning flashed through her mind.
Eun-woo froze her body like a person struck by lightning for a moment. And she hit the forearm of the knight who was dragging him in haste.
“Wa, wait…! Wait a minute!”
As the paladin stopped, he looked with a dreadful stern gaze. The pressure from him frightened her for a moment. After that, she gave strength to her lips and endured the gaze from the paladin.
“There is…! There is! I have something to submit to the evaluation!”
Eun-woo struggled to escape from the paladin’s shaky arms and insisted desperately.
In the end, whether her struggles worked or not, the knight released her arm with dissatisfied eyes.
Selena quickly ran to her side. Eun-woo grabbed her painful forearm and rubbed it. The paladin crossed his arms with displeasure.
“What the hell do you have there?”
Eun-woo stared at the article for a moment, then rummaged through her pocket and pulled out the coin purse.
Selena whispered to her with her anxious eyes, standing by her side.
“Eleanor… The admission is a strict examination in its own way, they investigate the subjects and the owners of it.”
Selena was afraid she would turn in her coin purse.
In her words, it was implied that candidates who passed the screening with lies would receive a greater punishment later.
But Eun-woo calmly opened the coin purse and took something out of it, calm and collected. Selena, the other girls, and the paladin’s eyes were focused on the small object her hand was holding.
It was a copper coin. Eun-woo exclaimed proudly as she held out a small copper coin marked with the coin of Miremba to the knight.
“Th, this is a coin I received directly from someone I know well. I’m not lying, nor am I stealing. It’s something you have right. Is this okay?”
It was the coin that Karzxion had thrown to her playfully earlier.
Eun-woo thought that her heart was about to explode, and carefully glanced at the knights observing the coin she handed out.
“… A coin from Miremba.”
The knight who glanced down at the coin flicked it once with his finger, and exchanged strange expressions with the other knights as if he had no choice.
One of the knights bowed one eyebrow and threatened with disapproval.
“Are you sure you got this from someone you know? Again, if you lied, it will not only end with just being kicked out of the White Cathedral.”
“No, of course.”
Eun-woo swallowed her saliva and answered.
It was also true that it belonged to an acquaintance. Even though she met him after half a day and parted ways afterward.
“Okay. So, who owns this coin?”
The paladin held her coin in one of his hands and lifted it, interrogating her with her sharp eyes.
Eun-woo clenched her fists in order not to be embarrassed by the knight’s attitude, and opened her mouth. But one of the other knights suddenly interrupted her.
“Wait, this is…!”
The knight, who distorted his face as it was, took the coin that was held in her hand by the knight who was interrogating Eun-woo.
Eun-woo watched the knight, examining it thoroughly.
Is there any problem?
Eun-woo felt her spine soften in an instant and trembled. Anxiety that had lurked within her body suddenly rose to her head.
Although she proudly submitted the coin, there was no guarantee that it would actually pass the examination of the Paladins.
To their eyes, it was just an ordinary copper coin.
She nervously swallowed her dry saliva. However, all the knights who received the coin could not open their mouths as if they had applied grain syrup in their lips.
At that moment, Selena opened her mouth in disbelief.
“Oh my God, Eleanor… Just where did you get this things?”
Eun-woo blinked her eyes instead of answering her words.
“I can’t believe it. This is… the title of a Notem Knight.”
She then heard the knights murmuring among themselves, doubting her. Eun-woo looked around confusedly.
The knights who surrounded them tightly gathered together to catch the copper coin she had handed out. Eun-woo, who was standing in the middle of the buzzing sound in an instant, had no choice but to stand still, unable to guess what was going on.
At that moment, Selena quickly snatched the coin from the knight’s hand. After closely examining the coins, she opened her mouth to assert.
“I am sure. This is the coin given to the knight who has been awarded the Notem Knight. At first glance, it looks similar to the coin of Miremba, which is the emblem of a jockey riding a horse, but… Look at this.”
Eun-woo frowned to take a closer look in the direction Selena was pointing with her finger.
As she said, unlike Miremba’s coins, the knight’s hand was holding a long sword.
“I can assure you. It exactly matches the pattern engraved on the nib of our great-great-grandfather.”
Selena spoke in a confident tone. Indeed, she is a Young Lady, who likes history.
Eun-woo glanced at the coin in Selena’s hand.
“Certainly… When a Notem Knight is bestowed that title, he has the right to engrave the seal on anything she wants. But some madman came up with the idea of engraving that great emblem on a copper coin like this…!”
When the mention of knight was heard, the knights near them grimaced their faces instantly.
Another knight by his side quickly kicked nudged his elbow and said,
“Isn’t he the only one! Haven’t you heard the rumors?”
He looked around and muttered a little, as if afraid that no one would ever hear it.
“That yellow dog from the continent of Mezzoline…”
But, as if he was looking at Eun-woo, before she could even turn her head in the direction they were standing, a sharp voice came from behind her.
“What kind of fuss is this?”
Eun-woo knew the owner of this voice well.
Like her, the knights who recognized the owner of this voice turned around and bowed down to someone.
Unsurprisingly, the white-haired woman Eun-woo had been longing for before was standing behind them with a slightly hardened expression on her face.
“Where was she?”
The knights gathered around Eun-woo, all at once, asked the knights a question and approached her. But Irena didn’t answer and just strode towards her, past the rest of the candidates.
Eun-woo couldn’t help but look suspiciously at Irena, who was walking through the candidates proudly.
It was she who had led her back to where the candidates were. However, when an unsatisfying dispute arose over her admissions examination, she disappeared.
The feeling of avoiding this woman can’t be erased at all.
“It is not your concern. Has the admission screening for the candidacy of the first candidate been completed?”
Irena turned to Eun-woo with a cold voice and said,
Eun-woo remembered Selena’s words that there were a total of 50 candidates who would go through the first gate of the Flora competition.
She said she was the fiftieth nominee. It felt like her head went dizzy out of the blue. She wasn’t even chosen as one of the 150, and she was openly treated as an outlier.
Eun-woo gritted her teeth, remembering Reinhardt’s creepy laughter in her ear.
“Yes. The candidate just submitted an item and was looking at it. But……”
One of the paladins took a step forward and answered Irena’s dry question.
“The coin submitted by the candidate had the emblem of Notem Knight engraved on it. So I was just about to ask the candidate who owned the coin.”