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Eastern region of Olsylvia City, Olivia Wizard Academy’s society activity area, at the entrance of the Knights’ Union within the Wilcotts Block.
The only reason why even the more vocal and aggressive ones held their tongues at her blatant disregard for the line was because Bella and her companions were all females. Even though they were enraged, they still attempted to act as gentlemanly as possible. When Bella and Shirley walked up to the entrance of the Knights’ Union, they were finally stopped by the two knights who were on guard duty.
However, justice was not served. Keeping a grin on her face, Bella retrieved the recommendation letter that she had gotten from the Dragon Knight Ingrid and was allowed to successfully pass through the doors. This female knight definitely had something up her sleeve to have three Dragon Knights backing her. This made the other knights who were in the queue extremely uneasy.
The knights standing guard at the entrance could not do anything to her either as she came recommended by three Dragon Knights. They could only let Bella and Sherry enter the union without even verifying if they had the required papers. The layout of the Knights’ Union was similar to the Explorers’ Union that Bella had visited before.
The entrance hall was filled with knights who were fortunate enough to make their way into the building. There were knights of all levels – the highest level being the Holy Knights. It was incredibly rare for the Dragon Knights to be seen within the general public. Typically, they moved around with extreme elusiveness and could only be found inside the headquarters of the Knights’ Union.
Unlike the Explorers’ Union, the Knights’ Union did not have gorgeous bombshells as receptionists. The testosterone levels over here were off the charts as all the female knights had been assigned to the Knights’ Union Headquarters as reception staff.
“Excuse me, honorable Dragon Knights, how may I assist you today? Are you here to hand over your assignments or for daily…”
“Not today. I am here with my older sister… She wishes to receive her certifications as a knight.”
The Dragon Knights had their own designated reception counter. At this point, Bella had already deviated from the typical path and headed directly to the counter that was specifically for Dragon Knights to apply for her certifications instead. The receptionist was ready to refuse her rule breaking ways. However, he was being put in a spot as Bella came recommended by three different Dragon Knights.
“If I may ask, which level of certification would you like to apply for? Or are you applying to upgrade your level as a knight? It seems like you’re not even a trainee! Why don’t you apply as a trainee? It only requires a fee of twenty bronze coins and there aren’t any minimum requirements for Union Contribution Points.”
After going through Bella’s application credentials, the receptionist at the Knights’ Union suggested that she should begin her knight’s journey as a trainee. Fortunately, photography did not exist in this Other World and they did not have the habit of including an individual’s image on their credentials. Even though Bella’s body double, Princess Felia, had already received her certification as a Holy Knight, the staff did not suspect anything.
“I wish to be certified as a Holy Knight. It’s too much trouble to have to climb up level by level.”
“I’m afraid that it might not be possible. First of all, there is a certification fee of ten gold coins. Also, you will need to have a minimum of five thousand contribution points here at the Knights’ Union. At the moment, you do not have any points, which means that you will not be able to receive your certification…”
The rules set by the Knights’ Union Headquarters stipulated that each knight had to advance levels in a particular order. Therefore, the staff at the union did not dare to make a decision like this on their own when it came to attempts to reach the skies in a single bound. Although Bella had connections with a few Dragon Knights, they were not willing to take the risk by accepting her request. Once he was done speaking, the staff member returned Bella’s application to her.
“Brother, come on. Is it really impossible? Look, I really do not enjoy coming all the way here. Buddy, help me out a little. Is there nothing you can do at all?”
“Well… rules are… let me… I’ll think about it.”
Bella pushed her application back across the counter to the union staff member. He was about to reject it again before realizing that there were a few gold ingots between the pages. Based on what he could see, it was equivalent to hundreds of gold coins.
Martin, the reception staff member, hesitated. In addition to being the son of the president of this branch of the Knights’ Union, he was an avid gambler as well. While he was at the reception, he had accepted benefits from many knights who wished to cheat during the yearly evaluations.
The branch president had been called back to the headquarters in the Octavia Empire due to an emergency. Since the old man was not around, Martin was insanely tempted to accept the biggest bribe he had ever seen in his life.
“Madame Bella, I’m a… I’m someone who has principles, this application… I have to ref… I believe we can reconsider your application.”
Martin had wanted to put on a show of pretending to reject Bella’s request. However, Bella could see past his facade and had taken the liberty to slip him an additional five or six gold ingots with her application. Her bribe was now worth more than a thousand gold coins. If he were to let this fat cat slip through his fingers, there was no guarantee that he would ever see such large amounts of money ever again.
“Older Brother, I am not a patient person. Could you give me an answer now?”
“Well… alright, follow me. As for both the honorable Dragon Knights and your Knight aides, please wait here. Someone will be here shortly to guide you to a waiting room. I will bring Madame Bella to proceed with her certification as a Holy Knight.”
After ensuring that the two Dragon Knights, Lisha and Natasha, would remain silent about Bella’s actions, Martin finally decided to accept her bribe. He handed over the remaining matters to his colleague and led Bella into the records room of the Knights’ Union.
“The thing is, Madame Bella, could you tell me if you are nobility? There is nothing in your application that reflects anything on this matter.”
“Why? You can’t become a Holy Knight if you’re not part of the noble class?”
“That’s not it. It’s best if commoners do not engage in such activities. If the truth were to be revealed in the future, you would have a better chance of getting away with it as a noble.”
“I see. You don’t have to worry. You may proceed. This is a seal which is proof of my status as part of the nobility.”
“Duchess! Bellina… Grand Duchess, please forgive my poor behavior earlier on. I truly did not know…”
Once Martin knew that Bella was a noble, and was a high ranking Grand Duchess, he calmed down instantly. He retrieved a file containing a knight’s information from the records room and handed it to Bella. Within the Knights’ Union, it was a common underground practice for knights to purchase their titles.
As the records within the Knights’ Union Headquarters were subjected to stringent checks, it was nearly impossible to sneak anything past them. However, it was not the case at these external branches that had been set up within the different empires. For many years, the humans had constantly been at war with the Demon Race and Ogres. Every time, countless knights would perish in battle and some of these fatalities would have their personal records secretly locked away. The records of their points would not be erased either.
For those knights who wished to advance quickly, they would have to purchase these records from the staff of the external branches of the Knights’ Union. The information from these deceased knights could then be falsified and used as materials to verify a knight’s current status. Those who were in the know would call these individuals “pseudo-knights”.
In theory, as long as the knight does not present himself or herself at the headquarters for verification, these pseudo-knights would be free to use their status as they pleased. During the yearly evaluations, they would have to return to the branch that they had made the transaction at. Those branches would help them to deal with the evaluations from the Knights’ Union Headquarters.
The upper management of the Knights’ Union knew about this shady business. However, there was a conflict of interest as they were involved in some of these transactions as well. This meant that they had no choice but to turn a blind eye to such activities.
Bella had received an information packet from a female knight who had died in battle. Upon seeing the information, she did not know whether to laugh or cry as the information had belonged to her body double, Princess Felia, who was a Holy Knight.
Before her death, Felia was definitely the “Gandhi” of the Knights’ Union. Based on her records, she was the owner of eighteen thousand contribution points. Other than being a Holy Knight, she also managed to obtain the ten thousand points needed for her to advance to become a Dragon Knight.
“Sir Martin, don’t you have any other records?”
“I’m afraid I don’t. I’m unable to change things like gender. We have already verified with trusted individuals within the Radiant Church that Princess Felia has already passed away. Grand Duchess Bellina, if you wish to instantly advance to the level of a Holy Knight, Princess Felia’s records will be more than enough.”
Bella was feeling rather regretful. After jumping through all these hoops and spending more than a thousand gold coins, it was all for nothing as she had ended up buying her existing identity. This time, it was definitely a loss. Fortunately, if anyone were to check on her identity, she did not have to worry as her body double was Princess Felia herself.
“It’s a deal then. This matter should not be mentioned to anyone outside of this room, especially my old man. Eh? Grand Duchess Bellina, your imitation of the original owner’s signature is impeccable! I doubt there will be any problems moving forward.”
“I understand. Don’t worry, I’m familiar with the rules.”
This was the actual signature! While signing, Bella had messed it up slightly on purpose. However, anyone who had any knowledge of graphology would know that this signature belonged to the same person.
Once Bella had obtained Princess Felia’s records, the process of obtaining her certifications as a Holy Knight went on smoothly without a hitch. Martin had personally gone through the various items required for one to become a Holy Knight. Afterwards, he handed a sacred crucifix to Bella which was symbolic of her new status as a Holy Knight.
These sacred crucifixes were the only identity verification items that the Knights’ Union had collected from the Radiant Church. Each crucifix had their individual records with the Radiant Church and was the real deal that would be able to withstand any validity checks.
“By the way, Brother Martin, I now wish to proceed with an application to advance to become a Dragon Knight. Look…”
“Oh Grand Duchess Bellina, please do not put me in a spot. I… honestly do not, truly…truly do not have any way to make it happen.”
“Really? Judging by your expression, I’m sure that there is some loophole that you could make use of. Oh, I get it, you see…”
Martin had every intention to refuse. If the title of a Dragon Knight could be bought, he would have been rich by now. Bella placed a few gemstones of varying colors that were approximately the size of a chicken egg on Martin’s desk. Each of these gemstones were worth at least a thousand gold coins. At the sight of them, Martin was practically salivating. In this moment, it was as though he saw the light for the first time.
Martin swallowed, his adam’s apple bobbing up and down. After a short period of internal struggle, he finally gave in to the temptation. He placed the gemstones in his pocket, indicating that the deal was sealed.
Based on what Martin said, as long as one has ten thousand contribution points on record, the knight would be eligible to participate in the selection of the Dragon Knights. There were two different selection methods. The first way was to impress the Knights’ Union and be assigned as an alternate for the current Dragon Knights. These knights would then be referred to the Dragon Race which would assign them to any steed who wanted a Dragon Knight companion.
The above method was the typical way that Dragon Knights were selected and was personally supervised and managed by the Knights’ Union Headquarters. The second method was what Martin had suggested Bella use. This worked in the opposite manner where the individual member of the Dragon Race would select their own companion. The authority to conduct such ceremonies were relegated to the individual branches and could be certified right there.
However, this certification ceremony was extremely tedious. The Union had to verify that the knight in question was already in the process of applying to be a Dragon Knight. In addition, the knight must go through a qualification mission set by the member of the Dragon Race before he or she could be certified as a Dragon Knight.
“The official seals of Silver Dragon Princess Isabel, Ice Dragon Princess Mavis, and… and the Ebony Dragon Princess Clariss. Madame Grand Duchess, how in the world did you manage to get these princesses to place their seals on your recommendation letters?”
“Hmm, I wonder too. Martin, this should be sufficient for you to proceed with the certification process for me to become a Dragon Knight!”
Initially, Martin thought that he could take advantage of the situation and pocket Bella’s money without any effort on his part. He had suggested Bella use the second method as he knew that the Dragon Race, arrogant as they were, would not stoop to such levels to pick a human knight companion of their own volition. It came as a complete shock to Martin that Bella had succeeded as it had never crossed his mind that Bella would have the recommendation letters from a few of the Dragon Princesses.
Bella had obtained the seals from Isabel and Mavis when they had shared a bath together. As for Clariss’s seal, she had tasked the both of them to place the seal on the letter in secret. At this point, Clariss was probably still in the dark!
“Well, you would still have to prove your ability as a Dragon Knight. In a few moments, I will bring you to the training grounds where you will have to defeat nine consecutive random knight opponents within two hours. If you are successful, it will mean that you are capable of taking up the duty of a Dragon Knight. By the way, there is a possibility that a Holy Knight will appear as your opponent. However, no Dragon Knights will appear.”
“We shall meet at the competition grounds then.”
Martin, that scoundrel, was still planning to play tricks even after taking her money. It was not a big deal anyway. She only had to defeat nine cannon fodder! Even though the time limit of two hours was a little tight, thrashing nine opponents would be a piece of cake. Bella was confident that many of the knights here barely made the cut as a Holy Knight.
Eastern region of Olsylvia City, Olivia Wizard Academy’s society activity area, the Wilcotts Block. Bella sat alone in the waiting area within the Knights’ Union’s competition grounds. As Lisha and Natasha were guest spectators and witnesses to this event, they were waiting in the stands.
After learning of Bella’s decision, Lisha and Natasha did not voice any objections. They had seen how Bella had mysteriously defeated an entry level Dragon Knight and were extremely confident in her skills. As for Bella’s knight aide, Shirley, Martin had invited her to watch from the stands as well.
There were good intentions on Martin’s part. Shirley was a Summoner who was known for her incredible abilities throughout the human empires. It was said that she was even able to summon a dragon. If she had been given the opportunity to assist Bella in battle and she managed to summon some sort of ungodly steed, the results of the battle would be difficult to determine.
When knights went up against each other in combat, they would have to put on the knight’s formal armor. This made things extremely difficult for Bella as she had been wearing light armor when she arrived while everyone that she would be going up against would be wearing the more formal knight’s heavy armor. The worst thing was that every single suit of armor in the waiting room was light armor. It must have been Martin, that punk!
There was no way that Bella would be able to procure a female-style knights’ armor on such a short notice! Even if she decided to grab a suit of armor at random, there was a huge difference between the designs and structure of male and female armor. It was practically impossible for Bella to wear a male knight’s armor either.
How despicable! Martin, that punk, actually schemed against me. It’s no big deal. I will just have to take a suit of female armor by force, Bella thought as she opened the doors of the equipment room and slipped into the female knights’ changing room next door as soon as the coast was clear.
An Alarm Magical Enchantment had been cast on the doors of the female knights’ designated changing room. If a member of the opposite sex were to even touch the door, the enchantment would automatically release an ear-piercing alarm that would scare any peeping toms away. Such alarm systems were widely used within the human empires to deter perverts who would attempt to sneak into changing rooms.
Unfortunately, these alarm systems were not designed to keep out perverted females like Bella. Without much difficulty, Bella managed to open the door and snuck into one of the individual cubicles in the changing room. There was nothing that Bella could do but take a gamble and leave everything else to fate. Hopefully a female knight would enter the changing room soon and she would be able to “borrow” their suit of armor.
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