Fandom: The Legend of Sun Knight
Summary: The vice-captains of the Twelve Holy Knights never thought that their jobs would differ so vastly from their expectations. Tyler has really been missing out.
Notes: The climax(?) of Tyler's journey.
Suggestion #10: Take Daily Baths
Suggestion #11: Think Outside the Box
"...Eight, nine, ten... eleven..."
I counted each of my strikes. When the eleventh strike hit the practice dummy, I paused.
The eleventh person should arrive at any moment.
The rest of them had all accosted me during my training, much to my confusion at the beginning. By now, even an outsider would have some clue that something was going on. Even I knew there was something going on. There was no reason the last one of them wouldn't come and seek me out just like all of the others had.
Therefore, I kept alert for possible interruptions to my personal training, but none came even as I wrapped the session up. The training grounds remained empty. I slowly sheathed my sword, and I slowly headed inside, my steps akin to a tortoise's. If I moved any slower, I might as well not be moving. Still, I remained the lone straggler.
But I couldn't be wrong about what had been happening. Each and every vice-captain had sought me out during training, getting me involved in all sorts of things whether or not I had wanted to be involved.
Now, there was only one person left who hadn't approached me—Vice-Captain Sun, the unofficial leader of the vice-captains. There was no actual leader among us, but everyone knew Adair was it.
By this time, I had already left the training grounds. He was still nowhere in sight.
Where in the world is he?
I continued with my day, but the question remained on my mind. That was why I returned to the training grounds after completing my tasks, providing him ample time to approach me. I swung my sword again and again, visualizing the enemy and my strikes against them. Yet, by the time I finished several sets, I was still very much alone.
Hm, I thought and wiped my sweat. I raised my head and looked around. There was no use in staying.
I headed back. In the corridor, I spotted Vice-Captain Storm waving over a cleric who was most likely the girlfriend of one of the storm knights. Don't tell me she was cheated on by Knight-Captain Storm too? I'm so glad my captain isn't a flirt. In fact, he doesn't even pay any attention to girls.
In any case, I decided to find out if Vice-Captain Storm knew anything.
"You're asking me where Adair is? Last I saw him was in the morning. He was preparing a blueberry sandwich for his captain–" Is preparing breakfast for the captain also part of our duties? Should I be doing it too? But Captain never eats in public or takes off his mask. What does he like to eat? "–but I haven't seen him since."
I thanked him and continued onward. When I entered the kitchen, I happened across Vice-Captain Cloud, who had a dirty rag in his hand. He didn't stop wiping even as he spoke with me.
"Hm? You're searching for Adair? He should be easier to find than my captain..." said Vice-Captain Cloud. I glanced around the kitchen at the innocent-looking cabinets that lined the walls, afraid that a certain ghost-like captain might be hiding within them. Although Vice-Captain Cloud had raised my concerns about whether or not my captain would hide in such places as well, by now, I was extremely certain that he wouldn't. He just wouldn't! "You could check the perimeter. I saw him heading out with the Sun Knight Platoon."
I took his advice. On my way over, I came across Vice-Captain Blaze holding an ax dangerously in his hand. If I didn't know him, I would think he's an axe murderer. I'd send him on his way to the Judge's Complex! After hurriedly reassuring him that I was in no need of a new door today (thank the God of Light my captain doesn't go around kicking doors for no reason), I finally got out my inquiry, and he mused, "Uh huh, saw the guy leading the pack around the city like usual."
I gave him a nod. Adair was indeed in the habit of running laps with the Sun Knight Platoon every morning.
However, instead of finding him, as morning was already well over, I came across Vice-Captain Moon returning from patrol with the rest of the moon knights. He was looking as sharp as always in his flashy clothing that was just as fancy as his captain's. I unconsciously fixed my collar, not wishing to be criticized over my clothing and to end up needing new clothes again. I had little money to spare, as I had already... well. Captain's outfit was rather unique.
"Adair? He mentioned paperwork he had to attend to in lieu of his captain, and that he needed to give Knight-Captain Storm a helping hand," Vice-Captain Moon answered.
What diligence! To think he even helps out the other captains... I truly still have much to learn as a vice-captain.
To my dismay, the corridor to the Knight-Captains' rooms was empty. Adair was already long gone from the scene, and I couldn't bring it upon myself to knock on Knight-Captain Storm's door just because I was so terrible at tracking someone down.
I trudged past his door, bumping into someone with a tray around the corner. I scrambled to grab the tray and to prevent the bread from flying off of it, but I was unsuccessful. A lone piece of bread escaped, leaping off the side of the tray.
For a moment, I thought I would fail to save it.
Then, I hurriedly darted my hand out, snatching it in midair before it could fall to its death.
"Sorry," I said and safely placed the piece of bread back on the tray.
Thankfully, Vice-Captain Ice didn't glare at me, so I assumed he wasn't angry at me for my negligence. He even gave me the piece of bread I had just saved. Then, changing his mind, he actually gave me the entire tray. I blinked when he gave me a nod after that, and then rushed off in the direction of the bathroom. Did he get food poisoning again? Isn't that happening a bit too frequently?
"Vice-Captain Ice! Do you happen to know where I might find Vice-Captain Sun?" I called out at his retreating back.
"Sanctuary of Light."
As I walked, I ate the piece of bread I had saved, feeling no ill effects from doing so. It was rather tasty, most likely baked by Knight-Captain Ice himself.
At the Sanctuary of Light, I came across Vice-Captain Leaf, who had just exited the Pope's study. He had a slim pouch in his hand and a frown on his face. Perhaps the Leaf Knight Platoon would soon be in need of selling more arrows, if that pouch was anything to go by. Might their captain have borrowed money from them again? For a time, I had been afraid that my captain was secretly making up for any money shortages the Hell Knight Platoon might have, but thankfully, a bit of investigating revealed that our platoon's finances were doing fine, if not my own.
"You're looking for Adair?" he answered me, hand snaking out to snatch a piece of bread before I even offered him one. I went ahead and gave him the entire tray. He needed it more than I did. "He was here before me to borrow a few clerics for a task Knight-Captain Sun assigned him. Check the palace. He mentioned needing to talk with some of the nobles."
Just how busy is Adair? I can't ever seem to catch up with him!
I thanked him and momentarily considered not going to the palace, as I had no reason to head there except for finding Adair, but if I were to let go of this lead, I really didn't know when I'd ever find Adair. Definitely not within the day.
Therefore, I began making my way over to the palace. When I reached my destination, I milled about outside one of the corridors quite awkwardly for much too long, regretting my decision. I didn't even know where in the palace Adair was. It wasn't like the royal knights would let me walk in to look for him just like that.
Fortunately, I spied Vice-Captain Metal by one of the pillars, holding a leather-bound notebook, perhaps the same notebook that he had been writing in the other day. It made me recall the piece of parchment he had given me when I had asked to shadow him. I'd taken to heart his recommendation of jotting down notes for our captains, filling the parchment with all sorts of tidbits. But whether my notes would be useful for my captain was yet to be seen. And I need to buy more parchment.
Upon hearing my question, Vice-Captain Metal vanished his notebook too quickly for me to figure out where it had gone. Pity. "Adair, is it? You missed him just now. He's visiting some of the nobles at their homes, since they're not here."
Come to think of it, why are you here, milling about?
Whatever the reason was for Vice-Captain Metal's presence at the palace, it would play no part in helping me catch up with Adair, and I wasn't about to barge into private homes to chase after him. I decided to wait until dinner time instead, as he had to return to eat.
Dinner time rolled about, and there was still no sign of Adair. At the dinner table, Vice-Captain Stone chatted my ear off the entire time. "I hear you've been searching for Adair! Any luck yet? No? I know, right? I don't get how he can be so busy all the time and not fall dead on the spot from overworking. Ah, but if that happens, the Holy Temple would cease functioning, and we vice-captains wouldn't have anyone to go to, either!"
The end of dinner was a reprieve for my ears, and I was ever so thankful that my captain was not a wordy person. He guarded his words much more invaluably than Vice-Captain Stone did, though that was a rather easy feat to accomplish. The dishes were being cleared, so I decided that I had stayed and listened to Vice-Captain Stone's ramblings long enough. By now, all of the other vice-captains had left. Perhaps Vice-Captain Stone had stayed behind to keep me company. It was nice of him, though unnecessary.
I left the room and immediately had to stop to avoid stepping on Vice-Captain Earth's kitten. I picked her up, wondering why she was wandering around. Soon, Vice-Captain Earth hurried over, thanking me for finding her. It was really no problem, since he had come to fetch her right away. Besides, Vice-Captain Earth had been kind enough to let me borrow some money. It made his suggestion of gift-giving a lot more feasible.
While cradling the kitten, he said, "I just saw Adair return. He should be around the Holy Temple."
I thanked him, hoping I could actually find him this time, and quickly. I had evening plans, after all.
However, when I came across yet another vice-captain that was not the one I was searching for, I was nearly ready to call it a day. Vice-Captain Judgment appeared like he was about to hit the public baths. Again. Does he take baths at all sorts of random times? This is much later than the other day. Come to think of it, I don't think my captain enjoys baths. He's never there with the rest of the platoon. But maybe Adair will be there, since he did just return from his task.
If it weren't because I had other plans, a warm bath actually sounded quite pleasant right now.
Before I could even ask anything, however, Vice-Captain Judgment lifted an eyebrow and gestured behind him with his thumb. "I believe he's that way."
I looked over. He was pointing at the training grounds I had used this very morning.
Is it truly possible he's right where I started?
I headed in that direction, not really believing that he would actually be there, but I had already run into all of the other vice-captains in my search today. He was the only one left to complete the set.
When I rounded the corner, the back of the very vice-captain I had been looking for all day came into sight. I blinked my eyes, hard. I took a second look. Then a third look. And a fourth. He was still there, in the middle of swinging his sword at a practice dummy, much like what I did every day.
I stilled my steps at the sight that was all too familiar, only with the tables turned. Hadn't they all approached me just like this in the middle of my personal training each and every time?
Adair must have heard my footsteps, for he sheathed his sword and turned around, saying, "There you are."
I walked closer, shaking myself out of my thoughts. "There you are. How are you so busy that you're even harder to find than Knight-Captain Cloud?"
"You exaggerate, Tyler. Knight-Captain Cloud is much elusive than I am," Adair replied in a tone that suggested how admirable it was for Knight-Captain Cloud to be so difficult to find. His vice-captain would definitely disagree considering how often he couldn't find him. "In any case, here I am. I hear you have been looking for me."
Shouldn't you have been the one looking for me?
"Yes," I replied, "because you're the last one." It had all started with Vice-Captain Storm pulling me away from my training to watch his captain get yelled at by a parade of disgruntled girlfriends. Following that, the vice-captains never stopped disturbing my training, dragging me everywhere, and claiming that I needed "pointers." Adair was the last one.
The corner of his mouth lifted into a smile. "I wouldn't say that."
"Why not?" Who else is there? Did I forget someone, or are they going to take turns poking at me again?
Adair looked at me. I looked behind me. Then, I turned and pointed at myself.
"Me?" I finally asked.
Adair nodded. "We should be twelve in number, just like the Twelve Holy Knights. Who would maintain order in each platoon if not for us? Welcome to the life of a vice-captain, Tyler."
I shook my head. "I've always been a vice-captain."
"But you were also the substitute Hell Knight," Adair reminded me.
It was true that I had been the substitute Hell Knight, and I had enjoyed substituting as the Hell Knight. While it wasn't the role I had signed up for, it had been a great honor, and I hadn't done a bad job leading the Hell Knight Platoon. But that didn't mean I hadn't also been the vice-captain at the same time. I had always been a vice-captain, even when I began to doubt that my captain would ever return.
But he did return.
Sparring with Captain every evening was very enjoyable. There was still a lot I didn't know about him, but he always cared greatly about my advice. For such a captain, I didn't mind taking a step back.
"What about you, Adair?" I asked, turning the tables on him, recalling Vice-Captain Stone's observations, as well as my own impressions from a fruitless day of searching for him. "You're always so busy! I couldn't even find you today. You weren't even at dinner. You do so much, you might as well be the Sun Knight."
It was a thought I had had before. Today merely drilled it in even more. As a vice-captain who had substituted for a knight-captain, I had at times considered what things would be like if all of our positions had been swapped with our captains'. Adair surely would be more than capable as the Sun Knight.
However, Adair shook his head, disagreeing with my assessment. "I don't have the ability to be the Sun Knight."
Are you serious, Adair? You, Adair, the guy who all the vice-captains look up to? Even the Knight-Captains ask for your help! You're even busier than Knight-Captain Sun!
"Why do you think you're not qualified to be the Sun Knight?" I asked.
His answer came rather quickly. I had thought he might need a moment to gather his thoughts. "Everything I do is just following orders. What's truly hard to do is giving the orders."
I gave him a look, thinking back on all the miscellaneous things he had done today, and listed my doubts off the top of my head. "Making blueberry sandwiches is part of following orders?"
"Yes." He smiled wryly.
"Running laps around the city?"
"Yes... and no."
I raised an eyebrow up.
"I was given some of the documents, and I chose to correct more. But you'll know the difference between the difficult orders and the mundane ones, and paperwork definitely falls under the latter."
"Is it the same for everyone else?" I asked, focusing on the first part of what he had said, about how he had "chosen to correct more." I thought of how Vice-Captain Cloud would clean the cabinets, and how Vice-Captain Blaze would go out of his way to plant trees. Really, all of them had their quirks, and I didn't think any of their captains had asked them to do whatever it was they were doing. For example, I couldn't see Knight-Captain Judgment ordering his entire platoon to take so many baths! "I don't think all you're doing is blindly following orders."
Adair laughed. "That's true too. They're our captains, after all. Even when we're not ordered to do something, you'll want to do something for them anyway. Haven't you felt the same, Tyler?"
"Is that what this was all about?" I asked. "You were all giving me suggestions about how to serve my captain, by showing me what you usually do?"
"That was the plan," he agreed.
"Huh," I said, thinking back to all that had happened. From special getaways, to extra spending money, to a parade of girlfriends, these vice-captains had really thrown all kinds of suggestions at me. I had given them all a second thought today, but, well... I turned a frown at Adair.
"Adair, there's a problem," I said.
While I didn't know my captain all that well yet, I did know the following. "My captain doesn't spend much money. He doesn't even give a second glance at girls. He never leaves the Holy Temple. He doesn't care about baths. All he really does is train, train, and train."
I frowned some more.
"So..." I continued. "Doesn't that mean... to best serve my captain, I should just continue training like what I've already been doing? That's what he cares about the most. Swordsmanship."
What was the point of getting dragged all around the place?!
It was like what had happened to me today. I hadn't needed to spend so much energy looking for Adair all around the Church. He was right where I had started. Eventually. But I did get to know his hectic schedule a bit more.
Oh, and there was that that had resulted from all of this...
"Huh," was all Adair said. Then, he laughed. "You really are a full-fledged vice-captain!"
I rolled my eyes.
Adair chuckled and said, "Come on, I'm being serious. It means that you know your captain well. That's the sign of a good vice-captain! And who knows? Maybe you'll think of something else you'll want to do for your captain. It never hurts to think outside the box. We all tried to show you different things. It works for our captains but maybe not yours, since each captain is different, after all."
Hearing his praise made me smile, just a bit, and feel slightly less miffed.
Adair cleared his throat. "With that said, Vice-Captain Hell, care for a drink with the rest of the vice-captains later this week? We meet each month in the tavern. You should come join us."
I think I will.
After Adair left, I hummed to myself as I struck at the practice dummy, waiting for my captain to arrive so we could have our evening duel. While most of the suggestions they had given me were useless, they were right that my captain did make me want to do things for him.
Huh, I thought to myself as my sword hit the practice dummy. Come to think of it, it's strange that I haven't seen Knight-Captain Sun at all today. Going by the usual pattern, a vice-captain comes to find me while I'm training, I follow them, and I end up crossing paths with their captain halfway through. Then again, Adair didn't really follow the pattern.
Shaking my head, I threw myself back into training, eager for the upcoming duel.
The Eleventh Suggestion for Serving Your Captain: Think Outside the Box (Your Captain Will Appreciate it)
to be continued
The conversation between Adair and Tyler is based on what Tyler told Sun in V7C4. I loved that scene between them and what it revealed about Adair. I've always wanted to write something based on it!