The Road to Becoming Impressive
Adair didn’t start out impressive. A lot of it has to do with the Sun Knight’s nurturing.
Grisia Sun and Adair met at the age of eighteen.
Not soon after, Grisia chose Adair as his vice-captain. Then, he blasted him off a cliff. That earned him Adair’s undying loyalty.
By the time Grisia Sun became the official Sun Knight two years after they met, Adair could be said to be a fairly impressive vice-captain. Even the Storm Knight and the Judgment Knight could not help becoming fans of the capable Sun Knight vice-captain and his superb skills of handling, ahem, serving his captain.
That, however, wasn’t exactly the end of the story, or even close to the entire story.
Even before officially taking up his teacher’s mantle, Grisia Sun had undertaken several duties of the Sun Knight, but it was only after Grisia Sun had officially toiled selflessly as the new spokesperson of the God of Light for three years straight, dazzling all who gazed upon him with his perfect countenance and all who heard him with his invaluable words of wisdom, that Adair “became” the best vice-captain anyone could ask for.
Yes, the keyword was “became” — Adair, while he had the potential, did not start off omnipotent. If Adair’s impressiveness was 40% part of his nature, then the other 60% had to be due to nurture (thanks to the Sun Knight, or so the Sun Knight would claim in private, or with speech so convoluted that you wouldn’t be able to tell that he was praising himself. Blasting people off cliffs truly worked wonders in cultivating the perfect vice-captain. Don’t, however, try it if you’re not Grisia. You wouldn’t be able to pull it off.). What exactly had Adair become in the five years since meeting his captain? Well, if, at this moment, you were to ask the Sun Knight for his opinion about his vice-captain, the Sun Knight would smile widely and happily tell you this:
“The benevolent God of Light has bestowed upon His Sun Knight a spectacular second-in-command, peerless in his discourse and flawless in his comprehension of the murmurings of the God of Light’s will. He has the superb touch of a master culinarian who understands the delicate art of preparing sweet nourishment for the famished in the God of Light’s stead, and when he must step foot onto the inevitable battlefield, he protects the children of the God of Light with his pulchritudinous swordsmanship, his hand never stayed by indecision. His bearing is no less regal than that of a noble, and truly, he has much to be proud of as a holy knight of the God of Light. Furthermore, his penmanship is excellent, and he handles administration with impeccable efficiency…”
That was Adair in not quite a nutshell.
Once, the Storm Knight committed the mistake of asking the Sun Knight for his thoughts on Adair. He then had to endure listening to the Sun Knight extol the virtues of his vice-captain, his praise lengthy enough for the Storm Knight to finish correcting five different documents in his attempt to tune the Sun Knight out so that his head wouldn’t start hurting. (He didn’t succeed.)
When the Sun Knight’s long spiel came to an end and he discovered that his audience was not as captive as he ought to be, the Sun Knight’s smile faltered slightly. Instead of rejoicing with the Sun Knight over how wonderful a vice-captain he had, the Storm Knight simply said in a pained voice, “Are you done yet?”
“There is much more Sun could say, but Sun truly could have asked for no one better,” finished the Sun Knight. What he meant was, Don’t I have the best eye for people or what? Come on, praise me~! (But of course the Sun Knight couldn’t have been angling for praise, right?)
“Don’t get me wrong. Adair is awesome, but you had already lost me the second time you mentioned the God of Light,” the Storm Knight replied, ink-stained fingers digging into his temples. “Next time, please just say ‘Adair is impressive’ and leave it at that.”
The Sun Knight had not looked happy at having his carefully crafted words dismissed, but surely everyone had just seen wrongly that day, for the Sun Knight always wears a benevolent smile.
In any case, all of the above was beside the point. The point was, Adair was impressive, and his captain would be one of the first, if not the first to extol his virtues (as there was still the Storm Knight and the Judgment Knight to consider), the resulting praise extensive enough to fill up entire scrolls if it had been recorded in writing. However, Adair hadn’t started out as impressive as he was now.
The truth was, Adair had always had good language and people skills. That had been enough for Grisia to immediately pick Adair out of the rest of the platoon as his vice-captain. In fact, Adair had been the only one out of the twenty something holy knights who understood what Grisia had been trying to say, and he had also been the only one brave enough to speak to Grisia (everyone else had only been able to stare at Grisia in awe. Grisia did have that effect on people).
Most of the rest of Adair’s extensive list of skills, however, came through practice and diligence, the result of rising up to the situation to carry out every single thing his captain tasked him to do, regardless of how absurd the demand was. The diversity of the tasks eventually trained Adair to become an extremely versatile person.
For example, Adair had not always had “the superb touch of a master culinarian.” In other words, he hadn’t always been a good cook.
The first time Grisia, not yet the Sun Knight, commanded Adair to make him breakfast, Adair went to the kitchens and tried to put something together. A sandwich should be easy, Adair had thought, but oh how wrong he had been.
The resulting toast had been slightly burnt, the cheese melted so much that it had turned even the burnt toast somewhat soggy, and the slices of tomatoes had been a tad too thick. It wasn’t exactly disastrous (it could have turned out a lot worse), but all the minor imperfections added up to something Adair couldn’t give his captain. In the end, he asked the cooks to prepare the sandwich in his stead, disappointed that he hadn’t been able to do it himself.
That day, Adair presented his captain with the delicious sandwich that the kitchens had prepared; however, his superb observational skills told him that his captain hadn’t exactly enjoyed the sandwich despite its perfection.
At first, Adair hadn’t known what he could do to appeal to his captain’s tastes more, but after getting thrown down a cliff one hundred times and getting told to fetch some blueberry dessert, Adair realized that his captain really liked blueberries.
Like, really really liked them.
He also found out that he was supposed to fetch the blueberry desserts from none other than the Ice Knight.
In Adair’s 40% of natural awesomeness also existed the ability to take things in stride and to make snap judgments. He went to knock on the Ice Knight’s door without batting an eye because after getting acquainted with his captain, there really was very little that could surprise Adair anymore. When the door opened, revealing an entire kitchen inside the room, Adair immediately said, “Please teach me how to cook.”
Expression unchanging, the Ice Knight opened the door wider and invited Adair in. When the Ice Knight retrieved a second apron out of nowhere, Adair thought that maybe the Ice Knight had always secretly wanted a baking partner. As silent as Ice Knight who was wearing an apron decorated with cupcakes, Adair tied the apron Ice Knight had given him around his waist. His apron was decorated with pictures of muffins. He and Ice Knight kind of matched.
They had several baking sessions after that, as well as miscellaneous other cooking sessions that they braved through together, as Ice Knight’s specialty was merely baking. Adair’s cooking skills greatly improved as a result. He also had countless opportunities to practice, as his captain asked for breakfast nearly every single day. Sometimes Adair asked the kitchens to prepare the breakfast. Other times, once Adair was confident enough in his skills, Adair personally prepared his captain’s breakfast, making sure to slather the bread for his captain with blueberry jam that he had made with the Ice Knight.
Adair was always ridiculously pleased whenever his captain seemed to enjoy the meals he made even more than meals made by the cooks. (The blueberry jam was probably the decisive factor, but Adair still counted that as a victory.)
What else would my captain enjoy eating? Adair began thinking. Later, he would discover that the Leaf Knight was quite an accomplished cook as well, versed with seasonings and spices. Adair would consult him and learn from him too (though thankfully he never approximated the Leaf Knight’s zeal for seasonings, otherwise we would have another penniless holy knight on our hands).
Adair would go on to become a superb cook because of his daily practice of seeing to his captain’s breakfast. Really, Adair’s awesome cooking skills were largely thanks to the Sun Knight.
What then of Adair’s mastery of the sword? If you were under the impression that surely the Sun Knight couldn’t have had anything to do with Adair’s impressive skill with a sword, not with how poorly the Sun Knight held his own sword, you would be sorely wrong.
It was exactly the Sun Knight’s somewhat “dismal” skills with a sword that pushed Adair into transforming from a fairly good swordsmen to a damn impressive swordsmen who could be said to be in the top ten of the Holy Temple. Whenever anyone wished to shame the Sun Knight by challenging him to a duel of swords (it had not been hard for anyone who wished to know to discover the Sun Knight’s lack of skill in the way of the sword), Adair would leap to his captain’s aid and say, “Allow me. If you are not even capable of defeating me, then you are not worthy of going against my captain.”
Even if the challenges weren’t uttered in his captain’s presence (meaning his captain didn’t even know about them), Adair still took care of them. He believed in nipping the situation in the bud, much like how his captain believed in dealing with “future” enemies before they even showed their animosity. (Chip off the old block, anyone? Like captain, like vice-captain…)
In such a way, Adair greatly honed his sword skills. Battling challengers was a great way to gain experience. On top of that, his captain’s “suggestions” of beating dogs for him pushed Adair even more firmly into the top ten.
At first, the dogs Adair beat away for his captain were hounds and terriers that seemed to like snapping at his captain’s feet too much for their own good. They were dogs through and through. As time passed, Adair continued to beat dogs for his captain; however these scoundrels, instead of jaws, would come at him with swords. Gradually over the years, the dogs Adair beat gained a different meaning, and beating them greatly improved Adair’s skill (both in swordplay and in underhandedness).
When even the Judgment Knight learned of Adair’s impressive swordsmanship, there was really no turning back. The Judgment Knight would spar with Adair from time to time under the pretense that he was challenging the Sun Knight’s authority (after all, Adair took care of all such challenges toward his captain), when in reality both were just practicing their swordplay. With the Judgment Knight as a sparring partner, how could Adair not enter the top ranks of the Holy Temple?
What then of the personality that Grisia Sun thought Adair had “much to be proud of as a holy knight of the God of Light” for? Years of serving his captain had led Adair’s craftiness and bluntness to develop fully. It was inevitable, really. With such a captain, it had only been a matter of time for Adair’s dormant character traits to surface and take over. That, and he also learned to let go of his inhibitions. Why hold back when his captain was the very epitome of throwing away one’s scruples and making it appear like you hadn’t? Adair found that it worked very well for him.
The first time his captain tasked him with ganging up on someone, Adair took the Sun Knight Platoon, ganged up on the guy, and straightforwardly beat him up, no questions asked. It was only after they beat the person up that Adair realized they’d gotten the wrong person.
(None in the Sun Knight Platoon would dare breathe word of this to their captain, not until years later when Ed forgot why they had kept it a secret. They did value their lives after all.)
That, by the way, was how they had come to know Elijah, as he had been the poor victim of Adair’s blunder as a novice in leading the Sun Knight Platoon in ganging up on their targets. Adair soon learned how to effectively gang up on someone, though sadly he learned too late for Elijah to avoid getting beaten up. (In hindsight, it was a good thing Adair had once led the Sun Knight Platoon to beat Elijah up, or else they would not have gotten acquainted and then Elijah would not have aided Adair as swiftly as he did years later against the Son of the God of War. Karma was strange like that. Beat someone up, and they’ll end up saving you later).
Adair also learned to cover their target’s face so that they would not discover that it was the Sun Knight Platoon that was beating them up. Adair had made the mistake of ganging up on Elijah without proper obfuscation of the Sun Knight Platoon’s identity. (Otherwise they would not have needed to apologize at all).
Thankfully, Adair had always had great “language” skills, and he had always had the knack for making people forget about inconsequential matters, such as the fact that you’d accidentally got beaten up for no reason. As Adair apologized and offered to buy drinks, he spoke in a tone that sounded so genuine and apologetic that Elijah could only rub his neck and magnanimously forgive the Sun Knight Platoon for beating him black and blue.
Despite Adair’s less than noble deeds, few ever had anything bad to say about him. Even Elijah, after getting beaten up, came away from the encounter saying, “Adair’s very loyal.” Others around the Holy Temple were of the opinion that Adair was a great friend and an awesome listener. No one ever cursed Adair with “you despicable bastard!” despite how despicable some of the deeds he carried out truly were. Perhaps his supposed good nature could even survive through meeting princesses who were prone to deeming people “despicable bastards,” but that remained yet to be tested.
See how much of an influence Grisia Sun had on his vice-captain? They had met at the age of eighteen. By the time five years passed since they made their acquaintance, Adair became talented in the kitchen, powerful on the battlefield, and beyond peerless with his artful language. Let’s not forget how Adair also became masterful at paperwork, second only to the Storm Knight, with how often he handled his captain’s paperwork. Truly, he had much to be grateful towards his captain for. If not for his captain, surely Adair would have turned out to be just an average holy knight.
Imagine then, what that meant for Lesus Judgment, who’d met Grisia years and years before Adair had and spent a much longer time in Grisia Sun’s blessed presence. Imagine even further what that meant for Roland Hell, who’d met Grisia even before all the others had at the tender age of ten.
(Truly, there was a reason both Lesus Judgment and Roland Hell were such superb swordsmen. Lesus Judgment was also superb at detecting lies and manipulations, courtesy of his long acquaintance with Grisia Sun. Surely the only reason Roland Hell was not as astute in these matters as Adair and Lesus were was because Roland had lost contact with Grisia for many years.)
The lesson was, if you wanted to become impressive, all you had to do was become acquainted with Grisia Sun and survive his “gentle” requests of beating dogs for him, securing blueberry dessert, becoming his meat shield…
Just look at how that had turned out for Adair, the Judgment Knight, and the Hell Knight! Even the Storm Knight had benefited from becoming acquainted with the Sun Knight. Look at his fortitude for paperwork now! Truly, what an inspirational and nurturing man the Sun Knight was!
Although Adair had doubted before, he could have asked for no one better to serve. That was what he thought as he knocked on the Ice Knight’s door once again, scent of blueberry muffins beckoning him inside.