21st Century Archmage - Chapter 14
Chapter 14: Fly with Her!
“Oh dear, my joints.”
Thanks to the holy blessing, the sea monsters didn’t appear again. After recharging myself again with my mana breathing technique, I went madir hunting again. At some point, I began to falter, and as mana left my body, my stamina was worn down.
Flop. As soon as I brought the last of the captured tuna to the beach, I collapsed to the ground.
‘I’m gonna die. Any more than this, and I’ll die.’
I couldn’t even remember how many I caught anymore. After all, bolstered by their cheers, I had cast magic after magic like some valiant hero. As their cheers amplified, my mana and stamina had gone down little by little, and the hundred or so magic refrigerators Jamir brought were being swiftly transported to the beach by carriage.
“How regretful… it would have been better if you had caught just a few more.”
‘Holy! Just take a look at this guy!’
There was a saying that a human’s greed had no limits, and that statement applied directly to Jamir. Instead of worrying about me, who’d been beaten down by manual labor, he was sighing in regret about the tuna that was still flopping about in the ocean.
That was because those tuna were piles of money waiting to be captured by a single move of mine. If I were him, I’d want to move without rest like a machine, too.
‘He’s not even giving me an energy drink… sue me!’
Even breathing was arduous right now. The sun, as bright red as a pomegranate, had sunk low into the ocean, and my sweaty body was doused in a satisfying sense of fatigue.
At that moment, I heard Aramis’ lovely voice behind me. “Recovery.”
A cool energy fell onto my whole body like gently falling snowflakes. Although my body had felt so fatigued that it was a bother to even move my head, my vitality suddenly began to surge up.
Was this the taste of a top-grade fatigue recovery drug? I felt so energetic again that I felt as if a night hunt was possible.
“You’ve worked hard,” Aramis said with full sincerity, even though I hadn’t worked for Aramis’ sake. At those words, even all my accumulated stress flew away.
‘So this is the power of a priestess.’
It felt as if there would be nothing more to envy as long as you had one well-raised priestess by your side. No matter how much you ran around, with just one Recovery, you would be restored to perfect condition again. You wouldn’t even fear a hundred-man Energizer bunny army.
“Kyre-nim, you seem like a very hard-working person. It’s as if there’s no tomorrow.”
The beach was currently a battlefield because besides the prized madir, the rest of the catch was the villagers’ share. Whether it was madir or regular fish, they were all valuable consumables once dried in the sun, so the starved villagers were busy gathering all the fish. As I was watching them, Aramis spoke from behind me.
She had it completely wrong. The reason why I poured my blood, sweat, and tears today wasn’t because there was no tomorrow, but because I was trying to finish something I was going to do anyway in one go. This was something I would have had to do anyway. When it’s time to do something, do it thoroughly, and when it’s time to play, play thoroughly– that was my motto.
A person should live to the fullest until the day breathed their last, after all.
“It’s very admirable. To know God’s sentiment so well though even priests cannot see through Him… Kyre-nim, I am sure that you are an emissary delivered unto us from God.”
‘Wut? That’s not right…’
As if I could be some kind of God’s emissary. It’s just that I knew quite a few things from religions in the 21st century and flapped my mouth a little that one time.
“All things are a projection of your heart… That saying is something I shall never, ever forget, Kyre-nim,” Aramis said, her voice sweet to the ear.
My physical fatigue was gone, but suddenly, I felt a wave of sleepiness. For a moment, I thought maybe the kind-looking and kind-spirited sister from next door was singing me a lullaby.
‘Oh great Monk Won-hyo!’
How else could I have been able to deliver such an immortal saying?
‘I’m sleepy. I just wanna take a nice long nap.’
Before I knew it, the sun had set and stars began to sparkle one by one in the sky. I had the feeling that tonight would be a night to remember.
* * *
“Here, here! Please eat to your heart’s content!”
“Uhaha! I never knew such a happy day would come in my life.”
“Our brother Kyre is the hyung I look up to most in the world! You guys, you’re done for if you call him pervert panties bro in the future!”
Deron would bring that up every time I was about to forget about it.
Charcoal fires were scattered here and there, with skewered boar and madir, which only nobles could eat, roasting on spits. Thanks to Jamir, who brought quite a lot of the beer I had ordered, the villagers, mercenaries, and merchants were all excitedly eating and drinking at the feast.
“Kya, I never even imagined a day would come when I could eat madir ‘til I burst.”
“Eat! Eat! Eat lots! There’s no knowing when such a day will come again, after all!”
Even after reserving the best stuff, there were still tons of madir. Since all 100 or so magic refrigerators that Jamir had brought were filled to the brim, there was nothing one could do but to throw a large-scale madir party.
‘With red pepper sauce… soy sauce, wasabi… argh, as sushi…’
Roasted tuna dripping with fat wasn’t bad either, but sushi and sashimi suited my taste better.
What soothed my regret while eating the omega-3 rich grilled tuna was the taste of the refreshing beer. The words ‘so good it’ll bring you to tears’ were perfect for such an occasion.
“Kyre, I’m able to eat as much madir as I want for the first time in a while thanks to you. I’m truly grateful.” His face reddened with the blush of alcohol, Jamir thanked me.
‘If you’re thankful, gimme money. You’ve played the role of a corrupt captain all the way until now, jeez!’ Even knowing that this was an insanely profitable matter, I still couldn’t forget Jamir’s evil disposition as he looked at me like a wicked captain.
“Kyre, it seems that you truly have a special power. A strange power that brings joy to those next to you.”
It wasn’t to the level of admiration, but the look in Jamir’s eyes was one that said I could be of use to him. He didn’t even hide it.
“But isn’t it about time to settle the calculation?”
‘Huhu, I wonder just how much I earned today?’
We’d agreed on 50 Gold pieces per fish. I’d caught roughly 100 top-grade tuna. I calculated that I’d get 5,000 Gold as my payment at the very least.
“Our fortune this time was truly great. The month of the Sapphire Festival is upon us and the madir have been nigh uncatchable… it’s difficult to chance upon a situation so intensely tuned to the law of supply and demand.” Rather than making the calculation, Jamir just kept rambling on. “If other magicians were as flexible as you, madir hunting wouldn’t be this hard, but… as soon as they become 4th Circle mages, they become so proud and don’t ever do dangerous or difficult work anymore…”
Jamir went on a monologue filled with either regret or rage. According to him, once you entered the 4th Circle, you could live a cushy life as a mage in service of royalty or a territory.
‘I wouldn’t do this either, if I were them.’
Madir hunting was exactly the embodiment of the 3Ds– Difficult, Dangerous, and Dirty. It was pretty easy to catch them if you were a 5th Circle mage, but what kind of 5th Circle mage would go do such a thing, as if they had nothing better to do? Mages who would be pretty much the top of the food chain in Korea and enjoyed positions of money and honor wouldn’t go out of their way to catch smelly fish. On top of that, living amongst the fish were also monsters that could make a 5th Circle mage fearful.
“If it were you, sir, would you want to catch fish as a 4th Circle mage?”
“That is… I wouldn’t either. Who would become a mage only to catch fish. Also, if others knew that you did physical labor for money, your name would be scrubbed out of the list of mages in the magic tower.”
‘See, humans all have the same nature.’
Others wouldn’t want to do something I didn’t want to do. Of course, there were occasionally folks who were born with a spirit of sacrifice or people with unique personalities who led by example.
“Kyre, but which magic tower do you belong to? To be a 4th Circle mage at your age, the rumors about you would have surely shaken the continent…”
Jamir looked at me suspiciously.
‘You’ll get hurt if you know, dude.’
“I am on a secret mission.” I’d just be seen as a lunatic if I said I came from another world.
With a nod to my statement that it was a secret mission, Jamir began pulling out the numbers. “The total amount for 106 madir is 5,300 Gold. The cost for the goods you requested, 752 Gold. The net payment is 4,548 Gold.”
‘Huhu, 4,548 Gold!’
As expected, it was a respectable sum of about 5,000. Compared to the effort it took, it couldn’t be anything but an enormous amount.
“Jamir-nim, is it maybe possible to acquire a territory?”
“Territory? Did you just say territory?”
“Yes. For the size, a length of about 3-4 days on horseback would be nice.”
“Are you… a noble?” asked Jamir carefully.
“No. I’m not.”
“What, but to speak of a territory….?” Jamir had a puzzled look on his face.
‘Just like in fantasy novels, I guess you can only get a territory if you receive a noble peerage.’ I knew that, but I still needed to confirm it.
“To be fair, it doesn’t seem like an impossible matter for you. Once one becomes a 5th Circle mage, one can receive a baron title from a decent kingdom. However… a noble granted a peerage and a noble governing a territory is different. Becoming a lord of a territory is a restricted matter, and the inheritance of property isn’t something that a king or even emperor can meddle with at will. Only in cases of betrayal or long-standing unpaid taxes would the ownership of a territory move hands.”
‘Hooh, being a mage is really the best!’
“Of course, there are sometimes those among the nobles who sell their territories due to taxes or immense debt… since those are baronies, they’re small territories. Even so, it would cost around 300 thousand to 500 thousand Gold.”
“It’s not as much as I thought.”
“Not, not as much?” At my light remark, Jamir’s eyes widened in surprise.
‘I, Kang Hyuk, wouldn’t give up at such a paltry amount.’ On Earth, I was like a crown prince who had used an unlimited card. 300 thousand or 500 thousand, such a sum didn’t even enter my ears.
“Anyway, Jamir, I have a request.”
“A request?” Unable to recover from the shock my words had delivered him, Jamir faced me.
“This is something I’ve learned from roughly assessing the surroundings, but I don’t think there is anywhere with as many good aspects as Luna Village. The sea is swimming with schools of madir, valuable mushrooms and forageables like sharif and rudi mushrooms can be found all over the mountain, and the people live simple, honest lives. If this place was developed well, wouldn’t it be a great help to the Rubis Merchants?”
“Indeed. I’ve also never seen a village with such good conditions. Only… the problem is that the Zarre Mountains are too close. And the demon beasts…”
‘Demon beast? It wasn’t even that strong.’
The demon beast hide I’d tossed into some shade on the cliff was drying nicely. Jamir harbored fear towards such a “scary” demon beast.
“I have heard they are tricky. If there are many people or someone skilled, they don’t attack often, but they’ll bleed a person weaker than themselves dry. If we were to make use of a village like this among creatures like that…”
Like a proper merchant, Jamir considered every possible avenue of opportunity. At least ten minutes passed as he thought. However, it was clear to me– I had to secure Luna Village a chance for prosperity. I owed it to them for my life.
“Would you be able to protect this village for just 5 years?”
“5 years… We would need two Grade 1 mercenaries who can use Aura Blade and at least twenty Grade 2 mercenaries. I think the village wall would also need repair, and to become a village large enough to attract merchants to reside there like before, it would cost… at least ten thousand Gold.”
‘Ten thousand Gold? That’s pretty expensive.’
“Of course, that doesn’t include the price of priests or the territory taxes.” Looking at Jamir’s expression, it didn’t seem like he was lying.
‘It’s not even a city, but I guess accelerating the growth of a single village costs a considerable amount.’
In a short span of time, Jamir was able to calculate costs that I couldn’t even imagine. He was more than worth cooperating with.
‘I don’t have enough money. Since that’s the case…’
Now that the cat was out of the bag about me being a mage, I couldn’t stay here anymore. The villagers were already treating me with such caution. Not only that, but if word got out to the territory castle, things would become a pain.
“Jamir, would you maybe also purchase demon beast hide?”
“D-demon beast hide? Of, of course. If not for its scarcity, demon beast hide is a top priority item that a merchant would shell out jewels for to acquire.”
‘Huhu, it’s good I left it to dry.’
“You, you wouldn’t happen to have a demon beast hide, would you?” exclaimed Jamir in surprise, not even paying attention to his surroundings.
“What do you call a creature about 3 meters in size, with golden stripes and a face like a panther, and fangs the size of your fist?”
“Ta-taveliger! That sounds like a taveliger, the most valuable leather even among demons!”
“On top of that, it’s a clean hide with barely any injuries. How much would that be?”
Without mentioning that I had one, I fired up Jamir’s insides. ‘So you’re saying it’s a top good that a merchant would bring jewels to buy? Huhuhu.’ My mind was spinning with the possibilities.
“For something like that, you could definitely get at least 30 thousand Gold!”
‘Holy hell! 30, 30 thousand!’
Considering how easy it had been to catch the taveliger, it was like digging up a hole where a mutt had buried its bone and finding a golden ring. An insane amount of money, 30 thousand Gold, landed into my lap.
‘Should I just drop everything and become a demon beast hunter?’
In Kallian Continent, the realm of my master, opportunities to get rich in one fell swoop could be found here and there. To those who had the skill, it was like a treasure-filled Eldorado.
“You, you wouldn’t happen to have…” Swallowing his saliva, Jamir’s gaze was just like when he had played the role of a vicious captain.
“50 thousand. It’s something I caught with my life on the line, so what’s a mere 30 thousand?”
“Holy! So, so it was true! OOHHH! My goodness! Lord Almighty! A taveliger’s hide!”
He was happier than when he got the madir.
‘What? Should I have raised the price a bit more?’ Looking at the guy clasping his hands together and praising the gods, I had the feeling that I somehow took a loss.
“50 thousand! Alright. I shall buy the taveliger hide at 50 thousand.”
‘Man, he probably would have bought it for 100 thousand.’ Jamir’s true thoughts soon came to light.
“I will give you 40 thousand of that Gold. Only, during a time span of 10 years, please restore this village to its former status, no, please nurture it into a village even bigger than before.”
“… You’re impressive for such a young person. With 40 thousand Gold, you could live several lifetimes comfortably.”
Of course, that was possible too. But my dream wasn’t so trifling.
“I will bring it right away,” I said.
It was a law that you should repay your debts properly.
‘Now I feel refreshed.’
For me, I couldn’t be relieved unless I paid the debts I owed. And when that debt was a debt of life, which couldn’t be calculated in price, it was even more important.
Of course, my resentment steadily deepened towards the master who put me in this crappy position. My determination to return to Earth once I become an 8th Circle Archmage and burn that cheating, nasty master’s tower to the ground solidified.
* * *
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* * *
The last I had seen of her, she had been treating the ill villagers and playing with the children. At some point, the priestess Aramis had climbed up the cliff, my playground, without any fear. Having climbed up to clear her head from alcohol and see the ocean, she was standing and gazing at the waves. Emanating sacred aura, her white robe and long hair gently fluttered in the wind as she gazed upon the night ocean, which reflected the densely clustered stars and moon.
My previously calm heart suddenly began to thump erratically.
My chest warmed at the sight of the noble priestess, who was somehow able to draw people’s hearts.
“How can life born of God be explained? The entirety of the stars, the moon, the sea, and all life combining to make this picture, how can it be explained?”
‘Woah, is she asking me that?’ Aramis asked me such an abstract question, perhaps because she thought I was a high-level philosopher thanks to the one saying ‘All things are a reflection of your heart.’
“Beautiful things are beautiful, and ugly things are ugly. Is not the greater problem the mind, which goes beyond that and tries to differentiate beauty, inviting more thoughts about the ugly?”
“Beautiful things are beautiful… ugly things are ugly… Haah, so it is.”
‘Master Seongcheol, I apologize.’
TL: Master Seongcheol was a key figure in Korean Buddhism.
I totally ripped off his famous saying, ‘Mountain is mountain, water is water.’ If a beautiful woman asked you something and you couldn’t say a single coherent thing, then that meant your preschool education was lacking. Didn’t someone say that in a book? That he had learned everything at preschool.
“Everything I see right now, the sky and the sea, are beautiful… everything… also you, Kyre-nim…”
‘Ah!’ Turning her head naturally in front of the sea, Aramis suddenly told me I was beautiful too. ‘Is, is she flirting with me right now? Is she?’
This was a puzzling hot potato of a situation. Even though men are animals that wouldn’t say no to ten beauties, to hear such words from such a forward woman, particularly from a priestess sister of the faith who was looking at me with sparkling eyes, I really didn’t know how to interpret the situation.
“I heard it from others. That even though you are a mage, you conceal your power, and you don’t shirk dangerous work for the sake of the villagers, who have landed in difficult times. To such a noble spirit of sacrifice, I, a priestess of the Goddess of Mercy, express my utmost admiration.”
From beautiful to admiration, such words of praise entered my ears.
“N-no, that is…”
Upon getting covered in false filigree, I felt pressured. I knew I had done something good, but I didn’t think it was to this degree. And it wasn’t even given for free, but in payment for saving my life.
“In the future, with all of God’s grace, until I cross the Lute River into the afterlife, I, Aramis, swear upon God’s name, that I will aid all of Kyre-nim’s requests. No matter what they shall be.”
‘Ho-how can she say such a thing, to say such a thing means…’
Who knows what was going on in her head, but she suddenly swore her aid to me. I couldn’t help but gulp down my saliva. This beauty of legendary proportions, Aramis, promised to fulfill my every request.
‘Oh man, should I just take this godsend and run?’
I felt a little sorry about my parents and friends on Earth, not to mention Yerin, but to leave such a beautiful woman when she liked me too was just ridiculous. Moreover, this place was a land where living was simple as long as you had the skills. The conflict in my heart eased up.
‘No, I can’t. She’s still a priestess of God.’ I was struggling in the valley of conflict, but no matter how you sliced it, Aramis was a sacred priestess in service of God. ‘The world is large and there are many beauties!’
I was, after all, still legally a minor who couldn’t be called a full-fledged adult. For the sake of bigger dreams, I swallowed my regret.
“I’m grateful for the intent, but I’m sorry.”
In any case, Aramis was sworn to God. Upon hearing my words, Aramis bowed her head slightly and expressed her understanding.
“I’m the one who is grateful.”
‘Ah! This fragrance…’
As she faced me and slightly bowed, Aramis’ refreshing fragrance drifted towards me on the night wind. It had a mysteriously addictive quality that you could never forget. The seasons had flowed into Fall, but somehow, she radiated the smell of spring flowers. You probably would never need Febreeze if you lived with Aramis.
“But what are you doing in such a dangerous place…?”
“I suddenly wanted to see the ocean. A view of the ocean from high up rather than at sea level. Hoho, you may not believe me, but when I was young, I dreamed of becoming a Skyknight.”
‘Skyknight? What the heck is that?’
“To ride a wyvern and be a Skyknight of the blue skies– On a night like this, I truly wanted to fly once, but…”
‘Wow, ride a wyvern and be a knight of the blue skies! Damn! Wyverns really exist? And you can even ride them?’
I’d never even heard about Skyknights from my master or the villagers. As pure as she was, Aramis would never lie, so I couldn’t help but believe it. For some reason, Aramis had given up on her childhood dream and had become a priestess. No matter how much of a servant of God she may be, currently, all I could see was a human being with her own wishes and dreams.
“Would you like to fly?” I spontaneously asked.
Aramis nodded her head as she looked above the waves crashing into the sky.
“Then I will fulfill that wish for just a moment.”
At my words, she turned her head and stared at me with her grey eyes. Then she slowly put out her hand. Her eyelashes trembling slightly, Aramis’ face steadily reddened. My hand quietly took hold of her warm hand.
“Then, please excuse me.”
As if embracing valuable pottery, I took her waist with one hand.
“Ah…!” As she fell into my arms, Aramis uttered a low cry.
‘How can she be this thin?’
Her thin waist was like the waist of an ant. Even after taking hold with one hand, there was still a big gap on my arm.
My heart raced. And her heart was running as fast as my own.
I cast Fly, which I had memorized. Today, I had cast Fly magic so much that I should be tired of it, so the spell fell from my lips without a hitch.
“My, my body is floating.”
I had only cast the spell to the level of Levitation, so as to avoid frightening Aramis. She cried out in surprise as her body floated up.
Then, Aramis’ thin arms grasped my neck in fear.
Completely oblivious, she acted unconsciously. The flexible feeling of the beauty in my arms startled me completely awake.
I sincerely called out my mother.
Flying carefully above the cliffs, we crossed the sky and waves until we arrived above the ocean blue. Then, Aramis expressed her admiration by whispering into my ear with her delicate lips. “It’s beautiful. This moment…”
‘To me, you’re more beautiful~’ I secretly remarked to myself.
I put more strength into my arms as they held Aramis. And then, this thought occurred to me.
It’s really good that I became a mage…