21st Century Archmage - Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Showdown with a Skyknight
“Are you leaving?”
It was two days after Aramis and Jamir’s departure from the village. Having distributed the goods brought in by the merchants, the village was bursting with vitality. As for me, I had woken up before dawn.
‘How did he know?’
My work here was done. I wanted to leave as suddenly as I had appeared, but as soon as I got up, Hans asked me if I was leaving.
“Haha! I’m thinking about going on a trip,” I said, putting all my effort into acting like nothing was up and scratching my head. It was my first time actually saying goodbye to someone, so I felt pretty awkward about it.
“Only right to do so. You should travel while you’re young… Thank you. If it weren’t for you, this village would have been lost to history.”
This usually stoic man suddenly had a lot to say.
“This, this is some bread.”
“How did you know that I would leave?”
“Who wouldn’t know after seeing you lost in thought in front of all the food you usually like so much? Even a soulless log would have seen it.”
‘Keh! Because of food!’
I tried to leave quietly, but I was caught red-handed because of food.
“The weather is still warm, so please eat the bread before the day ends. I’ve put egg in it, so it will go bad easily.”
The bread she handed me was made with egg, a white and soft flour bread, very unlike the daily ration of hard barley bread. At some point, Cecil had begun stuffing a small bag full of bread.
Hans’ broad smile and regretful expression, Cecil’s sad expression, her face stiff even as she packed the bread… Only the thoughtless kid, Deron, was sleeping peacefully with a loose smile.
‘This is why… Farewells make people sad.’
The intent to leave was different from the moment of departure. My heart felt like it had been pierced somewhere. My nose twinged and the corners of my eyes began to sting.
“Kyre, we may only know your name, but every villager here has never thought of you as a stranger. No matter where your travels take you, if you become lonely, come back. Think of this place as your home.”
Hans looked at me as if I were his departing son.
“Yes, please don’t worry. I will come back once my travels are finished. Please stay healthy until then, Hans.”
“Alright, you too. Make sure you eat well…”
“P-please be careful. Thank you for everything.”
Hans’ voice dripped with emotion as he made his last request, and Cecil couldn’t raise her head as she expressed her thanks.
“I’m the one who is thankful. Cecil, I’ll bring a present for you next time so please make me something delicious, alright?”
“Yes, any time… Please come back. Sob.” Unable to suppress her emotions, Cecil’s face ran with tears.
“Give my regards to Deron. Please tell him to become a cool man by the time his hyung returns.”
“Got it. I’ll be sure to tell him the pervert bro sends regards.”
The atmosphere suddenly turned weird thanks to Hans’ joke.
“Then, I’ll be back.”
“I won’t see you out. There should be a horse tethered next to the village rampart’s gate.”
‘So the villagers knew too.’
I wanted to leave without anyone knowing, but it turned out that people could see right through me.
On the verge of tears, I opened the door with a strong push.
With a woosh, the autumn wind which I couldn’t feel until now came blowing through the opening.
‘Everyone, stay well.’
The short but long time in Luna Village was something I cherished. There was no doubt that no matter how long my travels were in the continent, I would never forget my memories here.
‘It all starts now!’ With that thought, I stepped over the threshold and left the house.
At exactly that moment, the red morning sun dawned, as if God were giving me a small blessing on my journey to achieve my dreams and adventures.
* * *
Clip clop clip clop!
Horses looked pretty easy to handle. In the movies, the main characters would handsomely ride horses and shoot guns or wield swords, but in reality, my butt burned every time it hit the saddle.
“Stop, you waste of food!”
The horse was galloping without a care for its owner’s pain.
‘Oh god, will I get hemorrhoids like this?’
Up until leaving the village, I had been so happy. There weren’t that many opportunities to ride a horse in Korea. Only children of rich families would learn horseback riding– a pleb like me never had a chance to ride one.
So, as a complete beginner with no knowledge of horses, I started riding at full speed. For a while, I rode as landmarks whooshed past us and we rushed along the ground, all the while feeling every stride of the horse. But then, my thighs and butt began to complain.
‘Argh, this is why you need a license.’
Having gone out for a drive without a license, I was now facing a crisis, but I could only let my tears fall. I was feeling free in the wind, but in the end, the skin of my thighs was worn right off.
Neighing with happiness as I grabbed the reins, the grey beast of a horse came to a stop.
“Ow… ow ow ow. How many times does that make today.”
It’s lucky that my mana pool was greater than the average mage and also recovered much faster, because otherwise, I would have gone into mana exhaustion at the rate I was using Heal.
“Heal!” I muttered, putting my right hand on my bum and gently applying Heal.
Though I turned my head, I wasn’t a giraffe and couldn’t see how injured my butt was, so I could only see the light of the magic.
“Ah! That’s refreshing.”
It was good I learned magic. Otherwise, my butt would have turned into one giant callus.
‘As expected! Being a mage is the best!’
A refreshing and clean feeling flowed around my thighs and butt, and a strange sense of euphoria buzzed down my spine.
“I’m hungry, so shall we eat some bread?”
I had left the village at the butt crack of dawn and boldly went on my way. As for the road, well, it was basically just a dirt road covered in grass.
‘Where should I go now… I probably should go into the castle, right?’
One of the few important teachings my grandfather had passed down to me was that if a person only did their homework but didn’t review or truly study the material, it would be like going to the toilet and leaving a piece of toilet paper on your bum. ‘I have to settle things with that administrator dude. Only then will he stop messing with the village.’
I had entrusted the villages’ safety and development, but this is something I had to take care of myself.
Taking bread out of the bag tied up on the saddle, I chewed my food.
“Strawberry jam or peanut cream would have been nice.” It couldn’t be compared to the rock-hard barley bread, but he was still a bit regretful. “At least it’s nice and soft.”
Having been made with milk drawn from one of the lactating cows Jamir had brought as well as some egg, the bread had its own kind of sweetness. However, my mouth had been spoiled with all kinds of sweets and savory foods, so it hadn’t gotten used to this world yet.
“Kya, the weather is great!”
Ripping into the bread and taking sips from a wooden flask, I gazed at the sky. There wasn’t a single cloud in the autumn sky, and just looking at it refreshed my spirits.
“This sky without a single cloud, it’s the same anywhere. But that one bird in the distance, it sure is coming this way fast. Eh? Is, is that really a bird?”
While I was enjoying the autumn sky, I spotted a bird way off in the distance.
No, it wasn’t a bird.
It was a creature coming towards me with incredible speed.
“A-archeopteryx!!” I shouted in shock.
The enormous “bird” was undoubtedly something I had seen in dinosaur pictures and a Jurassic-period museum. It had been circling in the sky, but now it was shooting towards my direction on the ground.
A crisis occurred even before I could digest my bread.
‘I have to use some kind of magic! This–! Uwahhh!’
My mind raced to find a 4th Circle spell that was good against quickly moving targets. I would bring total shame to my family name if I turned into bird food like this without even leaving a single footprint on this world.
Rapidly drawing my mana all at once, a thick 5 meter barrier expanded in the air. I threw enough mana into it that it wouldn’t break with one hit even from an Archeopteryx.
It was a law that you couldn’t just sit around and let yourself get killed. Using a complicated double cast, I summoned a sizable ice spear.
‘Come, you shitty bird!’
The Archeopteryx was already only a hundred meters away. Flapping its huge wings and extending its mouth full of sharp teeth, it dropped towards me.
Thanks to this sudden lightning bolt from the sky, or rather, this sudden Archeopteryx, my mood dropped like a stone from heaven to hell. I couldn’t help but swallow hard. And then, in order to focus on the attack, I narrowed my eyes in concentration.
“Holy! Wh-what is that?”
While staring at the Archeopteryx look-alike, I happened to see something strange.
“P-panties? No, is that armor?”
I thought it was a wild animal, but clearly this was the work of man– draped on the creature’s body was armor made of silver and cloth.
“What the! It’s a person!”
Then I saw it, at the moment the descending Archeopteryx slightly turned its body– a person, arrogantly standing atop the creature’s neck while holding something like reins.
The armored Archeopteryx and man had appeared so suddenly, but then, coming just 10 meters from my head, the two abruptly turned and flew off into the direction they had come.
“Did I just get baited?”
After raising my tension to levels of visiting a graveyard at 1 am, the Archeopteryx simply ignored me and went off like that. With speed belying its enormous size, the two had already disappeared high into the sky.
“W-wait, could that be… a Skyknight? So that bird isn’t an Archeopteryx, but a wyvern?”
Skyknight, the career of dreams for Aramis when she was young. Now I understood.
“Woow! To think there’s an air force in this era!” I knew wyverns existed, but I didn’t know they would harness them and organize an air force. “Woo~! That’s killer.”
Just the thought of it gave me shivers of excitement. When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to become an air force pilot. But sadly, I gave up on that after learning about their considerably selective physical requirements and the fact that you had to be on constant standby.
This existence called a ‘Skyknight’ completely revived these long-lost thoughts. It wasn’t important that a Skyknight had just ridden a wyvern and put me in a dangerous spot. The only thing that occurred to me now was that I absolutely wanted to become a wyvern-riding Skyknight.
‘The only thing I’ve got is time, anyway. I’ve decided! Let’s raise a bird!’
In this world, you didn’t even need a national examination or license for piloting. All you had to do was to move according to your passions.
Thud thud thud thud thud!
‘Eh? What’s going on now?’
In the middle of daydreaming about myself flying like a cool Skyknight, I suddenly heard urgent hoofbeats.
“Wonder where they’re going?”
Coming around the curve of the mountain a kilometer away was a group of cavalry. At their head of the fifty or so mounted knights flew a flag. Who knew what got their panties in a bunch, but they were galloping fast across the plains.
“Ehhh? Why’re these guys coming towards me again?!”
After the wyvern came a troop of knights.
“Th-that guy, he’s coming again!” As if he’d been waiting for the cavalry, the wyvern and Skyknight appeared once more from beyond the curve of the mountain. “N-no, it can’t be, right? Surely they’re not all coming just because of me?”
There was no reason, so I didn’t think it was possible. But fulfilling an ominous foreboding was one of fate’s nasty hobbies.
Having sprinted with all their might, the cavalry came to a stop about 100 meters away from me. Armed to the teeth as if prepared for a battle, the group gave off a grave aura as they stared me down.
‘Are they looking for a fight right now?’ There was no knowing why they all came at me like this, but just reading the atmosphere, it was like they were ready for a fight. ‘Isn’t this just too much?’
No matter how cool of a magic swordsman I was, the other party’s numbers simply couldn’t be ignored. Moreover, looking at the energy they emanated, it wasn’t like the rabble from before– these guys seemed like knights who could use Aura Blade.
‘Maybe because of that one time…!’
Then I was struck with more ominous foreboding. The memory of the cavalry sent by the administrator to attack Hans and me floated through my thoughts like a silent movie.
‘If the lord found out… then the matter wouldn’t just get ignored.’
That lying, corrupt administrator was making a complete fool of the lord. These guys most likely had it in their head that I was some kind of chicken-hearted mage who had disregarded their lord.
‘I must be right. Damn it.’
The flag held by the group was the same one I had seen at the Lord’s Castle– two white horses drawn atop a black shield.
1 vs. 50; no, you had to add a bird to that count as well. For someone like me who wasn’t even a native marine, it was too much.
And then, as if to confirm the pain-in-the-ass reality unfolding before me, the Skyknight’s wyvern slowly landed with flapping wings between me and the cavalry.
Even while floating in the sky, I’d thought it was big, but looking at it from this distance, I could see how big the wyvern really was. Its thick limbs were stretched wide and covered by thick, grey hide. One wing seemed at least 10 meters long, and the body was the size of ten cows. On top of that, it had red eyes the size of soccer balls, saw-like, sharp teeth, a beak as sturdy as iron, and black claws that looked like it could crush most things. Just looking at it made my legs tremble.
‘Uwahh! How do I deal with this crisis!’
If it were normal knights, I could just use flight magic to book it, but the wyvern was staring at me with its huge eyes, so that was a no-go.
‘Kill them all?’
But that was impossible too. Even if I drained all my mana, these guys weren’t just your average soldier, but fully armored knights– it was still too much for me to go up against them all. And that wyvern was definitely a problem.
“You must be that impudent Black Mage!”
‘B-black Mage? Me?’
The person sternly rebuking me with eyes like shards of glass peeking out of his helmet was wearing not regular armor, but a combination of leather and silver metal so strange that it was weird to call it armor.
‘It’s the Lord!’ His voice seemed awfully familiar, but hearing it through the helmet, it was unmistakably the Lord of Fiore Territory.
“I am indeed a mage. However, I’m not a Black Mage, but a White Mage who upholds the values of justice and truth. Hahaha!” With an awkward laugh, I broke the ice.
“Laughable! You gave my territory’s knights and soldiers a humiliation that can never be cleansed! You may be a mage of a magic tower, but in my territory, one must follow my law! To dirty the honor of my knights and soldiers by stealing their horses and armor–! That sin, I shall be the one to deliver judgement!”
‘He’s pretty hopping mad.’ Just like I feared, without knowing the complete picture, the Lord believed every word of the administrator’s goonies, who had crawled back like beggars after getting a lesson from me.
It was really disgusting.
Everything was because of the Lord’s failure to govern his territory, but he didn’t recognize his own fault and not only scolded me, but wanted to kill me.
“For what exactly am I guilty?”
I didn’t know how strong the wyvern and Skyknight were, but I didn’t want to be taken for a crazy fool just like this.
I am my own reckless Lord throughout heaven and hell!
Even if it was a sin worthy of death, I was going to live my way.
“Impertinent! You may be a mage, but you dare to spit ludicrous things with no hint of truth to the Lord himself!”
With no awareness for the fact that his words were the ludicrous ones, the Lord admonished me. A blue Aura Blade emanated from the thick, long sword he held.
“Uhahahahaha! You guys truly make me laugh. It’s like a dog covered in poop trashtalking a dog with a grain of rice on its face.”
If it was like this, it didn’t matter what I said anymore. I was either gonna die or faint.
“D-dog covered in poop?? You bastard!!” yelled the knight. I could almost see the anger rising from his body.
‘Alright, let’s just go a round, piece of cake!’
The numbers and the existence of the wyvern were all against me, but I wasn’t afraid.
The moment I decided to give it my all, wyvern flapped its wings powerfully into the air.
‘Should I sneak attack him?’
This was the optimal time to attack. But I wasn’t a dirty bastard.
After a moment where the air seemed to flutter, the wyvern lifted into the air with considerable speed.
‘Let’s start with the nuisances!’
The wyvern was a problem, but I couldn’t forget the 50 knights.
Thud thud thud thud thud!
The knights rushed forward in attack as if they had wanted to do so even before the Lord raised his hand.
‘Y’all are all screwed!’
A baseless sense of confidence sprouted in my chest.
I had memorized a good chunk of the 4th Circle spells every day without fail. This magic had a long mana drain time, and I was able to convert some of my mana reserves into cold fog.
‘Dare you to catch me~!’
With me at its center, the earth was blanketed in 10 to 20 meters of dense fog within seconds.
With a thud, I dismounted.
‘Go over there and play.’
I couldn’t face the knights riding a horse I barely knew how to ride. I chased the horse off with a strong slap to the butt.
Thu-thu-thud! Thu-thu-thud! Thud thud thud thud thud!
The knights had narrowed the distance considerably. The dimly lit Aura Blades from their swords could be seen even through the fog.
‘Huhu, get a taste of this!’
The knights were heavily armored. If they had a mage, they wouldn’t just blindly attack like this. But now they were surrounded by the wet Ice Fog.
I raised both hands and smiled wickedly.
Among the lightning spells, Lightning Wave was a magic born for AOE rather than single-target damage.
“Dig! Air Shield!”
Was this how it felt to catch fish by throwing a high-voltage wire into a lake? After tossing out lightning magic, I used magic to dig into the ground.
Casting the Dig spell repeatedly, I didn’t have any time to wave my hand goodbye. My body disappeared into the earth.
As I dug into the ground, the gruesome cries of the knights and horses rang out behind me. Even a knight wielding Aura Blade couldn’t do a thing.
‘If you’re ignorant, it’s not bravery but stupidity’– that was the lesson being carved into the knights’ bodies right now.
* * *
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* * *
‘Is it almost over?’
Since I used lightning magic meant to cover a large area, it wasn’t enough to kill them. But it was certainly enough to deliver a shocking taste of hell to the armored knights and horses. I could hear a wave of heavy thuds from the horses falling over onto the ground.
‘The problem is that wyvern….’
It would have been a pretty close call if the knights weren’t mounted but just attacked in groups of ten with their swords. Thankfully, they were blockheaded knights completely enamored by the idea that comrades should live together if they live and die together if they die. They probably got a significant shock to their hearts from getting caught in my net of spells and taking a Lightning Wave full-on.
‘Should I wait until my mana is recharged?’
I had used Dig magic to burrow into the ground and Air Shield to secure the space, but after using 4th Circle spells consecutively, my mana was cut to half. Magic had superior utility, but once you ran out of mana, you’d be screwed.
“He has to be near! Search thoroughly!”
‘Ara? There are guys that can still move, huh?’
Maybe it was my mistake to underestimate knights who could use mana– I could hear quite a lot of footsteps above ground.
“The ground is disturbed here!”
“He must be out of mana! Pierce the ground with Aura Blades!”
An Ice Fog deployed on open ground couldn’t last long. Moreover, the ice magic had lost its cold properties due to lightning magic. I could hear the voices of knights who had discovered the signs of me digging into the ground.
‘This is bad.’
I didn’t know how they had escaped the spell, but it was surprising how fast the knights acted.
If I sprang out like this, I was just gonna become a hedgehog. I used an earth spell.
The earth above my head turned as sturdy as stone as it created a 2 meter-wide barrier in my surroundings.
“Hey!” “W-what is this!” Interrupted from their preparations to attack, the surprised cries of the knights rang out.
Light shone into the space in the moment that the dirt disappeared, turning into stone. Holding my sword and hitting off the ground, I leapt onto the barrier created by the Rock Wall.
“Hahaha! You guys, here I am!”
As soon as I jumped up, I surveyed my surroundings. Unlike the majority of the collapsed knights, who were wearing armor blackened by lightning marks, and the horses, there were around ten knights standing around completely fine. Their armor was only slightly singed.
Now I understood the situation. There were clearly discernible magic circles drawn onto their armor. These knights were equipped with magic armor good enough to disrupt lightning magic diluted in power.
‘They would have probably all croaked if I had used the 5th Circle Chain Lightning.’
The more I thought about it, the more regretful I felt. While smacking my lips, I jumped off and landed onto the ground.
“To, to think he can even use a sword!” One of the ten or so knights surrounding me stammered out in surprise.
“I major in magic and minor in swordplay.”
“… Magic swordsman!”
As soon as someone mentioned ‘magic swordsman,’ I saw the knights surrounding me flinch.
“Kuku, now do you see? But what to do? My mood today is ree-eally bad.”
If you bluff, you should bluff properly. My mana had fallen so my condition wasn’t that great, but I laughed with a wicked grin and pressured the knights.
‘Damn it, because of that magic armor, they won’t even feel something like 3rd Circle magic.’ Inside, I was sweating, but I drew the rest of my mana and made a big, flashy Aura Blade.
The stiffened knights let out groans. They may be knights, but that didn’t mean they had two lives.
While the knights were losing their fighting spirit, a faint sound so harrowing it made all my hairs stand up suddenly burrowed into my eardrums.
Then something crashed into the boulder I had made with Rock Wall.
‘W-what the hell is that!’
The thing that had fallen from the sky was a silver spear 2 meters long and the width of a child’s arm. Still quivering from the force, it cut the magic-made sturdy boulder like tofu and was lodged deeply in the rock.
I had forgotten about the Skyknight. I hurriedly raised my head and inspected the sky.
“All Knights, retreat to the back!” commanded the Lord, his voice rich with imbued mana.
The speechless knights who had been scarily surrounding me turned and fled without a single glance backwards, leaving only the sounds of their retreating footsteps.
‘This isn’t right…’ But it’s not like I could call the fleeing knights back.
‘Uwaahh! That bastard’s crappy bird is—!’
I didn’t even have time to look up. Scary spears were thudding into the ground. I ran towards the direction the knights had fled.
‘Hey! I’m coming too!’
If all else fails, run away! That was a top stratagem imparted in the Art of War, after all!
* * *
‘These guys are fast!’
I put mana into my feet and ran, but the knights were just as fast. It was as if they didn’t just train every day with the sword, but learned how to run away first.
‘If this goes on, I’ll just die while running away.’
About 700-800 meters in front of me, there was a sparse forest, but it definitely wouldn’t be much help.
‘That scamp’s stupid bird is—!’
As if riding a horse in the sky, the so-called Lord was freely manipulating the wyvern with reins. That bald chicken was getting controlled by a human just like that and putting its size to shame. If I could do as I wished, I would have roasted it up with a Fire Ball.
But the reality was…
‘Where should I run? Oh jeez…’
The rest of my mana was almost depleted from running around. Any other 4th Circle mage would have already flopped onto the ground with a ‘Please Catch Me’ sign on their face.
As if he’d waited for me to stop moving, the lord threw down another silver spear.
‘It’s a magic item!’
Busy running away, I hadn’t noticed the silver spear’s true identity. Now I could see that it was sparkling and resonating with mana.
Fury bubbled and raged in my chest. Towards this bird and owner who were persecuting me for no good reason, I exuded murderous intent.
‘Come! You piece of shit!’
Grasping my sword, I stared at the flying spear.
Filled with mana, the spear flew through the sky so fast that it was reasonable to call it a ray of light. I raised my sword towards such a spear.
Just a few seconds after it had been thrown, the magic spear hurtled through space and neared me. Scraping together the last of my mana, I slashed my sword with all my might into the air.
My sword rebounded off to who knows where, and my body, unable to resist the momentum of the swing, rolled onto the ground.
I coughed out a lump of red blood as my chest strained with emotions. Defiance, charged with rage and bravado, made my blood boil.
‘I will kill you. All of you.’
That so-called lord and his knights didn’t even consider their own faults and simply went straight to attacking. To attack a single mage, these shameless knaves came attacking enmasse. For the first time in my life, a sensation of bloodthirst dominated my mind.
“Hoo!” Rising from the ground, I drew a deep breath. My mana core was already completely depleted. The mana core that circulated through the upper, middle, and lower danjeons and was situated in my waist area was like a deflated balloon.
‘I won’t be the only one to go! You…!’
Taking a deep breath, I sucked up the energy in my surroundings. Since my mana core was depleted, even if it was only for a second, I had to mobilize the mana breathing technique!
If I overdid it even more here, my mana circle could even collapse.
However, only one route was available to me now.
‘I will kill you…’
As if to taunt me, the wyvern and Lord were leisurely floating around 50 meters in the air in front of me. Searching inside my memories, I dragged a forbidden formula to my mind.
‘O mana of the wind, thy composed breath be desired, hear and heed me now! Blades of wind that cannot be defied! O composed storm of rage!’
Gathering my palms, I opened my upper, middle, and lower danjeons and shoved the natural energy I gathered from my surroundings into my circle.
The pain of being ripped apart assailed me. From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, unidentifiable mana raged and tore through my mana pathways.
‘I-it’s too late! You!’ Noticing my abnormality, the wyvern flapped its wings and tried to run.
“Ku, kuku, go! WIND TORNADO!”
The strongest spell among the 5th Circle wind spells, several times stronger than the 4th Circle Wind Cutter– that was this storm of wind blades!
Pushing out my hands with great force, the mana and will gathered in my circle spewed towards my foes.
Mana, fused with my will, caused a small burst of wind to form with a flash of blue light.
But it was only small for a moment. Cutting the air like knives, the storm of wind blades rushed onto the wyvern and lord.
For the first time, I heard the wyvern cry out sharply.
Surprisingly, a huge shield was deployed on the wyvern’s body, blocking the Wind Tornado.
But it lasted for only a moment, before the shield completely shattered with a loud cracking noise and the wyvern was overtaken by the magic’s rage.
Though the attack power had been considerably reduced due to the shield, the 5th Circle magic boasted an unbeatable force. Flapping its wounded wings, the wyvern faltered in the air as it flew in sloppy circles. Finally, it was unable to regain its balance and fell to the ground.
“Hah, hahh hahh!’ Ragged breaths overwhelmed me. After all, I had used magic in defiance of the circle restriction.
But then, the lacerating pain that had persisted in my mana pathways moments before disappeared, as if it had all been an illusion. I noticed then that my circle felt considerably more substantial than before.
‘The 5th Circle?’ Shockingly, instead of four circles rotating around my waist, there were five. ‘Ah hell, you should have come sooner!’
This breakthrough was achieved by overcoming a life-threatening situation. It was already the second time this had happened.
While I was wrestling with the shock of ascending to the 5th Circle, the wyvern flopped as its huge weight hit the earth, the impact causing a loud boom.
Bending down slightly, I grabbed one of the knights’ swords on the ground. Then, my eyes gleaming, I slowly walked towards the wyvern about 100 meters away.
* * *
“Zaigon! Zaigon! Snap out of it, Zaigon!” Danian, viscount and master of Dapis Kingdom’s Fiore Territory, anxiously called out his wyvern Zaigon’s name.
This wyvern was the one who had made him, a formerly ordinary knight, into the person he was today. It was thanks to Zaigon that he received his viscount peerage as well as his territory, and eventually, he was even able to become a member of the Royal Army’s Skyknights.
This beloved wyvern of his was wounded by the powerful magic of the Black Mage and was flailing about. Zaigon’s wings were sturdy enough that most things couldn’t damage them, but now, having been ripped to shreds, they were in a sorry state. Even the wyvern’s armor, which was drawn with automatic shield magic, had taken damage here and there.
His mournful eyes filled with pain, the wyvern gazed at his owner pitifully.
He had loved and cherished this wyvern more than family. If Zaigon hadn’t chosen him when he graduated the Skyknight Academy, all of today’s glory would have been impossible. Viscount Danian felt heart-rending pain.
15 years. 15 years spent together with Zaigon.
Such a crushing defeat and terrible wounds were a first for them.
“Does it hurt? To think that someone who’s supposed to be the lord of a territory would cry because of a wyvern,” came a cutting remark from the black-haired magic swordsman who had drawn near. He was surely a Black Mage.
With a clang, Viscount Danian drew the lightweight longsword that was granted to Skyknights. Then, he summoned his mana and swung towards the enemy with an Aura Blade.
However, affected by powerful emotion, Danian’s form was lacking and the Black Mage sent his sword flying with a single blow.
“You’re really funny. Did you think I would let myself be killed just because you said so?” said the Black Mage, his eyes filled with rage.
“Wh-what are you going to do!”
Harboring a sense of foreboding, Viscount Danian looked at the Black Mage, who was smiling crookedly and biting his lips. Upon seeing the mage’s sword pointed at his wyvern, Danian suffered a shock to his heart.
“Why? Worried I’ll give it an easy death? Don’t worry. I was curious anyway. About how sturdy a wyvern’s hide is, and how many kilos of meat that body holds, that is,” uttered the Black Mage ruthlessly without hesitation.
“K-kill me instead!”
“Don’t worry about that either. No use letting you live when you’re a lord who lets his people starve and get killed by monsters.”
The Black Mage’s sharp words stabbed into Viscount Danian’s heart.
“W-what do you mean by that?! My territory is better to live in than other territories! The taxes are low and the residents are all happily living here, so what crap are you spewing?!”
Having decided not to become a corrupt noble when he became a knight of the kingdom, Viscount Danian bristled at the Black Mage’s words. Even if he was killed, he couldn’t cast away his honor and pride.
Danian had no doubt that his conscience was completely clear.
* * *
‘Eh, would you take a look at this guy?’
This so-called lord was so convinced that it seemed even a lie detector wouldn’t go off on him. To be honest, my first impression of him wasn’t bad.
‘Haaah, what a problem.’
Having received a robust 21st century moral education, I couldn’t just kill willy-nilly. However, I didn’t mind correcting the Lord’s utter foolishness.
“Huhu, you want me to believe a lie like that? Most of the villages near the Zarre Mountains received no assistance from your knights and soldiers and therefore have had to either die out or farm with swords in their hands with their lives on the line. What’s so good about a lord like that!”
“I can’t deny that point. It’s not possible to cover a big territory with only so many knights and soldiers.”
The lord acknowledged my words honestly. The look of distress surfacing on his face grew more potent.
“Right, that can also be the case. That’s the sin of someone who was born a commoner, after all. But why do you take so much in taxes from villages suffering like that? I’m not sure you remember me, but I was the person who delivered Luna Village’s taxes.”
“I know. Black Mage… How could I forget your black hair?”
“You remember? Then this is easy to explain. The taxes that Luna Village had to pay wasn’t the 30 Golds you recall.”
“W-what? It wasn’t 30 Golds?” responded the Lord in surprise.
‘This guy, is he naive, or just dumb?’
“You didn’t even know that, as the Lord? Well, it’s a small village, so it’s understandable. But listen well. While you were playing around in the capital, your residents were getting sucked dry by your pig of an administrator, merchants, and knights. It wasn’t 30 Gold, but 50 Gold that Luna Village had to pay, and the other villagers had to pay the same, you stupid Lord!”
“What! 50 Gold? To think it wasn’t 30 Gold!”
“Huhu, you probably didn’t know. So you didn’t even know the real reason why you chased me all the way here today and suffered this humiliating loss.”
The Viscount had nothing to say to my sarcastic remarks and was lost in thought. “Is what you have said true?” he asked in a low voice.
“If you are truly curious, take that fancy-pantsy bird of yours and go around the villages. Actually, it would be faster to just ask the knights next to you.”
The knights that had fled at the lord’s command had approached their commander’s side and were pointing their drawn swords at me. As corrupt as they were, they still wished to protect their master.
“C-commander, awaiting your order.”
One of the knights stepped out of the group of bystanders and lowered his head.
“Are the words of this mage true? That the administrator has been embezzling taxes behind my back?”
“That, that is…” Knight Rubess trailed off, unable to answer in the negative.
“Ru–Rubess, my friend. To entrust the territory to you and leave was… a mistake.”
The viscount’s voice was choked with tears. It seemed this Rubess fellow was a close friend of the lord’s.
“So you mean to say that everyone knew. Hah, so everyone knew that I had become just the kind of merciless, exploitative noble that you and I had disdained so much when the territory was young!”
“C-Commander, please deliver unto us death!”
At the lord’s enraged exclamation, every knight fell to their knees.
“Ah, gods above….!” cried the lord while looking into the sky. He had removed his helmet and hot, manly tears were raining from his eyes.
The mood had turned strange. Apparently, the lord had entrusted his territory to his friend Rubess and had left. While he was gone, starting with the administrator, all the knights had made a real killing.
‘It’s a shame, but I should end things here.’
Previously, I wanted to just roast the big bird and his master up with a fireball, but now, I felt kinda sorry for the dude. He had been thoroughly betrayed by the people he trusted. He must be pained to death right now.
“A man should settle matters within the home first, then tend to the needs of the kingdom and land. How could you aid the nation when your own house is a mess, how can you raise your sword in service to your king like that?!” The saying that applied now was ‘the country and the home must be at peace.’ Thinking that, I sternly rebuked the Viscount.
“Mage, pray tell, what is your name?” Halting his tears, the Lord asked for my name.
“Kyre,” I responded curtly.
“Kyre, I will remember it. I will never forget the things I received today.”
‘Is that good or bad?’
I was a mage with no regard for nobility or the world, and I had obviously trashed his clearly expensive-looking favorite steed, or rather, favorite bird. On top of that, I even exposed his weakness, so I was really curious as to how he felt about me.
‘Heheh, just do as you please. Because now, I fear nothing!’ In truth, I was grateful to this viscount. It was because I had undergone a near-fatal crisis that I could enter the 5th Circle. ‘I should skedaddle now.’
I was indeed a 5th Circle mage now, but because it had happened in such a crisis, my mana and circle were both unstable. What I needed to do now was to find somewhere safe and stabilize them.
“If there’s nothing else, I shall take my leave.”
Surely these guys wouldn’t grab my lapels now. I was someone who had crushed this considerably high-level-looking wyvern right in front of them. They were probably grateful that I didn’t kill them all.
‘Whatcha looking at! Oi! Should I cut out those eyes of yours?!’
The moment the Lord and knights turned their heads, the girthy wyvern pierced me with his gaze, his pupils filled with murderous intent.
‘You playing, scamp. Birdbrain.’
As a person who imagined chickens when thinking about birds, I already associated this wyvern as a giant fried chicken. It was necessary for all creatures on earth to teach where the hierarchy laid with a heavy fist.
“Ah! And I will take this sword with me. It’s not as good as mine, but oh well. As a good person, I’ll take that loss with grace.”
‘Huhu, it fits right in the hand.’
The old chief’s favorite sword had lost its glamor from blocking the Lord’s attack. So I decided to make off with the large, thick sword, previously belonging to a knight, that I picked up just now with the intent to carve off the wyvern’s hide.
Under everyone’s gaze, I took a good quality sheath from one of the knights that was starting to wake up from his electric shock.
‘A length of 1.3 meters, with a weight of about 4 kilos? Perfect.’
It wasn’t a shortsword, which also suited me well, but the hilt was sturdy and fit well in my hand. I liked it immediately.
“Haa, what a good day!”
I strode towards my horse, who had gone a distance away and was blankly staring into the sky as if nothing had happened.
My first adventure had started with a scuffle. I had the feeling that my journey would be a bit rocky.