21st Century Archmage - Chapter 18
Chapter 18: Skyknights of the Imperial Guard
‘The North sure is cold,’ I thought while listening to the buffeting wind.
Several months had already passed since coming to Kallian. Since then, it had already become winter, and because it was situated in the North, Bajran’s weather was rather chilly.
‘Heh, who said in novels that teleport magic circles could be used in magic towers? Just lemme grab a hold of whoever said that! I’ll give them a perm with Fire Ball!’
Following my memories of fantasy novels I had read in the past, I approached a magic tower in Chadour and told them I wanted to use teleport magic and asked how much it cost.
Since I didn’t want to be seen as someone who had never used teleport magic before, I spoke with a self-assured tone. Facing me with wide eyes was a 4th Circle mage. Shortly afterwards, he suddenly got mad and summoned a Fire Ball while yelling at me to scram.
In the end, I had to quickly run away.
‘Dammit! Alright, I was doubtful while reading that too. With just that level of magic, does it make sense that spatial teleportation would really be possible?’
Magic-related information was all written out in my head. Among the spatial spells, Warp magic was the lowest, starting at the 7th Circle. Even that required a tough teleportation magic circle where coordinates were necessary and the distance traveled was proportionate to the mana given.
Knowing that, I felt momentarily defeated. I went to the magic tower thinking maybe it was possible, but only received a face full of insults.
‘Sigh, I still made it though.’
Having been kicked out of the magic tower like that, I slowly traveled to the Bajran Empire on horseback.
Unfortunately, my difficulties didn’t end there. Because I was accosted at every territory and country border, I was eventually forced to enter a mercenary guild and receive a Grade 1 Mercenary badge.
Thankfully, the mercenary guild didn’t pry much. As soon as I showed them my blue Aura Blade, a Grade 1 Mercenary badge with my name on it was handed over to me. After that, I was able to pass through territories much more easily, and after two months of travel, the capital of Bajran Empire lay before my eyes.
‘It wasn’t long, but it sure was a fun trip.’
Using a fairly well-made map as a guide, I had ridden my horse for two months all the way here. I acquired recent information from merchant groups or mercenaries traveling on the same path, and despite the back-breaking labor, I gained a taste for traveling.
‘As expected of the empire’s capital, it sure is big.’
The huge wall ahead of me couldn’t be compared to the castles or forts that I had passed on my way here. Bajran’s capital was sprawled on these expansive plains, which were called the Great Northern Plains, and boasted a castle wall several tens of meters high, as tall as the eye could see.
‘A city where 200 thousand people are living…’
As expected of the empire’s capital city, there were a whopping 200 thousand people living within. It wasn’t much compared to cities in the modern world, but for the Kallian Continent, which hadn’t yet developed science and technology, the number of people here was immense. Moreover, my jaw had dropped upon hearing that among the thousands of empire residents, 80 thousand of them alone were soldiers.
‘Most kingdoms have around 200 Skyknights. I heard empires have between 300 to 500 of them.”
The info I had prioritized the most was about Skyknights. It was necessary in order to realize the beautiful future I dreamed of. The fighting force of knights, mages, and soldiers was also important, but on this continent, Skyknight numbers determined a country’s strength.
‘I wonder what will bring me happiness here? Shall we go in?’
I wanted to live not pressed to the ground but high and mighty, like Master on Earth. If it was my fate to be here, then it was only smart to seek the things that brought me joy.
“Naldo! Run! Hiya!”
With a loud whinny that I had heard plenty of times during our two months together, Ronaldo galloped forward with liveliness, as if he understood my words.
Accompanied by the sound of Ronaldo’s hoofbeats, my horse blew out white condensation while galloping on.
Like the saying that all paths lead to Rome, I followed the empire’s long government-managed road and ran towards Vaisha Capital.
In my heart nestled a great dream.
* * *
I was so impressed that an exclamation burst from my lips.
‘What’s all this! This is so bomb, it’s killer!’
According to the information I gathered, the first founding emperor, Alvatreon, was originally a commoner. After acquiring a black wyvern through a stroke of luck, he surpassed the nobles and formed the empire during the continent’s period of turmoil. Because of that, unlike other empires or kingdoms, Bajran Empire placed more importance on one’s ability.
‘I was told the Skyknight Academy examination starts tomorrow and lasts for just 15 days.’
This was the reason why I didn’t let myself get distracted and only gathered information while running non-stop to Bajran. The special entrance examination for the Skyknight Academy was open to commoners as well. As long as you had the skill, you could become a knight– that was the kind of place Bajran was.
‘Recruiting talented people is probably what allowed them to get a foothold and thrive on this continent.’
After showing my mercenary badge, I was allowed to pass through the thick, 15-meter high wall, and the capital’s scenery entered my eyes. At a glance, I could see countless carriages and people traveling through the castle wall. Just like how Jongo district would be packed with foot traffic on the weekend, an incredible number of people were walking to and fro here.
‘As I thought, it’s nice to be in a big pond!’
The scale and crowds here couldn’t be compared to the territories I had passed until now. On top of that, there were countless antique-looking stone buildings laid out in front of me. It was exactly the fantasy world I had yearned for.
‘Let’s go get some money first. After all, first impressions make the man.’
The money in my pocket was more than enough for my travels. However, the path I was going to walk now was an elite course that would lead to knighthood. With that in mind, I wanted to keep an adequate amount on hand.
“Excuse me… are you perhaps looking for a place to stay?”
The moment I decided to ask someone about where I could find a Rubis Merchant Group store, a faint voice called out to me from down low.
‘Is it a touter?’
[TN: A touter is someone who tries to draw in customers.]
The voice belonged to a young boy who looked just about 12 years old, but his attire was clean and his eyes were shining.
‘The others don’t even bother, huh.’
This kid still had traces of baby fat on his face. Bigger boys were targeting merchants or people who had just entered the castle, but this small kiddo, having been forcefully pushed aside, was shyly talking to me.
“Do you know where I can get the most delicious food and comfortable sleeping quarters?”
“Huh? Yes! I know all the inns in the capital with the most delicious food and cozy lodgings. May I guide you around?”
‘Just take a look at this kid? He’s cute.’
He was young, but in order to eat and live, this kid undoubtedly had no choice but to jump into the front lines of working life. Unlike the other kids who were busy attracting customers, his manner of speech was rather dignified.
“I’ll leave it to you.”
“Thank you very much!”
As soon as I gave permission, the kiddo took Ronaldo’s reins. I couldn’t help but feel sad and proud at the same time.
“What’s your name?”
“Hehe. My name is Alex.”
“Alright, Alex. Do you happen to know the Rubis Merchants?”
“The Rubis Merchants? Of course. The Rubis Merchants have the biggest building on Merchant Street.”
“Is it close by?”
“Yes! To the right of that street there is Merchant Street. Shall I guide you there?”
“Please do so, Alex.”
As young as he was, his bravery was limitless. He was heaven and hell apart from the cheeky brat in Luna Village, Deron.
‘I wonder how Hans and Cecil are doing.’
I had left things to Jamir, but I was still a bit worried. Since I kicked his ass, it was possible that the lord could bear a grudge and target the village.
‘I dare you to touch Luna Village. I’ll beat you to a pulp if you do!’
To me, Luna Village was like my homeland. There was no way I couldn’t be concerned.
* * *
“We’re here. Here is the Rubis Merchant Group Branch,” informed Alex gallantly.
‘Hooh, seems to be a pretty successful conglomerate.’
This street was as fancy as Myeong-dong Street and packed with countless storefronts. Rubis Branch’s stone building dominated the others on the street with 5 floors. With a satisfied smile, I dismounted from my horse.
“Alex, I’ll be back so wait here a bit.”
“Yes, please do not worry.”
At his cute and brave appearance, I patted his head once and walked towards the building.
“How may I help you? We do not sell wares here…”
Though we were in the securely policed empire capital, two people with swords were guarding the entrance.
“I’ve come to collect my money.”
At the mention of money, the two guards looked me up and down. “Are you joking right now? Where do you think this… Ah!”
Having just completed my long journey, I was still clothed in a thick traveler’s robe and dusty from the road. In their position, I also wouldn’t allow someone who looked like me into the building. However, I had something they couldn’t possibly ignore—a token that certified my identity, given to me by Jamir.
“A, a Supervisor Token!”
While the person who had blocked me was frozen in shock, the other guard quickly lowered his head.
“I can come in now, yes?”
“I am truly sorry. Please come inside,” said the guard with a humbled expression while opening the door.
“Do your best, will you? Don’t just judge based on outer appearance. Tsk tsk.”
Passing the guards who were nodding like bobbleheads, I straightened my shoulders and walked in.
* * *
‘Special guest? Jamir’s got a good pair of eyes.’
When I held out the token given by Jamir after entering the Rubis Merchant Group building, someone who was the top dog here came out and bowed his head to me. I didn’t know what had happened in just a few months, but apparently, Jamir had jumped from one of the twelve supervisors to one of just three executives.
The token representing Jamir had an impressive effect. The 10 thousand Gold I was supposed to receive somehow multiplied to several hundred thousand due to interest, and thanks to executive merchant Jamir’s fame, I received special treatment reserved for high-ranking nobility at every Rubis store. I heard all of this from the manager, who offered me a cup of hot tea with a congenial smile.
‘So they’re saying I’ve got a 20% discount on all items sold by the Rubis Merchant Group, eh? I can even take a credit loan of 100 thousand Gold.’
The large-scale merchant groups operated similarly to the banks in the 21st century. My mood grew cheerful upon receiving Jamir’s extreme favor.
‘Keep it up. I’ll be your driving force in the future.’
There was no need to withdraw too much, so I only took out 1,000 Gold. Though our deal had been in Dapis Kingdom currency, the same amount applied here in the empire, probably because Gold coins were minted with gold metal.
While on Merchant Street, I purchased and put on a set of clothes that were currently trendy– a white medieval tunic and a black leather mantle suitable for the winter weather. The comfort level fell a bit short of modern standards, but perhaps because it was made with natural materials, the fabric felt amazing to the touch.
“Here is Elmar’s Resthouse, which I highly recommend. It is one of the top-level accommodations in the city; even nobles who wish to rest well frequently come here,” said Alex while guiding me.
‘Yup, this looks about right.’
In front of me was a large, five story building. Adorning its entrance was a golden sign with the words “Elmar’s Resthouse.” It was obvious at a single glance that this was a luxury inn.
As I stopped my horse in front of the building, two neatly clothed employees who were watching the entrance came over and bowed their heads.
“Alex, thanks for the trouble.”
“No trouble at all. Hehe, thanks to you, cool Mr. Knight, I was able to earn enough food for the whole day. Thank you very much. With the grace of the Goddess of Blessings, Semire, may peace be upon you,”
Despite his age, Alex showed a dignified and cool appearance.
“Go to the kitchen in the back.”
The employees looked at Alex with piercing eyes that clearly said he should make himself scarce. It seemed that if he brought customers like me over to the inn, he would be given food.
“Wait a moment, Alex. You still haven’t received your commission.”
“Huh, commission?” About to turn around, Alex looked quizzically at my face.
Ting! I grasped one Gold from my breast pocket and threw it towards Alex.
Alex caught the coin by reflex.
“Holy! Is, is this…?” Rather than showing gratefulness, the blood drained from Alex’s face. “It’s, it’s Gold!”
Not just Alex, but the employees also looked shocked.
“In the future, live just as you are doing now. If you do so, the future you dream of will open up.”
I saw my past self in him, so I gave Alex a few words of encouragement.
“T-Thank you so much.”
Holding the gold carefully with both hands, Alex bowed low with a trembling body. It was only a small amount to me, but it was most certainly an amount Alex had never seen in his life.
I firmly believed that even if he received a large amount, Alex wouldn’t waste it carelessly.
‘That’s right, money should be used like this.’
There was an ancient saying, “One makes money like a dog and spends it like a minister.”
I dismounted from my horse and walked towards the inn.
“M-May I ask your name? Please tell me,” Alex beseeched, his voice full of tears.
“Kyre, my name is Kyre.”
Alex repeated my name quietly, as if to engrave it in his heart.
While patting the kiddo’s soft hair, I walked into the inn.
Now, I wanted to rest quietly. It had been fun, but traveling was a tiring business.
* * *
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* * *
“Aahh! Feels great!”
I washed my body with Clear magic every morning, so there wasn’t any dirt, but the feeling of submerging my body in hot water was truly a pleasure.
“Is it because magic has developed?”
I rented a top suite that cost 3 Gold per day. Then I went into a tub that seemed to be crafted out of marble and let my fatigue be washed away.
Reclining in the tub, I looked at my room. The room was huge, almost as big as the 150 sq. m. (1600 sq. ft.) apartment I’d lived in on Earth. A plushy, clean, wide bed occupied the room, along with antique style furniture that my mother would surely like. All in all, it was as nice as the luxury suite my parents had booked for their wedding anniversary.
“La la~ Lalalala~”
As I lay in the spacious tub, I began to hum involuntarily. I closed my eyes and let myself be submerged in my thoughts.
‘The Skyknight Selection Exam… Huhu. It feels like I’m taking a school test.’
My thoughts drifted to the Skyknight Selections that were starting tomorrow. That I would pass was a sure thing, but pre-test nerves tingled through my body.
Suddenly, I heard someone knocking at the door.
“Who is it?”
‘Who’s there? I was so comfy though.’
I wanted to enjoy this sensation of utter relaxation longer, but I was startled awake by the sound of knocking.
“It is the manager.”
I recalled a birthmarked face belonging to a man rubbing his hands and smiling ingratiatingly at me as soon as I walked in.
“Is there a problem?”
“That is, dear guest, I am very sorry, but would it be possible to exchange rooms?”
‘My room? Is this old dude crazy!’
“I refuse,” I said, closing my eyes while soaking in the tub.
From my door came the manager’s low voice, “Dear guest, I beg you. Your stay will be free of charge, so please move to another room!” His voice was full of urgency.
“I said, I refuse.”
“Dear guest, it’s not just me that will get hurt but you might get hurt too. There are nobles who wish to rest in our top suite. Please switch to a different room~! I beg of you!”
‘Noble? I’ve run into some nasty scum.’
“The hell is going on! Has the room not been cleared yet?”
“The Young Master said he wanted the room, so why haven’t you cleared it yet!”
“Oh, Gods! Please spare me, Sir Knights!”
While I was filled with ominous feelings regarding nobles, a very harmonious(?) conversation was going on outside the door.
As the conversation went on, I heard proof that physical action had been taken. Another heavy thump sounded in the hallway.
“Oi! Who the hell is in there! If we say to take the room, then it will be taken!”
‘Say whaaat? Get a load of these guys!’
I only wanted to prime myself with a good mood for the exam ahead, but what greeted my eyes next were two knights with blue mantles atop thick magic plate armor. The knights roughly opened the door and rushed in.
‘These rude little bastards!’
The two knights opened the door without my permission and came in without compunction.
“How bold! How dare you refuse when a noble wishes to use this room?”
“This is your last warning! Put on your clothes and scram!”
The two knights spat out arrogant words. Anyone who was human would definitely furrow their brows in my situation.
“But I dun wanna?”
“What, you, you don’t want to?”
“Kuku, this guy dares to disdain a knight; he’s a crazy guy who wants to die.”
These two knights showed rude expressions.
“Looks like he’s someone who will only come to his senses if he is dragged out like a dog.”
“For a damn commoner to dare…!”
The two approached me while wearing armor covered in dust. My mood hit a new low.
“If you come one step closer, I won’t take responsibility.”
With enrollment at the Skyknight Academy ahead of me, I didn’t want to cause a ruckus, but these guys really weren’t cutting me a break.
“This little brat, how dare he—!”
Ignoring my warning, they approached with heavy footsteps.
I raised my submerged hand and lifted it out of the tub.
“Lightning!” I called out, quick-casting 3rd Circle magic.
The two men who had been approaching me with nasty smiles were engulfed in sparks, making them cry out in pain. Maybe their armor was cheap? Shortly afterwards, their bodies emanated dense smoke and they collapsed bonelessly to the bare ground, thumping loudly.
‘Shit! Which frickin’ brat is it?’
The problem was, of course, not the hunting dogs, but the person who had set the hunting dogs loose.
I rose from the water, dripping. The wind blowing in from the North made my body shiver as all my hairs stood on end.
‘You’re all dead.”
Noble or whatever, what I needed right now was to blow off my rage towards the person who had broken my tranquil peace. I ground my teeth as I put on my clothes.
I really wanted to see what kind of expression the noble who destroyed my mood was wearing.
* * *
“Hoho, it is truly a relief. If I hadn’t met you, Alfonso-nim, I wouldn’t have been able to get the room.”
“Haha, well, I didn’t do anything. Even if I wasn’t around, your knights would have saved you, Miss Luciella.”
“Rumor has it that the heir of Lyphon Viscounty is a noble faithful to the code of chivalry, and it seems to be true. In the name of the Tymon Barony, allow me to express my thanks once again.”
I left the room, passing the unconscious knights and the limp inn manager, and came down to the dining area on the ground floor. There, I heard a blushing conversation between two nobles.
‘They sure are having fun.’
Receiving an escort of around ten knights, two people who looked like nobles were busy flattering each other.
“It’s quite embarrassing. I can only express my thanks to His most sagacious Royal Majesty and the God of Fate, Romero, for allowing our paths to cross and for enabling me to take part in the Sky Knight Selection Exam.”
“Hoho, I must also thank His Royal Majesty and the Goddess of Blessings, Semire, for this honorable meeting, where I can meet you again, Alfonso-nim.”
‘Grooooss! I suddenly have goosebumps all over!’
While still on the stairs, the things I heard and saw gave me gooseflesh. I was also someone who could say greasy things with a straight face, but these guys were on a different level. It was as bad as Charles Ponzi, the famous scammer, and Henry Ass Kissinger, a world-class sycophant.
“But it’s strange, the knights haven’t come down yet. I would like to rest after traveling such a long distance…” The speaker was a woman wearing a white mage robe rather than a dress normally worn by women here. Her face was pretty good-looking, but her sharply slanted eyes gave her the impression that she was a fox about to catch and eat up her prey.
“Sir Pete, why aren’t the knights coming down?”
As the female mage wrinkled her brow, the man next to her scolded one of the knights standing nearby. They looked exactly like a match made in heaven– two stereotypically shitty nobles who would do something like this to an innocent bystander.
“I shall go see what is going on!”
Because the top suite of this inn was on the fifth floor, nobody here had heard the pained cries of the knights I had knocked out. The knight in his early forties named Pete briskly nodded and turned around to face the stairs.
At that moment, his eyes met mine, which were looking on from the stairs.
A natural smile appeared on my lips.
Puzzled by my smile, a doubtful look appeared in Pete’s eyes.
“Haha! Who are the kind folks looking for me? Where is the owner of the crazy knights who didn’t receive proper knight education and barged into the room of a person enjoying their bath~?” I called out very loudly with a bright laugh.
As soon as my words fell, the sound of swords being unsheathed rang throughout the dining hall.
At least they weren’t completely stupid– my sarcasm didn’t fall on deaf ears.
“W-who are you? Where are my knights?” said Alfonso, his face red with anger as he leapt from his seat. It was clear that the master himself hadn’t received a proper education, either.
‘Damn you, I’ll get my revenge today!’
Tomorrow’s events are a problem for tomorrow. Today, I really wanted to make these guys responsible for completely ruining my mood.
“The knights? Those guys are nicely laid out and going to the gates of hell and back. Would you also like to go?”
I made a nasty smile and gently provoked him. A person who had disturbed my first taste of relaxation in two months without good reason was bound to become my eternal enemy.
“You dare to speak down to a noble! You’re asking for death!” cried out Pete, scolding me with his eyes.
“Speaking down my ass. Would you like it if you were taking a nice bath and then someone barged in on you to steal your room? Would you like it if you were dipping your bread in some soup to enjoy and someone blew their nose right on it!”
All my accumulated resentment towards the behavior of the nobles and knights up until now was about to blow.
I also directed my words towards the smattering of other people in the dinery, who were snickering and watching my reasonable rage with curiosity.
“Naturally, that is a noble’s right! How dare you, a mere commoner, interfere with matters of nobles who are protected by imperial law! It seems you will only admit your wrongs after seeing your own blood!”
These nobles really didn’t see their own faults.
‘This isn’t the only knight school around!’
If a man is truly, truly angered, he needs to vent it somehow. The Bajran Empire wasn’t the only place with a Skyknight Academy. With my skills, there were countless kingdoms that would beg me to come to them while holding my coattails. I was determined to give these people an unforgettable taste of my 21st century commoner fist.
“Your right? You sure are talking out of an ogre’s ass. Do you eat five times a day and poop three times? A noble who only says flattering words all day, my ass! Get a taste today of this low-born commoner’s fist!”
Wooooiinngg! I activated my 5th Circle mana.
Then I unsheathed my thick sword.
“Attack! Slice that bastard’s head off!” At my bombardment of insults, Alfonso, whose face had become ashen-blue, commanded his knights to murder me.
As angry as Alfonso himself, the knights threw Aura Blade onto their swords. Their mana was as feeble as a writhing earthworm.
‘You’re all dead!’
For people who messed with me first, mercy wasn’t a term in my books. This was self-defense! Not only that, but I was raising my fist sword of love in order to educate them on good character.
I threw my shoulders back and broke out in laughter. “Uhahahaha! Today, I shall teach you all that the world is a scary place, you shitty orc goonies!”
I was someone who only feared my parents. These people dared to anger such a person; I could only give them my hot rage in return.
Pete’s sword came flying towards my stomach.
The bystanders cried out in fear.
I gathered mana and cut down on the sword that was coming from below. The swords clashed, causing a clear clang to ring out.
Then I raised my right foot and horsekicked the dude named Pete.
Taking my powerful kick to his face, the lump of armor went flying about 3 meters and hit the ground hard. He wasn’t even able to cry out as he lost consciousness because my foot had connected with his mouth.
“Th-that bastard! What are you doing! Hurry and kill him!” cursed Alfonso.
“O burning rage of fire, light blazing in the darkness…”
While the knights were hesitating, the woman wearing mage robes began casting a Fire Ball.
In order to kill a single person, this evil woman was unleashing a spell that could turn the whole building into a sea of flames.
With a crunch, I tore off the railing of the stairs.
‘Shut your damn mouth!’
And then, I simply threw the wood at the woman who was completely focused on her spell activation.
She took a hit to her lower abdomen and sank to the ground. The mana she had been gathering dissipated like smoke with a hiss.
“To, to injure a noble’s body! Hurry and kill him! I said, kill himmm!”
‘Have I’ve stepped past the line of no return? Kuku.’
Alfonso was stomping while browbeating his knights. “Kill him!!”
The knights rushed towards the narrow stairs.
“Hup!” Facing the knights who were rushing in, I put mana into the blunt of my sword, not the blade. Then, I held it like a baseball bat and crashed it into the knight at the very front.
It was only the blunt side of my sword hitting his metal armor, but there was the sound of ripping leather.
Then, I struck the ground hard, sending a powerful wave of force to the five or six knights clumped together.
‘You won’t die, you guys!’
For better or for worse, I didn’t want to go as far as to commit murder. Therefore, I controlled my strength to the appropriate level, which allowed the force to be dispersed through their armor.
“Y-you bastard, have you no fear Em-Empire law!”
Left with only a few knights, Alfonso spoke a few words that exposed his fear. He appeared to have lost all his bluster.
‘Let’s take care of this real fast and skedaddle!’
I wasn’t stupid, so I knew beating up nobles and knights in the empire capital would soon send capital police running over.
I approached the worst one of them all, the man named Alfonso.
“You need to take a hit or two.”
Staring at the man’s trembling eyes, I stalked forward. Every time I took a step forward, he took a hesitant step back.
Holding their swords, his knights stood before their master, blocking my path.
Smiling evilly, I raised my sword. Then I gathered mana into a blue Aura Blade that shone brilliantly.
“A-Aura Blade Knight!”
The knights finally discerned my level.
“Hup!” Grunting, I swung my sword and flung the trembling knights aside left and right.
At that moment, a short command suddenly entered my ears.
With a tingle, I felt an energy as sharp as a blade from behind me.
Whirling around, I saw some very astonishing people.
The first person I saw was wearing a mantle as red as blood. The second person had on a black muffler around their neck. And the last person was equipping a unique silver armor under a red mantle.
From someone’s mouth came the word ‘Skyknight.’
Even I was surprised. The three people who entered the inn gave off an intense air of nobility—they were Skyknights.
Among them, the one at the front had incredible silver hair that contrasted with her red mantle, and she was biting her long, plump lips with a troubled look as she stared at me.
Surprisingly enough, despite having told me to halt, this person was a female Skyknight who made my heart thump wildly the moment I saw her.
“Sk-Skyknights of the Empire Royal Guard…” Someone whispered in a fit.
‘The heck, you’re telling me these are the masters of legendary Black Wyverns?!!’