21st Century Archmage - Chapter 21
Chapter 21: Her Name is Hyneth
“It still feels pretty meh…”
After Hyneth left, the marquises broke out of their shock. Then, under their gazes, I poured an adequate amount of mana into the mana stone, exchanged a few sword strikes with one of Marquis Astain’s Imperial Knights, and just like that, I passed.
The Skyknight Selection Exam was so much easier than I had expected. You had to be a 4th Circle mage or a Blade Knight under 30 years old. They weren’t light requirements— you had to be at the level of an Imperial Knight who lived and breathed the sword in order to become a Blade Knight. Among the countless mercenaries I met during my travels, there were quite a few Aura Blade Users, but only one that had reached Knight level.
‘There’s something else involved in Skyknight selection.’ I couldn’t help but think that this wasn’t the end. There was definitely a secret that I didn’t know yet.
‘Can I also be called a Skyknight Academy student now?’
In my hands was a magic identity token. Engraved on both sides was the number 117 and my name, as well as a picture of a wyvern. Upon passing, I had received this token. I still couldn’t believe I had passed just like that.
‘Uhahahaha! Yes, I must be a heaven-sent genius of uncommon proportions~!’
In the end, that was the conclusion I reached. What more was there to think? Even people far inferior to me had passed, so there was no way I could fail.
‘2 years is too long. I have to get myself a wyvern faster than that!’
The problem now was that Skyknight training would last a long 2 years. But it was also true that there were always exceptional beings in the world. I wanted to live as one of them.
‘I have to go to the dormitories with this token, right?’ The dormitory within the capital’s inner palace housed Skyknight students, as well as students from the Knight, Mage, and Summoner Academies. ‘It’s no different from the college life I heard about.’
Though I didn’t yet know the exact name of the building, there were many structures in this expansive area. I was sure that all of them had been developed to nurture the Bajran Empire’s talented youths.
This was a completely different world, where Imperial Knights and soldiers alike guarded the premises. It was a land of hope, where I, Kang Hyuk, would begin a new chapter of my life.
* * *
“This is the place you will reside in, Knight Kyre.”
‘Yesss. This is how it should be!’
Someone called me “Knight” for the first time in my life. When I showed my cadet identity token in front of the dormitory, an attendant in his mid-twenties guided me to my room.
“This dormitory is for male students and houses two people in each room; it is called the Roperoni Dormitory. Datian Dormitory next door is where the female cadets are housed. Meals are provided in the morning, afternoon, and evening and can be accessed at any time. You are not permitted to wear anything other than the provided cadet uniform. In addition, most of the things you will need for daily life are provided for you in your room.”
‘As expected of an empire.’
I hadn’t yet had the chance to see the inside of a noble’s house, but the sight in front of me seemed about that level. Plastered on the walls between the rooms were paintings related to the gods, wars, and history. A subtle magic formation was also protecting the hallway. From the plushy carpet lining the dormitory’s floors, you could tell how much the empire valued the cultivation of their new talents.
“Please grasp the handle with the entirety of your palm.”
Within this luxurious dormitory comparable to modern hotels, a room assigned the number 512 was waiting for me.
‘A magic lock?’
“Mana is distributed from an underground magic circle that handles all of the empire dormitories’ facilities. From protection formulas to hot and cold water, as well as spells like this lock, the magic circle fully provides for all such conveniences,” explained the attendant with pride.
“For it to do so much… it must be at least a Grade 3 magic crystal.”
“That is correct. A Grade 3 magic crystal is in use.”
The magic crystal was being used here in various ways. Completing a magic circle required magic crystal dust, and a magic crystal was absolutely necessary in the maintenance of spell functions. Magic crystals were also used in mana staves.
‘If you can get this many conveniences with just magic, you wouldn’t be jealous of the 21st century.’
The problem was that such conveniences were way out of reach for regular commoners. Magic crystals weren’t just stones you could find on the street, and turning magic crystals into usable magic items was no walk in the park, either.
‘Uhu! This is nice!’
I entered the room as I chatted with the attendant, and I immediately liked what I saw. The large room didn’t lose to any of the top suites in inns I had lodged in on the way here. Located on the 5th floor, warm sunlight shone in from the window and illuminated the room, and on each side of the room were large white beds. There were even furnishings like tea tables. It was better than the room I had lived in back on Earth.
“The cafeteria is in front of the dormitory in a separate building called Halphones. If there is anything you require, simply call the attendants in the first floor hall,” continued the attendant, not neglecting his polite guidance.
“May I ask your name?” I asked. He was an attendant, but because he was older than me, I couldn’t talk disrespectfully.
“I am called Aki. Please feel free to speak casually. It is written in empire law that cadets receive quasi-knight treatment.”
“Th–thank you. Aki,” I said awkwardly, thanking Aki for his polite treatment, which clearly reflected the rigid rules of this hierarchical society.
“Then, please rest in comfort. Formal lessons begin in about fifteen days.” With a crisp bow, Aki left.
“Haaa, so nice~!”
The room was clean, so I knew my roommate hadn’t been determined yet. After Aki left, I threw my body onto one of the beds fitted with white sheets.
‘Should I do some sightseeing in the capital for half a month?’
Laying down using my arm as a pillow, I watched the clouds floating by outside the window. This was my first real taste of peace in a while. My body sank into the plushy bed.
And then, I fell into a happy sleep. It was a comfortable rest where I felt a sense of security for the first time since coming to the Kallian Continent.
* * *
Clang clang clang!
‘How long did I sleep?’ I woke up to the sounds of brisk shouts and clashing swords. ‘Ah! W–what’s going on?’
The rays of sunlight I remembered before falling asleep had exuded the languid warmth of afternoon. But now, the light coming into my room showed it was late morning.
‘Did I sleep for at least half a day?’
I must have been really tired to fall into such a deep and long sleep in the dormitory within the inner castle, which was guarded by knights and soldiers.
I stretched my arms out and worked out my morning aches. Even a 5th Circle mage required sleep. Maybe because I slept like a log, but my body was overflowing with refreshed energy.
“Hiyup!” Schwing! Schwing!
‘Is that morning training?’
The dormitory housed not only Skyknight cadets, but also students in the regular Knight Class, the Mage Class, and the Summoner Class. I could tell the shouts were coming from people who were training in the drill hall outside.
As I watched, my belly growled with a complaint.
“Ahh! I missed dinner!”
My grandpa in the countryside had taught me that missing a meal wasn’t just missing a meal— it meant that you missed a moment of happiness that you could never get back in your life. Since I hadn’t eaten dinner last night, my belly grumbled loudly, bringing me to a state of complete wakefulness.
“The cafeteria is in the building in front, right?”
I entered the bathroom connected to the room and quickly washed my face. Then I tidied my hair neatly and used the spell Clear.
Countless particles of mana whirled with a whoosh around my body, and a clean feeling washed over me. Since Clear’s strength was also determined by mana and circle quantity, I only needed a single cast to wash away the sweat on my body.
“I should put on the cadet uniform, right?” I opened the closet inside the room. “Is it my size?”
Between the two closets, only one of them had a uniform inside. There were white breeches in slim-fitting style, a top that looked like a hooded tee (called a “supertunic” here), a black cloak, and a silver belt emblazoned with a wyvern depiction.
“It’s pretty warm, huh?”
I didn’t know what materials were used, but with these clothes, you could resist the cold without having to wear underclothes. I put on the clothes, admired the Black Wyvern embroidered on the chest, and moved towards the door.
“They probably have a library, right?”
Mages were being trained here, so there would definitely be a library here. For acquiring knowledge related to the continent, there was no better place to start.
The door opened with a creak as I left the room. Then, I walked through the quiet hallway towards the cafeteria. This was a place where I didn’t have a single friend. I wanted to make at least one friend like the one I had left on Earth, the kind Joong-hyun.
* * *
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* * *
In front of the dormitory was the single floor cafeteria, called Halphones. Surprisingly enough, the food that was laid out in a space bigger than a school cafeteria where hundreds could eat simultaneously was… a buffet. Starting with main dishes, there were about 30 different kinds, including fruits. It wasn’t that much variety, but this kind of spread was difficult to find on the Kallian Continent.
‘This thick meat!’
It wasn’t a nobleman’s meal where you were waited on by attendants, but steaks, fried chicken, and fish dishes were steaming on temperature regulation magic circles. As I loaded up my flower-patterned plate with food, sounds of joy came from my mouth.
‘It would be perfect if I just had kimchi! What a shame.’
I was able to confirm during my intelligence gathering that there was a vegetable similar to napa cabbage as well as seasonings like hot pepper and garlic. However, I didn’t have any time to leisurely make some kimchi. If I had my own territory one day, I would definitely make a kimchi jar, cure some kimchi in it, and enjoy.
‘But what’s with their gazes?’ Though the sun was already high in the sky and it was late morning, dozens of people were eating here. While I was getting my food, I felt their gazes on me, and upon turning my head, I was met with dozens of pairs of eyes. ‘Is it their first time seeing a person?’
Their surreptitious gazes were as if I was some kind of monkey at a zoo.
‘Huh? We all have different cloak colors?’
There was only one other person with the same black cloak as me. Everyone else was wearing blue or white cloaks.
The one black cloak I saw among all the others stood out like a thumb. The person wearing it was Hyneth, the shoujo manga protagonist from outer space. Her porcelain lips moved as she ate an apple with her fork.
And then, our eyes met.
The graceful lady, Hyneth, bowed her head right away in greeting, as if worried she would be seen as anything but a gentle character.
‘It’s really strange. To me, she looks completely fine—no, she’s a picture of modesty and kindness.”
I really couldn’t figure out why nobles who were even marquises showed such fear, or why my body even perceived danger signals from her.
‘Well, she’s still a lady…’
I decided to approach Hyneth, whose huge eyes looked to take up almost half of her face.
“Haha, lovely morning, isn’t it?”
She may be the only heir of a count, but we were now students of the same school. I threw out a greeting common in Korea and approached her without reserve.
“Y–yes. It is indeed,” said Hyneth with a light blush as she bowed her head slightly.
‘Oh man, she’s cute.’
I wasn’t even a forty-year old pervert, but a single wolfish thought floated to my mind as I sat down next to her.
“My name’s Kyre,” I told her with knife and fork in hand.
“I, I am Hyneth de Petrin,” Hyneth replied with a cute expression as she continued to cut a piece of apple with her fork.
‘What a joyful morning. Huhu.’ I was spending this morning with a cute and beautiful lady, after all! My mood soared. ‘But these brats, have they never seen anyone eat before?’
Most of the people were guys wearing blue cloaks. They stared at Hyneth and me while whispering amongst each other.
“Do you happen to have some time today?”
Hyneth was startled every time I spoke. Seeing her modest and shy demeanor that was so different from the strong and rough girls of the 21st century, my goodwill towards her increased.
‘How can she be so adorbs? Huhu.’
The uniform for girls had a slightly looser fit than the one for boys. Her petite face made her look like she was buried in the clothes—it really inspired one’s protective instinct.
“Meeting like this feels like the serendipity of Romero-nim, the God of Fate, so how about touring the academy together?”
“The serendipity of Romero-nim…? Then… that’s fine with me.” Hearing the name of a god, she gave me a small nod.
‘The food tastes great, too!’ Savoring the taste of the juicy, easily cut steak, I glanced at Hyneth and enjoyed her cuteness as a side dish. Like a starving man invited to a feast, her appearance alone whetted my appetite.
* * *
‘Ooohh, so this is what they call a campus romance!’
My school life kicked off with a date with a cute girl. I ate my meal, followed by a leisurely cup of tea, and then we left the cafeteria. Then, I was able to thoroughly appreciate a campus romance, which I had previously only heard about from my seniors in college.
At just above 160 cm (5.2 ft), Hyneth was petite and adorable. I had no idea why a girl with such natural feminine charm would choose to become a Skyknight.
“There is a flower garden over there. I was there yesterday, and saw rumiress flowers blooming there.”
That Hyneth was able to show up yesterday with flowers in her hair during the winter had struck me as strange, but now I knew.
‘As expected of an empire; they use temperature control magic to maintain the flower beds even during the winter.’
Such a feat would require a fairly nice magic crystal. The Bajran Empire, Ruler of the North, could afford such a luxury.
“Do you like flowers?”
In my heart, I had already named the empire’s Knight Academy as the campus of my dreams. As we walked slowly together, the refreshing morning invigorated me.
There really was no need to ask. She was, at a single glance, clearly a girl who aligned herself with flowers, poetry, and anything else that embodied gentleness.
“Do you also like poetry?” I continued smoothly.
“Poetry? Yes. I like the hero epics that minstrels enjoy singing, as well as the poem ‘At the Flower Bed’ by the great poet Amurant. Hoho! I like all poems that are gentle and mellow.”
For the first time, Hyneth revealed a bright smile, blooming like a pretty lily.
“Then, I thought of a poem just now while looking at you, Hyneth— would you like to hear it?”
“Huh? F–for me?” she asked with a surprised face, blinking her clear and bright eyes.
‘Am I seriously a playboy?’
Ye-rin had unintentionally called me that a while back. Only yesterday had I met Hyneth, the only child of a great empire’s count. I was doing something that other commoners would never dream of doing, and without hesitation, to boot.
“Before I called her name
she was nothing
more than a gesture.
When I called her name
she came to me
and became a flower.”
While gazing into the bright and perfect autumn sky, I quietly recited poet Kim Chun-soo’s ‘Flower.’
‘Nice flow!’ Even I, as the reciter, thought my voice sounded good. My words rode the calm wind and billowed to Hyneth’s side.
“Like I called her name,
will someone please call my name
that suits my light and fragrance?
I, too, long to come to her
and become her flower….”
This poem, ‘Flower,’ was immersed in sorrowful longing. It was my favorite poem, a poem I had always wanted to recite to someone I liked.
“We all long to be something.” It was time for the quietest, last climax. Smoothing my voice, I tried to bring out all of my emotion. “You, to me, and I, to you…”
Blinking huge doe eyes, Hyneth was looking up at me. I gazed right into her eyes and sweetly delivered the last line, as if singing.
“…long to become a gaze that won’t be forgotten…”
‘We got ‘em, boys!’
No one would slam me with a copyright here for this 21st century poem!
Taken by emotion, Hyneth grasped her hands together and began to cry big, dripping tears. “It, it’s too touching… ‘You, to me, and me, to you… long to become a gaze that won’t be forgotten…’ This poem is more beautiful and sweet than any other poem I have heard in my life.”
Completely touched, Hyneth showed her appreciation of the poem as her eyes shone with admiration towards me.
‘Huhu, let’s become a great minstrel just like this.’
Countless works of the 21st century were recorded in my head. Thanks to the bloody education I had received, there were quite a few usable works of literature, like poems and music, stacked up neatly in my memory.
“Thank you, Kyre-nim…”
“Hyneth-nim, this may be an offense, but may I ask how old you are…?” I asked, confident that Hyneth had opened her heart to me.
“I am seventeen. And Kyre-nim is…?”
‘Seventeen? She’s older than I thought?’ I thought she was younger than me, but we were almost the same age.
“Haha! I will be eighteen this year.”
“Ah, then that would make you my oppa.”
[TN: Oppa is a familiar term used by a girl to refer to an older boy.]
Hyneth was too pretty and cute to be left as just a friend; she felt just like a little sister. She fell for my bait, hook, line, and sinker.
“Then, please call me ‘oppa.’ In accordance with this fateful meeting prescribed by the God of Fate, Romero, I wish to become someone you will never forget in the future.”
“O–oppa–nim?” At my shocking confession, the little lamb blinked her eyes and fell into confusion, dropping an honorific at the end.
‘If it weren’t for a day like today, when else would I get a chance to get a noble as a little sister?’
If I was going to live my life, I wanted to forge a cool and awesome path forward. Having a cutie pie like Hyneth as my little sister was just the icing on the cake.
“O–okay. I will call Kyre-nim ‘oppa’ from now on.”
‘Score! Excellent choice.’
Underneath my exterior appearance, I really was a useful guy to have around.
“Alright, Hyneth. From now on, you and I will have an unbreakable relationship. We’re an oppa and little sister bound by Romero-nim.”
“Yes. Hoho! Kyre orabunni!”
[TN: Orabunni is the respectful version of oppa. Guess oppa was too strong for Hyneth lol]
Hyneth was just as excited as I was. She was a completely different type of noble from that nasty wretch, Luciella.
‘Huhu, cutie,’ I thought as I watched pure and innocent Hyneth laughing wide. An indescribable sense of pride welled up within my chest.
‘Wait for me, imperial high society! I, Kyre, am coming! Hahahaha!’
I had only heard about noble-only meetings in rumors. It was impossible for me, Kang Hyuk, to miss out.
“Orabunni, shall we go look at all the flowers?”
“You will listen to your little sister’s wish, right?” Hyneth looked like she would burst into tears if I refused.
“O–of course. Haha! It’s my one and only little sister’s wish, so what’s a few gardens! I would even pick the stars out of the sky for you.”
“Really? Woww! Then please pick a star for me tonight. My daddy couldn’t do it… Hoho! As expected, you’re different, orabunni!”
‘H–hey. What is this kindergarten mentality?’
Hyneth took my exaggerations as unwavering truths. Cold sweat suddenly beaded up on my back.
‘Am I possibly the one taking a loss here?’
An unbelievable thought sprang to my mind: that it was me, not Hyneth, who had taken the bait. But then I shook my head. How could this delicate, pure-blooded beauty who loved flowers cause harm to me?
Also, there was this saying among men:
If you’re pretty, then all things besides murder can be forgiven…