21st Century Archmage - Chapter 22
Chapter 22: New Fateful Encounter
“Haah, so tiring.”
I had spent the whole day touring the campus of my dreams with the rather outgoing Hyneth. Starting with the library, we looked at various classrooms, combat rooms, and even a ballroom. We even skipped lunch to familiarize ourselves with the terrain and buildings.
It was now evening. After eating dinner with Hyneth, I returned to my room.
As soon as I grasped the handle, I felt a slight tingle of mana as the door opened. It was a function very similar to fingerprint door locks in the modern world.
‘There’s someone here!’
The moment I entered the room with a feeling of satisfaction, I felt the energy of another person. When I left, I had been the only one here, but now, there was definitely someone else.
‘Why does he look so pitiful?’
Watching the setting sun out the window with folded arms was a short guy with his back to me. He should have heard me coming in, but the guy continued to emanate gloomy energy.
“Haha, I didn’t know I had a guest?” I said, feigning familiarity as I walked towards him.
However, he left me hanging even after I greeted him. Though he was obviously still young, the guy in front of me kept looking at the setting sun like a world-weary elder and oozed an aura of despair.
“Hey, friend. We should at least greet each other.”
We would be seeing each other often from now on, so I gave him another chance.
‘Ah! T-that is!’ Just as I was about to get mad at his indifference, I saw something strange outside the window: a being glowing with transparent silver light gliding freely in the air. ‘There are birds like that, too? Wow!’
A bird the size of an eagle was whizzing with incredible speed in the autumn sky.
Then, it suddenly struck me. ‘S–spirit!!’
That was possibly a spirit, which I hadn’t seen until now.
“Ugh…” The guy in front of me suddenly groaned as he staggered.
‘Ara? What now?’ I was startled by his abrupt movements. ‘He, he even has a nosebleed!’
“Hahh, hahh!” Gripping the windowsill, the guy drew in heavy, painful breaths. Red blood dripped from his nose to the ground. “Damn it. Not enough mana… arghh,” muttered my roommate with a pained voice.
‘He really is a summoner.’ He had a nosebleed, but I knew it wouldn’t kill him, so I didn’t help.
“Are you ok?”
“Gasp! Wh-who are you?”
Still, I couldn’t simply ignore someone in pain, so I asked if he was okay. The guy was completely startled by my words.
‘Eh? What’s with his voice?’ His voice was as delicate as a prepubescent boy. ‘Even his face looks like a girl?’
With a height of about 165 cm (5.4 ft) and cropped blue hair, you could tell from his dark gaze that he had suffered quite a bit in life, but his smooth jawline, sharp nose bridge, and eyes could make you believe they were from a woman’s face.
“Me? Resident of this room, Kyre.”
“K-Kyre… I’m Russell. N-nice to meet you!” Changing his voice to a deeper tone, Russell took on a brighter air.
“Are you a summoner?”
“H-how did you know?” Russell stuttered, as if getting surprised was his hobby.
‘You think I’m an idiot? Oi!’
“Is the eagle that was flying around just now a spirit?”
“Y-you saw it?” Russell made a surprised face. His expression and gestures, which didn’t look weak, were somehow endearing.
“Ya think I’m blind? Of course I saw it. But man, that’s impressive. You look like a young guy and you’ve already got an intermediate spirit.”
As soon as I thought about spirits, information floated to my mind. That transparent bird just now was an intermediate wind spirit named Shuriel.
“What do you mean, impressive, it’s still not enough. Not enough…”
‘What’s with this strong tenacity??’ Russell kept muttering that it wasn’t enough, and he was clearly lost in thought as he exuded an energy similar to bloodthirst. ‘He definitely has some kind of secret. Danger, danger.’
A warning bell different from the kind that Hyneth triggered began to beep inside my head.
“Haha! Let’s get along. We’re in the same room, after all.”
“Y-yes. Let’s get along, Kyre,” flustered Russell. He put out his hand.
‘Ara? Why is his hand so smooth?’
His hand was as smooth as a mollusk. It actually felt similar to the time when I held hands with Ye-rin– a tingle of excitement traveled down my spine.
‘Kekk, Kang Hyuk. Are you getting excited just by holding a guy’s hand now? Has it really come to this?!’
It was clear that I was just disillusioned for a moment because of this strange sensation. Unlike some people, I definitely didn’t have any interest in people the same gender.
Only the other gender!
And not only that, but I liked girls with pretty faces, pretty figures, and pretty temperaments, and if I were to be a bit greedier, a girl with a pretty wallet!
* * *
‘He’s not even a girl, so why does he lock the door to wash up?’
I wanted to chat throughout the night, but Russell must have been tired, because he fell asleep early. In the morning, he woke up in a flash and went to the washroom. He even locked the door. As if a guy would have anything to be ashamed of!
While I was grumbling about his unmanly actions, the bathroom door opened. Thanks to the magic crystal employed below, this washroom offered hot and cold water, just like in modern times. Russell’s body emerged from the white steam.
My heart thumped.
‘Why is my heart racing?? Arghh!’
Russell appeared with his short hair wrapped up in a towel. He must have changed in the washroom, because he was already wearing the trainee uniform.
‘I’m going to go crazy.’
This was the first time in my life where my heart raced like this upon seeing a guy. On top of that, his body emanated a faint, mysterious fragrance. A strange fragrance that didn’t suit a guy named Russell entered my nostrils and completely turned me upside down.
“What’s wrong, why do you look like a perverted dog?” spat out Russell as he dried his hair in front of the washroom.
“N-no. Haha! I just thought you looked beautiful coming out of the shower so suddenly.” My true thoughts came tumbling out unintentionally.
“W-what do you mean by that?”
‘Ara? His face is getting red?’
Russell’s bright red face brought out the mischievous devil in me. “Huhu, your figure is pretty good and your face is also not too shabby, Russell.”
I imitated the gutter-minded mercenaries and slowly approached Russell’s blushing face.
“W-what are you doing?” His face getting as red as a beet, Russell edged away.
I grabbed his shoulders. In that moment, Russell began to tremble like a captured bird.
‘Brat, why is your heart racing this much?’ I could feel Russell’s thumping heart through his shoulders.
Just 15 cm away from me were Russell’s lips, which gave off a nice smelling breath. I quietly stared deep into Russell’s clear, silver eyes.
He started talking, but faltered and just stared dumbly at me with confused eyes. The mood actually felt like we were about to have our first kiss.
Thinking that, I unintentionally swallowed with a gulp.
‘Hyuk, have you gone crazy?’ This started as a joke, but suddenly, even I was getting a bit serious.
“Do you… happen to have a sister? Kyaa, just looking at you, if you had an older or little sister, they would have these blessed genes. You as a guy are enough to make my heart race like this, so there’s nothing more to ask for.”
My lower body registered a heavy blow.
“You fucking pervert!”
While I was groaning from the pain, someone called me a pervert in this world for the second time.
‘No! I hate perverts more than psychopaths!’ I cried out in my thoughts. But because of the immense, unthinkable pain, I wasn’t able to say a single thing.
Russell’s wet towel hit my face with a ‘pat’ sound.
“Would YOU want to introduce your little sister or older sister to a pervert like you?” Russell’s harsh words were as sharp as the saying ‘sow the wind and reap a whirlwind.’
After giving me a critical hit like that, Russell left, saying, “I’m going down first.”
Despite having just been called a pervert, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the sight of his butt swaying as he left, and the faint fragrance from the towel made my chest ache.
Kang Hyuk, 17 years old.
Even if it was for just a moment, I couldn’t help but resent myself for being hooked on a man.
* * *
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* * *
Positioned at the very back of the academy was the five floor library. This library was very close to the wall of the Imperial Palace that housed the Emperor and his family, and as such, it was quite a spectacle. Bigger than any other building on the academy grounds, massive stone pillars at the front were supporting the library’s structure.
Inside, there were almost no people around. On a day as cold as this, where the air was chilly enough to freeze your bones solid, there wasn’t even a single one of the countless imperial attendants to be found.
‘I should probably start with a rough idea of the continent’s history and culture, right?’
I had learned quite a lot during my journey, but a mercenary couldn’t give much in the way of detailed facts. There was about half a month before the academy’s formal classes would begin. I was determined to gather the information I needed within this timeframe.
‘There are probably books about spirits, too.’
My interest in spirits had been piqued so suddenly. Though my brain was flooded with all sorts of incomprehensible knowledge, there wasn’t much about summoning a spirit.
‘I wonder what level of spirit I could summon right now?’
Even Russell, who didn’t have very strong mana, could summon an intermediate spirit. Since I had a composite mana core, I could probably summon a higher grade spirit.
‘Aren’t those people Imperial Knights?’
Around 10 Imperial Knights wrapped in crimson cloaks with swords at their hips were sitting on chairs while observing the people coming inside. They really didn’t look like library types.
‘Did they come here to escape the cold?’
The library was, after all, far warmer than the weather outside. Even an Imperial Knight would want to take a break on a day like this.
* * *
‘Wow! This is amazing!’
Inside this huge building, which housed the empire’s national library, lay a pile of knowledge on an incredible scale. Something like this would be hard to find even in 21st century Korea.
‘Everything is secured by magic protection. The entire building has manuscript preservation functions like temperature and humidity control as well. To think that thousand-year old books are alive and well here…’
The more I came to know about magic, the more I came to admire its incredibly valuable versatility. The role scientific knowledge played in modern times was played by magic here.
‘There are at least tens of thousands of books.’
The imperial library was packed with books regarding history and culture. From vellum manuscripts to books with thickly textured paper, the smell of thousands of books made me stop and look around for a moment.
‘Hm? What’s that little kid doing here?’
I spotted a boy that looked about ten years old. He was hopping up and down, trying to get a book out of his reach. His golden hair shone with reddish light and he was wearing a thick, expensive-looking autumn overcoat.
‘Do they even take kids that young here?’
The kid looked way too young to be accepted in knight academy. His face still had all of its cute baby fat.
“Kiddo, shall this hyung here help you?”
My sympathy surged upon seeing a young guy like him doing his best to learn.
At my words, the kid turned his head.
I was met with a rather sharp gaze from the temperamental-looking kiddo. His eyes seemed to ask who the heck dared to touch a sleeping lion’s paw.
‘Wow, this kid’s gaze is no joke.’
“Haha! You’re cute.”
An elder was offering help, but instead of responding, this brat just stabbed me with his eyes. I stroked his neatly combed-over hair as if I were petting the neighborhood stray.
‘All for the Great Emperor. Even though he’s so young.’
There were three or four books, seemingly gathered by this kid, piled up on the ground.
“Of course you should study well. They say there is no royal road to learning, only that one should read a lot, think a lot, and write a lot. If you do so, then you can become a great person like me,” I said, imparting the study wisdom I had learned over the years.
“Who the heck are you?”
‘Eh? Who the heck?’
I anticipated words of thanks and was looking over with satisfaction, but what fell from the kid’s small lips was very rude, casual speech commonly used by little brats.
“Brat! What kind of domestic education did you receive to speak down to your elder! If you do it again, I’ll spank your butt!” I threatened animatedly.
“You have no fear! How dare you say you will hit my butt?!”
‘Holy! He wants to go at it, eh?’
This young soul who hadn’t yet grown any beard hair clearly lacked domestic education and sadly didn’t know how to speak politely to adults. I couldn’t just let it slide.
“You! You won’t learn with just words!” I put an angry expression on my face and grabbed the kid by the waist.
“L-let me go! How dare you!”
Pan! There was no need to say anything more. I put the kiddo on the crook of my knee and gave his butt a powerful smack.
“It hurts! Uwaaaahhhh!”
“Be quiet! How can a kid who hasn’t even lost his baby fat be so rude to his elder! Did your dad and mum teach you to be like that?”
Pan! Pan! Pan!
I could endure everything else, but rude kids really riled me up. Kids these days would run around with ‘I’m a spoiled brat’ scrawled all over their faces at restaurants and public places. I happened to meet a kid like that in Kallian, and it suddenly made me want to become a personality educator.
“Uwaaah! Uwaaaahh! It hurts! It hurts!”
‘Kids should get hit a bit while growing up.’
[TN: No, no they shouldn’t!]
I had grown up while getting a very stern education from my parents. That’s why I took it upon myself with great pain(?) to redden my palms for the sake of this kid’s future.
“Will you speak down to your hyung-nim again or keep crying?”
[TN: Hyung-nim, the respectful form of hyung.]
“Uwaah! Nnng….!” I didn’t hit him very hard, but the kid acted as if he had never been hit before in his life.
Seeing my hand go up again, the kid rapidly shook his head. “I, I won’t,” he said, sniffling.
‘Heh, that’s right. How dare a youngling like you be so rude.”
Seeing the clear results of my education satisfied me. There was a saying like this: give a dollar more to the one you hate and the rod of love to the one with potential.
“Alright, now you’ve become a good kid. What is your name?”
“Nghh. I am Razcion von Bajran.”
Huge tears welled up at his eyes as the kid gave out his full name.
‘Hm? Haven’t I heard that last name often before?’ This name, ‘Bajran,’ was one I had somehow heard before… ‘N-no way!’ An awful premonition struck me. ‘B-Bajran….?’
The empire I was currently in was also called Bajran. And the current emperor, Emperor Havitron, used that last name as well.
“A-alright, Razcion. Your name sounds very nice.” Unbeknownst to me, there was a tremble in my voice. “But can you tell me what your father does for a living?”
I carefully asked about his father’s profession. It wasn’t just the Emperor who used the ‘Bajran’ name; it was possible that kin of his line also bore the name.
“His Imperial Majesty.”
A short three words.
‘Aaagh! Gods above!’
This current situation couldn’t be blamed on anyone but myself. I had completely forgotten that this wasn’t Korea, where one was protected by law, but the Kallian Continent, where strength and fists ruled all.
“Razcion? Are you there?”
I had called the Emperor and Empress ‘dad’ and ‘mum.’ If anyone heard about this, I would surely become a sworn enemy of the Bajran Empire. In this critically dangerous situation, I heard a woman’s soft voice.
A woman walked towards us from the other side of the library. A long ivory dress embroidered with gold trailed behind her; she was like a goddess descending to the human realm.
That was the radiant halo seen only on your own older sister, girlfriend, or top celebrities! The woman before me held a smile as vague as Mona Lisa’s.
[TN: Noona means older sister. It’s a term used by boys to refer to an older girl.]
With his nose and eyes running thanks to me, the Emperor’s son scrambled towards his sister.
There was nothing more to think. The brat would tattle all the things that had happened until now and then laser beams would come at me from the Imperial Princess’ eyes, and she would call the Imperial Knights with rage. At that point, I would have no other choice but to run until my shoes got drenched on this rainy day.
“Razcion, what happened? Why did you cry?”
The Imperial Princess wiped her brother’s undried tears with her two hands.
As she did so, the kid stared straight at me.
“Hng, that is… I was grabbing a book but it fell on my head. Hehe.”
‘Ara? Take a look at this kid?’ I didn’t know what he was up to, but he didn’t tell the truth and lied instead.
I smiled. “Skyknight Trainee Kyre greets the honorable Imperial Princess,” I said, bowing as I had seen and heard nobles doing.
“I am called Igis von Bajran.” Princess Igis held the hem of her dress and gave a slight curtsey.
‘That’s what you call true grace.’
From Princess Igis came a noble grace on a level I had never seen before. It made me think, ‘As expected of a great empire’s princess.’
“Are you a newly enrolled trainee?”
“I am. I enrolled a few days ago.”
“Hyung, you are a Skyknight Trainee! Wow! You’re cooler than you look!”
The brat called me “hyung” without a trace of dignity in front of his actual older sister. Princess Igis showed traces of embarrassment.
“Ha, haha, your Highness the Imperial Prince. How could you call a trainee ‘older brother?’ I have fully received your sentiment, but please drop the formalities. The walls have eyes… Ahem.”
As I spoke, I put strength into my eyes and glowered slightly at the brat.
In response to my efforts (to save my own skin), the Imperial Prince stuck out his tongue.
“Razcion, you mustn’t say such words lightly. It may be fine for you, but Knight Kyre could be punished by our Imperial Father and Mother.”
With those words, Igis completely broke the image I had of an imperial princess. She gently stroked her brother’s hair while cautioning him.
“Un. I got it, noona. I’ll be careful from now on.”
The empire’s Prince nodded, completely showing the image of an obedient younger brother. The two looked like they had a very good relationship. Even I felt touched just looking at them.
“You said you were called Knight Kyre, yes?”
“Huh? Ah, yes!”
Igis moved her gaze from Razcion and quietly observed my eyes with her sky blue ones.
“We will meet again soon.”
Igis threw out something incomprehensible. I may be a Skyknight trainee, but the huge Imperial Palace walls were proof that it wasn’t easy to meet the Imperial Princess or Prince.
With a curt nod that didn’t look arrogant coming from an Imperial Princess, Igis turned and began to walk away.
“Hehe. Hyung, see you next time.”
He must have felt bad after taking a few hits from me, but cute Razcion even whispered “hyung” to me before getting pulled away by Igis. They both left the 3rd floor of the library.
Should I believe what just happened, or should I cry? I had just laid hands on the great empire’s Imperial Prince as if educating a little kid, and even threw shade on the Emperor and Empress as parents who had failed his domestic education.
I may be a dimensional traveler from 21st century Earth, but this time, I was really able to see what a reckless idiot I was.
“O Gods above, thank you! Thank you for enlightening my poor discerning eye once again!”
I offered a sincere prayer while looking up at the library’s ceiling.
It was God’s grace that allowed me to meet another rare grade beauty today. That was surely an incomparable blessing.