21st Century Archmage - Chapter 31
Chapter 31: First Flight
“Hold onto the practice airplate you have been issued properly until the end of the training. It may not be up to par with Skyknight gear, but each one of them costs tens of thousands of Gold.”
‘So this is an airplate?’
I was holding a practice airplate. It was an elaborate iron armor enspelled with weight lightening magic; underneath the iron was soft leather that protected a person’s whole body, including their fingers and toes.
‘It’s pretty light.’ Though the armor looked fairly heavy, it felt like it might barely reach 10 kilos in weight.
“Because it will not be used in battle, the practice airplates do not have defense spells or mithril content. However, they are fundamentally enspelled with Fly for your safety in case of an emergency.” Viscount Atuan’s loud voice rang out in the drill hall in front of the sleeping quarters.
“Che, what the heck. Not even my family’s soldiers would wear something like this.”
“I miss my armor at home.”
Some rich brats in the back complained with a cheeky attitude. They really acted like they had skills, despite having none.
‘So if you wear airplate armor, you won’t feel hot or cold, huh.’
Rain or snow, Skyknights had to fly atop their wyverns. Even a 5th Circle mage or Blade Knight would be unable to endure long periods of cold or heat. Therefore, airplates were invented– a miraculous armor difficult to make with 21st century science was produced using the omnipotent strength that was magic.
“From now on, until training ends, you must wear your airplates at all times, except when you sleep. Then, everyone, put them on now!”
Even if Viscount Atuan hadn’t said anything, I was curious about what wearing an airplate felt like. Tossing my cloak to the ground, I equipped the armor on top of my cadet uniform.
‘It’s light and comfortable enough to put it on without the help of an attendant.’
The practice airplates had been made in all sorts of sizes. The helmet, torso, legs, and arms were all separate pieces.
“If you draw your mana, the armor will automatically be equipped,” explained Viscount Atuan amiably.
I drew a little mana, and the separated pieces clicked together as if bound by magnets. ‘Wow, not even a little wind can get through.’ Despite being made for training purposes, I couldn’t help but admire the airplate’s performance. First of all, it was comfortable. Thanks to temperature control magic regulating the inside of the suit, it felt like my body’s condition was being maintained at its highest state.
‘Let’s put on the helmet, too.’ The roundish helmet had a clear, glass-like material protecting the eyes. The practice airplates were devoid of all decoration, but it was clear that the suit was made with care.
“In a moment, the Skyknights who will help with your training will arrive. You will spend the next few months with them, so I hope you will treat them with respect.”
“Students, do your best. Know that there are no second chances if you fail your flight training!”
Here, thorough practical training was highly emphasized. That was how Bajran’s Skyknights could emerge as honorable knights respected across the continent.
“T-the Skyknights are coming.”
“Oh! They’re the Skyknights of the Imperial Guard!”
‘Skyknights of the Imperial Guard!’ The cadets who were busily putting on their armor got excited upon seeing the approaching Skyknights. ‘There she is!’
I whirled to look at the Skyknights and instantly confirmed the existence of one woman among them.
‘Apostle of the Azure Skies, Countess Irene…’
Countess Irene, the Skyknight who had helped me several months ago, was wearing a red cloak, a silver airplate, and a black scarf around her neck. Her glistening, long silver hair fluttered in the wind as she walked. The sight of this woman with a body as lithe as an android from Galaxy Express 888 made my heart pound. I had wanted to see Countess Irene; it seemed she had gotten even more beautiful in the few months I hadn’t seen her.
[TN: Refers to Galaxy Express 999, a Japanese space opera manga/anime.]
“Welcome, Countess Irene.”
“You’ve worked hard.”
She was much younger than him, but Viscount Atuan politely lowered his head towards Countess Irene, and Irene acknowledged him with a light nod.
“A-Apostle of the Azure Skies, Irene!”
“That Irene, who killed ten enemy wyverns on her own?”
Alfonso, Luciella, and I had already met her, but the cadets who hadn’t exclaimed in surprise.
‘Ten on her own?’
By all counts, she looked like an elegant lily. It was hard to believe that such a woman had single handedly defeated ten wyverns.
“I am Countess Irene. Nice to meet you, recruits.” Her red, small mouth opened as she uttered hard, militant words. “I am pleased to work together from today onwards with the recruits who will lead the Empire’s future.”
Just then, I met eyes with Irene and quirked a smile at her. As I did so, I saw a flash of surprise in her solemn eyes.
‘Hooh! She smiled at me!’ Then she made a tiny smile. I was sure she hadn’t forgotten me.
“Then, go stand in front of the Skyknight you wish you work with! Knights should go to knights, summoners to summoners, and mages to mages!”
‘You can pick on your own?’
This method of training was really exceptional. Perhaps it was for the future of the nobles who would lead the empire in the future, but they were even offering one on one guidance.
As soon as the command was given, the cadets rushed with alarming speed to stand behind the Skyknights standing in rank and file. Their sleeves had marks showing whether they were knights, summoners, or mages, so the cadets made lines in front of the Skyknights they liked.
‘May he rest in peace. Tsk tsk.’
As soon as Hyneth in all her charm approached a Skyknight, his jaw dropped and he looked blown away. If he knew that the girl in front of him was the only daughter of Bajran’s mad dog family, he would probably want to jump onto his wyvern and defect to an enemy country.
“Why haven’t you gone to anyone yet?”
The guys from strong families had mostly chosen Skyknights from the Imperial Guard, while people from regional families were in front of regular Skyknights. In just a few moments, the dust had settled. I was the only one who hadn’t gone up to someone yet.
“Sir, I have already chosen someone.”
“Huh? Who?” Viscount Atuan, who always watched me, was confused by my words.
“There is only one Skyknight left here, isn’t there?” I said, looking at Irene.
“Th-that won’t do. It seems you’ve misunderstood something. Countess Irene will not personally train—”
“It is fine, Viscount Atuan. I will take on this trainee.”
“N-no… Countess, you are busy with general command…” flustered Viscount Atuan, as if nothing like this had happened before.
“It’s not my first time taking on a trainee, so please don’t worry.”
‘Wow! I’ve struck gold.’
I was also familiar with Sir Rothello, but I was somehow more drawn to Countess Irene. If I was going to be trained now anyway, Countess Irene was a thousand times better than some sweaty man.
[TN: Yeah… ‘somehow.’ We know you be thirsty af!]
“Then we will begin the first day of training. Go with the Skyknight you have chosen to the wyvern hangar.”
There was no need for a long speech. Intensive training was starting from the very first day.
‘Will we fly into the sky now?’
I could fly on my own with Fly magic, but this would be my first time going into the clouds with a wyvern, which was like a fighter jet in modern terms. Just thinking about it made my whole body tingle with excitement.
The beautiful Countess Irene was walking in front of me. Every other guy cadet was sending me jealous gazes. As we walked, a woman’s fragrance drifted towards me on the wind.
It was a rule that only the courageous could earn a woman’s favor. In terms of courage, I was none other than a true hero.
* * *
“Countess Irene, do you have training?”
“Greetings to Your Highness.”
“Greetings to Your Highness!”
‘Oi oi oi, why is this guy here?’
The Crown Prince had a protection duty of ten Imperial Guard Skyknights. He was raking Irene with his light grey eyes, which glinted with madness. However, because I wasn’t yet at the level where I could officially oppose the Crown Prince, I lowered my head and pretended to not be there.
“Yes, Your Highness. The cadets have training from today onwards.”
“Isn’t it fine even if you don’t personally participate, Countess Irene? And to think the cadet isn’t even female, but male…” said the Crown Prince, looking my way.
‘Eh? This crazy guy has feelings towards Irene?’
The Crown Prince exuded an aura of an alpha and showed hostility towards me.
“You also received training from me, didn’t you, Your Highness.”
“That may be true, but… it’s too much to compare me with someone like him, right?”
‘What? This guy, to Irene—!’
I began to have a slightly bad feeling. This tyrannical wolf of a crown prince would never suit Irene, who was as graceful as a lily. My impression of Poltviran, which was already negative, began to tank even more.
“To me, you and this cadet are the same, Your Highness.”
“Haha, how disappointing. For me, the crown prince of the Empire, to be compared to this unpleasant black-haired—hm? Now that I look at you, you must be that Kyre!”
‘He knows me?’ Poltviran spat out my name as if he knew me.
“The Crown Prince is talking to you!” thundered the knight standing at the Crown Prince’s side.
“I am Kyre.”
“So you are that Kyre. You’re the one who threw nobles and all of the empire’s prestige onto the ground.”
‘You’re really going to do this? This guy!’ I was sure that Tedran, that slimy rat, had tattled to the Crown Prince.
Poltviran suddenly unsheathed his sword with the hissing of steel.
He did seem to have quite a lot of mana, but it was still a far cry from me.
Then he swung his sword towards my neck with fairly clean movements. There wasn’t any bloodthirst, so I didn’t dodge. Rather, I was too dumbfounded to.
‘You really want to die that badly, huh.’
“Kukuku. For a commoner to disdain nobles and the empire’s prestige… A filthy commoner.”
Poltviran the nutjob let out an unpleasant laugh and continued to say very irritating words.
“What are you doing!” Watching with wide eyes, Irene’s voice went up an octave.
“Just stay right there and watch, Knight Irene. I am currently delivering a hot warning to this guy, who dares to treat the empire and all of its nobles like dog shit on the street.”
“Even… even if you are the crown prince… Such an action oversteps the honor of His Imperial Majesty Alvatreon, who founded the empire, and the current emperor, His Imperial Majesty Havitron! To threaten someone here, in a place that can be called the empire’s honor, and a Skyknight cadet who should be treated like a pseudo-knight, at that… Please quickly put down your sword!” Irene’s enraged cry pierced through the air.
“Presumptuous! You may be a countess, but how dare you criticize the Crown Prince himself!” The wolf’s faithful cronies bared their teeth.
‘She’s very brave.’
The Crown Prince had drawn his sword and was waving it around, but I didn’t feel much danger, because if I put my mind to it, I could turn him into a fried squid with a little magic. Without knowing how close he was dancing to death, the Crown Prince blabbered on about the empire and nobles’ prestige. I was just standing by, watching his actions quietly, though I was ready to beat down his flapping mouth if need be. However, I was touched by Irene’s brave defense in my stead.
“Puhahahahahaha!” The nutjob suddenly broke out in laughter. “Good! I like this side of you, Countess Irene. It’s very charming.”
This guy didn’t have even a shred of a crown prince’s dignity. He stared at Irene with big and bright eyes that looked as if he wanted to swallow her whole.
“Are you still thinking about my proposal?”
At the Crown Prince’s veiled question, Countess Irene trembled all over. Considering how red her face got, it seemed she was feeling very humiliated.
“I, I say this once again, I will never accept even if I die! Never!” gritted Irene vehemently.
“Is that so? Haha. I’m very curious as to how long you can hold out. I’m also curious as to how long I can continue to be this courteous…” Poltviran’s previously polite manner towards Irene cooled into rudeness.
‘Isn’t this guy closer to a back-alley scamp than a crown prince?’
“The trainees are waiting, so please excuse us.”
The trainees and Skyknights had already mounted wyverns and were gathering in front of the hangar.
“Kukuku…” The Crown Prince laughed darkly instead of responding.
‘I guarantee it. If this guy becomes the emperor, the empire will perish in 3 years.’ This wasn’t a crown prince, but a neighborhood gangster.
Irene gave him a short farewell and left. “Then, goodbye.”
I also lowered my head and followed her.
The nutjob didn’t say anything and just laughed. However, his eyes swimming with lunacy said it all: he wanted to rip Irene and me to pieces.
* * *
Join our Discord for updates: https://discord.gg/sb2jqkv
* * *
“Prepare the two-seater saddle.”
“As you command!”
I followed Irene to the hangar where the Black Wyverns were gathering. After leaving the Crown Prince, we walked in utter silence, and then she gave a command to the knights who were on standby.
It wasn’t that common for a beautiful woman to be so wise in addition to being so dignified. Irene didn’t shrink down in front of the next emperor and she was able to state her opinion. She was as cool as a career woman confidently living her life.
‘I wonder which one it is, Irene’s wyvern…’
I began to anticipate seeing Irene’s Black Wyvern. It was a ruler of the skies that represented the Bajran Empire. With my thumping heart, I waited for the hangar door to open.
The hangar was a huge building where a wyvern could rest and gather. As if operated by magic, the enormous door opened slowly and smoothly with a creak.
It was high noon– the sun was in the middle of the sky. Amidst glorious roaring that would dash away all evils of the world, a single gleaming Black Wyvern was revealed as the door opened.
Groooooooar! As light flooded the hangar through the opening door, the wyvern saw Irene and let out a short cry. It flapped its great wings, making the ground shake.
“What would you like to do with your Blessed Spear?”
“We will only execute a test flight today. Mounting the weapons is not required.”
“As you command!”
The Blessed Spear. It was a magic item in the shape of a spear exclusively used by Skyknights. The moment mana was injected and the spear was thrown, this important offensive item would fly towards the target with enormous speed.
‘I wouldn’t mind if you just loaded it on though.’
I had heard about it and personally experienced an attack, but hadn’t seen it loaded up close. As a magic item, it didn’t cost just a penny or two, and you couldn’t even buy it in a regular magic or weapon store. Because of its danger, unauthorized acquisition and selling was a taboo in the empire.
Irene pointed at her wyvern’s back and told me to get on as if it were just a car I could hop into. To demonstrate, she lightly kicked off the ground and flew into the air.
‘11 points out of 10!’
With the use of mana, Irene leapt 4 meters off the ground and accurately landed into the saddle on the wyvern’s neck area. If she were to compete in Olympic gymnastics, she could just take home the gold no problem.
‘I can’t lose, can I?’
My seat was behind Irene’s. Fueled by mana, I flew into the air.
In my head, I imagined a magnificent arc. It was my first time, but this much wasn’t a problem for me.
However, the sudden gust of wind blowing towards me from flapping wings was outside of my calculations.
Caught off guard, laughter rang out in the hangar. The wyvern had lightly dodged and flapped its wings to knock me off-course.
‘T–this big lump of a pheasant! Aaarghh!’
Thanks to the wyvern’s flapping, I was blown not into the saddle, but onto the wyvern’s hard back. And my precious eggs slammed into the wyvern, causing a hot wave of agony that made my eyes and nose run with tears and snot.
“Ahem…” Irene couldn’t do anything about it, but she glared at her staff members, who were way more experienced than me. They coughed and turned away. “Hope you’ll understand. It’s a tradition that always occurs when you get on a wyvern for the first time.”
Looking at my enraged expression, the silver-haired woman made a refreshing smile.
‘It’s not a birthday punch, but a flight punch? Okay, it’s tradition, so I’ll bear it. But… you chicken head, you dare to play jokes on a human! I’ll remember you!’
The head wasn’t pointy, so it seemed to be a female wyvern rather than a male. Grinding my teeth, I vowed to have my revenge for today.
“Get in the saddle and put on the belt.”
Unlike the front seat, which was attached to four reins connected to the wyvern’s horns and head, the back seat had security rings.
‘Isn’t this too close?’
The two-seater was located on the wyvern’s neck area. The person sitting in the back would definitely touch the one in the front.
I gulped down the saliva that suddenly pooled in my mouth, then sat behind Irene.
‘So this is the rig they use here.’
There were two holes at the waist of my airplate where I could attach safety equipment. I fastened the rings to the wyvern’s safety belt. The rings snapped on with ease.
‘This is a wyvern…’
My heart raced, thumping. We hadn’t taken off yet, but we were 4 meters above the ground. I could hear the wyvern’s slow heartbeat through the saddle, arousing an indescribable emotion within me.
‘Vivirian? It’s a name that would never suit a wyvern.’
Vivirian, Irene’s wyvern that I vowed to get back at, let out a short roar and then began to run.
The wyvern rapidly moved in preparation for flight. The movement of the wyvern’s muscles, which easily weighed a ton, was fully relayed to me in the saddle.
Then, the Black Wyvern’s broad wings were spread wide.
I was speechless in my excitement. In modern terms, a wyvern was like a fighter jet. A normal civilian in the 21st century would never get to experience riding something like that.
“Fly! Vivirian!” shouted Irene.
Before I knew it, all the ground staff were far behind us, and all I could hear was the roaring of the wind and the flapping of Vivirian’s wings.
‘We’re flying! Flying, finally!’
The wyvern flight of my dreams was finally happening. I wasn’t riding my own, but Irene’s, but I couldn’t expect too much for my first flight.
“Hold on tight.”
I was a proper man, so I couldn’t just grab Irene’s waist because it was dangerous and I was scared.
“I’m alright,” I said in return. I felt like I could easily keep my balance.
As soon as I said so, just like when an airplane had turbulence, my body lifted from the saddle, causing me to put strength into my butt. Then, Vivirian’s powerfully flapping wings began to accelerate, and her body lifted off into the air.
I was putting a ton of strength into my legs, but I wasn’t holding onto anything in front of me. The feeling of my upper body falling backwards made all my hairs stand up. Then, my two hands unwittingly moved like lightning and grabbed Irene.
But my problems didn’t end there. The place I happened to grab was actually Irene’s chest area! The airplate was there, but my hands accurately (involuntarily) grabbed Irene’s two breasts.
‘Jeez, how embarrassing!’ Not one minute, no, ten seconds after saying I was fine, I was forced to hold on for dear life. My pride as a man was ripped to pieces. ‘But… it’s still nice. Huhu.’
Currently, I was clutching Irene from behind like a sexual predator. The strange imagery that drifted through my thoughts made my chest heat up.
Woosh, woosh, woooosh!
‘Ah… so this is flight.’
After securing my position, I could look around at the scene before us. As Irene’s wyvern lifted into the air, dozens of other wyverns began to follow her up.
It was incredible. The powerful vigor of the wyverns was as if they were about to depart for war. And I was at the lead. Deep in my heart, I was able to see for myself what a Skyknight truly was.
I couldn’t say anything, but admiration rang out in my heart. From hundreds of meters above ground, I dreamed. I dreamed of a flight with my very own wyvern in the future…
* * *
With the Skyknight trainees on their backs, the wyverns were lifting off from the covert. One man was scowling at the wyvern in the very front with a cold smile.
“Your Highness, please give the order. She may be a countess, but in the end, she is just a woman,” said one of the knights belonging to Crown Prince Poltviran’s Imperial Guard. All of his knights knew what was on his mind.
“Say that again,” the Crown Prince said, turning to look at his knight.
“Countess Irene has rejected a proposal from the next master of this empire, the Crown Prince himself, so even if we must kidnap—”
As the knight spoke, Crown Prince Poltviran’s powerful kick flew towards him and connected with the knight’s stomach.
“You dare to call the woman I chose a bitch?”
All Skyknights of the Imperial Guard had noble titles. Poltivran knocked one of those Skyknights down with a single blow and stepped on his belly.
“Do you know what I hate the most?” Poltviran oozed a cold, calm bloodthirst. “I hate bastards who don’t know their place the most. I decide things!”
“Y-Your Highness… Forgive me…”
Knowing Poltviran’s usual temperament, the Skyknight’s face turned white with fear. As a close associate of the Crown Prince, the Skyknight knew secrets others didn’t. That’s why he knew better than anyone that the Crown Prince stepping on his body wouldn’t hesitate to commit murder.
“Keep it in mind. If you obey me, you will share in my glory, but if you dare to defy me or go beyond your place… only the gates of hell will await you.”
The tense knights clearly registered the Crown Prince’s warning and lowered their heads in tandem. The Crown Prince’s command was one they could not dare to defy.
They weren’t driven by the dignity of the heir that would lead the empire, but by fear, a raging madness seen only in tyrants who would tolerate no-one’s interference.