21st Century Archmage - Chapter 39
Chapter 39: Weyn Covert
“Wh-what is all that?”
“Oh, this? How is it, can we use it?”
Bebeto and I had returned to the lakeside. Over a thousand fish were belly-up in the water, and Derval was roasting dozens of them on the fire. Seeing the magic armor in Bebeto’s claws, he stammered in shock.
“Isn’t that mithril magic armor? And three of them at that!”
“Seems they’re all cooked~”
The black cat had given me a small bag, saying that I would need it. Inside were various seasonings, including salt. Now, eying the well-seasoned roasted fish, I grabbed one that was the size of my arm and brought it to my mouth.
“Kyre-nim… W-what is all this? And isn’t that a formal airplate you’re wearing?”
“A gift from God.” Giving a short reply, I took a big bite of the fish.
The fish was perfectly seasoned with salt and spices. I paid no attention to Derval’s alarmed voice and questioning and focused on filling up my belly.
“Sigh…” Derval let out a long sigh.
‘Knowing will give you a headache, dude.’
There actually wasn’t much to say. Those guys simply came and attacked me, I defended myself in order to live, I beat them up good, and took something as a reward for my efforts.
Derval quietly called my name.
“What?” I mumbled over a bite of fish. “Next time…” Derval paused and looked right into my eyes. “Strip the wyverns of their hide, too. Those can be sold for quite a lot.”
Derval had a deeply-rooted merchant mentality that far exceeded mine.
The hot gazes of two men met in the air.
‘I’m tellin’ you, I picked a good person!’
Derval was smart, listened well, and was thoroughly ingrained with a “prevention is better than the cure” mentality as well as being industrious and thrifty. I really liked him.
Grruuu. Let’s not forget Bebeto, the new up-and-coming gangster star in the wyvern world, who was excitedly scooping up the belly-up fish without being told to do so.
I was suddenly struck with a premonition full of hope—a premonition that the three of us would turn this continent upside down. Those days would probably be full of suffering for others, but happiness for us.
It was a future I hoped for with all my heart.
* * *
‘We have to fly half a day without resting to get through, huh?’
Even if he flew leisurely, Bebeto had a speed of over 60 km/h. We had to fly at that speed for at least half a day to be able to pass the rugged Rual Mountains.
Hundreds of nameless peaks were topped with white snow, and underneath those peaks was a dense forest that blanketed the ground as far as I could see. The sight inspired an automatic sense of awe within me.
‘So these mountains are encircling the Nerman Plains like a folding screen.’
The Nerman Plains was about the size of a respectable duchy. Though it was technically Bajran Empire territory, apparently, even the empire saw it as a pain-in-the-ass lump of land. Without a wyvern, regular infantrymen had to walk at least half a month through the rugged mountains to reach the Plains.
In addition, the territory bordered the hostile Laviter Empire, pirates as vicious as a pack of dogs from the Kesmire Islands—an archipelago made up of around ten thousand islands—often came to plunder, and to top it off, barbarian tribes called the Temir came attacking in a round-house robin. Also, the countless monsters and demon beasts living in the Rual Mountains and the Kovilan Mountains showed up on the territory as well, so the Nerman Plains was a place of endless battles all year round.
At one point, over 200,000 empire troops were dispatched to the Plains, but tens of thousands of them had died every year, so now, only a few important positions were defended and only 20,000 soldiers were stationed there.
‘Even though it’s the size of a duchy, it doesn’t have an assigned lord. Instead, the Commander-in-Chief acts as the lord.’
The Nerman Plains somehow gave me a good feeling as soon as I heard the name. It was apparently a land of blessings where several rivers starting high in the mountains ran through the plains. Derval told me that besides the enemies coming in from all directions, it was an ideal place.
“Kyre-nim! We’re almost there. We just have to pass that mountain and it’ll be the Nerman Plains!”
With only a magic compass and a single scrap of map in hand, Derval managed to find the way on his own. His voice was thick with emotion.
After continuous flights, Bebeto had completely figured out the wind and could play in the currents. Hitching a ride on an updraft, we passed the final peak.
‘If I have time later, I should build a ski resort here.’
From what I heard, this place was decked in snow all year round. I felt like I could build a ski resort here just as good as the ones in the Swiss Mountains.
An updraft hit us as we flew over the peak. Wind blowing in from the other direction was pushed into the air as it collided with the mountain. Despite his huge size, Bebeto was kicked upwards like a paper airplane.
“Ah…” Bebeto leveled out again, and then, I saw it.
It was endless.
All the pointy mountains were gone, and from the sky, I could see endless plains stretching out into the horizon, divided by several rivers. The knot in my chest fell away and my eyes were refreshed—it was truly a sight for sore eyes.
‘Kya, so nice~! This place where orcs are running free and ogres are waving—eh? W-what the fuck!?’
As the mountains disappeared and the plains appeared, Bebeto flew low to the ground. From his back, I could see a very peaceful(?) scene.
Dozens of orcs wielding weapons were running across the plains like horses, and ogres with wooden clubs were grunting as they played a harmonious round of hide-and-seek.
‘Geh! T-that’s all monsters!’
It wasn’t just one or two. Everywhere on the expansive plains, instead of humans, there were orcs and ogres hunting fish, trolls, and a variety of monsters and animals I didn’t even know the names of.
It was a complete mess and then some. After flying a bit over the plains, I spotted a fortress in ruins and several villages. Of course, they too were occupied by monsters instead of people.
GUUOOOOOOOOOO! Only Bebeto was thoroughly excited. As someone who was at the top of the monster food chain, he bellowed in happiness as he flew low over the monsters’ heads.
Chaos ensued. As soon as Bebeto appeared, the monster groups that had been playing peacefully scattered like rabbits facing a fox, and even though they were monsters, not birds, some of them even slammed their heads in the ground and trembled.
‘Seriously, how many monsters are there?’
Thousands of imperial soldiers had died here every year. Seeing this, it made sense. Anyone who hoped for a long, peaceful life surrounded by not just this swarm of monsters, but also pirates, troops from an enemy empire, and barbarian tribes was a crazy bastard. This place, which was too valuable to give away but too difficult to make use of, must taste like a dry steamed bun without any red bean paste.
‘What a shame…’
If not for the monsters, even I could tell that the soil was unbelievably fertile. There were only a few small hills; but for the most part, it was a blessed land perfect for farming. I couldn’t help but feel regret as I gazed upon the endless plains.
It might be a different story if I were the lord, but for now, this place had absolutely nothing to do with me.
* * *
“Kyre-nim, that must be the central city, Denfors.”
‘It looks more like a ruin than a city…’
After passing the mountains and flying for two hours, we finally arrived at the central city of the Nerman Plains, Denfors. I could see the sea in the distance, the city was positioned along a river somewhat bigger than the Han River in Korea, it was fairly wide while also being accompanied by high castle walls that encircled the city.
But the problem was that it was just too embarrassing to call it a city. Parts of the wall were collapsed and sloppily blocked with wood and what looked to be gravel, and many places in the city itself were falling apart, dirty, and worn down—it was quite a pathetic sight.
I could see wyvern hangars and a runway at one side of the city. It was definitely Weyn Covert, the place I would be living in from now on.
Despite Bebeto’s appearance, the soldiers and residents weren’t at all alarmed. They just looked up once then stopped caring, despite the fact they should have seen Bebeto’s hybrid wyvern golden stripes.
“Bebeto, let’s land.”
This city, Denfors, was just 20 km away from a swarm of monsters. It wouldn’t be strange if those monsters came charging in this very night.
Flap, flap, flap, flaaap.
Bebeto flew a circle around the covert before landing in the central clearing of the runway.
Hwooooosh. The dust and dried grass on the uncleaned runway was blown up by Bebeto’s wingbeats and flew all over the place.
“Wow! Amazing…” Sarcasm flowed from Derval’s lips.
‘W-What kind of covert is this!’
Despite its notoriety, Weyn Covert was still a place where Skyknights of the highest honor in the empire were residing. Up until now, I’d harbored some expectations in my heart. The glorious Skyknights, who guarded the interior of the empire from the front lines—it sounded really cool. But the reality in front of my eyes was…
‘Even a dog wouldn’t stay here.’
Who knew when they had last been maintained— the worn-down hangars were full of holes, and the runway and the surrounding area was overgrown with weeds. A few crewmates were slowly slinking around and looking at us. Military discipline? Rules? What were those? There was nothing of that sort; instead, the place was filled with limp laziness.
The thought that running away and resorting to banditry would still be better than this grazed past my mind.
“Derval, this is Weyn Covert, right?”
“But how come no one is on guard against strangers like us?”
It was impossible to compare Weyn Covert with Kirphone Covert. The few garrison members and crewmates showed a little interest towards us, people who had fallen into unfortunate straits, but no one took any action.
‘What the fuck is that sound?’
I didn’t see a single wyvern at the hangars, which numbered about 30. Just then, I heard a mana-charged cry of excitement and a wyvern’s roar from far away.
“Geh!” Turning my head, I couldn’t help but exclaim in surprise.
‘T-troll? And aren’t those ogres??’
Three wyverns with Skyknights on their backs were flying towards the base. But the problem was, they didn’t carry any flags signifying that they were part of the empire, and in the claws of the wyverns flying over, was a limp troll and two ogres.
“Janice-nim is here!”
“Ohh! They’ve even caught a troll today!”
Ruuuumble. I didn’t know where they’d been hiding, but people wearing merchant uniforms and dozens of mages came running in from all directions, the carriages behind them clattering. Escorted by people who looked like mercenaries, a crowd gathered in moments.
‘W-what the heck, what is this mood!’
Weyn Covert suddenly became as disorderly as a flea market.
Flap flap flap flap flap flap. The wyverns landing on the ground whipped wind and dust into my face with their wingbeats.
“Well then, let us begin today’s auction!”
A woman stood up confidently atop her wyvern and yelled out to the crowd. She was wearing the crimson cloak of the Skyknights on top of a silver airplate.
The female Skyknight removed her helmet as if finding it stifling. As she did so, brown hair that didn’t go past her shoulders fluttered down.
‘She’s really no less than a man!’
The Skyknight in her mid-twenties had even more androgynistic charm than Russell, a girl disguised as a man. Her body let off a constant vigor that was no inferior to a man’s.
“The troll is, as you can see, so fresh that one can draw top-quality blood from it for a month, and the ogres’ hides are damaged, but still usable. We’ll start with the troll, so everyone, name your price.”
“Janice-nim! I will buy it for 1,700 Gold.”
“I’ll buy it for 1,850!”
As soon as the woman named Janice finished talking, the merchants and mages immediately started clamoring, calling out prices.
“1,850, nothing above that? Going once! Going Twice! Alright! Sold for 1,850! Next are the ogres!”
“500 Gold per ogre!”
“Alright! 550? Nothing more? Sold for 550! Today’s auction is over!”
“Darn it, what a shame! I only happened to bring 1,800 with me today…”
“Che, let’s just wait and see tomorrow. When mages come from their towers, we don’t have much of a chance.”
The merchants showed their regret as they looked at the mages who had bought the three monsters.
“Do you happen to be the master of that handsome wyvern?”
One of the merchants who had ignored us the whole time licked his lips while looking at Bebeto.
“Then are you selling those goods as well?”
‘Wut? He can’t mean Bebeto?’
The merchant was pointing towards my wyvern.
“Geh! Isn’t that—! Isn’t that wyvern magic armor?”
“Wow! A jackpot item has finally appeared today.”
“Are you selling that?”
Noticing my conversation with the merchant, other merchants and mages came scrambling over. They began to drool over the two suits of wyvern magic armor tied up nice and pretty on Bebeto’s back.
“This wyvern is one of those special hybrids, isn’t it?”
“Indeed. Is it a hybrid of Black and Gold?”
The dozens of merchants and mages that gathered from the surroundings were fascinated by Bebeto.
“I’ll give you 500,000 Gold! Sell the magic armor to our magic tower!”
“750,000! Please sell it to our merchant group!”
“850,000! Please sell us even just one of those magic armor!”
‘Why are these people like this?! And who are they taking for a fool!’
The mages and merchants were getting worked up all on their own and calling out prices. They were busy trying to get a deal on armor that was second-hand, but would still easily go for 1.5 million.
“Stop! I won’t be selling these today!!” I yelled with mana.
“In a few days, I will sell to the one who states the most appropriate price, so back off for now!”
‘Huhuhu. What should I call this feeling?’
This feeling of happiness could probably compare to how Columbus felt when he discovered a new continent. From the looks of it, it seemed that when Skyknights caught monsters, merchants and mages would buy them.
‘So what you’re saying is, if I just go catch those monsters laying everywhere, everything’s gucci?’
I had seen tens of thousands of monsters just coming here. I suddenly began to think of those unpleasant monsters as lucky coins.
‘Alright! This kind of place suits me!’
I hadn’t figured out everything yet, but I got the gist of what was going on. For someone like me, whose honor as a Skyknight was dragged through the dirt, an opportunity as good as this would be impossible to find.
“Who are you?”
Pushing aside the merchants and mages, a woman walked towards me. Height, 175 cm (5’9”). Slightly tanned, healthy skin. The large eyes that suited her long eyelashes were charming.
My eyes met her glistening green ones in the air.
‘Hooh, I won’t be bored in the future…’
With one hand on her hip, Janice cocked an eye at me with a provocative look. I could see my reflection in her narrowed eyes, my reflection as I smiled like a devil…
* * *
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* * *
“Are you Baronet Kyre?”
“Yes, that is correct, Leader Pavess.”
‘At least there’s someone here who looks like a noble.’
Viscount Pavess had introduced himself as the Leader of Weyn Covert. Unlike the other Skyknights, who were no different than mercenaries, Viscount Pavess was showing the typical nobleman’s appearance, with his big belly and tidy uniform.
“I won’t say much. Weyn Covert is part of the empire, but at the same time, it exists separately from the empire’s military.” Pavess said rebellious words without hesitation as he drank his tea with noble-like decorum. “The empire sends us no goods or wages.”
‘Eh? The hell. They don’t send anything?’
“Live on your own. Earn on your own.”
‘Kek, live on my own and earn on my own?’
“Take one of the empty hangars if there’s one that catches your fancy. And when there’s a military request for assistance, go out if the price is right.”
“… Then is there anything that is provided by the empire?”
“What is your full name and title?”
“Pardon? It is Baronet Kyre de Adaron.”
“That’s all. A title recognized by the empire. That’s the only thing.”
‘It’s a total wild west over here, every man for himself.’
I now completely understood why Skyknights were hunting monsters. Weyn Covert was not provided a single thing. In other words, be it weapons or armor, everything had to be acquired with one’s own money.
‘Alright! This is actually better!’
This place valued true skill above all else. It might be different for other nobles, who valued their honor the most, but this place suited me perfectly.
“But do you also not receive anything from the empire, sir?”
“Me? Ahem… I get exactly enough to survive. You mind your business and I’ll mind mine.”
‘Good! From tomorrow on, I’m gonna earn and save! Uhahaha!’
Leader Pavess told me to mind my own business. I intended to do just that.
* * *
“I think we need to hire a separate guard, sir.”
“There are many eyes on us from every direction.”
‘I have to hire a fuckin’ guard with my own money, too?’
I headed to the hangars with Bebeto and Derval, who had been waiting for me outside the headquarters building. As we walked, Derval kept his guard up, looking warily all around us.
This was a world for the capable, just like in the mercenary world. Derval didn’t need to say anything—my sensitive mana alerted me of a few people’s too-interested gazes.
“Derval, did you know? That this place doesn’t get anything from the empire?”
“Yes… sigh, that’s why this place is called the Grave of Skyknights. It is a place used to banish Skyknights who have offended the imperial family or high-ranking nobles, even if they didn’t commit treason, and to get rid of wyverns that have grown too old to be useful. That is the kind of place Weyn Covert is.”
“That place looks good,” I said, changing the subject abruptly.
“This is where we’ll be staying from now on. You like it, right?”
“Yes! Very much so, sir!”
As long as it came from me, Derval would at least pretend to die if I commanded it. He responded energetically.
‘Hooh, so even soldiers have to be given money to make them work.’
Interestingly enough, you could see soldiers slinking around the hangars instead of patrolling the entire covert. Merchants, mages, and even civilians were coming in and out of this place, a military facility.
‘What a mess.’
I strode towards the buildings that looked like hangars.
‘Wait, then do I even have to get a cook?’ If Leader Pavess’ words were to be believed, not a single thing would be provided to us. ‘Wow! These dirty, cheap-ass scrooges!’
I ground my teeth at the disgusting behavior of the empire and stood in front of the hangar that I had picked.
‘It gets lots of sun and there’s space in front. And it’s far away from the others.’
This hangar was at the edge of the hangars. It seemed pretty old, but at least it looked decent from the outside.
‘We should clean it up first.’
It had obviously been neglected for a long time.
“Derval, go ask around and find out what things we need to know to survive here.”
“But we need to clean up first…”
“I’ll do it. Go prepare dinner if you can as well.”
“There’s no rush, so do your research slowly and precisely.”
“As you command!”
“Bebeto, you stay here and keep a lookout.”
Guooo. Bebeto, who understood words well, nodded.
“I will return soon,” said Derval, preparing to leave.
“Ah! Take this, too.”
Fwip. I threw him a pouch with gold coins.
Holding the hefty pouch, Derval bowed and quickly walked away. He was a smart fellow who could understand what I wanted, so I didn’t have many worries..
Creaaak. The structure of the hangar was pretty much the same. It had a large, wyvern-sized door and a smaller side door for humans. I opened the side door and went in.
‘Even a ghost wouldn’t live here.’
The inside of the hangar was filled with Spider-Man’s siblings. Despite there being nothing to eat, spiderwebs were hanging everywhere while encrusted dust and dirt adorned the walls and floor.
“Sylph! Undine! Gnome! Salamander! All of you, come out!”
Flash! I summoned all of the lower-ranking spirits.
‘Jeezus, you guys are cute.’
Sylph was as large as a kid’s arm, and Undine was a blue water silhouette smaller than a kindergartener. Gnome looked like one of the Seven Dwarfs, and Salamander was the size of my arm.
After being summoned, they circled around me, their eyes sparkling with innocence.
“We’ll be cleaning from now on. Sylph! Raise the wind with all your power and sweep up all the dust! Salamander! Use your flame to burn up the dust and spiderwebs! Undine! Cleanly wash away all the burned stuff! Gnome! Once everything is cleaned with water, turn the ground and bury everything! Chop chop!”
Sylph went round and round with a happy expression, and the blue, watery Undine sprayed out water. With the woosh of fire, the magical fire-spitting lizard, Salamander, impatiently unfurled its flames towards the spiderwebs.
‘Huhuhu. How can it be this comfortable?’
I blocked the dust with a circular magic shield. Then I sat back and enjoyed the emotional sight of the spirits working hard.
Like I instructed, Sylph raised a wind to gather all the dust and trash to one side, which was burned up by Salamander, and Undine used water to clean the ashes on the ground and the dust encrusted on the walls. Finally, Gnome upturned the ground and cleaned up all the ashes gathered on the ground.
Within a short time, the inside of the hangar was sparkling clean.
Clap clap clap!
“Haha. You did well, my friends.”
I did feel a sense of guilt for making minors clean without pay, but whatever. This was a summoner’s privilege, after all.
‘I’ll buy you guys some candy later.’
I had the feeling I had become one of those immoral teachers who sat back and made the tiny kids in elementary school do the dirty work (of cleaning).
The playful Sylph showed its joy at my praise as it flew circles around me. Salamander, Undine, and Gnome also exuded happiness, like little kids.
“Then, see you later. Bye bye~!”
Waving my hand, I returned the spirits.
Flash! As if they’d never been there, the spirits disappeared, leaving no traces. I then thought to myself that I should play with them a bit next time if I had the time.
The spirits had done their best to clean, but there was no way they could erase the dirt motes left in the air. I used magic to cleanse the whole area.
A perfect hangar was left. The completely cleaned space without a speck of dust made me happy.
I opened the door to let Bebeto in, the large door groaning as it swung.
“Bebeto, come in! Huh?”
GUAAAAA! Stomp stomp.
Just as I was about to let Bebeto in after cleaning up everything, I saw Bebeto looking over to one side while roaring in rage.
‘Derval? But what’s with those guys?’
Derval had gone out under my instruction. Three unfamiliar knights wearing plate mail and around ten soldiers that looked like gangsters were following him back.
‘Did he get hit?’
As they got closer, I could see that one of Derval’s eyes was black and blue, and there was blood coming out from his upper lip.
I was sure that these guys had beaten up Derval, who couldn’t defend himself properly because he was missing an arm. They approached with very relaxed expressions and impudent smiles.
“Oi, kiddo. You this bastard’s boss?”
A knight with a scar that looked like a big worm above his left eyebrow looked at me and called me a kiddo.
“I, I apologize, Kyre-nim. These bastards… argh!”
A muffled sound rang out as one of the soldiers whacked Derval’s side hard with the handle of his spear.
“Huhuhu. Looks like this shithead hasn’t gotten hit enough. How dare he call us bastards.” Wearing a malicious smile, the soldier taunted Derval with his spear.
“You think the covert is a den of orcs? Shouldn’t you come report if you’ve arrived? Kuku.” The scarred knight made a slimy smile. “Trying to use a building in the covert without even reporting to Lukence-nim? You’ve lost all sense of fear, haven’t you?” He continued provocatively.
At the same time, the soldier continued to jeer as he beat Derval.
“Move one more time… and you’ll die…”
Something hot blazed within my chest.
“Kuku.” The soldier responded with a wicked laugh.
Due to the pain from getting hit just now, Derval was protecting his side with his one and only right arm. The soldier smashed Derval’s hand with his steel spear.
Flash. My body bounced forward like a spring, and I drew my sword swiftly with the hiss of steel.
“B-block it!” shouted the knights, alarmed.
Woooosh. The blade was filled with blue light.
Cutting down the soldier’s spear, my sword buried itself hilt-deep into the soldier’s waist.
“Guh…” A groan flowed from the soldier on the other end of my sword. His filthy smile gone, the soldier’s horrified eyes trembled with pain.
“Trash like you guys… don’t need to live…”
I whispered quiet words into his ear.
Swip! I pulled the sword. An artery must have been severed, because red blood gushed out like a river.
“K-kill him!” screamed the evil knight.
The soldiers’ spears came whistling towards me.
CLA-CLA-CLA-CLA-CLANG. Meeting my aura-imbued blow, the spears were cut like butter.
Pa-pa-pow! My sword, drunk on the taste of blood, moved on its own and danced.
The soldiers screamed. As their arms and legs were cut off, they screamed.
“Pieces… of… trash…”
Up until now, I had avoided excessive violence, much less murder.
But these guys, these dirty fuckers, managed to set me off. These people, who messed with the powerless Derval, did not deserve to live. No, even if they did live, they would live no better than trash.
I was determined to be their judge today.
The three knights came charging in.
I tightened the grip on my sword. I had crossed the Rubicon.
The red blood dizzied me, the fishy smell of iron was thick in my nose, and a sticky feeling of rage and bloodthirst oozed all over my body.
I bit my lip.
Then, I swung my sword with all my might towards the swords of the knights running in.