21st Century Archmage - Chapter 45
Chapter 45: Guardian Knight Protecting Dreams
Once the night deepened, I began to draw magic circles in the area of the covert I picked out, the dust hissing as it fell from my fingers.
‘Harder than I thought.’
A few magic circles among the countless ones in my head were selected for the job. It wasn’t anything as weak as Alarm magic.
‘Shock magic circle, Wind Cutter, Fire Wall! Huhu. Should be a sight to see if someone gets caught.’
A big feast was prepared for those who snuck up the covert walls instead of coming through the front gate. Like installing booby traps, magic circles were completed at the base of the walls.
‘If they trigger it, the area 10 meters around should be fucked.’
These magic circles couldn’t compare to the Greater Defense magic circle I was making on top of the walls, but they were perfect for the current situation.
I started from nightfall and finished one every hour. The magic circles were getting completed so fast that if any other mage saw this, they might think that the god of magic had descended to earth. Such speed would be impossible if not for the magic knowledge engraved in my head.
“They’re magic circles made with elemental formulas, so huhu, even I can’t predict how they’ll perform.”
I used mana to increase the stability of the magic circles made with magic crystal dust. My task was to cement the dust to the earth so that it wouldn’t be smudged by water, wind, or a certain amount of force.
The magic circle shone with a faint milky glow.
I covered it with dirt.
“I should be able to roughly finish things after a few days of hard work.”
We wouldn’t be dealing with a forced offensive right away. Unless Viscount Lukence was an idiot, he wouldn’t come running to kill charming me. I had to use that time well.
“The problem isn’t the soldiers, but the Skyknights.”
1 vs. 12.
That was something ghostbusting marines would sometimes say to their girlfriends as a joke while drunk.
[TN: Something like “We were up 1 vs. 12! The enemies outnumbered us!”]
That was exactly the situation I was in now.
“One of them is inside a mansion within the city, and the others are holed up in that Gadain Castle place, busy making money.”
If I could do as I pleased, I would knock them all right over, but that wasn’t possible. The three guys who fell under my hands only lost because they underestimated me so much, but twelve was a different degree from three.
“Someone will soon take the bait. Before that, I should take complete control over those crazy mercenaries.”
Nerman Plains mercenaries had come rolling in from here and there. I heard that all the decently strong natives were either formal soldiers or had joined the ranks of Viscount Lukence or Janice. The mercenaries were different from those natives. They were people I absolutely needed for my plans.
‘But do I really have to become the lord here…?’
I was still conflicted. No matter how much you banged on a calculator, there was no good answer for this place. Rather than making money, even if you poured in time and effort, it would only result in a deficit. I was no Jesus or saint like Buddha; I didn’t want to waste my precious life while going as far as to take a guaranteed loss.
But things were progressing just as my ominous forebodings predicted.
‘That aside, I need to invent a new sword art. Is there anything good I can use…?’
My pride didn’t permit me to be satisfied with someone else’s technique. I was getting treated like a Master thanks to my overflowing mana, but something was still missing.
‘Ah! The stars are killer!’
I looked up into the sky while thinking about a new sword art then saw the dazzling stars.
My conscience wasn’t completely clear before God, but it almost was . I felt naked under the thousands…no, hundreds of thousands of stars whose names I did not know. Among them, there were eight stars lined up side by side like the Big Dipper.
Just then, a shooting star flashed from one side of the sky to the other within moments. It left no traces, as if it had never been there.
Two words suddenly sprang from my lips.
“Yeah! Ghost Meteor!”
With the Hyneth family’s shadow sword art as a base, the shape of a new art was sketched out in my head. As the saying went, imitation is the mother of creation, my sword art, which would be created with the Hyneth family’s sword as a base, appeared and disappeared in my head like an illusion.
I drew my sword, the steel hissing.
An unidentifiable excitement enveloped my whole body.
This sword art, my sword art, was going to be clearly different from the shadow sword art.
‘That’s right, if I make one, I should make eight!’
A sword art as fast as a shooting star, which disappeared before you knew it despite having tangible form.
I had to give it my best shot—a person who tried their best to draw a tiger would at least end up with a cat.
The stance wasn’t important. I filled my sword and head with mana that breathed along with me.
‘More destructive power than the shadow sword art! Faster speed! More obvious material form!’
At my excitement, my heart thumped like I was on drugs. I controlled my beating heart as I drew in a deep breath.
And then my upper, middle, and lower danjeon were opened. Even though I didn’t know what exactly made a Master, I had an exclusive breathing technique that allowed me to almost perfectly recreate the Hyneth family’s sword art after seeing it once.
My mana core was on a different level from the cores of regular knights. Because of that, I was able to imitate a Master’s sword art more easily than others could.
I shouted ‘Ghost Meteor’ at a great tree next to the wall.
Eight shooting stars were drawn inside my head.
My wide-open danjeons and every cell in my body trembled as an enormous amount of mana was sucked from the merged mana core formed at my waist.
They were drawn out in my head, but to my surprise, eight shooting stars really did shoot out, just like I imagined.
Schwing! Schwing! Schwing! Sch-sch-sch-sch-schwing!
A technique that followed the movement of one’s sword, a technique only for Masters—Blade Sword!
Pow! Pow! Po-po-po-po-pow!
Low explosion sounds rang in my ear.
And then, my heart suddenly felt clamped up as my breath stilled in my chest, and every muscle on my body stiffened as if bitten by a venomous snake.
At the sudden paralysis of my muscles, my sword fell from my hand with a clatter.
My whole body was as stiff as if I was caught in a Hold spell; I couldn’t even move my lips.
A certain term popped up in my head. It was the same thing I had suffered that one time when I hunted a boar.
My teeth began to chatter, and cold air flowed all over my body.
‘Fuck! Of course!’
It was all fun and games in my head, but eight Blade Swords were definitely overdoing it for me.
It ached and hurt and even made me cold.
Thankfully, it must not have been very extreme, because my body gradually loosened.
And a short while later, as the mana filled up my depleted mana core, I was able to escape the mana recoil state.
“The hell… Nothing happened.”
The girthy tree, which had lived for many years, looked completely fine even after taking a blow from me that almost cost me my life.
“Weird… Blade Swords did get sent from my sword…”
I approached the tree, which looked completely fine by all appearances. Thinking it strange, I reached out to touch the tree.
Crack! Crack! Craaaaack!
The moment my hand touched the bark, there was a strange sound of something exploding from within, and then a moment later, the tree was divided into several pieces. I dodged the falling tree.
The tree crashed to the ground, sending dirt flying up all over the place.
As the dust was blown away, I could see the tree—the tree had fallen to the ground in eight pieces, its branches still trembling.
I heard the sound of rushing footsteps.
Just then, the patrolling mercenaries came running over, alarmed by the crashing noise. The big covert had to be covered by around 50 people doing double shifts, so they were a bit late in running over.
I didn’t even hear the sound of the mercenaries running over. I simply burst out in refreshing laughter at the result made by me.
“Kyre-nim! What is going on!” Recognizing me, five mercenaries asked what was going on.
‘Haah… But what happens if they don’t die in one hit?’
A point of doubt suddenly occurred to me.
If my enemy dodged the finisher I unfurled with all my might or if there were other enemies, I would surely become a pretty sitting duck in my frozen state.
‘I need more mana! Mana!’
Moreover, I could not face Masters, who were called the very best, with only this level of destructive power.
I simply had to overcome the barrier of the 6th Circle. Not to avenge my good ol’ Master, but in order to survive.
The mercenaries stared at me and the tree with curious expressions, but I passed them, feigning indifference.
It was just one crisis after another.
I was a promising seedling who still had a lot more growing to do.
* * *
“There are already almost over 400 people. At this rate, I think we will reach 1,000 after a few days. To gather this many mercenaries within such a short time, as expected of my liege!”
“It’s nothing much.”
“No, no. They didn’t come because of Kyre-nim, but because they believed in me, the Mercenary Guildmaster whose heroic name has flown far and wide in the Nerman Plains. If I may be direct, is there anything Kyre-nim did? There aren’t many crazy dudes trying to oppose Viscount Lukence with just a few coins.”
Forgetting he himself had sold his allegiance for just a few coins as well, Ryker disparaged my contribution. I strongly felt the need to seize him and give him a true mental education one day.
“Huhu. Viscount Lukence must be feelin’ anxious.” Happy for whatever reason, there was a satisfied smile on Ryker’s handsome face.
Just like he said, Viscount Lukence must surely be sweating.
“My liege, the problem starts now. Even if we fill our numbers with mercenaries, it will be difficult for them to oppose Viscount Lukence’s men, who have received regular training.”
The smart Derval hit the problem right on the money.
‘It’s too much to turn mercenaries into loyal soldiers in a short amount of time… And the biggest problem is the wyverns.’
The mercenaries had come out of curiosity or greed for double the pay. With them alone, it was too much to face up with Lukence, the lord of the land here.
“S-Sir Ryker? Who dat?”
Ryker, who had been giggling to himself, went round-eyed at the way I called him while dumbly pointing to himself.
“From today onwards, with the noble authority vested in me by His Imperial Majesty, I grant thee provisional knighthood.”
As I clearly emphasized the bestowal of knighthood, Ryker coughed and turned a vivid shade of yellow.
“What, don’t like it? Just tell me if you don’t. I’ll brand you on the spot for scorning a noble.”
If it’s on the ear, it’s an earring, and if it’s on the nose, it’s a nosering—the situation could change depending on how I painted it. I used the almighty wand of noble authority to knight Ryker.
“N-No, that’s not it, but what about me would make you title me a knight…”
“It’s alright. It was the same for me, too.”
“…..”“Alright then, Sir Ryker, display your leadership in order to take charge of the mercenaries! If not for a heroic knight of Nerman, who would lead those monster-like mercenaries? You have my complete trust, my Knight.”
“…..”Ryker’s face twisted into a scowl.
‘Kuku. Serves you right.’
He dared to preen his feathers in front of me. I was determined to work him to the bone in the future.
“Sir Derval, I will bestow a provisional knight title to you as well.” “Thank you! My liege!”
Even though Derval couldn’t even use a sword properly, I granted him a knighthood too. I just did as I pleased.
“Sir Ryker, quickly go out and divide the mercenaries up by skill. And Sir Derval, do your best handling the administration, including the logistics, of the mercenaries that will grow in number from today onwards.”
“As you command!”
“…..As you command….”
‘Huhu. Now it’s time to play for real.’
This was the current life given to me. I intended to excitedly play a round with high spirits.
‘Shall we go on a flight? It’s been a while.’
The air above the Nerman Plains was fresh and unpolluted. I wanted to fly up and take a deep breath.
* * *
Join our Discord for updates: https://discord.gg/sb2jqkv
* * *
Spreading his big wings, Bebeto utilized the wind. The rushing of the wind rang in my ears through my airplate helmet.
‘What a huge plain!’
Nerman boasted a size on the level of most duchies. For a valley ensconced by great mountains, this size was impressive.
‘Three lines of rivers combine to make the Lovent River. The plains are spread out around the river. There are small mountains and hills, but the height is right for growing fruit trees. If it’s simply developed, this land could easily feed ten million people.’
It wasn’t just the plains. There were many mines hidden within the mountains, resources were truly bountiful. It was indeed a land blessed by God.
That is, if you just didn’t count all the monsters, including the orcs, running wild down below.
‘If it’s possible to clear them all away and connect our defenses by constructing forts…’
Even during the flight, my thoughts did not stray away from Nerman Plains development.
‘It would be nice if it were possible to use Skyknights and soldiers to systematically push the monsters towards the mountains.’
As we flew deep into the plains interior, ruined human villages and forts could be seen all over the place. When the monsters occupying them saw Bebeto, they either ran away or murmured as they alerted the others of danger.
‘There’s got to be hundreds of thousands of them.’
Because it was flat land, forests were growing thick and monsters were scampering everywhere. Monsters with fairly high IQ like orcs and goblins were camped in groups with houses that looked like mud huts.
Excited by the outing and uplifted by the monsters trembling in fear at the sight of him, Bebeto suddenly let out a roar.
‘Huh? What’s that over there?’
I saw something through the visor of the helmet, which was made with the principle of Mana Scope.
It was a flight of five. They must have not seen Bebeto and me yet, because the wyverns were still peacefully flying in crane wing formation.
[TN: Crane wing formation is a semi-circular formation more rounded than a V-shape formation.]
‘They’re Viscount Lukence’s Skyknights.’
The only person who would have more than three wyverns on the Nerman Plains was Viscount Lukence. They must have just gone hunting, because trolls were in the wyverns’ sharp claws. It was like a whole merry family was caught, because the trolls were all different sizes.
Then the wyverns suddenly swerved towards me.
The Skyknights controlling the wyverns had flashing Blessed Spears in their hands.
‘Do these guys not know any manners for fighting?’
It was absolutely an unfavorable situation.
I reached out and grabbed a Blessed Spear in both hands. Even if I were all alone, I couldn’t be a coward and flee with my tail tucked.
However, the person at the front raised his hand and the Skyknights put away their spears.
‘That person is… he can’t be Lukence?’
The man at the front was atop a huge wyvern that looked at least a head bigger than the others, even for a plain grey wyvern. A cloth with a winged unicorn on it was attached to the wyvern’s chest.
Because we were flying towards each other, the distance was shortened to a hundred meters within moments.
As we were about to intersect, the group of wyverns swerved to the right. They were wearing helmets, so I couldn’t see their faces, but this was a demonstration of force.
Guoooo! As if displeased by the sight of the wyverns that had rushed towards him, Bebeto let out a low cry.
The butts of the wyverns as they flew away was tempting and conflicted me for a moment, but I decided to hold off. The man Kang Hyuk couldn’t treacherously hit someone from the back.
“Endure it. There’ll be another day.”
It wouldn’t be too late to go a round after I had a good look at Viscount Lukence’s face. My eyes still on the flight of wyverns already flying far away, I turned the reins.
“Bebeto! Even those guys had one prey each, so how does it make sense for you to be sittin’ around? Show me! Show me your amazing ability to catch and lift two!”
Understanding my words, Bebeto cried out vigorously.
‘Tsk tsk. What a simpleton.’
Be it people or wyverns, flattery was a thing of wonder that could make someone work to the bone with just a few words.
Feeling the dynamic movement of Bebeto as he beat his wings so strongly that all his muscles stood out, I gazed at the land.
The Nerman Plains, which had drawn me strangely to it from the moment I laid eyes on it.
I filled my eyes with the sight of this rascal, this wild, but thriving plains.
Before I knew it, it had become a cute rascal that had taken a spot deep inside my heart.
* * *
“Woow! Two trolls!”
Another person whistled in admiration. “As expected of a Skyknight!”
Two trolls were tossed to the ground from Bebeto’s claws. The two monsters that had opposed Bebeto and me but were turned into floppy punching bags were laying face first on the ground of the covert.
‘What incredible regeneration ability.’
The wounds from Bebeto’s claws and my sword had cut through tendon and had been fairly deep, but they gushed blue blood and healed within no time.
“Tell the merchants to come in.”
After taking control of the covert, I had chased out the mages and merchants residing within. As long as this place was my home, I had zero desire to live next to all sorts of merchants.
“How very impressive! Not a single person so far has caught two trolls at once.”
The mercenaries stared and Bebeto and me with surprise as they flocked over.
‘Wow! There are even more of them already?’
The mercenaries had poured in at the words that they would be paid double. Like Ryker said, it wasn’t just me; his propaganda effect as the Ryker the guildmaster had a share in this, too.
“Geh! The trolls are moving!”
“Th-they’re not even tied up! Uwaaaah!”
In the short time I was looking at the mercenaries with satisfaction, the trolls shook off their unconscious state and were slowly getting up, their red eyes gleaming.
Completely startled by that sight, the mercenaries hastily drew their weapons. They were huge monsters that would be difficult to face if you weren’t a Blade Knight, so the mercenaries were definitely feeling fear.
However, I had this lovable little fellow with me.
“Step on ‘em.”
Flap flap flap.
As soon as the command fell, faithful go-getter Bebeto flew over to the two resisting trolls with frightening speed and trampled them down with his enormous weight and steel-like claws.
“…..”With gruesome screams, the trolls were flattened into pancakes. The faces of the mercenaries froze with fear as they watched Bebeto. They were surely imagining what it would have been like if they had been the ones to get crushed into jerky instead of the trolls.
‘Huhu. When stepping, step thoroughly.’
Humans had a bad habit of not believing before seeing. In this moment, the mercenaries would get it straight—if they rebelled, they would be flattened like those trolls.
‘Hm? Now who might those guys be?’
Mercenaries ran to the covert entrance at my order, and shortly afterwards, a few merchants and mages wanting to acquire ingredients came inside.
However, it wasn’t just them.
It was a scene that looked like pictures from the Korean War, something I’d seen often before. Around a hundred people in family units shuffled inside awkwardly behind the merchants. Holding one or two bundles each, they looked like refugees.
“My liege, welcome back.” Just then, Derval appeared.
“Who are they?”
Derval made a troubled expression at my query.
It wasn’t just Derval who came, but also the cute kiddo Lucia, who had taken the covert as a playground.
“Lucia, what’s up? Something you want to say?”
I didn’t know about other kids, but whenever I saw little Lucia, I couldn’t help but smile.
“Is it okay if I live with my friends?”
Lucia pointed to the refugees with her hand. A few kids the same age as Lucia noticed my glance and nervously straightened.
“They are people who were chased out from their homes by Viscount Lukence. They must have heard the rumors, because they were standing like that in front of the covert entrance starting early in the morning.”
Lukence really was no different from a loan shark. From what I could see, these people seemed to have borrowed money like Lucia’s family for the protection fee and were chased out from their homes.
The rich grew richer; he was a dirty human extorting money from those who were barely eking out a living on the Nerman Plains.
My insides roiled.
“Of course~ If they’re Lucia’s friends, they’re all welcome.”
“Yippee! Our mister is the best!”
‘Eurgh. This kiddo’s calling me mister…mister.’
The feeling of getting called a mister even though I was a lively youth just barely eighteen years of age… Anyone who hadn’t experienced it wouldn’t understand.
“Come over here~ Our mister said everyone can live together~!”
Waving with an excited voice, Lucia called the kids.
“My liege has given permission. Everyone, please come here,” yelled Derval, who was watching from the side, to the people who were sending disbelieving gazes our way.
“My goodness, sir, thank you.”
“Sob sob. Thank you! Thank you so much!”
Stepping forward at Derval’s words, the people kneeled in front of me.
Unlike other places, this place was surrounded by monsters, pirates, and mountains, so there was nowhere for them to go. They wept tears as they expressed their thanks. Even though there wasn’t much I could do for them except distribute them empty hangars to keep the rain off their backs.
“Derval, provide them accomodations and give them food. And if there are times you need people for covert repairs or other such matters, employ these people first.”
“As you command!” responded Derval vigorously, his face full of happiness.
“I’m thankful just for a place to sleep… but to even give us work.”
“You will be blessed by Semire-nim, sir.”
‘Shit, Lukence, you dirty beggar shithole. Was there really nothing to suck dry that you had to suck these poor people dry?’
From the looks of it, they were poorly fed. Moreover, the adults aside, what kind of sin did these weak-as-hell kids commit? They all moved under Derval’s command, nodding their heads like bobbleheads towards me.
A part of my heart prickled faintly.
“Hoho. Aiton, let’s go over there. There’s a really cool wyvern named Bebeto.”
“Wow! Can we really go see?”
“Do we not have to sleep outside anymore?”
“Of course! Our mister will take care of everything~! Because mister is the knight who protects our dreams.”
The young kids had gathered next to Lucia. At her words, they all looked towards me with sparkling eyes.
And I, facing those kids’ pure eyes, flashed a smile back.
I didn’t know about any other people, but I wanted to give at least these kids who were brimming with hope, a future.
A guardian knight protecting dreams.
I was a Skyknight.