21st Century Archmage - Chapter 48
Chapter 48: Count Yaix
“Look, look! My armor is cooler!”
“The heck are ya saying! The stitching on my armor is tighter!”
“What! Don’t even go there!”
“Why, you mad bro? You wanna fight?!”
Even after midmorning passed, there was no news of Viscount Lukence mobilizing his soldiers or wyverns. While waiting for news, we distributed formal armor and weapons to the mercenaries who Ryker acknowledged as being decent.
‘Sigh, these good-for-nothings.’
Doing things with these mercenaries—who were about to get into fist fights with some rather useless pride on the line—was like going into a fiery pit loaded with gunpowder.
‘I need trained, formal soldiers.’
I was lacking all sorts of things, including wyverns, supplies, and even soldiers. When my thoughts turned to formal soldiers, I automatically thought of the Nerman’s formal soldiers under the authority of Commander Yaix.
‘I’ve got no money, backing, or even a decent title… What should I do to earn some soldiers?’
I wasn’t even a real noble—I only had a dubious baronet title. On top of that, I was bitter enemies with the nobles in the capital. No matter how you sliced it, there were only disadvantages everywhere.
“Block it! We can’t lose like this!”
I was sitting in the HQ office’s yard with Bebeto while prepared to move out at any time and watching the disorderly mercenaries when I heard the clamoring of kids playing with a shabby ball made of dried grass stuffed into leather on the runway.
Unlike the adults, the kids recovered their energy right away once food and accommodations were secured. Dozens of them were excitedly running about on the runway with a single weird leather ball.
“Good times,” I said to myself, reminiscing about the ball games that the phys-ed teachers always resorted to because they didn’t want to teach. Those middle school days when the teachers would throw out a few balls and the kids would make teams on their own and have fun. The innocent appearance of the kids on the runway warmed my heart.
“Um… my lord.”
While I was watching the kids play, someone cautiously called me their lord. I turned.
‘Isn’t she Lucia’s mother?’
Lucia’s family had been the first to join the covert. Since I didn’t have a chef to take care of my meals, Lucia’s mother just became my personal chef. She was now holding a still-steaming, mouth-watering strawberry pie in front of me.
“My lord, please have some of this. Strawberries are currently in season, so it should be very delicious.”
“Haha. I will eat it with gratitude. But Lucia’s mother, I am not a lord.”
“Please, speak casually to me, sir. And if not you, who else here in Nerman would be deserving of the title, my lord? It’s not just me, but everyone else here as well—everyone has been calling you the lord.”
‘Lord? Ahem, well, it doesn’t have a bad connotation.’
“Your kindness, which saved those of us with nowhere to go and were going to become serfs or sold as slaves… Sob sob. I will never forget that kindness for the rest of my life.”
Lucia’s mother suddenly expressed her sincere thanks with tears.
“No… I didn’t do much.”
“Please don’t say such things, my lord. If not for you, my lord, we wouldn’t have been able to spend even a few days this comfortably. Scrimping and saving day after day for the protection fee and the piling debts… And nowhere to flee with the monsters all around. Truly, if not for Lucia, my husband and I would have committed suicide in despair long ago.”
Having never gone through that, how could I possibly understand how she felt? But just from hearing it, I could somewhat imagine the suffering of these people, who had lived while treated like animals even though they had no sin simply because they had no strength.
“Thank you for the meal. Haha. And please don’t worry. I will care for you all to the best of my ability.”
“Thank you. We will follow only you to death, my lord.”
Her head bowed, Lucia’s mother politely held out the plate with the strawberry pie with both hands, showing the maximum degree of respect.
‘The price of a strawberry pie is ridiculous.’
I would be accepting the title of a lord along with this strawberry pie. The plate I took from her was quite heavy. Now I would be stuck hearing ‘my lord, my lord’ all the time.
Thud thud thud thud.
“What! That bastard!”
“Block him! Block the entrance!”
“Move! It’s a message from the commander!”
The moment I was about to take a bite of the warm strawberry pie I accepted with such gravity, there was a ruckus at the entrance. A man wearing formal soldier armor flew a flag as he tried to enter from the entrance on his horse, and the idle mercenaries who were fooling around swore as they ran to stop him.
“Is there any commanding officer here? I’m a messenger belonging to the commander!” shouted the soldier loudly, alarmed by the rush of scowling mercenaries.
‘Jeez, what a headache.’
There were people they should block and those they shouldn’t, but the mercenaries were confidently standing in front of the formal soldier as if his imperial flag didn’t mean shit. I felt my head throb.
“Hey! You blockheads! He said he’s a messenger of the commander!”
Ryker, who clearly ran up in the middle of something because he had no armor on, treated the mercenaries like idiots as he cleared the path for the messenger.
“This is a message for anyone who is a Skyknight to quickly take orders. Who here is a Skyknight?”
The messenger who urgently rode into the covert was looking for a Skyknight. At his words, everyone’s gazes turned to me. “The lucky person sitting there eating a pie is a Skyknight,” said Ryker, his finger landing precisely on me from afar.
“Hya!” The distance was only about a hundred meters, but the messenger kicked his horse into my direction.
Riding over and jumping down from his neighing horse with great urgency, he delivered his message.
“I have an urgent message: the Temir are currently moving south in great numbers. Skyknights should go without delay to the plains near Orakk Castle, where His Excellency the Commander is at. Please depart at once!”
It seemed he was delivering an order from the magic communication channel that only formal imperial soldiers could use.
The barbaric Temir tribes I had only heard about were moving south. But the problem was that I was facing a possible attack from Viscount Lukence. I had to make a judgement quickly.
‘If he wanted to go at it, he would have already come.’
I made my decision.
Even Viscount Lukence couldn’t attack all of Denfors. All I had to do was to give the order to temporarily scatter if Skyknights were mobilized.
“Yes! My liege!”
Perhaps because of his greed towards the wyvern, honorifics rolled off Ryker’s tongue with ease.
“If Viscount Lukence comes, everyone should scatter and wait. I will leave for a moment!”
“Please leave this place to me and go without worries!”
Ryker smiled widely as he yelled from the entrance. His voice was energetic, but my heart felt zero trust from that voice.
“Bebeto, we’re heading out!”
Bebeto was prepared to move out at any time. At my command, he woke right up from his dozing with a roar.
I jumped onto his back and clipped myself into the safety belt.
GUAAAAA! Bebeto let out a huge roar.
Flapping his wings, we left the ground with great speed.
‘Huhu. They said I get money every time we sortie, right?’
Here, everything ran on money.
What use was it to play around? It was common sense to earn even a penny more when you were young so that you didn’t have to struggle once you grew old. And I was a sensible young South Korean man who knew how to invest for the future.
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“Your Excellency! Please evade!”
The sky was swarming with around 30 wyverns. Small boulders and large logs were held within their claws .
Flying at an altitude where arrows could not reach, the wyverns flung down the goods they were holding on top of the soldiers below us.
Even with your eyes wide open, the boulders could not be evaded. They weren’t knights who could use mana, but regular, ordinary soldiers. Driven by fear, they tried to block by raising shields, but they ended up smashed into the ground and turned into a mess of blood and bones under their shields.
One man stood there, guarded by knights and mages.
At the news that monsters were attacking the biggest village in the northern region, Haiton, the Viceroy of Nerman, Yaix, went into battle with his soldiers.
Possessing a sturdy physique exceeding 190 cm (6’6”) in height and broad, open shoulders, as well as a hard face with a chiseled chin and eyes the size of a bull’s, Count Yaix, who you could tell was an impressive military man at first glance, was standing there with his clenched fists quivering.
While they were chasing off the monsters, wyverns of the Temir suddenly appeared. As expected for savage tribal people, their wyverns weren’t even wearing any protective gear. Not only that, but all they had for weapons were junk Blessed Spears they had scavenged from here and there.
But there was no way to fight them. Wyverns could only be fought with wyverns. Magic or arrows from archers would only scratch the wyverns’ hides.
“Was a messenger dispatched?”
“A missive was urgently sent out. But Your Excellency, there’s no one in Weyn Covert worth believing in!”
It was chaos—5,000 soldiers were running here and there on the plains frantically trying to hide. Stones and logs would fall on their heads right away if they stayed clumped up. Military discipline had fallen apart long ago.
‘If only I had a flight formation…. Argh.’
Yaix felt rage boiling up in him, rage so powerful it couldn’t be controlled.
Yaix was a military man who started out as a knight and rose to a count with a commander position entrusted with an entire area. He ground his teeth looking at the wyverns from the barbarian tribes, which at one point hadn’t even been worth fighting. They were trifling opponents he wouldn’t need to fear at all if he just had a formal wyvern formation.
But the Skyknights under Yaix’ banner had all lost their wyverns in the bloody battles of the past few years. He had over 10 wyverns under his command, but they couldn’t endure the attacks of the Temir bastards who came by the dozen in every skirmish. One after another, they disappeared, and now only the wyvern in the count’s personal possession was left. However, the remaining wyvern had suffered tears to its wing and muscles ten days ago, so it was resting in its hangar in the castle.
“Your Excellency, we must withdraw. If things go on like this, the soldiers will die a dog’s death.”
One of Yaix’ advisor knights uttered words as crude as ‘a dog’s death,’ words utterly unsuitable for a knight to say. However, the terrible scene before them deserved those words and then some.
“If we withdraw, then who will save the civilians and soldiers in Haiton?!”
Thousands of civilians and hundreds of soldiers in Haiton were fighting bitterly with the monsters while waiting for reinforcements. Unlike other places, monsters in the northern region lived in groups and knew how to form a united front when attacking humans.
“They are important as well, but the lives of the soldiers are valuable too! Moreover, if you are met with danger, Your Excellency, who will protect Nerman!”
The knight painfully gritted out his counsel. Even as a top adjutant, he couldn’t meddle so directly in the matters of the count, the military commander, who was like the sky.
However, the current situation warranted it.
The soldiers were strewn all over the place like finely ripped up paper.
The Temir wyverns were snatching up scattered soldiers like eagles hunting mice. Its claws punching straight through armor, a wyvern lifted one man up and tossed him down from high above.
A death cry rang out for a moment.
Everyone who had ears wanted to shut them.
But this was the curse that was currently their reality.
Putting their comrade’s cry behind them, they had to hide next to boulders or trees, or simply lay flat on the ground and draw rough breaths.
The Temir turned to rush towards the count, who was protected by around ten knights and three mages. They already knew he was there, but knowing that Yaix’s men had no wyverns to face them, they had slowly approached like a cat playing with a mouse.
Yaix ground his teeth inwardly.
He had requested help countless times, but throughout all those years, not a single Skyknight from Weyn Covert had answered his call. The active Viscount Lukence dragged his feet knowing that the imperial troops were retreating, and the baroness named Janice could not help because she was busy keeping Lukence in check.
But Yaix sent word to the covert this time again just in case. If there happened to be a newly assigned Skyknight, Yaix wanted to take his hand, at the very least.
‘Those fools… to throw away this land of opportunity.’
For the past several years, Yaix had done his best to defend the Nerman Plains. Its seasons were distinct, there were almost no natural disasters like storms or heavy rains, the sea and rivers were overflowing with fish, the earth was fertile, and the undeveloped mines were full of treasures yet to be discovered—it was truly a land of opportunity.
The empire was going to throw away that kind of land. The emperor was likely unable to block the requests of the nobles threatening his imperial power.
When sending him here, the emperor told Yaix this: if you can endure well for just a few years, Nerman will become a stepping stone for the empire’s future. Believing in the emperor’s words, Yaix used the entirety of his family’s fortune to expand his wyvern forces and brought his soldiers to guard Nerman.
However, he was now at his limits. A few months ago, the empire stopped sending wages and supplies entirely. The blood of a little less than 30,000 soldiers was too heavy for the empire to take. And not long ago, an order came down from the empire. An order stamped with the emperor’s seal commanded Yaix to retreat within two months, leaving all the soldiers behind besides the elite imperial troops.
It was cold-hearted and cruel.
Despite the critical situation, Yaix couldn’t help but let out a dry laugh.
As he laughed, Blessed Spears came cutting through the wind towards him.
Clatter! Drawing their swords, the knights stood in front of the count to protect him.
The mages on standby completed a barrier made of shield spells.
The knights’ eyes opened wide.
The shields were ripped apart like cracked glass windows.
Pow! Pow! Pooow!
Breaking the shields deployed in the air in the blink of an eye, the Blessed Spears lodged itself in the last one left, the milky-colored Mana Shield.
Fortunately, the five or six Blessed Spears were buried in the Mana Shield deployed by the 5th Circle mage, the ends of the shafts quivering from the force.
Silence fell in an instant. At best, the armor worn by the knights were steel suits enspelled with weight reduction magic. The only armor that could block a Blessed Spear flying in from above was armor made entirely of mithril.
But their relief only lasted a brief moment.
Done chasing the soldiers as if they were mice, the wyverns drew circles in the air as they flew high above the count and his knights. They no longer had a chance to run. Even if they ran on horseback, they would only be as fast as rabbits to the wyverns.
While the count and his knights were facing a desperately dangerous situation, a cry suddenly thundered in the sky.
Following the sound of the cry, the knights turned their heads. Seeing a dot coming far away from the south, they burst out in cries of alarm.
It was a wyvern.
A formal wyvern wearing magic gear.
But not a single person among them rejoiced.
The wyvern was definitely reinforcements, but no one could see it as such. Only a single wyvern was flying over to face thirty.
Dumbfounded, the knights and mages stared into the sky with hollow eyes.
The thirty wyverns in the air turned their heads towards the new enemy that appeared.
It was obvious without even having to bat an eye, that the stupid wyvern would soon meet the hot embrace of Blessed Spears with its whole body and kiss the earth…