21st Century Archmage - Chapter 51
Chapter 51: Scene of the Deciding Battle
“You say everyone’s playing?”
“That’s correct, my liege. According to the informants, he gave them a bonus a few days ago, telling the mercenaries to rest up. Then the man named Kyre went to the river and has been fishing since then.”
“Fishing? Kukuku. What a funny fellow. He should be thinking about how to survive at a time like this.”
“I think that perhaps the person himself has realized your strength and has given up, my liege.”
“No… Something is still fishy.”
Viscount Lukence shook his head at Delvado, the chief advising knight with whom he had worked for many years.
“In any case, when the ships depart in a short while, everything will be settled. And tomorrow, the bastard named Kyre will have to either offer his neck or flee.”
4 days of time had passed as swift as an arrow. Even though the convoy ships were large, they could still sink in rough waves. Lukence still had to avoid catching the eye of the commander, who was still formally governing Nerman, and just make it through the river. Once his ships made it onto the sea and he delivered the goods to the waiting people, everything would be over.
“Once the ships depart, distribute as much alcohol and meat as they can eat to the soldiers remaining. And then tomorrow, we’ll go catch that guy.”
“As you command!”
The moment darkness fell, the convoy would depart on the river.
‘Little rookie, I’ll cut open your belly to see for myself, just how bloated your guts are…’
A dark smile floated on Lukence’s lips as he thought about tomorrow’s blood and slaughter.
‘Janice… Your turn will be next. Huhuhu.’
The last formal noble left in Nerman, Janice. Up until now, Lukence had left her alone because of the consequences he would suffer from the commander, but now it was time to clean up.
Lukence was determined.
To formally take over Nerman within the next few days.
* * *
“Ryker, are those guys trustworthy?”
“Huhu. I specifically selected only the ones with clean records. Just believe in me, my liege.”
Handsome Ryker, flashed me a crafty smile while telling me to believe in him. I didn’t want to, but I had no choice for now.
“Derval, have the other mercenaries departed?”
“Yes, my liege. They all shouted they were going hunting and left the city excitedly.”
‘Shall we get things going now, then?’
The last few days had been spent fishing with Bebeto. Time passed and it was now the day Lukence would send off his convoy.
“Ryker, I will tell you again—the only thing I am doing is scattering the enemies. You must absolutely not confront them head-on.”
“I told you, just believe in me. Huhu.”
Giving me a greasy chuckle like a dandy, Ryker thumped his chest. I could believe in everyone else, but somehow, I really couldn’t put my confidence in Ryker.
‘Alright, as long as he lures those guys out, I’ll finally give him a wyvern.’
Even I couldn’t fight eleven wyverns at once. They weren’t defenseless wyverns like the Temir wyverns, but wyverns wearing enspelled protective gear that defended against 4th Circle magic and seasoned Skyknights who grew up in the sky. Because of that, I was forced to use a cheat.
“Is the camouflage perfect?”
“As long as they don’t get close, there’s no worry of them finding out. In any case, he is wearing the same magic gear and airplate as you, my liege.”
“Then I’m departing right away. Derval, lead the mercenaries on standby outside the city. You must bring them to Gadain Castle when the moon is in the middle of the sky.”
“Please allay your worries. We have gathered every single horse in the city, so you don’t have to worry about that.”
Like Derval said, we had collected every horse in the city. Then we distributed just under 500 mercenaries a horse.
‘It’s all or nothing!’
It was a rule that matters this big were finished with one victory anyway.
“Then, I’m departing. May you have fortune in war, men!”
“We pray for your good health, my liege!”
“Hehe. I told you, just believe in me!!”
Other than Derval, I couldn’t really believe in the mercenaries or Ryker. But the die was cast, and the wheel of fortune was now spinning.
‘Lukence, today, I will strip you down to the hairs on your butt! Uhahaha!’
Here on Nerman, ground combat didn’t mean much anyway. As long as Lukence and his goons were caught, I could swallow the whole chicken without even plucking it.
* * *
“Unfurl the sails!”
A placid wind was blowing on the river. On the wharf in the vicinity of Gadain Castle, which was now shrouded in darkness, the convoy ships unfurled their sails.
Flap flap flap.
Filling with wind in moments, the sails rounded like a very pregnant woman’s belly.
“Skyknights, ascend and assume defensive formation!”
Flap flap, flap flap flap.
Five wyverns waiting in the air took up the back and the other six rose high into the moonlit sky. Then they made a diamond-shaped formation, a typical defense formation in aerial combat. This defense formation could block an attack from any direction.
The formation drew a large circle and prowled in the sky above the ships.
“Modular defense formation!”
Viscount Lukence barked out a command from the rear. 4 wyverns made one team in a formation guarding the surroundings. Viscount Lukence’s Skyknights, who had always kept up with the thorough and exhaustive training regiment, split into teams of four and spread out in all directions.
Even though Viscount Lukence didn’t show his emotions for the most part, as he gazed upon the enspelled armor of his wyverns sparkling in the moonlight, a satisfied smile appeared on his lips.
It wasn’t empty confidence; he truly believed that his flight formation was great enough to not fear even Skyknights of the Imperial Guard.
‘Rookie… come, why don’t you. Huhuhu.’
If the information that came in today was to be believed, the rookie had repelled and captured Temir wyverns attacking Count Yaix, the commander, using a spirit and magic.
However, Lukence didn’t believe those words.
How could a mage possibly summon a spirit? Magic swordsmen were still heard of, but a summoner mage had pretty much never appeared in the history of the continent.
Viscount Lukence flew in the middle of the wyvern formation guarding in all directions. Underneath him was the convoy, which was progressing quickly along the water with the power of wind. Inside were today’s trade items, which he had purchased using every bit of the fortune he had toiled for several years to earn. With these goods as a stepping stone, Lukence would expand his ambition even more.
‘The wind is good.’
Spring was clearly in the air, so the wind felt very gentle. Because Lukence was wearing an airplate that insulated him from outside forces, he didn’t feel cold or hot. However, he could tell the season and flavor of the wind from the sound of the passing wind alone.
No matter what anyone said, Skyknights were children of the wind.
* * *
‘The wind is good.’
Bebeto could fly higher than other wyverns. With Ryker flying far ahead of us, we rode the wind much higher up in the sky.
‘When Ryker shows up, at least one formation will break away. If that happens, there should be seven or eight wyverns left. I have to take care of them as quickly as possible.’
Now, there was no need to hide my skills. As long as Lukence was taken care of, no one in Nerman would be able to do anything about me anymore.
‘Janice, there’s only your choice left. If you come to me only after today ends, then you’re my enemy.’
Before leaving Denfors, I sent a horse to Janice with a message.
I am leaving now to take care of Lukence.
If you want, you can participate in the battle.
But if we meet after today and you have not come, then I will take you as my enemy—that was the brief warning and attempt to win her over in the message.
It was my final consideration toward Janice, who had shown me goodwill.
‘If we keep going at this speed, it’ll be 10 minutes. Shall we get some exercise today?’
Today of all days, the spring moon hung especially large in the sky. The beauty of the moonlight lighting up the earth with a gentleness unlike the sun made my breath stop in my throat.
This flavor could only be tasted by those who ruled the sky, a fantastic flavor no inferior to eating wild unagi with a glass of raspberry wine.
* * *
“… Is this a warning? Or an attempt to win me over?”
Janice clenched the white paper in her hand. Her brown eyes gleamed coldly.
“I heard two wyverns have sortied.”
“Two? Are you kidding me? Viscount Lukence is in command of eleven wyverns. And they’re controlled by top-level Skyknights.”
At Berketh’s words, Atisann made a dumbfounded expression.
There was a law of invincibility when you had three times the numbers. No matter how outstanding a Skyknight was, against three times the enemies, it was an official tradition that they would absolutely be defeated.
There weren’t many Skyknights in history who had achieved victory in the face of three times their number. There were only a few people, including the Bajran Empire’s first emperor, the Emperor of Wind Alvatreon.
“Let us stab him in the back instead. There’s already Lukence; if this Kyre has expressed hostility to us, we can’t just let that slide. We should watch for an opportunity while they’re clashing and stab him in the back!”
Berketh, whose face looked horse-like, went out strong.
“To backstab like a coward is a bit… How about just sitting back and reaping the profit? Didn’t the rumors say Baronet Kyre has pretty good skills? If he can heroically die taking down maybe four, five wyverns, then we will have more than a fighting chance of success.”
Berketh and Atisann didn’t even dream of a direct confrontation. They knew their own skills all too well.
“Prepare to fly. And send down the command to all soldiers. Tonight, we attack Gadain Castle!”
“Pardon? E-Even Gadain Castle?”
“If… if Kyre takes down Lukence, then I…”
Janice didn’t forget her true motive.
To her, revenge was more important than the safety or peace of Nerman.
Janice’s brown eyes shone like the stars in the sky.
“We depart at once. I can never forgive Lukence!”
“As you command!”
The two Skyknights bowed at Janice’s firm command. In their hearts, they were fervently praying to the Goddess of Victory, Ormion, to allow them to smile brightly while savoring the happiness of victory.
* * *
“Alright! We’re going off to hunt! Everyone, depart!”
“Woooohooo! They’re all dead!”
“Uhahaha! I’ll catch the biggest monster and get a bonus!”
“Run! Run all night long!”
‘Sigh… these mercenaries.’
The mercenaries cheered and clamored, completely unaware of where they were currently going. Derval sighed as he watched them. They weren’t the main forces anyway, but just thinking about running several hours along these orc-minded mercenaries made him grimace.
‘But still, loosening our wallets for a few days made their loyalty go up.’
Before, the mercenaries had been apathetic to the commands of Derval, an ordinary knight. But after letting them rest up for several days while bleeding money, they listened pretty well to his words now.
The sound of horses being kicked forward rang out all around them, and soon, the mercenaries’ horses were running forward energetically behind Derval.
Without any of them knowing where they were going.
* * *
Who was it that said a bird high in the air had good vision?
The wyvern disguised as Bebeto that Ryker was riding on was flying almost 1 km ahead of us at a lower altitude. I glimpsed the sparkle of silver enspelled armor on wyverns cutting through the sky far ahead of him.
‘I took off the enspelled armor for today, and even completely painted Bebeto black.’
For the sake of victory, I removed Bebeto’s armor. Defeat was set in stone if he got hit once anyway. For absolute victory, I had Bebeto’s golden stripes painted over with black.
‘Bebeto, sorry that your master isn’t strong enough and made you do this. But next time…’
If they met a master without skills, the wyvern would be useless no matter how outstanding they were. I didn’t want to become that kind of master. I wanted to enjoy glory together with Bebeto.
‘They saw him.’
It seemed the enemies weren’t blind and spotted Ryker. No, they would definitely be stupid if they couldn’t see him. We had polished the enspelled armor to an eye-catching shine and had painted the wyvern’s body with black and drawn the stripes with glow-in-the-dark golden paint.
Having perceived that the enemies had noticed him, Ryker swerved to the right.
‘He received proper training.’
As if he received systematic training, unlike me, Ryker showed a perfect appearance from the moment of departure. Drawing a stark contrast to his usual careless appearance, his posture as he flew was perfect.
‘One, two, three, four. So each formation is made of four.’
After discovering Ryker, Lukence’s knights swiftly switched from a defense formation to an attack formation, accelerating immediately as they formed a triangle in the air.
‘Alright then, Ryker, I’ll leave it to you.’
Ryker fled with all his might just like I ordered. I watched him as I picked up Blessed Spears with both hands.
‘Seven left. It’s time for Blitzkrieg!’
After Ryker disappeared with four wyverns on his tail, I saw the silhouettes of the convoy on the river a short while afterwards.
Flap flap, flap flap flap!
Bebeto instinctively sensed that the deciding moment was approaching. I felt like I was one with the powerful, dynamic beating of his wings.
I clenched my legs to give Bebeto the command to descend.
Bebeto began to descend as the wind whistled around us.
Even as we descended, I opened my eyes wide and threw Blessed Spears towards the enemies flying over.
Full of mana, the spears shot through the air like rays of light.
I rapidly pulled out another two Blessed Spears before mechanically throwing them towards the next targets.
‘Dammit, just hit someone and end ‘em!’
Right now, my enemies were all over the place anyway. There was no need to skimp on Blessed Spears.
* * *
‘Fleeing? Hmph! Looks like I overestimated him.’
At least when the rookie’s wyvern appeared far in the distance under the moonlight, Lukence had felt his heart thumping. That courage to show up even while knowing one’s absolute inferiority… the rookie was either stupid or a true warrior.
But after approaching a certain distance, the rookie started running away without hesitation. The golden stripes of his black wyvern could clearly be seen.
‘Huhu. You’re dead today.’
He didn’t know how fast the bastard’s wyvern could go, but as long as his subordinates—who knew Nerman’s terrain like the back of their hands—were on the chase, the rookie’s wyvern was forfeit.
But even as he rejoiced, he felt a tingle on his back.
It was bloodthirst, bloodthirst from the sky that only someone who had ridden a wyvern for dozens of years could recognize. Startled, he turned his head and inspected the surroundings.
As he raised his head, a cry escaped from within Lukence’s helmet.
Lit by the moonlight, a huge and black shadow was descending from above. It was a wyvern, a wyvern was plunging towards him at a speed faster than a meteor.
And from wyvern came two flashing shooting stars.
In his surprise, the word burst out of him hysterically like a scream.
The agonized cries of two other wyverns ripped through the air.
The Blessed Spears had been thrown with such power that they shot forward like meteors and punched through the wyverns’ enspelled armor and left from the lower abdomens.
“It’s an enemy!”
A mana-charged scream and the cry of “enemy” rang out simultaneously.
Flash! At the same time, two wyverns were crashing to the ground, trailing blood and guts, as their Skyknights rapidly cast the Fly spell engraved in their airplates to escape certain death.
How precious were those wyverns and Skyknights?!
He had become a Skyknight in the empire while suffering all sorts of disdain, and for the sake of his dream, he had left for Nerman, a place where no one else would willingly go.
Then he was able to rally Skyknights through conciliation and threats, and now it was almost time for the completion of a huge stepping stone for his grand ambitions. The two wyverns that were like his blood and bones were tragically killed with a single blow without even being able to fight a real battle.
Thanks to their huge weight, the two wyverns that crashed on the ground were completely destroyed.
“Enemy appearance! An enemy has appeared at 11 o’clock!”
After two wyverns died, the wyverns instinctively deployed evasive maneuvers and were able to barely avoid the four spears that came flying in quick succession.
And then, they saw him. Descending in the sky, the enemy was flying towards Viscount Lukence at 11 o’clock.
Surprisingly enough, it was a Black Wyvern that represented the Bajran Empire.
* * *
I was able to take down two wyverns by catching them off guard. But the wyverns were just barely able to dodge the spears I threw afterwards.
It was regrettable. Five wyverns was definitely a big number.
‘So that’s the kind of force that comes when you fill them up completely with mana.’
When I threw the first Blessed Spears, unbeknownst to me, I had filled them to the brim with mana.
The resulting force was unimaginable.
Even after punching through the enemy wyverns, there was apparently still strength in the Blessed Spears because they rammed into the ground like shooting stars.
There wasn’t even time to think long.
Before I knew it, Viscount Lukence’s remaining wyverns and Skyknights seized the opportunity to counterattack. They were throwing Blessed Spears at us with all their might.
I had magic hidden up my sleeve to block Blessed Spears. Putting my faith in my magic, I held Bebeto’s reins with my left hand and a spear in my right as we cut through the wind.
‘Lukence, today is the day you meet your maker! Huhu.’
Among the enemy wyverns, I could clearly see which one was Lukence’s. It was the one larger than the others that I had seen last time. The wyvern was busy flying towards me.
‘Come to papa!’
There were only enemy wyverns and Blessed Spears around me, but I wasn’t afraid.
Those who have victory in mind should absolutely never think about defeat or death!
* * *
He wasn’t in his right mind.
He had somehow succeeded in ambushing them, but now, Lukence’s Skyknights had perfectly assumed battle positions.
But the bastard’s wyvern was flying like crazy towards them.
‘Crush him to a paste! Argh!’
Thoughts of how expensive those two wyverns’ lives were briefly flashed through his mind. Those wyverns were in the prime of their lives, too.
Grinding his teeth, Lukence raised his second Blessed Spear.
As he cocked the Blessed Spear, he saw the Intermediate summoner Helayne’s Shuriel cutting through the wind as it flew forward.
Unlike spears, which were limited by their momentum, a spirit could attack through a human’s will. The bastard’s unprotected wyvern’s life was forfeit.
That’s what Lukence thought, until he saw the magic explosion flashing before his eyes.
They were 500 meters apart.
The radiance of magic exploded within that short distance.
And the Blessed Spears in the bastard’s hands were gone.
Lukence’s scream cut through the air a second time as the enemy’s Blessed Spears came hurtling their way once more.
The bastard’s spear buried itself deep into the head of the wyvern on Lukence’s right, ridden by the mage Terrence.
At that moment, the word ‘devil’ came to mind.
Unable to even think of throwing his Blessed Spear, Viscount Lukence trembled all over.
‘But Shuriel will…’
For whatever reason, the Black Wyvern wasn’t wearing any magic armor on its body. Shuriel was flying over like a beam of light to attack it.
As Shuriel approached, Lukence saw the bastard’s wyvern getting torn up by sharp claws in his mind’s eye.
The distance was already just 300 meters.
There was absolutely no way for him to avoid the spirit’s attack.
However, just then, Lukence heard the spirit’s pained cry.
He was too shocked to even scream.
It was disappearing.
The intermediate spirit of wind, Shuriel, lowered its silver spirit wings in the middle of attacking and was forcibly returned.
With his spirit’s forced return, the summoner Halayne flopped senseless onto his wyvern’s back, blood spewing from his mouth.
And just then, he saw yet another Shuriel.
It was exactly two times bigger than Halayne’s returned Shuriel.
* * *
‘You stupid birdbrain.’
The fearless little Shuriel bared its teeth towards me, someone who had contracted with an archspirit. It was bitten in the nape and forcibly returned to the Spirit Realm by the Shuriel I summoned, who majored in ripping people up with its teeth.
“My clever lad! Go bite ‘em!”
Expressing its unlimited joy at my command, Shuriel whizzed off, cutting through the wind with no resistance.
A short moment later, a wyvern’s gruesome scream burst out.
‘That must hurt.’
Shuriel, who had grown pretty smart, understood my intent all too well. It flew energetically and chomped down with all its might on the unprotected nape of the wyvern’s neck.
And now, only 100 meters lay between Lukence’s wyverns and us.
There were only two wyverns now that could properly fly towards us.
A friendly smile appeared on my face.
I raised my right hand, which had the Blessed Spear in it.
And with my left, I prepared to cast magic.
‘Lukence, time to say bye bye~!’
It was time to finish things.
I flung my spear at Lukence, who was still dazedly holding onto his spear.
Just then, I glimpsed a flash as the Skyknight next to Lukence threw a spear.
I was so close that I had let down my guard.
I hurried to draw the limits of my mana and cast a shield of mana in front of Bebeto.
Lukence was to the right of my line of sight.
The Skyknight that threw the spear at me swerved his wyvern right in front of Lukence.
The Blessed Spear crashed into the shield and was flung aside.
Taking my Blessed Spear to its side, the wyvern in front of Lukence tilted sideways.
And then, because we were too close, Lukence grazed past me.
100 meters in the sky were like a few meters on land.
We just barely passed each other like that. I couldn’t see his face because he was wearing a helmet, but I could easily imagine how twisted Lukence’s face must be.
I pulled Bebeto’s reins and rapidly turned him around.
As I turned, I was determined to duke it out with Lukence, but while we were turning, Lukence’s wyvern descended low to the ground as it desperately fled.
‘Chase him?’ I thought, conflicted for a moment.
‘Huhu. I’ll let you off today.’
The battle in the sky just now had been fierce.
I could feel Bebeto’s previously steady breathing becoming rough.
And now, I wasn’t afraid of Lukence. There were also the four wyverns that flew off to chase Ryker, but I wasn’t worried about them, either.
‘Let’s go seize Gadain Castle.’
While battle was erupting in the skies, the convoy ships had leisurely drifted far away on the river.
They didn’t know.
That even if there was a path in the water, their paths were ending soon.
* * *
“Ugya! Isn’t this Gadain Castle?!”
“Uwaah! We’re dead!”
The mercenaries had excitedly laughed and clamored as they blindly followed Derval, who had led his horse with one hand.
But the wind went right out of their sails at the sight of the huge castle shining in the bright moonlight. The mercenaries had been unable to examine the terrain due to all the dust flying around and their rapid speed, but the Gadain Castle they glimpsed after turning a small hill appeared before them like a castle of hell. Everyone’s cheerful spirits sank low. And then, their gazes pierced into the one-armed knight in the front, Derval, their eyes seemingly asking what was going on.
‘My liege, how did it go??’
Around now, the aerial battle should have ended. Derval stared at the sky as he bit his dry lips. No matter how unbelievable his liege’s skills were, fighting eleven wyverns with just two should be impossible. He marched all the way here with absolute faith in his liege, but a small part of his heart could not help but harbor doubt.
Just then, a wyvern’s roar thundered from the sky in the far distance.
“Uwaah! It’s Viscount Lukence’s wyverns!”
“Ah fuck, no wonder my wife appeared last night in my dream with a kitchen knife!”
The mercenaries were like deer in headlights, unable to even think of fleeing. They knew well enough that even on horseback, on a flatland like Nerman under a moonlight night, fleeing would be like calling ‘please, come catch me~!’
However, one person, just one person, sat atop his horse with tears of joy running down his face.
That cry belonged to his liege’s wyvern, Bebeto, and was unforgettable even if he wanted to forget it.
“Everyone, prepare to attack!”
Derval’s vigorous cry rang into the ears of the fearful mercenaries.
“Oi oi, have ya ever seen a person this infected with orc rabies.”
“Charge? If ya wanna bite the dust, go do that on your own!”
The mercenaries’ curses completely shot down Derval’s order to attack.
Flap flap, flap flap flap!
In the meantime, the black wyvern reached the sky close above their heads.
“Charge! I’ll give the first person to cross the castle gates 10,000 Gold!”
“Geh! I-It’s the lord!”
“Ugya! The lord has come!”
“T-Ten thousand Gold! Get outta mah way, everyone!”
The familiar voice promising ten thousand Gold turned the mercenaries’ eyes into sauces. At the mention of ten thousand Gold from the person they called the lord, Baronet Kyre, it was as if the mercenaries threw all reason to the ground.
“WAAHH! I’M GONNA BE FIRST!”
“MOVE, YOU BITCHES! I called dibs!”
Military discipline? What was that? Could you eat it?
This was a chance of a lifetime that they may never get again in their lives.
A mercenary’s life came like the wind and went like the wind, anyway.
Ten thousand Gold was a sum they would be happy about even in death.
One word from his liege took care of something he couldn’t do in an instant.
As he looked at his liege’s back as he flew towards Gadain Castle, Derval could feel his heart grow warm.
His liege, Kyre, who was so damn frickin’ cool.
He was Derval’s one and only true master.
* * *
‘Eh? What the fuck?’
Gadain Castle crumbled more easily than I thought.
Bebeto flew with his huge bulk above the castle, but there weren’t many people awake. It was as if the men had all partied and drank since the early hours of the evening—they were all collapsed in a drunken stupor near the wooden fires that lit the castle walls.
When I jumped from Bebeto’s body and slightly opened Gadain Castle’s gates, the mercenaries charged in like athletes competing in the short-distance dash Olympics.
Around ten men shot into the gates at the same time, and as soon as they were inside, they started a fist fight about who came in first.
And just like that, the mercenaries were inside.
Soldiers that weren’t drunk came running up, but they soon kowtowed at the frightening sight of the mercenaries and Bebeto, who was haughtily flapping his wings atop the castle walls.
Occupying Gadain Castle was so very easy.
Derval, having learned from me at some point, told the mercenaries that each soldier would net them 1 Gold, which caused yet another stir amongst the mercenaries. Even they could see that this was oh so easy prey. They glared fiercely as they charged into all directions.
And with that, Gadain Castle came into my control.
However, there was still one place I had to wrap up.
And that was the all-important convoy.
I rode Bebeto and swiftly flew along the river.
Using a magic crystal, I had installed manalines. As I expected, the convoy ships were caught in the invisible manalines like fish caught in a net.
After hurriedly arriving here on Bebeto, what I saw was Janice and her Skyknights.
In fact, Janice’s soldiers had at some point boarded the convoy ships and were disarming Lukence’s knights and soldiers.
‘Ryker, what the fuck happened?’
More surprising was that Ryker, who had disappeared as the bait with four of Lukence’s Skyknights on his tail, was giggling as he chatted cheerfully with Janice.
Flap flap, flap flap flap.
I landed Bebeto next to Janice.
‘If he spits out some nonsense… Just wait and see!’
The convoy ships were caught by the net I installed. I decided to throw our fleeting acquaintance to the wind and rip him apart if he insisted that he had captured them.
“My liege! What happened to that bastard Lukence?”
As Bebeto landed, Ryker ran over and asked about Lukence’s safety(?).
“I caught everyone else, but only that guy managed to flee.”
“Haha! As expected of my liege!” Ryker said, making an expression that said this result was only natural, even though any other person would have asked me how I had achieved such a ridiculous victory.
‘He took damage.’
The wyvern Ryker had ridden had a fist-sized hole in its wing. It must have been pierced by a Blessed Spear.
“Is that really true…?”
Janice asked me to confirm if that was true.
“I do not fill my belly up with expensive bread only to lie.”
I really couldn’t get used to this kind of stiff speech. But there was a time and place for everything, so I just pushed through and confidently spoke.
[TN: When Kyre speaks to other nobles, he uses a semi-formal style of speech called hao-che. From Wikipedia: It basically implies “My status is as high as you so I won’t be humble, but I still respect your status and don’t want to make you feel offended”.]
“Th-that’s ridiculous! How could you fight seven wyverns all on your own?!”
Janice’s Skyknight Berketh paled as he confirmed the veracity behind my statement.
“Would you like to bet? If my words are the truth, then give me your wyvern, and if they are lies, then you may have those guys.”
As I spoke, I pointed at Ryker and the wyvern he rode.
Ryker, who I would definitely throw away one day, made a tearful face.
“I do not believe it, but I have no choice but to trust you.” Janice’s eyes sparkled as she stared intensely at me.
“Like I said, I don’t fill my belly up with expensive bread only to lie.”
‘Except for the occasional times when I eat barley bread…’
“I, Janice de Jadran, swear to the God of Truth and Justice, Siportyne, that I will serve Baronet Kyre as his Skyknight from this moment forth!”
Janice fell to one knee and pledged her loyalty.
I was shocked by Janice’s unexpected sudden actions. She was, after all, Nerman’s #2, at least in name, and was an original native noble with over a thousand men as her troops. Moreover, she even had Skyknights under her command and was still requesting to become one of my men.
The best way I could respond to that was—
“I thank thee. Let us do our best together in the future.”
‘Uwahh! What kind of pie from the sky is this!?’
The profits I reaped from getting rid of Lukence were already astronomical, but an extra cornucopia was rolling over to me. Anyone who refused must be as full of rocks as the stone Dabo Pagoda in Bulguksa Temple. A knight’s vow was that terrifying.
“I, Berketh, shall become Kyre-nim’s loyal spear.”
“I, Atisann… shall become Kyre-nim’s shield.”
After their master Janice bowed her head, the knights under her knelt and made their vows of loyalty as well. But unlike Janice, the two people seemed to be fighting tears. It was probably hard for them to swallow that their liege had changed so suddenly.
“Everyone, rise. From now on, we are one family. Let us do our best for the sake of Nerman’s peace.”
“Thank you, my liege. I will put my entire life on the line to serve you,” barked Janice energetically.
‘O-Older sis, I don’t need your life.’
She was short-haired and tall, but under the tanned skin, one could tell that Janice’s appearance wasn’t ordinary. Her words were a bit much to accept.
“Uhahaha! My liege, congratulations. You have caught both of Nerman’s lions in a single night.”
Ryker had 0 capability to read the mood and 0 fear.
‘Why are you even alive, sigh.’
At least if he had just heroically gone and died just now, I would have set up a nice big gravestone for him.
The only response to his chatter was my enraged back kick.
“Carefully unload the goods in the ships and move them to the storage rooms of the covert. In particular, be sure to send the women inside back to their parents or siblings.”
“As you command!” responded Janice with vigor.
‘Sigh. It was really like a storm.’
The night had been so very long.
Before I knew it, the moon was nodding off in the sky.
* * *
“There are no casualties among the mercenaries. Only, because they were fighting over the soldiers they captured, around twenty of them were injured.”
‘Geh…’ I groaned inwardly hearing the antics of the ever-problematic mercenaries.
The long night passed and it was now morning again.
After the excitement from battle settled down, fatigue fell upon the covert. Janice’s soldiers, who had moved the holy water and precious goods from the convoy ships to the storage rooms of the covert all night long, were all sleeping now, and now I was attending a morning meeting with Deval, Janice, Berketh, Atisann, and Ryker.
‘Urgh, my joints,’ I moaned to myself. One should be waking up late in the afternoon on a day like this, but Derval was so thorough that he woke me up, a report in his hands.
“Then, I will proceed to report the sum of the goods from Gadain Castle and the convoy.”
The mention of money made my ears open right up.
“Yes, my liege. First, there was 523,200 in gold coins in Gadain Castle.”
‘All that and only 520,000 Gold?’ It was less than I thought.
“And if my estimation of the sum of the goods in a secret warehouse and the top-grade holy water on the convoy ships is
accurate, then I believe it comes to around 4,500,000 Gold.”
“Woah… 4,500,000 Gold.”
Berketh and Atisann made sounds of surprise. Even for Skyknights, 4.5 million Gold was not a small sum.
‘What a shame. If I could have just captured more wyverns…’
Surprisingly, Lukence’s Skyknights that chased Ryker were all exterminated by the combined efforts of Janice and Ryker.
But thankfully, I was able to acquire three wyverns: the one my smart little guy (Shuriel) ripped up, the one the summoner was riding, and lastly, the wyvern that crashed while being Lukence’s punching bag.
‘Huhu. With Janice’s wyverns, that makes thirteen now.’
“How many wyvern armors and airplates were acquired?” Janice asked Derval, having become a subordinate knight of almost equal standing to him.
“We were able to acquire most of the wyvern armors and airplates. But there are only two wyvern armors that can be used in their entirety. All of the airplates can be used.”
‘Seems they were all unable to escape.’
Even Skyknights were no match against pure numbers without their wyverns.
‘Just how much does that all add up to?’
After a hard night of labor, my mouth was about to rip from smiling at the unimaginable profits.
“My liege, how do you wish to deal with the prisoners?” Janice asked, smoothly calling me her liege.
“People who actively cooperated with Lukence include the knights and soldiers, so they will all become slaves. However, I will take in those who wish to come under my banner after investigating their identities. They will form the formal territory troops along with the soldiers Count Yaix will deliver.”
“Geh! C-Count Yaix’s soldiers will be given to you?” Berketh exclaimed in surprise.
“Indeed. It should be around 20,000 native Nerman soldiers.”
Berketh’s jaw dropped and didn’t close again.
“Hoho. My liege, you are truly amazing.” Janice laughed widely as she praised me.
“This much is natural. If it’s someone who can become my liege, then naturally, he should do this much, right? Isn’t that right, my liege?”
‘Sigh, who knows what the pirates are doing, not kidnapping this guy already.’
Looking at the ever-so-cheeky Ryker, I vowed in my heart to catch him and quietly bury him somewhere one day in the near future.
“Then, the meeting seems to be mostly over, so rest—”
CLANG CLANG CLANG!
The moment I was about to say everyone should rest a bit and meet again in the afternoon, the covert’s emergency bell began to clamor with urgency.
The faces of the people inside the room stiffened in an instant.
And then, we heard the wails of the mercenaries outside.
“Uwaaaah! P-Pirates, pirates at the port!”