21st Century Archmage - Chapter 52
Chapter 52: Meeting the Pirates
It was the appearance of an enemy I never expected.
I didn’t say anything, but riding a wyvern and fighting a bunch of enemies was exhausting work. Getting hit by a single Blessed Spear would render your wyvern unable to fly and even threaten your life. Moreover, the battle yesterday night was a battle fought with the futures of thousands of Nerman’s residents on the line, so it was even more stressful.
“Why did they come?” I grumbled to my flustered knights.
“It seems Viscount Lukence ran away to the pirates,” said Janice, putting her finger right on the mark.
‘This is why, when you stomp down weeds, you should stomp ‘em down completely.’
Yesterday night was so busy that it couldn’t be helped, but I resolved to properly pull out the roots of people who had become my enemy next time.
Clang clang clang clang!
Even as I grumbled, the covert’s bell was ringing urgently. At the same time, the massive horn used by Yaix’s soldiers defending Denfors and the harbor blared throughout the entire city.
‘Fine, let’s go take a look. See how capable they really are.’
Even though they were only pirates, they were impressive people who apparently ruled the sea. I was curious about their mugs.
“What are you all doing? Everyone, depart.”
Besides, I now had four other Skyknights under my command.
“As you command!”
“Huhu. I’m already fully prepared!”
Unlike Janice taking my order with a crisp shout, Ryker’s response was definitely lacking any sense of military discipline.
‘Now I feel a bit more like a noble.’
It was no Left Blue Dragon, Right White Tiger, but still, the feeling of having Skyknights on both sides wasn’t all that bad.
[TN: Refers to auspicious formations in Korean geomancy.]
* * *
‘They’re wetting themselves in fear.’
The harbor where the pirates appeared and the covert were only a hop and skip away; you could even say their noses were touching. However, for people running on foot, it was still a pretty significant distance. Despite that, hundreds of imperial soldiers under Count Yaix were forgetting their duty to protect the harbor and were scrambling willy-nilly towards Denfors.
Bebeto had already spotted the flock of pirate wyverns. Flying at the front, he announced his existence with all his might.
‘That’s right, Bebeto. A man should have some balls!’
No matter how terrifying the enemy was, if you could break free from the fear in your heart, you could still put up a fight. Bebeto and I were like-minded on that point.
Wyverns were large, so I could clearly count twelve of them. They were putting up a show of force as they circled above the harbor.
‘I don’t see Lukence.’
I didn’t see Lukence’s wyvern among the pirate wyverns.
‘Ara? What’s with that guy?’
There were around 4 km between us. The moment I was about to pull out Blessed Spears and go into battle mode, one of the pirate wyverns turned towards us, all while waving a white flag.
I smoothly raised one hand to tell the others to hold their fire. It seemed the pirates had something to say.
‘If they say something like surrender, I’m gonna kick him in the face.’
I became Nerman’s formal ruler with my blood, sweat, and tears. My chest was full and brimming with confidence.
‘He wants us to land?’
The Skyknight waving the white flag as they flew over to me began to slowly land on the street.
“Bebeto, land in front of them.”
We were indeed in the middle of war, but even I knew that one shouldn’t threaten an envoy. I directed Bebeto to land around 10 meters in front of the pirate wyvern that landed first.
Thump. Bebeto, who easily weighed 10 tons, landed heavily on the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust. Once we landed, Janice and the other Skyknights took up a defense formation above us in order to protect me.
‘Take a look at this fellow.’
He jumped down from his wyvern as if he wasn’t afraid.
Thud! I also lightly sprung from Bebeto’s body to the ground.
Then we walked towards each other, leaving just 5 meters between us.
With a click, he took off his helmet.
The wind happened to blow in just then.
And in that moment, long blue hair fluttered in the wind.
I thought it was a man, but a long-haired woman was standing proudly in front of me. From closer up, I could see that the lines of her armor were revealing a very slender body.
Like a scene I had often seen in TV shampoo commercials, the woman’s hair waved as she dipped her head slightly and then looked up.
It was intense.
Her face that was slightly larger than a palm had a proud nose and mono-lidded eyes of a regular size, along with slightly slanted brows and small red lips. With her slightly tanned skin, she looked like a sun-tanned pearl.
“Are you Kyre?”
‘She knows my name?’
The woman guessed my name correctly as soon as she saw me.
“That is so. And you are?”
The beautiful woman should be universally protected, but even so, I wasn’t so depraved that I would drool over an enemy.
[TN: Are you sure, Kyre? ‘Cause you were drooling just now.]
I removed my helmet with a click and stood before her face to face.
“Hoho, black hair and black eyes… You are indeed Baronet Kyre.”
This pirate lady who suddenly barged into the harbor and staged an armed show of force was now greeting me rather warmly, as if meeting an old friend.
‘She just reached her early twenties but she’s their leader?’
I was curious about the identity of the woman, who looked by all accounts to be around twenty two years old.
“My name is Chrisia. I am a Skyknight of the Kesmire Kingdom Royal Guard and the Commander of the 2nd Fleet.”
‘Woah… since when did the Kesmire pirates become a kingdom? And she’s a commander at that age?’
Chrisia uttered surprising things in a two-hit combo.
‘Is that one also a hybrid wyvern?’
Only now did I notice Chrisia’s wyvern. I’d never seen one like it—Dalmatian-like golden spots were speckled all over its white body.
Just like me and Chrisia, the two wyverns were growling at each other.
‘Bebeto’s putting a ton of strength in his neck?’
Surprisingly, even though Bebeto looked down on most wyverns, he was letting out a tense growl.
“It seems our wyverns are greeting each other as tenderly as we are.”
Chrisia rendered me speechless. Who the fuck would view two growling wyverns as tender?
But I had to admit, Chrisia’s words could have some truth to them. Her wyvern was a female without a comb.
“For what purpose have you come? What was your true motive in making a peaceful city tremble in fear?”
For her age, Chrisia was seriously a smooth-talker. I asked why she was here with cold eyes.
“I’ll be sad if you speak like that even though you are well aware.”
‘Ara, isn’t that a wink?’
I had expected rough, ignorant pirates of the sea, like vikings, but the group of pirates were coming at me with a honey trap out of left field. I was curious about the true intentions of these people, who organized their pirate forces in military terms while calling their group the Kesmire Kingdom.
Chrisia’s appearance as she slightly winked, saying I should be well aware, caught me completely off guard—I had been imagining an intense battle this whole time.
‘It’s because of the holy water.’
I didn’t know how many wyverns they had besides the wyverns flocking in the air threateningly. Moreover, there could be those notorious pirate land forces as well.
What these pirates were aiming for was the holy water I’d taken from Lukence.
“Of course, I am well aware. But why should I hand that over?”
“Since you say you know, there is no need for a long speech. Pick one out of two choices. Get it taken away from you after a fight, or continue the unfulfilled contract between us and Lukence.”
There was a smile at her lips, but her whole body exuded a cold energy.
Threat and conciliation.
“Huhu… Are you threatening me right now?”
I wasn’t one to roll over at a threat. I didn’t have much, but I did have a damn strong sense of recklessness.
“Oh my, what threat? How could we possibly threaten the hero who wiped out Viscount Lukence’s Skyknights all on his lonesome? It is merely our small hope that we can avoid getting down and dirty over something that can be settled on good terms.”
‘She’s smarter than a fox.’
If a person who had the strength to exterminate their enemies also knew how to use their head, they were a pretty tricky enemy. In that regard, the woman in front of me was no easy opponent.
“I understand the holy water. But I am enraged by the sickening sight of people who were going to take the innocent daughters and sisters of Nerman residents as slaves. It makes no sense for me to hand over holy water to people who will be my enemies in the future, is that not so?”
‘What was the contract? I’m curious.’
Even as I boldly continued to speak, I was curious about the details of the trade between Lukence and the pirates.
“Was there such a thing? I had absolutely no idea. I can swear on it, on my name. We never had such a contract with Lukence. The only thing we want is holy water, no more and no less,” Chrisia said, making a shocked expression at my words.
‘Should I believe that, or not?’
You might think a pretty face wouldn’t lie, but Gumiho the nine-tailed human-eating fox also turned into a beauty of peerless proportions when she transformed into a woman. I was too leery of her identity as a pirate to believe her.
“Viscount Lukence is with you, so go bring him and confirm that, if you please. Then I will believe you.”
“Viscount Lukence? Unfortunately, he did not come to us. It is the Kesmire Kingdom’s convention to never trust or protect anyone who reneges on a promise, no matter why it happened.”
‘Ara, then where the fuck did he go?’
I was bewildered for a moment by Chrisia’s firmly-spoken words.
“But you think you can defeat me with those wyverns alone?”
“Hoho. Of course not. That is why we brought three wyvern convoys here, with a total of 24 wyverns and remarkably skilled Skyknights on standby. Not to mention 3,000 land troops.”
‘Aircraft carriers and amphibious troops…’
My head was quickly calculating, but the only answer that came out was that the situation was unfavorable. Even if I could somehow hold out, Baroness Janice and her Skyknights wouldn’t be able to survive.
“That is some impressive military force. But unfortunately, I am not at all afraid,” I said, ostentatiously holding up my head.
“Of course. You are, after all, the person who knocked down Viscount Lukence’s ten years of efforts in a short period of time. That is why I am here. If you give the holy water to us, in accordance with the contract we arranged with Viscount Lukence, we will never attack the ships belonging to the Nerman Plains in the future, and when reinforcements are desired, we will dispatch a formation of five wyverns for your defense, as well as twenty Grade 4 magic crystals, five Grade 3 crystals, and one Grade 2 crystal from the Haldrian Empire, as well as one ton of fragrances and spices, ten top-grade hides from sea demon beasts, and a hundred kilograms of mithril ore. However, if you refuse this exceptional offer…. I will leave the rest to your imagination.”
‘The information is leaking.’
Even though Lukence didn’t go to them, Chrisia had a perfect grasp of Nerman information.
‘But man, this is surprising… To think such a huge trade can be completed with holy water.’
I was secretly astonished by the unimaginable list of goods Chrisia rattled out.
I could understand why Lukence had left me and put his life on the line to protect his convoy. A high efficiency magic crystal of at least Grade 3 that could be used in castle wall fortification magic circles could easily fetch 1 million Gold. Moreover, for a Grade 2 crystal, it would be several millions of Gold. Add to that the fragrances and spices, demon beast leathers, and mithril ores that were treated as valuable on this side of the continent. I didn’t know the exact price, but it was an enormous trade far exceeding 10 million Gold in value.
‘They need holy water that urgently.’
The pirates were in more of a hurry than I thought.
“The conditions are certainly alluring. I will part with the holy water only if you agree to an additional condition of mine.”
“A condition? Hoho, please speak. As long as it is something I can fulfill, I will agree.”
For a mere Skyknight, Chrisia had a ton of authority. I was suspicious of her true identity.
‘If they need that much holy water, then… wyverns!’
Even as we conversed, I was trying to figure out why they needed holy water so urgently. And then, it occurred to me—wyverns! Wyverns would only listen to a human’s words if their wild nature was eliminated by top-grade holy water from the time they were in the shell. Along with needing potions to fight sea demon beasts, the pirates likely wanted to use them for wyvern breeding.
“Give me five wyvern eggs. If you do so, I will cleanly sign off on this trade.”
My demand for wyvern eggs had Chrisia slightly biting her lips as she agonized. Even then, she was staring right into my eyes.
* * *
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* * *
‘Did he realize…?’
Chrisia stared at the man in front of her as she fell into deep thought.
Kesmire, the Pirate Kingdom.
Because of the inherent limitation of having started out as pirates, Kesmire was thoroughly banned from any exchanges with all the kingdoms and empires next to the ocean. However, the Kesmire Islands built up their strength little by little despite that and now called themselves a kingdom.
Their wyverns suddenly made a bunch of eggs, requiring a large amount of top-grade potions. Because it was none other than wyverns, the measure of a nation’s military force, Kesmire was in a hurry to acquire top-grade potions, which they had always acquired through black market means.
However, all temples were the same in that top-grade potions were blessings of God that could only be produced by priests or priestesses with an outstanding connection with God. They weren’t easy to acquire, no matter how much money was involved.
On top of that, the Kesmire Islands were sworn enemies with every empire and kingdom. It was too difficult for them to trade top-grade potions on a large scale.
That’s why they backed Lukence, the long-time ruler of the Nerman Plains. It drew no suspicions for this place, which was surrounded by monsters, the Temir coalition, and enemy empires, to acquire potions on a large scale. Viscount Lukence, who was smart and quick to catch on, joined hands with Kesmire and acquired top-grade potions for them. Like that, all their problems were solved, and the Kesmire Pirate Kingdom was looking forward to gaining just around 30 new wyverns.
But then, someone suddenly appeared and crashed all their plans, causing them to urgently come here.
‘So you’re telling me this person, who is still young, knocked down Viscount Lukence.’
He was right in front of her, but Chrisia couldn’t believe it. But the reports of the informants monitoring Viscount Lukence and Nerman were always precise.
And their reports stated that this person wearing a crafty smile that didn’t suit his age was a Skyknight who couldn’t be treated carelessly. Moreover, he was an incredible talent who could use magic and a spirit at the same time.
‘What a pain.’
If he was only as powerful as Viscount Lukence, she could have taken the potions by force, but his abilities could not be measured. For now, it was regrettable, but they had to bow first.
“I will accept your condition.”
“Haha. Your decisiveness pleases me indeed.”
Kyre’s way of speech didn’t suit his age. But nobles were originally that kind of existence, so Chrisia’s business-like smile did not falter.
“Hoho. It seems that your personality is fiery as well, Kyre-nim.”
“Then call back those roaming wyverns over there, if you will. And tonight, when the moon has risen to the center of the sky, we will conduct the trade. Only, until we receive the wyvern eggs, entrust us with goods of corresponding value.”
“B-By goods, you mean…” stammered Chrisia at Kyre’s condition, which showed his careful way of conducting business.
“Huhu, you must know what I mean. Prepare them at your own discretion, if you will. Whether it is wyvern armor you do not currently require or things like airplates, ahem ahem.”
‘… This wolf bastard!’
Chrisia rained curses in her heart on this unique handsome man, who had black hair and eyes that one could believe were from a demon.
“Of course. I understand. I will prepare goods of equivalent value ahead of time.”
“Haha. Then, let us meet again in the evening.”
As he spoke, Kyre dipped his head slightly before leaping onto his wyvern.
Chrisia stood there in a daze for a moment. She was known as a talented woman in her own right in Kesmire, but she was now staring at the guy holding his wyvern’s reins like an orc that chased a chicken up a roof.
However, no matter how much she racked her brains, right now, there was nothing she could do against him. She sighed deeply as she turned towards her wyvern.
She saw it then—her beloved hybrid wyvern, Lakania, standing there with a blank look in her white eyes. Chrisia could tell that her wyvern was staring blankly at the black, golden-striped wyvern that was leaping into the air with its sturdy muscles. Her wyvern, Lakania, had always been haughty and never once gave males the time of day… until now.
It seemed that her heart had been stolen by that mountain of a black hybrid wyvern.
Following Lakania’s gaze, Chrisia watched the man named Kyre, who had already soared into the air.
Kemire’s way was to value strength over all else.
And Kyre was someone who had been acknowledged as a strong person.
At this moment, his appearance was engraved deep into Chrisia’s heart.
* * *
‘Huhu. I’ve struck gold!’
By the protection of Christ, Allah, and Buddha, a huge fortune suddenly came rolling my way. The holy water, which I currently didn’t really need, was turned into a goose laying golden eggs.
‘Please head back, Mr. Pirates.’
Riding Bebeto, I waited for the pirates to retreat; the moment Chrisia flew back to the pirate wyverns, the pirates disappeared far into the sea.
“To the covert!”
Janice and the others were circling around me, unaware of the conversation that had occurred below. At my order, they turned towards the covert.
‘I should be friendly to her in the future.’
I became Nerman’s master on an impulse.
What I needed right now wasn’t an empty title or honor, but the power of money.
If you gave me money, you were my friend, and anyone who wanted to sponge off me was a son of a bitch.
The encounter with the pirates was resolved rather easily. The thought that I could empty their pockets as long as I did something about the holy water from now on gave me a flush of satisfaction.
And as I smiled to myself, a refreshing breeze came from the sea.
Today was a truly lucky day.