21st Century Archmage - Chapter 53
Chapter 53: An Unimaginable Trade
“H-How did that…”
“Wow! My liege, you’re so cool!”
After telling them about the conditions of the trade with the pirates, four different exclamations rang out in the office.
I couldn’t blame them for being surprised that the holy water, which we didn’t have much use for yet, had turned into over ten million Gold in one go.
“Won’t it be dangerous? If the empire hears by any chance that we traded with the pirates, it could get bothersome,” Janice said, making a cautious expression.
“Bothersome? As if they did anything for Nerman. If need be, we’ll just declare independence,” spat Ryker vitriolically, as if he’d accumulated a lot of resentment towards the Bajran Empire.
“It would be best to deal with it quietly. Not just Count Yaix, but the residents here will not look very positively on a trade with the pirates.”
“I also think that. It would be best for this to not be publicized,” I said.
“Then how do you wish to do it?”
“We’ll quietly move the potions on a covered carriage. Thanks to the pirates showing up, the soldiers stationed at the harbor all fled to Denfors, so it should be fine.”
You could imagine how much the chicken-hearted soldiers had suffered for them to flee at the mere sight of the pirates. I decided to toughen them up when they came into my hands.
“But sir, can those people be trusted?” asked Berketh, formerly Janice’s Skyknight.
“Of course not. That’s why you will all be on emergency duty with me tonight. Also, gather some soldiers who can be trusted. We will take care of this matter with them.”
“As you command!”
I wasn’t a fool; how in the world could I trust those credit defaulters without any collateral?
“My liege, there’s something that needs to be taken care of at once.” Once the conversation about the bartering with the pirates was over, Derval pushed over a pile of documents. “The 4,000 men under Viscount Lukence’s banner are currently tied up as criminals. Baroness Janice’s men are watching them for the time being, but we cannot imprison them for long. It is even more difficult to deal with those who are knight level. Unlike the enlisted men, the knights can use mana, and their loyalty to Viscount Lukence is also on another level.”
‘Sigh, there’s already so frickin’ much to do.’
I already expected it, but the barrage of work was nonstop. However, I had to keep sending down orders, because I was the highest authority here.
“Destroy the mana cores of the knights who actively cooperated with Viscount Lukence. Detain the men who committed evil crimes along with them. They will all be turned into slaves. Also, allow anyone from the men who were captured to return home if they want to, and organize the rest of the men into new troops according to imperial military organization along with the soldiers under Baroness Janice.”
“As you command!”
This was a formal position. The knights brought their right hands to their chests as they accepted my order.
“Knight Janice, what have you currently set as wages for your men?”
“Regular infantrymen are paid a standard of 1 Gold per month. Knights receive 50 Gold and Skyknights 1,000 Gold.”
“Viscount Lukence’s men probably received about that much as well, right?”
“I would think so, sir.”
‘Besides wages, if you add up the costs of feeding, housing, and miscellaneous goods, it’s maybe 2 Gold per person… So in a month, it should be a fixed expense of 500,000 Gold at the lowest.’
There were 20,000 native Nerman Plains men under Yaix, around 5,000 soldiers from Viscount Lukence and Baroness Janice combined, and the mercenaries numbered approximately 1,000.
It hadn’t even been one month since I was assigned here, but I had already come to possess an enormous number of soldiers.
‘It’s super imbalanced.’
I hadn’t investigated the numbers closely yet, but the population in the wide and expansive Nerman Plains didn’t exceed 500,000. 25,000 soldiers compared to a population of 500,000 was immense. It was a waste for the strongest and most fit people to be in the army.
‘I have to develop elite soldiers. And the rest of the soldiers should be returned to their villages and turned into reserve forces….’
My mind worked quickly.
I was an innocent kid from 21st century South Korea, but I used the historical knowledge I had enjoyed studying, like the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, etc., as a base and quickly organized my thoughts.
‘The problem isn’t the regular soldiers, but how many wyverns I can procure.’
No matter how dauntless monsters were, all of them would tuck their tails when confronted with the ones at the top of the food chain, wyverns. There wasn’t a better weapon to fight monsters with than a wyvern.
‘Like Derval said, the help of the magic towers and temples is urgently needed. And to overhaul all the outdated facilities and defense infrastructure… Sigh.’
My rapidly revolving brain paused for a moment there.
The land and population was far too big for me to do anything about it on my own. It was too big a fish for me to handle on my own when the most amount of leading I’d ever done was being the class president a few times in elementary and middle school so I could put it on my resume.
‘I need skilled people in administration, law, military, and even economy.’
When it came to military matters, the people in this room could take care of it to some extent, but the economy and administration parts were particularly problematic.
“You must all be tired, so let us all rest for a moment until the afternoon. I also need to rest.”
“Huhu. Of course. My whole body feels heavy~ I want to drink a glass and lay in some warm water.”
“Then, we shall retreat.”
As expected for a guy whose head was always occupied by food and play, there was a bright sparkle in Ryker’s eyes, as if he was thinking of alcohol.
Everyone left the office.
‘Managing a huge territory… Can I do it well…?’
I looked out the office window with a heavy heart. Outside, there were carefree mercenaries sitting on their butts around the covert with kids scrambling between them and playing cheerfully. The spring atmosphere was infecting the covert with good cheer.
But instead of a smile, what came out of me was a sigh.
If I were in Korea, I would be memorizing math formulas with the others while nibbling some food in the classroom. The Nerman Plains and the countless lives in it were entrusted to someone as young as me. The truly unbelievable reality weighed down my heart. I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that from now on, a single decision from me would change the lives of the people here.
The weight of the title of a lord wrapped around me.
The beginning seemed humble, but ahead of me was my very own paradise.
My paradise, coming soon…
* * *
‘It should be about time for them to come…’
When day turned to night, ten carriages covered in canvas were mobilized and loaded up with holy water in the hangar we were using as a warehouse.
100 tight-lipped soldiers who could keep a secret were brought over to assist with the transfer. In fact, the soldiers didn’t know that the goods they were loading was holy water. They were just moving on orders.
Then we arrived at the dock of the harbor, which was still deserted from people getting scared by the pirates. Under the protection of Janice and the other Skyknights as they circled in the sky, I waited for Chrisia.
‘There they come!’
Just then, I saw around ten wyverns appearing under the light of the bright moon. As if they really didn’t intend to attack, they were holding large bundles filled with goods in their claws.
‘Hooh, so there was a way to move goods like that, too,’ I exclaimed inwardly upon seeing wyverns coming with goods instead of the ship that I’d expected.
When the wyverns appeared, Bebeto, who was dozing after eating a whole cow for dinner, let out a low roar.
When Bebeto let out a manly, heavy roar, a wyvern from the opposing party responded with a high-pitched cry as if it had been waiting. It was seriously like a young couple calling to each other secretly in the school library.
‘Y’all be putting on a show.’
While everyone was tense because of the appearance of the pirate wyverns, these two were putting on their own show. They had no interest in something like the tension of humans.
Flap flap flaaap.
One wyvern landed next to me. It was the white wyvern with golden spots, which were clearly visible under the moonlight, and her master, Chrisia.
Once her wyvern landed, Chrisia lightly jumped to the ground. Because it wasn’t a battle situation, she had taken off her helmet and armor and was wearing form-fitting black leather clothing.
I whistled in my mind. ‘Her figure is incredible!’ I thought. Chrisia’s figure, which was previously obscured by her airplate, was an art in itself.
With a height of nearly 170 cm and long hair the color of the sea, which lended her a mysterious atmosphere, she had a figure where the places that should be sticking out were sticking out and the places that should be tucked were boldly tucked in, a truly voluptuous figure that lit a fire in my delicate(?) heart.
‘Seriously, a universal beauty.’
The beautifully suntanned, elastic skin of her face glowed under the light of the moon. The smile on her lips was very charming.
“Hoho. Did you wait long?”
Her voice was amazing, too. Not too light or too heavy, her voice rang out like a silver bell, bringing happiness to the ears of those who heard it.
‘It’s about time for me to get myself a girlfriend.’
My heart trembled at the sight of Chrisia, who was as charming as a rose blooming at night, making me look back at my sad youth.
A girlfriend, which every dog and cow out there seemed to have. It made no sense that the place next to me was still vacant.
“The night breeze was nice, so it was worth waiting.”
I wasn’t trying to be shallow, but unlike earlier, my manner of speech became slightly more respectful. I just wanted to say suave words that reflected my velvet(?) heart to this beautiful woman who was several years my senior.
“Right? The Sharikna that blows around this time is a breeze we sea people are thankful for. Sharikna sends the unpredictable whims of Kajopne from winter far away and always smiles gently… It is a short but sweet break for our sea people.”
In the library, I too had learned about basic continental knowledge. The sons and daughters of the twelve seasonal goddesses were Sharikna, the Breeze of Spring, Aeon, the Zephyr of Summer, Luchekeart, the Wind of Autumn, and Kazofune, the Draught of Winter. It was particularly necessary to come in contact with these four in Nerman, where the four seasons were distinct.
‘The mood is nice.’
During the day, my heart had been closed off because of the battle from last night and the bad rumors about the pirates, but night was different from day.
Chrisia was standing there with her hair fluttering in the gentle wind. By the looks of it, she showed a far more intellectual appearance than the knife-and-oar-toting pirates I imagined. “It is like the hearts of people. Spring reflects people’s hope towards the future, the hot summer wind represents those who have wild passions, the abundance and ease of autumn… and even the cold, hungry, and contentious winds of winter… In any case, I believe that humans and nature are all one and the same.”
I must have heard those words somewhere before, because they rattled smoothly out of my mouth. Chrisia nodded, showing that she agreed with my words.
“That aside, how do you plan on taking the goods? I feel that things that should be taken care of secretly should be handled quickly and precisely.”
“Please don’t worry about the holy water. As long as you decouple the horses, we can tie them with leather ropes and take them with the wyverns,” responded Chrisia simply. This was clearly not her first rodeo.
‘I’ll be generous today and ignore the price of the carriages.’
If the mood was the same as in the day, I would have demanded money for the carriages, but I didn’t want to look that stingy in front of a beauty.
That being said, business was business. “What will you use as collateral for the wyvern eggs?” I asked.
“There is something I wanted to say regarding that…” At my query, a smile blossomed slightly on Chrisia’s face.
I enjoyed the eye candy from the beauty in front of me as I waited for her next words.
“Can’t I stay here as collateral?”
With her captivating smile and peculiar gaze, Chrisia was sending me some weird signals. My heart seized as if struck by lightning.
‘Noona, do you have your eyes set on me?’
I felt a flush of satisfaction that one could only feel when they were picked out by a beauty. If it were up to my heart alone, I would welcome Chrisia a hundred times over.
“Haha. You are very good at making jokes. However, I trust items more than people.”
But I couldn’t mix business with pleasure just because she was a beautiful woman. Goods had monetary value, but a pretty lady like this would just be a burden.
Also, my paradise was not yet complete. I didn’t want to carelessly invite any women.
“Aww, what a disappointment. I thought you would agree no matter what for a hostage like me.”
Her face full of mischief, Chrisia put a pout in her voice.
This kind of cuteness would probably make most men lose their wits entirely.
* * *
‘He’s quite something.’
Chrisia had grown up hearing that she was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. Her curiosity grew regarding the man in front of her eyes who refused her half-joking proposal immediately, as if he didn’t even consider it.
According to the information she got from the informants, Kyre was known as a broad-minded and fiery person. Most men like that were weak towards affection and beauties, but it seemed the man named Kyre wasn’t that type of person.
“I will accept next time. Right now, no matter how I look at it, it wouldn’t be right.”
On top of that, he was polite and respectful, unlike in the day. The sly aristocrat-like appearance disappeared, replaced by a proper appearance that knew chivalry.
“No, I was discourteous for a moment. If it is alright with you, I would like to entrust you with a set of wyvern protection gear and airplate as collateral, like we discussed before. What do you think?”
Chrisia also adopted a respectful manner and spoke with ladylike modesty.
Somehow, it just felt like she should speak like that right now. This man named Kyre was someone who deserved that much from her.
* * *
‘That’s an arigato gozaimasu from me, sis!’
The best contract conditions, obtained! I did snatch Viscount Lukence’s stuff, but it didn’t prick my conscience at all. The person who took treasure gathered by thieves was the owner.
“I won’t confirm the goods, as it seems we will see each other often in the future.”
“I am thankful to hear that. If you can continue to do that, our kingdom will take full responsibility for matters involving the sea.”
‘Catch the pheasant and eat its eggs, have your cake and eat it too, huhu.’
My heart felt satisfied at Chrisia’s words. For the time being, I was to reform Nerman with military power. The pirates excelled in that regard, so it was great that Chrisia was giving me a pretty great deal all on her own.
Chrisia sent a mana-charged whistle into the air.
Flap flap flap flap.
As the whistle rang out, the wyverns circling in the air with the goods landed, setting down the large leather sacks.
Her Skyknights unloaded all the goods and busily moved to decouple the horses from the carriages. Then they securely tied up the carriages with long, sturdy ropes that they had prepared in advance.
“It is a rope made from the sinews of one of the monsters living in the sea, called a pavence. It cannot be cut by most magic or aura blades.”
Noticing my curious stare, Chrisia offered a friendly explanation. Even as I listened, my brain was working quickly.
‘Things’ll get crazy busy from tomorrow on.’
Here on Nerman, where Viscount Lukence was nowhere to be found, there was a Mt. Everest of stuff to do.
“The preparations are all complete. Princess, I mean, Commander.”
After tying the carriages up perfectly in cross-formations so that they wouldn’t break, a Skyknight approached Chrisia and said something strange.
“Then go ahead and depart. I will follow behind you.” Chrisia gave clear orders as if there was nothing out of the ordinary.
‘Princess? Hooh, so that’s how it is.’
Now I understood why. No matter how outstanding her skills were, it was ridiculous for her to be the boss of the pirates with dozens of wyverns at her beck and call at that age.
“Kyre-nim, it seems it is time to go.”
“It is a shame, but I look forward to next time.”
“Hoho. Next time, let us at least enjoy a meal together.”
“I will formally invite you to do so.”
This was a big customer who was leaving after gushing out an unexpectedly huge fortune. Offering her a meal was manners 101 from the courteous country of the East.
Dipping her head slightly, Chrisia was about to make her regretful departure when she was completely startled by the sight of her wyvern.
“What’s the mat—Ah!”
I followed Chrisia’s gaze and turned, causing a cry of surprise to come out of my mouth as well.
‘Bebeto! You sex maniac!’
I don’t know how he managed it in such a short time, but Bebeto (who didn’t resemble his master at all) was embracing Chrisia’s white female wyvern with one wing. Unbeknownst to Chrisia and me, the two wyverns had gone into a lovey-dovey mode.
My face suddenly flushed, even though it wasn’t anything I caused.
“COUGH COUGH! Bebeto!”
Coughing, I called Bebeto with a loud voice.
Only then did the two wyverns notice our gazes and hastily peel apart.
Chrisia, whose face had definitely reddened like mine, rapidly jumped onto her wyvern.
Flap flap flap flap! Fla-fla-fla-flap!
Chrisia ascended into the air, following the Skyknights whose wyverns were carrying ropes in their claws.
Bebeto let out a heartrending cry showing his regret, which Chrisia’s female wyvern responded to from the air.
The tragic parting of the beasts just made me sigh.