21st Century Archmage - Chapter 54
Chapter 54: Her Name is Rosiathe
“With how quickly matters escalated, there are more than a few things that we need. The secure route to the Havis Kingdom in the south that Viscount Lukence was defending is facing danger. The road has a length of just under 100 km; it was safe up until now because of Viscount Lukence’s wyverns periodically flying over it, as well as the presence of forts in five locations and patrols of mounted soldiers, but things will change from now on. Monsters are creatures of instinct, so they will sense the vulnerability and come charging in.”
After completing the jackpot trade with the pirates, I returned to the covert. I spent the whole night thinking about this and that, and then morning arrived. While I was dipping a piece of bread into a warm seafood stew made by Lucia’s mom, Derval barged in and started earnestly reporting various things.
“First of all, we have to make use of Baroness Janice. At the same time, we should convene the mounted soldiers scattered around and fill up the emptied forts. This must be sanctioned soon, sir. If the safety of the merchants is not secured, then the army expenses will rise; the price of goods, including food, will all skyrocket.”
‘Derval, work is good and all, but even a dog should be left to eat in peace…’
I had to listen intently to Derval’s report despite having a mouthful of honey-lathered bread.
“My liege, I believe we need to recruit more administrative personnel. By that, I mean properly trained talents from an administration academy. I briefly examined the state of every city, including Denfors, but there are many places in need of repair. Money is no issue, but we are lacking specialized carpenters and civil engineers. But even if we use the Construction Guild, we will only be able to recruit skilled workers if we offer twice the hazard pay. Does that sound alright to you, my liege?”
“Hm? Y-yeah, take care of it as you see fit, Sir Derval.”
“Understood. Then I will send out a request to the guild. Next is…”
Derval’s report went on and on. He must have been up all night, because he was flinging out systematic and concrete plans one after the other.
“Hold on, Sir Derval!”
I called a stop.
“Sir Derval, have you eaten?”
“Have you had any sleep??”
“That too… not yet.”
‘He’s crazy, seriously.’
Derval stood there with his face flushed.
“Did the capture of Nerman make you so happy to the point of being unable to eat or sleep?”
“My liege… to be honest, my heart feels like it is about to burst.” After hearing my question, Derval put down his report. Then he began to share his feelings with a passionate voice. “From a young age, my dream was to manage a territory like this. I would not be so impudent as to want to be the lord, but I have always wanted to make a territory the best in the empire as a territory’s administrator. But… reality is cruel. I graduated top of the class in the Empire Administrative Knight Academy, but they said my status was too lowly, or they would see the reformist thesis I published in the Academy and say my ideas were too radical, or that I had no connections… and due to those “problems”, I was not accepted by any territory. Lords determine an administrator’s ability not by their intelligence, but by how much they can beat and squeeze the serfs and territory residents dry. And so I entered the covert and became like this… If I hadn’t met you, my liege, I would have lived as a beggar and died pathetically before I could even attempt to realize my dream.”
Derval’s eyes reddened. “To me, you and this place are like a blessing. I won’t die from missing a single night of sleep or a meal! I just want to show you my ideas, the ideas I thought of with all of my brain and soul. If it’s you, my liege, who will make full use of my ability, I can give you my everything! Even this humble life of mine!”
Everyone had their story. I thought I knew Derval well, but even I didn’t know the story buried deep inside Derval’s heart.
“There are truly a lot of things to do. First of all, what you need to do, my liege, is to formally become the lord and receive a promotion in your title. That way, you can appoint knights—”
“Stop!” I interrupted Derval with a shout. “Sir Derval, receive my order!”
“Your word is my command!”
“I hereby command that you are to take a forced break from this moment on for one day. If you do not eat three meals per day and sleep at night during this time, then you will be… exiled.”
At my vehement warning, Derval’s face went pale.
“I want an ally who can walk with me for a lifetime, not an idiot who just works like a fool before dying an early death.”
“My liege… Sob.”
As if overtaken with emotion, big tears dripped from Derval’s eyes.
‘I’d better do my best, even if it’s just for Derval. Damn.’
He called territory management his lifelong dream. I was one to even honor a dead person’s dream, so there was no reason to not honor a living person’s dream.
“Give me some more soup and bread here, if you will.”
“Yes, my lord,” responded Lucia’s mom cheerfully from the kitchen, which was connected to the dining hall.
* * *
‘Those mountains can’t be blocked. Since that’s the case, I need to construct a fort with a long flow of traffic in mind. And protect the villages with the fort behind them…’
Riding on an updraft, Bebeto stretched his long wings and entrusted his heavy body to the wind.
I looked down on Nerman’s great plains from his back. There were almost no mountains taller than five hundred meters in altitude to be found, and along the plains, a few mountains around two to three hundred meters that were more like hills stood out. The sight of small streams and expansive flatlands lush with greenery met my eyes.
‘It’s approximately a 5 hour flight when moving at an average speed from Denfors. If we say that’s around 40 km per hour, the distance is around 200 km. If we are to defend this large of an area, we’ll need a good plan.’
After ordering Derval to a forced rest, I quickly sent Baroness Janice and her Skyknights on a flight to patrol the southern region. At the same time, I temporarily transferred 20 knights who could use Aura Blade and 500 soldiers capable of riding horses into a cavalry troop.
‘The organization of infantry with the men who want to join me should be done about now.’
Ryker was actually pretty useful. He volunteered to organize the soldiers, if he was familiar with empire military organization. The only thing was that I agreed to give him one month’s wages in advance if he could organize them perfectly.
‘Land, money, population… besides the people, it’s got it all.’ I wouldn’t know exactly how many people were living in Nerman unless there was a population census, but it was definitely far too low. ‘I have to bring in people. Craftsmen, artisans, farmers, you name it. I have to draw those kinds of people in.’
Even with the knowledge I had learned up until now in high school in Korea, I could think more broad-mindedly than the people here. On top of that, I had an enormous wealth of Master’s forcibly transferred knowledge. All I had to do was bring that knowledge to life.
‘10,000 elite troops! That’ll decide victory or defeat for now.’
This ruined land was now something I had to take care of. I engraved the sight of the expansive land stretching out underneath us in my heart as I organized my thoughts one by one. Just like how a blueprint was necessary to build a house, I sketched out a plan on how to implement my ideas along with keeping the safety of the residents in mind.
‘Shall we try going south once?’
To get to Denfors from the empire, I flew through the west of the Nerman plains to the east. And recently, I’d flown towards the north to help Count Yaix as well, but I hadn’t yet had the chance to fly through Nerman’s wide-open southern region.
Gripping Bebeto’s reins, I turned towards the south.
Towards the border of Havis Kingdom, which was directly connected to Nerman.
* * *
“Huhu. It’s roasting well.”
Even at an amusement park, eating came first. After turning to the south, we discovered a sounder of boars struggling along a low ridge. I—as someone who’s had a lot of bad memories with boars—maneuvered Bebeto into catching us a big, meaty, female boar.
After catching it, I cut open the belly, removed the organs, and skewered it from butt to snout with a Blessed Spear and turned it into BBQ. Now the fat was dripping down and crackling in the fire.
“Since it’s even stabilized by magic, there’s no skewer better than this.”
If any mage or Skyknight were to see this, they would froth at the mouth. I dared to use a Blessed Spear costing a huge amount per pop as a skewer. Most sensible people would call me a crazy bastard.
“Good thing I brought salt and spices.”
I went around with coarse salt and various spices packed in a watertight leather pouch on one side of Bebeto’s saddle in preparation for a moment like this. Sprinkling those ingredients liberally on the boar, I enjoyed the sight of the meat steadily reaching perfection.
“Salamander, a bit weaker please~! That’s it! That’s perfect.”
The low fire spirit Salamander was laying atop a fire made of dry sticks, acting as charcoal. Fueled by my praise, it was demonstrating its power as a spirit for an hour already.
‘Aww, such cute little guys.’
These creatures called spirits were seriously useful. They were absolutely loyal to my commands as the summoner. They felt as necessary for daily life as televisions and rice cookers.
“Huhu. It’s all done.”
The whole pig roast was perfectly golden brown without any charring. It was a shame I didn’t have any alcohol, but this much out on the field was already a delectable feast.
Bebeto, who had been dozing after stuffing himself silly with orc meat, shoved his head towards me at the yummy smell.
“Bebeto, go exercise a bit. After living it up these days, your belly is sticking out. My advice? If you get that fat, females will ignore you, and the female you love will get stolen away by a young and fresh male in the end. So don’t play around and busy yourself in the sky and catch a blind ogre or two. If you listen to me well, I’ll save a piece for you.”
Understanding my words, Bebeto flapped his wings as he acted frivolous. The tenacious and overwhelmingly wild nature he had exuded when we first met was absolutely nowhere to be found.
‘His head is full of girls. Tsk tsk.’
Flap flap flap flap flap!
Bebeto thoughtlessly spread his wings and went aloft, which made me cast Shield to thoroughly block any kicked-up dirt from hitting the food.
“Alright then, shall we try a bite~?”
Once the dust settled, I rubbed my hands together before eagerly grabbing a big boar leg.
The sight of the well-roasted pig made me drool. Covering my hands with mana to block the heat, I tore off one leg.
I did yearn for some beer and well-fermented winter kimchi, but I was someone who could enjoy the present.
Even though I was the one who roasted it, the flavor was so sensational that it could send a whole crowd of people to heaven. Thanks to using dry wood that was similar to oak as firewood, the entire piece of meat was imbued with an oaky fragrance. On top of that, it was still steaming hot due to being freshly roasted, with a chewy texture and a perfect amount of fat. Perhaps because it was a female boar, the meat also lacked any of the gameyness particular to males.
‘There’s no better humble pleasure than this. Taking a bite of meat and looking at the sky… Eh?’
While enjoying the meat, I looked up into the sky. My chewing movement stopped right then and there.
Surprisingly, there was a lone grey wyvern flying from the south. The wyvern wearing enspelled armor that sparkled in the sun was flying directly towards me.
‘What the heck?’
I was about to enjoy the taste of the meat and chow down. Also, Bebeto had somehow flown far away and I couldn’t see him, so if the wyvern attacked me, it would interfere with my joyful mealtime. I felt a surge of irritation and glared at the wyvern that was flying over at high speed.
‘A Havis Kingdom wyvern?’
The Havis Kingdom’s borders, which were at the ends of the Rual Mountains… A flag with a black rose and a crescent moon, the emblem of the Havis Kingdom, was hanging from the wyvern’s chest.
Flap flap flap.
The wyvern stopped around 30 meters in the air in front of me, its beating wings sending a cool gust my way.
I was more worried about the meat than getting attacked. When you’re hungry, everything you eat is delicious. I didn’t want to go through the trouble of roasting another pig.
After I cast a shielding spell, the wyvern descended to 10 meters above ground, and then the Skyknight jumped to the ground with clean movements. For a Skyknight using mana, 10 meters or so was no big deal.
Because I was close to the Havis Kingdom’s borders, this could be a patrolling wyvern. However, I could tell from the shape of the airplate that the Skyknight was female. Still holding the meat in my hand, I stared silently at the approaching female Skyknight.
“I apologize for interrupting your meal.”
I didn’t know what motivated them to fearlessly land, but the woman removed her helmet as she apologized.
My lips were in the middle of asking why she bothered me then, but upon seeing her face, those words were lost.
‘W-Who do I have the honor of meeting this time!’
I hadn’t lived very long, but I had seriously met a lot of beautiful ladies. Including Yerin, there was Aramis, who radiated holiness; Countess Irene, the fairy with silver hair; cute Hyneth, Russell the androgenous beauty; Igis, the Dignified princess; and finally the exotic Chrisia.
But the woman who appeared now introduced a new level of beauty in my mind.
The first thing I saw was wavy, flowing golden hair.
It wasn’t a frizzy, dry, and lackluster faded yellow, but an intense and glossy, freshly minted 24k gold color that seemed imbued with the radiance of the sun.
Her hair alone was more than enough, but underneath was clear, white skin. Her silky smooth skin looked as soft as a baby’s skin, so soft that it gave me the impression that touching it would leave powder on your fingers, and the mere sight of it aroused an urge to try touching it.
However, the problem wasn’t just her skin and hair.
Her face of radiant jade had long eyelashes and large, blue diamond-like eyes as clear as the sky, a sharp but not arrogant cute nose, and small and dainty red lips.
‘She’s the bomb!’
Nothing else needed to be said.
She was just lacking wings, but with this appearance, she had to be one of the Joyful Fairies of the Jade Emperor I had imagined while reading fairy tales countless times as a kid.
[TN: The Jade Emperor is one of the representations of the first god in Chinese folk mythology. ]
“I am truly sorry to hear that I was a bother.”
As if hurt by my cold rebuff, her face reddened as she slightly bowed her head. I could feel a dignified air from her every movement.
“Haha. Please pay no heed, it is not something I directed at you, my lady. Sometimes I say nonsense while eating.”
If a pretty woman had manners, it was like a diamond on a golden ring. I laughed heartily as I stood up.
“I saw a black wyvern and chased it here, but there’s no wyvern here and only you, sir Knight, so I have committed an offense. I am Havis Kingdom’s Rosiathe.”
‘Rosiathe? Didn’t I hear that name somewhere?’
Even her name was pretty.
“I am Nerman’s Kyre.”
Since the other person didn’t give out her full name, I didn’t either.
“It is nice to meet you. It is my first time meeting a foreign Skyknight while on a flight.”
Perfectly snow-white teeth showed as she smiled. She truly had an amazing beauty with no faults.
‘She’s got a shy but bright personality.’
Even as she spoke, I could feel excitement and happiness from Rosiathe. It seemed she had just become a Skyknight. I didn’t want to mar her happiness.
“It is an honor to meet you, Rosiathe-nim, who has been blessed by the Goddess of Beauty, Varshua.”
Since she considered me a knight, I acted like a knight.
“I do not know what to say to such undeserved praise.”
Rosiathe showed humility towards my words, even though my vocabulary was too lacking to express her beauty.
‘Wow, to have this kind of mood in a situation like this…’
I didn’t know why she landed and bothered with this kind of high-class greeting. A random noble’s mannerisms really didn’t suit the fat boar leg I couldn’t drop and was still holding in my hand.
“Um… Have you perhaps not eaten lunch yet?”
“Pardon? Oh, yes…”
At my blunt question, Rosiathe blinked her guileless eyes at me.
“Would you like to partake in the meal with me?”
I turned to point at the perfectly roasted boar.
“Haha. Please, come sit over here.” Rosiathe was unable to speak due to shyness. I took off my cloak and laid it on the ground. “There we go, try a bite.”
I put down the haunch in my hand, tore off a piece of meat from a tasty part, and passed it over to Rosiathe. She stared at my hand and the meat with a flustered expression before swiftly removing her gauntlet and taking it.
“You won’t regret it,” I said with a broad smile.
Spring was coming to its fruition. The land was blooming with spring flowers that danced in the wind, and the woman who was more beautiful than any flower was holding a piece of boar meat.
‘Dammit, it really breaks the mood.’
Even I had to admit that for a first meeting, the atmosphere wasn’t very… favorable.
“Thank you for the meal.”
However, the woman named Rosiathe made a gentle, refreshing smile as she took a small bite of the meat.
If we were fated to meet again, we would, and if not, that was that. There was no real need to show an unreasonable and forceful appearance to this lady named Rosiathe.
As Rosiathe started chewing, my belly ached nonstop with hunger, and I busily tucked into the boar.
As we ate, a gentle wind quietly blew around us, lightly kicking up Rosiathe’s golden hair towards me.
‘Ah… how nice!’
This moment could only be made better with a glass of wine.
Somehow, the flavor of the meat in my mouth disappeared, replaced by the faint fragrance of pansies coming from Rosiathe.
* * *
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* * *
“It is really delicious!”
I had passed over a piece of meat to be polite.
No one would have expected this kind of meeting. Rosiathe, who I just happened to meet while eating a boar I roasted, chewed the meat I gave her with difficulty at first, but needed no encouragement afterwards. She happily scarfed down the whole piece in the blink of an eye.
‘You’re telling me that all went into such a small stomach?’
Surprisingly enough, Rosiathe finished off almost an entire haunch. Her astonishing appetite would make an ogre cry.
It was enough to make me think that Havis Kingdom’s Skyknights didn’t have any meat to eat or something.
After biting off the last piece of meat on the bone, Rosiathe let out a sigh of satisfaction.
‘Argh! So cute!’
Even if Ji-hyun noona were to eat 10 people’s worth of pork belly right in front of me, I wouldn’t give a fuck. Beautiful women were pretty even when they were eating.
[TN: Jun Ji-hyun, a really famous Korean actress and model.]
“It is a relief to see that you enjoyed your meal.”
“To be honest… Wyverns are wyverns, but I could smell something delicious from the air. That’s why…”
Only once her belly was full did Rosiathe reveal her true intent. Her face reddened once again to match the red of her lips, which were still glistening with pig fat.
‘Is she pure, or is she brave?’
Rosiathe was obviously a lady from a noble house. However, she ate meat in front of me without reserve and even admitted her true thoughts to me without hiding anything. She was worlds apart from a prudish noble.
“What kind of place is Havis Kingdom?” I asked.
I didn’t have a nasty hobby of poking at a woman’s vulnerable spots, so I smoothly jumped over her confession and asked about Havis Kingdom.
In the future, Havis Kingdom’s unconditional assistance was necessary for Nerman’s development. If the Havis Kingdom blocked the passage of merchant groups or various goods, Nerman would be no different from ants trapped in a gourd.
“It is a regretful place.”
Rosiathe immediately uttered that it was regretful without even thinking about it. Even as she spoke, her mood made my heart sting as if I were watching an autumn sunset.
“The king is benevolent and kind, but the nobles are incompetent, and the hungry enemies all around are always watching for a chance to rip the kingdom’s last piece of flesh off.. That is Havis.”
It was a surprise to hear the dreary reality of the kingdom from a Skyknight who should have absolute loyalty to the kingdom. I could tell from the sadness in her voice that her words were the truth.
“But it is truly a beautiful place. In the spring, the warm wind from the Rual and Kovilan Mountains covers the land, and as the farmers sow their seeds on the wide open plains, they sing a song from ancient times as a prayer to the Goddess of Abundance and Festivities, Sapphire. Hoho, and in the summer, everyone likes to drink cold beer and party while enjoying the refreshing wind from the mountains. Unlike other places, our kingdom reveres the Goddess of Victory, Ormion, the most. She is the one who allowed us to be the greatest empire on the continent at one point.”
As changing from a ponderous largo to the bouncing allegro of spring, Rosiathe shared her kingdom’s traditions with a bright mood like a singing poet. Joy turned her blue diamond-like eyes into sparkling stars.
There was no need for flowery rhetoric. Right now, Rosiathe was more beautiful than anything in this world.
“Please allow me to invite you, Kyre-nim, who gave me such a delicious memory. Rather than hearing it from me, you will be able to know that my words aren’t a lie by seeing it for yourself,” worried Rosiathe like a kid, as if I might not believe her.
I couldn’t help but smile broadly at the sight of her.
“Jeez, do you not believe me?” she pressed, saying something like ‘jeez’ as if she thought we were already friends.
“Haha. No, that’s not it. I feel like I know more than enough about the Havis Kingdom just by seeing you, Rosiathe-nim.”
“You’re making fun of me right now for eating a lot, aren’t you?”
She must know it wasn’t just ‘a lot,’ but ‘a TON’ and joked around.
“It is a relief that you realized. I was worrying for a moment there that I might need to catch another boar.”
At my words, she covered her face with a white and slender hand in embarrassment.
“It is a joke, a joke. Hahaha.”
My words were pretty rude in their own right, but the purehearted Rosiathe couldn’t beat me in verbal banter.
‘Bebeto, can’t you read the mood here!’
We had spent a lovely time here for a while, but Bebeto finished hunting and showed up holding two limp trolls.
Grrrrruuuuuuuu. As Bebeto appeared, Rosiathe’s grey wyvern growled.
“Please do not worry. It is my wyvern,” I said to Rosiathe, who was startled by Bebeto and about to head to her wyvern.
As Bebeto drew near, Rosiathe jumped in shock.
Flap flap flap.
Smarter than any other wyvern, Bebeto realized that Rosiathe and I were on good terms and landed.
‘Does Rosiathe have prejudice against hybrid wyverns too…?’
Everyone on the continent had a taboo against hybrid wyverns. Moreover, Rosiathe was a Skyknight, so it might be even more pronounced.
“Wow! It’s my first time seeing one. Our kingdom doesn’t even have a single hybrid wyvern… Golden stripes on a black body! Hoho. It looks so strong!”
However, against all expectation, Rosiathe exclaimed cheerfully and happily as she looked at Bebeto.
As Rosiathe praised him, sharp-eared Bebeto raised his horns to the sky as he proudly showed off his magnificence.
Then, he took one of the trolls he was holding and pushed it towards Rosiathe’s grey wyvern.
‘I-it’s a female…’
My god, I don’t know who he took after, but this Bebeto was really something. Not even a month or even a week passed after he wailed and cried at the mournful parting with Chrisia’s wyvern—it was yesterday for god’s sake!—but he was already giving a present to a new female.
‘Sigh, even I have nothing to say.’
I myself didn’t have a clear enough conscience to be able to complain about Bebeto’s actions, so I just let out a long sigh.
‘Ara! What are those guys!’
While I was sighing to myself, around 10 wyverns flew over from the direction of Havis Kingdom.
“It seems it is time for me to go now.” Rosiathe turned from looking at Bebeto to politely bidding me farewell.
“It is an honor to have met you.”
“I thank Romero-nim for allowing our paths to cross. Then…”
Rosiathe bowed her long neck. As she did so, her fragrance drifted towards me.
“May you fly with Bormio-nim’s grace…”
The God of Wind and Freedom, Bormio, who Skyknights loved the most.
After putting on her helmet with a click, Rosiathe flew onto her wyvern like a bird.
Flap flap flap flap flap flap.
Her grey wyvern flapped its long wings into the air.
Then, rising dozens of meters within no time, her wyvern flew vigorously towards the Havis Kingdom. Shortly afterwards, she disappeared into the blue sky along with the group of wyverns as if nothing had happened.
Our meeting had been a short one, but was as pleasant as a midsummer night’s dream. Rosiathe was gone, but the faint fragrance of pansies lingered in my nose.
“Shall we get going now?”
I was able to enjoy a delicious meal thanks to meeting Rosiathe.
“Bebeto, who did you learn from! If you’re a man, you should win fair and square with your charm! The fuck are you spacing out for?!”
I gave a warning about unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex to Bebeto, who was blankly staring into the distance where the grey wyvern had flown off into just like me,
Guo guo guooo.
But my words went into one ear and out the other. He looked off into the sky, feigning indifference. As if telling me to worry about myself.
‘Dammit, won’t all the wyverns in Nerman get golden stripes at this rate?’
Suddenly, I saw Nerman’s future wyverns in my mind’s eye. That was definitely possible.
But it sure was a relief. That Bebeto was a wyvern, and not a human.
If he had been born as a human male, I would have zero reason to be this friendly with him…