21st Century Archmage - Chapter 56
Chapter 56: Just Follow My Words Well
In the drill hall, one round of sword fighting had concluded, leaving no one except me standing safe and sound. The knights were clutching their chests or stomachs while crumpled on the ground. Their innards were probably bruised from the mana-charged blows.
“You guys were so arrogant with just this level of skill? Puhahahahaha!”
I burst out with uninhibited laughter loud enough to shake the drill hall.
However, no one bared their teeth at me like before. Still reeling in shock from their utter defeat, the knights were groaning in pain.
“Those who want to go, just go. I do not need any idiots who cannot understand the feelings of their liege as he sends them away.”
I didn’t have much time, and I didn’t need any idiots by my side.
I returned my sword to its sheath, the metal hissing quietly.
“Those of you who still have dreams, who want to dream, who long for a dream, only those people should stay… I don’t need anyone who is still holding onto a dead dream.”
Even though they knew the current situation, these people were being stupid. That would end today. They had already shown more than enough loyalty towards Yaix with this.
Also, I wasn’t asking them to throw away Count Yaix in their hearts. How could they forget their parent’s embrace just because they left the nest? It was just that I needed companions who would dream and live cool lives by my side.
Bebeto, who had been absentmindedly watching his master’s round of fist fighting, gave an energetic bellow as he stretched his wings and flew low to the ground.
I leapt from the ground and lightly landed on Bebeto’s back.
At my words, Bebeto beat his wings vigorously and ascended into the sky.
Nerman was still extremely unstable.
There were an overwhelming number of places that needed my attention.
* * *
I returned from Orakk Castle to the covert. Because we were taking in people who surrendered from Viscount Lukence’s soldiers and combining them with Baroness Janice’s men and organizing them into new squads, the large covert was bustling with the movements of the soldiers.
Despite the knights under Baroness Janice being there, because their commanding knights and officers had disappeared in a single moment, Viscount Lukence’s soldiers were unable to gain their bearings.
“HEY! Centurion, can’t you do it right? What kind of centurion can’t even get his own subordinates in line?! Oi! You wanna do it right after getting hit?”
Treating the soldiers as if they were mercenaries, Ryker yelled at the knights and top commanding officers as he busily organized the soldiers.
“Thanks to Sir Ryker, it seems the reorganization of soldiers will be completed today.”
“Have Viscount Lukence’s soldiers stationed at the southern forts all surrendered?”
“That is what I have heard. The rumors must have spread, because the wicked knights and soldiers have apparently all fled.”
There were ten forts, big and large, on the way to the Havis Kingdom’s borders. We left them alone because they weren’t worth fighting, but it seemed the problem had resolved itself.
“Nothing else happened?”
Derval had probably been just as crazily busy as me. It should be difficult for him, but he didn’t look tired.
“We are roughly taking care of the biggest issues, but we don’t have enough hands. It is too much for me and a few knights to handle.”
This continent wasn’t computerized like in the 21st century. Everything had to be done one by one with one’s own head and hands.
“Go inquire if there are any people who can handle administration.”
“I have already taken measures. That aside, my liege, guests have come calling.”
“The branch managers of the merchant groups and magic towers in Nerman have requested to see you. I told them you are absent for the time being and invited them to dinner.”
‘Of course they should come. If they want to do business here comfortably in the future, at least.’
Since the master had changed, of course they should come bearing small gifts showing their sincerity(?) and give their greetings. What a beautiful sight that would be.
“I wanted to meet them once, so this is good.”
“We absolutely need their help. In particular, we must be on good terms with the magic towers in order to restore the wyvern enspelled armors.”
‘The temples and magic towers, these guys are the problem.’
No sign of the temples could be found here on Nerman. For the stabilization of the residents, the construction of a temple was an absolute necessity.
The magic towers were equally necessary. In order to build my future paradise, the help of the magic towers was keenly required.
“My liege… all the important consumables are rapidly dropping. The merchant groups must have realized that the atmosphere here has been weird and have been extra careful this past month, so we are low on various daily necessities. We only have one month’s worth of provisions, salt, clothes, and other goods. And that’s counting all the goods we took from Viscount Lukence’s storehouse.”
“Mm… It’s rather severe.”
Because of the monsters, this big breadbasket of land hadn’t been developed. Securing food was more important than anything else.
“It would be good to order provisions before it is too late. Please bring it up tonight while the merchant group branch managers are gathered.”
“Derval, but are provisions more expensive here than in other places?”
“It is. This will be my first time handling such a large-scale transaction, so I cannot give you an exact price, but even the flour we acquired to feed the mercenaries was about twice as expensive as in the empire. I believe the difficulty of transportation has greatly influenced the price spikes.”
‘There aren’t even a lot of ways to make money, but they’re pushing the prices up this much? Aren’t they just telling us to die already?’
This place wasn’t even industrialized like in the 21st century. Farming alone served as the best foundation for the territory and nation’s security.
“Got it. Anything else?”
“Phew… I’m not sure. As soon as we opened up this can of worms, it has been difficult for me to figure out where to begin.”
Even a talent who graduated as the top of his class from the Empire Administration Academy was struggling. Confidence and willingness aside, the load of work was so massive that he couldn’t orient himself.
“Derval, if a person loses their fortune, they have lost a bit of their life. If they lose their honor, then they have lost a lot. But if they lose their health, then they have lost more than anything else, so pay particular attention to that aspect!”
“I will engrave your words deep in my heart, my liege.”
“Good! Then get to work. Things will get busy if we are to receive the soldiers from the commander tomorrow.”
Derval disappeared holding a pile of documents. It made me think that I should quickly hire some more administrative personnel.
‘Alright, shall I also get going?’
There were many pillars necessary to secure Nerman’s peace.
One of the most important of them was military power.
And within that military power, the thing that held the top position of importance was wyvern power.
I didn’t know how many Skyknights would be left by tomorrow, but I wanted to prepare presents for them. Personally, by my hand, as the person who would become their new master…
* * *
‘Bebeto, this brat, he really makes one wonder what he was in his previous life.’
While I was going to the hangar that was being used as a storehouse for important items, I saw Bebeto. He wasn’t even some kind of gangster boss, but he was playing king surrounded by the wyverns we captured from Viscount Lukence and the Temir. And they weren’t even grandly situated on his left and right, but the stronger ones were next to him while the others were lined up in front. They were clucking like hens, exchanging an unintelligible conversation amongst themselves.
‘Are wyverns normally like this?’
I had never seen a wyvern group discussion in Kirphone Covert. Wyverns that were attached to their Skyknights didn’t often come into contact with other wyverns. But our smart little Bebeto had enforced order, as if he had formed his own group.
‘Whatever. As long as he doesn’t give me sass, it’s fine.’
This much was obvious—if not for Bebeto, the current me wouldn’t exist, either.
“They’re seriously broken.”
Currently, I am in possession of thirteen wyvern gears in total. The three I acquired on the way to Nerman, eleven from Viscount Lukence, minus the one I had used to bribe Count Pavess, so thirteen in total. However, there were only three that were sound and whole.
“Hm… in order to repair mithril gear, I have to make a magic furnace first, huh. Sigh, what a pain in the ass.”
A magic furnace was necessary in order to produce magic items anyway. However, the problem was that I was a mage, not a blacksmith. In particular, in order to repair wyvern armor, an artisan capable of working with mithril and a 6th Circle mage were necessary.
“If I only needed to make new magic circles and put them in, that would be fine, but the problem is that they’re completely broken.”
The mithril armors were destroyed when the heavy wyverns crash landed. The armors, which weren’t just made from steel but mithril alloy, piled up on the ground in severely crushed or broken conditions.
“At least the airplates can be used.”
There was one airplate that was penetrated by my Blessed Spear, but that was nothing compared to the state of the wyvern armors.
“As if those guys would nitpick about getting a Porsche vs. a Polo. They’ll be thankful with whatever they get.”
I had wanted to outfit them perfectly with wyvern gear as well, but it seemed I couldn’t do that yet.
“This much should be fine for Blessed Spears…”
These goods were worth an enormous amount of money if sold.
However, I was picking them up as presents.
And as I did so, I entertained a very small, humble(?) thought that maybe I should one day gather a mountain of valuables like a dragon’s lair.
* * *
“I wish to sincerely congratulate you for becoming the new master of Nerman.”
“You have achieved something truly astonishing, Baronet Kyre…”
The merchants awkwardly stumbled over the word ‘baronet.’
‘Oi oi, you guys are acting like this cause you’re mages, eh?’
Invited to dinner were five branch managers from important merchant groups and four mages. From what I heard, there were eleven tower branch managers here, but it seemed quite a few of them had no thoughts of being too chummy with me.
And the mages that did come merely dipped their heads stiffly as if they had problems with their spine. They were probably thinking to themselves that I wouldn’t last long.
“Haha, you have all troubled yourselves. Come, come, please sit. Let us talk as we eat.”
Count Pavess, the one who previously lived in the covert, had made a small banquet hall in the headquarters building, since he was technically a noble. The dining table could easily seat twenty. I sat at the head and invited the guests to sit.
The five merchants sat to my left and four mages wearing spic and shiny white robes were on my right.
‘Looks like that guy’s a 5th Circle mage.’
Five golden lines were embroidered on the end of his white robe’s sleeve. The mages took their seats with dissatisfied expressions.
“My liege, the meal is ready.”
“Thank you, Sir Derval.”
I didn’t even have any butlers, so Derval was fulfilling that role as well. Most knights might see that as a disgrace, but Derval was acting like it was no big deal.
“I thank you all so very much for coming to see me in these busy times. It must have been hectic these past few days, no?”
The noble speech mannerisms still felt so unnatural to me, but I swallowed my discomfort and opened the conversation.
“No no, it was not hectic at all.”
“Indeed. I am simply grateful that Nerman’s peace has been secured so quickly.”
After Branch Manager Lenkis from the Rubis Merchants (who had entrusted his future to me) said flattering words, the other merchant branch managers followed up with a sentence each.
‘Look at these guys.’
But the mages refused to say a single word all the way until now. I had no idea if they were just being haughty because a 4th Circle mage could receive a baron title in most kingdoms, or if they wanted to intentionally provoke me.
Whatever the reason was, it was irritating.
‘Huhu. Alright then, try your cute tricks.’
This was still a meeting of Nerman leaders in name, but the mages were ruining the mood.
At the news that guests were coming, the chefs in charge of the meals for the mercenaries and soldiers came together and did their best to prepare a meal. The handful of maids employed to clean and do laundry in the covert headquarters brought out the food, laying down the plates in front of us.
‘Oho, it’s quite impressive today.’
Even in this time of scarcity, they had prepared chicken soup, smoked pork barbeque, steamed and roasted fish, and warm bread with honey. On top of that, there was even red grape wine in glasses. It was a real feast that I hadn’t yet experienced because of the crazy times.
However, unlike the merchants, who wore grateful expressions, the mages were scowling. They were people with overflowing pockets, so it seemed this much wasn’t up to their stands.
“Let us have a drink.”
I didn’t know too much about noble house manners, but in the movies, you were supposed to say a word with a toast in times like this.
“Um… Mage-nims, saying something would be…”
Stealing glances at the mages, Branch Manager Lenkis asked them to offer polite congratulations.
“I’m Gauss’ Nerman Branch Manager, Oltois.” The 5th Circle mage sitting arrogantly with one elbow on the table finally opened his mouth. “First, I want to applaud Baronet Kyre for becoming Nerman’s temporary master.”
‘Temporary master? Want to applaud?’
Oltois’ words were so rude that they kept irritating my ears. I could feel the smile disappearing from my face and my expression growing hard.
“Actually, the reason I came today is to hear a definite answer, if you will.”
The mage continued to use a manner of speech that indicated that we were equals. As a 5th Circle mage from a major magic tower, he was someone who would rank high among the nobles in the empire.
However, this was no way to be polite. Even if he was someone who received such high regard, it was no fun if he was like this in front of me.
“A definite answer? Huhu. What kind of answer do you mean?”
At my ice-cold query, Oltois’ eyebrows flinched.
“It is my hope that you will repay the debt accrued by Viscount Lukence from the costs of various goods, including an unpaid magic crystal, which totals to 350,000 Gold.”
“Orsek Magic Tower also demands that you pay a debt of 150,000 Gold.”
“There is a debt of 177,000 Gold with Forseus Magic Tower.”
“The debt is 75,500 Gold with our Artiforce Magic Tower.”
At the mages’ sudden remarks, the merchants made sounds of surprise.
‘Would you look at these bastards.’
There was no way to confirm exactly how much debt Viscount Lukence had racked up in the past. However, how in the world did that have anything to do with me?
“Apologies, but I must briefly say my piece.” Just then, Derval, who was listening from the side, came forward. “According to imperial law, when a territory or wealth is acquired through personal confrontations of noble houses, one is exempt from the other noble’s debts. But to persist like this is—”
“Shut up! How dare a mere butler speak up!”
“Hmph, to entertain guests with food even dogs wouldn’t eat. Viscount Lukence never treated us this poorly.”
Oltois roared at Derval. Afterwards, another mage followed up with an acerbic remark, as if he had been waiting for a chance to vent his displeasure.
I let out a lungful of invigorating laughter.
These guys were well versed in information regarding Nerman. They were definitely trying to scalp a fortune from me, knowing I could not afford to offend the magic towers.
To such people, there was only one response I could give.
Two icy words rang out in the banquet hall.
“W-What did you say just now!”
“Y-Youuuu! For a mere baronet to dare to be so impertinent! Are you looking down on our Gauss Magic Tower?!”
He must have not expected those words at all, because Oltois’ face went bright red as he screamed and shook his finger at me.
I felt him activating his mana circle with a whirr.
However, I wasn’t one to be cowed.
“Do you want to leave after getting hit, or just leave nicely?”
“If you are truly looking down on the magic tower, then right now, I shall take it upon myself to give you a hot taste of—”
Oltois, who was busy raising his mana staff and putting on a show, took a pig leg thrown with all my might to his belly and made an unseemly sound as he tumbled backwards.
“W-What in the world are you doing!” shouted one mage, alarmed by the sudden escalation to violence.
“What? You wanna get hit too?”
I took another bite of pork as I waved a leg still plump with meat.
The mage speechlessly opened and closed his mouth like a hungry chick.
This was probably way beyond his imagination. For there to be someone who dared to resort to violence even after hearing the name of a major magic tower of the continent… Even an emperor wouldn’t be able to do this.
“I am a noble of the Great Bajran Empire. Anyone who imposes a debt that has no basis in imperial law on me will be punished with the crime of scorning His Imperial Majesty the Emperor and the imperial law! Derval, arrest this crazy old mage with mana bracelets. He will be strictly punished for the crime of looking down on a noble of the empire!”
“As you command! Knights, tie up this man at once!” shouted Derval towards the door.
The two knights outside on standby opened the door and put mana bracelets on Oltois. These mana bracelets were used to subdue knights that could use mana and mages. We had found hundreds of them in Viscount Lukence’s castle.
“T-These actions will… be formally reported to the magic tower… sir. Everything that happens afterwards will be the responsibility of the Baronet… nim.”
One of the mages used honorifics with difficulty as he continued to refuse to let go of his pride.
“Do as you please.”
A short sentence came out in response.
“L-Let us go.”
After I subdued Oltois, a mage of a higher grade than themselves, in the blink of an eye, the mages perceived that the odds were against them and hastily retreated from the banquet hall.
“I’m busy here, so I cannot accompany you to the door. Hahaha!” I jeered to my heart’s content at the mages’ backs. “Come, come, let us eat. The crazy people have left, so shouldn’t we eat our fill?”
“T-Thank you for the meal.”
“The meat is very tender and delicious.”
The merchants were sitting there dazed out of their wits. One of them even said the meat was tasty while they were chewing bread.
‘Heh, don’t be so surprised by just this much, you’ll see this over and over again in the future.’
I never wanted to yield to authority or force.
I, Kang Hyuk, no Baronet Kyre, am a man who lives with pride.
And I would make my own legend.
A legend of the most fearless noble on the continent!
* * *
“Is Jamir-nim doing well?”
“Yes, he’s doing very well. I spoke to him about you, Kyre-nim, and he sent a response that he would come calling soon.”
“Haha, is that so? I also wanted to see him, so that’s good.”
After the hectic meal ended, the merchant branch managers left behind small gifts and disappeared. However, I called Lenkis, who was already acquainted with me, for a separate conversation.
“Um… This goes beyond my station, but… Will it be okay?” Branch Manager Lenkis looked at me with a careful expression.
“Don’t worry. If I was someone who would get scared by something like that, I wouldn’t have even come here.”
“Phew… I feel like I can finally understand a little better why Executive Jamir said to give you my full cooperation.”
‘Jamir said that? He’s got good eyes, I’m telling ya.’
“In addition, he said it’s dangerous so I should be even more careful.”
I smiled bitterly at Lenkis’ follow-up.
“The reason why I quietly called you here is for no reason other than that I have some requests and trades to make.”
Any merchant with half a brain could figure out that Nerman was in need of various kinds of goods. So when I said ‘request’ instead of ‘trade,’ Branch Master Lenkis turned grave.
“Haha, don’t be so scared. They are very easy matters.”
From what I heard, big merchant groups possessed independent communication chains that didn’t lose out in speed to the military communication line. That’s why they could operate safely on the continent.
“Release a certain rumor. And send a letter to a certain person in Dapis Kingdom, and if they wish it, bring them here. I will pay any and all fees, so bring them with the utmost security and speed.”
“Mm… A rumor, you say…”
Branch Manager Lenkis’ eyes gleamed. Once he knew it was easier than he thought, he assumed a cooperative posture.
“Spread this rumor on the continent. As Nerman stabilizes, it will accept many new residents, and those residents will be given land without any conditions and that the taxes will not exceed 30%. Also, that we are not just recruiting aspiring Skyknights or mercenaries, but artisans like artists and blacksmiths on a large scale, and that their wages will be three times the usual.”
Branch Master Lenkis was shocked silly by my generous offer. He was someone who was well informed about Nerman, so he was doubting whether I could really afford that.
“Don’t worry about the money. If there’s not enough, I can just sell a wyvern.”
Lenkis was rendered speechless by my indifferent admittance that I would just sell a wyvern, no problem.
“And you must send this letter to that person alone without anyone knowing. Deliver it very, very quickly, as quickly as possible.”
I repeated myself multiple times as I handed over a letter sealed in an envelope treated with a preservation spell.
“Understood. I will relay the letter without any mistakes.”
“Hahaha. Thank you.”
“That’s that… I heard that the situation with the provisions is not good. If that is the case, making an order today at the latest would be…”
Branch Manager Lenkis could not hide his merchant’s blood. He gave me an inviting smile as he brought up a trade.
“Please acquire provisions, clothing, salt, and various kinds of arms, including war horses. Do not worry about money and gather as much as possible.”
“Please do not worry! I will acquire the maximum amount,” said Lenkis, beaming at my words.
‘Just listen to my words well and I’ll guarantee your success.’
A beautiful world of give and take.
That was the ideal utopia I dreamed of.