21st Century Archmage - Chapter 63
Chapter 63: Kneel!
“N-No, we’re the Corvain Mercha—”
The Nerman knights and soldiers encircled the mercenaries and merchants. Before the merchant standing in the front flapping his lips could finish, he took a ruthless hit from a soldier’s spear to his stomach.
“You stand before the Lord of Nerman. Everyone must kneel!” shouted a knight with mana.
Their weapons drawn, the mercenaries kept looking at Deputy Theske to see what he would do. The knights and soldiers in front of them were nothing for the mercenaries, who could all use Aura Blade.
However, the biggest problem was…
Flap flap flap flap flap.
The wyverns wheeling above and the Skyknights holding Blessed Spears as they watched for anyone resisting.
And the most terrifying one there, the black-haired, young Lord of Nerman with a haughty smile on his face, Kyre.
The mercenary wyverns that had been protecting the merchants had already disappeared in a hurry. There was not a single person left on their side to oppose the Skyknight who had single handedly sent the three Gauss wyverns and mages flying.
Of the twenty-three wyverns total, only ten had escaped in the middle of the battle with their lives intact. The rest were shot down or injured and were grounded.
“E-Everyone…. Put down your weapons.”
The moment the Gauss mages were defeated even after unleashing an all-out attack, the victor had already been decided.
Deputy Theske’s limp voice rang in the merchants’ and mercenaries’ ears like a death knell.
Clunk, clunk, clatter.
The mercenaries also knew.
If they resisted here, they might be able to break free of the soldiers and knights, they wouldn’t make it far before becoming nice targets for the Skyknights or monster food in this land full of monsters.
Once the first person laid down their weapon, the rest of the mercenaries followed suit like falling dominos. It was a command from their employer. This was the moment they were freed from their contractual obligation.
“Kneel!!!” roared a knight like a lion at the mercenaries that had given up resistance.
Following the already kneeling coachmen, the merchants and mercenaries fell to their knees.
However, even then, there were three people who remained standing.
Deputy Theske, the leader of the mercenary group, Cedrian, and the Gauss Skyknight mage who had lived thanks to Harkline dying in his place. Only those three people courageously refused to kneel.
Or rather, it was the pride of the organizations they belonged to that prevented them from doing so.
“Let me go! I can walk on my own!”
Just then, a certain Skyknight was dragged in by soldiers.
It was Vice-master Andrike, the Gauss mage who had survived by using Fly within the Giga Raiden spell. However, even though he survived, he was in a sorry state. The honorable appearance of a 6th Circle mage was nowhere to be found, replaced by a singed rat wearing a blackened airplate and getting miserably dragged along.
“Now all of our guests are here.”
It was the voice of Kyre, Nerman’s master, who had been sitting on a black wyvern with golden stripes that slowly landed to the ground.
Everyone’s gazes turned to him.
Landing lightly from Bebeto’s back… a cold and refreshing smile hung on his lips.
“It’s time to calculate things…”
And with those words, everyone knew that the fateful time with their lives on the line had come.
It was the moment Nerman’s master would swing his sword of arbitration.
* * *
‘You’re all dead today!’
They were all serious felons who had caused a ruckus on my land without knowing their place. Most of them were trembling, but a few were watching me with curious gazes.
I enjoyed their gazes as I walked towards the place where the bigshots were gathered.
As I did so, the quick-witted soldiers collected the discarded weapons of the mercenaries, and I made it to Theske.
“Haha! We meet again, Deputy Theske,” I said, the informal speech coming out with ease.
“You have astonishing skills,” said Theske with utter composure.
Any ordinary person would have lost themselves to rage or revealed a look of resignation, but Theske looked the same as usual, as if nothing had happened.
“Oh, this is nothing. I hope I didn’t surprise you too much?”
I flounted the ease of a victor as much as I could.
Soldiers were leveling their spears at his neck, but a man who looked like a dwarf’s relative screamed at me, his face red with rage.
“And who might you be….?”
“A mere lord dares to harm mages and wyverns from the Great Gauss Magic Tower, you have truly lost your mind!”
‘He’s hopping mad. This gentleman’s head is big so he must have high blood pressure, what a nasty temperament.’
The mage was only slightly taller than a dwarf and had a head exactly twice as big as mine. It seemed he was one of the 6th Circle mages who had engaged in a battle of magic with me.
Clang clang! Claaaang!
The soldiers weren’t just for show. They struck his airplate ruthlessly with the blunt of their spears. Even an airplate couldn’t fully negate the impact of thrusts made with all of the soldiers’ might, and the disportionate mage was sent to his knees with unsightly sound.
It seemed his mana core was shaken up from the aftermath of the magic attack.
After the disproportionate mage collapsed, a 5th Circle mage ran to him in shock.
Po-po-po-pow! As if anticipating it, the soldiers’ spears battered the mage.
A 5th Circle mage would be treated as a noble everywhere where they went, but my loyal soldiers had no interest in such worldly technicalities.
Taking five or six hits in a moment, the mage rolled backwards on the ground. He didn’t have the time or composure of mind to cast any magic.
“Don’t treat them too roughly. They’re precious guests, after all.”
“Yes, sir!” yelled the soldiers energetically when I intentionally stopped them.
“It seems you are overflowing with confidence, seeing as you are treating these people like dogs when even the Bajran Imperial Family could do nothing to them.”
Didn’t someone say a person would become calm when their anger reached the max? Deputy Theske spoke as if the current situation didn’t concern him at all.
“‘Cause I’m not the Bajran Imperial Family,” I said with a cold smile.
“Indeed…. I forgot for a moment that Nerman is filled with useless things discarded by the Bajran Empire.”
Like a man gone crazy with a desire to die, Theske filled his words with barbs.
“Huhu, the people getting treated like dogs by those “useless things” are even worse than monsters that at least leave their leather behind. Like you guys.”
If you get mad, you lose.
I could simply kill everyone on the spot, but if I did that, then I would be the loser.
I had to maintain the victor’s composure all the way until the end.
That was the definition of a true champion of life.
“How very arrogant,” came a calm voice from a person who had been pushed to the side.
“And you are?”
“I am Cedrian, the one leading the mercenaries in this caravan.”
‘He’s someone who can lead a mercenary group of this level.’
I couldn’t be sure if the wyverns were all a part of the mercenary group, but if he was someone who would be moving in tandem with the Corvain Merchants with this many men, he was obviously a skilled person. Moreover, he was directing a faint desire to fight towards me, but he was skilled enough to hide the presence of his mana.
“And what is your definition of arrogance?”
As a mercenary leader, he must have experienced the world’s hardships. He opened his mouth immediately at my question.
“People whose mouths are stronger than their skills.” Cedrian stated his opinion confidently.
His eyes were gleaming. He was brandishing the spirit of a winner at me.
“Exactly like yourself?”
My retort had Cedrian bursting into a guffaw.
But his laughter did not last long.
It stopped abruptly in an instant.
“If you win against me, I will even lick your feet. But if you lose… Allow everyone here to go free.”
It was a quiet, but powerful proposal.
“My feet, huh… You can do that if you’re still alive afterwards.”
As soon as I finished talking, Cedrian drew his sword with terrifying speed. It was a blue, keen-edged sword slightly thicker and larger than a regular longsword.
‘Unlike regular mercenaries, he uses a longsword. Which means he’s a real swordsman rather than someone who uses brute force.’
“M-My Lord…” Alarmed, my knights and soldiers began stepping forward.
“Step back. This is a duel between men.”
With a clatter, the knights and soldiers backed off to make space at my order.
Their eyes were also gleaming.
They were the true masters of Nerman who had survived until now with the skills they had. For them, winning with one’s strength was a natural thing.
‘He’s quite a desirable fellow.’
Nerman was so very lacking in personnel. As the boss of such outstanding mercenaries, he was someone with both commanding ability and personal skill. On top of that, he was showing manly courage even in this critical situation, giving me a favorable impression.
‘But he won’t really lick my feet if I win, right….? I didn’t wash them today…’
My idle worry didn’t match the serious situation at all.
“Here I come!”
“Whenever you wish!”
My sword came out smoothly with the hiss of steel. I could also use one of the fine dwarven-made blades, but I couldn’t let go of the sword from the Fiore Viscounty knight, the first sword that I earned for myself on this continent.
No matter what anyone might say, this sword was my first love.
* * *
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* * *
Instead of the metallic sound of swords clashing, thunderous explosions from Aura Blades rang out in the air.
A sudden duel between Blade Masters.
Whether they were watching from the sky or on the ground, everyone was hushed as they witnessed yet another rare sight.
Clear grunts rang out within the silence.
And afterwards, an ear splitting boom.
At least ten minutes had already transpired, but the duel was getting fiercer and fiercer.
‘Ridiculous! How can someone be this…’
Cedrian, Leader of the Herz Mercenaries, had issued the duel after quite a few of his own calculations.
His opponent was a high circle mage who was unbelievably outstanding for his age. So Cedrian had issued a sword duel. The opponent exuded the energy of a magic swordsman, but there wasn’t a single person in history who was a high circle mage and a Blade Master at the same time.
However, from the moment their swords met, Cedrian knew something had gone awry.
Surprisingly enough, the hot-blooded youth named Kyre in front of him was a Master level in the sword as well.
‘Even if you’re a Master, not all Masters are the same!’
Using the knockback from the previous blow, Cedrian jumped back and clenched his teeth.
It had already been 20 years since he dedicated himself to the mercenary world in order to revive his ruined family.
Using the exclusive mana breathing technique of his family, he was able to become a Blade Master.
And then, he nurtured a mercenary group second to none on the continent. The members of the Herz Mercenaries were strong enough to receive knight treatment. Their strength was limited because they had been unable to independently foster their own Skyknights, but their members alone were more than enough to make their mark in the mercenary world.
It had been several years since Herz paired up with the #1 merchant group on the continent, Corvain. Once this trade route was finished, they would finally be able to acquire around five wyverns with the money they had saved up until now.
However, someone suddenly showed up and interfered.
Cedrian wanted to get wyverns and issue a territory war against the uncle who stole his territory from him, but Kyre threw an unforeseen wrench in his plans.
Cedrian took in a deep breath.
At the same time, the blue wave of Aura Blade around his sword intensified.
‘I am someone who has overcome dozens of life and death battles. So many that you cannot compare.’
In general, for a Master, the amount of mana you could pour into your sword was important, but the deciding factor was the sword art.
Cedrian was someone who had personally witnessed a Master dying to an intermediate Blade mercenary.
Calming his mind, he stared at Kyre.
The man who had dueled for around 10 minutes without breaking a sweat was wearing a smile that would charm even a man. Along with arrogance that said ‘show me everything you’ve got.’
‘I will make you kneel!’
Cedrian, who was born the son of a count in Tove Kingdom, felt the pride of a noble, something he had hidden all this time, writhing up within him.
He slowly brought the sword he was gripping in his right hand to the center of his body.
If he defeated Kyre here, then the Corvain Merchants would give him a considerable reward, and the reputation of Herz would not fall, either.
But if he were to lose….
Cedrian closed the distance within moments.
A sword bared its fangs ahead of his hand, bright blue with venom.
A clear grunt greeted his advance.
Kyre was running towards him.
‘Go! Spiral Rain!’
The trump card of his family and the special Master technique. A Blade Sword separated from his swinging sword before surging forward like a raging lion.
With that, Cedrian was sure.
The smile of a victor sprung to his lips.
* * *
The moment my opponent jumped back, I was expecting it.
In fact, I could attack before he could gather his breath and defeat him, but I wanted to witness the special technique of a Blade Master. And just as I expected, a Blade Sword was unfurled towards me.
I, too, had a technique of my own.
Moreover, my merged mana core was enlarged after breaking the circle wall.
I opened my mana core and poured eight shadows into my sword with all my might.
Eight lines of Blade Sword fired off in an instant.
At that moment, I saw Cedrian’s satisfied face stiffening.
Everything happened in an instant, and the skill had already left my hand.
The Blade Swords collided in the air before our swords did.
My sword raced forward, heedless of the clashing Blade Swords.
And then, I felt my sword plunging deep into flesh and heard a cry of pain.
‘Must hurt a shitton.’
Fortunately, I retracted the mana while thrusting so it was a normal sword and a fatal injury was avoided, but how could the feeling of a sword boring into your flesh be an ordinary kind of pain? It must be as painful as downing your first ever shot of Kaoliang liquor filled to the brim with hot chili powder.
“The Lord won!”
The tense soldiers cheered raucously as they confirmed my victory.
“Imprison everyone who committed treason in the territory! Put mana bracelets on the mages and gag them. And we shall confiscate and lock up every item related to the treason. Confiscate all of the goods, including the wyvern corpses!”
“Yes, sir!” yelled the soldiers.
Today, not just the dwarven masterpieces, but yet another pile of goods that could be sold off for exorbitant amounts—10 times their original price!— came into my hands.
I savored this feeling of taking candy from a baby.
I scored it big today!
‘Huhu, you have acquired a wyvern~! Ding ding!’
A cheerful acquisition bell rang in my head.
A total of ten wyverns had run away with their lives intact.
The battle was short and fierce, so there weren’t many surviving wyverns that didn’t manage to flee, but this was enough.
I’d already scored a jackpot of dwarven goods made with the best craftsmanship.
Just the value of the mithril wyvern armor alone was a mega win among wins, an amount far exceeding the taxes gained by most territories in a whole year.