21st Century Archmage - Chapter 65
Chapter 65: The More The Merrier
“W-What’s all this?”
“Haha, we had quite a few things in need of repair, so I brought them. Is the magic furnace working well?”
“Hooh, they’re all mithril alloy.”
Rather than answering my question, the dwarf Cassiars’ eyes gleamed as he examined the broken wyvern armors and airplate.
“I feel the craftsmanship of our brethren. It’s the workmanship of the Talvava Clan. Haha, what a truly fine masterpiece.”
I couldn’t tell no matter how closely I looked, but Cassiars looked happy as he held one of the wyvern armors.
“For the workmanship of humans, they’re quite impressive. Though it falls far short of our people…”
Taking Patriarch Cassiars’ lead, the dwarves picked up the wyvern armors and airplate and examined them closely.
“If they are reforged, the magic circle will be destroyed. Is that okay?”
“Of course. While you are at it, please make them nice and strong.”
“Naturally. As long as they fall into the hands of our Luhalumere Clan, they must become the greatest products in the world.”
As if worried someone might think he wasn’t a master craftsman, Cassiars had pride in useless aspects.
I had all the wyvern armor we acquired up until now in battle tied up and brought it all the way to the Dwarven Village. Before, because I lacked connections with magic towers and dwarves, I was unable to fix the broken armor, but things were different now.
The dwarves’ customer service was almost as good as Samsung, Korea’s #1. It couldn’t get better.
“Oh, and please make these things for me as well.”
“What’s this?” Cassiars took a few pages of blueprints from me. “Ah, a dravit. Ohh! If we make it with this blueprint, then it should move very naturally.”
The dwarf patriarch identified the blueprint as a dravit and ascertained its performance with a single glance.
“With steel balls like this, it seems like the movements will connect quite naturally. As long as the magic circuitry inside is good, the efficiency should be improved by around 30%…”
At the patriarch’s words, the elder dwarves clumped together to energetically discuss the blueprint.
“What’s this now?” asked Cassiars while holding something other than the dravit blueprint. “It seems like a plow, but also not…”
“You are correct, it is a plow.”
“Really? What a peculiar shape. If it’s completed with this shape, it would be no different from several horses plowing the ground at the same time. And the depth can be easily controlled, too… Did you make this?”
‘Is there any other genius who could? Uhahahaha.’
It was a bit iffy to call it the work of 21st century scientific technology, but what I had drawn up was a blueprint of one of the farming tools attached to tractors, something I had seen while visiting my grandpa in the countryside. I specially designed using the personal experience I had dragging a plow in Luna Village.
“Please take a look at this one as well.”
“Mm… This is…”
“All you must do is put a mithril coating on the tip of the spear. Please make it as light as possible, and there has to be a place where a magic circle can be inscribed in the middle.”
We would need a ton of enhanced Blessed Spears in the future. I specially designed this Blessed Spear 2.0 using the knowledge given to me by my master and with financial constraints in mind.
“This much is nothing. But still, how impressive. For a human to think of all these things. As expected! You have the qualifications to be a friend of the Children of Rock!”
I thought I could almost hear the ding of ‘Your intimacy has risen!’
“You exaggerate. No matter how outstanding I may be, how could I compare to the Clansmen of Rock whose hands are akin to that of the gods? Please take care of me in the future as well.”
“Hahaha, looking at someone with manners has suddenly made me quite happy. What do you think, today again…”
‘Holy! N-Not ANOTHER festival?’
Perhaps he was yearning for the beer the Rubis Merchants had brought in large quantities, because Cassiars licked his lips as he asked my opinion.
“The territory matters are busy, so…”
“Oh… Is that so? That’s a bit of a shame…”
The disappointment showed completely unhindered on the dwarves’ faces as if they were children.
‘My goodness, these people.’
What other things would these guys want when alcohol and the forge were their only joys in life?
“When I come to pick up these things, I will bring beer produced through a new secret method. It’ll probably taste so good that one out of two people will ascend to the heavens while drinking it.”
“There’s a beer like that?”
“Of course. Just believe in me!”
“Alright! We’ll start the work today with all the dwarves. Don’t worry and come back after two weeks!”
These dwarves were as gullible as fish; at the prospect of a new flavor of beer, they immediately became hopeful and rejoiced.
I thought I could understand why they were always getting taken advantage of by humans.
The humans who didn’t think of pureness as something to respect, but something to exploit, were completely oblivious to this fact:
The dwarves who lived this simply were happier than the people who exploited them.
* * *
“We must procure more warhorses. Mounted soldiers are vital for protecting the territory in an emergency.”
“Continue to acquire more horses through the Rubis Merchants. Pay no attention to the price and purchase only the best.”
“Understood. Next, I wish to report on the problem of sowing. If magic towers and merchant groups other than the Corvain Merchants, who have definitely turned their backs on the territory, request for sanctions against us, it will become difficult for the Rubis Merchants to supply goods to us as well. Something like that won’t happen right away, but if they raise the issue that my liege is not a formally appointed lord of the empire and high-ranking Bajran nobles are won over to their side, then other kingdoms will also submit to the pressure of the magic towers and merchant groups. It is critical that we complete the sowing in order to secure provisions before that happens.”
‘This personality of mine is the problem, sigh.’
If things had gone to plan, it would have been fine for the merchant groups and magic towers to slowly turn their backs on us next year or the year after, but because I blew my temper, things became severe.
However, I had no regrets.
I would rather beat them up gratifyingly than suffer grievance after grievance.
The problems of tomorrow were worries for tomorrow, anyway!
“Just wait a few days. I have a good method in mind.”
“Understood. Lastly, I will report on the various goods necessary for large-scale monster subjugation. Stimulated by the activity of the Skyknights, the movements of the monsters have been unusual as of late. In particular, the orcs that have the highest numbers in Nerman by far have been frequently attacking forts or villages on the front lines.”
That was within my expectations. Monsters lived and moved on instinct, so they would know that a crisis was approaching them.
“We’ll have to gather the knights and commanding officers and come up with a concrete attack plan, but repelling the monsters is not the end. We cannot sweep the Rual and Kovilan Mountains, so it will not be easy to achieve safety within the entire territory. In addition, in order to construct the city that you wish to see, my liege, we will need an enormous amount of stones and wood, but as you know, besides the mountains, the Nerman Plains lack stone quarries and forests. I’m afraid that… it will be difficult for the time being.”
As I looked at a map of the Nerman Plains, Derval said in a roundabout way that it was impossible.
No matter how he racked his brains, he wouldn’t be able to find a way. As an Administration Academy graduate, Derval knew very well that money alone could not fix this place, a land discarded by a huge empire.
However, to a certain extent, those were just Derval’s thoughts.
I was different.
“What do you think is the most dangerous existence right now?”
“… I apologize for saying this, but everything is an enemy around us. And such difficult enemies that it is difficult to rank them.”
Derval didn’t say it, but I was also well aware. And even among those enemies, the biggest problem was me, the person who caused huge affairs without any plans.
“A few weeks from now, we will start the monster subjugation in earnest. From here, to here.”
* * *
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* * *
My finger traced a long line from the Havis Kingdom’s borders to the enormous plains where the Rual Mountains and Denfors were located.
Instead of an energetic “Yes, sir,” Derval just looked gravely at the area I pointed out.
‘We have to build a fort. We have to separate the mountains and the plains with a large-scale fortress or castle. At the same time, the roads have to be repaired. We’ll get nowhere if we keep going like this.’
Just repelling the monsters wasn’t the end.
Monsters had a vitality as strong as weeds and would threaten Nerman again as soon as there was an opportunity.
And if something like that happened just a few times, we would be forced to let go of this big pie, just like the empire in the past.
“As you wish, my liege!”
Derval’s passionate cry came from behind me.
He believed in me.
Even if I said we would attack the empire tomorrow, Derval would believe in me and follow.
There was no need to say much.
A man achieves his goals using actions, not words.
* * *
“What troubles you?”
Being a lord wasn’t as romantic as the novels made it out to be.
Well, it might be if you lived as you pleased like a villain character, but planning overall development of a territory wasn’t easy. I was lost in thought while eating dinner when Aramis cautiously asked what was on my mind.
‘Phew, just looking at her comforts the mind.’
Holy power, magic, mana; I saw and experienced them, but they were still hard to believe.
Particularly hard to get used to was how the influence of the gods touched everything on the continent.
Just looking at Saint Aramis’ lovely face and the subtle holiness that enshrouded her made all my woes and worries fly away.
“Haha, it is nothing. I was just wondering what tomorrow morning’s menu will be.”
“I can tell…”
“I can see you’re lying.”
Aramis’ uniform teeth showed as she offered me a warm smile that reached her eyes. For a moment, it was as if a freesia was blooming in the dining hall. She woke up at dawn to pray and spent the whole day treating and comforting the sick, but she was still showing me such a bright smile. Complaining in front of her was laughable.
“Please feel free. Though I am lacking, I have been praying every day for Kyre-nim…”
Two sentences with suggestive meanings…
‘Feel free’ and ‘praying for me.’
My heart warmed.
“Thank you. I haven’t done anything for you, but here I am on the receiving end.”
“That’s not true at all. Kyre-nim is the one who set me upright in front of God. That enlightenment is something I cannot repay even with my life.”
Aramis’ brown eyes became moist with tears, like she was about to cry like a dummy.
“Shall we go out?”
“Can we really?”
I wasn’t so cold-hearted that I could sit and watch a beautiful woman cry. Pointing to the sky, I sent her an invitation, to which Aramis clasped her hands in front of her with happiness.
“Let’s go, my lady.”
“Let us be off, my knight.”
Rising from my chair, I extended one hand to the lady. At my actions, Aramis bent her knees a little in a curtsey.
My heart trembled.
At this moment, I was a little nervous.
Ahead of me was a date in the sky with a kind-hearted woman.
I was jealous of absolutely no one in this world.
Not even the emperor…
* * *
“Y-You will give me a wyvern?!”
“Didn’t you say you received Skyknight education?”
“T-That is true, but…”
“If the Leader of Nerman’s First Knight Order isn’t good enough to be a Skyknight, then who is? I heard there are several people among your knights who have received formal training, so set them aside. I will acquire wyverns for them soon.”
“My… my liege…”
Cedrian, Leader of the Knights, called me his liege with a voice full of emotion.
Not all knights were equal. Only a Skyknight could be called a true knight.
Bebeto and I “educated” the three mercenary wyverns that survived the battle and integrated them into our force. And then I granted Cedrian one of them.
“Prepare for flight at once.”
“As you command!!”
“Che, you turn some people into leaders of the knights and even give them wyverns while making some people fly patrols day after day without rest! My liege, isn’t this just too unfair!?” complained Ryker, who was preparing for afternoon patrols.
The Temir could invade at any time, so I didn’t call the Skyknights at Orakk Castle in charge of the North down to the South. That’s why the four Skyknights in Denfors, including Janice and Ryker, had to handle the patrols every day. No wonder the play-loving, disloyal, and lazy Ryker complained.
“Sir Ryker, do you want to rest?”
“Of course! I haven’t had a proper drink in the last month!! It’s so bad that I dry heave just sitting on a wyvern!”
“That so? Then it’s time to rest.”
“Huhu… Then, since new Skyknights have been recruited, may I rest a bit?”
Ryker’s eyes shone with a wicked glint—who knew what the hell he was thinking?
“If that’s really the case, then go rest.”
“Inform Derval and get, oh, a thousand Gold from him.”
“!! Y-You don’t have to go that far…”
“Ach, that’s nothing. It’s a little low for severance pay, but it’s good that you’re satisfied with it.”
“Huh? S-Severance pay?”
“You did well up until now. I heard that there’s a few people with Skyknight education among the First Order. I can just give one of them your wyvern, so go rest up. You don’t have to come from today onwards.”
The moment I finished talking, Ryker’s mouth fell open.
“S-Sir Berketh! What are you doing! We should go quickly. We saw yesterday that the orcs were gathering near Siseth Fort, were they not!”
Ryker dashed towards his wyvern without looking back.
“My liege! We’ll be back!”
Then, scrambling onto his wyvern, he energetically sent a salute my way.
“Hurry up and move! You slow poke!”
He even got angry at his poor, blameless wyvern.
Flap, flap, flap flap flap.
In the blink of an eye, Ryker and his wyvern flew into the skies above the covert with a flurry of dust.
At that sight, the knights and soldiers clutched their bellies as they roared in laughter.
‘Seriously, these guys playing tricks… huhu.’
No matter how slyly Ryker played his tricks, there was no way he could match up to me, someone who didn’t live 18 years for nothing.
“Can you fly right away?”
“Yes! Right away my liege!” shouted Cedrian.
He must have put in quite a lot of effort in the past, because the mercenaries under him were reclassified without a hitch as a knight order. Unlike other mercenaries, Cedrian’s mercenaries knew their letters and were versed in etiquette. I had the inkling that Cedrian had planned to turn them into his knight order when he got his territory back.
Of course, the important knight orders of empires or kingdoms were all at Grade 1 mercenary level, so these guys were a bit lacking.
But so what?
Beggars can’t be choosers!
* * *
“OHH! This phenomenal flavor, what in the world is it?!”
“It tastes sweet, but also bitter, and the fragrance is out of this world. It truly is a flavor that can send one out of two people to heaven while drinking.”
‘Seriously, how much random knowledge did Master have floating around in his noggin?’
Most things would pop out in my head like formulas as soon as I thought of them. Among that wealth of knowledge was a curated selection of 11 beer production methods that even a dwarf would find amazing.
“What about the things I requested…?”
“Don’t worry. They’re all finished now. We made 200 spears and the mithril alloy armor and airplate were all fixed. We also completed five plows.”
As expected for a godly race, the dwarves followed through with their promises. They had finished a nigh-impossible amount of work in just two weeks.
“How are things progressing with the dravit?”
“Mm… I think that will take some time.”
Instead of his always confident mien, Cassiars was stroking his beard with a perplexed expression.
“Is there some kind of problem?”
“We’re all out of mithril ore.”
‘Well whaddya know? There are times when dwarves are troubled by ores as well.’
Even if it was the matchless mithril, I didn’t think it would be a problem for dwarves, natural-born miners.
“Is there no mithril mine?”
“There is, and it’s even a mine of very good quality.”
I could tell the situation was complicated, so I asked with caution.
“Those bastards are really not returning it to us. They say it was always their territory and dare to block us dwarves! Those arrogant, rude pieces of shit!”
I had no idea who he was talking about, but Cassiars spat as he cussed them out in a frenzy.
“Are demon beasts the problem? If so, then please don’t worry. I will take care of it.”
“They’re worse than demon beasts! Those bastards are more evil and malicious! They’re unrefined bastards who don’t know what ‘conversation’ means!”
‘Who could it possibly be? I-It can’t be dragons?’
That couldn’t be. It was written in the history books that it had been thousands of years since a dragon last appeared in the human world. And besides, how could a dwarf (at least one that wasn’t completely fearless) utter such ludicrous things about a dragon?
“The mithril mine is in the territory of those brainless duds of the forest, the elves. We had a replacement mine in the last hundred years so there was no need to run into the elves, but that one is now used up. What a shame… the one in the elves’ territory has more than enough for at least a thousand years…”
A race of noble blood that appeared in novels!
Seeing even a half-elf was rare on the continent, so there were almost no people who had seen a full-blooded elf. They were a race that loved nature, were reluctant to communicate with other races, including humans, and possessed such outstanding magic skills and intimacy with spirits that humans would not dare to mess with them.
“Can’t something be done?”
“No… We did all sorts of things over the last hundreds of years to try and be friendly with them, but those beanpole jerks didn’t even give us the time of day. Just wait a little, we’ll find a new mithril mine!”
“Around how long would that take…”
“Well, if we get everyone together and do our best, then we’ll probably find one in a few years, right? If we can’t find one in the Rual Mountains, there’s also the Kovilan Mountains, so don’t worry too much.”
Cassiars kept blithely saying ridiculous things. Not just several months, but several years, and even saying without a care that he would search other mountain ranges if there wasn’t one in the Rual Mountains…
Frustration boiled up within me. Most of the stuff I was planning required mithril alloy. I couldn’t surmount our inferiority in military power with regular weapons and goods, and that inferiority would soon bring us to ruin.
“Where is it?”
“What? The Elven Village?”
“Yes, I will go and negotiate.”
“Hrmph, don’t be too greedy. You’ll get hurt like that. You probably didn’t know that those elves have Skyknights, did you?”
I’d never heard that before. It was as strange as hearing someone say a tiger was drunk and attacked a bear.
“Magic can be blocked somehow or another with armor and mana, but as soon as you approach their territory, they’ll appear like ghosts and shoot arrows with nary a notice.”
“Not spears, but arrows?”
“Their mana-charged arrows are controlled by spirits, so they never, ever miss. Because of those bastards, we struggled for hundreds of years finding a mithril mine. But a unique characteristic of mithril mines is that they are often clumped in one place. And those huge mines are the biggest among all the mithril mines currently discovered.”
Just selling mithril ores could earn you a ton of money. Even a small territory could gain power and wealth rivaling most dukedoms the moment they developed a mithril mine. It was Kallian’s true lottery.
“Where are they located?”
“You really want to go?”
It went without saying. We had to arm ourselves well before the enemies around us started to bare their teeth. Moreover, I already managed to earn the help of the dwarves. It was ridiculous that they wouldn’t be able to work because they had no mithril.
“Sigh, the stubbornness of humans… It’s not far. It’s three days on foot, but on wyvern, you’ll be there soon. If you go north from the village…”
Seeing my determination, Cassiars explained the location of the Elven Village.
‘Are they really as killer as Ryker said?’
There was something more important than mithril.
That elegant and noble figure of the Elven Queen from the Lord of the Rings…
For some reason, laughter began to bubble in my heart.
A certain wise saying of the ancestors came to mind.
While you’re at it, the more pretty ladies, the merrier!