21st Century Archmage - Chapter 116

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Chapter 116: Each Drop of Sweat is Money!

 

Translator: Lei

 

Proofreader: Imagine

 

 

 

“They’re not here yet?”

 

“Yes. They said they would come soon, but they have yet to arrive.”

 

‘Are their internal affairs still complicated?’

 

Wyverns, prisoners, and weapons, all things a kingdom could not operate without, were in my territory, but the Havis Kingdom could not even think of retrieving them. It seems the kingdom hasn’t been sorted out yet. Otherwise, there was no way they would neglect their wyverns like this.

 

‘I hope it’s nothing serious…’

 

After returning to my office, Derval reported on various things. I hadn’t left my seat for long, but there was already a mountain of things to handle.

 

“Shall I contact them again, sir?”

 

“No, leave it.”

 

Rosiathe was no idiot. Rather, I could tell how brilliant she was from the rumors I had overheard regarding her brisk cleansing of the nobles.

 

“How is the coal mining going?”

 

“The first harvest has been completed. It is being distributed to nearby areas first.”

 

“Were there any problems?”

 

“Thanks to the hardworking slaves and soldiers, everything is proceeding as planned. And because they have been using the Kyre Road, the distribution has been proceeding swiftly as well.”

 

‘But I’ll need to return the slaves soon…’

 

I couldn’t enslave Temir while bearing the title of Great Guardian Warrior, the 2nd in command of the Temir folk.

 

“How about the acquisition of slaves?”

 

“Slave merchants are not very active during the winter. The slaves, who are treated as products, can be injured or perish, so during particular seasons, they do not get involved in wars or territory affairs.”

 

‘That’s regrettable.’

 

I could also mobilize citizens, but there were many other things they needed to do. On this large, large territory, farming was the greatest boost they could offer to the territory.

 

“After some consideration, I arrived at this conclusion: what about contacting the Havis Kingdom?”

 

“Havis?”

 

“It is said that the recent extensive purging of nobles has created a tremendous number of slaves. Even the families of knights and soldiers who had connections to noble houses or participated in previous acts of noble exploitation were turned into slaves, resulting in tens of thousands of slaves. Despite that, I heard that the slave merchants have not moved, as if they decided in unison to not get involved.”

 

“Don’t major merchant groups also deal with slaves?”

 

“Yes. Other than the Rubis Merchants, all other merchant groups deal with slaves, but they are not buying the slaves, as if they all agreed to not do so. They have been using the season as an excuse, but I believe they are waiting in order to drive down the prices.”

 

“Hooh, is that so?”

 

I didn’t really like the origins of the slaves, but if need be, we could simply sell and get new ones. Also, some of them were bound to be men and women of talent.

 

‘Guess I should visit once.’

 

I did have some worries about Rosiathe. Also, I had a method to drag over 100 wyverns to the Havis Kingdom, so it was time to shed those ravenous food pits.

 

“Any other issues?”

 

“I have already reported on everything else. Besides trifling matters like the opening of the sledding hill and the winter combat training, there are no important issues to report.”

 

“You’ve done well, Sir Derval.”

 

“I do not deserve such praise, my liege. Compared to your labor, this is nothing.”

 

‘That’s right, Sir Derval. You’re the only one who recognizes my efforts.’

 

In the recent visit to the Temir alone, I had to overcome the threat of death several times. How sad would it be if not a single person recognized my death-defying efforts? I might be the lord responsible for Nerman, but still.

 

“But… It seems that you have a new airplate. What happened to the old one? An airplate is worth more than a few cents…”

 

‘…..??’

 

My happy thoughts were interrupted by Derval’s stingy words.

 

“T-That’s because something happened… Haha. This is the newer model at least, right?”

 

“I know as much. But where did you leave your former airplate? Surely you did not leave it behind just because you got a newer model, right? Even a broken airplate is easily worth thousands of Gold…”

 

Trailing off, Derval looked at me with eyes of interrogation, staring at me as if I was a frivolous spender despite the territory’s difficult financial circumstances.

 

“A-As…if I would do such a senseless thing. Ha, hahaha…”

 

‘How can a person change this much? The Derval I know isn’t such a stingy knight.’

 

“My lord, please listen to me calmly. The continent has a proverb for something like this—live not like an ogre eating out orcs. The proverb is about a starving ogre discovering a cave of orcs and gorging itself day after day, even after satisfying its hunger, leading to the emptying out of the cave and once again ending up on the road of starvation. Currently, the territory coffers are overflowing, but it is at times like this that every knight and resident, including the lord, must save in order to prepare for the future. I merely wish that you understand this sincere advice of mine, my lord.”

 

‘Argh, I’m the one killing myself to make the money. Sob sob.’

 

I wanted to cry, but it wasn’t like he was wrong, so I simply nodded.

 

“I shan’t forget your eye-opening advice…and intent, Sir Derval.”

 

“Thank you very much, my liege.”

 

‘That’s right, if not for Sir Derval, who would pay such close attention to the territory finances?’

 

I quickly set my somewhat askew feelings straight. Nerman and I were not yet renowned across the continent, and we had the historical task of surviving while wedged between two empires. Of course we had to save, save, and save some more. If things went well, we would have plenty of time to eat in abundance later.

 

‘But damn, why do I keep thinking about my mom?’

 

During Thanksgiving and other national holidays, kids like me would get an allowance from adults, but my mom would confiscate that using her authority as a mom, in the name of “savings.” However, I knew that my money was never put aside as savings, but instead turned into the expensive makeup adorning my mom’s face or sexy lingerie prepared to make my dad happy. I suddenly felt my shameless mom’s aura from Sir Derval.

 

‘No way, right…’

 

I wanted to believe in Derval. I struggled to dismiss my foreboding thoughts, firmly believing that such a nightmarish tragedy would not occur a second time in my life.

 

Rather… I wanted to believe that.

 

But I couldn’t completely dismiss the thought, because Sir Derval was like a mother to this territory.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“To think that there is such a dearth of nobles and knights we can trust…”

 

In the last month, the Havis Kingdom was the busiest nation in the continent. All the nobles and knights who offended the royal family as well as the crown were successfully mopped up. But the face of Princess Rosiathe, the woman in charge of the current kingdom, was still laden with apprehension. Only now did she discover the extent of the corruption the nobles and knights had spread. She thought that as long as they cleaned up the traitors and the profiteers, the kingdom could be rebuilt, but it wasn’t that easy.

 

News of another rebellion came today, as well. The minor lords adjacent to the Roen Principality and the Laviter Empire defied the crown’s edict and killed the official and knights who were dispatched there. She would have liked to send knights and soldiers immediately to suppress the rebellion, but there was no one she could send. There was no knowing when the traitors would come rushing back, so men were needed to protect the royal family, and because she had to appoint new nobles from the knights to fill the vacant positions, the number of talents at her disposal had sharply decreased. Moreover, many territory soldiers, including formally enlisted soldiers, were still being held as prisoners in Nerman. Even if they mobilized all the Skyknight cadets currently being trained, they could not bring all the wyverns back to Havis, and they had no energy to spare for that, either. Even now, all the skilled Skyknights she had were busy quelling other rebellions and protecting important military positions.

 

“I didn’t think the kingdom was in such a critical state…”

 

There were countless nobles and knights who fled the kingdom in fear, despite not being on Rosiathe’s hit list. They fled in the night, taking treasures that could be considered part of the national wealth with them, leaving the kingdom completely empty.

 

The Roen Principality was not even an empire, but relations with them were strained due to border issues. If they attacked, there would be absolutely no way for Havis to oppose them.

 

‘For now, we need to reclaim the territory soldiers taken as prisoners as well as the wyverns, but…’

 

The most urgent matter was strengthening their military force. The difference between a Skyknight trainee with a wyvern and one without a wyvern was like heaven and earth. As long as they had wyverns, even the rebel armies in the kingdom would be helpless to resist.

 

However, it was impossible to bring the wyverns over. The tumultuous situation was barely being maintained by pulling every last bit of energy the royal family had.

 

“Haah…”

 

Feeling bitter, deep loneliness, Rosiathe let out a long sigh. There were still Royal Knights around to guard the palace, but there wasn’t a single person she could speak her heart to. Even Duke Safidian, her maternal grandfather, was dragging his old bones to suppress rebel forces.

 

Rosiathe’s sigh echoed out in the long royal councilroom. However, she did not stoop to tears. Loneliness and weakness were two separate things. Rosiathe closed her eyes, sinking into a short moment of stillness.

 

“Kyre…”

 

From her lips came the name of a certain man. The mere thought of him, the mere act of calling his name, gave her strength and comfort.

 

The tired princess leaned into the large throne, longing for that man.

 

On this long, long winter night, she desperately wished that he would come to her, if only in her dreams…

 

 

 

* * *

 

Reaper Scans

 

Translator: Lei

 

Proofreader: Imagining

 

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* * *

 

 

 

‘Jeez, you guys can be paladins for all I care, but why continue meddling in someone else’s relationship?’

 

I didn’t know that going on one measly flight with Aramis would be this difficult. I had to dodge the paladins like I was James Bond, risking my life for a night flight with Aramis. To the paladins, Aramis was an utterly sacred saintess, but to me, she was a woman.

 

Swooooooooosh.

 

‘Feels great!’

 

Even before the snow shower clouds could disappear, the sky was filling with clouds. In the frosty wind, both Aramis and I were wrapped up in airplates, but the sensation of Aramis’ head on my back and her hands on my waist elated me.

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There was no need for words between us. Simply flying over the moonlit snowfields was enough to refresh my heart and lighten my burden. I couldn’t open my mouth because of the cold wind, but our hearts were communicating all the same.

 

No matter what anyone said, at that moment, we were merely speaking with our hearts, silently telling each other this:

 

I’m happy because you and I are together.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“There is an urgent need to construct bridges in addition to roads for the territory’s development. Nerman currently has a total of three bridges, all of which were constructed by the Bajran Empire and are in poor condition.”

 

‘It’s still a minefield of problems.’

 

A meeting was underway with Derval and his friends, Nerman’s important officials, Andriave and Thevedian. A slew of reports came my way.

 

“That’s not all. The roads we are currently constructing can also be turned into an advantage of invading enemies, my lord. As such, at the same time as building the bridges, it is necessary to construct formidable mid-sized forts near them.”

 

As the territory development meeting progressed, everyone’s eyes were glued to a map of Nerman. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of the territory, the two new administrators recommended the construction of a bridge and a fort to protect it.

 

“But a bridge is not something that can be constructed in a day or two, but a large-scale effort that will take at least a year, so it is not something that can be so easily started, correct?” asked Derval respectfully, looking at his two friends. They were friends, but his work attitude was impeccable.

 

“For the sake of the innovative territory development that the Lord is planning, the construction of the roads and bridges is crucial. I believe the kind of development the Lord is planning is one where riding a horse across the breadth of Nerman in a single day is a part of daily life.”

 

Andriave, whose heterochromia eyes were blue on one side and brown on the other, looked at me as he asked for my opinion.

 

‘Birds of a feather flock together, huh. As expected of Derval’s friends.’

 

“You’re correct. My plan is to connect all of Nerman so that every corner can be reached in a single day. Nerman may be large, but the population is only that of an empire’s barony. It is my primary goal to connect the territory to one day of travel, innovatively reforming the movements of soldiers and logistics alike.”

 

The land of Nerman was nearly as big as South Korea, but this large piece of land was being used by only 500,000 residents, and barely ⅕ of the entire territory’s land was being utilized. Without some kind of revolutionary method, we couldn’t even attempt to develop the territory.

 

Only by quickly moving soldiers, people, and supplies to the places where they were needed could Nerman accumulate its lacking national power and stand on a stage with other empires and kingdoms.

 

‘This place still hasn’t completely realized the importance of logistics.’

 

Merchants might have a basic idea of how important logistics were, but nobles were clueless. Aerial combat using wyverns were seen as the most important aspect of war, and as a result, the fostering of infantry or construction of government roads was put on the back burner. Even the Bajran Empire, which was considered one of the most developed in the continent, only had country roads as soon as you left the capital. But for someone like me, who was used to receiving packages in 2 days and 1 night no matter where in the country they were sent, Kallian was a stuffy place. That’s why I decided to maximize the movement of supplies in my territory, at least.

 

“If so, like what Sir Thevedian says, a fort must be constructed along with a bridge. It would spell abject failure if our enemies were to seize control of the bridge and become capable of faster movement using our road.”

 

“Of course. As you all know, in Nerman, three tributaries combine in the middle into the Lovent River. We only have three bridges constructed on those rivers, and most of them are located with no heed to the road that is currently planned. As such, I’ve decided to construct at least five new bridges. Here, here, and here, here, here as well…”

 

I pointed to five places on the large Nerman map, indicating five new construction sites.

 

“Your insight is remarkable, sir. They are connected to the Kyre Road, and in those places, the existing bridges can be used in an emergency.”

 

“As expected of our liege. To think you had a solution prepared already…”

 

Andriave and Thevedian looked at me with surprise.

 

“This much is nothing for our liege. He arrived here in Nerman empty-handed, rose to the position of lord in less than a year, and brought peace to the territory. I’m sure he will surprise you two even more in the future.”

 

As if imparting some personal words of wisdom to his friends, Derval smiled smugly as he worked hard to boast about me. Hearing embarrassing praise spoken right in front of the person in question wasn’t a terrible feeling.

 

“Then shall we set bridge construction as an important task to be finished within a year? Or did you intend on it being a long-term project?”

 

“Derval, is the production of bricks progressing well, as I ordered?”

 

“Of course, my liege. We have already produced enough bricks to remake one part of the Denfors city walls.”

 

“Excellent. Then our first priority this winter is to construct a bridge connecting to the Kyre Road near Denfors, along with a fort to protect it.”

 

“P-Pardon?”

 

“M-My lord, do you really mean this winter?”

 

“My liege…”

 

The three people stared at me, mouths agape, at my apparently ridiculous claim. If I was going to show them what I was made of, I might as well engrave it deeply in their brains.

 

“Men, shall we make a bet? If I can construct a bridge and fort before the end of this winter, one month of pay will be cut from your yearly wage. How about it? Want to bet?”

 

A life without bets was boring. Back in Korea, my friends and I would make little bets using drinks and bread as wagers. Every time, I experienced the sweet taste of victory. Kallian and her people were no different—they were just as enamored with the exhilaration of bets as I was. It wasn’t as if one month of wages was some big wager, but it would be all the more exciting if there was victory condition.

 

“Alright! If you can construct a bridge and fort this winter, my lord, then I’ll forgo a month of wages, no, make it half a year of wages!”

 

“Andriave… That’s…” Having keenly experienced the depth of my abilities, Derval tried to stop Andriave.

 

“Haha. You’re a real man. Then, allow me to put down a wager of my own. If I cannot keep my promise, I will give you one year of wages as a bonus.”

 

“My liege, I would like to participate as well!”

 

Thevedian, who was just looking from the side, quickly jumped in at the mention of such a huge bonus.

 

“Tsk tsk…”

 

Derval clicked his tongue at the pitiful actions of his friends. He was making a sound of scorn, but his lips were curved into a smile. He was likely thinking of the territory’s finances and how wonderful it would be to make his friends work for half a year, free.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“This is how you do it.”

 

“Ah! I see.”

 

‘What a nice working relationship.’

 

I arrived at the temporary territory magic tower, a remodeled hangar. The beastmen and mages were busy producing magic items and didn’t even notice my entrance.

 

‘It really feels like a factory.’

 

The beastmen and mages were engraving magic arrays into the Blessed Spears made by the dwarves. They concentrated on their work, mithril welders in their hands. Because I told them that magic item production was necessary for the cultivation of magic ability, the beastmen and mages were going all out, staying up long nights.

 

I was incredibly thankful that they were doing the work I did alone in the past, divided up amongst themselves. It was simple manual labor at the level of sewing eyes onto stuffed animals, something I’d only heard of. For these guys, who didn’t possess that much magic knowledge, this labor would help them grow, but for someone who had 8th Circle magic knowledge in their head, it was just meaningless labor.

 

‘There’s no use even if other kingdoms get these spears. Huhu.’

 

It was no use even if other nations got their hands on the magic blueprints of the new Blessed Spears. The final step of making the Blessed Spears after the beastmen and mages engraved the arrays was my duty. The spears were only completed after a threefold sequence of magic formulas and a special mana stabilization process. It was just inscribing one line of Runic at the end, but if the order was messed up, the spear would be rendered completely useless.

 

‘Do your best, everyone.’

 

Despite their keen senses, the beastmen were concentrating so intensely that they didn’t notice me. I didn’t want to needlessly disrupt a nicely running factory.

 

Each drop of their sweat was basically money, after all!

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