21st Century Archmage - Chapter 109
‘Why do I feel so restless whenever I think about the Elven Village?’
Yesterday, I ended up entertaining Aramis until sunset, well, actually, long after sunset. Aramis and I sled down the hill so many times that my magic-strengthened cloak got ripped.
Aramis’ childlike mirth and joyful appearance that did not tire of such a simple pleasure was utterly lovable, even when I thought about it the day after.
In contrast, I couldn’t help but sigh when Bebeto began his descent into the Elven Village. I didn’t really do anything wrong, but I felt apologetic when I thought about the elves, and Narmias in particular. I was told that the elven form of love differed from human love, but my heart felt pained to be the one constantly on the receiving side.
We passed the illusion magic protecting the Elven Village.
‘It’s winter here, too.’
They could easily use magic to make it feel like spring, but the Elves were enjoying the winter as is. The Elven Village nestled between massive trees was covered in snow like any other place.
As soon as Bebeto landed in the Elven Village’s clearing, a certain figure appeared as usual.
The elven woman was smiling brightly with inexplicable joy. Her blue-tinted silver hair looked like an elegant spring flower blooming in a field of snow.
“Blessings of the silver branch be upon thee…”
Running over, Narmias spread out her hands in the greetings of the elves. Another woman might have jumped boldly into my arms, but this one was satisfied just by getting to see me.
“Have you been well?”
Narmias, who was nearly 60 years old—though elves had a different notion of age than humans—nodded shyly at my simple greeting.
“I have presents here. Please distribute them to the other elves.”
The elves did not desire jewels or material objects like humans did. During the road construction, they cried tears of joy over regular bread, so I simply filled a large basket with wheat bread and packed it on Bebeto’s back, even putting temperature preservation magic on it to protect it from the cold.
“On behalf of all of us, thank you for your noble spirit.”
A few pieces of bread earned me such high praise.
“Didn’t you want to see me?”
“Huh? U-Um… I…”
Holding the basket of bread, I jumped down right next to Narmias, then looked into her Lake Baikal-like eyes as I made a playful remark. Narmias ducked her head, flustered.
‘Won’t the heavens punish me with lightning at this rate?’
It was terrifying to think of all the exhilarating memories I’ve had with many different women. I’d already kissed several of them, and shared ambiguous gazes with several others, a feat only a real playboy would be able to achieve.
‘Do as you please! I’m gonna live like this and croak like this!!’
Morally speaking, my life had a thousand points to be ashamed of, but I decided to just go for it. It would be one thing if I were still in 21st century Korea, but this was a different world with a different culture. I would preserve what I could of my conscience and live to the fullest. If I didn’t, I would be crushed by the constant pangs of my conscience.
“I wanted to see you. I saw Kyre-nim’s face in each and every one of the falling snowflakes, even the wind at night reminded me of your breath, making me unable to fall asleep. My soul and heart yearned only for you, my eyes saw only you, my lips felt the breath filled with your warm love, my hair remembered your hand, my hands, my clothes… All the things I did with Kyre-nim made me flounder in the valley of joy. I love you… The master of my breath…”
Scintillations rippled down my entire body at Narmias’ trance-like whisper. It was the first time in my life that someone proposed their love to me as if singing a poem.
I lightly embraced Narmias. The airplate obscured the feeling of her in my arms, but I just wanted to hold her.
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Even this light hug made Narmias breathe a long sigh of contentment. Her fragrant, sweet breath tempted me to my soul.
My lips touched hers, and slender, long arms wrapped around my neck.
An uncontrollable flame surged up from the depths of my chest.
It was sweet.
No other expression came to mind. Her lips were as sweet as honey, no, like fragrant ice wine.
I explored Narmias’ lips for who knows how long, until prickly gazes from all around us snapped me back to my senses. My eyes, which I’d unconsciously closed at some point, jumped open.
The elves, whose footsteps had always been lighter than a rabbit’s, were watching us. The entire village appeared to be watching this ‘Rated 15 and over lovey dovey action film’ unfolding in the middle of the day.
‘First time seeing someone kiss? Jeez.’
I was embarrassed, no, actually mortified.
Yes, I was someone who lived outrageously with no shame, but there were certain things I wanted to keep private.
“Hoho, how nice to see. It’s my first time seeing an elf exchange breaths in the middle of the day.”
Walking through the crowd of elves, Elder Parciano burst out in hearty laughter. A matter like this would have invited plenty of teasing in human society, but the elder simply looked satisfied at the sight.
That the other elves were the same as Parciano was evidence that the elves had a different culture from humans. They weren’t gulping or giving us ambiguous, perverted looks, but awed expressions, as if witnessing a sacred tableau.
“Blessings of the silver branch be upon thee… It is good to see you, Elder.”
“Have you been well?”
“Yes, by virtue of your deep concern.”
“That’s a relief. The smell of blood has been drifting in from the plains lately, so I wondered if something had happened.”
‘Do you have a dog’s nose? This place is so far from the plains, my god.’
As expected of an ancient mountain spirit, the elder accurately inferred the war between Nerman and Havis. He was truly someone who could never be underestimated.
“Narmias, go ahead and distribute the bread before it cools.”
‘They say a woman grows bolder with love.’
Narmias was even less embarrassed than me. The sight of her kissing me was broadcasted to the entire elven clan, but her face lacked a single shred of embarrassment. Rather, the other elven women seemed to be embarrassed in her stead.
“But why have you come to visit on this cold winter day? Did you want to see Narmias that badly?” asked Parciano bluntly. Because he had seen more of the world than the other elves, he had a fairly good grasp of human nature and sensed that I had a different motive.
“Naturally, I did want to see Narmias, However, I also had something I urgently needed to tell you, Elder…”
The elves could be called a fount of knowledge. The stories passed on through word of mouth through the generations of elves was more reliable than what was written in the human history books.
“It is regarding the Temir tribes.”
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“Mm… It seems to be an important conversation. Come to my house.”
At the mention of the Temir, the elder closed his eyes a little and moaned.
‘He knows something.’
The Dwarven Patriarch was the same, and considering the way the Elven Elder’s expression changed, I could tell there was some kind of weighty truth behind the Temir tribes, something I definitely needed to know about.
* * *
“Ohh! Only a few days left until the long-awaited day…”
There weren’t many days left until the continent’s last month. Among the twelve months, the 12th month was the only one given to the God of Evil, Kerma. The ominous light of the black Luena Moon was waning in the sky. Soon, the darkness of the final day of the 12th month would be upon them.
Looking into the sky, the three black mages reveled in the turbulence to come.
“Kuku, if we can obtain that person’s power, all the demon beasts and monsters here, as well as the Temir, will be reborn as an army of darkness. An army with the might to topple every empire and kingdom on the continent with ease shall be born!”
“How long have we waited for this moment… our resentment has grown to the brink of explosion during this disgraceful and humiliating time, but the Great Kerma never abandoned us.”
The mages spoke of nebulous things as they stood upon the empty Temir altar and looked into the wide open sky.
“But what shall we do about the one named Kyre?”
“What do you mean?”
“Huhu. His magic power is not to be taken lightly. If he becomes the general of our immortal army…”
“Oh! A marvelous idea!”
“Fantastic. If he becomes a general, we will have absolutely nothing to fear.”
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Their faces hidden deep within their black robes, the black mages plotted against the Lord of Nerman, Kyre.
“Alright, let us go inside now. We must maintain our mana at the best condition for the sake of that day.”
“It is becoming steadily more difficult to control the bitch Lokoroïa. She is constantly trying to free herself from the Teardrop of Restraint, as if daring anyone to think she’s not from the Dragonia Clan.”
“Huhu. She struggles in vain; there isn’t much time left. Until her awakening after the coming-of-age ceremony, she is merely a slave bound by the Teardrop of Restraint.”
The three black mages, who cursed Lokoroïa as a bitch, put blind faith in the Teardrop of Restraint, the secret drug they had used 10 years ago. It enabled a mental control spell that one could never escape, unless they were an archmage or high level priest.
Throughout the years, these three had used the Teardrop of Restraint to nurture a terrifying scheme within the temple at the very heart of the Temir, in such secrecy that not a single person in the world was aware of their machinations.
* * *
“Indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not recorded in human history. In the first place, a dragon must thoroughly hide its identity as a dragon whenever it is out amusing itself. Such is the condition the gods imposed upon the dragons that descended to the Middle Realm.”
‘Damn, I didn’t expect a dragon to suddenly come up. Do I believe it, or not?’
There were records related to dragons in the Imperial Library as well, but they had become myths, like fairy tales for children. They hadn’t appeared in human history for thousands of years, so everything related to the dragons was treated on this continent as fanciful tales from the ancients.
“The Temir race was the first race of mankind to appear on this continent, before any other. According to the song passed down from our ancestors, the Temir people are dragonia—in other words, they are descendants from a dragon’s union with a human during its time of amusement.”
Parciano’s words were unbelievable. How could the uncivilized Temir people be the descendents of a dragon, an existence that was called the ruler of the Middle Realm and the Master of Magic, even if they were merely the aftermath of a dragon’s fun?
“What are the characteristics of a dragonia? If they are really the descendants of a dragon, wouldn’t they be incredibly powerful?”
This matter was related to the safety of my territory, so I pressed Elder Parciano for more information.
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“They’re not very different from humans. Though, they do have slightly more aptitude for magic than humans.”
‘What? Then what’s all this fuss about being a dragon’s descendant?’
“However, sometimes, descendants with pure blood are occasionally born among them. The Temir call such people shamans, and the one with the strongest aura among them is appointed to the position of Great Shaman.”
“What? G-Great Shaman?”
The current Great Shaman of the Temir was Lokoroïa, meaning that that mere sprout of a kid was a true descendant of a dragon.
“Of course, they are also restricted by a condition.”
“What exactly do you mean by condition?” I asked, straining my ears to focus on this unimaginable information.
“They must undergo an awakening.”
“An unawakened shaman is only a little better than a regular human.”
“What happens if they are able to awaken?”
“An awakened shaman… one should run away.” Even the prideful Elven Elder said without hesitation to run away. “It isn’t known in the continent, but there are occasionally Awakened among the Temir shamans. Upon their awakening, they shed the restrictions of mana, instantly becoming upper-circle mages. Was it, oh, around 1,500 years ago? There was a shaman who achieved a more outstanding awakening than usual. In just a few years, they became an incredible mage, reaching the 8th Circle in no time.”
‘The 8th Circle in just a few years—!’
Reaching the 8th Circle in a few years was like waking up and winning the lottery. At the mention of the 8th Circle, I recalled the archmage aura I had perceived in the Temir temple.
“Moreover, an Awakened unconsciously exudes Dragon Fear, something only a dragon can possess. Dragon Fear causes all demon beasts and monsters to submit. Naturally, any mages or knights who intend to fight such an Awakened must pre-emptively use a mental attack. Otherwise, there’s absolutely no way to win.”
“Even if you and the other elves come forward?”
“I’ve never experienced it myself, so I can’t say. But there is a warning passed down from our ancestors. If an Awakened dragonia ever treads the path of a black mage, hunker down with bated breath until the Awakened disappears from the world.”
Even with my nerves of steel, I couldn’t help but be alarmed. The energy I perceived from the temple was unmistakably the cold and ominous aura characteristic of dark magic.
‘I couldn’t feel powerful mana from Lokoroïa’s body. She has definitely not awakened yet.’
“Does a coming-of-age ceremony happen to have anything to do with the awakening?”
“I can’t say for sure.”
Lokoroïa’s coming-of-age ceremony is happening in three days. The uneasiness I’d been feeling the last few days weighed heavily on my heart.
‘Something must be afoot.’
It bothered me that I didn’t know exactly what was going on. The black magic I felt in the Temir temple, the unawakened dragonia under the control of an unknown party, and the coming-of-age ceremony… All the puzzling factors whirled messily in my head like a brain teaser.
“But why do you ask? Is something happening with the Temir?”
“No, not yet.”
I said there was nothing going on, but I was anxious. If Lokoroïa achieved her awakening and became a black mage…
The thought alone was terrifying. Even between two 8th Circle archmages, the black mage would possess stronger destructive force. It was standard knowledge in the magic world that a regular white mage would never be able to win, even with offensive magic of the same circle.
‘For now, I’ll face her head-on. And if she walks the path of a black mage, then…”
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My thoughts were a jumbled mess, but the answer was simple.
If you were killed while racing towards your goal, that was that. Of course, you couldn’t blame anyone but yourself for your demise.
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