Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Visual Kheda: Cohen’s father, Duke of the Swabia Empire.
- Rick & Swift Kheda: Cohen’s brothers.
- Flynn & Carey Rohna, Winslet(elf): Cohen’s fiancees.
Carey, who had burst into tears, was forcefully pulled away by Flynn. When everyone quieted down, my father and two brothers gazed at me with an accusatory look, which made me feel a bit uneasy and regretful.
“Let’s continue.” A while later, my father broke the silence, “Cohen, do you have any ideas?”
“Such a gap of hundreds thousand is not a thing that can be filled up easily.” Rick said, “That’s a lot of money!”
“But won’t the towns that Cohen had built earlier around Dark City help lighten the burden…” Swift said, “Why would it be difficult?”
“Those towns were set up only to supply food.” I looked at my fingers and continued, “Even those towns could be ready within half a year. The yearly double cropping kinds of wheat limit to start to provide us with food until the second year if we were to exclude any incidents that occur.”
“Then, what else is there that we can do?” Rick asked, “Say, couldn’t we sell the dwarf weapons, or sell the rare Dark Forest ores in the market?”
“Since we are going to create an army in Dark City, the entirety of the dwarf artisans is still far from enough.” Thanks to returning to the topic we were discussing earlier, my line of thoughts went back on track. I started to explain it thoroughly, “Auntie Elf has sent me samples of the Dark Forest ores, and they could be classified into two categories. All of it is great stuff that could be put into either civil or military use. We can’t let such treasures fall into the hands of others!”
“In that case, what’s your idea?” Swift looked grim.
“I intend to go back to Dark City once the wedding is over.” I sketched my plan roughly in my mind and since Carey came here and broke my train of thoughts, what I spoke were ideas that merely came to me moments ago, “I want the craftsmen we’ve got to be rationed, selected and trained. Do your best to maximize their working efficiency to minimize the project duration and costs. On the other hand, I’d like to gather all the dwarf craftsmen who specialize in forging weapons and invest their efforts into a brand new working model that could equip our new army with enough gear in a short period of time. If we’re lucky and it works, then it will be the time for us to consider selling the extras.”
“Short period?” My father chuckled unpredictably, “How does that work?”
“I have discovered a huge issue at hand when watching them forge the weapons.” I untied my walking rapier, “Let’s take a look at this sword. If we see it as a sword, it’s perfect. Flawless. From it, I can see the dwarf races’ unparalleled ability and understanding in crafting metal and forging weapons! However, their excessive pursuit for perfection results in a massive amount of time needed when forging merely one weapon, which leads to an enormous waste of the workforce and virtually increases the cost required. To forge such a sword, it requires the handiwork of three dwarves and more than ten days to finish. Whereas on the battlefield, weapon consumption is much faster. Clearly, current methods of production will not satisfy our current needs.”
“I understand what you’re saying, more or less.” My father stood up and paced, “But, to cut the manufacturing time short will also compromise the quality of the weapons. In this case, a dwarf makes weapons no better than any average worker.”
“Sure it does not just shorten the time.” I draw my sword and level it on the desk, “Forging this sword requires dozens of procedures which includes the selection of materials, smelting, purifying, forging… these steps are finished by a few dwarves. Same goes for the sheath.”
“That is the case.” Rick said, “There’s nothing strange about that.”
“This way, the entire process of production has to be supervised by an experienced master. But, a true Master is rare.” I said, “To be a Master, he needs to learn all the techniques and procedures needed! That’s not something someone is able to master simply by studying earnestly. He has to be incredibly intelligent and gifted! It results in usually just one Grandmaster appearing within the whole dwarf clan! A Grandmaster’s works, undoubtedly, are elaborate but lack in quantity. However, the others’ forging skills are subpar and time-consuming.”
“So, your idea will improve these flaws?” My father asked.
“Yes!” I answered confidently, “Firstly, we need to select the dwarves who are specialized in a certain procedure. I don’t need them to be a master of all, I need him to have a mastered skill! He will be in charge of only what he has mastered. Some examples include designing, material selection, etc. For example, a customer shows up and orders a customized weapon. He then specifies all the specs of the weapon and a dwarf who excels in designing will design; a dwarf who excels in selecting materials will select; a dwarf who excels in managing procedures will manage… that’s the kind of Grandmaster I’m talking about. He will be in charge of specifying standards and giving orders to the workers.”
“Starting from material selections, all workers will strictly adhere to the Master’s commands, and according to the criteria, send the selected ores to melt, purify, forge… The length, weight, thickness, sharpness, flexibility of a weapon are all specified. All craftsmen will work under a single standard. The arm flows through dozens of hands like water, everyone who holds it has the one skill that the Grandmaster possesses.”
“What’s so good about that?” Swift grabbed his head and said, “You’ll need even more people to forge the same sword!”
“Does it really?” He amused me.
“It’s indeed a splendid idea!” My father slammed the table, “To specialize a single step and concentrate on production. It’s gonna ramp up production as well as maintain exemplary quality and raise good workers in the meantime. What a great idea!”
“So to summarise,” My big brother, who saw the light, concluded, “Not only will it meet our current needs, it will also give us the chance to open sales.”
“Correct!” I said, “And make money.”
“Say…” Swift, who hasn’t understood, asked, “What’s so good about it?”
“Swift, think about it.” My father said with a smile, “Why did Cohen say a arm flows through the workers like water?”
“I see!” He bounced up and exclaimed, “There will be a constant stream of work with no gaps!”
“Exactly.” I chuckled, “This is the idea of line production!”
“When did you become such a smart ass!” Swift knocked on my head, “Now, let’s deal with the money issue!”
“No!” I tucked my head, “Headache!”
“Yeah…” My father stopped Swift, “What about the rest?”
“We’ve gone through everything.” I felt powerless, “No idea…”
“Let me see, how about this.” He said, “You could take your chance in Winper.”
“Father, I have already thought about going.” I said, “However, the business there could only hold out so far to support its own unbalanced development.”
“Anyways, just go. You might as well figure something out!” He said with a smile, “It’s settled!”
“Alright…” I’ve got nothing in mind and nodded.
“Rick, Swift!” My father said to my two elder brothers, “You need to act quickly on your assignments.”
“We’ll get onto it ASAP.”
“Cohen, my people will go back with you.” My father continued, “I think it’s necessary to improve the road from Dark City to Darkmoon. Leave it to me. Your work will be taken care of by me personally after you’ve gone to Winper.”
“I trust you.” I chirped, “There won’t be a problem!”
“So…” He went around all three of us, “If there are no other issues- meeting adjourned.” Everyone nodded to show that there were no further questions.
“About Carey…” My father looked at me, “I’m not happy with your attitude, care to explain?”
“I…I was…” I had nothing to support myself and thought to roll over it whereas there were two brothers and a father waiting for an answer, “She will soon be your wife. I hope you can respect her in every way.” My dad said sincerely, “I understand a wife-husband relationship needs the effort of two. However, I still hoped you had done better than that.”
“I know! I’ll apologize immediately!” I dashed out and ignored his intentions to stop me.
I stopped outside Carey’s room and found Flynn and Winslet anxiously knocking on the door, calling out her name. They noticed my presence and seized. Winslet glared at me. Flynn shook her head helplessly.
“How is it?” I asked.
“She’s crying and the door’s locked!” Flynn yelled.
“It’s your fault! We don’t care! You figure something out!” Winslet grabbed Flynn and walked away, “If Carey’s not ok then you are not marrying anyone tomorrow!”
“Hey!” They giggled and left before I could say anything.
Man, were they teaming up against me already?
“Carey, open up!” For the sake of my future happiness, I braced myself and knocked, “It’s me.”
“Who is it! I don’t know you!” Her voice told me that she was still angry.
“Snap” Something smacked against the door.
“I’m Cohen.” I said, “Cohen Kheda, your fiance.”
“NO! NONONO!” Another something-something was thrown against the door and made a scraping sound.
“Alright.” I kept on knocking, “Let me in.”
“NO! NO!” A lady’s temper was exceedingly wild, “I’m not!”
What followed after was many talks and words and apologies and explanations. However, she did not give in and later on answered me with thrown objects.
I had no idea how others dealt with such situations. In any case, I calculated the number of objects left in Carey’s room that could make a scraping sound and compared it with the cost of a door, then kicked it open.
“YOU!” Carey, who cried tearfully, did not expect my move. She was speechless and had lain half her body on her bed.
“Joking!” I sat by the bed, “If I get out then I broke that door for nothing.”
“My darling wife.” I gazed at Carey and used my ultimate trick, “Look at my bashed toes.”
“Who cares!” She did not even spare me a glance, “I’m not your wife yet.”
“Sure, yes, yes, yes.” I smiled, “I know your girlish stuff! They all bragged about the beauty of a girl waiting for her marriage and they are not wrong.”
Carey did not argue and ignored me.
“Carey, it’s my fault today.” I said softly, “I’m sorry.”
I noticed her shoulders shrugging slightly and knew I was on the right track!
“It worked!” I thought.
“Please forgive me.” I said, “I mean it.”
“No.” She was still rejecting my apology, though with a softer voice.
“How can I make you forgive me?” I asked.
“I don’t…” She turned and spoke to me, only to be amused by my grimace.
“Nasty!” She said, pretending to be angry, “Acting like a kid, you are a viceroy now!”
“What’s wrong with that?” I said, “You are Carey! As long as you are happy, I’m fine doing this every now and then.”
“What you said earlier was wrong.” Carey said, “Now you’ve changed again, so quickly! How could I trust you like this?”
“See, I’m here to apologize.” I said with a smile, “Please forgive me. We’ve grown up together. You know me better than anyone, right? I know I was over my head earlier and I didn’t know what happened. Probably because of everything that changed so quickly, or the increasing pressure I’ve been experiencing…”
“Was that really you?” She said, “That was not you, not the Cohen I know. Cohen never throws tantrums!”
“How about this!” I said, “Let’s promise each other. From now on, no one will go over his head. Unless you or I am extremely mad or am about to lose control, he or she must stop immediately.”
“As long as you can keep it!” Carey said, “I don’t care. I’m mad when I’m mad!”
“Ok, promise. From now on, only you can get angry about me.” I said, “So, as a punishment for my behavior today, I’ll be the only one to keep that promise.”
“Yeah, it’s a promise. My promise to my darling wife.”
“I was gonna mess you up.” Carey knocked my shoulder with her pinky fists softly, “If only you’d just explain and talk to me, I’d have told you that my sister and I are ok with it…”
“It was my fault.” Hearing this, I felt deeply apologetic towards Carey, “Please forgive me!”
“If you act like that one more time…” Carey looked at me, “I’m not talking to you anymore!”
“Haha, I knew it! Carey will forgive me…” I couldn’t finish my sentence and saw Flynn and Winslet come in, hand in hand. “Alright, Cohen, leave! We need to prepare for tomorrow!”