Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Martin Luther: Aka Grandpa Red Nose, Cohen’s grandpa-in-law and a former general.
- Jack, Marfa, Wilder, Moya: Cohen’s friends and Dark army commanders.
War trophies were plenty.
We had not only recovered all the robbed ore, but all of the enemy’s supplies as well.
Every soldier had to bear a share of the goods from the mountains of accumulated enemy supplies to carry. Armors, weapons, etc. Fortunately, the enemy had left behind their horses, or I would have needed to have them all buried. It could have been such a waste.
“Okay!” I mounted my horse, “Let’s go.”
The remaining team size marched forward like a meandering snake. Martin Luther and I rode with two hundred people as the tail guard.
The enemy camp behind us was completely trashed. In the blast earlier, the raging fire had reddened half of the night sky. Because we were within the enemy’s border, we dared not linger for too long. Only after a night of speedy riding and we had stepped into the land of Dark did our dangling heart get placed down.
“Tired? Leave this to me.” Martin Luther said, “Go ahead to the front!”
I nodded and lifted my helmet, “Well then, watch over it for me!”
Martin Luther smiled and said, “No problem, but you need to watch over those guys. I worry that they’d be sluggish after the war and its calm atmosphere.”
Grandpa Red Nose’s experience was indeed rich! When I passed by a small woods with a team of guards, I saw the eight guardsmen who I had just assigned to my four best brothers standing on the edge of the woods like eight stupid clowns. Then, I heard crying voices that sounded as if somebody was butchering a pig.
“Quit sneaking around!” Those guards pushed the curious soldiers who passed by their blades, “There’s nothing here.”
“That sounded like Marfa” Uncle Maiza, who stood beside me whispered.
Right, if the voice of the shouting was lowered down by two octaves, it did indeed sound like Marfa.
I hastily approached one of the guards and knocked on his helmet with a whip.
“S… sir!” He was like a thief who got caught on the spot and his reaction time slowed.
I nodded to him and replied, “What are you doing?”
“Gu… guarding, Your Highness!” He swallowed hard. The poor guy seemed terrified.
I wagged my whip at them and said, “So, are you all doing the same?”
“Yes…” All of them were all about to cry, “Our commander’s order.”
“Maiza! Get those guys out of here!” I wondered what the four clowns were up to, “Get rid of these speculators. “
The big and tall Maiza took three steps to turn over, dismount, and rush into the woods. I was amazed by his robust movements as he traveled into the forest.
Almost immediately, the sound of a whip slashing on human bodies and the unruliness of Uncle Maiza’s scolding could be heard.
“What are you doing? Get up! Why aren’t you acting like officers!?”
“Who the hell!”
“Uncle Maiza, don’t hit us!!”
Sounded like those guys were getting their asses kicked.
“Get out!” The voice of Uncle Maiza revealed his irresistible majesty: “Viceroy Cohen wants to see you!”
The first one to come out was Jack. He faced me and smirked before running to the side of the station while touching the part of his body that was whipped. I noticed that his armor was a little messy.
Then came Moya and Wilder who had the same embarrassing smile and clumsy outfits.
How weird. Then, I connected Uncle Maiza’s bellowing to their sloppy appearance. Were those guys assaulting a woman during warfare? That was a serious offense punishable by death! I frowned and already secretly thought about excuses for them to get off the hook.
“Snap!”, then a human who was stripped off with only his underwear remaining was thrown at my horse by Maiza, “He was the one at the bottom.”
My head hummed, “I was right… they …”
“Bo… boss!” The guy looked up to talk to me. To my surprise, it was Marfa, “They screwed me over…”
Although my brain froze for a while, I knew that they did not need to lose their heads. Because the martial law has not written on how to convict a crime against nature.
God bless them that they did nothing.
“Banana you melon fucker!” Knowing it was nothing serious, I grew more angry instead. I dragged Marfa to the woods. His current appearance was not suited to be shown in the main road where people came and went.
“What are you looking at?” I kicked Moya and Jack while yelling at the rookie guards, “Do your job and keep watching!”
“What on earth happened?” I endured my anger until we got to the dense woods and pointed at the nose tip of these bastards. My face was nearly bluish because of my fury.
“It was… boss!” Wilder said in a rush, “Do not get angry yet!”
It seemed that they had still remembered that I rarely got mad at my brothers. And the number of times I get angry was proportional to the intensity of the anger I felt. The last time I got mad was during the apple stealing incident from my childhood.
“START TALKING!” My voice level was close to yelling. These few bastards can always find ways to give me headaches, “What were you doing!”
“When we came out of the woods,“ Jack put away his smirk and said carefully. Thus his language became so simple: ””Moya took off the helmet and said it was hot!”
“Yeah! Yes!” Moya nodded vehemently without stop, his forehead sweaty.
“Then Marfa made fun of Moya and said that Moya doesn’t know how to pick decent armor.” Wilder continued.
“Then Marfa began to brag about how beautiful his armor was,” Jack continued, “And how graceful and charming he looked when wearing it.”
I took a look at the pitiful Marfa. He appeared to be ravaged and not a single bit graceful nor charming.
“Then we begged him to tell us and finally knew that he had borrowed my money to seek favor from the Grandmaster. That’s why he got his pair of fitted armor.”
“He also stole Wilder’s two bottles of wine that were hidden under his bed…”
Their stories went over my head. I said, “Stick to the point!”
“Yes, sir! So, then after we drove him to the woods, ground his armor and kicked his ass! That’s it!” Wilder concluded.
It seemed to be the truth. It looked like nobody was into Marfa’s butt. I should be happy about that. It was just that I was not! My hand clenched even tighter on the whip.
“Boss … … they also said,” Marfa said with a tearful complaint: “I am not very squishy, so kicking my ass would be better…”
“We’ve just finished a dreadful war…” My mouth spat out word by word, and my whip raised slowly, “You guys just do not take the time to even think about what went wrong during the fight or how to make up for the mistakes you have made. And now you have time to play around?!”
The whip then fell, and their screech went ten times higher and echoed in the woods.
“I WON’T DARE TO DO IT IN THE FUTURE!”
“THERE’S STILL A FUTURE?!!”
I rode, and the three other silly sacs followed behind. Marfa fell behind because he was still struggling with his armor.
Jack was the one who had spent time with me the most. He waited until my madness was emptied and approached, “Boss, don’t be like that.”
“Oh, no, boss… ” Jack sensed his chance then immediately attached himself over, “If you act like this again, my fragile soul will not be able to bear such…”
“You are an army commander!” I said helplessly, “Put away that hippy face!”
“Oh!” Wilder said, “You mean we aren’t brothers any longer, right, sir?”
“Ah?” Moya acted surprised, “If that’s the case I won’t be an officer! I wanna be a brother to Cohen.”
Here we go, the word attack and defense. They were good.
I halted the horse and said slowly, “Do you have dreams? For your future.”
“Dreams?” Jack blinked, “Moya, do you have one?”
“I do.” Moya nodded, “Mine is to take care of you. What about you, Wilder?”
“Haven’t thought about it.”
“No matter if there is now, yours will always be there.” I said: “Whatever you want to have: money, a wife, or the right to live a free life… people need dreams.”.
“What does this have to do with us?”
“It does!” I said with a far-reaching tone which I seldom used so far, “To realize your dreams, you need to be good at your jobs! Ya think lying in bed all day thinking about dreams could achieve them?”
“Our fathers were right. It’s a fucked, fucked world.” My gaze swept everyone’s face: “If you don’t have power, you’ll probably lose your miserable life, let alone your dreams! What is power? Power is the soldiers we have! And I’m not here to take care of each battalion by myself. I need your help.”
“We’re here for you, even if you don’t ask.” Moya said: “You are our boss!”
“Speaking of that,” I cried a smile, “I really hope you all to rely less on me, your boss.”
“Oh, wait, why is that?” Wilder said anxiously, “Though I often wanna take back what once belonged to me, that’s merely a thought. Boss, don’t abandon us!”
“I never said I’m gonna leave you. Our friendship will be there for eternity.”
“Think about it, if we go on like this, then after ten years, twenty years later, when others mention your name, what kind of language would they use?”
“This is Mr. Wilder, Cohen Kheda’s good friend.” I pointed to them one by one and said, “This is Moya; this is Jack; and this is Marfa. They are all Cohen Kheda’s good friends. What do you feel when you were introduced as such by others?”
“Is there anything wrong with that?” Asked Marfa.
“I hope my brothers are all distinguished men in the world! And when mentioned, his own name will be used instead of the names associated with others.” I laughed, “By then, I will be glad to be your boss, who is said to be your friend: it will be the happiest occasion for me!”
“I get it. Just say it when you wanna get lazy!” Wilder got what I said and went away for an excuse, “Beating around the bush like that!”
Banana you mother fucker! I was being nice!
“But I still do not understand…” Marfa muttered.
“Put on your armor!” Moya also understood and said “And then continue!”
“Oh!” Marfa was left behind once again.
The mountain road meandered. We were blocked by a crowd of soldiers after a bend.
Soon after, he came back.
“Boss, a car went down at the pass. It’s blocking the road.”
“You and Moya go deal with it.”
“Infantry!” Moya came up and ordered: “Get on side hills through the corridor!
Mountain pass was not very high. Thus this order was not very difficult to implement.
The soldiers began climbing as the guards, and we walked through a few cars for the injured to the natch.
“What’s going on?” Wilder questioned at a carriage that blocked the road.
Two men came out from under the car and said, “Sir, the axle is faulty!”
“Can’t you turn it over to the side!”
“Sir! Right away… sir!”
Wilder nodded, “You better hurry, I shit you not!”
That’s more like it! An officer usually did not joke around all the time.
Jack bypassed the broken carriage and said touchingly, “Wilder and Moya were impressively mighty just now!”
“If you want to, you can be like that as well.” Wilder said.
“Awww!!” Jack was disdainful and said, “I don’t wanna be like you!”
“There are types of mightiness?” Asked Moya.
“Of course, I’ve counted.” Jack looked cute when he was ticking the fingers, “There are types of majestic and powerful, justice and inspiring, awesome and magnificent, simple and friendly, or piggyback terror, and the bossy type…”
“What type are you?” Wilder held back hard on his laughter.
“I would like to be genial and cultivated, but I’d hate to lose gracefulness and elegance… I was gonna choose the type of graceful and charming, but apparently, someone’s ass was kicked because of which. Argh, this is hard!”
I promptly looked down to hide my smiling face but was too late in hiding shoulder tics, most likely due to a certain someone’s ‘graceful’ experience. When I unwittingly glanced at Marfa and suddenly noticed his face turned extremely pale at the moment!
“Heads up!” Shouted Marfa.
“Get down!!” Almost at the same time, I also called out.
Marfa followed far behind in the back and saw above our head a rapid formation of dark clouds. As for me, I heard an unusual buzzing sound from above.
I was very grateful to Tennessee and Webster’s training on us. At that moment of imminent danger, the several years of training performed most vividly.
Wilder sided and directly fell to the ground. Jack shrieked and fell over. Moya and I both lowered our heads and sided our bodies. We slipped down with our hands around the horse’s neck.
“Snap! Crack!” Dozens of flashes of arm-sized lightning which glared dazzling white lights and drew meandering paths, were striking right by our faces.
“Shit! I’ll be damned!” I thought bitterly.