Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Fischer Summers: Cohen’s friend, prince of the Swabia Empire.
- Flynn & Carey Rohna, Winslet(elf): Cohen’s wives.
- Martin Luther: Aka Grandpa red nose, Flynn and Carey’s grandpa.
- Jack, Wilder, Marfa, Moya: Cohen’s friends, Dark City military and City Hall directors.
- Dimmock, Manta, Windsor: Son and daughter of sandman, dwarf and vampire leader.
- Kennen: Dark City project director, son of the Vampire Chief, Windsor’s brother
“Some groom you are. I’ve never seen one like you, haha.” Fischer giggled on his horseback.
This was the second day of the wedding, and we were on our way to Dark City.
“If you wanna keep your toy face in one piece, then shut up!” I replied listlessly. After I was thrown out of the bridal room, for my reputation’s sake, I went to Fischer’s room pretending to have a chat and pulled an all-nighter. In fact, I slept over there.
And I unforeseeably became his mocking target.
“Okay, I’ll stop, and I don’t have a toy face!” He sighed at the sight of the carriage behind us, “Look at them…”
I diverted my attention to the direction he faced and noticed the three ladies were giggling about god-knows-what. Their attractive trembling due to peals of laughter had given away that they were getting along well. I felt better.
“Your design on Dark City, is it really rational?” Fischer changed the subject, “I wish to see it now.”
“The basic frames should be ready by now, or at least the wall should have been done by more than half.” I counted as I spoke, “Nevertheless, I’ve spent days on my wedding.”
Three days after we’ve crossed Darkmoon border, we’ve consistently spotted transportation workers and wingman scout teams. I expressed my sincere gratitude to them for giving their heart and soul to the construction of Dark City.
Their high spirits and strictly organized team formation made me even more confident for the future.
Since all of us were eager to get there as fast as possible, the days spent en route were significantly shortened.
“Good lord!” Fischer gazed at the site, “What a gargantuan size., How grand!”
Fischer, the Rohna sisters and grandpa red-nose were new to this place. Thus, they were stunned by the magnitude of the site. I could tell they were greatly shocked from their widened eyes and mouths.
So was I.
Workers were plenty and busy. Regardless, there was still order in their every step. Vampires were dashing about directing them.
A trimmed and polished giant stone was carried over from afar until it was placed on the wall as tall as the height several adults combined. The procedures were easy and smooth without any holdbacks.
Fischer exclaimed over my satisfied expression, “How unexpected. How should I comment on this? You… are peculiar!”
“Peculiar?” Carey thought, “Right, let’s call him that!”
“Interesting!” Flynn said, “I like it.”
“Alright, Wilder’s guys are here.” I urged my horse to quicken its pace.
“Boss!” Wilder hurried and approached me, “You are back!”
“How are you guys!” I tapped his shoulder and said, “Is everyone alright?”
“We are good!”
Wilder and Kennen filled us in on the site situation.
“I’m not gonna deny your excellent design and plan.” Grandpa red nose stroked the well-built wall and appeared pleased by its physical solidity.
Considering grandpa red nose’s military achievements, I asked for his help as a favor from our relationship as close family. My father once said, if this superior man had not been set up by villains, he would have become an admiral by now.
“There isn’t anything to worry about the constructions.” I said, “Our primary problem is the human resources. If our city is successfully built but lacking of competent people to manage it, then it’ll become a huge joke in the empire!”
“What kind of people?” the impatient Carey asked anxiously, and seeing me glare at her, she added, “Darling!”
“Simply put, there are two aspects: Military and internal affairs.” I said, “ The detailed subclasses will be more complicated.”
“I’ll help you with the military stuff.” Grandpa red nose said, “As for the internal affairs, I assume your wives and Fischer could be of help.”
“Alright, let’s talk about the details later.” I nodded.
“No!” Fischer protested, “I’m not doing it, I won’t! I wowowowowon’t!”
“THUMP!” Fischer who was teased and bullied by me all the way was dragged and put against the wall. I gazed at him coldly.
Then, I whispered, “You are doing it. You know His Majesty has sent you here to learn and practice your skills. Furthermore, we have to account for your safety. I will not let you go to the military or frontlines, you dumbass! You are here to eat my food and sleep in my city, free of charge. So you’ll have to listen to me, you get that?!”
“You have no rights…” Fischer was a noble and decent prince who argued quietly.
“Look at them, did you see anyone stand up for you?” I straightened his wrinkled jacket. The others were talking amongst themselves without even sparing us a glance.
“Look at the other side.” I turned his head to face another direction, “We have a dungeon over there built for someone, five-star hotel. Wanna check in?”
“You guys… set me up!” Fischer spoke bitterly, “But, I’m not interested in internals! Help me… out!”
“Fischer, I know what you are thinking.” I said with a serious tone, “But as a future king, you must possess vast amounts of knowledge of all kinds, and army skill is merely one of them. I’ll add you in when the time is right.”
“Why didn’t you say that earlier. I was so anxious.” Fischer knew he had to agree, thus he ‘happily’ accepted, “You hurt my back, though. This one’s on you!”
“Awww!” I put my hands on his shoulders, “My brother, how could you say that. Time for lunch, and let me tell you, we have crabs in entrees, and…”
The following days thereafter, we saw grandpa red nose’s assistance in army building, as well as assigning the clerks from my father into all kinds of institutions under the City Hall.
I spent the rest of the time in the dwarf’s workshop.
I called it a workshop, but it was actually much larger than your average weaponry mill.
Then, after spending a whole day explaining the line production idea to an urgently-summoned Grandmaster and having him grant all the permission I required, I gathered all the skilled dwarven craftsmen.
We had set up a basic installation by a section of walls. Though the working condition was still shabby, all the workers threw in their passion for work. Over twenty furnaces burned through the night and clouds of dark smoke gathered all day long.
Seeing pieces of standardized weapons and armors flying down the line, the Grandmaster laughed heartily.
After a few days, my brothers’ men arrived. They briefly familiarized themselves with one another, and were immediately assigned to the medium positions of each squad, which made my anxious heart settle down.
“What’s on your mind? No words?” After dinner, I walked with everyone together towards the setting sun. Flynn asked as she found me silent.
These days, I kept myself away from their tents and reasoned a way to stay with my brothers.
To have my company, they were undoubtedly happy and agreed without much thought. The only male insider did nothing but snicker. Plus, with my wives’ competent work, no one had questioned the events of my wedding night.
“A refugee kid was running on the site and hurt his head.” I said.
“Was everything ok?” Winslet said with concern.
“No biggie.” I shook my head and asked Fischer, “How many kids are there aged six to sixteen in our city?”
“That! Flynn knows.” Fischer said.
“Statistics shows a thousand, more or less. More than four thousand if we include the kids from other sites.” Flynn said, “Why do you ask?”
“What are the kids’ races?” I skimmed over the answer and continued asking.
“All kinds.” She said, “They are incredibly diverse.”
Everyone saw us talking and gathered around.
“Yeah, we’ve got no ideas for these playful kids.” Security Chief Manta said, “You could scare them off for a few times, but after that… you know, they’re a bunch of mischievous rats.”
“Kids!” Moya smiled, “We were like this once.”
“Yeah, kids.” I said when I was suddenly was struck by a thought.
“Order!” I shouted, then a few messengers came running towards me and saluted.
“To all clan leaders and City Hall directors, meeting in my tent immediately.”
“Let’s go back!” I watched as the messengers dashed away and said. Though they did not understand my intentions, I spoke no longer, and they would not question my orders.
A few moments later, they arrived.
“What do you think about the kids in the city. Any ideas on how to deal with them?” I asked.
People either stood or sat crowded in my tent and all felt a sense of wonder at my words.
“They are kinda troublesome…” One said after a good while.
Then there were suggestions to gather the kids and place them in Darkmoon.
“It does bother us, but we have no reason to send them away.” Dimmock said, “A, their parents won’t say yes. B, children are their motivation to work to make their lives better and easier.”
“What do you propose then?” Jack asked, “If you just let them…”
“I don’t have anything to propose, but our Excellency Viceroy will come up with something.” Dimmock said.
This Dimmock had been stubbornly calling me Excellency since day one. Sandmen were born this way. Nevertheless, hearing what he had said, everybody placed their attention on me.
“I was gonna hold my thoughts and let you guys brainstorm for a bit longer.” I glanced at him and said, “But since he mentioned it…”
“Don’t you guys have any better ideas?” I said, “Or have you all treated those kids as attached burdens. Tell me I’m wrong.”
Silence, as if they nodded as a way of telling me ‘You are wrong.’.
“Kids are special.” I continued, “They like to play, fight, and are eager to learn. Kids are cleverer in some ways even more than us adults. There are many things we can’t do, but they are able to. So what makes a child, a child? They have not been affected by the ways of life, nor the adults’ code of conduct. They are not bound by rules. No matter what, a kid’s thought is ridiculous but sometimes they may be valuable.”
“Despite the fact that they keep running around and watch you guys work.” I watched as they considered my words and continued, “If we just let them watch, we’ll probably end up with more capable workers in a few more years. Surely, becoming workers isn’t a bad thing, but do we really need that many?”
“We need all kinds of talented people!” Kennen said.
Thank God. Finally, someone got me.
“Yes, we need all sorts of people. This way, our development could potentially exceed other cities or even empires.” I nodded admirably, “What people comprise of our future talents. Kids! Those kids! They are capable of accepting new thoughts, new things, and dare to ask ‘Why!’ Those are the valuable traits of a child.”
“Thus, I’ve decided.” I announced my idea, “To give them a formal education!”
There were those who agreed, and those who disagreed… in short, the tent burst into uproars for a good while.
“My Lord, is it really necessary? That could mean all sorts of extra work to do.” A guy from City Hall said, and a few others nodded to concur.
“All project managers, on my left.” I said, “Personnel from the City Hall, on your feet!”
I was not looking graceful and lost my temper at my subordinates because I had discovered a few major problems.
“You all listen to me, I’m only gonna say it once!” I said to everyone on the right, “There are many rumors about me, perhaps you’ve heard of them, and you need to forget all of those. My orders or decisions are final. I do not need any further discussions! I am the Viceroy, and you all are my subordinates. Do you have any idea what that means?”
“It means the Viceroy makes the call and you are to execute them.” They were lucky to have Fischer’s explanation.
“All of you have your duties and brains! Don’t ask me questions, all you idiots!” I scolded, “If you all come to question my orders then you are all fired! Do it yourselves! I want results! Do I make myself clear?”
“I want all children aging from seven to seventeen educated in Dark City.” Although after scolding, I worried that they couldn’t find a lead, then reminded, “Selection of places, supply, maesters, make your calls. You are all gonna stay up tonight, and I want written proposals by tomorrow morning!”
“Why are you all here!! Waiting for dinner?” I became angry again after seeing these guys not moving, “Get out!”
“Don’t fire up like that.” When everyone left, Winslet filled up a glass of water, “They are scared.”
“Setting authority of course.” Fischer sat aside, “If not, who’s gonna listen to him? There are far too many rumors about him, by the way.”
“Not all that.” I felt the urge to explain to everybody here, “Come here, you. And get Marfa and Dimmock here as well.”
Later, everyone gathered around me. A few of them who got scolded still could not figure out the reason why.
“In regulatory authorities, the worst problems are the lack of responsibilities and procrastination!” I said slowly, “Did you see? These two issues have revealed themselves in our City Hall already. If we let it be, then we are better off disbanding and just go home.”
“Is it that serious?” Jack asked.
“Indeed!” Grandpa red-nose took over the conversation, “There are more problems of such that I have to admit, however, once they are found out, they must be corrected immediately! Cohen is right. As for all you City Hall directors, you deserved it. Rats!”
“Any more problems?” I asked with a smile, and my brothers shook.
“Well.” I stood up and said, “Now off you go. Conduct your plans thoroughly. Fischer, keep an eye on them.”
When Fischer stood up and was ready to leave, we heard the guard yelled, “Who is it!?”
Almost immediately, a wingman rushed in with my token. He toppled over and yelled, “En… enemy spotted!”