Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
I was so raged and energized that I cursed at the entrance of the newly found tunnel for a good 15 minutes.
As officers who received the news arrived one by one, they all kept a distance from me, looking stupid at the tunnel in front of their eyes. I assumed the reasons for their looks were half because of the suddenly-showed-up escaping passage; the other half was because I kept puking profanities with the middle finger pointing into the sky.
From Darkmoon to Dark City, I seldom raged against anyone. But when I was angered for real, no one except for Fischer and my wives dared to talk me down, not even my brothers.
Actually, Moya was just too clumsy to talk me out of the anger. Wilder, on the other hand, only knew it’ll be a waste of time to even try; and if Marfa started talking, he would make the thing even worse; as for Jack, he would usually first distance himself from the case then happily watch the scene go wrong.
When I was too tired to yell, Carlos then, hinted Wilder to check the tunnel with him.
“Sir,” After a while, Carlos approached me, “the place is rather odd. Ground grasses are uniformly 2 fingers tall, and they’re neatly mowed as the likes of royal gardens, with scent.”
“You fat ass! What’s this all about?” I shouted quietly within.
“Boss,” Wilder came over with a few wild fruits, “There’re all trees with fruits and edible. Tastes, not bad.”
“You fat ass with nobody to love, what’s this all about?” I yelled within again.
“Boss, I flew over the place for a distance,” Steven talked behind me, “There’s a considerable amount of round spaces every 50 miles where thousands could rest!”
“You fucking fat ASS! Dick head Marshmallow, what’s this all about!” I was blue in the face, and nothing could ease the anger.
“You damn, fucking Marshmellow, where were you when we were dying!? Don’t you know how much we’ve paid in order to survive!?” I gazed in the sky, and there was just no one could tell how gloomy I was, “And now you’re making this tunnel for me to escape? So then the fight my troops and I went through just become meaningless, neither did the sacrifice my soldiers made. Do you have any idea how much effort you’ve demolished by doing so?”
After quite a while, my chaotic mood eased, and I calmed down by exhaling the final breath of depression.
“Start moving, we’re leaving from here.” Eventually, I managed to spin my brain. After all, my troops were still in an unfriendly situation, “Steven, you and your wingman scouts will set off beforehand. Wilder, take a team of men after Steven. Carlos, discuss the withdrawal affairs with the clan leaders. I’ll be taking 2 regiments guarding the rear. That’ll be all, get your asses moving!”
“Yes, sir!” The men answered altogether.
The pulling out procedure went smoothly, an hour after Wilder lead a team of light calvaries into the tunnel, clan leaders of the 36 tribes have already teamed their people by chunks of a thousand. Up until I watched them started entering the tunnel in order did I actually believe the passage was real.
Although the tunnel was extremely spacious, the refugees went rather slow. Merely 200, 000 of them managed to enter until midnight. When I was worried about my wounded soldiers at the number of thousands, the new Chief Leader of the 36 Tribes nominated by the clan chiefs arrived.
“Bonsoir, My Lord.” The new Chief Leader was at his 20s. He greeted me formally by dropping down to both his knees, “Lord Cohen, the new Chief Leader of the 36 Tribes, at your service.”
“Hmm, they finally elected a leader.” I sat on a stone in the tunnel, and I glimpsed him, then I continued reading the intelligence papers in my hand, “Now rise, what is your name?”
“Yes, My Lord.” He stood up, “My name is Gardena.”
“What’s that?” I was a little stunned at his name, “You said you’re called Gardena?”
“Yes, My Lord.”
I gazed at him, “Why this name? Aren’t you the one leading the drums after Gardena had died? Are you Gardena’s son?”
“My Lord, I’m not a blood relative of the former Chief Leader.” The new Chief Leader bowed, head lowered, hands rested on the sides. He answered cautiously, “Gardena is the title in particular for all Chief Leaders in the tribes. On succession, each leader must give up all his belongings including his name.”
“I see, so Gardena… No, what’s the former leader’s name?”
“My Lord, we don’t know. Or rather, we’ve chosen to forget. We must forget.”
What an odd tradition, and it undoubtedly made me displeased. So my words became tough on him, and I threw in a bit mightiness in my language, “Since there’s already a Gardena, you can’t use that name!”
“But, My Lord…” He dared not to reject, “What name I’m supposed to be called?”
“This way,” Reminded of the tradition and old Gardena’s unyielding face, my heart went soft, and I waved my hand and spoke, “Let’s settle for Gardena Jr., that’s an order.”
“Yes, My Lord. My name will be Gardena Jr. since this moment forward.”
“Oh? That easily?” I wasn’t surprised at his obedience, “You didn’t come here for no reason, tell me.”
“Eh, yes.” Gardena Jr. didn’t expect that I could see through his thought, he said anxiously, “My Lord, you see, there’re 700, 000 refugees beyond this battlefield. They, they also want to…”
“Fuck them! Those men are not of my concern!” My rage brought up at the mention of those people.
“Mercy, My Lord! They’re sons and daughters of the 36 Tribes. They’re our families. I cannot abandon them.
“It’s already troublesome for me to just take care of you all. And I’m not a bit interested in taking care of them. Have them done anything for me?” I intended to be tough on Gardena because I aimed to test how smart he was.
“Lord Cohen, please!” Gardena dropped again to his knees and pleaded, “They’re the ones running with us. They’ve been only separated from us after being cut off by the canyon. And it’s the former chief’s decision!”
This man knew to impress me with old Gardena.
“Be honest, you didn’t come here on your choice, right? It’s the idea of the other 36 old timers?” I talked calmly, “They chose you to be the Chief Leader for the sake of the 700, 000 people you mentioned. And was it their idea to mention Gardena the former chief? Well thought, you all, well thought!”
“Ye… yes, forgive me, My Lord!” Gardena Jr.’s forehead was almost touching the ground, “My Lord, let me be the only one to burden your fury!”
“Gardena Jr., I’m warning you. I did owe old Gardena tons, but the Cohen Kheda here is not a man who blindly repays his gratitude. I’m aware of what’s more, or less important.” I placed the papers in my hands and talked seriously, “Now, tell those clan chiefs, if they want a discussion, be done with it. Quit acting smart and playing games with me.”
“We won’t… we won’t. Forgive us, My Lord. Bu… but, how about our people? If you leave them, they’ll be slaughtered by AUFs!”
“Their lives are in your hands.”
“My Lord, I don’t understand.”
“Junior, I’ve told you, old Gardena’s name won’t impress me.” I reminded, “Why don’t you ask me in your own name? You are the new chief, and it’s logic for you to strive for your people’s lives.”
“My Lord… I think I understand.”
I can tell that this Gardena Jr. wasn’t too dull. He took my hint and bowed to me with seriousness, “I, Chief Leader of the 36 Tribes, Gardena Jr., ask Lord Cohen Kheda on behalf of 36 Tribes as a whole. Please do not abandon these 700, 000 refugees! We the 36 Tribes will always hold gratitude and allegiance to Lord Cohen!”
This guy was not a dumbass after all. I might actually consider promoting him.
“Hmm, you’re the new Chief Leader, if I can’t promise your first plea, you won’t have any authorities in front of other clan leaders.” I pondered and made my decision, “So be it, make your arrangements. Team up those people beyond. Gather them at the entrance and properly discipline them with my rules.”
“Appreciated, My Lord! Appreciated, My Lord!” My decision rejoiced Gardena Jr., “I’m on it right away. They will mark My Lord’s decision forever.”
“And Junior,” I stopped him, “try to remember, as a Chief Leader, you’re authoritative. You make your decisions, not the petty clan heads’. When you’re back, teach whoever offered ideas a good lesson. Show them what you got. I need a real Chief Leader instead of a yesman.” I said, “Besides, Gardena is a man of integrity. I respect him for that. As his successor, show me your integrity and do not kneel if you’re not serious!”
“Yes, My Lord!” Gardena rose, “I will try to remember.”
Seeing Gardena Jr. leave, Jack who remained aside came over.
“Boss, why are you bringing those 700, 000?” Jack said quietly, “Our marching band is already swollen.”
“You think I want them?” I stroke Jack’s head, “Rumors passed quickly among these people. If we don’t bring them, it’s only a matter of time before our trace is exposed.”
“But why didn’t you just say yes to him already?”
“Mark this down, Jack, we’re making our subordinates to both fear and respect us. They’ve gotten tons of nasty habits.” I can never be tough to little Jack, “Never show them your true mind. Even if you’re gonna say yes, make up something to let them plead even more. Only in this way will your force and autonomy show. And they’ll thank you for it. Like just now, if I say yes at once, Gardena Jr. will consider I’m an easy lord. The skittishness within will wake in no time. Our business in the future will be harder.”
“Hehhe…” Jack made an awkward laugh, “Boss, ya very clever.”
“Mark this firmly, overcare would only mean the opposite. There’re many things which you need to take it slowly.” I tapped Jack’s head, “It’s a good way to both them and us.”
“I see, boss…” Jack wanted to add up to the argument, but he was interrupted by a string of footfalls. It was Moya.
“Boss, the clan deceased have all been buried. Our casualties were loaded as well.” Moya said, “The rest wounded are all on the carriages. What about the AUF soldiers? There’s quite a little undead moaning.”
“What about them?! Set them aside. Chopped their limbs and leave them as they are. We’re setting an example for the Asmodians.” I said emotionlessly, “Ignore their corpses. That Lieutenant General is a good army man. Attach his head back to his body. Give him a suit of armor and place him well.”
“Yes, sir!” Moya had no opposition to my order since he had experience of the last time dealing with enemy remnants.
“Be quick. AUF might already be on its way.”
This massive, swollen, bruised army retreat persisted harshly for 2 days and 2 nights, and finally, the last team of refugees has entered the grand tunnel. My dangling heart eventually returned to my chest. As for the ones left in the canyon, I had no time for them, and Gardena Jr. understood it.
After packing all my staffs and making sure no one was missing, I led 2 rear-guarding regiments into the tunnel.
As the last soldiers walked was within the tunnel perimeter, a massive amount of ivies burst out from the entrance earth. They twisted and fastly grew upward. In the middle, a considerable amount of giant trees that would take a man and his arms to circle around sealed the entrance. On the finish, the new plants were just like the dense forest nearby as if this entry never existed.
Like it was directed by someone/something, the tunnel sealed itself whenever my fleet has passed a distance. The jaw-dropping scene amazed my soldiers. In the morning the next day, Carlos came to brief me about the casualties. This time, the bizarre happenings have made the all-time solid Carlos babble.
Traveling in this tunnel, the recovery of both heavily or lightly-wounded people has accelerated exceptionally. Many soldiers with light wounds have already recovered completely. The ones with severe injuries have stabilized as well. In summary, no one died after we entered the tunnel.
Carlos was a man who liked to dig in. He actually found out the reason for the above. It turned out the scented grass that grew on the land have benefited us. This kind of grass has an excellent therapeutic effect. Mere smelling could heal, let alone swallow it.
So I held back my politeness and ordered Carlos to apply such grass extensively to my soldiers and all the more so, I loaded 100 carriages of such vegetation in the attempt to grow them back in Dark City.
Fruit trees were abundant within 200 steps on both sides of the tunnel. The gains on them were so much better in taste than dry foods we carry. As a result, all seized depending on the food they brought. Eating fruits at every meal could make the entire fleet well-fed. I can’t help but exclaim the vitality of the refugees. If only they can survive by eating stones and dirt.
The massive tunnel, healing grass, edible fruits as well as broad resting places, all of these were essentially tailored for my weary, mixed fleet.
Thinking that this tunnel was mostly production of my old friend Marshmallow, I wasn’t surprised. However, plenty of rumors gradually spread among the soldiers and the refugees.
The one I was happy to accept was, “A mysterious individual had created this tunnel. He did so under Commander Cohen’s order, and Commander Cohen beat up his ass for doing so slow.”
The one I grudgingly to accept was, “A mysterious individual who Commander Cohen remained close connection had created this tunnel. He came in to intervene because Commander Cohen was in trouble…”
The one I most certainly cannot accept was, “Commander Cohen has many mysterious friends. This tunnel was created by them for Commander Cohen’s plea…”
The word ‘plea’ pissed me off. Have I pleaded Marshmallow? I did not think so.
No matter what. The rumors have deepened my influence among the refugees. Seeing such a work beyond human reach, the refugees have considered me as a formidable individual. Following my was their right choice.
In this case, I did not intend to refute.
The whole fleet advanced for 80 miles after the first day in the tunnel. I was so depressed at the turtle-like speed. However, as a matter of fact, we’ve done our best. It was not possible to travel any faster with millions of refugees.
On the other hand, AUF’s reinforcements have arrived the Clay City. According to my wingman scouts, the followup AUFs were swamping the Clay City like crazy. Looked like they’ve learned the news of their failure.
Just after dusk, AUF’s scouts paid their visit to the tunnel. I was nibbling a wild fruit by then.
“Bo… ss!” Steven skidded in the sky and tumbled beside me. He scrambled and said, “Incoming enemy scouts!”
“What’s the fuss!” I spat out a fruit core and wiped Steven’s forehead, “What is that that scared the crap out of my brave Steven?”
“Boss, ain’t no joke…” Steven said seriously, “Griffins!”
“Griffins?” I scratched my head and was rather surprised that even hippie Steven could have a moment of seriousness, “What’s that?”
“Griffin is one of a rare kind of magical creatures. They look like lions with wings and sharp claws and powerful muscle. Though they’re not as agile as us wingmen, they’re much more lethal.” Steven said unnaturally, “That is to say, Griffins are wingmen’s archenemies.”
“And you fear them for that?” I couldn’t care less, “They’re creatures, you’re wingmen. They’re brainless, and you’re not. You can cook them for dinner if you want to. I don’t get it.”
“Boss, Griffins are creatures indeed.” Steven was both amused and annoyed by my comment, “But if they’re deployed as scouts, there will be Griffin riders, hence a brain!”
“Shit!” I leaped to my feet, “All hunting squadrons standby!”
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.