Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
(Asmodian Alliance, Uruk Empire, Altar of Eana)
Within the Asmodian Alliance, Eana was a considerably large altar under the Dark Temple influence. Needless to say, before comparing, we’ll have to rule out the grand altar located in Brooks’ capital, which was a massive one beyond description.
The reason for Altar of Eana to be this huge in size was heavily due to its function of the only place connecting Continent Peace and the transport field leading to the Hell Island where the Dark Lord and his underlings resided. Everyone including the three goldinals who would wish to go in or out of Hell Island must all go through this magic field. In this case, Eana had everything it had to offer as an altar. It also included extremely luxurious hotels solely to serve high priests and imperial powers who traveled by.
The main construction of the altar was a magnificent pyramid with a flat top.
In the Asmodian Alliance, style of symmetrical angles and extended floor area was a symbol of the Dark Lord’s mightiest power. In bright days, places hundreds of miles away could see the top of the Eana. On top of the pyramid’s flat head sat more structures. The extended transport magic field was located on one side of the roof, far away from the rest of the buildings.
The best duty guards have been deployed here in this altar, days and nights. Therefore, it was only in the commoners’ dreams to even touch the least floor brick of the pyramid entryway, let alone going into the place without the company of a senior priest.
This day was deemed to be an unordinary one. Protections of Eana numbered. Griffins were patrolling the sky. A lengthy marching band was there waiting neatly on both sides of a line of red carpet that traced all the way from the first stair to the entrance of the grand pyramid.
There will be unusual guests to visit Altar Eana today: the AUF senior commands who returned from the War that they just won. They were granted an audience with the Dark Lord on Hell Island today.
Meeting the Dark Lord was the highest honor one could only wish for. All nobilities took the opportunity of meeting the supreme race’s leader as their highest accomplishment they could ever achieve. Such a glory will not only be written in history, but also in gigantic painting and relief picturing the scene of the audience; some simply put the scene into their family sigils.
Although the temple clique and royal powers always held grudges upon each other, Asmodian Alliance was a great unity of empires after all. As long as the War was over, there will be 20 peaceful years for all beings. Therefore, the Dark Temple generally offered the most luxurious lineup here. Everyone was high given the huge victory, even if the happiness cannot last long.
After waiting bitterly at the altar for an entire morning, the fleet carrying all the senior officers from the War had finally made appearances at the horizon.
Almost instantly, the altar entrance was overwhelmed by tossed flowers, painted ribbons, confetti, and chorus.
On arrival, people could see the one that led the fleet was a mighty bannerman. In a typical ceremonial event like such, the first bannerman’s rank should at least be higher than Major, his title higher than Earl. He wore a full suit of golden armor. His 3-fingers-wide decorative rapier was tied under the cummerbund which was crowded with medals and badges. The sheath of the rapier was decorated with a dozen gems. Both of his hands were holding the giant AUF banner while slowly urging his warhorse forward solely by legs. The banner he carried was made from black velvet of great value where golden stitches of the united force symbol were found whipping the air with blond tassels.
The bannerman was followed by tens of rows of knights in extinguished figures. They were not incredibly strong, nor did they wear any helmets. Their long hair was simply tied and lied quietly behind their heads. Thin layers of armors that glowed radiance covered their bodies. They rode a kind of exotic magical creatures instead of warhorses. If one was familiar with AUF, he will be able to judge these riders from their rides and shells. These people came from a special cavalry force of the Asmodian United Forces, also known as the bravest and strongest knights: the Black Knights.
The Black Knights were immediately followed by an equal amount of knights holding lances. Their weapons which measured 10 arms-length were pointing at the sky, under which set decorative ribbons of various colors. Compared with the Black Knights, the lanced riders had much thicker shells, they also had several spiked thorns on their shoulder armors. Rounded shields of a uniform color were their forearms. Their black capes were almost touching the ground.
Following the lanced knights were guarding troops of each empire.
These soldiers wore clean AUF uniforms instead of armors, which was a tradition of their army. Golden threads have been set on the end of the uniform sleeves, neckline and other ends. Buckles of shoulder and lappet parts were all made of gold. Even, their beret had expensive furs around. All men were alight.
After these came the cabs carrying the high officers.
The carriages were sandwiched by several layers of guarding knights who wore high bear-skin hats. Unlike the former knights, these men had 2 layers of uniforms covering their body. The inner layer was like the rest: neat, golden-belted. The outer cloth was only half put on the left. The right half was tied through under the arm. A pure gold skinny chain connected the first button on the right and the first hole on the left collar, making one of the empty sleeve dance in the air. The style was quite unique. Two waist swords hung at the same point on the belt. They had 2 black collars and scarlet uniforms. Scorpion Warriors, they were the most efficient guards of the AUF high commands.
The carriages all had black compartments and golden tops. Symbols of the united forces on the door were already cleaned to the utmost. The driver wore neatly, their bright, piercing eyes stared the right front. Even the cart horses were fine steeds of the color white.
At the entrance of the altar, hundreds of horns started playing theme of the triumphant warriors, quieting the rest of the sounds.
At a sonorous order sound, all carts froze at the same speed. Even, the leading cart stopped right at the center of the entrance. As soon as the vehicle stabilized, 2 young officers jogged to open the cart door as gracefully as they can be.
A duty officer walked out the compartment, then came Marshal Valerian by the door. The marshal had put on a full set of marshal’s uniform. His rank mark was glimmering in the sunlight. On his left chest, one on another, medals had taken up a squarespace as big as 2 palms combined. A ceremonial rapier could also be seen on his wide, exaggeratedly-decorated belt.
Marshal Valerian seemed to be less excited about winning the War. The long-distance travel had not exhausted him either. The old timer was like always, face radiate with vigor, looking calm.
Standing on compartment pedal, Marshal Valerian first looked up to see the flat-topped pyramid afront, then looked back at the whole fleet, finally, his majestic eyes landed on the welcoming crowd at the opening of the altar.
Walking off the carriage, seen by thousands of respectful eyes, Marshal Valerian tidied his uniform a bit after a few feet forward so his subordinates could stand in a line in time. Only afterward did he lead the generals to stride to the gold-robbed priest who was also coming for him.
Horning, one more horning, the hundred buglers seized blowing simultaneously after playing the last note. Since then, no more sound existed there at the altar.
“Greeting, Marshal!” The left Godinal walked by the Marshal, his face was full of smile, his hands were drawing blessing patterns in the air, “I’m so relieved to see that you’re here with honor.”
“Getting, Your Holiness.” Marshal Valerian said with a hearty tone, “My heart has been hanging if you’ve been so worried.”
“Don’t make me laugh, Marshal. This way.” The Left Godinal took the Marshal by his hand, they walked shoulder to shoulder, “Pope is expecting audience out of the Misty Palace on Hell Island. Lord Left Godinal is also expecting the Dark Lord’s audience at the Dark Temple transporting field. It’s their duties so they cannot see you here. Please be so kind and forgive these two.”
“Not at all. With the holy Left Godinal seeing me here, this army-man is joyfully honored.” Marshal Valerian walked the flower-paved bluestone boulevard while replied the Left Godinal’s polite greetings with ease.
Other AUF senior officers immediately followed.
After passing through 18 newly-decorated archways, the group has stepped on the wide stone stairs that led to the flat top of the pyramid. Fortunately, the generals wore uniforms instead of heavy armors, if the latter was the case, the prolonged steps will make today’s audience much harder.
“Your Grace, if you will, allow me to ask today’s schedule.” Marshal Valerian asked, “It’s not let on classified information if you’re telling me now?”
“I love your humor. Up until this moment, there’s no secret.” The Left Godinal chuckled and answered heartily, “According to the plan, I will be going to Hell Island. You and the rest will be waiting at the field for a moment. Not long after that, the Right Godinal, along with the Dark Lord’s consent will be joining me. Then we’ll all go there together. We’ll arrive the Misty Palace after the christening. You’ll see the First Princess, then the Dark Lord. All leads to the court banquet offered by the princess and the titling ceremony afterward…”
“My heart stirs.” Marshal Valerian said with feelings after hearing the schedule, “My entire military career all boils down to today, the Dark Lord’s audience. It will be the most glorious moment for us all throughout our lives.”
“I also haven’t met the Lord yet.” The Left Godinal said with a smile, “However, after today, that’ll all change. Thanks to you, Marshal.”
“You’re being modest, Your Holiness.”
As they spoke, the group have reached the pyramid top, the giant transportive field that was radiating lights and colors.
“This is it. Now would you all excuse me and wait here for a short while.” The Left Godinal told Marshall Valerian, “We’ll be right back.”
“Appreciated, Your Grace.” Valerian nodded, “Please.”
The Left Godinal stepped in. As soon as his foot touched the edge of the field, the screen in the field instantly rippled. Gentle lights shrouded his body. As he walked further, his body gradually became thin and transparent, and finally vanished after a while.
Marshal Valerian turned about to the edge of the pyramid. Breezes that swept the top gently whipped the general’s uniform.
Looked down upon the cities and mountains afar, the near green lands and running rivers, Valerian’s expression was unchanged while his inner-self thrilled for quite a while. Since he joined the army at the age of 16, he had spent countless days and nights, shed an unnamable amount of blood in order to stand here as a marshal see the Dark Lord!
To achieve today’s moment, he’s sacrificed a lot, he’s lost tons. But it was worth it.
Marshal paced a few turns and rejoined the line.
Time has passed, and no one came eventually. The only thing Marshal Valerian knew was that he has been waiting for quite a while. The noon sun was already leaning west. The men’s shadows grew longer. Nobody came out of that transportive field yet. Aching a man’s feet such as a soldier Marshal Valerian was not an hour or two’s job.
Was there something wrong with the field, or was it the scheduling error? Accordingly, such a grand and serious ritual was not to be neglected.
Marshal Valerian had a bad feeling growing within him. And the generals behind him have already been whispering.
“Shut your damn mouths.” The Marshal turned and scold, lowly and harshly, “You’re all military high commands. Look at yourself! Stand straight!”
Marshal’s dignified look suppressed the generals and they kept on waiting.
Problem with the Phantom Legion? Never! Valerian had the newest war report in his pocket. The report was written collectively by the generals who were in charge of the main battle legions against the Phantom Legion. The addressed ‘Phantom Legion’, aka PUF’s 9th Legion was already annihilated. All adjoining troops have prepped to withdraw. If it weren’t for this report, Valerian will never come for here.
If it were not the case? What was it about? Valerian pondered. While he was thinking, the field started to alter.
A man’s figure emerged from the screen and shifted out.
“Pope?!” Marshal Valerian merely had a clean look at the man, he asked uneasily, “Aren’t you supposed to stay beyond the Misty Palace? Where’s the Left Godinal?”
The Pope Godinal raised his eyes to see Valerian’s. First, he shook his head and made a bitter smile.
“Pope…” A thought struck Marshal Valerian. He instantly knew something huge had occurred. Regular bad news was not enough to give the Pope such a harsh look.
“Marshal Valerian,” The Pope Godinal said bitterly, “you’re hereby ordered by the Dark Lord.”
“Yes, My Lord!” Valerian tidied his uniform and the group of soldiers knelt.
“Men of the united forces are getting old, so poor-sighted to read properly. They’re all dismissed for today. Look again at the reports!”
Marshal Valerian shapely lifted his eyes. His eyes were giving an unbelievable look at the Pope Godinal. The two’s eyes met for a moment, then the Pope Godinal shook his head again to tell the Marshal that this matter stood no ground worth saving.
No matter what had happened, the Dark Lord’s unwillingly denial of the audience with the officers was undoubtedly a doom for all of the generals.
Any nobility with the least dignity will never let such a shameful moment to live. It almost equaled a death sentence to them. As of now, the group had no choice other than the fate of death.
“We serve the Dark Lord by offering our lives!” The pale, powerless AUF officers showed their final courtesy, tried their utmost to preserve the bearing of a soldier.
Marshal Valerian swayed to stand. The visage of him appeared as if he has aged a dozen years within moments. The action nearly blacked the old man out. Two of the officers behind hurried to carry Valerian.
He concentrated his attention and harshly lose his subordinates’ help. Marshal Valerian approached the Pope Godinal.
“Tell me, tell me what’s this all about!?” Valerian’s facial muscle twitched, his hands clenched, he asked unreluctantly, “Why Dark Lord chose to punish us. What did we do wrong!?”
“The Phantom Legion which you’ve vowed so seriously to vanquish,” The Pope Godinal stared at Valerian’s eyes and said word by word, “they’ve escaped.”
“WHAT!!” Valerian glared his eyes, “That’s impossible!”
“The troops you sent against the Phantom Legion were completely wiped out from existence.” The Pope Godinal said, heavy-hearted, “Left… he backtracked his promise on destroying the Phantom Legion, has taken his life for it.”
“Phantom… Legion!” Marshal Valerian was as pale as death. Dizziness and faint took his head.
“Forgive me… Marshal.” The Pope Godinal helped Valerian to stand, “I can’t be of help.”
The Supreme Commander of AUF now made an even more bitter smile and turned away to the stairs. The rest officers followed with grave faces.
The Pope’s eyes followed Valerian. He knew that it will be the last time they’ll see each other. Though the two were always opponents, the Pope can’t but felt dreary.
Marshal Valerian has reached the edge of the stairs, suddenly, he turned and strode to the Pope Godinal. His palms swirled and caught the Pope by the collar.
“Our agreement…” Marshal Valerian was like a dreadful beast as his relentless eyes shoot into the Pope’s, “Will keep you words!?”
“Yes.” The Pope’s body shivered and replied involuntarily, “Of course I will!”
“You take an oath!”
“I swear!” The Pope lifted up his right hand, “I will keep my promise. I will not die peacefully if I won’t!”
“Than… thanks.” Valerian wet his eyes, “You’ll be fine. I promise you’ll have nothing to do with my fault.”
“Marshal… I want to tell you,” The Pope held Valerian’s hands tightly, “You’re a real soldier, a good soldier!”
“My friend, it doesn’t matter.” Marshal Valerian squared his chest, “You have to promise, don’t give it to any other petty roles!”
“I assure you, I will be where I am before our chosen one rises to place!”
Marshal Valerian nodded and neatly turned back. He said to the other officers, “Chest up, gentlemen. We’re soldiers. If we die, we die with proud!”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
“The group walked off the stairs and left in their carriage.
(Three days later…)
Swiss Hepburn, who has been staying at home idly for quite a few days, arrived at the AUF headquarters. Only this time, he came here as Marshal Valerian’s private visitor.
From gossips of the officers who welcomed him, Swiss was informed that Marshal Valerian had just arrived the headquarters. Something huge might be going on because the heads of the corps were all in serious faces.
“Marshal, Duke Swiss Hepburn has arrived!”
“Bring him in.”
Swiss Hepburn stepped into the Marshal’s chamber only to find not only Valerian, the Chief of Staff, 2 AUF deputy supreme commanders and the leader of the 2nd warzone were presented. Hepburn’s reflex forced him to stand at attention and saluted his former high commanders.
Only after the courtesy, Swill realized that he was not in the army any longer. So he slightly blushed. The hand that leveled upon his chest hesitated.
More surprisingly, the rest of the room all stood up together and returned the salute. These generals had a uniformly serious and grave look. The air in the room was quite suppressing.
“Sirs,” Swiss Hepburn asked confusedly, “what’s going on?”
The generals all gave their looks to Marshal Valerian, they did not say a word.
“Swiss,” The Marshal said without any emotions, “We need to talk. Besides, we have business for you.”
“Please, by all means. Marshal.”
“Consider it as my last order for you as a marshal.” Valerian hinted the things on a side table, “Put those on.”
“That’s…” Swiss Hepburn approached the table and take a closer look. He was astonished to discover the clothes were Marshal’s uniform!”
“Indeed, it’s mine.” Valerian nodded, “Put them on, that’s an order.”
Swiss Hepburn was even more confused. Could be these old timers were trying to make fun of him? That was not possible. Swiss pondered for a moment and eventually uptook the uniform.
The rest of the room quietly watched the young man took off his jacket and pulled up the newly-ironed marshal’s uniform. All but Marshal Valerian reddened their eyes at the scene.
“Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!” Marshal Valerian watched Swiss Hepburn in the splendid attire and said three ‘excellent’s, “This uniform is made for you!”
“Marshal…” Swiss Hepburn was utterly disconcerted, “what’s going on for god sake!”
“You all see that.” Marshal did not answer, instead, he asked the rest, “How’s he looking?”
Only the Chief of Staff said, “Indeed, looks better than us.”
Gratified, Valerian nodded.
“You can take it off.” Valerian said, “Now, let’s talk about business.”
“Yes, sir…” Swiss felt like an idiot while pulling off the uniform.
“Here’s a letter. You must read it only after you’ve left the headquarters and returned home. Keep it well after reading it.” Marshal Valerian handed Swiss an envelope, “This is the end. Do not ask one more question. You’re dismissed.”
“Leave.” Valerian uptook a glass of wine, “Leave…”
The Chief of Staff approached Swiss Hepburn, he tapped on his shoulder, “Young man, apologies for how I looked at you before. I sincerely hope you accept it.”
“Yes, that’s alright.” Swiss flustered, “It’s ok, seriously.”
“I apologize, too.” One of the deputy commanders came and said, “If you can, please take care of my family…”
“Er, definitely!” Although he was confused, Swiss Hepburn instinctively answered, “I will.”
The rest 2 general opened the door for Swiss Hepburn without a word.
An hour after Swiss Hepburn had left the headquarters, Marshal Valerian commit suicide in his chamber along with 2 AUF deputy supreme commanders, Chief of Staff, commander of the 2nd warzone and several other senior officers.
The same day, all empire under the Asmodian Alliance have received orders from the Dark Temple. They named today as the ‘Day of Shame’. The Dark Temple also announced that whoever can capture or kill the commander of the PUF 9th Legion: Cohen Kheda, will receive a bounty of a million, the duke title and the audience of the Dark Lord!
(The same night, in the study of Swiss Hepburn)
After Hepburn had read Marshal Valerian’s letter, he stood by his desk for the whole night, eyes crimson. Cohen Kheda’s name has been engraved in his brain. He has never tried to hate a man so much. At the same time, he apprehended the duties that have been crushed on him. Marshal Valerian had drafted this young man’s future.
Defeat Cohen Kheda, defeat him fairly and squarely. Resume AUF’s reputation. It was Marshal Valerian’s dying wish!
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.