Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
As Malphite’s footsteps were getting louder, it caught everyone’s attention in the chamber.
The hint of a flush on Flynn’s cheek faded as it was replaced by a quick fly of dismay. Winslet silently packed away the last piece of paper. Carey, on the contrary, gazed at us three, perplexed.
“Sir.” The orc’s vast and deep voice resounded at the far gate of the outer garden, “Captain of your guarding troops reporting for duty.”
I forced myself and offered a face of sorry for my wives, then replied, “Approach.”
“Yes, sir.” Malphite stood closer, “Commander Carlos is requesting your immediate presence due to a matter of emergency.”
“Duly noted.” I nodded, “Get my horse, I’ll be with you shortly.”
My wives remained silent until Malphite’s footsteps faded.
“What a bummer. I was so determined to cling here through the night.” I shook my head and rose, “You gals have a good evening.”
The moment I turned the other-ward, Flynn’s hand caught mine across the desk.
“Cohen…” I looked over, only to find my lip-nipping, whispering wife, “You take care.”
“And?” Said I.
Flynn shook her head, hesitantly to say another word.
But I instantly overthrew the obstacle between us, then use my other hand to gather Flynn into my arms.
Almost at the same time, I reached for Winslet’s waist. The action was too sudden for them to even react.
As Carey came closer, three blond faces lied en face de my eyes. They were so reluctant to see me leave, hiding bitterness within but still, lovable.
“Cohen,” Flynn lowered her eyes, whispered, “we…”
“I get it. I wanted to stay a little longer.” Feeling the soft body in my arms, I expressed, “Needless to worry for me. I’m gonna take care of myself for you all.”
“Promise me,” Winslet attached her hand onto my face, “come back safe.”
As the sound of horse neighing grew nearer, it was go time.
“On my way.” I retracted my hands.
Though they all reluctant to let go of me.
“I should go.” I felt Winslet and Carey’s hands, “It’s my duty, for you and all my friends. I have to go.”
The two threw their asking eyes to Flynn while the latter girl’s soppy eyes under the long and curly lash of hers which contained a misty mix of feelings struck me.
“You watch our for yourself.” She took a step forward abruptly and dropped a pleasantly cool and sweet kiss on my lips, “We’ll still be here when you come back.”
I hated how much I wanted to stay but instead, I grinned and let loose of the girls and exited their chamber.
The company galloped to join the well-lit army camp. As I passed on, I could see orderlies dashing rapidly, wingman scouts taking off. As I was closing the gap between my pavilion, all senior officers who had arrived before me were within eyesight.
I strode into the tent, towards Carlos while loosening my carrying weapon.
“Tell me about it.”
“Incoming enemies. Our scouts have discovered no less than 200, 000 hostile troops.” Carlos said to the map, “They’re heading in 2 ways, 80, 000 and 120, 000, all towards Darkmoon. Sir, you’re looking at their marching route now.”
“Hell yeah. These bastards made their moves quickly.” There were 2 thick red lines on the map. I stroke my chin, “Have they encountered any trouble along the way yet? How many days to Darkmoon?”
“It seems Luhrmann has paid a fortune for this operation.” Carlos said with a finger pointing on the map, “If things go smoothly for them, they’ll be able to make to Darkmoon border in 15~20 days.”
“All I can tell is that the viceroy of the provinces they’re about to cross intend to let them pass. Are they still loyal to the empire or have they turned traitors, hmmm.” I cursed with a lowered voice, “These bitches are still watching us. No way Luhrmann can draw this many soldiers. Do we have intel on his army structure?”
“We do. The 120, 000 should be the main force. Our intelligence said this force has refined armor and weapons. As for the other 80, 000, they mostly consist of residual forces other empires left within Swabia after the P/A War, with low combating capability. They could be serving as reinforcement in my opinion.”
“So what are your opinions? How do we fight this battle, Carlos?”
“Sir, we should never let them even touch Darkmoon’s border. Darkmoon is our base of supplies. Without this place, no way we can fight this war.” Carlos has a face of countenance which made him less of a man in his early 30s, “How much forces we have now is only able to attack one of the two, or at least press them until they withdraw.”
I kept silent.
“Sir, we don’t necessarily need to zero them out as long as there’s a chance to relieve us of this situation.” Continued Carlos, “The 2 forces are not equal opponents. I’m confident that they’ll abandon their operation if we rush to attack.”
I paced back and forth, pondering Carlos’s advice, considering Luhrmann’s objective. I know how dangerous it would be if I drop an attack before making any plausible conclusion.
“Carlos, Luhrmann knows clearly how able we can fight. Even though he’s been a civil position in the courtier, he knows the odds of winning is not high for these 200, 000 soldiers. Therefore, why did he insist on pulling this out?”
Carlos shook his head, “As a matter of fact, I don’t think Luhrmann is at the point where he puts all the eggs in one basket. He still has the upper hand.”
“Indeed.” I nodded, “He’s not stupid and he must have something stashed away.”
“Sir, you mean he has had help? The red priests?”
“Sooner or later. But I’m prepared.” Said I, “The most possible way he might use is to draw our attention with this attack in an attempt to divert us from attacking other places. Only in this way, he buys himself time to wait for reinforcements. As for this force of 80, 000, it’s essentially a bait.”
Carlos studied the map one more time.
“If either us or General Martin in Darkmoon were to attack, we would naturally go for the smaller one. Though small, we’ll need a certain amount of time to eradicate them” I pointed a finger on one of the red lines, “These men are not Luhrmann’s so they’re expendable. While they’ll cost us our precious supplies. If things are as Luhrmann planned, our situation will be vital by the time he readies his big army.”
“So what should we do?” Carlos asked, “We still need to help Darkmoon.”
“We only have 2 provinces in total. Neither of them is going to lose to the enemy. Though our defense line is relatively short, General Martin is not a mediocre leader, which makes Darkmoon a hard bone to eat.” I smiled, “As for us, we’ll give Luhrmann a big surprise. He attacks so we attack. One of us gonna lose the calm eventually.”
“You mean we let them attack Darkmoon, and we find another target?”
“Exactly. I would rather not start a war in my backyard so let’s bring the turmoil outside.” I gave it a thought, “Since we chose to battle, we fight it good, good enough to make Luhrmann regret his decision.
“Sir…” Carlos hesitated, “I don’t suppose you wanna start with the rest of the viceroys?”
“Why not? Their vague attitudes keep giving me bullshit.” I said grimly, “When Luhrmann rebelled, he must’ve promised them many benefits. These bastards still think we don’t know that so they think are essential to us; and therefore want to earn benefits from both parties, us and Luhrmann. I’ve had it enough. I must let them know, I, Cohen Kheda remembers all who thinks he’s above the king.”
“However, King Fischer is trying to make peace with them and in the process of negotiation.” Carlos advised, “If we attack, His Majesty’s plan will be interrupted.”
“Plan, huh. Plans usually fall behind changes.” Replied I, “I trust His Majesty will bring us good news on diplomatic matters. As for us soldiers, our job is to bring death and misery to those who’re not on our king’s side. As part of the Swabian bureaucratic system, they have to choose between the real king and a usurper. If they can’t share the king’s concern, what right do they have to live on?”
“Understood, sir.” Said Carlos, “Then who do we start with?”
“I suppose Viceroy Haric is our guy. He’s an old friend of mine a few years back.”
“A few years?” Carlos gave it a thought, then his memory hit him, “I see.”
I grinned then turned to boom the orders, “All senior officers in. Commencing pre-war council.”
Armored officers filed in and located themselves by the table as Carlos started briefing intelligence regarding our enemy. Moya kept a prudent face whereas Wilder’s eyes glinted as soon as he learned there would be a battle for him.
“That’s should be all.” Seeing that Carlos had finished, I added my vision on assault methods, then I sought ideas from the room, “Any insights?”
“I don’t see a big problem.” Wilder laughed with confidence, “His defense system is full of easy spots. I suppose we need a longer time to attack his stronghold, the rest of the place is fairly easy to occupy.”
This legion commander of mine had gained wit rather than running hot blood.
“However, converging our troops within such a short time is difficult for us.” Moya said to the map, “All soldiers who completed initial training can be deployed in Darkmoon, check. But special corps and alien forces cannot make it in time.”
“True. Scouts and recon network are at their early stage as well, let alone the logistics.” Carlos added, “If we were to mobilize immediately, prep time is a big uncertainty for us.”
“I see you. Nevertheless, Haric will not be drawing too many of our men. His army is small and easy to attack.” Said I, “As for logistics, I assure you, it won’t be a problem either.”
“Okay, everybody looks at the map. Haric’s land is here, neighboring Dark, our land. Since there’s an ongoing war, I assume he must have stocked up a considerable amount of provisions for it. As I mentioned earlier, his army is small and less able to fight, so long as we’re quick enough, the said provisions will be ours to take.” I explained, “On the plus side, don’t forget, we’re also splitting the army into 2 columns to discourage enemies from attacking Darkmoon. This strategy is going to stall them, thus ease the pressure on my father’s city.”
“What about the second column?”
“Easy, I’m getting to it. Well, tell the world about this army is on a mission to police around.” I laughed, “I’ll take it to Winper! The merchants there needs my attention anyway, by ‘attention’ I mean discipline. Ugh, these copycats are stealing my wife’s business.”
“Sir, our time is still limited!” Carlos said unnaturally, “Could it be another closer city?”
“Whimper City it is, end of the discussion. Send my order, Kirk is back to be the city mayor, effective immediately. Tell him to set off tonight.” I ignored Carlos’ advice.
Orders out, Wilder grew much anxiety since he was a man prone to battle, “B… boss! What about us?”
“Oh, Commander Wilder, I need you and your army on the border and act, no, pretend you’re getting ready to fight the enemy head-on. I’ll try to replenish the much-needed special corps.” I said word by word, “However, remember our provision is not yet ours. I trust your discretion to not act hastily as long as you and your men keep Darkmoon away from danger.”
As I expected, Wilder was disappointed, he cried, “Boss, not a bluff, no.”
“Both of the armies are equally strong, there will be no bluff.” I caught Wilder’s arm, “It’ll be a waste letting you just bluff.”
“Trust me, you’ll have your time to shine.” I turned to my other legion commander, “Moya, you and your troops will be the shield of Dark City and its collateral area.”
He nodded with prudence.
“What about you, sir?” Asked Carlos.
“As I said, I’ll take an army to Winper.” Said I, “Now, draw up an official announcement: The Dark City Hall has noticed the recent commercial disorder in the City of Winper. Pirate activities have been reported and noted. The City Hall has decided to implement immediate inspection and follow-up regulation.”
“Roger that, sir.”
“Good. Carlos, about the new city garrison’s training. They’re already behind schedule. Speed them up, push them. Whatever it takes.” I reached for a glass of water, “Finish these newbies. Seize all training activity for the special corps, all units, rejoin their original legion.”
“I’m on it.” Carlos answered reluctantly, “This one is on me. I’ve been swamped.”
“Stay in Dark City, that’s your primary job.” I nodded, “Pay extra attention to logistics. We can’t allow a single mistake.”
A hint of disappointment crawled on Carlos’ face at the sound of staying in Dark City.
“Come on, you’ve been to battles. I promise you’ll be swamped with warfare like you are preoccupied with paperwork now.” I tapped his shoulder, “You’ll get your chance kicking Luhrmann’s ass.”
All burst out laughing.
The same night, I gave Fischer and my father the same information about the enemy in the viceroy’s manor. All agreed to my arrangements. A discussion about military deployment took place later between us.
By the way, I have always considered my father a cunning gentleman, surely not to my level; but my view was about to change tonight.
My old man advised Fischer to draft invitations to all renowned aristocratic families, whose daughters were of the age of marriage, to Dark City. Needless to ask, being a guest of an imperial member was a clear sign of the King’s intention to select his future queen.
My father immediately continued his speech before Fischer’s blushy ‘no’ made to his lips.
“My king, it’s a political device instead of your private affair.” He said in a lowered voice, “If you stand in an outsider’s shoes, them sending daughters to Dark City means their acknowledgment of you as their king. If we’re lucky, an amount of 20, 30 noble young ladies has a momentous effect on the relationship between Luhrmann and his subjects.”
I couldn’t agree more. Since some of the viceroys still did not choose a side. We might as well help them. We did not need them to be friends with us as long as they chose not to side with Luhrmann.
However, all knew my Dark City was besieged by Luhrmann’s troops. Therefore Fischer’s invitations will not bring any ladies successfully. These high-power lords liked to consider all aspects. Besides, it was not the time to bet before the war even began.
The problem remained, how to make the ladies present in Dark City? Coercing and under-the-table activities are my specialty by the way.
Since my father and the king as well as the rest of the lords all had righteous faces and were good at doing things only gentlemen will do, this not-so-righteous, laborious job fell on my shoulders. My father required that I should make at least 20 ladies present from more than a hundred aristocratic families, ignoring those who had fallen unknown.
“Mark my words, Cohen, an invited noble lady will bring suspicion to Luhrmann.” Said my father, “In a time like this, a tiny bit of suspicion will degenerate into things that change the direction of the war that could greatly benefit us.”
“Okay.” I had no choice.
“If you can’t make to 20,” my father chuckled, “you can make do with princesses from other empires, the ones have not engaged yet. If you kidnap an engaged one, it won’t end well, internationally”
“Isn’t it already an international matter the moment I start stealing princesses?” Said I, “What if the empires wage war on us.”
“Well, considering our domestic situation, that’s not a good idea, unless someone wants Swabia to disappear from this world, which is not allowed by the race supreme as well as the 3 red pops.” Said my father, “They’ve taken Swabia as their own rather than being eaten away by other empires.”
“Okay, I’ll take the job.”
I had no idea how my father came up with such an idea that equaled to stabbing Luhrmann in the neck. He did pick the right person for the job. Though it had been a long time since the last time I did any dirty jobs, I was indeed a master of abduction.
My targets happened to be pretty noble ladies, how exciting.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citing are strictly prohibited.