Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
Maple City was a big mess. From last night’s two magic attacks till now, wailing and howling echoed on end.
I had to mention that Maple City had more than 100 mage warlocks on duty to begin with, therefore the city’s magic shield should have been awakened very quickly when my army was pressing to attack. However, bless these mages, they went sick last noon!
All of them had spasms in the limbs, foam at the mouth. The city’s priest physician had humped his brains out before he failed to find a reason. As a result, before I actually attacked, less than 30 mages merely got ready to do their job.
When the lightning showed signs of striking down, viceroy of Maple City: General Haric was scared. He was aware that this much lightning strike was no joke. The tallest building in the city must be the first to suffer. And the tallest of all was the viceroy’s mansion. He assumed correctly for no good walls could be found after the lightning attack. Nobility’s residences sustained the worst loss. The once resplendent architectures became dilapidated buildings. If no precautionary basement was added to the construction plan, these building owners would have been dead long ago.
I won’t mention the holy temple which had 400 years in history. The main sanctuary hall that served to worship the God of Light was touched by a meteor and half destroyed, half-burnt. Jade platform, gone; rainbow fountain, jammed, Protoss King’s statues, crooked. The grand priest of the city temple went mental instantly, want in hand, unkempt, he rushed into Haric’s hiding basement and cursed him. Of course, Haric had no guts to curse back.
After losing 2, 000 light riders, he was finally able to awaken the magic shield. However, huge fires on several sites of the city kept flaming till midnight. Homeless residents swamped the street. Even trees so huge that took 3 men’s arm to circle were burned down. The collective of the trees so-called ’emerald gallery’ was Maple City’s landmark eulogized by countless poets and praised by the Red Cardinals!
Useless garrison troops! Useless scouts! Useless Prime Minister!
He heard yesterday’s intelligence saying Cohen Kheda’s army in Dark City was still under training, Darkmoon’s provision was yet to be loaded, the riffraff viceroy Cohen Kheda was openly whoring in Winper City! How did everything, in a blink of an eye, came converging in Maple City in one day!?
Anyhow, Haric spent a sleepless night that day.
The next morning, after arranging defense duties, Haric went to see his old house. Walking on the wreckage of his mansion, his heart was bleeding. The think of his shinny objective, the Protoss-king-size bed that was able to accommodate 10 mistresses and hundreds of suits which he spent huge money on, the bleeding turned pouring.
“Viceroy, enemy’s archers have sent announcement!” An officer came to find Haric with a feathered arrow.
“What of it!?” Haric gazed at the bloodstain on the arrowhead, “Wipe it clean.”
The officer pondered for a second and quickly cleaned the blood with his tunic. Then Haric took the arrow and untied the paper on it.
A few glances after, he was shivering and his facial muscle twisting.
Knight of Protoss, Viceroy of Dark City to all noble houses in Maple City,
Traitor of the empire Luhrmann rebelled, Viceroy of Maple City Haric shamelessly followed. A war against Maple is imminent!
Ordered by King Fischer Summers, I am endowed with the mission to recover Swabia to its rightful ruler. Maple is and must be my first target. Anyone who dares to object His Majesty’s great cause will suffer and be annihilated like the 500, 000 AUF 2nd and 5th war-zone’s scums!
I am Viceroy Cohen Kheda the wise and mighty. Yesterday’s attack was merely a warning. Only the ones who know that once the war begins, no one, no matter nobility or commoner, his family, the property will not be guaranteed.
Howbeit King Fischer Summers’s order: noble houses in Maple City are still Swabian, assets to the empire and they must not sustain the fire of war.
Therefore, this viceroy has decided to draw back 100 miles from the city and initiate a full assault in 3 days. Within which, every noble house is free to leave the city. Those who wish to present themselves to the rightful king will be treated with due respect; those who wish to head to other places will not be harassed. Your properties will be properly safeguarded everywhere on my land of authority.
All noble houses leaving Maple City need to present this announcement paper and house sigil to pass if being confronted by my Dark Army.
In 3 days, Maple City will again suffer, by then all noble houses still in the city will be considered as rebel’s complices and be treated with no mercy.
The choice is yours to decide.
Announced by Knight of Protoss, Earl of Swabia, Viceroy of Dark City, Cohen Kheda
“What a scamp! This is extortion! A threat!” Haric slammed the paper onto the earth, he stamped on it and cursed, “How many are there?”
“FUCKING HELL, IDIOT!” He brought the officer to the ground with a slap.
“Viceroy…” Several officers who went by were dumbfounded.
“What are you smirking at! Collect them, all of them!” Haric panted, eyes reddened, “We can’t let the noble houses get hands on this!”
As he was speaking orders, one more officer came off the city wall.
“Viceroy, enemies are retreating!” He said with joy.
“For real?” Haric harried and got onto the wall.
Beyond the wall, enemies that sieged Maple City have packed tents and were leaving. Two spots out of 4 on all directions have gone empty.
“Viceroy, praise your calm and strategy!” An officer came nearer with a flattering face, “They are forced back by your mightiness!”
“I knew you can defeat them, my lord!”
“Should we pursuit them?”
Looking at the retreating enemy, Haric’s expression was difficult to ascertain, though his eyes were shooting fire and fist squeezed so hard that blood could drip.
The enemies seemed to have predicted Haric will be on the wall so 3, 400 free riders dashed from the enemy’s camp. They came straightly to the wall Haric was standing on.
“Archer! Viceroy!” One of the officers who has witnessed yesterday’s attack instantly threw himself onto Haric’s body and at the same second, a row of feathered arrows darted above their heads and made a head-shot to the one who suggested pursuing. He fell right beside Haric, pushing back the swearing curse he’s about to puke.
The riders circled the city and sent several thousand arrows into the city and returned without fuss.
“His announcement paper again, bring that to me!” Viceroy Haric’s finger pointed the unlucky officer’s dead face.
As for the letters this time, they were addressed to the city’s garrison and commoners. Unlike the previous ones, this announcement was full of profanities such as ‘scum’ and ‘bullshit’. In the announcement, this rascal Viceroy of Dark City threatened all soldiers and commoners with extremely abominable language.
… fuck Haric, if you work for Haric, fuck you too…
… anyone who sees another who assist rebels and reports to me will be reviewed and once confirmed, awarded a silver…
… if you dare to oppose me, Imma gonna toy you dead…
He also listed more than 10 ways to determine if one was working for the rebels.
It took Haric great spirit to read the announcement and successfully got off the city wall. No one said another word about pursuing.
As for the papers that came with the arrows, no one can actually finish the job collecting them. Commoners and soldiers were disciplined though, several local noble representatives came to see Haric and demanded to leave the city by noon.
Even Luhrmann can’t be too strict to these rich and powerful houses, so Haric tried his best to persuade them from leaving with words like ‘safety, morale’…
But the noblemen’s intention to leave persisted.
“General Haric,” A nobleman stood up, much annoyed, “I’ve been here for quite a while already. Earl Durand Cisco, my brother has sent a letter urging me to return. I must take my nieces to my brother’s. I hope you understand.”
“General Haric, I do not think my aging body is much of a help to your job. Luhrmann has invited me to visit Divine City and I said yes. I’m taking my grand-daughter there as well. I don’t see a reason for you to keep me here.”
“General Haric, I have the arch-priest’s permission to leave…”
“General Haric, protecting nobility’s safety and properties is your duty. Since it’s no longer safe here, you ought to let us leave…”
Haric slumped to a chair, a grave pain struck his head, finally, he nodded, “Okay, you may all leave.”
The same day afternoon, the western gate of Maple City was wide open, after a careful scouting mission conducted by riders and confirmed there were no enemies within a radius of 10 miles, nobilities who waited impatiently for half a day started to leave. A dozen nobleman’s carriage left from the western gate, uninterrupted. Some noble houses took too much time collecting valuables so they only made leave by midnight.
However, it didn’t occur to them that they were being targeted the moment they set foot on their journey.
Scouts and recons from Dark City have been attentively hiding in bushes and burrows with painted pictures, comparing with the sigils on the carriages of the ones came out of the city and confirming their identities. Once they discovered a noble house that in possession of females suitable for marriage, its information will be relayed to the back where mission control of Project Secret Garden located.
Anyone couldn’t have come up with a name other than ‘Secret Garden’, save for this insolent Viceroy Cohen Kheda.
As for Amart, commander of this operation, he wore his usual plain wear to blend in. For what little men Amart had now, he wasn’t able to complete operation of this scale. For that particular reason, Cohen Kheda had put liaison officers from Dark City and a scout battalion to join the job. It was a tripartite cooperation.
“Boss, we got something.” All addressed Amart as ‘boss’ since he was the commander.
Emotionlessly, he took the intelligence paper and told his subordinate, “Inform hotel No. 1 to pay extra scrutiny to House Cisco’s carriages. 2 marguerites in it.”
“Roger that, boss. Extraction for both?” Amart’s subordinate asked.
“You’re asking me.” with the coldest eyes, Amart glanced at his man, he said, “Never ask an idiotic question.”
“Yes, sir.” He felt the coldness down to his spine and ran.
Amart went through the long list of names again. He grew anxious within. But since it was his master’s plan, he intended to finish it nonetheless.
He approached the window and peeked cautiously through a slit between the curtains. It was an inn of importance cross the road. Inn No. 3.
After a whole night’s preparation, this little place for travelers to rest has adapted to welcome its distinguished guests.
At the same time, the noble carriages that traveled on the road encountered Dark City’s inspection riders for the first time.
The poor condition of the road had distanced each house’s fleet. And surely, the said road condition was man-made.
When the soldiers approached, the noblemen and women were terrified by them. Guards gripped their weapons, sweated.
One of the Dark City officers went ahead with a dozen guards, then turned the rein and hinted the first carriage to halt.
“M… my lord…” The wagoner was mighty scared, “What.. what do we do?”
“Halt!” Though also scared, the middle-aged nobleman said steadily.
He did his best to calm himself holding the blood-stained announcement paper and his house sigil, unboarded the vehicle.
“Good morning, gentlemen.” The officer didn’t bother to look at the nobleman’s guards on the side. He urged his horse to close the gap and removed his gloves before showing his manner as a knight, “How may I address you, mister?”
“Good morning, officer.” The middle-aged nobleman returned the courtesy, he said with eyes raised, “My name is Viscount Farley Edinburgh。“
“Very well, Mr. Viscount.” The officer did not intend to dismount, he said, “In order to prevent any imposters from passing off the city, I need to see your sigil and the announcement paper. In addition, we’re going to inspect each of your carriages, hope you understand.”
“I do.” He handed in the needed items.
“By the way, do you have female members in your carriage if you’ll allow me.”
“Officer, pay attention to your demand. Can’t you see the mark on the vehicle?” Farley grew dark on his face, he said angrily, “That’s my mother and wife’s vehicle. I can’t let you do it!”
Young officer offered a smile, “I think you misunderstood me. There are also female officers serving in the Dark Army. I intend to arrange your female house members.”
Said that, the officer raised a hand so that all soldiers dismounted and started the inspection. Farley fixed his eyes on the 2 officers who were approaching the female vehicle until 2 elves became impatient and unhooded to reveal their chic faces pretty as a flower.
“I won’t be worried if I were you, viscount.” Young officer comforted, “As long as you didn’t do anything illegal. We won’t be hard on you.”
“I’m counting on it. You said that in the announcement.” Farley muttered.
“Good luck on your trip.” Young officer said with a smile. His vision sent the fleet away.
“Sir, did you really remember all that prepended conversation?” The young officer’s deputy came closer and asked.
“Huh, you’re telling me. I fucking hate talking like a nobleman. My tongue hurts.” Young officer rubbed his jaw, “This battalion leader will never do it if it weren’t boss’ order.”
“Save it for later, more targets are approaching.” Deputy officer hinted the end of the road.
Young officer quickly softened his jaw then blew out a bunch of profanity to adjust his mentality until a female elf archer spared him a supercilious look. He felt his ungainly behavior and stopped cursing.
“Who is that elf?” Deputy officer asked.
“She’s from the boss’ guarding troops. Her name is Diana. She came to supervise us.” Battalion leader said with a lowered voice.
Female elves had powerful magic by nature, even from their eyes. All male soldiers in Cohen Kheda’s army paid them with respect straight from the heard. Every soldier in the Dark Army had been a target of Cohen’s dirty words, save for the elf ladies.
“Here… comes… the target.” Said the deputy.
Again another fleet drove closer. The young officer started reviewing all mundane language he’s supposed to talk to a nobleman.
His deputy raised a hand, “Duty inspection, halt, please.”
The nobleman stepped off the vehicle, straightened his robe and waited for the officer to speak first.
“Good morning, how may I address you, mister?”
“Good morning, officer. You may address me as Baron Ellen Cisco.” Said the nobleman gracefully.
“Very well, Mr. Baron, in order to prevent any impostors from passing off the city, I need to see your sigil and the announcement paper. In addition, we’re going to inspect each of your carriages, hope you understand.
Young officer has cursed the man in front of him for a hundred times, however, he finished the words, “By the way, do you have female members in your carriage? We have female officers for those vehicles, no worries there.”
“Good to know, officer. Here are the letter and Cisco’s sigil.” Baron’s eyes confirmed the ones approaching the rear carriage were indeed female officers, then he turned to face the young officer, “Mr. Officer, I hope to get back on the road as soon as possible.”
“Okay, we will be quick.” Though reluctant to, the officer said with a smile.
Two elf officers approached the carriage in the back. Guards were driven far aside quite a while ago.
“Duty inspection, excuse us.” Diana elf knocked on the door, “Madam?”
As the door opened, a maidservant was by the door with tucked legs. An aged noblewoman sat by the seat a bit further, tried to maintain her posture. The other two were girls who wore elegant garments. The elder one had the younger one in her arms, hid her head in the chest.
“Calm down, ladies. We are from Dark City and our army law forbids us from acting recklessly.” Diana offered a smile, she said with a jingle-bell-like voice, “Madam, may I have your name?”
“Yes, miss.” The gentlewoman eased a lot after seeing the elf, “I am Baron Ellen Cisco’s wife. You may address me as Mrs. Conrad Cisco.”
“And what about these two ladies?” asked the she-elf.
“They are my nieces, my husband’s elder brother, Earl Durand Cisco’s daughter.”
“Ladies, may I see your faces?” she-elf offered a sorry smile, “Pardon us, it is a procedure we do to all nobilities who came out of the city.”
Hence two girls raised their eyes and when they saw the elf’s face, both of them exclaimed, “Elf!”
“Okay, inspection completed.” Miss Diana’s wish to see the ‘marguerites’ was fulfilled, she nodded and said, “Excuse us, I will shut the door for you.”
After the inspection, Baron Ellen Cisco’s fleet was released. When the female carriage passed, Diana overheard a conversation between two certain girls and their aunt.
“Aunt, she is so beautiful, that elf. Are all elves that pretty?
“Aunty, why does Dark City have she-elves in its army? I love them with suits on! Can we make one for riding horses?”
Diana sighed, “Girls in their days of flowers. How pitiful they were born in a noble family that’s going to inevitably use them as political instruments. O, Lord Cohen, what are you going to do to them? Poor girls, please don’t hurt them.
On this road, a total of 32 nobleman’s fleet have passed save for one imposter merchant. Among them, the young officer had spotted 10 marguerites in 8 carriages. The flower-bearing fleets were intentionally let go while the ones without were intentionally harassed by Dark City’s free rangers. Though all of them had Cohen Kheda’s announcement letter, deliberate inspection down to the wheel have kept them off the road.
As a result, when they were finally released, they found the road to Divine City was damaged so they had a detour that took 3, 5 more days.
After a day’s ride, all fleets carrying marguerites have been exhausted. They required a place to rest. Therefore, one way or another, they found themselves rested in Inn No. 1, 2, and 3.
Undoubtedly, services of these inns were satisfactory. Inn runner has prepped hot bath and delicious meal, enough room. Even the wagoner was offered a single room to stay.
Nobilities never lack a sense of superiority. They saw that both parties of the war have shown them enough respect.
Under such a situation, men began enjoying wines and playing cards in the lobby; women and ladies were delighted to have an intimate place to converse. As for the ‘marguerites’, aka unmarried noble girls, they had to strictly follow a schedule, meaning they had to sleep after showering and a cup of milk.
(Day 2, Inn No. 3.)
Mrs. Cisco was a competent mother. The first thing she will do every morning was to visit her 2 nieces after dressing. To be honest, Mrs. Cisco was still worried about the girls because a new environment might affect sleep. She knew once they returned to their parents, they will enter a world of social balls. Languish faces will not help.
As soon as Mrs. Cisco opened her door, she realized something was off because last night’s guards were all put on the floor.
“Ellen! Wake up! WAKE UP!” She grew pale and she didn’t have time to worry if the guards were still alive.
“Please, His Lord of Light, I’m begging you…”
She prayed and opened the girls’ door. One look has put her in dizziness and she fell like a pile of wet mud by the door frame.
“Conrad!” Half-dressed Baron Ellen Cisco found his wife, “What is wrong?”
Mrs. Cisco was out of words. Powerlessly, she pointed at the girls’ bed. Baron looked over only to find a maidservant on the floor and an empty mattress.
“His Lord of Light!” Baron grew soft and nearly fell.
Not long after, the entire inn was filled with men’s roar and panic footsteps, women’s weepings. As all of them tried to find the innkeeper, they found no one. Moreover, all living souls once in this small town were gone.
Guards who lost consciousness have finally wakened up and were sent to find the lost girls. Finally, they caught 2 civilians in a forest 10 miles from the town. They told them the town was occupied by local bandits, all townsmen have been driven away.
“Conspiracy! This is a despicable conspiracy!” Guards were kicked, pulled by hair but the noblemen’s anger was nowhere to let off.
Since it was bandit’s job, they might send someone for ransom. However, all the nobilities waited in the inn for days and no one showed. They did not know that by this time, King Fischer Summers’ invitations for noble ladies have been all over the empire. Even noble houses in Divine City found one on their desks.
Even Luhrmann who hasn’t had the gut to check in the imperial palace was looking at such an invitation on his desk.
Red envelope with gold gilding of the royal sigil and King Fischer Summers’ signature marked by Summers’ imprinting on the wax seal.
Since the war and Swabia’s destiny were still unclear to most people, awful rumors arose. One bad news after another has made Luhrmann’s ill-twisted mind, which was already horrible, more so confusing. Distressed, fear for death and complaint about the temple, anger for Kheda family and a bit of bashment to the Swabian people, Luhrmann looked fancy on the outside, but God bless him, he’s spent his days on strong booze.
His life was not easy during this rebellion.
“How many do you think will show.” Luhrmann asked.
“My lord, I don’t think anyone will go.”
Knowing his subordinate was being perfunctory, Luhrmann slammed the desk, eyes reddened, “Pay extra attention to your jobs. Cohen Kheda, you brat. He’s a rogue scamp, doing the impossible is his nature!”
“Ease yourself, my lord. They are only trying to win over noble houses.” One rat-looking man said, “We should do the same. With our power and money, Cohen Kheda won’t stand a chance.”
“I know it.” Luhrmann sighed, “ He’s attacking Maple City. I fear the noblemen are going to make peace with Kheda under the table.”
“We have our spies in Dark City. I don’t think it’s a hard job making sure who are betraying us. It’s your decision, my lord.”
“Take my money and you work for me. Even a kid understand that.” Luhrmann bit his teeth, his eyes bewildered, “If, if you dare betray me, you will see…”
Then Luhrmann emptied a goblet of wine. All men around were looking down upon him.
(Kinshasa, the capital city of Rivalz Empire.)
It was morning, Princess Bunny Ebbinghaus, 15 years old, was alone in the royal garden, boringly kicking gravels by the pathway.
As the youngest one of the King’s 6 daughters, Bunny was the prettiest and smartest one loved by the king couple, and also hated by her sisters. Therefore this beautiful princess did not have close friends and did not happy with her daily life.
Fortunately, by an accidental episode, she met a young guard when she was visiting her uncle. He was a housecarl guarding her uncle’s backyard. This silly young boy didn’t even recognize her as the princess and accused her as an unauthorized maidservant who tried to trespass the yard.
After several visits, the two got the chance to know each other and this young man started talking about his dreams, his ideal lover and the outside world to Bunny. He’d also catch lovely little animals for her.
Princess herself had her prince-charming though, she never considered the simpleminded boy as her future. Therefore, without pressure from her identity, the young guard became Bunny’s only friend.
“Hmm, let him think I’m only an ordinary maidservant. It’ll be fun.” Princess Bunny thought. She wished the sun to go higher faster because he’s promised to take her to the flower fair today.
It was not the first time for Bunny to visit her uncle’s then excused herself to rest in the bedroom, and sneak out from the window after changing her dress. Anyway, after a moment of laborious work, they were at the fair.
“Last time! Over there!” The naive boy’s mouth was full of street food, he said with a mouthful, “I saw someone selling flowers with 5 colors, it’s the most beautiful flower I’ve seen.”
“I want one! Let’s go.” Princess Bunny took the lead.
“Hey, do you have 5-colored flower?” Bunny didn’t find what she wanted from rows of plants in the shop.
“Miss, if you want that flower, you’ll have to come with me to the back garden, for the sunshine is too heavy. I’ll find someone for you now.”
“Okay, take us there.”
As Bunny entered the back garden, 2 men not far behind conversed by eyes then followed up. One stepped directly into the back garden, the other went in from aside. They were shadow guards appointed by the king to protect the princess.
Bunny’s move had long been spotted by her uncle and father so Bunny’s countless outings were secretly allowed by the elders. They wanted her to be happy and since she only played with her friend within Kinshasa, the two old men acted they knew nothing, though they did investigate the boy guard a hundred times.
As Bunny was admiring a pot of beautiful 5-colored flowers, her 2 shadow guards suffered.
The assault came quickly and unpredictably. The one who took a detour on the side was pierced by at least 20 bolts of arrows, he fell without making a sound; the other was cut many times and he tried with his last breath to reach the princess only to be chopped on the neck by that naive, simpleminded yard guard. That moment, his eyes were clear and his cut was as quick as lightning.
The short attack was fearsome and one of the guards made loud noise cry for help. However, the sound cannot be heard because of the sound barrier wrapped over the shop.
“Who are you? Why did you do it?”
Princess Bunny took several steps back and fetched the tiny, on-body dagger then pointed the edge on her neck. Every royal member was taught to act like under life-threatening event.
“Is this Princess Bunny Ebbinghaus, Your Grace.” The simple and honest flower shop keeper came close and gave her a military-style salute, “We apologize for the awful event. I’m a major officer of the Swabian Dark City Liaison Bureau.”
“A Swabian officer?” Bunny asked with confusion, “What’s this have to do with me?”
“I was under Viceroy Cohen Kheda’s order to deliver this invitation.” Major fetched a card, “I have no information about the rest.”
“No matter what you give me, I won’t read!” Princess Bunny said with utter determination, “Let me go and I will let you live.”
“Your Grace, I don’t think you understood me. I am here to deliver the invite. Read or not is your choice to make.”
“Nice meeting you, your grace.” Major hinted the ones around to retreat, “Our job here is done, farewell.”
One moment later, everybody including Bunny’s friend – the simpleminded yard guard left the shop, leaving Bunny standing there, staring blankly.
However, she was a smart girl. She has decided to leave the invite alone. After she was confident that everyone was not here, she started walking. And after a few more steps, she ran, ran to the street. Then she’ll be safe.
Sadly, she didn’t make it.
On sprint, she certainly cannot keep the dagger on her neck any longer. The moment that sharp edge left Bunny’s fair skin, her beautiful, smart, dignified royal highness was struck by a paralysis spell.
Her delicate body fell only 5 steps from the gate of the flower shop.
An hour later, Kinshasa sealed all gates. Tens of thousands of royal guards went into a battle station. After rummaging through the city but without avail, they went out running towards several directions. Someone claimed he saw Winterhard Lennie, the female general who was nicknamed ‘Army Rose’ was also leading one of the search and rescue team.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.