Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
The minister’s chamber was filled with people including the 4 superintendents of IA, General Chief of Staff, 2 legion commanders, the Kheda couple. All had a panic face.
Cohen/Arnold sat aside with a face full of grievance. He seemed to have been scolded.
Visual Kheda nodded at Arnold, “They’re ready.”
“Yes.” Arnold leveled his eyes, “The follow was said by my master.”
All eyes were so stunned that they couldn’t move away from Arnold.
“Everyone, I need some air.” Arnold repeated what Cohen wanted him to tell. Even their facial expressions matched perfectly, “I don’t care how people see me. However irresponsible, impulsive, I don’t expect you to forgive me. I’m just a common man who cannot be burdened with anything beyond my capability. As far as the situation at hand, there’s nothing I can do about it. If I had the least solution of the difficulty now, I wouldn’t leave you, my families and friends.”
“Fischer died because of me…” Arnold added a hint of sorry in his deep voice, “A lot has come to me recently and I couldn’t get over it. He’s my brother. I don’t know what to do without him. Now that we don’t have enough food to win the war, therefore I will avenger my brother in my own way. And I’ll not drag innocent people into my revenge, I promise.”
“To me, Fischer was more than just a friend or a king. Without him, a lot of what I do will lose its meaning. Even our dreams were bonded.”
“However, I don’t have a friend to share. Without him, it’s not important what I’ll become.”
“Sure I still have families and friends. But you can’t yet understand me because of all sorts of reasons. The one who did was Fischer and Fischer alone.”
“I don’t know what I’ll do out there this time. I’ve never been this lost. I don’t know what I’m after nor do I have a purpose. Maybe it’s just a silly thing to do. But this is me, Cohen Kheda. Forgive me, everyone. Thank you for your support and tolerance.”
As Arnold finished talking, people pondered, tasted Cohen’s speech. However unreasonable it may sound, it made sense.
“Uncle Visual,” Commander Moya said after a long while, “Let’s keep searching.”
“It won’t be easy.” Minister shook his head, “He even found himself a doppelganger. Even if we search, Cohen’s strategy won’t make the work any easier. And I doubt he’ll come back with us before he’s found what he wants.”
“But father, it’s so dangerous.” Dior Merlin cried, “He’s alone.”
“Oh about that, I found out he’s with his guards.” Carlos said, “And I thought Malphite was a reliable orc. How could he join Commander Cohen’s reckless move.”
“It’s meaningless to say anything now.” The minister said, “Is there anything we can do?”
“We can’t let anyone know he’s out there in the wild. Need to make people believe he’s still in Dark City, doing his job.” Carlos replied, “I’ll tell Amart to notice anything abnormal in the rebels’ place.”
“Yes, also tell Marta to create more floating rumors. Disturbing society is not a bad idea.” Flynn added, “Make everything looks like it’s all just a plan in case the rebels think otherwise.”
“And the king must be there to host this afternoon’s meeting.” Winslet glanced Arnold with the most worried eyes.
“I don’t think it’s a problem” The minister turned to Arnold, “He’s had us fooled, after all, have you, Cohen?”
Arnold’s personality came from Cohen, even his master feared his father sometimes, therefore the eudemon couldn’t even look Visual Kheda in the eye before he acknowledged the arrangement.
“Cohen,” Visual approached Arnold, put a hand on his head, “pull yourself together, let’s finish the mission as a whole.”
“Better not reveal that timid face outside this room.” Visual said gently, “Be fearless like Cohen. The better you act, the safer he is.”
“Yes, fa… father.”
“Now go back to your office. Read carefully of the letter he left for you.” Said the minister, “And cheer up for the meeting this afternoon.”
Seeing Arnold has left, Katherine frowned. No one else worried a son more than his mother.
Visual’s gentle eyes looked at his wife, he said, “Put that heart back to your stomachs. He’s going to be fine.”
“Maybe we didn’t concern his feelings.” Katherine muttered, “All this time he’s been so strong. And now, even as his mother, I never noticed he’s changed.”
“Whatever he’s become. Katherine, tell you, Cohen is not the boy we remember.” Visual sat down, “He’s a grown man, with a different mindset. Oftentimes parents find it’s difficult to connect with their sons.”
“Fine, I need some air.”
“Very well.” Visual nodded, “We’re gonna need a while to sort things out.”
As Katherine had left, Visual put Cohen’s letters on the table.
“What you’re about to hear is classified.” Visual said with his rare serious tone, “I want to make it clear that from now on, you’re more than Cohen’s friends. You’re the empire’s finest, most important court members. The latter of which is the one you should focus your attention for the time being.”
“Yes.” All replied.
“The king has 2 future plans on politics and army. The plans comprehensively describe all of our objectives from now till next fall.” Visual hinted the letters, “I’ve grossed over them. It’s pretty difficult but certainly achievable with everybody’s help.”
“What kind of plan?” Wilder was the most curious one.
“Brigadier Wilder, you have the king’s special attention. Concerning your impulsive personality, I can’t let you know the plan as a whole.” Visual gazed at this general who’s earned his fearsome reputation, “The one and only order for you is to follow General Chief of Staff’s direction. Carlos has the right to revoke your position should you disobey his orders.”
“What the… I…” Even Wilder dared not talk back at Visual, “Consider it done.”
“All 3 generals are to return to the frontline. They must keep the safety of the border. Most importantly, keep Dark City and Darkmoon free of hostilities.” Visual continued, “Carlos will be responsible for all frontline commanding jobs that concern the 2nd and 3rd legion. The 1st legion will be defending Dark City and reinforce the border should anything goes wrong.”
“As for defending Darkmoon. We have General Luther. Don’t you worry too much.” Visual added, “You three are faced with the rebels’ main forces. What a heavy job.”
“Rest assured, Uncle Visual.” Moya remained silent before he said, “I’ll never let a single rebel set foot onto Dark City’s soil.”
“Same here.” Wilder glanced Carlos, “If you see a rebellious soldier within the border, you’ll also see my resignation.”
“I’m glad to see you’re this motivated. But don’t underestimate your enemy. We can’t afford to lose. Now, here are Cohen’s letters. Off you go.” Visual said, “As for food, we’ll try our best. The three of you are free to skip the IA meeting this afternoon. Rest well and go back to your posts tomorrow.”
The three generals exited the room leaving only Cohen’s wives.
“Father, I see Cohen has drawn a plan.” Flynn asked, “Does it mean he won’t be back next fall?”
“It can’t be that long!” Carey went nut after hearing her sister.
“No one knows when he’ll be back. Maybe Fischer knows, god, that’s impossible.” Visual sighed, “Whoever he or she is, once Cohen gets involved, his or her life will never be ordinary. Since the moment he was born, Kathrine and I have been under constant fear. Now that his wives feel the same.”
“I agree. Being Cohen’s wife is not an easy job.” Winslet put her hand on Dior’s, “How are you holding up?”
“I’m ok.” Dior was indeed holding herself, “It never occurred to me that your warning came so soon.”
“It’s the 3rd time.” Carey said bitterly, “Sometimes I just wanna run away from everything and never come back.”
“This is the future plan for IA.” After the wives’ complaints, Visual offered the letters, “The afternoon’s meeting is vital for us. I see tons of decrees are going to go through. And, food, food is the most important subject later.”
“Indeed, food…” Flynn nodded.
In the meanwhile, Earl Iva Merlin received his first City Hall order as a Swabian nobleman at his temporary residence. The order has informed Earl Iva Merlin to report to a certain IA sub-department for a mediocre deputy job.
The order had the signatures of the minister and 4 superintendents. Iva Merlin put on a weary face. It never occurred to him that a man as old as him could ever be a nobleman with a bit of power again.
Back in the days when Iva Merlin’s wife is still alive, he was merely a nobility landlord who owned a farm in Rivalz Empire. He was just one of the hundred, most common farm owners in the country.
The only duty Earl Iva bore at that time was to offer food made from coarse grain for royal members who have tasted every delicious food in the world.
Compared to other royal houses, the Rivalzian royal family had a particular interest in culinary delicacies. They wanted their daily meals to be unique and non-repetitive. They also value the variety of food. At that time, for royal members who were used to eating greasy rich meals, something made from plain, coarse grains would be the perfect food.
Of course, they cannot just eat grains like commoners. The food had to be grown and processed by special procedures in order to be royalty-ready. Every course of food typically required dozens or hundreds of procedures from seed selection to harvest and storage. There were thousands of wild plants out there in the field, each of them required a tremendous amount of time to master. Earl Iva had no other skills besides his knowledge of wild agriculture.
It was also Iva’s excuse to escape from his daughter’s business.
No wonder Dior Merlin chose to be a fruitier when she was broken.
Back to reality, a eunuch helped Iva Merlin changed his uniform and brought him a wooden box with exquisite decor. Iva Merlin opened the box and found his decades-old cane with a gem on one end.
“His Majesty sent it for you.” The eunuch said.
Earl Iva did not comment. He was still holding grudges for his son-in-law. However, he took the cane. What else could he do?
Earl Iva’s guards were set ready to go. On setting off, however looking forward to it, Iva Merlin still had a tiny bit of reluctance as well as bewilderment and worry.
Truth be told, every court member was like Earl Merlin, hoping to help in the time of chaos but also wandering the future. With all that controversy in mind, all attendees arrived at the meeting place.
As the attendees settled down, Cohen Kheda entered in his signature armor, along with the new minister and 4 superintendents. As for Cohen dressing armor, all eyes were used to it: it was the most normal outfit for him.
Everyone could tell Cohen was not in the mood of talking, but he managed to say an opening for the meeting then handed the host to the minister.
The minister first put all problems-at-hand on the table. Then directors from each department spoke their solutions. During the process, staff members and superintendents would cut in their opinions. Eventually, most of the difficulties were resolved, except one that everybody was trying to avoid.
“We’re going smoothly.” The minister stood up with his smile, “Our next subject is the hardest of all: food!”
“We know we’ve underestimated our population problem. Because of the refugees and the war, the food supply has become a drawback for us.” Visual opened a document, “How big a shortage do we have. I doubt you have a clear idea. Then let me tell you, before our first harvest next year, all residents in each province are going to experience a 2-month starvation/shortage of food. If we do not intervene, a considerable amount of people are going to die.”
“Yes, I have an estimate of how much food supply we have. We’re cutting the army provisions in half.” Flynn said, “However, there’s still a huge gap.”
An official stood up and said, “Could we gain more food from abroad?”
“Not a chance. The amount of food needed is a significant number. The rebels have locked us out.” Flynn replied, “We’ve sent letters asking for help to other empires of the alliance, waiting for their reply. Personally, I don’t think they’ll ever sell.”
“How about other ways?” A voice said, “Any news from Winper?”
“Yes, the city has been storing food for quite a while.” Dior Merlin replied, “It has already been counted in the inventory.”
“We’re doomed to go through a famine.” Several voices muttered.
“We’ll do whatever we can.” Visual lost his words too, “First of all, tell the residents about the situation. Tell them to ration their food as soon as possible. Save as much as they can or try to find substitute food.”
“The coastal area is a good fishing ground. We have a fleet. That might help ease the situation.” An aqua clan courtier said.
“Fishing will definitely help but it’s not a solution.” One said, “It reminds me of 2 years ago at Dark City’s beginning, the refugees dug for wild vegetables…”
Speaking of wild vegetables, Iva Merlin’s eyes suddenly glowed. He was among the officials but he kept his silence. The urge of excitement quickly flashed over his eyes then he lowered his head the next moment.
Such a tiny detail didn’t escape Visual Kheda’s eyes. The minister was so used to observe that it has become his second nature. Every attendee’s petty actions were caught by his eyes.
“Earl Iva Merlin, it’s your first time here. I should help you familiarize the rules.” Visual quickly picked Earl Iva’s name, “Speaking in our meeting has no restrictions. You don’t need to rais a hand or anything. Have you got any suggestions? It’s ok if it doesn’t pan out.”
“I… minister…” Iva Merlin got sweaty in his palms since it was the first time he attended such an occasion despite he was a nobleman for decades.
He tried to maintain the posture which a ‘graceful nobility’ should have, however, it came out as, “I… what I’m trying to say it, I have a bit of knowledge of how to grow wild crops…”
While Iva Merlin was being timid, his superintendent daughter was staring her father with a pair of eyes full of encouragement.
It worked. Iva Merlin thought he couldn’t care less about anything, this time it’s just for his daughter.
“Your Excellency, actually I know more than just a little about growing.” Iva Merlin stepped ahead to the center with his cane in hand. He raised his voice making it boom in the hall, “As a matter of fact, in the Protoss Alliance, I, Iva Merlin, am second to none in growing crops!”
Merlin’s statements caught everybody off-guard, including Visual Kheda.
“I, Iva Merlin, am the Rivalzian nobleman who’s best at farming.” Merlin approached the wall, then he turned to face everyone, “I’m so good that people gave me the shameful name ‘Mud-Leg Iva’!”
As the court members were sharing looks, Steve Lorenzo stood up and approached to face Iva Merlin.
“If you are Mud-Leg,” Lorenzo said seriously, “that would be Swabia’s lucky day.”
“Well, it’s not a good name so there’s never an imposter.” Merlin forced out a smile, “I quit a while back but can’t stop running to the wild.”
Lorenzo nodded towards Visual.
“Bring a map!” Something stuck the minister, “The largest one. Spread it on the floor!”
The map took over ⅓ of the floor. Everybody had to stand up, circled around the edge of the picture for Merlin’s speech.
“First, let’s look at the field around Winper.” Merlin used a long stick to point, “My experience told me, there are dozens of edible wild crops around the city. Since it’s winter, we’re eliminating those winter-haters. That leaves us 7.”
“Wow, that’s a lot of choices.” An official said astonishingly.
“Wrong! To feed all these hungry people, we have only one choice that fits in the criteria.” Merlin said, “Wild tapioca!”
“Ew, man can eat that? That stuff is poisonous, it’s common knowledge.” One said, “No one eats it, not even animals.”
“Turns out we can. As long as it’s processed. Although it’s going to taste bad, and very crude, I assure you man can feed on it.” Merlin laughed, “It fits. It’s going to solve all of our problems: it grows rapidly in all seasons, you heard me, ALL seasons. The crops have crazy vitality and are easy to live. You don’t even need to worry about finding seeds.”
“Any part of a wild tapioca plant can be the seed.” Merlin said, “Cut the root into a dozen pieces, do the same for the twig. Bury them into the soil, you got yourself a field of wild tapioca. In the past, tapioca is a disastrous thing for our common vegetation so they’re usually taken out by farmers. I discovered that it’s edible by a rare chance.”
“Can we really feed on it?” Still, there were questions.
“Absolutely, only if you extract the edible parts. Also, you have to mix it with other food before eating.” Merlin didn’t tell the whole story at once, “If anyone dares to eat it raw, he’s going to suffer… big time.”
“How about the yield rate?” Visual asked the most important question, “And the growing period?”
“The yield rate is high. Twenty days after you plant the seed, the crop begins to yield. You can start harvesting depending on the size of the fruit.” Merlin said, “The plant needs less space. You can grow it intensively. If my calculation is right, there’ll be 2 harvests at the time our common food is depleted.”
“The process is complicated. And you can only store it for 10 days.” Said Merlin, “That is to say, once harvested, put them into your stomachs asap.”
After very careful consideration, the minister made up his mind.
“Good, Earl Merlin, allow me to ask you to do the calculation. How large of land, how much money, how many people…” Visual held Iva’s hands, “The City Hall is at your service.”
“Okay, you’ll have to reclaim new farmland because wild tapioca is harmful to common crops. I don’t need too many hands.” Merlin gave himself several moments, “The problem is you’ll have to build factories to centralize the process. And a set of specialized tools are needed.”
“No problem. Tell me if you need anything.”
“Earl Merlin, it’s a matter of importance so I hope you can bring us good news.” Master Lorenzo held Merlin’s one hand, “Your knowledge is going to save millions.”
Entrusted with such an important job, Merlin timidly smiled then he turned to look at his son-in-law.
Cohen was the only one who still remained in the chair. He stared back at his father-in-law then pulled up the edge of his lips and revealed an extremely evil smile.
Everyone was freaked out by that smile, save for a few Cohen’s closed ones.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.