Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
(Swabia, Divine City, Royal Palace)
Since Fischer Summers’ incident, Luhrmann’s army was defeated and he was brought back to the capital. Then this ex-minister of Swabia couldn’t wait and moved into the royal palace. As he did, Luhrmann announced to all territories under his control that the last royal member from the House of Summers has been murdered by the Khedas. Luhrmann himself was the one being trusted with the throne. Therefore, he should be the rightful king of the empire.
Then Luhrmann issued his second announcement saying that he’ll be ascending the throne after the New Year on the 10th day of the first month.
Every viceroy besides the 3 under Kheda’s control and the 1 abandoned by both armies, have received Luhrmann handwritten letter. In the letter, he kindly clarified that what has happened was in the past. He would love to forego all disagreements for the sake of the empire’s future.
As a result, all Luhrmann’s viceroys rose in rank and they were awarded a sizeable fortune. In the meantime, the light temples from all cities spared no effort praising Luhrmann’s rightful status. Diplomatically, some of the Protoss Alliance empires have admitted Luhrmann as the new king.
The situation seemed to be leaning towards the usurper. 14 of all 18 Swabian provinces were on Luhrmann’s banner. On the petition pleading Luhrmann to ascend the throne, all 14 viceroys signed their names and stamped their sigils. They’ve gambled their entire families onto Luhrmann’s rebellious career. From that moment, they would sink or swim together.
Luhrmann was certainly overjoyed to receive the petition.
Although he lost his last battle, he’s mastered all neutral viceroys. Strictly speaking, he’s won a lost battle. Although only 20, 000 out of the 200, 000 troops managed to come back to DC, Luhrmann didn’t weep because those soldiers were from other empires instead of his own. On the plus side, the battle nearly depleted Khedas’ food supply.
Luhrmann intended to wait until after the New Year (before the first seasonal harvest) to finish the Khedas for good because when the time came, there won’t be many soldiers left to fight because of the famine.
By that time, the Kheda force will be nothing if not dead.
Luhrmann certainly planned well and sat on his ever so stable throne, although his army has been taking hits. However, the army under his direct command did not suffer huge losses. Once he ascended the throne, King Luhrmann would soon be leading his forces and swiping the Khedas once and for good whereas the Luhrmann name will last for eternity.
The thought of that gave Luhrmann a good climax. His body trembled out of excitement as he remained standing in the spacious palace hall.
A figure entered into the building. He was Luhrmann’s new hand, a young man with quite a pretty face, just like Luhrmann when he stepped into political path dozens of years ago. The new hand of the king was among orphans raised by Luhrmann quite a long time ago, and he was the best and the most valued of all. This young hand has been managing Luhrmann’s money and properties even before his rebellion.
“Your Majesty, I have the viceroys’ letters for you.”
“Oh?” Luhrmann turned around, in the royal robe, he asked softly, “What’s their word this time?”
“Well, judging from their language, they think differently.” The new hand said, “A part of them are very eager to attend your coronation, but the newcomers still have second thoughts.”
“Huh, these cowards. I would love to call them into the capital and hang them all, but…” Luhrmann thought, “… actually, it’s not bad.”
“I’m not sure I understand you, my king.”
“Send my order: since the empire had just escaped from a cruel rebellion, all essential works are undergoing recovery. I understand the viceroys are burdened with jobs therefore I’m letting them decide whether to join me in the coronation. If a viceroy cannot present personally, a family representative will suffice. Make sure to inform the etiquette minister in advance.”
The king’s hand wrote down the announcement before saying, “It is very lenient of you, my king. But I fear your lenience will send false signals that’ll make them underestimate you.”
“At a time like this? Huh, don’t worry too much.” Luhrmann stepped by the throne, gazing at the symbol of the empire’s highest power, “Who dares to underestimate a man who mastered ⅘ of the land in a nation and is supported by the temple as well as every Protoss empire.”
“Of course. May I ask if you have any underlying information within your decree?”
“All I’m trying to do is win people’s hearts. Since the civil war, everybody withes nothing but peace.” Luhrmann closed his eyes and slowly sat down, “Sitting in this throne makes me the king and I can decide the life and death of my people. Therefore the prosperity of the empire depends on the people.
“Cohen Kheda’s notorious fame alone cannot give us the right we to underestimate the Kheda family. They’ve been loyal to the royalty for generations. And me, huh, I was merely a commoner before the temple. How many could favor me over them?”
“Don’t underestimate yourself, my king.” The hand quickly said, “The king is supported by his people from their hearts.”
“People are foolish to understand while the nobilities go to whoever is in power. Actually, if the Khedas surrender to me, that’ll be a piece of great news to the empire. Visual Kheda has been serving the empire for so long that few would not want to befriend him.” Luhrmann sighed, “Among the new coming viceroys, some were brought over, some had no choice but to surrender because the Kheda family has little chance to win. But truth be told, I bet a majority of them actually hope the Khedas to regain power.”
“We can’t push them too hard. We can take the throne with force but that’s no good tool to manage an empire. Tyranny is not going to last eventually.”
“Wise words, my king.”
“By the way, how are the provinces doing with the restoration?” Luhrmann asked, “Do we have peace yet?”
“That’s a problem at hand. My king, it was a very chaotic time in the past months.” The hand answered, “DC is ok, but the rest of the empire still needs a lot of policing work. Local bandits and mobsters are the biggest drawbacks right now.”
“Send my order, do whatever you can to stabilize the common people. Send the army to exterminate the bandits. Do your best to prevent soldiers from disturbing commoners or colluding with the mobsters.” Luhrmann thought and said, “Spare our food reserve for the provinces that need most. Hurry up to open transportation routes seawise and inland. I’ll give clearance at the coin master for all needed projects.”
“Yes, my king.”
“Besides, the court structure is going to experience big changes after the new year.” Luhrmann added, “You’ll do some extra supervising work with the lord justice during the new year. All empire officials’ salary has been doubled. I can’t tolerate any corruption anymore.”
The hand of the king looked reluctant, “About that, it’s not gonna be easy.”
“Of course not. I know these people, I promoted them.” Luhrmann tapped the hand’s shoulder, “I bring you people in to help me manage this empire. Those old court members are just tools I had to take advantage of from the beginning. I don’t intend to keep them forever.”
“Yes, my king.”
“This new year is their last chance. I’m giving them one last reward money. If they’re still acting greedy, I’m not going to be easy on them.”
“Yes, my king.”
“One more thing, give every DC household 5 pieces of silver. I want everyone to have a good new year.” Luhrmann smiled.
“As you wish.”
The hand of the king dismissed himself while Luhrmann fell into pondering. He was speculating his opponent’s movement.
But he would never have guessed that Visual Kheda was out there on the farm.
Wild tapioca and common crops were like fire and water so they had to be planted separately. Since so many people have to feed on this thing in the near future, all the three Kheda’s provinces have conscripted every manpower to farm!
The 3rd legion’s soldiers were the first to dispatch into the wild, mountains to collect wild tapiocas as primordial seeds. Then the seeds were transported to a huge empty farm as Iva Merlin instructed. Thereafter, thousands of students from the Royal Academy came to learn from Iva about tapioca’s planting and preserving technique.
Because the wild tapioca fruit had a very short lifespan, they have to be processed on the spot as they were harvested. Therefore, huge tapioca workshops and factories were being built in every city. There were no storage units for the same reason.
In order to not starve, the entire people took part in this tapioca pandemic.
In each town, the landlords had to calculate how big of farmland was needed in order to feed the local population. It was an easy job for those places with fewer mouths, but it could be really challenging for places with a larger population and less spare lands to farm. As a result, local officials who started their career as Cohen’s petty soldiers helplessly made up their minds and yelled out a series of unimaginably queer orders.
Therefore wild tapiocas took over the earth on the side of commercial routes, in and out of the city wall, in the front and rear of houses, in private gardens, training grounds, even in bathtubs and basins.
Dark City, Darkmoon, and Lissandra have hence been overwhelmed by an ocean of tapiocas.
And sure enough, news of the momentous ‘Kheda Tapioca Movement’ quickly passed into Luhrmann’s ears via his intelligence system. He was surprised and curious so he summoned a meeting specially for it.
Several bags of tapiocas made their way to the meeting room. Luhrmann made it so urgent even a man died for the job.
Several pairs of eyes belonged to the department ministers, generals were fixed on the tapiocas sitting on a silver platter.
Can this wild thing change the empire’s fate?”
“What do you think about wild tapioca?” Luhrmann rubbed his heavy head, “They told me it’s not edible.”
“My king, they told you the right. It’s poisonous.” A voice boomed, “Even animals avoid it.”
“Okay, fine.” Luhrmann clenched his fist, “Then why the rebels’ camp, even Dark City viceroy’s garden is full of it! Someone tells me why!”
“Your Majesty, maybe it has other purposes. Or maybe they’re growing mutated tapioca that’s edible.”
“If you were the rebels’ head, what will you do to solve the food problem if Dark City, Darkmoon and Lissandra’s millions of people are going to starve!” Luhrmann coldly scoped, “With all that in mind, if you were him, as the leader, will you spare your precious time to grow this tapioca that happens to serve other purposes?”
“My king, if it’s edible, it’s not good for us.” A general stood up, “We need to attack ahead of time.”
“Not gonna happen.” A civil servant said, “We’re underprepared and the supplies are half-empty. How are we going to assure the success of the operation? If it’s truly edible, we’re going to take them down with a firm victory!”
The civil officials and army generals quickly turned to each other for a plate of most common tapioca.
As people quarreled, Luhamann’s face gradually paled. If Kheda has found substitute food, then they can initiate an attack. Luhrmann understood it better than anyone that his army cannot match Kheda’s army who had experienced and won the Protoss/Asmodian War.
Maybe Luhrmann’s empire that took him more than 20 years to build was going to be overthrown by something as tiny as wild tapioca.
“Stop this nonsense!” Luhrmann stood up, “First, dig up if this thing is edible.”
“Already ahead of you.” A civil official replied, “We’ve put all students and professors of the academy to search in the library. Besides, we have people asking experienced farmers.”
“How can I be so stupid to turn against Lorenzo.” Luhrmann said as he fetched a piece of the wild crop.
But the young hand of the king stepped ahead and said his opinion.
“I wouldn’t worry if I were you, my king. I think it’s Kheda’s lousy scheme.”
“Em?” Luhrmann looked at this young man who he trained, “Do elaborate.”
“Khedas need food. They have thousands of mouths to feed. The gap is, to me, impossible to fill. They’re not stupid enough to not know that we’ll attack them as soon as their food is depleted.” The hand also nipped a piece of tapioca, “They want us to think that they’ve found a substitute food so that to fool us to attack before we’re ready when they can still feed their soldiers.”
All were stunned. Certainly, it was a possible reason.
“Correct. And when our army arrives at the battlefield, they could sneak from our back and rob our food!” A general said, “That certainly is Cohen Kheda’s style and it’s very plausible.”
“Therefore the edibility is the key!” Luhrmann then roared his order, “Keep digging in the library. Get me all prisoners from the death row. I want them to test on them.”
“Forgive me, my king.” The one in charge of DC’s prison was trembling from head to foot, “The death row was cleared on that day…”
“Oh, right. Still, you’ve got to give me someone or you’ll be the one to eat it.” Luhrmann’s cold eyes glanced at the prison manager and the police captain, “Go now! Are you expecting me to eat it?”
“No…” The captain quickly spun hie brain, then replied quickly, “Gimme 30 minutes, I’ll make it work, my king.”
“That’s my boy.” Luhrmann nodded, “The more the better. Bring them to the square facing the palace. Tell the cooks to go get ready. Make the tapioca delicious with everything they can think of.”
The captain thus led a team of polices and stormed the gates of the city. Once they were there, they started catching foreign ascent.
Finally, within the time limit, he brought over 100 health commoners to the square.
The square was closely guarded as busy eunuchs went back and forth handling wild tapiocas. Nearly a hundred royal chefs gathered to discuss how to cook the crop. However they intended to cook it, there was one difference: they dared not to taste it beforehand.
Luhrmann let the poor people his men caught to sit on the ground. These pale-faced men nearly fainted out of fear. No one tried to run because beside each one of them stood a fearsome soldier.
King Luhrmann was also pale-faced. He sat at the entrance of the grand hall. Likewise, his court members stood on the sides.
It was a day to determine the edibility of wild tapioca that concerned the future of the empire.
“My king, the cooking is done.” The head eunuch reported, “We have 140 subjects, 20 men per group. They will be eating a variety of dishes containing wild tapioca. After the intake, a temple priest will be the judge of the final result.”
“In the king’s name! Serve!”
Then came an uproar from the kitchen as a current of eunuchs approaching with food containers.
“Royal Style Entree: Wine-Cooked Shrimps with Abalone Sauce! Twenty! Correction: Wine-Cooked Shrimps with Tapioca Sauce! Twenty!”
“Royal Style Entree: Pearl Stuffed in Crabs! Twenty! Correction: Tapioca Stuffed in Crabs! Twenty!”
“Royal Style Entree: Moonlight Ocean Scallop Soup! Correction: Moonlight Ocean Tapioca Soup! Twenty!”
“Royal Style Entree: Beef Bourguignon! Ahhhh, correction: Tapioca Bourguignon! Twenty!”
“Royal Style Entree: Steamed Ten Ice and Jade! What, eleven? Fine! Steamed Eleven Ice and Jade! Twenty!”
With the eunuch’s high-pitched announcements, plates after plates of exquisite delicacies were brought to the tables on the square. These dishes were cooked perfectly with a fine aroma, color, shape or even names. If it weren’t for the tapioca, the commoners will never have the chance to get their tongues on any of these, not even to see one.
Then Luhrmann nodded, hence the police captain cried, “Begin!”
Quickly, each soldier standing beside the ‘test subjects’ forced the commoner to start eating. There was no point to resist because they were forced.
The meal lasted from noon till late afternoon. All the 100 subjects were filled full before any abnormalities showed.
Slowly Luhrmann’s eyes grew grim.
“Any bad reactions?” By night, King Luhrmann inquired the priest, “Any sign of poison reaction?”
“Nothing happened till now.” The priest replied, “It might be the poison wouldn’t take effect immediately after digesting.”
“Thank you, priest.” Luhrmann turned away and issued more orders, “Let them eat, dinner, midnight snacks, breakfast… Feed them until they’re poisoned or explode.”
“What about the academy? Are they still following up?”
“Positive, Your Majesty.”
Luhrmann turned to his courtiers, looking upset.
(The next morning.)
Luhrmann was up all night. He had the latest news. Nothing happened to the subjects. Finally, Luhrmann lost it. He found a gem-packed dagger and cut a slice off a wild tapioca fruit.
“I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! Kheda has found food, mutated, edible tapioca…” The king repeated as he tossed the crop in the mouth and began chewing, “I can’t believe it… I can’t…”
At this moment, the new master of the Royal Academy dashed towards Luhrmann’s bedroom with an ancient book.
“My king! My king! We found it.” Every word he yelled out sounded sincerely happy, “Wild tapioca is poisonous! But there’s edible mutation! God bless the king, God bless the empire…”
However, the academy master suddenly froze at the door.
“DONG”, Luhrmann’s half tapioca dropped on the floor.
“I… I…” The king nearly fainted, still, he trembled, “I ate already…”
(The next day in the viceroy’s mansion of Dark City)
Minister Visual Kheda, Master Steve Lorenzo, as well as the 4 superintendents were sitting in the garden enjoying their food made from wild tapioca. All had smiles on their faces.
“Earl Merlin, I thought you said it’s a disgusting food.” Carey commented as soon as she had a bit, “This is quite a tasteful dessert!”
“Huhhe, Your Grace, these are very different because I made them in accordance with the royal standard.” Merlin said with a smile, “For commoners, it’ll be a whole other story. Anything after the filtration is edible and can’t be wasted. The filtered product is coarse and kinda bitter.”
“I see.” Visual Kheda said with a smile, “What if someone ate it raw or without filtration?”
“Well, it’ll be a foolish act.” Earl Iva answered as he toyed with his cane, “It depends on his or her physical condition. The best outcome would be vomiting and diarrhea for 3~5 days, then the inability to get off the bed for 15 days. If someone boiled it before eating, the onset symptoms are postponed for another day. If you ate it raw, the said symptoms will take effect on the spot.”
“Could it be…” Dior Merlin said to her father, “the reason that time when you were sick on my birthday?”
“Haha,” Merlin laughed out loud, “water under the bridge, water under the bridge.”
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.