Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
The moon had risen accompanied by very few stars. Before today, Cohen had never come to know he could survey the capital from this height. The black of the night has distinguished the well-lit city from its walls, revealing DC’s beauty. From the density of the brightness, Cohen was able to tell familiar streets, public squares, the river that flew through the place where his best friend’s home had once located. And surely, he saw the royal palace, brightest of all.
Fischer had grown up there in that resplendent building. If it weren’t for Luhrmann’s rebellion, he would have supposed to be crowned, be the king, make a family, and fulfill all his dream there. Cohen sunk into memories as his best friend’s heartfelt smile took shape before his eyes. That smile came and stayed, accompanied by stingy pain.
The hurt took shape so suddenly, so drastically, and unpredictably. Cohen couldn’t get rid of it. The pain crawled and resided on each of Cohen’s bones and pieces of muscle, leaving him no chance to rest and never will.
Cohen’s fists uncontrollably clenched. His body shivered while he tried to maintain a normal bearing in front of the stranger.
“You look awfully out of the mood. Your Majesty, is the past bothering you?” The Hand turned to look at Cohen.
Cohen replied with an apathetic face, unwilling to reveal his pain to the man he’s facing.
“It’s about time.” The Hand reached out a finger towards a certain point down to Divine City, “The first place to catch fire shall be the police station.”
Before he finished, the place beyond his finger had a change of light. Dotted sparks began expanding, merging, and spreading. Soon it developed into a giant fire that erupted high into the sky. The hot pillar of air grew, spun, stirring DC’s calm night.
Almost at the same time, nearly 10 more places within the city caught fire as well. The turbulence caused by the chaos quickly spread like a stone tossed into the water, gradually traveling further.
As Cohen’s face turned red because the color of the big fire reflected on his body, he felt no heat but a voice from deep within yelling, “BURN! BURN! BURN IT, YOU FILTHY HUMAN BEINGS! BURNING IT, YOU DEMEANING CREATURES!”
Cohen’s cold eyes caught several struggling figures in the fire. He watched as these black dots ran, strive, and finally fell and died.
“Are you satisfied yet?” The Hand asked softly, “My subordinates put fire in Luhrmann’s crucial military spots. As the police station was also on fire, they’ll have to seek hands from the troops outside the city. And when they do manage to get into the walls, the mages are about to finish their storm spell.
“By that time, they wouldn’t be arriving in time if another fire happens to be set outside the city.” Cohen finished the Hand’s plan, “And which side are you? What good would it do to you?”
“It’s best for you to not ask at this moment, Your Majesty.” The Hand looked back at Cohen, “All you need to know is I won’t do harm to you.”
“… it doesn’t mean you’ll do me good either.” Cohen sneered as the pain tortured him, “People don’t become my enemy or my friend for no reason. Let’s not waste my time and tell me what you want.”
While Cohen and his company were high in the sky, the priests from the DC temple were fighting against the fire with magic. A piece of dark cloud had started thickening in the sky and finally shielded Cohen and the Hand’s visions. The latter’s eyes suddenly turned misty.
“Let’s…” When Cohen caught the fire rising from the city’s logistics headquarter, the Hand whispered a sound, “… take the talk down there.”
Obviously, he sounded reluctant as if he was about to part from a good friend. Also, a hint of sorrow was hidden in his tone.
The garden was cleaned while they were up there. On the spot where once the dinner table stood, all stone bricks were lifted, revealing a tiny, black fog-shrouded transportation magic field.
“Please step in, Your Majesty.” The Hand reached out an arm, “The magic field will take you to your destination. You will be welcomed once you arrive.”
“Why would I go inside,” Cohen asked.
“Because you have no other choices, Your Majesty. It’s the only reason why I help you make a mess in the capital.” The Hand said as his head slightly lowered, “It is part of my duty. If you chose not to, I will toss you in nonetheless.”
The Hand gazed at Cohen with his bright eyes. At the same time, that foxy mistress earlier also approached with a smile but one hand on her double swords. Cohen had no doubt about being ‘tossed in’.
“Where does it lead to?” Cohen sighed.
“I don’t have an answer.”
“Who am I meeting?”
“Is it going to be dangerous?”
“Now you’re just playing with me.” Although being in the down-hand, Cohen was an insolent man by nature.
“I can understand your fury. As a matter of fact, I cannot tell you even if I knew the answer.” The Hand stepped forward, “Although I can’t tell you your destination, I can assure you I’m going to maintain Swabia as it is before you come back, during which, Luhrmann won’t be able to do anything significant.”
“You promise?” Cohen paused for a second, “On what ground? And what if I died somewhere?”
“If you die, I will fulfill your wish. That is to kill Luhrmann and all his associates. Recover Swabia as a whole and hand over the regime to your father. This is my personal gift to you as it is not part of my mission.”
“I can’t believe you’re being nice to me in this weird way.” Cohen shook his head, “We’ve never met and you’re more of an enemy than a friend. Your promise doesn’t mean shit to me.”
“You’ll have to step in either way.” The Hand said in an undertone, “As much as I said so, I don’t expect you to believe me. Since we’re in a world that is always changing, how about you bet on our little deal. From the least point, I have fulfilled your businesses in the capital, suppose you should offer something back.”
Cohen never believed anything his opponent said to begin with. But the reality has been denying him from opposing Luhrmann’s powerful Hand. As a matter of fact, without the Hand’s help, his operations would definitely have been a disaster. Cohen was very much reluctant to owe this man anything. Therefore, going in or not made no difference to him. It’s going to be a life-and-death matter either way.
“Although your promise is as thin as ice, I’ll take it.” Cohen nodded at ease, “If you call it a gamble, I personally want to put one more wager on it.”
“That’s a quick reply.” The Hand nodded, “Do tell me.”
“I wouldn’t call it a quick reply, I just don’t fancy boring stuff. Every man knows there is no easy money. This young lord is best at making the impossible possible.” Cohen emitted a hearty laugh, “The next time we meet, if there was a ‘next time’, I want you to face me with your true form. I hate to see you as Luhrman’s Hand. Maybe by that time, I’ll be in the mood to say a thing or two about you.”
“The next time?” The Hand paused for half a second, then quickly put on a half-amused face, “Earlier you worried about your safety, now you’re talking about ‘next time’. Well, I advise you to concentrate on what’s about to happen.”
“You folks are never short of things to deal with.” Cohen replied, relaxed, “But to me, most of your worries are not worth mentioning. The worst is death and death is nothing to me. Maybe I am such an uncommon guy in your eyes.”
“You are, Your Majesty.” The Hand had mixed feelings seeing this man’s confident face and his bright smile. He nodded, “Fine, you sir have a wager.”
The Hand’s mistress stepped forward, “Please, Your Grace.”
Cohen moved into the magic field, then turned to face the other two while the thin, black fog began climbing up from his feet.
“Although I still don’t buy it…” Cohen raised his eyes, for the first time, he gazed at his opponent with peaceful eyes, “I hope you could keep your words.”
The Hand sighed quietly, then waved goodbye before the black fog stirred to quickly shroud Cohen’s entire body. When all the mist dissipated, Cohen vanished.
The Hand remained standing, his eyes gazed at the remainder of the field.
“Time to go.” The mistress approached, she fondled his lover’s shoulder, “Luhrmann sent his urge.”
“I have sent him there. What a night.” He closed his eyes, “Put someone else in my stead.”
“As you wish. Calm, Emily, this is not farewell.”
“The next time, Frege. The next time he meets me, he won’t remember.” The Hand shook his head, “Interesting man, he is. No wonder His Supremacy favors him more than others.”
“Never speculate about His Supremacy.” The mistress hemmed her lover in her arms from the back, “I admit he is a peculiar man. Even I wanted to give him the promise for you.”
“We…” The Hand gazed at the night sky, little by little he said, “… will fulfill this promise, won’t we?”
“Surely. It’s not a big deal.”
All scenes around warped, lashed, distorted. Sounds echoed from far then went near, then far again. The sky revolved and the earth turned, An irresistible force has been keeping Cohen going forward.
Just as Cohen was about to lose his patience, his body weight returned to burden his feet. Cohen knew he was at his destination.
As all the black mist gradually dispersed, Cohen tightened the left grip on the sword, surveying the environment.
Only a few cold, lonely stars were looking at him. A piercingly cold breeze skimmed over his body. The only sound was the distant rustling of low bushes. As Cohen’s eyes adjusted well to the stary light, he probed forward.
He was at the edge of a forest where there was a thin layer of dead leaves and fragile twigs under Cohen’s feet. Cohen began searching in his memories of the continent for the scene he saw. But it might take another while for him to figure the exact location.
There came another bleak chirp echoing endlessly in the bleak sky. Cohen irresistibly fidgeted.
“You mother melon…” Cohen cursed, “What the fuck?”
Almost instantly came a quiet titter.
Without hesitation, Cohen leaped then flipped further, sword drawn in midair, at landing, he immediately began sharply surveying the shadow behind him that was supposed to be silent.
“Who are you!” Cohen glowered at his target, “Show yourself!”
With another chuckle, a clot of dark mist detached from the shadow. It jogged in the air, then flickered, stopped at 10 arm’s length before Cohen. Slowly, Cohen saw the mist took shape and miraculously formed a female figure.
Cohen’s right hand holding his sword retracted a bit, then his body took a step back, but the man was still alerted because a thing as uncommon as the one he’s facing usually turned out to be unfavorable.
“You are afraid?” The black figure remained floating but the female voice marked by the 3 simple words were crisp, tempting, and rather ear-pleasing. Cohen tried to suppress the rising lust. The temptation within her voice was so lethal that it could put the bravest man on his knees and act upon it forever.
It was merely her voice, voice alone made him think so.
This thing is deadly! His last sense told him.
“You’re right!” Cohen calmed himself, then stated, “I am afraid that you’re just too ugly to show yourself.” He said it, half shaming, half alerting.
“That is your wish?” The silhouette’s reply was as still as dead water, “A Protoss Knight wishes nothing but my face.”
“That was how I became a Knight.” Cohen squinted the silhouette, “If you’re not good with my intention, be my guest, do ask the gods.”
“How proud you are, a Knight.” Next, the black figure spread her arms, then her facial outline sharpened, “How could a dignified Protoss Knight end up here at nowhere, unluckily.”
While observing the near-perfect facial outline of the silhouette, “Still better than you, black from top to bottom like a burned potato out of a lousy stove.”
“Burned potato?” The silhouette paused for a moment, then began focusing on the metaphor serious-mindedly, “Why do you think I resemble this specific plant?”
“To me, you’re the same.” Cohen grinned, he shook his sword twice, said, “Either you or a potato, are only tasty after peeling off the outside.”
“I am offering you a chance.” The silhouette was not enraged, instead, she reached out her slender, yet graceful arm and said, “Now approach, kiss my finger, and pledge your loyalty to me.”
“Kiss your fingers? My loyalty?” Cohen repeated, “Are you fucking out of your mind?”
“Indeed, a stubborn man.” The silhouette shook her head, “We will talk after this.”
Cohen was largely confused by it, for he had no idea of what this weird being was thinking until a bustling from a nearby bush alerted him.
“He’s here!” A boorish voice yelled by the woods, “Call the lads!”
Cohen tightened the grip of the sword, he pivoted quickly to make himself on a reliable spot where he could have a good view of the new enemy and the female silhouette.
As several variously-shaped birds were roused from the top of the trees and spread into the darkness, a team of warrior-like men emerged from the trees. All of them were aiming for where Cohen was standing.
Because Cohen was not comfortable with the female stranger around, he did not make a move. Therefore the team of warriors had him surrounded before the leader called for torches.
All of the men’s faces turned rather savage by the fire. Even their breathe thickened. As a man who had survived several wars, Cohen knew the heavy breathing was not due to tension but excitement, extreme excitement. He supposed they were a group of greedy, blood-seeking people.
“You, here you are!” The leader looked back and forth between Cohen and a portrait in his hand. Clumsiness, joyfulness, and arrogance took turns on his face, “Didn’t even change your hair color. How dare you look down on us bounty hunters!”
“Bounty hunters? You things?” Cohen’s vision squinted the silhouette, “I didn’t anticipate these pus work for you.”
The silhouette shook her head, “They are not with me.”
Before Cohen could comment, the leader warrior laughed as he drew an enormous saber. Left leg stepped forward and prepared to attack, “Since you respect me, I’ll return you a favor. Boys, spare his face! ATTACK!”
“I never respected you.” Cohen remained standing in the cold breeze, “Don’t even bother, you’re just dirty bugs.”
“Not to me? There’s someone else here?” The leader warrior yelled, “Brothers, chop him! We only need his head for the bounty!”
The warriors replied as the 3 behind Cohen attacked first.
Cohen quickly glimpsed their movements and decided not to even dodge. He made a simple curved swing of his blade before blood squirt from flesh and landed on dead leaves. Again, the cold autumn night breeze took the warmth of the blood away.
Only afterward, people saw 3 lifeless bodies spun and fell out of Cohen’s surroundings.
“DAMN IT!” The leader pushed himself forward, “You killed my men! Attac… errrr… er…”
As the ice-cold sharp edge pierced the leader warrior’s throat, his encouraging words were cut off by Cohen’s weapon, leaving only low, tremulous groans along with bubbles emerging from the wound on his neck.
His body could not make another move due to Cohen’s battle aura. His facial muscle spasmed as his weapon fell.
Seeing that, all men surrounding Cohen attacked. Cohen sneered, then retrieved his black sword off the body he just killed. The body’s eyes were still wide open, kneeling. Only after Cohen’s sword left the body did the blood rush to the fore.
As the sharp sound of metal impacting echoed in the wild, one by one, torched lit by magic went out, leaving only mists of blood under the starlight.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.