Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
Dinner that night had seen all family members attending, which was quite a rare scene in the viceroy’s mansion.
After hearing how Cohen had ‘sabotaged’ the elfen punishment ritual in the afternoon, Minister Visual Kheda grew a much helpless headache. Nevertheless, Cohen had been disciplined by his benevolent mother after all. On the contrary, Arnold (Cohen’s eudemon pet) was awarded because of its excellent work during the past months. Katherine, therefore, declared a formal seat set aside for Arnold during each meal. Before the creature did a backflip to celebrate, Cohen threw a scary look, it winced and crawled back to Dior Merlin’s side.
After the meal, the ladies went to the rear garden for a girls’ night. Visual Kheda squinted his son. Cohen took the hint and they went up to the meeting building.
The top of the building was the place where Fischer used to carry his duties. Cohen’s father had chosen this place to talk with his son on purpose. This very place would be a good device for him to observe if Cohen had recovered mentally. The result was satisfying because Cohen was as normal and calm as he can be.
For Cohen, this floor has become a place of hope for his friend’s reborn. Therefore there wouldn’t be sorrow. Moreover, the night in Dark City was becoming more attractive as the night breeze sent both adult’s long hair into the air. They talked but both of them had their own unspoken ideas.
Visual Kheda intended to talk Cohen into ascending the throne as early as possible while Cohen wanted to inform his father what had happened or was about to happen. At this moment, both of them didn’t even consider the domestic rebels as a potential hindrance. Luhrmann would be furious if he knew.
“This is Swabia. Good land, good people.” Looking at the liveliness at a distance, Minister Kheda had many comments, “We can’t let the rebels stay any longer, Cohen.”
“Seconded.” Cohen nodded, “We’ll recover the empire. And I’ve got something for them when they retreat.”
“Well said, my son.” The Minister was affected by Cohen’s ambitious words, he then asked, “When will our army march into the capital?”
“It’s April now. The summer harvest is around the 15th next month.” Cohen thought, then continued, “… commencing the operation in May… June, into the capital… then July subdue the empire as a whole.”
A glimpsed of joyed revealed in Visual’s eyes, “Are you sure?”
“Luhrmann doesn’t have many capable supporters now. Money is the only thing that’s holding his army. He won’t be a problem for us. One or two wins is enough to shake up his basis.” Cohen knew his father was a prudent man so he replied carefully, “I would call the local viceroys a problem. If we use force on them, we would be shaking the foundation of the empire. However, if we bribe them to our side, we’ll lose the commoners’ hearts. I wouldn’t even forgive myself if I did that.”
Visual tapped Cohen’s shoulder and said, “It’s just a small pain. Let me ease it for you.”
“How?” Cohen asked, “You already have a solution?”
“Politics is like a string of tangled thread. You want to untangle it, impossible. The best way is to toss it away and make a new one.” Visual said, “Your father is not too old to handle a few viceroys.”
“O…k, dad, could you be more specific?”
“Trust me, it’s not the time to tell yet. Anyway, I will make it work. That is to say: calming the people as well as preventing the structure from being harmed.” Visual Kheda didn’t reveal his plan, “As a matter of fact, I’m not the only one planning it. Everyone is on track. They just needed you to lead them.”
“I won’t let everyone down.” Cohen said with an absolute resolution, “I won’t.”
“Next time you run away to play, at least tell your mother when you’ll be coming back.” Visual looked at this most ‘headache’ son of his, “Your mother and I are always worried when all three of you are not around.”
“Okay, I will.” Before Cohen realized it was a wordplay, Visual quickly followed, “I was right. So you are going to run away again.” But Visual knew his son, “Forget it. Let’s talk about what came out of your reckless act in the past 3 months.”
“What are they?” Cohen let out a dry laugh, “You know me, dad. It’s not healthy to stay in one place for long. Can’t you let your son go out every now and then?”
“We’ll see after. You’re in a special position, the real core of the royal influence. Everything that happens to you matters.” The Minister urged before he noticed Cohen’s pondering face, therefore he ceased and changed the subject, “Your assassinations had somehow better helped us to tell friends from foes. Most swaying Houses had fled to other empires for the time being.”
“Well, is it a good thing or not?”
“The former. They’ll come back after the war is over, making our following military operation less troublesome.” It was Visual’s habit to lower his voice when talking about crucial matters, “Since they didn’t contribute during the war against the rebels, we’ll have a good excuse to do a little ‘cleanup’ within the noble community after we march into the capital.”
What a cunning fox my dad is. Cohen had to give him that.
“I assume the uproar last year in the capital was your handy work. You should be sent for discipline, but never mind. You’re the king now.” Visual sat on a bench aside, “Your reckless act had burnt a third of the rebels’ provisions, causing the abortion of their secret attack on us. Therefore your pros and cons canceled. Cohen, you need to remember who you are now. I don’t care how many outcomes your personal act can yield. You can’t risk your life anymore.”
“Roger that, dad. I’m the national flag now.”
“And do you know why there are so many people that gathered down this flag?” Visual chuckled, “They’ve left their families and businesses, risked their lives, and crossed the rebel’s frontiers to help you, do you know why?”
“They…” Cohen pondered. His court members’ faces flashed in front of his eyes one by one, “I guess they’re after something.”
“Indeed, people need a purpose. I’m glad you know.” Visual nodded, he was joyful that his son was aware, “Since the day King Fischer took that arrow, 2 men have dishonored their oaths, a dozen fled. Sure, most chose to stay, but a majority of them stayed only because they are loyal to the throne instead of you.”
Cohen sighed and looked through the window. He stated, “I understand. They were gambling. They put their wager on me. I bet they will immediately ask me for rewards once the war is over.”
“People always want something. A king must take advantage of that.” Visual Kheda smiled, “We don’t have extra money, so in this key moment, what can we offer to retain them to keep working for us?”
“Errrr… dad,” Cohen faced Visual, “just tell me already.”
“Take the throne. You will have to, sooner or later.” Visual looked at his son, “Let your court members know that they are working for the king, give them hope!”
Cohen scratched his head, helplessly.
“Still don’t want the throne?” Visual kept his flat tone though he was secretly anxious, “It should have been done three months ago. The later it’s done, the harder.”
“Dad, actually, I went to talk to Fischer earlier. And I already borrowed his chair.” Cohen sat in front of his father, “I don’t even care when, but if I’m stepping onto the throne, I might as well take advantage of the event. Therefore I intend to hold the ceremony in the capital and invite the foreign royal members as guests.”
Visual listened and tasted Cohen’s words. He was able to understand how Cohen ‘borrowed’ Fischer’s throne. As a matter of fact, Visual himself was also reluctant to accept the pass of his friend with whom he had spent half of his life. However, the latter half of Cohen’s speech had triggered his interest. If Cohen had considered, then it meant that he had fully recovered and been prepared to be a king.
“Interesting. What do you want to achieve through the ceremony?” The Minister leaned forward, “Tell me.”
“It’s no fun to spoil the secret.” Cohen smiled mysteriously, “Just enjoy the show, dad.”
“Then how are you planning to deal with the problem at hand?” Visual spread his hands, “You still need the right name and a righteous purpose.”
“Humph, they’ve started addressing me as a king already.” Cohen exhaled, “How about this: I’ll find an opportunity and have a big fight with Lorenzo. I can slip my ideal ascending time during the fight, hey, on the plus side, the ice between us will also break. Therefore, I got what I want and boosted morale. Lorenzo is also more respected by everyone. Imagine, someone who dares to argue with the king…”
Before Cohen finished, Visual was already amused.
“Fine, since it’s your decision.” After the laugh, Visual revealed a faint grin which resembled his son’s, “I know Lorenzo, he is so, very pissed at you. Like dry grass, you just need a tiny spark. When are you planning to do it?”
“Before tomorrow’s meeting. I’ll have the fight with him in front of all court members.” Cohen blinked his eyes, “… makes the meeting hotter.”
The father-and-son’s talk took another hour planning the near future. After they’ve agreed on several crucial affairs, they departed.
It was a calm night in Dark City whereas the same night was full of craziness in the capital.
Fear, desperation, unwillingness would shroud Luhrmann when no one was around. The unknown future had driven him crazy and hysterical. Therefore he began fearing to be alone and he spent most of the loneliness close to dark corners.
But he still had to maintain a positive figure in front of others. He would slap his own face even if it was what he had to do to keep the vigor on his cheeks. Cups after cups of strong wine washed down his stomach, merged into his blood, and became his will to continue, made him consistently in an unnameable excitement.
All the cause was because of the lack of news of a certain individual’s death. Though Luhrmann has put a 6 million bounty on Cohen Kheda’s head, he still didn’t get it till this moment. Not even a thing about his trace.
During the past months, Luhrmann had come across many obstacles. The White Knights, an army which he can rely on, had returned. The high priest from the capital temple had refused to visit the palace. Even the letters from the cardinals were getting less frequent. These were not good signs. Though he still held banquets every night. There were respected people and beautiful magic lights, deep down, Luhrmann knew that once he failed, these people would quickly leave him without a trace.
If it weren’t for the court members whom he had been cultivating since they were orphans, Luhrmann would soon have lost this war. And soon after, Luhrmann will depend on these people in the war against the Khedas.
Luhrmann’s young Hand of the King found his way past the dancing floor to his master who was leaning on the throne, “Your Grace, have you been drinking again? Please look after yourself.”
“My Hand,” Luhrmann nodded delightedly, “what brought you here at night?”
“Good news.” The Hand unfolded a memo, “All provisions have been supplied according to your plan this afternoon.”
“That’s indeed good news.” Luhrmann was relieved after going through the memo, “How did you do it during such a short time? I was told they refused to send anything.”
“My king,” The Hand said timidly, “I took advantage of some uncommon methods, mostly with smuggling and intimidation. Luckily my ways worked. Should I ship them immediately?”
“Immediately!” A hint of a smile began spreading from the corner of Luhrmann’s mouth, “Good job getting it done. As for how you did it, not a problem. Other empires have done much more filthy business than us. Get some rest, you must be exhausted. You’ll hold the meeting tomorrow.”
Hence the Hand of the King returned to his mansion, light-hearted. As he was enjoying dinner, his mistress filled a goblet with wine and sat beside, “You’re happy again, how rare. Now, tell me what happened?”
The Hand smiled but remained silent.
“No more dinner if you don’t start talking!” The mistress was upset, she robbed her man’s fork.
“Remember what happened here some time ago?” The Hand took a sip of wine, “When I said that he won’t remember us after he turns into a Death Lord.”
“Yes, and?” The mistress nodded.
“I’ve got news from Princess Frigga, and she said…” The Hand giggled and came closer to his lover, “Our young princess’ demonizing magic was so impractical that our hero had escaped his fate.”
The mistress froze half a second then came to realize what he meant. Next, she smacked him and said, “You insubordinate one. I’ll tell Her Highness you’re actually happy about it!”
“It’s nothing.” The Hand hummed, “It’s not like I was the one who screwed up.”
“So then…” The mistress pondered, “you have his news?”
“Smart. I got the news that he was spotted somewhere in the Asmodian Alliance. However, he’s gone missing since then. I suppose he’s back in his Dark City.” The Hand gloated, “As a result, I’ve decided to help Luhrmann by completing his supply problem.”
“So that’s why you were so happy.” The mistress poked her lover’s forehead, “Poor Luhrmann, I bet he’s thinking without knowing you’ve betrayed him.”
“Hey, you know me. Can’t I make acquaintance with someone more pleasing?” The Hand straightened his body, “As a triple-A (Asmodian-at-Arm), at least I have that choice.”
“No one said you can’t. But how can you be so sure you’re to deal with Cohen Kheda? What if the elder princess wants another triple-A instead?”
“You’re disappointing me.” The Hand pouted his lips, “Although it’s possible, the possibility is slim. I’m familiar with Cohen Kheda and have done so much of his work. I don’t think Her Highness will switch me.”
“Who knows. Let’s finish our work at hand! If Cohen Kheda is back to Dark City, then war is imminent” The mistress smiled, “I was out a few days ago. Guess what I’ve found? A fine castle! Let’s move there when the war comes, shall we?”
“I’m in.” The Hand replied, absent-mindedly and wishfully, “Our friend will be able to deploy his army in May. If he leads the war, he should make it into the capital this summer. Next year, maybe at the end of this year, I might be meeting him with a new identity.”
“You forgot he wants to see your true form.” The mistress chuckled.
The Hand let out a dry laugh and directed his eyes elsewhere.
(Dark City, viceroy’s mansion)
Cohen was dozing in Dior Merlin’s bed. One of his hand held Winslet’s. All his wives were by the bed, listening to Leila’s dragon stories. Carey and Dior had the most questions. Leila had to answer them one by one.
The dragons had superior wisdom than the humans and they had much more pride in them. If they weren’t Cohen’s wives, Leila would have been long gone.
However, this dragon girl had seen how Cohen treated his wives and concluded that these women were his closest ones. Therefore, Leila couldn’t neglect any of them. She has been focusing on story-telling and question-answering for quite a while. By the way, although Leila looked like a young girl, she was not that young in human age.
“My king, my queens,” Lucy’s arrival saved the mentally exhausted Leila, “it is getting late.”
“Damn, what took you so long.” Cohen cried, “It’s getting boring.”
Lucy was amused but Leila wanted to throw a tantrum.
“Let’s head back to our chamber. Tons of things to do tomorrow.” Said Flynn, “Cohen, you stay with Dior.”
“Leila, could you sleep at my place tonight?” Carey was deeply attracted by the dragons, she even began exiting the room with an arm dragging Leila’s waist, “We’ll stay all night.”
“Watch out, Carey.” Cohen grinned, “She’s gonna transform and crush you…”
“Not afraid.” Carey left with Leila, “Ignore him, Leila.”
Everyone had left. After Lucy shut the door. Dior approached the bed. Her eyes were sending a mischievous message.
“W… what?” Cohen knew something unfavorable was about to happen but he dared not move.
“Still want to run away?” Dior looked at her husband with both hands behind her.
“It… it depends…” Cohen fawned on his wife carefully.
“Do you know what it means for a bride…” Dior asked quietly, “… if her husband goes missing on her wedding night?”
“I… can take any punishment. Please don’t hold back, come on.” Cohen straightforwardly yielded, “But I have already got my punishment once today, could you save it for another day?”
“Of course.” Dior brought her hand to the front. Between her fingers was a spell scroll, “As long as you pay me back a sweet wedding night.”
“Hell, that’s magic, don’t play with…”
A blink of light flashed before Cohen’s voice muted.
Later that night, a male was ‘tortured’ by a powerful woman till midnight, then he retaliated. Only before dawn did they declare the end of their ‘war’.
When the magic torch was lit once again, Dior laid her head on Cohen’s chest, all blushed.
“Well, I’m your fourth wife,” A while later, she chuckled and said, “but I’m one first one to have you.”
“Don’t show off, they’ll laugh at me.” Cohen pinched the tip of Dior Merlin’s nose, “Time to get up. Tons of work to do today.”
“Nope, I need your hug till morning. Dior slightly adjusted her sexy body, and mustered all the relaxation, “It’s the wedding night you owe me.”
Cohen had to say yes so he complied, “Tell me about the changes in Dark City.”
“Some change…” She was still too obsessed with Cohen’s body, “but I don’t wanna talk about it…”
“If you say so.” Cohen said, “Still hate me?”
“For tossing you into the water. You cried that you hated me.”
“I do, till now. And I’ll always hate.” Dior said with her eyes closed, “Always love…”
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.