Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
Correction 1: the name of the commercial city where Cohen met Dior Merlin is Whimper
Correction 2: the title of Visual Kheda is Chancellor (previously Minister)
Viceroy’s mansion, early morning. Since the heads of all divisions and departments had their rare day-off yesterday, they all gathered up early at Cohen’s place. Not all of them knew the reason for yesterday’s sudden vocation. However, the king and the Chancellor would definitely make their arrangements today since it was almost the summer harvest time.
Because of the huge number of attendees, the head eunuch was smart enough to move the venue into the garden, which has been away from the spring chill for a while now.
Cohen had quite rarely put on a dark suit for the meeting. While pacing peacefully among the attendees, he engaged in casual chats with people around. Later on, Chancellor Visual Kheda arrived, as fit as a fiddle. Oddly, the City Hall Supervisors who would always arrive ahead of the meeting time were not here yet.
The carriage marked by the Royal Academy symbol signaled the arrival of Master Lorenzo. As soon as he stepped out of the vehicle door, the Chancellor invited him to an empty table aside.
“Master Lorenzo,” After shaking hands, Visual Kheda frowned, “I talked with Cohen last night, however, he’s still unwilling to go for the throne. Master Lorenzo, you’re an expert on this, what should we do given the situation at hand?”
As soon as he heard the news, the veins on Lorenzo’s neck swelled.
“Mr. Chancellor, leave it to me.” Lorenzo’s eyes began scouting among the attendees, for someone apparently, “You’re his father after all. Some words are better for me to tell him. I have nothing to fear.”
After acquiring his ‘target’, Master Lorenzo said ‘excuse me’ then left the Chancellor.
As several eagle-eyed attendees around Cohen spotted Master Lorenzo striding towards them with apparent anger, they shared looks then simultaneously retreated. Everyone knew that no good could happen when this one went for the king.
After stopping in front of Cohen, teeth gnashed, his vicious eyes started glaring at him. But the graceful king was eyeing aside, looking for someone to chat, completely ignoring this little, aged man. On the far side, the Chancellor suddenly slapped his knees and loudly complained that he’s forgotten something in his chamber. Then he fled the scene.
“Cohen Kheda…” Lorenzo said word by word, “My king…”
The temperature in the garden suddenly went below zero. The maitre of mansion promptly came running to the IA supervisors who were engaged in girl’s talk in Dior Merlin’s chamber.
“My queens,” Lucy was out of breath, “The king and Master Lorenzo are fighting! And no one dares to stop them.”
“Isn’t his father there?” Carey was surprised.
“The Chancellor is not there.”
“Let’s get there.” Carey stood up, “It can only get ugly.”
“Slow down, girl.” Flynn also stood up with a smile, “If you get there too early, we might spoil his plan.”
“Could he be…”
“He certainly is.” Dior took Carey’s hand.
The queens hence headed to the garden. After several detours, the ladies heard loud and tense quarreling. As soon as they entered the venue, Cohen was by his high chair and Master Lorenzo was only steps away from the king. The fight has made them forget the audience.
“One more day you stay away from the throne means one more day we’re unable to suppress the rebels!” Master Lorenzo was red in his face, “The throne is priority No. 1 now. You want more dead soldiers, don’t you?”
“Save it!” Cohen pointed the headmaster’s nose and yelled furiously, “I don’t care what you address me as. I told you many times and I’m gonna say it one more time, LAST TIME! Before we get the capital, I WILL NOT ascend the throne! You want me to do that? Fine, go now and get DC!”
“You are just dodging the problem!”
“Am I? This young lord is an upright man who means what he says. I never fudge an old-timer.”
As for the rest of the attendees, they stood attentively in their chairs, leaning neither left nor right as if they didn’t notice what was happening right in front of their eyes. But they didn’t have a choice because they all wanted to know what would come out of this fight, plus no one was able to stop them.
“What’s going with you two?” As soon as Flynn smelt the two has almost run out of things to spit, she cut in, “Calm down, you two. You are a king. And you, Mr. Lorenzo, are the king’s most trusted advisor. Talk your problems through!”
“Your Graces.” The court members showed their courtesies, also they quietly appreciated that the queens arrived in time.
The queens nodded as replies. They sat beside Cohen’s chair. Leila located herself by the other side of Cohen, emotionlessly.
“It is a tricky problem but the solution is quite simple. Care to listen, you two?” After Flynn was told the reason for the fight, she chuckled.
Cohen nodded then turned away his face after a cold scorn.
Master Lorenzo couldn’t continue out of the respect for Queen Flynn. He calmed himself then said, “As you wish, Your Grace.”
“The ascending matters, indeed. I know, personally, the king has compromised in many aspects.” Flynn explained softly, “Like all of us who poured in our effort to solve so many hardcore problems, which made the situation more favorable for us. I understand how eager you are to serve the king. However, put yourselves in the king’s shoes, can you take a step back?”
“Absolutely,” Master Lorenzo ‘bounced’ back to standing right before his butt touched the chair, “but it’s been four months.”
“Please sit down, Master.” Dior raised a hand then took over the conversation, “My beloved one values his friendship with the past king. He once vowed that he won’t be ascending the throne if Swabia is not restored from the rebels and the last king is not avenged. It is also his wish and your king’s wish. I know you have your reasons but you should not ask a virtuous king to disobey his promise.”
“I understand that Master Lorenzo is anxious. You’re thinking about the big picture.” Flynn then continued, “But, consider it is a vow that the king uses to motivate himself and memorize his friend, how about we give him less pressure?”
Lorenzo has calmed down, his words also eased, “I respect that. However, please reconsider the inconvenience thereafter. People are expecting him.”
“There is an easy solution.” The starter of the incident has finally arrived at the venue again, he came to the front from one side of the garden, “We can make an announcement to the entire empire and tell today’s decision: that we will soon initiate the war against the rebels. The king will ascend the throne the day he captures the capital.”
“But, Chancellor,” Master Lorenzo was still being stubborn, “What if the king found another excuse?”
Visual Kheda smiled and sat back in his chair, “Since it’s the queens’ suggestion, should anything happen, you’re free to bring it up to them.”
“Yes, father.” Flynn had to comply with her father-in-law’s comment and replied, “You have our words. We’ll make sure the king ascends the throne after taking Divine City. If he cannot, we are willing to take the consequence.”
Therefore, all court members were relieved because everyone knew the king respected and valued his wives. There was no way that he would punish them. Therefore it was a done deal.
“Then should we start the meeting if there are no objections?” The Chancellor nodded in satisfaction, “Now Logistics Department, report on the preparation of provisions.”
It was the first formal royal meeting held under the Kheda regime. The managerial structure which used to take charge of a few provinces has been upgraded to reach out to a bigger territory.
There were ten departments within the management structure: Department of Army Affairs, Police, Coin, Law, Civil Administration, Construction, Transportation, Academy, Human Resource, Logistics. All of them were under the scrutiny of the Chancellor. Other miscellaneous affairs such as communication with the alien races, commercial activities, agriculture were supervised by the four Internal Affairs Supervisors. There were also several intelligence agencies that were under Cohen, Chancellor, and the Chief of Staff’s direct command. And certainly, Amart and Marfa’s network of spies reported to no one but Cohen.
Amart and Marfa’s dark webs have been sending their trained spies into each department since the beginning. Every day, they would bring a huge amount of intelligence, giving the officials in Dark City a chance to know the situation on the rebels’ territory: how many new rebel recruits, how many provisions were transported, and how well the enemy armors were forged.
As for the army’s final departing date, Cohen did not make an announcement. He only asked for a preparation detail.
Since Cohen’s runaway, there had been roughly 4 months to prepare for the fight against the rebels. Food aside, all military supplies have been completed, thanks to a sophisticated smuggling network and the help of another empire’s young princess.
It was mid-April when the early batch of ripe crops was harvested. After the initial processing, storage, and transportation, if they were sent directly to the war’s frontline, it could barely supply an army of 120, 000. However, it would require all department’s perfect cooperation. Fortunately, the routes to the frontline were unobstructed.
But there was a war coming. Anything can change on the battlefield. In any case, it’s impossible for an army to march along the supply route precisely as planned. Therefore, Cohen ordered a map and drew a rough marching area and direction for the Logistics Department.
After several senior officers’ coordination and discussion, a fleet of 30, 000 dedicated for transportation was assembled.
“I have one more job for you.” Cohen added, “I need a good amount of fine foodstuff transported to Whimper City.”
“How much do you need, Your Grace?”
“Ten day’s worth of food for 20, 000 men.” said Coen, “The food must be light and portable.”
“My king, that requires 1, 000 livestock and 100, 000 kg beans.” The logistics staff member said, “Where do you want us to find such a huge amount of supply?”
“Don’t ask me.” Cohen glared at him, “That’s your job.”
“But my king…”
“Fine, put away that weepy face.” Cohen waved his hand, “Stop whatever you are doing and focus on this job only. Feel free to appoint a deputy for your sake. If you still think it’s impossible, make an on-spot acquisition in Whimper, the city lord will be of help.”
“Yes, my king.”
Cohen was already used to being addressed as a king therefore he didn’t show any harsh objections because people will keep doing it no matter what.
“How’s the armory doing?” Cohen asked another director, “Weapon depletion will be ugly from the excessive battles.”
“Yes, my king. It’s as planned.” The director said, “The dwarfs have sent several batches of craftsmen. Our furnaces have been burning for days without any breaks. So there won’t be any supply issues.”
“What about our physicians.”
“We have enough herbs, magic physicians, shaman physicians at your command.” All personnel and remedies are ready to be loaded and deployed.”
“Send a portion of everything to the frontline asap.” After pondering, Cohen said, “Gotta get the soldiers familiar with the battlefield before doubling assault training.”
While the king said his instructions, the directors of all the departments made arrangements accordingly. Then their deputies marked down their notes and began assigning jobs. Any questions would be solved on the spot. It was quite productive this way.
When the provision topic was finished, all were relieved.
Since everyone has considered this war to be ultra-important, therefore each of them has paid extra attention to this meeting. Fortunately, the king’s assignments were considerably easy to carry out. Unlike the messy situation before.
“Feeling easy?” Cohen straightened his body, “I can tell.”
The king’s court members didn’t catch Cohen’s intention so they all chimed in with the king. Except for Chancellor Visual Kheda and Master Lorenzo by a corner, engaging in a quiet discussion, ignoring everyone else.
“It’s a freaking WAR! Our army is gonna sweep towns and villages and all rebels! We’re taking a city per day, a town per hour!” Cohen’s arm waved like a leader who was making a heroic speech, “So many towns, villages, so many empty positions to be filled, have you got the replacements?”
The king’s men stopped being relieved and just remained silent.
“Go on! You lazy bones. Without proper management and law enforcement, I bet the cities we just took would soon end up in the hands of rogue armies, bandits and muggers. Those would be our town to protect and we can’t let anyone sabotage them. Imagine how much time we ‘re gonna spend rebuilding, and how much extra money we’re gonna spend.” Cohen eyed his court members and let out a cold humph, “Now who still feels easy, huh? Come to see me when you’re a hundred mayors short, I dare you.”
“That… that’ll be a ridiculous number…” Weakness struck the Director of Human Resource as his eyes cried for the Chancellor and Master Lorenzo’s help, “Where am I going to find this many spare personnel?”
“Start researching now! Don’t stand there.” Cohen urged angrily, “Can I assume you didn’t take my orders seriously when I got your positions all promoted?”
“But…” The HR director was on the edge of crying.
“It’s not a good idea to rush it. Appoint only necessary personnel first.” The Chancellor spoke, “Prepping the needed officials for our three provinces is your first priority. We already have students that graduated from the academy. Borrow hands from other departments, I’m sure they’re willing to help. IA supervisor Carey has trained a great number capable garrison troops, which are helpful in maintaining a peaceful transition.”
“Attention, all directors, I’m talking to you as well.” Chancellor Kheda said, “As long as HR needs, you’ll do your best to help him. I don’t want one day to hear the HR director come to me and say you’ve refused to help. Our army is risking lives in the frontline, don’t be of their drag. The law won’t allow it. Our Lord Justice is always ready for fun.
All but Jack went blue in their faces. This Lord Justice who assumed multiple titles has earned his reputation in the past months. Guided by the Chancellor and Master Lorenzo, he had disciplined many officials.
Burdened by the assignments, most officials left the garden trotting.
Watching his court members leave, Cohen grinned. Indeed, he intended to create such an atmosphere before the big war. It would help his subordinates to focus and exert their best potential.
The next thing on Cohen’s list was a small war counsel.
“Father,” Cohen squeezed himself through people, “help me wrap it up, I’ll go check out the training ground. Then I’ll make a detour to see Carlos.”
“Off you go.” Mr. Chancellor tapped his son’s shoulder.
“I’ll set off this afternoon with Leila.” Cohen nodded and smiled at Lorenzo as a simple greeting.
Lorenzo, on the other hand, thought it was extremely inappropriate but he can’t do anything about it.
After lunch, Cohen told Malphite to ready the IGT and prep for departure. After the IGT had returned from Lord Justice’s yard, their wounds from the flogging had been well-treated, but judging from the way they walked, many were still suffering a bit. Jack did not hold back on ordering the 100 floggings. An ordinary person would have soon died. Many IGT magic users didn’t even survive through half of the hundred. As for the unfinished punishment, they were put on their tabs.
During the morning meeting, the viceroy’s guarding troop has been renamed to the First Royal Guarding Troop (RGT). A batch of new recruits was also supplied. All RGT veterans’ ranks were higher than before even after deducting the demotion from Lord Justice.
Furthermore, Chancellor Visual Kheda credited the capital’s new year arson to the RGT’s handiwork, therefore, everyone has got an additional medal on their chests.
Cohen was goodbye-ing his queens. While he was devotedly making a promise that he won’t run away, a stableman came running to him.
“My king, your old steed was lost during your last operation.” He saluted, “Captain Malphite requested that you choose a new ride.”
“Duly noted.” Cohen nodded then told his wives, “I’ll leave this place to you.”
“Leila, look after him for us.” Carey pleaded, she’s developed a leap of a friendship with the dragon girl, “A, no running away; B, no peeking girls; C,…”
“Alright, alright.” Cohen dragged Leila and began striding out, “I’ll be late if you continue…”
The stable was located by an enclosed fence in the backyard of the viceroy’s mansion. The comers heard horses snorting from quite a distance.
The stableman, in his uniform, has been waiting. He promptly went to salute his commander then lead their way to the horses.
“My king, this white one is new, tall and handsome, pure white, no stains, strong legs.” He introduced fluently, “This piebald is not bad, good stamina, very stable when running…”
The stableman’s talk and this familiar scene reminded Cohen of the last time he went picking horses with Fischer here. Now, although Fischer had temporarily left, one day, he’ll be back to this place to pick a horse with him. Maybe by then, the two of them would fight for a good steed once again.
Cohen recalled and walked, unknowingly, it’s halfway through the candidates. They passed the good horses already. The rest were just mediocre.
His stableman asked, “Which one would you like, my king?”
“Huh, not really one I love.” Actually, Cohen didn’t pay attention at all, “From the top…”
As they were returning, an anxious and excited neigh burst from the far end of the stable. Cohen looked over and found a pair of black hoofs in midair. The next moment saw they kick-broke the fence. A pure-black animal strode over to the pavement. It was clearly aiming for Cohen, neighing and dragging its rein.”
All black, clear eyes, a swelled head top, Cohen instantly recalled that it was the unidentified animal he rescued on his first journey to Heaven Island. It has been quite a while, the little one has grown to a huge steed.
“Raven Junior!” Cohen laughed. He put a hand on the steed’s neck, “Why did you leave my little Raven here?”
“It’s only 3 years, my king. And it’s not trained for long-distance, therefore I put it here.” The stableman explained, “Besides, this one is very… peculiar…”
“What kind of peculiarity?” Cohen patted on little Raven’s neck, His fur was silky smooth, and felt great.
“Yes, my king. It’s 3 years but stronger than even the 4 year-old horses. Very irritable, this one, it’s not letting anyone on its back.” The stable stated one fault after another, “It constantly bullies other horses, eating others’ grass. Seven times, it broke the fence, eighth counting this one. We’re lucky it doesn’t kick men…”
Little Raven was neighing, rubbing its face against Cohen when he sensed the stableman’s complaint. The next moment, it marched for the poor guy.
The stableman was not hurt because of the rein but boy he was frightened.
“Excellent, saddle up, my man.” Cohen unleashed the rein.
The stableman trotted for the gears. And Cohen began exiting the place without even grabbing the rein. His new ride, little Raven, followed obediently behind without any trace of being irritable if we were to ignore the fact that it glared at other horses when passing by.
The First RGT was well lined and formed after the veteran members had taught the necessities to the newcomers.
Cohen arrived on a black horse.
He wore a suit of black armor, a black suit, and rode a black horse. Sure his old guarding troop members were used to the boss look. The new members were stunned.
“Well,” Cohen was quite complacent, he looked upward, “How’s my ride, Mal?”
“Er, Commander, I don’t know how to say pretty words.” The orc pondered before replying. Among Cohen’s guarding troops, only he would address Cohen as Commander and only the elves would address Cohen as Your Excellency or My Lord. It was allowed by Cohen himself.
“Tell me then.”
“Yes, Commander.” Malphite lowered his voice, “I thought my ride was very ugly until I saw yours. It’s all damn black and has a swelled head…”
“Hey, look again. Little Raven’s black suits me.” Cohen was not happy, “As for the swelling… thing, you have to see it from an artist’s perspective.”
“Commander, I’m an orc.” Malphite knew that Cohen was having good days recently, he did his best to go with him, “When’s the last time you heard an orc with artistic eyes. We don’t even sing. And we learned only one dance, from the dwarfs…”
“Learn then, you said yourself.” Cohen said earnestly, “Your new skill might find you a wife after all. The other day I was thinking about taking you to see a few grand elf ladies.”
“Oh, give me a break, commander.” Malphite grimaced, “We worship the elves and they’re not to be violated.”
“Humph, don’t get cold feet when it comes to women.” Cohen ended the joke seeing that Leila had picked her horse, “Let’s set off.”
“Attention, march!” Malphite regained the seriousness on his face, “Destination: First Training Ground.”
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.