Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
The crops have been lively growing since the New Year. If everything went well, it would be an abundant harvest this year. The farmers were expecting as they exerted their best in the field, hoping for good weather in the coming days so that every seed out there could end up in the barn eventually.
All Swabian farmers bore the same thought.
During the warring time, it was a rare fine yield. Both the Kheda regime or the Luhrmann regime were trying their best to keep it peaceful during such a time so that the farmers were not disturbed. Gone were the local bandits where the rebels resided. Luhrmann even sent small chunks of soldiers into the field to supervise the first harvest.
Food was always item No.1 on the supply list at any given time.
But the peace was broken by an announcement that appeared silently and suddenly out of nowhere on the billboards of Swabia Empire’s cities and towns, bringing new subjects for the small folks.
The announcement came from the House of Kheda from Dark City. It stated its intention that it’ll soon initiate the war to eradicate the rebels. After they could march into the capital, Cohen Kheda, the 17th king of Swabia will hold his ascending ceremony. The king has set the date after the expected end day of the most recent harvest. He wanted to urge his people to be ready to protect their properties and set aside enough food for themselves.
The rebels confesticated all the announcement paper as soon as they discovered them. But more papers occupied the billboards the next day. Therefore news quickly spread.
The people did not really care who would be the king and neither did they want to know which one was the rightful regime. They only wanted a good harvest year, which meant being able to feed their families after tax and rent. However, the announcement caught the commoners’ attention because Cohen Kheda had shown that he cared about the people’s well being before initiating a war.
The Swabians were actually quite familiar with Cohen Kheda. The very name had been between talks among towns and villages. Moreover, people loved the stories behind this name.
They knew him like knowing their own relatives, only because this man had so many amusing and absurd acts, which brought their distance closer.
Cohen Kheda’s early years represented recklessness, naughtiness, mischievousness, just like the neighborhood boys.
Later on, after he had been titled as nobility, this name had become the representation of youth, fearlessness, bravery, and honor.
Before the last Protoss/Asmodian War, it had attracted even more attention. Cohen Kheda had been the reason that the Swabia Empire was the only entity that had two Protoss Knights. As a nobility without royal blood, it was quite an achievement.
If we were to set the Kheda House’s reputation aside, all that Cohen Kheda had done, that he had turned the tide during the last big war and become a renowned army general, was due to his own hard deeds.
Several months ago when the Protoss United Forces had been on a losing streak, only Cohen Kheda’s legion had kept winning in his assigned warzone. Despite both united forces had sealed any information regarding the war, it was common knowledge that all Protoss-allied empires boarding the Protoss/Asmodian Line had been intruded on by Asmodian United Forces, save for Swabia. Cohen Kheda’s Legion No.9 did not allow a single AUF soldier into the Swabian border.
What made a great general, him, Cohen Kheda was the best example.
Cohen Kheda had become the first renowned general since Martin Luther had disappeared from the scene. He was the only general that people had utter faith in and the only one that could make the Swabians proud.
Sure, the stories circulated only among the commoners.
After the War, Minister Luhrmann had announced Cohen Kheda a traitor. He had led AUF into the empire and caused domestic turbulence.
People were not well-educated though, they still had basic judgment. Who would trust that House Kheda, who had always been loyal to the throne, would betray? Besides, no AUF troops would not loot when entering an enemy empire’s border. At that time, Luhrmann’s power was growing fast and Kheda’s weakening. No one had a choice. People had once believed that Kheda can no longer hold. By that time, Luhrmann’s lackeys even spread rumors that Cohen Kheda had died already.
The rumors were ill-founded once Luhrmann’s two operations against Dark City had failed later on.
Now the fact that Kheda was going to war again Luhrmann was like tossing a stone into peaceful water. People hated Luhrmann, they knew he was responsible for other empires’ nasty businesses in the capital. For three days, countless mothers had lost their daughters, countless men had lost their wives. No one would know if Luhrmann would allow another 3-day in another city if he won?
The king in Divine City was not favorable.
However Luhrmann’s subordinates made efforts: post announcements, spread news, nobody believed him. After his coronation, Luhrmann had a new banner, a new sigil. But people thought they were not pleasing to the eye. Till this point, the king had lost people’s hearts. All the welfare decrees in the world would no longer make people believe. Even some lower officials, nobilities, and scholars had been holding grudges.
All the dry grass was eagerly waiting for a spark.
Kheda’s announcement had also caused a round of uneasiness amongst the nobilities.
The nobilities’ impression of Cohen Kheda was far more complicated and grimmer than that of the commoners. What had brought him closer to the people was actually recklessness in the eyes of the noblemen. Cohen Kheda was so rebellious that the upper class couldn’t favor him.
But Luhrmann was not like his foe. Luhrmann was not a nobility by inheritance therefore he dared not overlook the upper class. He would keep them close. Consequently, from the deep, many nobilities still favored this ‘obedient’ king though they detested what he had done. Nevertheless, there were still a few houses that kept a relationship with the Khedas, trusted Visual Kheda’s honor and survived till this day. All the facts had led to the ultimate differentiation among the houses in a very short time: most houses were with Luhrmann and a few were planning to reestablish connection with Dark City.
All knew it was the last chance to call in the wager.
Of course, there were several houses that had traveled abroad to avoid the war. They were also keeping a close eye on the domestic situation. Small in number, but they were giant in terms of wealth, property and influence, foreign connections, which were the reasons that they were able to reside in other empires. Only in this way were they able to join neither of the influences within Swabia and not be dragged by either’s failure.
Now as the last war was imminent, these houses were actually not anxious because it meant they would soon be returning home no matter who would win. The strategy has been working since the existence of empires and it was also the safest way.
As for what they did for the empire, what can you expect? They’ll support the new king, either way, no matter who sat on the throne.
The rest of the empires within the Protoss Alliance have lost their interest for Swabia. After what had happened from New Year, they came to know that they wouldn’t be benefiting from neither Luhrmann’s nor Kheda’s victory, which was only the result of the Supreme Race’s benevolence. The allied empires hoped that Cohen Kheda won’t hold grudges for the foreign army’s deeds if it won.
The priests have been quiet for quite a while. Instead of publicizing who was the rightful royalty, they had ordered all temples within Swabia to cease activities. The priests had turned introverted. Whenever a believer came to ask for guidance, they would reply with empty words and urge people to comply with justice. But they would never implicitly tell which party stood for justice. If one insisted, the priests would ask the believer to follow his heart with sincerity and honesty.
During the harvest season, every part of the Protoss Alliance was peaceful. Everyone was waiting for the final result like waiting for the last card to be revealed on the gambling table.
(Swabia, Dark City, classified training ground)
All new recruits of the 3rd Legion were gathered here on this training ground near the frontline. They have been spending time training here with the veterans who came back from the frontline. Here, the new recruits could learn practical battle skills while the veterans can be introduced to being a captain.
This place was marked with the 3rd Legion style whose drill sergeants liked to indulge the freshmen with tolerance and endurance tests, as if they were to make hundreds of Commander Moya-s.
Several days ago, Cohen had passed his new training objectives to his army. According to the new standard, the soldiers in this training facility had to focus on the practice of street battle, encircling and suppressing, searching, battlefield defense. Therefore, fleets after fleets of newly-crafted defense gear arrived and were deployed on the empty field so that the new recruits can get their hands on.
Because they were fighting a war on their own land, Cohen’s army had to lower the damage as much as possible and do their best to avoid destruction. On the other hand, in order to cause enough shock and stun to the enemies, all Cohen’s military power including all three legions and even his staff members have to take part in the coming operation.
The 1st Legion was put to attack the cities while the 2nd Legion was in charge of field battles.
The frontline defense job was set aside for the 3rd Legion. All cities and towns or villages, once successfully taken, will be quickly handed to the 3rd Legion within a matter of few hours. They will be cleaning the leftover enemies, defending possible counter-strike, temporary policing till the assigned civil servants arrive.
After touring in the training ground and asking questions, Cohen and his men went their way to the training ground dedicated for the 2nd Legion.
It was quite a different scene there.
The soldiers there had set up a typical rebels’ camp. Then new recruits, led by the veterans, initiated attacks on it again and again. Officers’ cursings and yellings never stopped. After each attack, there’ll be casualties, mostly broken legs or arms. The poor wounded would not only be scolded but also be publicly exposed as ‘role models’. Luckily, there were enough shaman physicians so no one had suffered too much.
As the wounded soldiers were treated, they would be allowed to rest for the duration of one or two attack sessions. During the recess, experienced soldiers will offer their knowledge on how the wounds came to be and how to avoid them. Then they would urge them to try again.
“REMEMBER THIS, If YOU WANNA STAY HERE!” An officer raved, “YOU’RE HURT, YOU KEEP ON FIGHTING, CHOP THE FUCKER’S ASSES BEFORE YOU BLEED TO DEATH!”
“You fucking moron!” Cohen furiously stuck out a finger at that officer’s nose, “How the fuck can you keep fighting if ya hurt? You wanna them all dead, damn it? Chop your own ass! Get your freaking head 10 circles on this training ground, NOW!”
“Sir, yes, sir!” He complied immediately. The officer wouldn’t have acted so fluently if he wasn’t familiar with Cohen’s style.
Cohen rendered a bit of advice instead of interrupting the ongoing drill. Such intensive training was necessary to significantly reduce casualties, but raving blunt words like the officer earlier was not how Cohen would want his drill sergeant to do.
Comparably, the officers were much more normal in the 1st Legion’s training ground.
The engineer corp from Dark City was a team of geniuses. They’ve managed to establish half of a miniaturized enemy city with a moat, walls, turrets, bunkers, dwellings, and all kinds of parts.
The new recruits first needed to learn long-distant march, sieging a city, cleaning up a perimeter, stationing, then taught by the veterans, they began mastering how to get onto a high wall without being killed, how to avoid flying stones and arrows, tricks to climb siege ladder, bump-open the city gate, confrontation down and above the wall, attack and defense between streets, how to master lances, daggers, crossbows, and war bows.
Even Cohen thought it was too much and he couldn’t imagine how these fresh hands survived.
“How many left?” Cohen asked.
“Quite a few.” Malphite was no stranger to these places, “The rest is alien clans’ and special forces’ training fields.”
“I’ll skip those.” Cohen shook his head, “Let’s visit the staffs’ site. I suppose Carlos and the rest have been expecting me.”
“Yes, sir.” Malphite yelled to his men behind, “Prep for departure!”
All the training sites Cohen visited were nothing but abuzz. Once the group reached the staff’s training ground, it was like arriving in heaven.
Besides focusing on the staff members’ skills on paper, this place has been called the cradle of hanky-panky activities. The scouting squadrons, including the ones who spread scandals and gossip during the Clay City battle, took up their training here as well.
When Cohen entered the ground, he also conveniently untied a discord.
Two officers were involved in a fistfight. More precisely, it was one officer chasing after another. Both men were not low in ranks. The furious pursuer was a major; the runner was also a major with a hippie’s face. And the audiences were two sums of lieutenants and petty officers, half beaming, half burning with rage.
Cohen tilted his chin to let Malphite act. The latter promptly dismounted and aimed for the two. After disabling the troublemakers, he reported back to Cohen with one man in each hand.
The two were tossed to the earth before the king.
“Good morning, my lively subordinates.” Cohen handed his helmet to Leila and offered a smile, “Tell me your names.”
“Si… sir…” Seeing that it was Cohen who spoke, the one who had a rather thin body promptly scrambled, “My king, regiment commander Maru of the second scouting regiment of the general staff, at your service!|
“A regiment commander, not bad.” Cohen then asked the other colonel as he caressed little Raven’s head, “What about you.”
“My king,” The robust one straightened his body, “Deputy commander Chappie of the 3rd garrison troop of the general staff, at your service”
“Very well.” Cohen nodded, “Tell me about it.”
Maru must be the crafty one judging by the look on his face, but he remained silent. Instead, Chappie talked first. He was the honest one by the look.
“My king, he lied to me. I’ve been looking everywhere for him.” Chappie was aggrieved, “In the Clay City, he frame me to mutiny. Then I really revolted thanks to him!”
Chappie’s statement bewildered Cohen, “What mutiny?”
“My king, allow me.” Maru forced to not laugh, “On the last day of the battle, I was ordered to sneak out and into AUF’s slave army. Then I met brother Chappie…”
“I’M not your brother!” Chappie yelled furiously, “You liar!”
“Let him finish, or I kick your ass.” Cohen said.
“Yes, my king.”
“… well then, I met brother Chappie. I sneak killed an AUF officer in his name so that I can stir things up, which brought the entire slave army to our side…” Maru said with the most innocent face, “That’s it, my king. Please stop him, brother Chappie has been after me since three days ago.”
Cohen nodded while recalling the brutal scene during the Clay City battle. Both offices, namely Chappie and Maru, have contributed greatly to the war.
Cohen slightly lowered his upper body, “You two, c’mere.”
“Chappie, tell me, how’s it going with you?” Cohen whispered, “… your life, your heart, compared to your slave days.”
“My king, I couldn’t be better,” Chappie replied. His voice involuntarily lowered.
“Indeed, couldn’t be better. When I recall that war, I think it’s a turning point for you, everyone, even for me. It changed all of us.”
Cohen said with his rare gentle voice, “No matter how it turned out, Maru was only carrying out his order. Indeed he lied, but ultimately this war should be responsible for it, am I right? “
“My king…” Chappie said, “Understood. I won’t blame him.”
“It’s not enough. You two ought to try to be friends.” Cohen smiled, “Before, you were enemies. Scheming against one another is only natural. But since we’ve become comrades, you should trust each other and be worthy of that trust. Therefore, Maru did nothing wrong, ok?”
“I’ll try, my king.” Chappie replied honestly.
“Give yourself some time, try. And you’ll find he’s a pleasant friend.” Cohen clapped Chappie on the shoulder, “I trust you’ll make a good example for your subordinates.”
Then Cohen turned to Maru with his usual boorishness, “Ya from the Nighthawk Squadron, maggot?”
“Sir, I’m one of the founding birds. You personally assigned me, sir!” Maru said and saluted.
“Public fighting, and how dare you to call yourself a Nighthawk.” Cohen hummed coldly, “If Jack saw you, he’ll make you run naked again.”
“My king, brother Chappie was after me, for god sake…” Maru pleaded.
“You had three days. You’re smart enough to turn an army around, now you’re stuck on a small matter? I suspect you didn’t even want to. You chose to let everyone know. Creating discord among soldiers, tell me, what do you want to achieve…”
Cohen’s comment made Maru’s face pale, “Sir… I didn’t think that far. It was a joke… just a joke.”
“You call that a joke?” Cohen’s finger hinted Chappie, “He’s a colonel, and there are a bunch of petty officers. What will they think, tell me? They might even be drawn to form small groups within the army. One Dark City’s original, one 9th Legion’s original, and one slave army surrenderers.”
“Sorry… my king… deeply.”
“Listen well, I don’t blame you for what you’ve done. But during the past three days, you’ve caused huge headaches for me.” said Cohen, “See to yourself 6 months’ wage deduction. Take Colonel Chappie and his subordinates to dinner, you’re paying. Clear up the discord with your petty smartness. Then go to Lord Justice after this war. Let him deal with your deeds.”
“Piss off.” Cohen waved his hand, “Both of you.” Having said that, he noticed a team of senior officers was looming ahead.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.