Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
The beginning of May saw clear days in Swabia. The farmers were overjoyed. In the three provinces controlled by Kheda, all crops were ripe in the endless nourishing soil.
It meant the last obstacle hindering the Kheda army’s way to war has been lifted.
Unlike before, Cohen Kheda had ordered to close the borders of all three provinces. The border guards were instructed to kill anyone who tried to cross. Therefore, Luhrmann’s agents had very little information regarding this harvest on Kheda’s behave. Although everyone was trying to deduce this season’s harvest with the very little data they had, it was not enough to determine the Kheda army’s precise marching date. Because they had to factor in the processing and transportation time.
The farmers spared no effort to fulfill their barns. The logistics system was also running at high efficiency after combining all resources from the three provinces. With the local civic officers’ cooperation, the first batch of crops was quickly sent into workshops, processed, then stamped ‘army provision’, and trafficked to the frontline.
It was a huge, complete, unparalleled transportation fleet. To support all 150, 000 soldiers in three directions. The Logistics system alone had poured 50, 000 personnel. These logistic clerks have been eating coarse food made from wild tapioca, just like the laborers they employed. Their effort made the valuable army provisions en route.
Foodstuff aside, huge amounts of army supplies and equipment were also part of the transportation: freshly forged weapons, siege gears from various training grounds, first-aid herbs from Dark Forest’s plantation. In addition, teams of teams of special forces and shaman physicians were on their way to the frontline as well.
Only the fleets of the two princes were traveling in the opposite direction: Prince Rick Kheda and Prince Swift Kheda. The king had granted them new missions and they were on their way to Dark City.
Unlike princes from other empires, these two young men were from the army. They were majors before Cohen Kheda had been the king. They were also experts on domestic affairs, thanks to their father. Therefore, during this war, Prince Rick will take the responsibility of logistic deployment. Prince Swift will be managing the newly occupied territories during the war.
Neither of them was an easy job. Only someone who was both skillful in the army and internal affairs was capable of the job. Cohen was right in choosing his brothers.
Once the princes had arrived at Dark City, Chancellor Visual Kheda received them immediately.
The recent smoothness in harvest was joyful news to Chancellor Visual, putting a consistent smile on his face. Much like the Chancellor, the IA system was energetic. The civil servants were busy but not in a fuss. Most of them could even spare time counting days before they can move into the capital office.
“Make yourself at home.” Visual Kheda quickened his job seeing that his sons had arrived at his office, “You’ve met Cohen. Was everything ok with him?”
“Yes, father. All went well. Cohen was in good, too.” Prince Rick said respectfully, “However, Cohen was… he was so… so differently.”
“The changes are necessary for him and for you.” said Visual Kheda, “Thankfully, he’s the only one giving us surprises. There’s only so much I can take. Do you?”
“Father, Cohen gave us new assignments.” Prince Swift sat in front of his father, “The time is tight. The backup personnel should have set off as we speak.”
Visual nodded then revealed two scrolls for Swift.
“This is the list of the backup personnel. They are ready whenever you want them. The names in the blue scroll have our clearance. But be cautious with the ones in the red scroll. They’re the graduates of the academy. We don’t have time to investigate them. None of them have military experience. Therefore I cannot guarantee there’re no enemy spies among them. Our marching date is classified. If someone leaks that date to Luhrmann, he would be prepared.”
“I understand.” Prince Swift pondered then came up with an idea, “As for the academy graduates, I want them aggregated as an excuse of pre-war training. They’ll have been working for days before realizing it.
“Good idea… but.” Visual was suddenly struck, “Why does Cohen need so many people in such a short time?”
Rick and Swift shared a smile.
“Father, didn’t you know him? He was not content to regular ways to war.” Prince Rick explained, “This time, he sent a Secretary of Foreign Affairs before sending armies. Now, though the war hasn’t started yet, he’s taken down a dozen cities already.”
“That Liverpool?” Visual suddenly remembered, “I see. He won’t recruit a useless man. And he asked me to teach this man social skills.”
“Yes, this new secretary’s lips were mightier than 10, 000 men. By the time we had left, Liverpool has taken 5 cities.” Prince Swift added, “These 5 cities are in a straight line, supporting each other. I’ve done a simple calculation, we’ll suffer a casualty of at least 5, 000 men, 300, 000 gold rebuilding, compensating money, if we take them with sheer force. Now he’s able to do it with 50, 000. And most importantly, no casualties.”
“The way I see it, it has more benefits.” Visual knocked the table and stood up in excitement, “Good, very good. Cohen is much more mature!”
“Indeed, I somehow didn’t know him.” Rick complained, “Though he’s good to us, I still miss him as a kid, that rush and abrupt kid.”
“What about you, Swift?”
“Me? I’m still getting used to being called a Prince.” Swift straightened his robust body, “The status change caught me off-guarded.”
“None of us is ready.” Visual tapped his son on the shoulder, “It happened to Cohen, me, as well as you two. There’s nothing we can do. We can only face it.”
Both princes nodded to their father’s comment as if they’ve communicated on this matter before.
“I’ve given it some thought. This war was led by a number of misfortunes. We’re ready to do whatever it takes to help Cohen.” Rick said, “Father, rest assure, we have faith.”
“Yes, I’m no stranger to the army, so I can help too.” Swift seconded, “As for us, though Cohen has changed a lot, the brotherhood is still there. We’ll manage. Besides, we’re nothing like the royal bloodlines in other empires who think nothing but trying to steal the throne.”
“I am glad, both of you have grown.” Visual said joyfully, “You, us, and everyone who’s there to help are Cohen’s strongest support. As long as we’re united, don’t exclude new blood, keep absorbing new people, we’ll able to build a strong basis for Cohen. So he can achieve great deeds that no one can.”
Prince Swift grinned, “I didn’t think that far, though…”
“He is a peculiar one, Cohen, indeed. He’s got personalities in strategy and tactics..” Visual sat down near his two sons, “As unpredicted, unexpected as he is, you two can’t underestimate yourselves, neither does Cohen forget how important you are. Let me put it this way, all of us united as one, like a sword. And Cohen, he is the tip of this great weapon.”
“I see!” Prince Swift clapped his hands, “The better we support him, the more harm Cohen’s gonna bring to his enemies!”
“Quite simple logic, right?” Visual nodded, “But lots of people failed to see it. All they see is the king’s glory instead of the duty and effort hidden under. If you think deeper. Cohen is a kind man. Every decision he made sometimes concerns the well-being of countless others. Each decree is difficult to decide. Sometimes he had to choose between harming himself or harming another.”
“Is it that painful?” Rick widened his eyes.
“Why do you think he had refused the throne?” Visual made a bitter face, “However, the situation at hand doesn’t allow him to say no. He took the throne for us. Whenever someone calls him king, he’s adding a new scar to his heart. Therefore, as his elder brothers, Call him Cohen when no one is around. Just to give him some warmth.”
Both princes loved the little brother. Therefore they both nodded.
“I’m glad you understand. I can’t talk these words to other court members.” Visual sighed, “You are his brothers, Cohen’s only blood peers. No one can replace you. And only you can do this for him.
“We get you, father. We’ll try our best.”
“One more thing, both of you have to raise your awareness of your subordinates. Cohen has talked with me about it. We have to suppress any trend of developing cliques within our internal system. We simply cannot allow it.” Visual put away his smile, “Cohen has the army; and we take care of the internal. Eliminate it. The bureaucrats are mostly short-sighted and shallow-thought. Our explanation won’t work. Take legal actions once spotted.”
“Understood.” Both princes stood up to reply.
“Rick, Swift. You are his elder brothers. You are destined to do more for him than others. I am your father, and I hope for the best that you three can help and understand each other.” Visual took his sons’ hands, said, “Cohen’s job is hard. Do not hesitate to show your love and care in any way possible. He is smart enough to feel it. I said the same thing to his wives.”
“Duly noted, father.”
“Go to your mother now. I’ll join you for dinner.” Visual continued, “You haven’t met the queens. You will see them tonight. Don’t forget the manners.”
That night, two princes and their fiancees had a lovely dinner with Cohen’s wives. A number of crucial policies have been made over the dinner table. The entree ended with the Chancellor’s resolution of several matters which concerned the end result of the coming war.
Everything was uncommon once it’s related to the royal family, even its dinner table was destined to bear more than ordinary.
Before dawn the next day, hundreds of backup local bureaucrats who were waiting in the royal academy received an order from Master Tiff Lorenzo. To better serve the regime, they were instructed to undergo military and political training for the duration of a month at an undisclosed location.
Without further ado, they boarded their rides and left Dark City when the first sunshine shed light on the land.
No one was allowed to unboard the vehicles, nor open the windows. One day after setting off, a cavalry of riders converged with the fleet. Later on, the leading officers began distributing documents for each compartment. A while later, all passengers came to understand that they were on their way to their job posts instead of training.
By the third day, the noticeable fleet converged with more fleet from other departments and diverged on the border heading for separate destinations.
“Do you think the war has already begun?” On passing the border, a man asked his colleague.
“Sure, it began two days ago.” He replied proudly, pointing pillars of fuzzy smoke, “See, that’s the rebel’s signal for their masters. Sadly, it’s too late!”
Almost every city on the rebel’s defense line has set off a smoke signal. They were quite visible before dark. In less than a day, the news was received by the capital’s watchtower.
By night, Luhrmann went up the wall with his court members. Though he still acted confidently, deep inside, he was astonished by how fierce and fast his opponent was. Even Luhrmann’s lackeys including the Hand were stunned. The enemy was phenomenal. They were advancing with extraordinary speed!
Judging by the smoke signal, the defense line which Luhrmann had elaborately built was sandwiched. Most cities on the outer ring were under attack and dozens of them have been taken. But how did they get their hands on such a large army? To fulfill such a large attack at the same time, they needed at least 300, 000 men!
Luhrmann’s military experts were already engaged in whispering. The king glimpsed these ‘useless’ people and suppressed the anger.
“My king, you’re overthinking the issue.” The young Hand offered his advice, “I think the situation is quite expected.”
“Indeed.” Luhrmann unknowingly rubbed his hands, then glanced at the endless smoke by the skyline, “Those cities were designed to wear them down.”
“How wise, my king. The more fierce they attack, the more depletion they’ll suffer, and the more casualties they will have and the easier it is for us to take them down.” The Hand smiled, “It’ll be nearly impossible for them to march any further.”
Luhrmann nodded and asked, “Our strikers are ready?”
“We have 100, 000 iron horses ready just outside the capital waiting for just the right time.” The Hand approached, “Kheda’s army will have to stop advancing by Carson City. My king, I assure you that Kheda will never get to see DC’s wall.”
“Have some mercy for them.” A hint of cruel smile took shape on Luhrmann’s face, “We’re still building a stage for them to exit this age with dignity.”
“It’s gonna be hard. You mentioned Kheda’s army is good at defending. They’ll have to undergo at least 30 battles to get near Carson City.” The Hand liked to bring pleasure, at lease he was making Luhrmann pleasant, “If they do undergo 30 battles, I wonder how many soldiers are gonna survive after that. Besides, we’ve readied quite a few troops behind to sneak them. It’ll be a real pain for them this time.”
“It’s a lucky thing you’re helping me.” Luhrmann nodded to his Hand, then summoned his court members, “We’re meeting in the main hall.”
That night, Luhrmann and his military commanders drew the operation plan. When Kheda’s army was slowed down, the 100, 000 riders near the capital will march behind the enemy to sneak attack. A number of infantries were sent to asisst the attack. The king was quite confident about his plan.
After attending the meeting, Luhrmann sipped his wine and left the hall. He sent his guards away and remained in the royal garden. He needed some time to ponder and reflect on his opponent: Cohen Kheda.
When he first met Cohen, Luhrmann saw a boy at his 10th year, naive and shy. The second time, Cohen was a completely different young man, which astonished him. As days passed, this individual kept giving him surprises. However, Luhrmann was not worried that Cohen would bring more trouble for him. The reason was simple, past experience told him that people with such a reckless personality never lasted long. As expected, Cohen was chosen to be the scapegoat for the Protoss/Asmodian War.
However, he had done the impossible. He had survived and brought back a powerful army. Luhrmann had schemed to put Cohen Kheda in a desperate environment yet he lived. When Luhrmann had learned how Cohen had defeated his enemies, this middle-aged man felt a bucket of ice-cold water poured from the top. Everything seemed coincident but reasonable. The strange feeling made Luhrmann felt that he could never grasp the key to the big picture. Later on, with absolute disadvantage, Cohen not only struggled to live, he even thrive. Now, his power is close to Luhrmann’s.
The pondering took Luhrmann to his second daughter’s chamber. Princess Lisa, well-dressed, was dining with her husband. Both were not prepared for Luhrmann’s coming.
“King Father?” Lisa rose hastily.
Luhrmann raised a hand to stop the formalities. Then he seated himself by the table. Without a word, he was still pondering. Lisa and her husband, aka her cousin Laika shared a look, without knowing what has happened.
Cohen Kheda had done too much impossible.
“You’ve been married for quite some time.” Luhrmann talked after a long while.
Lisa replied quietly, “Yes, king father. It’s been 6 months.”
“As a member of the royal family, you ought to work for the realm.” Luhrmann looked at Laika, “Are you prepared for it?”
Laika was not the impudent young man he used to be, “At your service, my king.”
“Here is my plan. With the war coming, you won’t be of much help to me here. But you can still go out there, carry out some work to calm my people.” Luhrmann did tell his true intention, “You will set off tonight.”
“Yes, my king.” Laika knew what Luhrmann meant by that, “I will protect the princess.”
“I’ve readied your guards” Luhrann gazed at his daughter gently, “Remember, you’re not a little girl anymore. Look after yourself.”
“King Father!” Lisa tore, she let herself into Luhrmann’s arms, “I don’t want to go…”
“There, there, I’ll be fine. Kheda won’t be able to live long.” Luhrmann tapped Lisa on the shoulder, “When the war is over, you’ll come back. I will bring you back myself.”
“You don’t have much time. Start packing.” Luhrmann tightened the words, “Your ride is waiting.”
Liverpool, in his formal nobleman’s suit, along with several commanders who have surrendered in the past days were on the wall, looking down at the Kheda army’s entering into the city.
It signaled the completion, and success for this poor Secretary of Foreign Affairs, but with painful memories. Liverpool had been hanged on the ceiling and tortured for saying the wrong words; he was once thrown into a dungeon. There was one critical moment when he was broke out a second before a blade pierced his body.
He was a smart man after all. He knew to learn from past failures. Having been through the initial hiccups, Liverpool has grown increasingly skillful with his job.
The money and powerful troops were of great help too. In nearly 20 days, Liverpool took advantage of the letters from his past victories and his sweet, smart mouth, he talked 17 commanders into surrendering their cities.
Luhrmann’s elaborate setting, which was aimed to deplete Kheda’s army, has ceased to exist. The rebels would never believe the defense line built by these 20-ish cities, which were supposed to bring huge casualties to Cohen Kheda, was taken down by a single man’s mouth.
With the past 20 day’s experience, Liverpool was even slicker and sly with his diplomatic approaches. Now he’s able to make anyone believe anything that came out of his mouth.
While the troops were marching into the city, the surrendered commanders were growing increasingly fearful while Liverpool remained peaceful.
Seeing the look of the troops down there. Everyone could tell that they were neat, well-supplied soldiers with high morale. Such an army would be unstoppable. The surrendered came to realize that they merely chose to survive instead of contributing anything to Cohen Kheda.
The secretary didn’t say a word aside. However, the surrendered ones understood, that with more Kheda’s soldiers entering the city, the less advantage they would have. Thus they have grown less inclined to ask for benefits later on.
It was the main purpose that Liverpool asked them to watch the army’s entering. Because he was taught to imply rather than to suggest.
As Cohen Kheda’s flag emerged at the far end of the commercial boulevard, Liverpool’s smiley face turned solemn. He double-checked his objectives during this trip: the city’s garrison has been taken over by the assault infantry from the king’s guard. The surrendered rebels have been disarmed; even the commanders who stood with Liverpool have replaced their armor with plain clothes. Everything was ok now.
“Gentlemen, I’m glad to tell you. You have fulfilled your mission.” Liverpool turned and smiled, “As of now, I urge you to have a good rest. Soon after, new assignments will arrive.”
“The king’s not seeing us?” The highest-ranked rebel commander was surprised, “It’s not polite if we don’t show ourselves to His Grace.”
“Generals, I’m just a secretary of diplomacy, not secretary of manners. I cannot decide who sees the king.” Liverpool offered a sincere smile, “But rest assured, your requests will be heard.”
“It’s not what you told us!” The surrenderer’s deputy raised his voice, “You’ve promised! Don’t you have no honor?”
“I truly regret it. I think you’re too emotional to see the king himself.” Liverpool said seriously, “His Grace is not just any ordinary person. I doubt he’ll grant you an audience before you’ve proven your absolute loyalty. Yes, I’ve promised and I’ll keep my words. But I never said you can meet him here, right? Gentlemen, when it’s time I deem it’s proper, I will do my best for you.”
“You are just dodging the question!” Before the deputy became irrational, Liverpool’s head guard has shown himself between them. One of his hands was on the handle of his weapon, face full of contempt.
“Silence.” The surrenderer felt cold in his heart, he stopped his deputy, “It’s not yesterday. We’ve surrendered.”
“Don’t.” The surrenderer sighed, he asked, “Mr. Secretary, where should we go?”
“His Grace might meet you, after all, therefore I’ve arranged your lodging. Comfortable place, indeed.” Liverpool replied with a smile, “I’ll send a man for you as soon as I have the news.”
Since they’ve handed over the garrison right, army command, weapons, the surrenderers had nothing more to say but headed to the lodging. It was the day they said goodbye to their troops.
When the surrenderers went off the wall. Nicolas, Liverpool’s liaison officer, made a thumb-up for him. Liverpool did the same. In the past days, Nicolas and Philips have become Liverpool’s best help and friends. In the end, the three of them laughed and went off the wall as well.
“Twenty days, what a journey. Luckily we wrapped it up good.” Deputy Secretary of Diplomacy exhaled, “Look at those men. Stooped and inferior. They pointed their weapons at us before. In the end, they are all the same.”
“His Grace knew our talents, that’s why he put us here for the best result.” Nicolas smiled, “Isn’t that right, Secretary of Foreign Affairs?”
Liverpool didn’t reply but laughed. He can’t talk too much about his job. The three joked and laughed then remained by the gate where Cohen Kheda’s vehicle was heading to.
As the king’s carriage parked by the gate, an orc tilted his chin towards Liverpool, “The commander wants to see you.”
“Yes.” Liverpool tidied himself and swiftly boarded this giant vehicle driven by 16 royal stallions. He stood near the compartment door, said quietly, “It is I, Liverpool, Young Master.”
An elf warlock promptly opened the door. First, she examined him from top to bottom then let him in.”
“I’m not gonna look less dignified without it. Can you just bring my armor?”
“No, a king cannot wear armor in public!”
It was the first conversation Liverpool heard in the compartment. Next, he saw Leila’s firm yet cute face. She had a suite of magnificent robes in hand while asking Cohen to remove his armor.
“Not again.” Liverpool thought as he knelt.
“Rise.” Cohen nodded behind the screen, “As my Secretary of Diplomacy, you should be less inferior and more dignified. Next time, spare me that kneeling in less formal occasions.”
“As you wish, Young Lord.” Liverpool knew it was a reward for his accomplishment, therefore straightened his body with joy.
“Not bad, you.” Cohen glanced at him, “Seventeen cities, must be thrilling.”
“It’s fine. They were just bluffing. I’ve got an entire army after all.” Liverpool certainly won’t mention anything unpleasant here, “However, what about the ones I failed. Are we attacking or not? I’m afraid.”
“Some stubborn cities. Not worth it. Leave some troops and surround them till I’ve got time.” Cohen noticed Leila’s unchanged face then turned Liverpool, “Which one do you think I should wear?”
“I… Young Lord, I believe…” Liverpool squinted Leila, and made up his mind, “To highlight the empire’s power, the suit is more appropriate!”
“Reasons?” Cohen surveyed him with interest, “Don’t give me bullshit.”
“Yes, Young Lord, you are the king with vision and you have to look after the whole empire. The generals are the ones to attend the war. Therefore, wearing a suit shows your trust in your army. With such a powerful army, there’s no need for you to wear armor.” Liverpool sweated at the end of his speech.
“Your mouth work improved. I hope the job has done the same to your brain.” Cohen smiled, “Very good. Stay with me these days. And learn.”
“Fine, Leila.” Cohen shook his head, “This time only.”
“This is the joint effort of the dragon patriarchs, all eight of them, with painstaking magic enchantments thereafter.” Leila contended, “Are you going to refuse the goodwill from the entire dragon clan?”
“They can make a suit of armor out of that much effort.” Cohen giggled while raising his hands to let the elf warlock remove his armor, “How inconsiderate, Ray.”
“I have no comment for you! They’re made from the past chief’s…” Leila pouted, “Why, you have all the benefits, still being picky!”
“It’s one of the good things about being a king.” Cohen pulled on the suit and spread his arms, “And now, a lunatic.”
Leila was obviously more furious because she fell silent. After she was done dressing Cohen, she quietly said a few words to Cohen’s personal guarding warlock. Meanwhile, the carriage’s speed gradually reduced to zero.
“Young Lord, this suit looks more imposing than the armor.” Liverpool praised with sincerity, “Good looking, really!”
“Shut your smart mouth.” Cohen hummed, “Off you go to see if Carlos is here.”
“My king, the Chief of Staff is expecting you.”
“It must be Carson City in front of us.” Cohen mounted his walking rapier, then as if he was speaking to himself, “So this is the so-called inner defense ring… let’s move!”
He got off the vehicle and went up the wall followed by a dozen army leaders. They were sub-commanders from the First Legion, the Chief Liaison Officer. One of the princes also sent a logistics officer who was responsible for supplying the First Legion.
“Gentlemen, we haven’t seen any bloodshed since the start of the war. But you are going to, here in Carson.” Cohen stood in front of an extended table topped with red cloth. He spared the formalities, “Remove it. Let’s see what we have got here.”
A major complied and uncovered the cloth. It was a sand table depicting the entire Carson Province. All the terrains were quite real. People here were quite familiar with Carson’s map, therefore they instantly recognized what was in front of them.
“Carson is the only way towards the capital. It’ll be a tough job.” The Chief of Staff stepped to the frontmost, “The rebels’ defense deployment has a total of 50, 000, with Carson City at the center. Part of our army has already broken into Carson’s field. The main strike troops arrive Carson City the day after tomorrow.”
“Master of Liaison, tell us the rebels’ layout.”
“Yes, my king.” Marfa replied and stood from the back of the crowd, “I was able to deduce the total number of rebel forces. It’s 350, 000.”
The officers were stunned, surprised. It will take great courage to strike 350, 000 with 150, 000.
“There are 100, 000 on the rebels’ outer defense ring. Thanks to our new Secretary of Diplomacy, we’ve neutralized 50, 000 already. The rest will be tough.” Marfa said, “The inner defense ring has 100, 000 enemies. A confrontation is imminent. According to my intelligence, these troops are the rebels’ finest. Besides those, there are about 50, 000 guarding the capital. They’ve also spared 2 or 3 legions for backup near the capital. Our next target is Carson City. There, we’ll encounter about 40, 000 rebels.”
“This is the big picture. And we need to keep us intact in order to march down to DC.” Cohen took over the speech, “Study carefully this terrain. It’s not exaggerating to say Carson is capital’s shield. The transportation is tough on our side. Directing troops could potentially be troublesome. It’s quite the contrary for the rebels. They have smooth transportation, both on land and by water. Carson City has solid walls, abundant soldiers. If we were obstructed there, riders from the capital could possibly outflank us from the rear. Remember, there are only 200 miles between these two.”
“So to speak, timing is crucial?” A colonel asked, “Your Grace, how much time do we have to take down Carson City?”
Cohen’s eyes landed on Carlos, the latter took the hint and said, “Two days.”
“Two days?” The commanders did a quick calculation, “That’s gonna cost us a lot.”
“Casualties are inevitable since we’re at war.” Cohen faced the sand table, “We’re outnumbered, but the grand total is not gonna confront us all together at the same time. If we’re very agile, we can get enough time. Therefore we can take advantage of the timing difference and crush them one by one. Indeed we have the initiative, but be prepared. The fight will be brutal.”
“Yes, sir.” All commanders complied. They knew Cohen and they never objected to Cohen’s judgment and orders.
“Tell me about logistics.”
“The supply routes are unobstructed.”
“Excellent. We’re arriving in Carson City the day after tomorrow. After, we’ll spend a day preparing. The Third Legion protects the wings. The First Legion attacks.” Seeing all the commanders have grasped the operational objective, Cohen spoke his orders, “The rebels residing in the capital will make their move. Therefore the aforementioned plan is subject to change. Be prepared to take Carson City down within two days and pay attention to my immediate orders.”
“But don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. We’ve lit 20 cities on fire in such a short time, I bet Carson City is peeing its pants.” Cohen laughed, “Gentlemen, I’ll see you all in DC.”
“Yes, my king.” The senior officers replied altogether, “See you in DC!”
Cohen was about to leave before Carlos hastily followed.
“Has the Second Legion set off?” Cohen asked quietly as he stepped down the wall stairs.
“I was told it’s leaving today on schedule.” Carlos replied, “It seems Legion Commander Wilder is quite excited because you’ve approval his appeal.”
“Is he? It won’t be this easy next time.” Cohen chuckled, “Tell the Third Legion to march undercover. Spread on both wings of the First Legion. I want to send a nice gift for the scums in the capital.”
“Yes, commander.” Carlos suddenly jabbered, “Sir, I think it’s too huge a price to pay to take a city with a complete defense system within two days.”
“You’re not wrong. Therefore I mentioned earlier they should pay attention to my immediate orders as well.”
“Are you telling me?” Carlos was suddenly jumpy, “You wanna go for the 100, 000 riders at the capital?”
“You get me well.” Cohen smiled, “Once these riders are gone, the rebels’ will to fight will collapse.”
“But your plan is…”
“The Third Legion.” Cohen’s smile continued, “It’s time for Moya to shine.”
Carlos nodded thoughtfully, “Commander Moya…”
“Feeling pity for yourself?” Cohen tapped Carlos on the shoulder, “I can offer you a chance to be the first into the capital. You’re not too heavy for a catapult.”
“Sir, me sitting on the rack is gonna demoralize our troops…”
As the endless king’s guards from the First Legion passed by the wall, all soldiers peeked over. They were not allowed to talk during a march, therefore they made silent salutes.
The hoofbeats saw fully-plated soldiers throwing their worships to the king.
Cohen halted and formally returned the salute for his soldiers. He asked then, “Carlos, summer in the capital is quite exceptional, do you miss it?”
“Definitely.” Carlos paused then said, “You owe me a dancing party, Your Grace.”
“You’ll have a lot of work to do before that.”
The king’s order was passed on to the Third Legion with great speed. Commander Moya quickly carried it out. Soon, a rare phenomenon showed on the soil of this province once again.
“Arrive at combat zone and get prepared asap.”
This order saw the immediate defragmentation of the Third Legion. It divided itself into regiments, battalions, and even smaller fragments. These subunits took advantage of every possible way for the designated location carrying all gears and 3 days’ worth of provisions. Like Commander Moya, they ran, marched rapidly in a straight line, crossed mountains, infiltrated forests, leaving the supply system as well as the First Legion’s strikers far behind.
When the majority of the First Legion had arrived at Carson City, the Third Legion had already built a sturdy fortification on the First’s both wings. All units have finished concealing, all scouts were deployed and all were waiting for the rebels to come.
The engineer teams of the First Legion have completed their preparations ahead of schedule, therefore Cohen Kheda decided to bring up the scheduled time. Meanwhile, the rebels’ commander judged that Kheda’s army have been severely consumed. Therefore, the riders from the capital were already on the move.
The third morning, Carson City.
Carson has been under siege by the Kheda army from evening to dawn. Its citizens had lived through a sleepless night. The city’s main magic shield did little to offer its defenders confidence. Terribly frightened, the rebel soldiers stood on the wall, watching the fearsome scene behind the thin morning mist: an ocean of black!
To boost morale, the new Carson viceroy opened the vault. He had people carry cases of silvers to every station, 30 silvers for each man. Even residents had received 5 silvers.
“Khedas are nothing, not scary at all! We’ve got weapons, power. We’re an army!” The policing officers spared no effort squirting his spittle at high points on the wall, “We have the king to protect, and the city, and ourselves! For the king, for us, for a better tomorrow, FIGHT, soldiers, FIGHT!”
“FIGHT!” Soldiers yelled, waving their pouches of money. What a wonderful day to be rich!
“Brothers, you’re getting 30 more silvers tomorrow!” Officers began tossing silvers to the crowd, “Hold the city! One more day equals five years of your hard work!”
“Hold the city! Hold the city! Hold the city!!” The mess all yelled, led by the police. The ever so louder cheers provoked everyone presented. The shiny silvery color confused the soldier’s mind. All complied and began to yell.
“Get your weapons up! AND KILL THE MOTHER FUCKERS!”
“KILL THE MOTHER FUCKERS! KILL THE MOTHER FUCKERS! KILL THE MOTHER FUCKERS!”
“Get to the wall!” Seeing that the morale was good enough, the officers commanded, “Tell that bastard Cohen Kheda, WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF HIM!”
“Get to the wall! WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF HIM!”
A while later, the same yelling echoed on all four walls. It was actually somehow imposing.
Officers yelled, “COHEN KHEDA!”
Soldiers followed, “BASTARD, WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF YOU!”
Down the wall, soaked in the mist, thousands of black-armored soldiers remained quietly standing. Officers were patrolling the rows, examining gears, ignoring the yellings from Carson.
Suddenly, several prolonged horns echoed from the commanding tent, intriguing the entire army. Even a plain soldiers’ eyes turned sharp at the horn.
The king’s guards emerged at the camp’s gate. They also wore black armor and black cloaks. The leaders were a dozen stallions with riders mounted. They marched to a hill nearby.
Malphite, the lord commander of the king’s guards, his enormous body emerged as well. He and several subordinates formed a circle, shielding several rides to the top of the shield. They were followed by officers from the Staff Department. When they’ve arrived at the top, the guards diverged left and right. Cohen Kheda, on his black horse, in a suit of black robe, showed himself in front of his army.
“PRESENTING HIS GRACEFUL KING!”
“ALL HAIL THE KING! ALL HAIL THE KING!” Countless weapon-holding hands waved in the morning air. Even Carson’s impregnable wall was shaken by the bellowing uproar. The yellings from Carson have soon ended.
“My glorious soldiers!” As the hailing ceased, the land returned to silence, Cohen’s voice resounded. His words were amplified by acoustic magic, making his will clearly heard by everyone including the ones in the city. “WHAT’S THIS CITY CALLED?!”
“CARSON! CARSON! CARSON!” Countless voices boomed.
“Indeed, this is the place.” Cohen Kheda slashed his right hand towards Carson, “Since you joined my army, you’ve suffered through slaughterings, the hardship! Your families, friends were hurt, your home empire has been taken away! All was because of these rebels! Today is your day to avenge!”
“HAIL THE KING! HAIL THE KING! HAIL THE KING!” Flames seemed to be firing in the soldiers’ eyes.
Cohen’s lightning-like visions swept his army, “From this day forward, you’re no longer my private army! You’re an honored army man of Swabia! To fight as one of the Swabian army, LET ME ASK YOU, ARE YOU GLAD!?”
“YES, MY KING! YES, MY KING! YES, MY KING!!” The lances were raised higher as the earth-shattering voice rolled onward like a mat.
“You are about to fight the usurper, fight this city! Do you want the glorious win or shameful failure!?” Suddenly, Cohen rode down the hill. The next moment saw him marching at the frontmost of his army, yelling, “ARE YOU THRILLED!!?”
“THRILLED! THRILLED! THRILLED!” The black sea replied, echoed.
“CLANG”, Cohen drew his long sword, bombed, “ALL UNITS, BATTLE STATION!”
“Siege towers, ready!”
“Arrow shields, ready!”
“Wall climbers, ready!”
“Warlock units, heed to commands!”
“Excellent! I, Cohen Kheda, in the name of the king of Swabia, am announcing the beginning of this patriotic war!”
A booming crack signaled the first stone smashing into the wall of Carson City.
Rebels on the wall can no longer yell. Their panic eyes were taken by views of endless arrows and giant stones.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.