Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
Correction, Camp Empire/Cammish King→Kamp Empire/Kammish King
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f one came to look at the map of the continent, Peace was divided into two parts of almost equal size by a thin line. And this line, which seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary, had an extraordinary significance, and everyone knew its importance; it was the common designation of the supreme races, Protoss and Asmodian, which ordinary people can never cross – the Protoss/Asmodian Line.
For tens of thousands of years, the Protoss Alliance and the Asmodian Alliance were separated by this 9,000 miles long, an average of more than 500 miles wide line like the rivalry of a tiger and a leopard. Whenever the 20-year war between the two alliances occurred, the dozens of empires from both sides, as well as the hundreds of millions of people will gather for their respective beliefs, armed with metal, pouncing on each other and darting for teeth and nails.
Then, the blood flowed into a river, the corpses piled up like a mountain.
After, the battlefields were cleared. Armies went back to recuperate and looked forward to the next big war. This was very gentlemanly, wasn’t it? And people on both sides believed that the next time they could definitely hit the other alliance’s lair. The defeat this time was just because they had not worked hard enough.
If we were to leave the war aside, the continent was currently not at war anyway, then people’s attention can be on other things, such as life, and like the people of the Protoss Alliance, the people of the other alliance also needed to enjoy life.
In all the empires of Asmodian believers, The Dark Lord referred to the leader of the supreme race that resided on Hell Island. Like the Protoss Alliance, religious facilities have been established in every city of the Asmodian Alliance, with countless temples, large and small, woven into a tight network to manage and guide the minds of the people. Although the Light Temple and the Dark Temple both accused each other of copying their own management style, no one was actually sure who was learning from whom.
It’s no wonder that religious management was inherently complimentary, as long as it can effectively manage the people, who would care about copycats? Anyway, the priests were all good with their mouth work, and it should be easy to find a reason to clear themselves.
Because of the striking similarity in the management structure and staff structure, the priests of the Asmodian Alliance felt that they should differentiate themselves from each other, so they began to make a play on colors. The highest managers of the Dark Temple were three gold-robed priests, below them were the high priests of the Court of Secretaries, wearing black robes with golden shoulders and belts; the other high priests in each empire wore only a golden belt in addition to their black robes. The lowest errand priests can only sew a few golden threads on their lapels.
Black hence became the color of respectability, only the status of very high people can wear. They were royalty, nobles, military officers, warlocks and warriors under the jurisdiction of the Dark Temple. Of course, it was common for assassins who did not register with the Dark Temple to wear black clothes, but this behavior was clearly illegal.
In addition to people with special hobbies, no one wore white garments, even if they did, they will avoid pure white. Silver clothes were loved by only a small amount of the nobility.
There were dozens of races within the alliance, from the most numerous human race to the extremely rare magical creatures, but unlike the Protoss Alliance, the Asmodian Alliance gave preferential treatment to alien races who can fight, and many of them had their own fixed settlements, as well as their own landlords and temples. However, these alien races did not often appear in human cities.
The more people, the more customs, so often staged war because of different customs. Later on, the magic temple simply stopped prohibiting any exotic customs, the people can do whatever they wanted as long as they kept trouble away. Therefore the various phenomena bloomed and gradually developed into a number of very local cultures.
There were 11 empires in the Asmodian Alliance, 4 of them were near the P/A Line, namely the Kamp Empire, the Wells Empire, the Teferra Empire, and the Turan Empire. These four empires formed a tight line of defense, in successive wars to resist the crazy attacks of the opposing army.
But warring had its cost, coupled with the lack of good management, the population of these 4 empires has always been relatively small and mobile.
In the latest P/A War, these 4 empires had been heavily attacked by the Protoss United Forces and each had sustained various damages. Among them, Kamp suffered the most serious disaster, nearly half of the empire collapsed, even the number of royalty was reduced by half, not many nobilities were left. If the Dark Temple hadn’t exempted Kamp from its annual tribute, the Kammish king will have died crying on his throne.
The situation of the Wells Empire was not much better. First of all, the population has been decimated, of course, not as great as Kamp, but the two Welsh legions sent were demolished. That was 200,000 good soldiers and 100,000 laborers. Now the empire was facing a shortage of prime-aged men. So it had to buy a large number of slaves from elsewhere.
Because of a series of leniency policies formulated by the Dark Temple for these two empires, the poor people and down-and-out nobles from other empires in the alliance began to flood in, and everyone was busy with land acquisition, mining, and title grabbing, making a lot of noise every day.
In contrast, the situation of Teferra and Turan was much better, although they also suffered from the war, it did not hurt their bones, therefore they still can recover.
Teferra was located in the middle of the Protoss/Asmodian Line, the central part of the country had a mountain range across the entire territory as natural military protection, the climate here was relatively hot. There were many plains, many rivers, and developed agriculture. The population was moderate but the number of races was high, therefore the number of Dark Temple was correspondingly high. The royal family in reign was considered competent, the noble class was more stable, and the empire affairs were naturally solid.
Several other empires suffered even smaller losses in the war because of their rear locations. They were so populous and rich in goods that the sacrifice of some soldiers was not a big deal, and their domestic environment basically remained stable.
After the end of the war, the various strife caused by the war gradually subsided, and it seemed that nothing huge was or will be taking place. But some people did not want this stability to be maintained, so in the first year, after the war ended, large-scale assassinations began to spread.
If you check the historical records you will find that in the first year or two after the end of each P/A War, such assassinations abounded in both alliances, and the more an empire retained its stockpile in the war, the more rampant the assassinations were within its border.
There were three main targets of assassination, elite officers, prominent nobles, and royal members with achievements, the assassins didn’t care for the average citizen.
Also, the assassins all seemed to have a penchant for death, and their methods were so clever that there was little chance of catching them alive. Naturally, no one could find out who had instructed the killers. But the scholars attributed this phenomenon to the redistribution of empire or noble house interests after the P/A War. It may be correct because ordinary people or even the relatively rich noble houses were not able to afford these assassins.
Specific analysis of the situation could be much more complex. Some people just hated each other, although they were in the same alliance, or even in the same empire, or even in the same family. Of course, if someone did not die in the war, taking advantage of the chaos of the post-war time to strike was more than appropriate.
Competition between empires, disputes between noble families, and even the succession of property titles between brothers can be resolved in this way. Killing the other individual was a convenient and quick solution.
In fact, on this point, a mobster’s saying couldn’t be more fitting, since we can not reach an agreement on the matter, we can find another guy to try again.
Assassination can not only let the other side change personnel but also disrupt the other side’s strategic arrangements, suspend the other side of the development momentum, to win time for their own side, to win the advantage, so many people were happy to do so.
Royal families used assassins to cleanse their subordinates, or get rid of the hostile empire’s mastermind schemers; nobilities took advantage of the assassins to clean the families, some even dared to clean their bosses.
If it was only a royal or a family dispute, the scale of the assassination operation could not be so large. There should be a larger force involved in it, but on the continent of Peace, there were only so few powers larger than an empire.
Indeed, someone knew, but they chose to not talk about it. The cleverer nobles offer a lot of gold for the Dark Temple and hide their families in there to avoid harm’s way.
As if all this was under someone’s deliberate manipulation like ocean tide slowly approaching in the dark or the descending of doomsday. Civilians or nobles, their fate has long been arranged.
(Asmodian Alliance, Brooks Empire, capital city Foxburg)
In the late stages of the last P/A War, Swiss Hepburn was relieved of duty by the united force, and released from the position in court by the king. Therefore he has had nothing to do since then. However, Swiss Hepburn seemed to be idling at home while in reality, he was stashed as the empire’s future court member for the fact that the princes have begun sneaking on each other for the right of the throne. The main reason for this is the fact that the company has been in the business for a long time.
Although this famous young nobleman always liked the quiet, the overnight idling still made him feel uncomfortable, or rather a little worried.
As a member of the royal family, of course, he knew that not a single one of the princes was superior in any aspect to another, hence no one would win without a fight. But they did have their influences. Driven by the huge interest, the princes’ subordinates will be racking their brains to find ways to push their masters into fighting for the throne and no one will advise them to stay calm or out of the race.
If no one among the princes could lay the groundwork for victory in a short time, then it was inevitable that more court members would be involved, and the situation would become more chaotic.
Although the army was under the king’s strict order to stay out of this competition, there were still household guards. And the personal guards of the princes were quite capable. In thousands of years, as long as there were more than two heirs in each generation, such a competition will be repeated. Each prince was expelled from the capital at an early age and was sent to his own fief to establish his own influence, his own staff, mentors, and subordinate officials, and then returned to the capital as an adult to claim the throne.
The victorious party will naturally be rich and prosperous, while the defeated parties will be purged from top to bottom, leaving no one behind. Likewise, any senior official of the court had to choose a party to join, hence to live and die together.
Although cruel and barbaric, this kind of competition was tacitly approved and was one of the reasons why the Brooks Empire remained enduringly strong.
But an indispensable talent like Swiss Hepburn will not be part of it. They were considered the most valuable asset of the empire, the future. Therefore the king has ordered all of them to travel abroad to avoid the vortex that will swallow everything during the heir competition.
Duke Swiss Hepburn’s travel plans were already arranged, and his belongings were almost packed, and he had to leave in a few days. This morning, he went to the chapel to pick up his mother as usual.
Being a royal member, in the current situation, his heart was naturally worried, especially the thought that he had to make up for the casualties during the competition for the throne. The thought of that made Duke Hepburn’s mood even heavier.
He was not a person who liked to bury his head in politics, and his interest was not in power. With the noble dukedom, even if he did not do anything, he wouldn’t need to worry about what to eat and wear. He just wanted to carry out his own share of responsibility. This had nothing to do with hobbies, and even less to do with the ideal.
Summer in Foxburg was beautiful, especially on the stone path leading to the chapel.
The flowers along the roadside were spewing a light fragrance into the air, lined with lush trees, the road had a bit of mist. The summer morning sunlight rayed through the dense foliage, casting in the greenstone slabs spots of splendor.
Duke Hepburn liked to walk this road, he liked to let those finger-sized spots of light rest on his black gown, what was more, he liked the feeling of the slightly cool morning dew wetting the back of his feet. However, he did not feel the loneliness of walking in these golden slanting thin pillars of light.
Standing on the steps at the end of the path, Duke Hepburn could clearly hear his mother’s devotional prayer.
“Merciful, great Dark Lord, the Dark Lord who guides and dominates us.” Duke Hepburn lightened his steps, walked to his mother’s side, and slowly knelt down, joining in the prayer, “Our fervor, our honor, our faith, all for You alone, it was all Yours…”
“Pray with gratitude.” Mother lowered her brow and softly admonished him, “Don’t bring those worldly distractions into the chapel.”
“The Dark Lord will forgive me, for I am his most sincere son.” Duke Hepburn smiled as he helped his mother to her feet, “These worldly distractions are relevant to many more of his people.”
“I hope so, I thought you were still thinking about what happened in the last War.” The noble Prince’s wife straightened her dress and took her son’s hand and walked out, “The trip is about to begin, what are the plans for the next few days?”
“Ah! At least there are a few friends in Foxburg who I need to visit, otherwise, it would be too rude.” Duke Hepburn thought for a moment, “Then I could visit Viscount Gilford at Sunset Plateau, who has sent several letters of invitation.”
“The mothers of young men like you must look forward to your visit to noble ladies, when can I be the same? When will you be able to choose one of these ladies and go beyond friendship?”
“Let’s listen to God’s plan! In fact, we get along very well.” Duke Hepburn blushed slightly, “I prefer to treat them as little sisters.”
“Have I never been able to convince you? A nobleman’s marriage is part of the responsibility to the family, and I’m already indulging you to let you choose for yourself.”
“My Lord Mother, the travels would last for two years, I think I must have the opportunity to meet more ladies, there may be a suitable candidate among them, I promise I will keep an eye out.” Duke Hepburn replied seriously, “But at present, there is no suitable candidate in the lineage of Foxburg, I know these capricious little ladies much too well.”
“Oh? How are they?”
“Simply put, they spend far more time focusing on a luxurious gown than on their husbands and spend more time dressing than they do care about their families. And the topic often circulating at the ladies’ gatherings is how to fake a headache after marriage to refuse the husband’s request for pleasure…”
“Oh, God! Please give me compassion to forgive these sinful people.” The Prince’s wife stopped and also patted softly her chest, “What kind of girls are they, do you also take part in such discussions?”
“I do not participate, in fact, I prefer to solve the technical difficulties for them, such as migraines are not more severe than chest congestion, and rolling around holding your head is more likely to be sent to the Dark Temple by your husband for medical treatment…”
“I remember, at the last Royal Ball, one of your many friends rode naked through the garden…” The Prince’s wife turned her head to look at her son, “Did you know about this beforehand? ”
“I knew, it was a bet she had with one of her sisters.” Duke Hepburn answered honestly, “I was worried that she would be seen by the filthy eyes, so I helped her pick out a unique saddle, and also covered the private parts of her body with her long hair. I heard that His Grace laughed a lot when he knew!”
“Apart from laughing, how else can the king be? Could he arrest this wild girl and chop off her head?” The Prince’s wife let out a long sigh and finally let go, “Okay! I now also think you are right not to choose a wife in Foxburg.”
“I’m glad you understand that, now I’m much relieved.” Having achieved his goal, Duke Hepburn was in a good mood, “Walk you to your carriage? I have some business I need to attend to.”
“Yes.” The Prince’s wife asked again, “But I wonder why you don’t try to socialize with the lords? Wouldn’t it be nice to ride horses and play ball?”
“It is depressing enough to have official dealings with them, and which of them do you think is not full of nasty hobbies, which are so nasty that I fear it might hurt by telling you.”
“If you have more contact, you can always find people with good qualities, right?” For the sake of her only son to have a normal social circle, the Prince’s wife was still trying to persuade, “Everyone has sinned, everyone is making mistakes that are never the same as each other, but the great Dark Lord will redeem us, and you must learn to forgive.”
“Of course I know that people actually grow in their sins, and I know the value of forgiveness. But oil and water do not merge, and even if one were to harden the oil by dropping it into the water, they would not merge.”
“O, you stubborn child…”
Finally, Swiss was able to send his mother to the carriage, Duke Hepburn just let out a long breath. His mother’s nagging, although not so much that he hated it, still managed to add a certain amount of pressure to his heart.
Getting into his carriage, Duke Hepburn looked over his itinerary for the next two years, with several pages of scheduled destinations densely written. He took out his pen and cut down the stops to his liking.
The Duke’s carriage turned a few corners and was about to drive onto the street outside when it suddenly shook with a loud bang, one wheel fell off and the carriage leaned against the corner, scraping against the wall with a strange thud.
Once a major general, Duke Hepburn’s first reaction was – this was not an accident, this was an assassination!
As expected, came a shower of crossbow arrows, some arrows actually pierced through the iron carriage wall, the guards outside roared, and the sound of weapons clashing echoed.
A hand suddenly banged on the carriage window. It was the guard, whose face was covered with blood, who shouted, “My Lord – run!”
Duke Hepburn shook his head and carefully folded up what was in his hands and put it away before picking up his matching sword that was placed aside.
For Swiss who was used to being assassinated, such a situation did not make him fear. In Hepburn’s impression, his own guards were battle-hardened warriors, ordinary assassins couldn’t even get close.
But the current situation was not too good, his guards barely fended off the attackers. Some have fallen. Duke Hepburn was a little surprised and looked out for a moment, and only put his mind at ease when he saw that his mother’s carriage was not nearby.
A layer of faint magic shield caught Hepburn’s attention, the color was almost transparent, which means the mage who released it had very high attainment.
Swiss used his scabbard to knock away an oncoming crossbow arrow, and the longsword he drew with his hand went into the forehead of an assassin.
In terms of martial arts, the assassins were good, and they had enough hands to assassinate a duke, but they miscalculated on two points.
First, although Swiss Hepburn was a beautiful nobleman, he was not a weakling. His martial arts and magic were very far beyond average.
Second, this small chapel, although inconspicuous, was the Duke’s mother’s place of the morning routine. Therefore Swiss had secretly placed a large number of guards here. Any one of the above mistakes was fatal to them.
It didn’t take long for the guards who heard the chaos to join the fight, and the assassins have all fallen, none of the 15 escaped. Finally, the warlock among the assassins was captured alive. To prevent him from committing suicide, the guards first paralyzed him with magic, then knocked out all his teeth, picked out all his nails, stripped him naked, and dragged him to the duke.
“Can you tell me who sent you here?” Swiff Hepburn wiped the blood on his sword with a silk handkerchief and asked slowly and deliberately, “Make yourself an honest man!”
“Heh… so beautiful…” the toothless warlock grinned, his face covered in blood to the disgust of Duke Hepburn.
“In the name of the Dark Lord, I pronounce you guilty.” He who had no hope for the assassin’s confession gestured to his escort, “Go and execute.”
“Yes, Your Excellency!” The escort dragged the assassin away.
Looking at the messy scene around him, the Duke could not help but frown and fell into deep thought.
After his father died for the king’s sake, there were many people in the empire who had been prone to this mother-and-son. Even if she was a royal member, because of his mother’s beauty, the unsuspecting proposers still crowded the door. Hiding in the countryside had proven to be useless. Before reaching the age of 14, Swiss Hepburn had taken to carrying a dagger with him and standing behind his mother when she met her guests, while his mother also carried a dagger.
Since the inheritance of the title, the assassination had been countless, as if he was born to become the enemy of certain people. He was afraid of trouble, and he did not want to catch any attention. But the reality never followed his will. What troubled more than the assassination was the fact that as a man, he actually looked more beautiful than all the princesses of the allied empires combined!
Was this a trick of fate? Swiss Hepburn did not know, only in his early twenties, he was already tired of his life, if not for his mother, for the king, for the past marshal’s mandate, he even wanted to give in to the assassins just now.
“Your Highness.” The chief of the guards trotted over and stood five paces away, “We’re taken care of the assassins, the carriage will be here soon, where do you want to go first?”
“In your opinion, who sent these people?” Duke Hepburn asked with his hands behind his back.
“They have nothing on them to give a clue; clothes, weapons, etc. are all from here.” The thinly built chief of the guards answered with a slightly lowered head, “But our mages said that the assassins used a rather strange magic…”
Swiss Hepburn looked up slightly, “Weird?”
“Yes, not like Asmodian magic.” The chief of the guards nodded, “Everyone at first defended by regular means, and as a result, multiple people were injured.”
“19 dead, 27 wounded.”
“Rare numbers.” Hepburn sighed, “According to your opinion, which level of combat power is the assassins?”
“Probably the level of an intermediate Scorpion Warrior, or low-level Light Templar…”
A new carriage leaned against the street, almost identical to the previous one.
“I see, now forget about it!” Swiss Hepburn walked toward the street, “Appease the families of the dead and wounded, and do not tell my mother about today’s events.”
“As you wish.”
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation; any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.