Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Jack, Moya, Marfa, Wilder: Homeless boys, Cohen’s childhood friends till then.
- Visual Kheda: Cohen’s father, Duke of the Swabia Empire.
- Maiza: Visual’s head guard.
- Luhrmann: The Prime Minister, a Holy Temple assigned official to Swabia.
“WHAT?!” I bounced off the bed, “Who did that? He got a death wish?”
“That damn fatty!” Jack said, “The Treasurer!”
“Mother FUCKER!” I pulled the shoes, “Son of a BITCH!”
“Snap.” Someone stroke my head, I looked up and saw my dad’s eyes.
“Clean your mouth!” He said, “The Treasure is rather a noble than the soldiers at the gate.”
“DAD!” I yelled, “He took my money!”
“I know.” My father said without anger, “His Majesty knows too.”
“Think about it. If His Majesty wants to give you money, then why didn’t he just give you?” He said, “Instead he went all the way and ordered a transfer.”
“What did he want?” I pondered, “Are you saying that the King wants me to fix this guy?”
“Precisely, good boy!” My father now looked silly unlike usual, “His Majesty intends to make the best use of your talent.”
“I knew it’s not an easy money…” I said, “What should I do? And, why me?”
“Because the Treasurer was drawn to Luhrmann’s side, and he has been hindering the King’s plans. The Treasurer himself is an airtight person who never let anyone find out about his dirty deeds. We had no choice but to invoke the younger you. If things screw up, your age will be a perfect excuse for the King to just let it go. Not even the Minister is able to complain about it.” Father said, “Like last time, make trouble, make it big! It’s even better if you drag Luhrmann into the mess. Do whatever you want at your own discretion as long as you don’t accidentally kill someone.
“Alright!” I got dressed, “On my way now!”
“Hold it there!” He stopped me, “Is your detention due yet?”
I rode leisurely feeling upset about dad. Although the thick arches of trees have lightened the burning sunlight while a faint trace of breeze has brought me some easiness, I sighed, “I was sold by my old man this time.
“Cicadas…” I thought, “are annoying!”
I waved my fingers casually, then Jack approached. He’s already flattered himself as deputy chief of guards and hanged with Maiza all the time.
“Boss!” He asked, “How about now?”
”Let’s try the peaceful way.” I peeked at him, “Tell them to keep smiling before I hit him!”
No one was allowed to race a horse in DC except for the King. Thus we slowly paced down to the Treasury Department, parked our horses, then walked in.
“Boss, here!” Jack expanded his eyes and said, “How splendid, this place!”
“Splendid?” I sniffed. The build was average with some gothic genre added to, “Why don’t I think so.”
“Huhhe, sure that! To you, the youngest and most promising viceroy within the empire, it’s just a building.” A welcoming middle-aged man who stood on the main building stairs said with a smile.
“Who are you?” I gazed at him and noticed gracious garment and confidence within his manner.
“Boss.” Jack came over and whispered, “That’s him, filthy swine!”
“Welcome, Your Excellency!” Fatty said, “I am the Treasurer.”
“Are you? How did you know who I am,” I found a spot and sat down, “instead of anyone else?”
“The sigil of your House and bandage on your hand have revealed your identity.” The Treasurer answered, “In the City of Divine, a nobility with a wounded right hand would be solely you, Viceroy Kheda, the one who fight at the city gate a few days ago.”
“Your power of observation serves you well.” I said, “Such talent, it would be unworthy for you to be the Treasurer.”
“Haha, I was assigned by His Majesty.” He smiled, “I cannot let him down.”
The Treasurer seemed to be a hard bone to catch. I decided to cut into the subject.
“Since that,” I presented the financial approval, “Let’s get into business here!”
“As you wish.” The Treasurer took over the paper with both hands, “Please follow me.”
His straightforward attitude surprised me, and I looked at Jack. Jack slightly shook head to remind me this would not be so easy.
“Sorry to keep you waiting!” The Treasurer lifted his eyes from a pile of books, “Do you want the 250,000 on your Dark City account immediately?”
“How much?” I stared at his eyes, “I didn’t catch that.”
“Two hundred and fifty thousand.” The Treasurer appeared without any panic as if he didn’t know the amount was cut by half.
“Look at me.” I walked and sat on the chair in front of his desk, “Do I look like a man you can mess up with?”
“Not at all.” The Treasurer was calm, “Do you have a question?”
“What’s the amount of the approval?”
“Five hundred thousand.”
“How much are you giving me?”
“Two hundred and fifty thousand.”
“What’s your position?”
“I am the Treasurer.”
“BANG!” I slammed on the desk, made the stuff on table bounced up.
“Where is the other half!” I said, “Spit it out!”
“Your Excellency, calm down.” The Treasure looked unhurried and said, “Let me explain myself.”
“Look,” He saw me nodded then continued, “This fund that His Majesty has approved is for building and construction, am I right?”
“That’s it.” The Treasurer then flooded with words, “Despite your Dark City, there is much more construction need within the whole empire; thus it is reasonable to make proper adjustments between funds. This is part of my job, I’m doing this indifferently to you, or to others. The rest of your fund, 250,000 in gold, will be put into the city and the Prime Minister’s Maison renovation project. Please understand, the Minister is an empire official of high importance. His Maison status is directly connected to Swabia’s image and reputation, which is linked to… I’ve compromised consider it’s your first time building a city.”
“Compromise?” I grabbed his collar and pulled him over the desk, “You took half of my money to mend the minister’s house, and you said you are compromising? Why the fuck do I care about his well-being?”
“Please let me go. What do you want?” The Treasurer acted calm and said, “I’m not an everyday soldier.”
“Sure, you are not.” I gazed at him, “Do you wanna reconsider and give me my money?”
“250,000.” He gazed back, “Nothing more.”
“You are pushing me.” I said, “Your body is not forged in steel, how many punches do you think you can handle?”
“You can’t. I am the Treasurer, a ranked nobility!”
I let off him and rest my hands and tidied his collar, then talked with a smile, “Yes, indeed you are, but please don’t bet my temper.”
Then and there was a sound of slapping, loud and clear. The Treasurer covered his face and looked me unbelievably.
“You…” He said trembly, “You slapped me!?”
“Oh yeah! How could I slap you? I am so sorry!” I laughed, “Sorry I let you down, I should have punched you.”
“Ahhhhh… HELP!!!” A high-pitched 120 dB cry for help went out of his office.
“Your Highness! What’s wrong?” Someone came running and was stopped by Jack and all.
“The Treasurer was doing business with our Viceroy, please do not disturb them!”
“But His Highness is crying for help!” The Treasurer’s guards yelled and tried to rush in, “There’s might be assassins!”
“There’s no sound from our Viceroy, how come the assassin?” Jack said, “He might be doing exercise.”
“Are you kidding me? Hiss exercise is making donkey sound in bed!” This guard might be low on IQ.
“Ah, so…” Jack said, “Maybe he wanna try something new today!”
“No can do!”
While they were arguing, came in a loud sound, “Presenting His Royal Prime Minister!”