Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Visual Kheda: Cohen’s father. Duke of the Swabia Empire.
- Moya, Jack, Marfa, Wilder: Homeless boys, Cohen’s childhood friends till then.
- Climos Summers: King and Queen of the Swabia Empire.
- Fischer: Prince of the Swabia Empire, Cohen’s friend.
- Luhrmann: The Prime Minister, a Holy Temple assigned official to Swabia.
- Laika: Cousin of the Prime Minister’s second daughter. He got into a fight with Cohen in the capital Grand Altar, which awakened Cohen’s true self.
My Machete sliced Laika’s left side from top to bottom, his thigh, underbelly, left chest, then he dropped his sword.
The slash was not deep though it was incredibly long. Damage caused by a weapon forged in black steel was dreadful, and blood was running out from Laika’s cracked armor, in the shape of a line. Laika gazed at me; his look slowly became dead gray. He knelt and supported him with both hands on the ground, then he backed and with a few steps back, sat on the ground.
This move was the so-called upward fencing.
One could find such technique in every nation’s military or combat skill book, probably with a different name, but more or less, the same movement with a down to top slash, It’s a vicious, treacherous technique.
Apparently, I was not up to that point, a more accurate result of upward fencing was to cut Laika into two equal halves, from between his legs to head. But if this were the case, I would be in serious violation of the very least nobility’s demeanor and manner again. I didn’t want to risk my new title.
Laika’s sword dropped not far from the minister along with his supporters, whose face were paper white.
I sheathed my Machete back, which was left with no blood due to my rapid movement and its sharpness.
“We have a winner!” The head guard declared loudly, “Cohen Kheda wins!”
Then everybody stood up, and with noisy steps, the high mages came running to heal Laika.
“I hereby declare,” The king stood up, “Both lands belong to the winner, and at the same time, and I give you Cohen Kheda, Viscount!”
“Your Majesty, if I may.” Father said, “Those two lands were a distance apart, which wasn’t an easy job to administrate.”
“Viceroy Visual Kheda!” Luhrmann said fiercely in look and voice, “If your son is so capable of winning it then manage it ably!”
“Minister,” The King seemed to be in a good mood, “Shall we give our new and young politicians some easiness? Isn’t that what you have encouraged to do?”
“You two say no more words.” The king said, “I have my decision.”
“Your Majesty! Prudence!” The Minister grew hasty.
“There’s indeed a viewable distance between the two lands, for such situation we…” His Majesty stated his mind slowly, “I’m joining the two in the establishment of a new city. As for its name, it’ll be after the Dark Forest, the Dark City, and Cohen Kheda, the Viceroy.”
“Your Majesty! He can’t!”
“Shut up! Don’t think I don’t know what’s going on in your mind!” The King looked slightly annoyed, “You’ve agreed on their bet, now learn to accept it! My decision is final!”
“Yes.” The minister teetered, “Your Majesty.”
“Cohen Kheda.” The King said.
“Ah, Yes Your Majesty!”
“Since today, you’ll be the viceroy of Dark City.” He said, “Three years, you need to rectify this place, and after that, Royal Treasury will start collecting tax from you. I don’t care how you are going to manage it, but if you screw up, think about it.”
“Yes Your Majesty. As you wish.” My god, managing a city, wasn’t it easier to kill me.
“How are you feeling, buddy?” Fischer gave me a pat on the back, “You are a viceroy! Can’t you be happy about it?”
“Yeah!” Carey said, “He’s been like this since he came back, made me think he is a psychic.”
“Say, boss!” Marfa came over and joined their conversation, “Viceroy, can you give me a little something-something… hey.”
“Hey…” I grinned, “Hey your ass, how about I give you this viceroy title?”
“Cohen,” My father came in, “Panic don’t you be, think on the bright side.”
“Father!” I groaned, “I merely expected a tiny domain of my own, God knew he’s letting me be a viceroy!”
“Isn’t that great?” Fischer said, “Two viceroys in one family, such is rare in the Empire.”
“Dude! In my domain, I can eat and sleep until I’m dead.” I complained loudly towards him, “A Viceroy has to work besides that!”
“Hello! Be tough on yourself!” Fischer stung my head with his pointy finger, “Don’t you have a lot of dreams? The things you told me before.”
“… I was joking about it.” I drove away his fingers, “You believed that?”
“Silent you two rats, you have three years, take it easy.” Father said, “Honestly I wasn’t expecting His Majesty will title you a viceroy, none of anyone was. Things today happened so fast, and not even the Prime Minister was ready to hear it. His Majesty was impressive as always!”
“Ah? Dad, what about it?”
“I understand you don’t know it, let me break this down.” Father said, “The situation on the land of yours has been complicated, that the emperor has not ordered a local viceroy except for treating it as a free area. Besides this place, every other soil in the empire is ruled by our viceroys. As of now, we could split them into two parties. One, we the imperial family supporters, two, the Holy Temple supporters, headed by the Prime Minister.
“Ah? Parties? The Minister is nothing.” I said, “If the king’s unhappy just hang him!”
“The problem is the Minister.” Father said seriously, “The Minister himself is an official ordered by the Holy Temple.”
“Temple… order? What is it?”
“The temple will order their people into an empire’s political system; it’s one of their classic moves.
“Luhrmann is a man of ambitions.” Father lowered his voice, “He’s been gathering forces and extending influence on the empire. It’s a danger sign. If he won this time, then we would have been in a passive position. What His Majesty has hoped to achieve through you, is to weaken and restrain him.”
“Take a look!” Father scrolled over a map and talked with one finger on the paper, “Your land is almost as big as my Darkmoon, plus an oversized coastal line. Here live our elf and dwarf friends, humans are rare. Here is the business district, developed itself solely by business and sea freight.
“A good place to get rich, why didn’t they send a viceroy earlier?”
“There are two reasons. First, the alien conflict is troublesome. Second, everyone wants it.” Father said, smiling like a kind professor, “Whenever a new nobility is titled, they’d fight for this place. Eventually, both parties didn’t come to win. Thanks to Laika this time, I bet the minister indeed believed that Laika could beat you down so that to present this land as a trophy.”
“I get it!” I rushed loudly, “You’ve been secretly running this place, right!?”
“Your words, not mine! Haha.” Father laughed, “His Majesty was right in choosing you!”
“I’ll let you do it then!” I said, “I’m not!”
“Not a chance!” Father snorted, “I have other affairs to attend. Dark City is yours to rule, though I can offer some help.”
“Then what should I do?”
“You could always assign your men, try first to assemble a team to keep order and an army to fight bandits.” Father said, “Run your daily affairs, as long as you can pay taxes after three years.”
“Lucky for you, those races in the Dark Forest are your friends, that shouldn’t be a problem to keep them in order.” Father continued, “The tough bone is here, Winper, a commercial city. The whole town is nothing but people in business and workers. Here lies your future income. However, a significant number of merchants here are also noblemen, plus any interference from the Minister, that could mean trouble.”
“Ahhhh… headache!” I said.
“Don’t be!” Father stroke my head, “Get your stuff! We’re leaving tomorrow!”
“You can’t be so hurry?” I said.
“Why not?” Father asked, “What’s the location of your Dark City?”
“You stupid kid! You need to site it!”
“That means…” Father’s words threw me a panic, “I’m starting with nothing?”
“Bingo, good boy.”
Nobilities do not attend the day to day management on their land.
Such affairs are carried by viceroys and local officials.
Property yields are taxable to the royal departments, the rest of which are privately owned.
Slaves and commoners are considered processions of the ruling noblemen.