Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
My machete had left Laika’s a shallow cut on the left side of his body 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. Blood started to steam down from Laika’s cracked armor, in the shape of a line. Laika gazed at me; his look slowly turned dead grey. He knelt and supported him with both hands on the ground, then he backed and slumped on the ground after a few short steps.
This move was the so-called upward fencing.
One could always find such a technique in every nation’s military or combat skill book, probably with a different name, but more or less, the same movement of a slash from down to top. 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 his head. But if this were the case, I would be in a serious violation of the very least nobility’s demeanor and manner, again. I wouldn’t want to risk my new title.
Laika’s sword dropped not far from the minister along with his supporters, whose faces were paper-white.
I sheathed my weapon, which was left with no blood due to my rapid movement and its sharpness.
“We have a winner!” The head eunuch declared loudly, “Cohen Kheda wins!”
All stood up, and with noisy steps, the king’s physicians 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.”
“Kheda!” Luhrmann said fiercely in look and voice, “If your son is so capable of winning then manage it ably!”
“Minister,” The King seemed to be in a good mood, “Shall we give our new and young politician some easiness? Isn’t that what you always encourage us to do?”
“You two say no more words.” The king continued, “I have my decision.”
“Your Majesty! Prudence!” The Minister grew hasty.
“There’s indeed a viewable distance between the two lands, for such a situation we…” His Majesty stated his mind slowly, “I’m joining the two in the establishment of a new autonomous region. As for its name, it’ll be after the Dark Forest, Dark City will be its capital, and Cohen Kheda, the first 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!”
“From this day forward, you’ll be the viceroy of Dark City.” He said, “Three years, you need to rectify this place, and after that, the Royal Treasury will start collecting taxes. I don’t care how you are going to manage it, think twice before you screw it up.”
“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 gentle tap on the back, “You are a viceroy! Cheer up?”
“Yeah!” Carey said, “He’s been like this since he came back, makes me think he’s mentally ill.”
“Say, boss!” Marfa came over and joined their conversation, “Viceroy, can you give me a little something-something… hey.”
“Hey…” I grinned, “Your ass, how about I give you this viceroy title?”
“Cohen,” My father came in, “Lose that face, 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 any empires.”
“Dude! If I’d be a landlord, I can eat and sleep into an early grave” I complained loudly towards him, “A viceroy has to work hard into a late and miserable damn tomb!”
“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 his fingers away, “You actually bought those?”
“Silent, you two. Cohen, you have three years, take it easy.” Father said, “Honestly I wasn’t expecting His Majesty’s move, none of anyone was. Things today happened so fast, and not even the Prime Minister was ready for it. His Majesty was as impressive as always!”
“Huh? Dad, what’s your point?”
“I understand you’re confused, let me break this down.” Father said, “The situation on the land of yours has always been complicated. For this reason, His Majesty has left it idle instead of ordering a viceroy until today. Besides this place, every inch of soil in the empire is ruled by our capable viceroys. As of now, we could split them into two parties. One, we the imperial family sect, two, the Holy Temple supporters, headed by the Prime Minister.
“Ah? Parties? The Minister is not a threat as far as I’ve seen.” I said, “If the king’s unhappy with the Prime Minister, just hang him for good!”
“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 usually assigns their trusted 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, 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 unscrolled a map and talked with one finger on the paper, “Your land is almost as big as Darkmoon, plus an extended coastal line. Here live our elf and dwarf friends, the human population is scarce. Here is the business district, developed itself solely by land and offshore commercial activities.
“A good place to get rich, why didn’t they send a viceroy earlier?”
“There are two reasons. First, the most headache alien conflict. Second, everyone wants it. It’s a hot spot.” 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 a win. Thanks to Laika this time, I bet the minister actually believed Laika could beat you down so that to present this land as a trophy.”
“I get it!” I rushed loudly, “You’ve been secretly managing 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 things in order and an army to rectify local 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 I mentioned earlier. The whole town is nothing but businessmen and laborers. Here lies your future income. However, a significant number of merchants here are also noblemen who keep close contact with the Minister.”
“Ahhhh… headache!” I said.
“Don’t be!” Father stroke my head, “Get your stuff! We’re leaving tomorrow!”
“You can’t be less hurry!” I yelled.
“Why not?” Father asked, “What’s the location of your Dark City?”
“You stupid kid! You need to research for a site to build the capital of your land!”
“That means…” Father’s words made me 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.