Translated & Edited by: Tianic
Note: Please click on the character name for their illustrations.
Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Marfa, Jack, Wilder, Moya: Cohen’s childhood friends and firm supports.
- Fischer Summers: Cohen’s friend and the prince of the Swabia Empire.
- Martin Luther: Cohen’s Dark Army commander.
- Tyrant Pauley: A Portaria (Porta: One of the Protoss-Allied empires) commanding general. He was self-important, arrogant, but in reality, a sucker. He was later beheaded due to a shameful failure.
- Vel’Koz: A creature with its whole body shaped in a giant eye, others body parts have degenerated.
- Cerberus: A fierce dog-like creature.
- Warwick: A wolf-like creature with two heads.
- Volibear: A bear-like creature much larger and more violent.
The end of our war council saw the first glimmer of dawn.
Dashing bodies were full of the Swabian camp. Everybody was busying preparing for breakfast, horses, etc.
I patrolled in our base wearing newly forged black steel armor from the dwarf Grandmaster. My Machete on my back hanging sideways. The geographic difference has made this morning in Portaria flatland damp and chill.
I breathed deeply then looked toward the shrine. I was very distant from it as it was only the main building I was looking. It was a great Temple set off by the merely appeared sun. The morning haze enveloped the shrine’s bottom part, making its figure as haughty and solitary.
By the time the sun has reached the top of the shrine, all troops from each country have stood in alignment.
Fischer dressed in a suit of pure white formal robe with silver lace as decorations, which made him look noble and graceful. He was currently standing in a circle surrounded by my IGTs.
Tennessee and Webster stood by his side as well. I have insisted on making him wear the Gaia’s Shell under his well-ironed dress.
At a word of my command, my troops began advancing toward the shrine.
“Grandpa,” I asked Martin Luther who rode with me, “You must be excited about today after years of fruit planting.”
“Not all that.” Martin Luther replied, “To be accurate, planting trees was a personal favor from His Majesty. The Minister wanted to hang me for good.”
“Impressive, the Minister.” I laughed about it, “Why isn’t he looking for trouble these days?”
“I’ve got to admit that he’s even worse than you thought.” Martin Luther said thoughtfully, “There could be only one explanation for him to behave recently: the coming warfare that gives him a headache.”
“How could you know?”
“During the last Protoss/Asmodian war, our Minister had been fully occupied.” Martin Luther said, “In fact, within the Protoss Allied Forces, all key positions were taken by Temple assigned bureaucrats. Generals or lieutenants like us ran the army; we didn’t have voices on critical affairs.”
“Was the war a brutal one?”
“You’ve never seen!” Grandpa Luther said with a bitter smile, “The war is not the kind of battle between two landlords or empires alike. All empires were part of it. Forces on the entire continent gathered on a several hundred miles wide, several thousand long Protoss/Asmodian line. The variety of different army branches were in the sky, on the land. Countless soldiers which you’ve never seen or name came attacking you. Weepy souls could be found on every inch of land, even every seed of sand.
“Are there wins and loses?”
“Sometimes there were, at times there weren’t because the final result was similar: both allies will be significantly undermined and retreat until years after. In the Minister’s words: The great victory awaits for the next war. Our great warriors have to carry on. What nonsense!”
“How many years are between each war?” I chuckled at Martin Luther’s comment, “Why as all of you know the war is coming?”
“Twenty years, a time for exactly everyone are relivied from the last war.” Martin Luther said, “After twenty years, food was well accumulated, kids have grown up. As the days approach, old guys like us will lament. You have roughly a bit more than a year!”
“No way!” I was not content, “How could I deal with that?”
“I can’t say anything yet. If your title changes recently, that means you’re going to the battlefield.” Grandpa Luther said, “If, if the Minister wants you to command the slave army, you must find a way to get out of it!”
“WHy is that?”
“Army of slaves is the unluckiest one who gets on the field first and leaves the last. Usually, after the war, it’s lucky to have one in ten slave soldiers to live.”
“But we don’t have slaves in Swabia?”
“We don’t, but other countries have! The Protoss Allies Army consists of forces deployed from all the subordinate nations. Protoss Lords will appoint a commander of each force.” Martin Luther said, “Never has it ever a slave army chief survived a war! My best friend died this way…”
My hand reached my neck, and the vein under it pumped.
“Viceroy!” Moya approached me, “We’re here! Their commanders are waiting for you at the gate.”
I eyed about and found the three armies were all at the gate of that shrine.
“Grandpa, I’ll leave here to you.” I said, “I need to check it out!”
I called off any guards and came alone to meet the other two commanders for the war council.
The Rivalzian commander was still hiding under his exquisite silver armor.
Then I met the Portia commander for the first time. He was muscular and under 30 years. He wore golden enchanted armor traced by a suit of a scarlet cape, which came out not bad.
Compared to which, my dark and swarthy outfit seemed a bit petty.
“Is it Cohen Kheda? I’m General Tyrant Pauley.” The bearded man said, “Your side of army knows what’s about to happen?”
“Positive.” I nodded, “I’m aware of it seriousness.”
“So then, with all due respect.” The beard went above his head, “Does your king show any concern for His Highness Fischer, his son? Why did he send a civil guy to command? Although there’s nothing wrong sending a civil, look at your men. This is war! Cavalries? Mistake, big time! And your big knife. Please be serious. If you want a black steel armor, start saving money! Drop that lousy fake one.”
Thus I thought, “Are my men very lousy? Is my armor not made of black steel?” Honestly, I didn’t expect he talked like that during the first meeting, which made me flat-footed.
Since he talked like that, what else can I say? Arguing with a fool like him will only lower my taste and style.
“Shut up!” I took off the helmet and hanged it on the saddle head, then said with one eye on him, “How dare you judge my king? I’ll sue you in the temple, you dare me!”
“Seriously! We’re out of time.” The Rivalzian commander opened speaking for the first time, which sounded very ear pleasing, “We have 3,500 men, they’re all the best from our own Imperial Legion No.1.”
Though I did not know much about Rivalz, I knew that their Imperial Legion No.1 was their pride. Worthy of the name ‘best’.
What surprised me more was that this commander’s female voice. I could not help but ask. Perhaps she was not in a good mood, or she was under pressure. No matter what, she got angry.
“What’s wrong with a woman?” She shot her scabbard on my waist, “You’ll regret thinking any less of me!”
My armor was sturdy enough to block her attack, which left no hard feelings on me. Although acting painfully was the first thing you learned when any female beat you up.
“Ugh, ouch!” I helped my waist, “But I forgive you if you show me your face…”
“Lech!” Her voice came through the face armor, “The sun is going down!”
“My troops are heavy cavalries!” Tyrant Pauley unscrolled a map, “They come from our own Eagles Legion.
I did not have too much information on this force, though I assumed they were no bad soldiers.
“That’s the dungeon’s only exit, here!” Tyrant Pauley said, “Who’s guarding the middle?”
“Yours, of course.” I said, “My troops are light cavalries, and I’m a civil…”
“Coward, okay!” Tyrant Pauley thundered, “My men will guard the middle part, you two take the left and the right!”
The female commander gazed on the map then pointed on the left. She left so forth.
“I’ll take the right.” I pulled on my helmet recklessly, “Start working!”
“I bet you’ve never seen what’s it like, a magical beast!” Tyrant Paulet grinned, “I’m gonna purposely let you kill some…”
“Really?” I did not comment and said, “Thank you in advance!”
I watched as this Tyrant Pauley returned to his formation. He must be in a pretty great mood right now.
I waited until the Rivalzian and Portaria troops entered the ground then signed Wilder by gestures telling him the direction and whereabouts to advance.
The shrine was extremely high, which I considered if someone was able to push it down from the back, its top might hit the dungeon entrance. Though there was a flatland roughly a mile wide between them. Can you imagine that? A shrine this vast as ten thousand soldiers cannot make it any more crowded.
Armies of the three parties have deployed formation in their designated area. I tried to avoid the prolonged waiting time as it would be rather energy-wasting. Thus, my men were sitting on their horsebacks the whole time.
Such prewar preparation might be unusual that some priests were pointing fingers at my soldiers and whispering to each other while gazing at us.
The well-guarded princes, on the other hand, were accompanied by the priests and went onto the top of the shrine. We had no idea what they were up to on the top. In short, the wait was lengthy.
I rode to Grandpa Luther and found him gazing at the dungeon exit without even blinking his eyes. The dark black hole was like a vicious beast’s bloody mouth ready to swallow everybody standing in front of it.
Not far from the dungeon exit stood dozens of tall black stone pillars. The pillars were engraved with unknown characters. They were white engravings that shined under the sun. Was that the seal?
Between the shrine and the dungeon exit, it was an enormous flat grassland. What a good field to battle.
I was too bored to count the pillars. When I was scoring for the 30th time, came an old priest’s voice from the top of the shrine.
“Officers and soldiers of each empire!” He said, “It’s my honor to announce hereby, the princes of three Protoss Allied empires have signed an important, friendly cooperation and mutual assistance treaty!”
I was standing too far to see clearly, though a few symbolic claps will be sufficed.
“Now, the trial is about to begin.” This old man finally went to the subject, “Soldiers! It’s time to prove your bravery! The glory is yours to take! The Protoss Lord blesses you!”
Few teams of young priests wearing white ran between the soldiers splashing holy water onto the soldier’s’ skin. I showed keen curiosity in such ritual. The blessing was supposed to be beneficial, though such blessing as spraying water was just too cheap.
The priests on the shrine have initiated unknown procedures, and thus the engraving on the stone pillars started to disappear gradually.
“Careful.” Grandpa Luther who stood by me said, “They are removing the seal!”
I raised my hand high and drew a circle in the air. This is the battle station gesture.
Instantly, my troops began to react accordingly, making all people presented looking towards us.
“BATTLE STATION!” My duty officers rode in the queue and yelled. My ranked officers were starting giving orders to their subordinates.
Soldiers who got their orders stood up, stepped on the saddle and went on the horse. Their movements were skilled from the start until finish. It looked like my training plan worked.
“The beasts are intelligent.” Grandpa Luther’s voice sounded from behind, “They know to tempt first!”
“Archers in position!” I told my messenger who was standing behind me, “Warlocks stay put.”
All this time, my soldiers were trained according to my ideology. As I was not very familiar with the application of the kinds of army services, I did not focus anything on forces like heavy cavalries. However, my light-loaded knights were good. They will be infantries without a horse, once on a horse, they shall become knights who could thrust given a spear and arch given an arrow.
“Get two thousand soldiers off the horse and format in a circle.” Grandpa Luther said, “Get a thousand ready their bows. We need to drive the beasts to the side during the first round!”
I nodded and told the messenger, “DO IT!”
A thousand soldiers took off the bows from their back and stood in four rows. They lit up a chanted torch and placed their feathered arrow on their right.
The engravings on the pillars have disappeared for good. Roarings of beasts could be heard gradually. Everyone was thrilled. I could not help but throw my look on the top of the shrine for Fischer.
“Easy.” Grandpa Luther told me, “Fischer will be there the whole time until we finish fighting the beasts.”
“But,” I said, “what if any creatures reached them?”
“It has never happened!” Grandpa Luther said, “Moreover, they’ve got so many priests over there…”
“No, I just can’t trust Fischer to them.” I told my messenger, “Get Jack and ten best IGTs and elf warlocks to find Fischer! Stay with him until the war’s over!”
By when the messenger left, the first wave of beasts have appeared over the dungeon!
At the dungeon portal appeared a few giant ‘eyes’. Yes, they were eyes. Its whole body was a single eye!
Their round body floated in the air clumsily with a few short and thin tentacles dragging on the ground. Such weird situation made me froze for a good while.
“First time, huh?” Grandpa Luther laughed and shouted at the troops, “Those eyes are the beasts’ scouts! Vel’Koz, that’s their name. It’s not much of an attacker, but with super compelling vision. They’re able to see through invisibility in the dark!
I was annoyed by the first unexpected wave of confrontation.
“Wilder!” I shouted and gave him a gesture, “Elves!”
Wilder nodded and said something to the elf beside him. That elf archer floated, his arrowhead began to shine silver lights.
“TWANG!” By a light sound, he released the silver arrow, making a beautiful curve across the grassland and land in the center of one Vel’Koz!
The ‘eye’ shivered and screamed then fell on the ground.
“Good!” I yelled. That was enough!
All cheered. My elf archers shot several more chanted arrows to kill the rest ‘eyes’. I grinned, “Let’s show off!”
It seemed as if the creatures in the dungeon knew what happened, then and there we heard a few roarings. Immediately afterward a massive block of black dots appeared from the exit.
“Don’t worry.” Grandpa Luther said loudly to the soldiers, “Those are just some low-level Cerberus, let’s warm up!”
Though he said so, these many Cerberus will make the warm-up this time to sweat a lot more.
The archers set fires on the arrows which were soaked in oil in advance. They waited for their commander’s orders. Whereas their leaders were focusing on a small gadget I gave them.
“9 knots, 8 knots…” They read the distance meter. Because shooting an arrow at such a ranged distance, one need to predict the future distance of the moving object. If one did not, the object would have gone away when the arrow arrived. My archers were not as skillful and talented as the elves.
“Mark 5 knots, fire!”
Nearly a thousand fire arrow shot from the same angle, creating a giant cloud of dark spots in the sky then immediately landed on the place where the Cerberus reached.
This was the so-called disaster.
The leading Cerberus was fixed by one blazed arrow before it could scream for it, it was stepped on by thousands more ignited others. The Cerberus feared fire despite the fact that they might be a kind of fierce creature.
And the arrow forged by dwarf craftsmen were not toys. Its lethality and accuracy were greater than normal arrows.
Leftover Cerberus that escaped death struggled with the fire then were forced to alter the advancing direction to the middle part of the ground.
Thus they have reached the Portaria zone.
Attacked by thousand Cerberus, those heavy cavalries have revealed highly sturdy quality. They struggled to keep their formation intact.
After the initial contact, Tyrant Pauley, the not-too-stupid loser commanded a thousand knights who were in the front to fight back.
“Just in time.” Martin Luther commented, “He got his messy front men to attack to buy time for the rear soldiers to fix the mistake, not bad!”
Once the heavily armed knight gained speed, their advantage showed. Compared to those little and tiny Cerberus, the knights were like elephants faced by ants.
Thousands Cerberus were slaughtered, stamped by horses. After doing their jobs, the thousand knights lined in two queues then detoured back to their formation.
On the other side, the Rivalzian troops have also finished their jobs killing the Cerberus. After the first contact, three armies had yet to lose any men.
“If I was right.” Grandpa Martin Luther said, “What’s next will be more violent. It might be warwicks or sorts.”
“War… warwick?” I leaned forward and muttered, “What kinds of beasts are those? I’ve never heard of!”
“Ya think?” Martin Luther said, “It’s nothing. During the P/A war, many soldiers wet their pants, what do you think they saw?”
“A thousand more archers!” I told the messenger, “Whatever comes next, drive them all to the Rivalzian idiots’ side!”
“Naughty!” Martin Luther laughed.
Another sound of roaring came from the dungeon exit. Flocks of beasts much large than Cerberus showed up!
“You see that?” Martin Luther said, “What’s behind the warwicks.”
“Not clearly.” Actually, I did see, though I had no idea what it was, “Seemed taller than human beings…”
“You got to admit when you don’t know!” Martin Luther glanced me, “Those are volibear.”