Translated by Tianic
An editable copy of this chapter, click here.
Please click on the character names for their illustration, if any.
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.
- Climos Summers: King of Swabia Empire.
- Luhrmann: The Swabian Prime Minister assigned by the holy temple.
- Visual Kheda: Cohen Kheda’s father and Duke of the Swabia Empire.
Phrases in this chapter:
- IGT: The Imperial Guarding Troop, Cohen Kheda and Fischer Summer’s personal force.
- The Rage Wolf: A specialized IGT squadron under Wilder’s commander.
- The Nighthawk: A specialized IGT squadron under Jack’s commander.
- The Firmament: A specialized IGT squadron under Moya’s commander.
- PUF: The Protoss United Forces.
- AUF: The Asmodian United Forces.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he following day saw me giving my soldiers one last training order after a meeting with the provisional lieutenants.
The order was simple, the Wolf, Hawk and Firmament squadrons must reach a city on the Swabia border in the shortest time without being found about their real identities or arrested. There will be no limits on how they got there.
I dare to say; no commander in this continent was as bold as me, at least there was none in the Protoss Alliance dare to allow his troops to cross two countries without notifying the authorities. My soldiers must not only work out a solution to their limited supply but also avoid any head-on confrontation with the local guards.
But these men were never afraid as if they have never feared anything since they joined my army. All of them were spoiling for a fight the moment I issued my order.
Fischer and I took 50 men and the priests on horseback then left without the others.
We traveled along the commercial road and lodged in the scheduled hotels, waited.
What were we waiting for? We were waiting for a seemingly random businessman or a beggar that passed by who might suddenly come to tell us, “Sir, my men are in the set point, no irregularities…”
Three people will find us on each day without interruptions.
From these men’s words and phrases, Fischer and I could deduct roughly the three squadron’s future style and growing perspectives.
The Raging Wolf was a group of manly bandits. Wilder being the commander, they must first attack the local defenses at night. The poor local troopers will end up being stripped into ‘naked pigs’.(naked pig: a man removed of their wearings and hanged upside down. Origin: v2c11.) The Wolves will then swagger to their destination wearing robbed armors and outfits, riding either robbed horses, boats and being well fed.
The Firmaments, like their commander, were typed as the enduring troop. They were able to cross mountains and rivers and travel hundreds of miles in a day. To avoid the local forces, Moya and his men hid by day and traveled by night like swift ghosts. Where they passed through will be left with several hundred miles newly reclaimed paths, dozens single-plank bridges. Birds and beast of that year will be severely cut back along the way.
The Nighthawks, being led by a funny commander Jack, was no longer a group of men suitable for fighting on the battlefield. Or I should seriously consider the rightful use of this unusual squadron.
It gave me a headache that Jack the rabbit dressed his soldiers into all kinds of characters like beggars, aristocrats, mercenaries, which were all still acceptable to me. What irritated me more was that they all knew how to teleport. One moment I will see a beggar wandering on the road. When I arrived in the next town, I will see the same beggar sitting at a corner whining, “Lords and madams, have mercy, I’m hungry…”
There was no surprise for a young noble to chase a lady, right? However, a group of young nobles ran after a woman that was too ugly to not kill an Asmodian was no longer ordinary, besides they will run after that lady for thousands of miles. These men traveled with their ‘servants’ were well fed and well lodged. God knew where they found the money to spend.
When they dressed as mercenaries, the situation was much better. The only problem was that they liked to fight during meals. When at meals, I will see a group of mercenaries feast, and when they were finish and ready to pay, a newly came men will jump in yelling ‘You slept with my wife!’ with a weapon in his hand. The two will fight vigorously and when the first mercenaries were defeated and ran, the second one will chase like a ton of bricks.
And when I arrived at the next town, I will certainly see them sitting politely in a restaurant and say, “Hey, boss, one grilled lamb please…”
Such things were funny at first, then triggered surprise and disturbance. Finally, it resulted in an issue of public security. But because these matters were not that severe, thus for a moment, letters sent to the temple for advising were like snowflakes and the temple replied, “… shortly soon before the War, it must be trouble caused by the Asmodians. Please, local landlords and officials, stick to your post and focus on building defense…”
Fifteen days later, Fischer and I have arrived Concrete City on the Swabia border, collected our scattered troops then finally reach Divine City after another four days. For me, the Divine City was another battlefield. And on that day when I was in the DC wall, it was not far from Swabia’s statutory New Year.
Watching people cheering for us as well as the many floating confetti in the air, I cannot recall the feeling I had when the last time I was in DC.
To celebrate the rare crowning of more than one Protoss Knights within one country, His Majesty Climos unusually received us in the grand hall of the imperial palace, accompanied by the empire officials and the high priests from the DC holy temple.
By the majestic melodies played by the royal orchestra, Fischer and I wore the silver armors that the War God had bestowed us as we entered the hall and gave the King our salute.
Although we were Protoss Knights, we were still the younger to the King and I was his bureaucrat. Thus it was legit to do the salute. But our status and the close relationship with the king were a huge bomb to the Minister and the temple.
The King remained same old as well as the others, but my loving father was not there.
“Since I succeeded the realm, Swabia had lost its last Protoss Knight.” His Majesty looked overjoyed, “Who would expect we have two of them to appear at the same time in my Swabian palace!”
The empire officials aside seconded, though it was a bit hard to tell if they were seconding.
“Rise, you two! Hear our congratulations.” The King raised us up himself and said, “You’ve earned it!”
The king said as he suddenly squeezed my hand.
I nodded hard my head, then knocked one of my heels onto the other thus my battle boots clicked. It was a grace demeanor which Fischer taught me yesterday.
We turned about and noticed the High Priest’s approaching with a smile.
“You two honorable Knights, what an occasion!” The High Priest’s hands gesticulate a blessing posture, “May the God of Light grand you luck.”
“My appreciation, High Priest. You are very welcome.” Fischer said with a smile, “We are both too young to live without your guidance.”
I joked while tried my best to act as modest as possible. I would rather not displease anyone for the moment.
“Hehhe, my congratulation for both of you.” Then came the Minister. His smile was unduly sweet, “His Highness and Viceroy Cohen are truly impressive to win such honor for our empire…”
“Thank you, minister!” I shook his hand, “My appreciation for your guidance in the past, haha…”
After the verbose receiving ceremony, the King brought Fischer and I as well as the Minister and a few core bureaucrats to the secondary meeting room behind the imperial hall. He seemed to have matters of importance for us to discuss.
After shutting the meeting room door, the King revealed a scroll, face dignified.
“Since our two Protoss Knights have returned and the empire’s major people are here,” The King Climos slowly unrolled the parchment, “Now, I will announce the mobilization order from the Protoss and the Holy Temple united.”
All of us rose and chanted altogether, “Praise the merciful Lords!”
To Swabian empire, high priests and their underlings,
After twenty years in recovery, the devilish Asmodians are plotting to invade the great Protoss Alliance. To protect the joint benefits of all empires under the ally and to guard our faith, and to…
… decide now to build allied force and jointly crusade the evil Asmodians!
… Swabia will be instructed to deploy 30, 000 riders as well as ⅓ of the supplies for the united force.
… order temple assigned official, Prime Minister of Swabia, Luhrmann, Chief Quartermaster of the United Force.
… Knight of Protoss, Prince of Swabia, Fischer Summers, Chief Operator of the United Force in Swabia.
… Knight of Protoss, Viceroy of Dark City of Swabia, Cohen Kheda, Commander of the Ninth Legion.
… the United Force has an even greater lineup for this war. Soldiers numbered up to 700, 000… all above are top classified information that must not be revealed! In addition, all mentioned personnel who will assume a position in the United Force must be prepared to report to the United Force Headquarters by February next year without delay!
I dozed off halfway, only brought up attention when my name was mentioned.
One-third of the Alliance’s supply was the primary job for Swabia during this war, compared to which, the 30, 000 riders were merely a symbolism. In fact, they didn’t even have to go onto the battlefield.
The Minister, like the last war, was the army’s Chief Quartermaster. Fischer’s job was even better; he will be in charge of operating all supplies that passed through Swabia. He didn’t even need to leave the Divine City.
As for me, it was harsh! The Ninth Legion was the slave army, which was the legion deployed first to attack and the first to die on the battlefield. It was the one army marked as ‘expendable’ on the United Force’s register!
“This is the end of the order!” The King exhaled and put down the scroll.
“… the merciful lords!” Everybody lowered their head, hands crossed.
“As you all should know, this is all that is. You should better get the supply and the funds ready for the alliance.” The King eyed the people beside him, “If anyone screws up, I’ll chop his head off! Dismissed!”
The King left Fischer in the room for more words. I just wandered by the door, helmet in hand.
“Viceroy Cohen… no, Your Honored Protoss Knight,” The Minister approached me and whispered, “could I have a word?”
“Sure, you are the Minister,” I nodded quietly, “call me Cohen.”
The Minister smiled and approached even closer as if there was never any gaps between us.
“Where to start? I admit that our relationship has never gone so well, there’re many reasons for that.” He shook his head slightly, “However, in spite of ourselves, it’s not something we can control, we were forced by the situation. Thus I’m thinking, are there any ways for us to make up peacefully?”
“Do you have any ideas, Minister? I’m listening.”
“You know, you were my son-in-law,” The Minister said, “After that depressing incident, your engagement with my daughter was dissolved, which made me very sad once.”
“Is that so?” I was as if listening to someone else’s story, “I’m very sorry.”
“A person as mature and as noble as you should have knowledge of how politics works. There are no eternal friends, no perpetual enemies; only the interests are eternal.” The Minister gazed at me and said, “If you will, we could try to be friends, at least be friends during the war.”
“Friends?” A thought struck me, “You ought to at least show your side of the goodwill. What do you expect from an unlucky guy who was assigned to commander slaves?”
“As long as you don’t push me too hard. You know, this quartermaster is no easy job. Should discrepancy to occur in the United Forces, that’ll be inappropriate.” The Minister smiled and said, “To show my goodwill, from not on, all matters that could potentially worsen our relationship will be prevented by me.”
“Sure you will.” I said, “Any more advice for me?”
“There will be a massive personnel rescheduling going on recently within the empire, if it involves our friends, I hope we could communicate beforehand.” The Minister said, “Besides, I wish you could pass my words today to your father.”
“Sure thing. And you have my father’s contact.” I nodded, “Is that it?”
“Naturally.” The Minister said, “What matters most currently is to live through the War. No matter what came in the end, there will be another 20 good years once the war is over. So long!”
I watched as the Prime Minister left then turned about and knocked into the meeting room, then informed the King about the Minister’s words.
The King exhaled heavily then immediately frowned.
“Cohen, forget about your conversation with him, feel free to do your job.” The King tapped my shoulder, “And pay more attention to him.”
“You’re saying that the Minister said that to lower my vigilance?”
“I’ve worked with him for so many years. How could I not know what he wants?” The King chuckled, “He wants to compromise me by telling you that.”
“Could we believe his words?” Fischer asked.
“Only half of it.” The King said, “Once the Minister leaves DC, Swabia’s internal conflict between parties will seize for the time being. And our battlefield will be derived into the United Forces. You have to be prepared, Cohen. He will tackle with you as his priority.”
“That I’m not afraid of.” I said, “I’m prepared, whether he does it personally or hires someone else to do it.”
“But be more careful anyway.” The King said, “In fact, when you were at the Heaven Island, I had conflicts with him on personnel arrangements.”
“How did that came out?”
“He compromised on all aspects except on you.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“Yeah, and he did not know that you will be titled as a Protoss Knight. The Minister must’ve racked his brains to assign other jobs to any countries but Swabia, it resulted that all remaining positions for Swabia were the Operator and the Ninth Legion Commander. After discussing with your father, we’ve decided to let Fischer be the operator. I hope you could understand.”
“It supposed to be like that.” I said, “I wouldn’t have to worry about Fischer’s safety!”
“I’m glad you do.” The King smiled and said, “It’s a decision based on your strongest suit. Your status mattered less in the decision.”
“Don’t worry about me, Your Majesty.” I said, “I’m happy that Fischer could do his job in Swabia!”
“Hehhe, do you know? The scale of this war exceeds far more than the last.” The King said, “And the slave army under your command will be a massive legion of 70, 000 instead of 20. It’s a thing the Minister had never expected. When the Protoss’ words to the United Forces came ordering them to expand the Ninth Legion, the Minister was just astonished.”
“Why would the legion be such a large one?” I was stunned secretly, “I don’t have enough officers! I’ve got around 300 at most.”
“The United Force prepared four slave legions totaling 80, 000.” The King explained, “But it cannot be justified to assign a Protoss Knight to command a small army of 20, 000. Thus the United Force simply joined two slave legions together and drafted more for the time being. Thus the current scale.”
“I see!” Fischer said, “But during such a short time, I doubt those 30, 000 were simply drafted.”
“You’re quite right, Grandpa Martin has told me.” I nodded, “The soldiers in the slave army are the ones who survived from past wars, a bunch of riffraff.”
“As of now, the legion is added with these under-trained new recruits, you will be facing an even more difficult situation.” The King said, “They are a huge mix of races who have lived on the Protoss/Asmodian Line for their entire life. The prolonged living on the line has given them a rather weak idea of the Protoss or the Asmodians. If you want to win them by faith power, that’s just impossible. If you don’t handle them well, the problem that comes from the slaves could be even more dangerous than that come from the Minister.”
“I see, I’ll think of something.” I said, “There’s always a solution for any questions!”
“Fischer has told me how you trained your officers, basically your train of thoughts is on the right track.” The King nodded, “As for the lack of officers, don’t you worry too much. I have a gift for you.”
“Yes, sir! I knew you wouldn’t leave me like that!” I laughed, “How many are there?”
“You’re a Protoss Knight for god sake!” The King hit my forehead with his knuckle, “They’re not many, about a hundred. They will be to your liking.”
“To my liking…” I blinked, “What do you mean by that?”
The King said, “Those are the ones who I banished to the borders because they’ve made mistakes. What do you think? They’re yours to command.”
“No way!” I was stunned, “Now that not only my soldiers are terribly mixed up, my officers are, too!”
“In addition, those men have all once served under your father.” The King said, “If you don’t like them, I’ll send them back growing fruit trees.” (The retired Swabian general, Cohen’s wife’s’ grandfather, Martin Luther was among the talent pool. The King had protected him by hiding him in the Divine City growing fruit trees. Origin v5c7.)
“Fruit trees?” I said promptly, “I’ll take them all!”
Once we learned they came off growing fruit trees, Fischer and I all laughed.
“From now on to the start of the War, there will be a period of peaceful time.” The King opened the door for us, “Visual will tell you what to do. Do what he tells you and leave the rest to us.”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
“Go back to Dark City for the time being and take care of the business there, especially the defense matter.” The King said in a lowered tone, “I’ve given Visual a sum of money already. Use it to expand your army.”
“Now go, son.” The King pat our heads, “Eagles are deemed to fly!”