Translated by Tianic
Note 1: Please click on the character name for their illustrations, if any.
Note 2: An editable text of this chapter, click here.
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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.
- Luhrmann: The Swabian Prime Minister assigned by the holy temple.
- Carlos: A reserved talented officer assigned to Cohen Kheda by the Swabian king.
- Lorenzo: The Royal Academy headmaster.
- Cersei: Lorenzo’s wife.
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 command.
- The Nighthawk: A specialized IGT squadron under Jack’s command.
- The Firmament: A specialized IGT squadron under Moya’s command.
- PUF: The Protoss United Forces.
- AUF: The Asmodian United Forces.
Downtown Divine City was life like as usual. Streams of people, either joyful or busy, bustled coming and going for their lives. If it were not for Fischer’s and my nobility garment and the royal guards around, I suspected no one would even notice us.
Amongst the entire empire, it seemed that there was nobody, except for us bureaucrats, showed even the slightest interest in the coming war. The commoners might think it was the Protoss and the Asmodians and the nobility’s business to care about.
Honestly, I was a little surprised to such a view. As long as there was a war, everybody will be inevitably involved, no matter they want it or not, no one could escape such a giant slaughtering whirlpool.
By then we were back to our garrison outside the city, there were already a considerable group of people waiting for us.
“Your Royal Prince! Viceroy!” An officer ranked lieutenant colonel promptly ran in front of our horses and saluted, “Sir, my name is Colonel Carlos, commanding 125 military officers by His Royal Majesty’s order reporting for duty, sir!”
Having said that, he delivered a piece of document to us. Carlos, who looked older than us at his 30s, had a square face. I would call that lucky because there should be no generation gap between us at the age of his.
“I see.” I took over the paper signed by the King and my father then returned his salute while saying, “You guys are quite fast, His Royal Prince and I were just informed that you will come.”
“Sir, we received our order in Darkmoon (Cohen’s father, Visual Kheda was the Viceroy of Darkmoon province.).” Carlos said, “The time has limited us to not delay. Luckily there was no trouble getting here, sir!”
“From Darkmoon to DC, and it only took you ten days?” Fischer was surprised and said, “If I’m right, the journey takes at least 15 days.”
Having heard Fischer asked it, Carlos smiled in embarrassment, “Your Highness, Viceroy, we’re merely junior officers. Enduring hardships is our duty despite our incompetence.”
“Say no more of that. There’s no connection of duty and hardship.” Fischer glanced me and said, “Well, glad you can join us. You can all go back and rest. We’re leaving soon.”
“Sir, yes, sir!” Carlos saluted once more and drew back.
Looking at more than 100 officers got off their horses and entered their tents under Carlos’ command, I told Fischer who stood beside me, “These men are good! They’re calm, they’re experienced. They’re a perfect fit for our newly trained officers.”
“Our fathers’ can’t be wrong.” Fischer laughed, “Speaking of which, Cohen, I don’t think they‘ve received their rank badge yet.”
“Yeah!” I recalled that my IGT officers haven’t had their rank ornaments yet. Even their uniforms got ragged during the training, “I almost ignored that hadn’t you mentioned it!”
“Get it done, brother! We don’t have much time left.” Fischer got off his horse and went in his pavilion.
“Wilder! Jack!” I told my two bros standing behind me, “Get my order letter and claim 500 standard officer’s outfits from the Corps., hurry!”
“Sir, yes, sir!” Wilder and Jack saluted and left. Throughout these days, my brothers have learned when to call me ‘sir’ or ‘boss’. They were no longer the freshmen they used to be.
Seeing the two riding fast into the city, I got off my horse and entered my pavilion as well.
About two hours later, they came back with the outfits. I was informed the process went smoothly without any interference from the Minister’s man.
“By the way, boss.” Jack leaned beside me and said, “We ran into something weird on our way back.”
“What is it?” Fischer dropped his file and asked.
Wilder said, “There was a huge mansion torn done, fire. I saw a lot of people talking about it.”
“What’s so weird?” I said, “It’s just a fire! It’s inevitable.”
“Boss, do you know whose mansion is it?” Wilder said, “If you know, you’ll be excited.”
Jack grinned, “It belongs to the one who expelled you from the Academy…”
“The headmaster’s?” Fischer asked.
“That old bastard’s!” I was indeed excited, “Did he get his beard burned?”
“That’s the one, though I heard,” Jack said, “that when that house was on fire the night before, the firefighter never showed up. Neither did the family got out, not even a servant.”
“He’s dead?” Fischer was astonished, “What a shame!”
Although my relationship with this old headmaster was not going so well, I felt a sense of pitiness when heard about the news. He was a knowledgeable old timer after all.
“This doesn’t sound right!” I looked at Fischer and said, “It can’t be, no one escaped. Could it be that the Minister…”
“I’m afraid so. I don’t get it, why would the Minister kill him?” Fischer nodded, “The headmaster doesn’t have any shortcomings except for his sternness and vanity. What a shame, he used to be my maester!”
“Forget it! It’s none of our business.” I told my brothers, “Distribute the outfits, we’ll leave shortly after.”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
It was the first time my IGTs wore officer’s uniform, though they used to be provisional officers during the past training. But the current offer was way better than ‘provisional.’ They laughed and put on the new outfit: newly ironed and starched shirt, woolen cloth jacket covered by armors, shiny collar ornaments, and copper buttons. I saw several hundred faces grinning from ear to ear.
“Hehhe, how do you describe this scene?” Fischer and I watched these bunch of pretentious men, “Their faces are broken!”
“What a glad thing, being an officer.” Fischer said, “Especially for the alien soldiers. If they were in someone else’s troops, they’d never be an officer till they die.”
I made a bitter laugh and advanced.
“You people, what’s so happy about! Stop disgracing yourselves.” I scolded loudly, “Have you sent out my recons and rangers yet? Move your asses, we’re moving out!”
I taught them a lesson then immediately they touched noses and returned back to normal. My departure was in good order.
I mixed the men that Carlos brought into the three squadrons. In this way, they had the chance to familiarize with each other. As for Carlos, I ordered him to ride with me.
Then we started our return.
The Nighthawks was in charge of peripheral guarding as they’ll send wingman scouts and wanders to watch all the directions from afar as we advance. The Wolf splitted itself into two to guard the team head and the rear end. Squadron Firmament rode with me as part of the fleet. As we moved away from the crowded main commercial road, the whole fleet’s speed went up fast.
Carlos unblinkingly gazed at all these, he was both amazed and admiring.
“My Lord,” He asked, “did you train all these men?”
“Positive.” I said, “Problem?”
“Not at all.” Carlos shook his head, “I’ve been a military officer for many years, but such close recon and such fast marching speed and so many alien officers are relatively new to me.”
“So, in your point of view,” Fischer took over the subject, “how did they go?”
“Your Highness, I’m merely commenting on what I saw.” Carlos said, “According to what I saw, they’re excellent. With them, our troops’ combat effectiveness will be greatly promoted, while other forces cannot live up to us.”
I can’t help but grinned secretly. If Carlos knew those guys were idiot pupils days ago, he’d be even amazed.
A wingman scout flying in the front left suddenly turned about and approached us.
“En?” Fischer noticed him, “We might have a problem.”
“Sir!” The wingman flew beside me and maintained the same speed with my horses, “There’s a small woods in the front at about 5 miles. In it, there are about 50 men who seemed suspicious, sir!”
“Fifty? It’s still near DC. I have to interfere.” I pondered and told Carlos, “You and Wilder, take the front guards. Apprehend all of them!”
“Sir, yes, sir!” Carlos quickened his horse and joined Wilder’s front guards.
I gave my order to the fleet to alter and transform its formation to be ready to siege immediately. The rear guards quickly caught up with the fleet led by the wingman scouts. Thus my men had our targets entirely surrounded from left and right.
Wilder and Carlos and their men marched into the enemy’s crowd, and on their horseback, they yelled their unit name. The battle ended very fast.
How could the enemy know what was “Rage Wolf Squadron of the Swabian Imperial Guarding Troops’. Once they saw they were surrounded by a group of Swabian officers, they immediately turned droopy before the fight could start. Their weapons were proven to be useless. After Wilder slammed an unlucky guy’s face onto the ground, they all abandoned resistance.”
“Sir! Sir! Please don’t. Listen to me, listen to me!”
A leader-like guy came to my horse and said, “It’s totally a misunderstanding! We’re all the Minister’s guards…”
Fischer and I shared a look. Why would the Minister’s guards run all the way to a hundred miles away from DC? There must be a reason behind it!
“Minister’s guards?” Fischer kicked his horse and gazed upon this man’s face, “I went there very often, how come I’ve never seen you? You must be a spy!”
“How dare you pretend the Minister’s guards, your mother fucker!” Wilder who stood behind raised his hand then slashed his sheathed sword on this guys face. His face instantly torn.
“WOOOOOO…” The man touched his wound. He couldn’t care less about the blood that drooped as he fetched a piece of token from his right waist.
Wilder grabbed that token then kick him away then handed over the token to Fischer.
“It’s the Minister’s guards.” Fischer looked at it and said loudly to me, “We might have a mistake here, commander!”
“They must’ve stolen it!” I nodded Fischer back and yelled to these ‘Minister’s guards, “Get me someone who knows how to talk!”
“Commander! Sir!” Another man appeared out of the group of guards. He rolled and crawled in front of me and said, “I’m captain of His Minister’s guards. I know… certain things. What do you want to know, commander?”
I glared at him, “You said you’re the Minister’s guards?”
“Yes, I really am…” He replied promptly.
“Do you have other IDs except for this token?” I asked.
“Commander! I… I… I…” This man was terrified at this question as Wilder drew near, “I don’t have any! We only carry the token when we’re on business…”
“Hell! Now answer my questions. If you can’t, I’ll chop your head!” I spat on him, “What does the Minister like? What’s his hobby? Has he any friends? Who came to visit him these days…”
It was not like I had such bad habit to humiliate people, I was playing as one of the Minister’s friends. Birds of a feather flocks together. I didn’t expect the Minister’s friends from the army to be a nice man. Spitting him was I playing nice still.
“I know! I know that! I know all…” He was actually terrified and thus a big pile of Minister’s life details poured out of his mouth. Anyone else but me beside such method will not yield such precise information.
“He seemed to be one of us.” I nodded, “Get up!”
“Ye… yes, thank you, commander…” He rose to stand.
“Why did you end up here?” Fischer asked, “Thankfully you ran into us. Have you no idea that Cohen Kheda will pass by here later today? You’ll be screwed if you come across him!”
“My Lord,” He bowed and said, “we have the Minister’s order!”
“Is it done?” Fischer said nicely, “We’re glad to help out the Minister’s business.”
“My Lord, it’s almost done.” The captain said, “We just got’em, not yet possessed.”
Fischer glanced me then I immediately realized that this matter cannot be minor. Thus I gestured Jack who stood aside.
“Good, finish it now.” Fischer pondered and told the captain, “Then we’ll return to the Minister together.”
“I…” Having heard Fischer’s words, the captain paused.
“You mother! DO IT!” I yelled.
“My Lords, it’s a classified matter.” The captain said with caution, “Please excuse me, we’ll be right back, right back…”
“What’s that?” I frowned, “Say it again!”
As we were stalling for time, Jack had his men dragged a few large sacks out of the woods. They have gestured me from afar.
“Alright!” I said and touch my jaw, “I’ll give you a moment!”
The captain was certainly glad and said, “Thank you, commander! Thank you!”
Instantly after he said that, I tightened my rein then drew my long sword fast and chopped his head.
Then immediately, the fifty guards including the one slammed down by Wilder all sacrificed their lives for the Minister, which made the newly joined officers astonished.
“Mr. Viceroy…” Carlos swallowed and said, “you just killed… killed them?”
I nodded without saying a word, then rode with Fischer toward Jack. My other officers went off their horse and started burying bodies.
“Carlos, you ought to understand our relationship with the Minister…” Fischer was better at explaining such cases, “Killing is bad indeed as we would choose not to. But to protect ourselves, what other choices do we have? You need to understand what outcome it’ll lead to if we let them go back. Look, Carlos, I know you’re a kind man…”
I bet Carlos must faint as he kept saying, “Yes, Your Royal Prince! My inconsideration, forgive me.”
Jack was untying the knots of the sacks. Knowing we were near, he raised his head and told me, “Sir, there’s a person inside, and alive!”
I nodded and watched him. I was particularly interested in knowing the identity of the ones the Minister was so eager to kill.
As the first sack was untied, a beautiful middle-aged woman was revealed. She wore plain clothes and weeping. After what stuffed her mouth was removed, she breathed heavily for air. Apparently, she could not talk for the time being.
The second sack was opened, it was a pretty boy. His chicks were slightly reddened and swollen as he might be slapped once or twice. His body was tied as well. The boy struggled towards the first woman while groaned ‘mother.’
Having seen the boy, the woman’s eyes brightened instead of the dead within.
“Untie them,” I told a man beside me. No body dare to do anything without my order.
As the last sack was opened, came out a man everybody was familiar with: the old bastard!”
“You!” I was stunned.
“Dean!” Fischer jumped off his horseback and hastily removed the stinky socks that stuffed the Dean of the Divine City Royal Academy’s mouth, “Dean, how did it happen? Why would Luhrmann do this to you?”
Watched such old man who was neither my enemy nor my friend, nor even a stranger. I was speechless. On the other hand, Carlos responded to Fischer’s kindness as he fetched his bottle for the Dean to wash his mouth.
“Your Highness…” The Dean had a clear view of who was in front of him, his lips trembled and said, “Your Highness, my wife! My children!”
“Hey, that… maester,” I squatted beside him and tapped his shoulder, “Calm down, your families are fine…”
As the mentally confused Dean saw me, he immediately came sober and bounced back then yelled, “Why you! Don’t touch me!”
He reacted so quickly and impulsively, which made I at a loss of what to do and my hand remained half air. What a shame.
Luckily no one knew about my past with the Dean except for my brothers here.
“Seemed that you’re still unconscious.” I said seriously, “Let me check you out…”
Then my hands came reaching for the Dean but were caught by Fischer. He knew I wanted to fix the Dean and stopped my action!
“My Dean, have you recovered your unconsciousness?” He talked as he blinked to the maester, “I assume you don’t need Viceroy Cohen’s personal treatment, am I right?”
The Dean watched me and looked back at Fischer then nodded with difficulty.
Fischer turned to me and said with a hint of a smile, “The Dean has recovered. Viceroy Cohen, I have to ask you to check his wife and son.”
What else should I do as Fischer had already asked me to? He was my brother. I had no choice but did what he told.
“Madam, boy, are you hurt? Here, have some water.” I took over a bottle of water and handed it over to the woman, “My name is Cohen. I’m Cohen Kheda.”
“Viceroy Cohen, thank you for your help.” The woman stood up and tidied her clothing and bowed deeply to me, “I’m Lorenzo’s wife. My name is Cersei. You name often came up with my husband.”
“You don’t have to tell me. He must’ve said no kind words about me.” I was so depressed, but I wouldn’t show it in front of this Madam Cersei, “Never mind, madam. What was going on?”
“I have no idea.” Cersei shook her head and said, “The night before, my husband took us to hide here out of the Divine City overnight, but they found us anyway…”
I judged from her words that this foolish Dean maester must have offended the Minister somehow. Luckily he wasn’t that of a fool, he took his family out of the city once he realized it.
“Where’re you going with your families?” I asked Madam Cersei, “Don’t you have two more sons?”
“We…” Cersei’s words stopped halfway. Apparently, her eyes were searching for her husband.
I turned about and found the Dean Lorenzo weeping bitterly in front of Fischer.
“Madam, excuse me.” I told Cersei, “I’ll talk to the Dean. Your family reunion is the priority.”
“My husband… he’s a man obsessed with his belief. Viceroy Cohen, please excuse him.” Cersei bowed again. I ran away from her because I would be uncomfortable once someone bowed toward me.
“Is he alright?” I approached Fischer.
Fischer held tightly in Dean’s hands.
“Cohen, I need a favor.” Fischer told me, “I want to build a school in Dark City, and Lorenzo as the new dean…”
“NO!” I objected firmly, “I cannot work with him!”
“NO!” The Dean opposed as well, “I share no common ideas with this man!”
“Is that so?” Fischer gazed at us two, which made me a bit nervous, “Then why you said the same, exact words just now?”
I said, “I didn’t see that coming!”
The Dean said, “That’s coincidence!”
“You two fools! It’s settled!” Fischer chuckled and said solemnity, “I, in the name of the Swabian Prince and a Knight of Protoss, now announce, from this moment forward, Lorenzo will be the Dean of Dark City Academy! Viceroy Cohen, you must find Dean Lorenzo’s two other sons. That’s an order to be carried out immediately!”
“Yes!” Lorenzo and I straightened our bodies and replied. I was so enraged while Dean Lorenzo was a bit gloomy.
“That’ll be it! We’ve wasted lots of time.” Fischer pulled on his gloves, “Let’s go!”
“Carlos! Go and get these three changed.” I said loudly, “Wilder! You take 30 men now. Find Dean’s two other sons based on Madam Cersei’s lead. Once you find them, go directly back to Dark City immediately! The rest, kill all the traces, let’s move out!”
Nobody judged as my officers finished all in the shortest time. Thus after getting changed, we continued our journey with the Dean’s family.
Two days later, I had news that Wilder had found Lorenzo’s missing sons. Since he was still behind us, I ordered him to catch up. When Wilder did, the five within the Lorenzo family cried, which made us sobbed and sighed as well. I had never expected such humanity to existed within this hateful old bastard. On the other hand, Madam Cersei was much pleasing to the eye, she was even that beautiful when she cried. She, as well as Queen Nashor and my mother, were of the same kind, beautiful moms.