The 193rd Chapter “The provisional decree from 20 years ago”
Contrary to the city’s infamous title as a Sin City, the history of this fortress isn’t all that long. Exactly 20 years ago, this place is nothing more than wilderness without a whiff of civilization. Nevertheless, after the war between the empire and the natives in the Northwest, this region of land saw drastic changes. In the name of protection and self-preservation, number military forts were constructed along the border.
However, with the passage of time and the rising tension in the empire’s finances, many of these military forts were eventually wasted due to neglect. In the eyes of the former emperor, the Northwest is already conquered, thus the old man’s focus shifted to that of the riches hidden away in the Southeastern Sea.
Nowadays, these giant structures have already lost their former glory, and Big Ear City is no exception to this trend.
Once known merely as Ear Mountain – the contours of the mountain looked like an ear from above – a town was erected in the mountain base to be used as a hub for transit in the battlefield.
Later after the war, it gradually evolved into what you see today, a place where all criminals are sent before being moved to their assigned locations.
In the entirety of Big Ear city, there are no citizens present, only the 2000 garrison soldiers stationed here to oversee the vast numbers of detainees. The majority of these people are expected at some heavy labor camp, but most of these poor souls will never make it through their sentence because the expected survival duration is only two years.
The cruelty against criminals is easy to see in this place.
As such, there is a saying among the people: “It is better to meet your death as a rebel than to go to Big Ear city.” The reason for this is because death is instant, but if you are stuck in Big Ear city, then that means you will still have two more years of suffering before meeting your maker.
The commanding officer of this deathly city is named Biaideluo . Though his rank may be that of a commander, but his situation is a bit exceptional. Under normal circumstances, a regular infantry regiment would have 4,000 soldiers, but Biaideluo ’s regiment is only half of this number. Aside from the reduced numbers, there is a perennial lack of equipment among the guards. To put it into perspective, there is not a single soldier in this regiment with a complete set of armor. Well, it’s to be expected since the higher ups only needed them to guard the prisoners.
Early this morning, Biaideluo had long woken up in preparation for today’s special guest – the high command issued him the news days ahead.
This occasion is in fact a great relief for him. Some days ago, a total of 4,000 prisoners were sent to him from the capital. With his sharp eyes, he could tell these prisoners were not ordinary criminals…. Well trained and seasoned veterans, such a vast number has left him on edge for the past weeks already…..
Whether it is the quality or quantity, these rebels far exceeded that of his own motley crew. No…. To be precise, this motley crew of his can’t even called armed guards.
If his worst nightmare comes true now, Biaideluo fears he won’t be able to quell the riot.
Therefore, when the orders from above came, he was totally relieved that he will soon be rid of these unwanted burdens.
Yet, even after waiting a whole day since yesterday, the special guest that was mention still hasn’t arrived yet.
Biaideluo mutteres to himself: “Did the people from above send the wrong order?”
Inwardly, he really wanted to ditch these people as soon as possible.
When the sun finally broke through the morning clouds today, Biaideluo could finally see the distant images of a cavalry team approaching at a rapid pace.
As the image became clearer, Biaideluo actually skipped a beat when he saw the other party’s flag…. Oh god, it’s the Thorn Flower insignia of the royal guards!!
Royalty? A member of the royal family?
Biaideluo dare not neglect. Hurriedly, he ordered the gates to be open before personally leading his own entourage to welcome the other side.
This group of royal cavalry knights consisting of 300 personals did not show any signs of slowing down. Only by coming up to the city gates did they finally stop in their track.
At the head of the group is a middle aged knight with a short headed beard. Using a very rich voice: “Call out your commanding officer!”
Biaideluo quickly took a few steps forward: “I’m Big Ear city’s commanding officer Biaideluo , Sir, please report your identity.”
“I’m called Robert.” The middle aged rider spoke in a light voice: “Commanding officer of House Tulip’s private army. Commander Biaideluo , please ready your people in preparation for his Duke’s arrival!”
Duke? House Tulip?
Only after scratching his head for a long time did Biaideluo recall a recent rumor. In the aftermath of the recent coup, a young teenager was appointed to the position of Duke…… Although the event took place several months ago, but the news of has only just begun to spread because after all, this world doesn’t have any kind of internet or news network to broadcast the event. Not to mention this is Big Ear city, the so called Sin City of the continent where only criminal and slaves come to meet their maker.
Nonetheless, the status of a Duke is not someone Biaideluo can offend. Moving quickly, he ordered his people to stand in formation. Very soon, a carriage guarded by dozens of cavalry riders was slowly coming over.
When Biaideluo came up to the coach to welcome the Duke, he was quickly shocked at what he saw.…. Why it’s a teenage boy!
But this idea only slightly skimped through his mind. Without delay, Biaideluo kneeled down on one leg and made a proper salute: “My lord, welcome to Big Ear city.”
Du Wei was frowning over the scene before him because this Big Ear city is simply too run down. According to the records, the city was built against the mountain side to increase its fortitude. As one can see, many parts of the stone walls were already falling apart, and in some places of the rampart, huge cracks are easily noticeable. Above all, the patrolling soldiers from above looked like slouches.
Gently taking off his gloves, Du Wei used it fan himself a few times before sighing: “Alright commander. Hurry and take me to my people, I don’t have much time…. This damn weather is really unpleasant.”
Seeing Du Wei was already entering the gate of his own accord, Biaideluo hurriedly followed up.
Only by coming into Big Ear city did Du Wei find out how much worse this place really is! Broken in all sorts of places, he can hardly see any of the walking streets still intact.
“Where’s my people?”
“All of them are waiting in the training field.” Biaideluo was careful in his words: “I thought you would be here last night according to the order, so I had them all lined up since last night….”
Du Wei’s pace slowed down a bit before turning back at this exhausted looking guy: “Oh, my apologies. The road here was more difficult than I imagined, so we missed the schedule.”
Where in the world would he dare accept an apology from a Duke? Hurrying in his words, Biaideluo repeatedly replied with ‘I wouldn’t dare’. Like this, he led Du Wei and his escorts inside.
Even inside, Du Wei was frowning because with every gust of wind, the dirt on the stone paved roads would roll up like clouds: “It seems your finances are very tight.”
Biaideluo immediately cried out: “Isn’t it? My lord…… I’ve already racked my brains for money. All year round, this place is holding tens of thousands of people along with my subordinates. Yet, the delivery of supplies would often be delayed. Look around, its barrens hills around here, I cannot let my people ear sand, right? There is also equipment….” His voice lowered at this mention: “My lord, it’s not me complaining, but I have to tell you the truth. I may have only 2000 subordinates, but the number of equipment in my hand is only equal to that of 800 sets! Every year, my people have to take turns using the gear when going out on patrol. 800 armed soldiers to oversee 10,000 prisoners……”
Du Wei smiled as he looked at the wry faced guy in front of him: “You’ve been commanding this place for many years, right?”
This question immediately hit a sore spot in Biaideluo’s heart…. Indeed, who would want to stay in this eggless hatchery? For eight years, he’s been stuck here despite the fact that personal changes usually happen every three years.
Watching the grimace faced Biaideluo, Du Wei suddenly showed a smile in his face. Lowering his voice, he asked: “Do you know why you never got promoted?”
“…… My lord, please advise me!” Biaideluo’s eyes sparkled with light.
“Because of the words you just said to me!” Du Wei smirked.
This guy is too easy to complain. Without any restraint, he would burst out all his weaknesses to any superior that comes to visit…. So who will like it?
Hence, a negative guy like him would of course be at the bottom.
“If you want to get promoted, then I’ll show you a way.” Du Wei said this with smile: “Next time when a superior comes to visit, you better lift your spirit and tidy up this place. No matter the difficulty, pretend everything is running smoothly….. If you can do that, I guarantee you will go up within two years.”
Listening to these words, he became so touched that he was lost in thought for a second. When he came to, Biaideluo realized Du Wei was already long gone. Panicking, he quickly ran forward to catch up.
Though the training ground is quite big, but the floor is just like the rest, broken and rugged. Even for Du Wei that was wearing a sturdily made boot; he could still feel quite the discomfort on his feet.
Then he finally had his first look at the crowd in the field.
A total of 4,000 prisoners. All donning the same type of prison uniforms, their expression were cold and lifeless as if their spirit were sucked dry.
Is this his future infantry unit?
Du Wei frowns: “How can they be so dull?”
“This… ..” Biaideluo scratched his hair: “Your honor, I got word that you will arrive last night, so I had them all wait here since last night. But…..” Biaideluo sighed: “Because of the recent supply shortages, the prisoners here can only eat one meal per day.”
Du Wei immediately became angry!
One meal a day?
These people are his future soldiers!! This fucking guy dare starve his people?
But looking at Biaideluo’s sour expression, Du Wei simply couldn’t throw a tantrum because he can tell the guy had no other way.
“…… Even I can only eat two meals a day. The only people that can ensure three meals a day are the guard chiefs.” Biaideluo sighed in sadness: “If supplies are ten days later, even the guard chiefs will have their food rations cut.”
Du Wei flipped around in disbelief: “Is the situation this tight?” Who is in charge of your supply?”
“It’s the Northwestern army.” Biaideluo smiled wryly: “My Lord, this is the Northwest. All supplies in the Northwest is issued through the high command of the Northwestern army…. And the problem is…..”
Having said that, Biaideluo hesitated as if he didn’t know whether if he should keep going.
Du Wei can see the guy was hesitating: “Speak, I won’t blame you!”
Through the years, he has reported this problem countless times to those above, but in the end, there was never any news in return! Now that the chance has arrived……
“My Lord, the 2000 soldiers in Big Ear city belongs to the city garrison department, but because of the provisional decree from 20 years ago, our supplies are decided by the Northwestern army. So…..”
“So what? ”
Looking up at Du Wei’s eyes, Biaideluo suddenly had a surge of courage coursing through his vein: “So we are like a child facing a stepmother! Even though we are only 50 miles from the supply camp, our supplies would always be late. Even when it arrives, those in charge would secretly deduct our share for their own pocket……”
Du Wei frowned in thought for a while: “Why is this happening? According to imperial decree, local supply for the garrison should be supported by the local government. Why is this place controlled by the Northwestern army?”
“……” Biaideluo smiled bitterly: “During the war in the Northwest more than 20 years ago, there was a interim order set in place. According to the situation at the time, this decree was very reasonable. The problem lies in the fact that after 20 years, this interim order still hasn’t been cancelled. Those guy’s in the Northwestern army can fill their bellies while we can only starve…..”
Du Wei’s expression went dark. Never in his mind did he think the situation in the Northwest would fall to such a state!
If the decree still isn’t cancelled…. Then his own Desa Province…..
Every year he will need to give out a portion of his revenue to the Northwestern army???
Du Wei thought for a while but knew this problem is not something he can solve right now. shoving the problem in a corner of his mind, he turned his focus back at the prisoners in front of him.
“Find someone to push a cart here. I want to address them.” Du Wei orders.
Soon, a rickety cart was pushed over and placed in the middle of the crowd. Jumping up onto the cart, Du Wei takes in a deep breath before speaking out:
His booming shout ripped off his cloak that was concealing the black mage robe below!
With a simple spell, Du Wei made sure his voice could cover the entirety of the field.
With that, the attention of the 4,000 prisoners quickly focused on Du Wei’s body. To them, the image of this child mage seems all too familiar.
“Humph!” Du Wei gave out a loud laugh: “I am sure that most of you guys here still remember me!!”
Voices of discussion began bellowing out from those down below. Their eyes filled with complicated emotions as they looked at Du Wei.
That’s right; many of them did recognized Du Wei because his achievement that day left a lasting impression in their mind!
“That’s right.” I can see from your eyes that you still remember me!” Du Wei laughed, cried:” Yes, I am Du Wei: former member of the Rowling Household, Duke of the Empire, as well as a magician of the magic union. From the way it looks, I will be your future master!!”
Du Wei said this all in one single breath. As he carefully watched the expression of the 4,000 prisoners, he was very satisfied because he can no longer see the numb expressions on these people.
“All attention! Second Division of the Royal Guards! Formation!!!”
With that shout of Du Wei, Knight Robert that was on standby had already taken out a horn.
In the effect of the loud horn call, Du Wei yelled out: “All officers stand up front! I request you guys get in formation at the shortest amount of time. If by the end of the horn call and you still can’t get in line, then be prepared to face military punishment!”
The crowd erupted. The once lost fierceness in their eyes finally came alive again. Though their freedom and glory is gone, but their instincts are not.
Very soon, the crowd surged up like ants and started to line up in accordance with their original station.
By the end of the horn sound, they are no longer the 4,000 scattered prisoners. In its stead is a real formation befitting of an army!
The formation may have been formed within the specified time, but when the time for the leading officer to come forward to make it report, there was a halt in movement.
The reason is because their leading officer has been killed in the coup.
Some of the officers hesitated for a second until one cleverer of the bunch stepped forward to announce the completion of the lineup.
With this first example, the other officers can only learn from this and step forward to make their report.
Du Wei was pleased with this result and even gave an encouraging look at the guy that first came forward.
“Very good!” Du Wei coughed once to clear his throat: “I am very pleased because after four months, you people still maintained your military instincts!”
“I know you are both very hungry and very tired because you’ve sat here all night. Ever since you guys were placed here in this Sin City, you’ve been uneasy and fearful for your future!” Du Wei cried out: “I believe the majority of you already know the rumor for this place and the fate that awaits you!”
At this point, Du Wei pointed at the people down below before shouting out loud: “That’s right! You are now prisoners, criminals! You should be sent to Northwest deserts to eat sand. to build walls, to move stones, and to take the lashes of the overseer! Every day, you can only drink diluted vegetable soup! I promise you, in less than a year, most of you will die!”
Du Wei, points to his nose: “If not for me, your fate will be like that…. If not for me coming to save you guys, then!”
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