Though Kurdak's incident sent some shockwaves throughout the empire, the general public lost interest with the passing of time. The media also stopped mentioning the matter out of the blue as if they had turned mute, accelerating the fading of Kurdak and his achievements from the public consciousness.
The most insulting thing was even though Kurdak's rank wasn't high, his achievements at the southern front were incredibly well known, partially thanks to the intentional publicity from imperial media coverage. Everyone who heard Kurdak's name would praise him with their thumbs up.
And then the scandal followed. While he did things that were rather out of line, he didn't infringe upon the empire's interests in the strictest sense. All he did was ditch his post and attack a governor. He had never done anything like selling military secrets or leading a mutiny.
However, he was painted by the media to be a traitor who sold out his allies for glory and status, someone dastardly who would do anything. In an instant, everyone scoffed at the mention of his name.
And when the media quieted down, people slowly forgot about the traitor that had gotten them so riled up before. Any sharp-witted person could see that public opinion was obviously being swayed by the media outlets of the empire. No matter what the empire said, the people would agree with it. Anyone the empire labeled as good or bad would be treated as such.
Even a simple publication like Melindor Daily actually held quite a sway in the empire.
But one month later, two bombshells once more sent waves across the empire.
The first one was the result of Kurdak's trial. The verdict stated that Kurdak was guilty and he deserved the death sentence. Half a month later, he would be paraded around before being beheaded.
When the people heard that, they instantly felt more contempt for Dark Requiem, who was once Kurdak's close friend. Despite their previous relationship, one of them was willing to betray the other for status and the other didn't hesitate to kick him when he was down.
The 'intellectuals' could tell that Leguna definitely had a hand in it, for the long-unmentioned Kurdak to suddenly be given the death sentence.
To think that those two loyal people would gradually reveal their true dastardly nature with the passing of time. The empire's citizens only thought about one thing at the mention of either one of them: only with sufficient time could a person properly judge the nature of others.
However, Kurdak's death wasn't that big of a deal to the citizens. It was the other thing that truly shocked the empire and even the whole continent.
It was none other than the retirement of one of the three founding fathers of the empire, the most prestigious and famous General Manhattan. He wasn't just going to the rear and contributing from there like most senior officers. Instead, he was stepping down entirely and leaving the imperial stage for good!
This was far more impactful than Kurdak's death sentence. Manhattan was the commander-in-chief! People didn't really think much about Kurdak's impending death, but they were utterly shocked when they heard about Manhattan's retirement.
Anyone who lived in the empire for long enough had heard the general's name. His personal fighting strength wasn't much, but nobody could contest him when it came to commanding troops.
In fact, he was the one who identified Kurdak's talent and took note of his performance in the harvester squad at Fort Kesta. Manhattan was also rather impressed with Kurdak's leadership of Goldeagle to attack the Stokian supply unit. So, he put in a word to Larwin about him and made him commander of his own independent brigade.
Had he not, Kurdak would've taken some more time before being given the promotion.
Kurdak's future exploits then came to prove that Manhattan was a good judge of character. Even though Kurdak behaved rather roughly, his ability to perform was out of the question.
Apart from Kurdak, Manhattan also secretly promoted quite a number of talented officers who didn't have opportunities to shine. Time came to prove that his decisions were correct and Kurdak was one of the most eye-catching examples of that.
So, Manhattan wasn't only just valued for his commanding skills. His presence alone affected the troops' morale greatly. He was highly influential in all circles of the military and he was still idolized as a great figure by the empire's citizens despite his advanced age. Not even Alissanda, whose reputation shot up like a meteor during the war, could replace him.
Yet, Manhattan chose that kind of time to retire.
It almost sounded like a joke. The empire had just begun to go on the offensive and their most respected general chose to retire out of nowhere. What would the citizens do? How would the war develop from there?
When the news broke, a good number of people began to worry. However, they had forgotten that Larwin was no fool. Since he agreed to let Manhattan retire, he definitely had his own plans for it.
After Manhattan resigned from the position of commander-in-chief, Larwin split up the tasks the general used to handle into three components. He left the elite forces in Alissanda's command and promoted two other generals into high commanders. One took charge of the fortresses in the south and the other led the efforts at the frontlines. Though the three of them were said to be on equal footing, everyone knew who the true leader was.
In fact, Larwin had long planned for the structural changes in the military. After Manhattan's retirement, the upper echelons of the imperial army began to shift. What Larwin had done was split Manhattan's power to three people and made sure he had a firm grasp on all three.
That was also the reason he agreed to let Manhattan go. Even though he was the army's spiritual pillar, he was far too strong. So much so that even Larwin worried about him. Even though Manhattan had always been loyal, no matter how he tried to prove it, Larwin still couldn't trust him with the fate of the empire.
And even if Manhattan didn't have many great ambitions for himself, he was getting too old. It was only a matter of time since he would have to retire either way in a few more years. Rather than letting him leave when he was too old to serve, it would be better to just let him go then and there.
Larwin had considered this matter from the beginning of the war and now, he had finally solved it. Naturally, he knew that this was unfair to Manhattan, so he tried to make it up to him. Manhattan really didn't care for that, but he did make one request…
It was the day of Kurdak's beheading. As he had committed rather severe crimes, he would be paraded around first before he was sent to the chopping board.
Currently, the huge man was bound by impetus-sealing rope. There was a guard who pushed him along from behind as the citizens all around them criticized and cursed at him. While many of them were impressed by Kurdak's exploits initially, all they thought at the sight of the pitiful man was that he deserved it. They gave him nothing but contemptuous gazes.
The parade lasted for an hour plus before he was brought to the sentencing ground. As he had held command over thousands of people, many powerful figures came to witness the beheading.
If anyone was paying attention, they would've noticed Geoffrey wasn't present. He had lost a leg during his hunt for Kurdak. While he managed to reconnect with a limited wishing spell, he had lost his former mobility and was no more than a cripple.
The usual Geoffrey would've brought along a bottle of the finest wine the empire's vineyards produced to enjoy as he watched Kurdak's head roll, yet, he wasn't there. What could he be up to?
Geoffrey's absence aside, some people were surprised to see Leguna there. Did he really hate him that much that he had to watch Kurdak die with his own eyes? Or did he have other plans by showing up there?Previous Chapter Next Chapter