BK II, Chapter Thirty-three: Military Affairs

A Short Announcement:

Guys, Killashard has been added to HoGW’s Hall of Heroes! He is the first person to make it there based on contributions other than financial. His contribution is one I don’t think many can match. Over the course of the series, Killashard has either made corrections, pointed out mistakes, given solutions to them and suggestions for some of the more the technical aspects of writing ONE HUNDRED TIMES! He has never not commented on a post and is even one of the few to leave a full review of the series.

Placing his name in the Hall of Heroes was the least I could do for someone who had made so many contributions to the series and my writing. Please help me thank him for all he has done.

Killashard, you deserve this! Thank you for everything!

PS: To the rest of you who continue to make contributions to the series. Rest assured that your efforts are not ignored or taken for granted. I appreciate everything you guys do. Who knows, maybe more people might end up in the Hall.

Chapter Thirty-three: Military Affairs

It was exactly seven in the morning. Rembrandt closed the tome he was browsing and stood up. Walking out from behind his desk, he scanned the seats in the lecture room he was to take and noted that all fifty-three cadets were present. He nodded in satisfaction. However, this was only their first lesson, first in Strapping’s even. He’d see how long they kept it up. With a flick of his wrist, the entrance’s double doors closed. He continued to appraise his students though, many of them shifted uncomfortably from his gaze.

They sat in neat little groups separated by squad with the unassigned keeping their distance. Even they were centred around a particular fellow. ‘They are wise to have gotten a leader’, Rembrandt noted. ‘They wouldn’t do well otherwise.’ He had been told this Platoon was special. Their examiners had praised them incessantly. Hopefully, they wouldn’t disappoint.

“Welcome to my class, cadets! I am Major Rembrandt Atakoma, second supervisor and Chief Instructor of your Platoon”, he introduced himself. “It is an honour for you that this year I have decided to take up two classes. The first; The Military and General Affairs often shortened to Military Affairs by cadets and the second; General Cultivation.”

“Today, we will treat the former but before that, let’s revise the basics, shall we?” Pointing to a student at random, he asked, “What can you tell me about our kingdom, Bathar’s, military?”

Reign smirked and answered confidently. “Our Kingdom of Bathar has an army recognised as tied for fourth place among the vassal states of the New Haven Empire despite our kingdom’s place as seventh overall. In fact, one of the primary reasons for our current overall standing is because of how powerful and well trained our army is. Our’s a military structure developed from the feudal system of old.

“Due to our constant battles against our enemies, The Wherry Kingdom to the north and the beast hordes from beyond the Grand Boundary, we keep a standing royal army numbering close to eight hundred thousand soldiers. They make up the core of our military forces. Besides them, each Peer of the Realm from the lowliest Baron to the grandest Duke is allowed to keep an army corresponding to his station. These forces are normally in charge of dealing with domestic threats which each Lord handling the situation in his fief if he be so able”, he explained.

“In cases of emergency, during regional wars or by command of the King, all Lord and their retinues will be gathered and combined with the Royal Army in order to display the full might of Bathar. In addition, in such cases or when necessary, more troops are mustered from the general populace to add to the numbers of either army.”

He would have continued but the instructor stopped him. “Good. Very good!” he praised. “What’s your name Cadet?”

“Quasar Reign, sir!” Reign responded sharply.

“No need to be so loud Cadet Reign, especially in my class”, The Major admonished softly. “You are Wylan’s son, correct?”

“Yes, sir”, Reign responded softly.

“He was one of my good students”, he was told simply.

The message was clear, ‘I taught your father and he performed well in my class. I expect the same from you.’

“You there”, the major said pointing at another cadet. “What can you tell us about our army?”

Caught off guard, James could only think to say, “The people in the army are separated into ranks.”

“Yes”, the major acknowledged. “And what are those ranks?”

“There’s Major, Captain, Sergeant…” He started

“Start again and this time say them in a proper order, either ascending or descending” he was quickly told.

“Well, I know that at the head of the army is the Grand Marshal. Under him are the Field Marshals and High Constables and below them, the Generals. Beneath the Generals, are the Commanders. Beneath Commanders are Majors. Beneath Majors are Captains. Under the Captains are the Sergeants and beneath them are the Corporals”, he answered.

Their instructor nodded in acknowledgement. “You missed one, but it’s alright. Most do”, he told James. “The lowest rank in the army is that of Private. All soldiers who hold no office or warrant are listed as privates. They are the basic units of the army. We should not overlook them.”

“What’s your name Cadet?” he asked James.

“James, sir” came his answer.

“Just James?” the instructor asked. James nodded. “Very well James, Mind telling us the seven tiers of cultivation?”

This time, James was more confident and was thus able to answer more easily. “The first stage of cultivation for tellurians is the Practitioner stage whilst the one for Arcanists is the Disciple stage. Afterwards, both paths go through the Lord, King, Emperor and Sage stages. From the Sage stage, the two paths split up with tellurians becoming Wold Incarnates and arcanists becoming World Transcendents. Following that, there’s the Terrene Divinity stage for tellurians and Heavenly Immortals for arcanists.”

The teacher nodded sagely. “That’s correct. However, take note. That goes for the rest of you as well”, he added for the other cadets.

“Try not to refer to the cultivation ranks as stages. The correct term is ‘tier’. Each rank is a tier in a grand design. The word ‘stage’ is something only used when speaking of differences within tiers. For instance. You can refer to yourselves as being on the first tier. However, despite being on the same tier, are you equal to someone only now completing his manifestation?” he elaborated.

The class shook their heads with some even being vocal in their refusal.

“Exactly!” The major said. “In that case, you are on two different stages. Now, the stages within a tier may not always be as clear-cut as they are in the first tier but they remain. So, remember, tiers for the cultivation ranks and stages for the divisions within the ranks.”

“Now, why is this relevant?” he asked the cadets. “Why did I ask you about the army, about cultivation and army ranks?”

No one answered, waiting for him to point someone out.

“Anyone?”, he ventured.

Clearcrest raised her hand.

“Yes!” the instructor said to her.

“Ranks in the military correspond to cultivation tiers!” she answered.

“Correct!” the Major affirmed. “Your name?”

“Marcella Clearcrest, sir”, she quickly supplied. He memorised it and went on with the lesson.

“If you didn’t know already, Verre is a world of cultivators. True, the majority of it is filled with mortals but we are the ones who are not regulated by it. The ones who delve into its mysteries and reap of its bounty. It is the same in the army”, he told them.

“The Royal Army of Bathar is largely composed of mortals. However, they only make up the foot soldiers or infantrymen and auxiliary corps. Our military command structure is left in the hands of cultivators. Next to every rank is a restriction, a minimum requirement with respect to the cultivation tier necessary to hold that office”, he revealed.

“It is possible to rise through the ranks without a good cultivation and solely by accumulating merits and commendation. In fact, many mortals who distinguish themselves end up as corporals and some, thanks to their excellent acumen, skill or a long record of good command have even become sergeants in our history but the truly important posts? They can forget about it.

“The further up you go, the harsher the requirements become. To become a Captain in the army you need to at least be at the Lord tier or have power comparable to it. To become a Major, one needs to have proven themselves equal to a King in battle might. After that is where things become interesting”, he said with a smile.

“What tier do you think you need to reach to be a Commander or a General?” he asked them.

“An Emperor?” someone volunteered hesitantly.

The instructor immediately admonished him. “Next time, raise your hand if you wish to be called upon to speak. I do not want people calling out randomly and disrupting the class.”

Turning back to them and apparently having taken the answer given, he said to them. “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”

“Captains are Lords. Majors are Kings. Commanders will surely be Emperors”, he added. “Shouldn’t they?”

“Well, do you know what tier the most powerful cultivator in Bathar has reached?” he asked.

They looked at him in confusion, not understanding where he was taking the class. He smiled.

“Many are unaware of this but above the Grand Marshal there exist even greater military figures. No. Calling them that would be a mistake. They are figures that possess military power. That much is certain but they are neither considered military officers nor are they bound by our rules. They just so happen to possess the same purpose and objectives as the army and exist as a last resort should there be a problem the combined might of the army cannot deal with or should the kingdom be in grave peril”, he told them.

“These people are the Protectors of the Realm.”

“There are eight of them” he added. “Eight cultivators so far beyond our understanding of power that it is best we do not speculate what they are capable of. You may not know this but you are currently in the territory of one of them.”

“Marshal Strapping’s Elite Military Training Centre is the property of none other than the Seventh Protector, the aforementioned Lord Strapping”, he announced.

Gasps of shock filled the room. A few of their number, Gigne and others like him, knew this already but others did not and were completely awestruck.

“The eight protectors are ranked in terms of power with the eighth being the weakest and the first the most powerful. Here’s something that might interesting you, the first Protector of the Realm, Great Duke Ayinthar is only on the Sage tier.”

Whereas before, gasps and murmurs of shock filled the room, there was now a deathly silence. Even the dumbest of them could tell something was off. If Majors were Kings, Commanders, Emperors, wouldn’t Generals be Sages? Be that the case, how could the one above the Field Marshals, the Grand Marshal and all the other protectors only be a Sage?

“Now that you know this, who’d like to take a guess what cultivation tier you need to be on to become a commander in the army?” their instructor asked.

For a few seconds, they sat silent. Then, Gigne raised his hand and was called on by the Major.

“Commanders need to be of the King tier”, he said.

“That’s correct!” the Major said, smiling. “Though, I’m guessing you didn’t need to think hard about that one”, he added, staring directly at the insignia on his chest. It was true. Someone who had no less than four generals in his clan should already know most of this stuff.

Most of the class didn’t see the appraising look their instructor was giving their number one elite and those who did didn’t care. They wanted to know why, how? How come Commanders were Kings as well?

“Can anyone explain why Commander’s are Kings?” the Major asked.

Clearcrest raised her hand again. He gave her the opportunity to speak.

“I think it has to do with the stages in the tier. Maybe Majors are in one stage and Commanders the other?” she tried.

“That’s half correct!” the instructor acknowledged. “The higher the tier, the greater disparity the levels of power and cultivation between it and the tiers around it. The differences in the stages of the King tier are just as great if not greater than those between the Lord tier and the overall King tier itself.”

“In addition to that, the rank of Commander can be considered a cutoff point. There, an incredible focus is paid to the officer’s military records, ability to lead troops, feats and strategic skills. Personal might is important, a commander cannot be weak but a commander should be just that; someone in command, someone who can command. That is not to say that those things aren’t factored in for the preceding ranks. Only that, here, their import is greatest.”

Valerian raised his hand.

“Yes!” the instructor called. “What is it?”

“I have a question, sir!” he hazarded.

“Ask away.”

“Sir”, Valerian began. “It seems to me that a very large emphasis is placed on personal cultivation at the start. It makes me wonder if the goal is not to push officers till they get to the King tier. I’m only saying this because of the emphasis you yourself placed on the ability to command troops. In that case, I have to ask, is it because of a King’s will?”

The Major broke into a huge smile. “What’s your name Cadet?”

“Valerian Steelborn, sir!”

“Steelborn, Steelborn… the name sounds familiar but I’m not sure why”, he man thought out loud.

“Two of my uncles have attended this centre, sir. Maybe you knew them. One was Vorm Steelborn”, Valerian told him.

“Vorm Steelborn”, the man repeated with a thoughtful look. “I remember a Vorm. Arcanist: dual elements, metal and fire. Built like tempered tellurian. Had strange purple flames. Never laughed, only bellowed. That the one?”

“Yes, sir” Valerian said with a smile. “I’m surprised you remember all that, sir.”

“He was a good student”, the man told him. “A bit of late bloomer, though. Only hit his stride in his second year. I remember, he came when his cousin, Reinhardt was had just graduated as one of the most outstanding cadets in his Platoon”.

“Reinhardt was a tellurian. Vorm an arcanist. You should follow their paths well”, he added.

Having gotten a message similar to Reign’s, Valerian replied, “I will, sir.”

The man only nodded and made to continue his class. “We’ve looked at the basic structure of the army, its hierarchy and the rationale behind it. Let’s discuss the purpose of the army and if there’s time, the role you are to fill in this institution before we close for the day.”

The class was surprised to see Valerian with his hand up again.

“What is it Cadet?” the Major questioned.

“You haven’t answered my question sir”, Valerian pointed out.

The Major smiled softly, he had hoped the boy would let it go but that didn’t seem likely so he decided to tell him the truth.

“I do not intend to”, he revealed. “The King’s Will and its use in military strategy is an advanced topic. I’d prefer we discuss it in your second or third year. Even then, we won’t treat it in this class but your cultivation class first before we go over its strategic value and employment.”