Later that day, Lorist had something at the back of his mind that he couldn't quite remember.
After the shipment convoy had been sent off to the Redriver Valley Bastide, Jim bade Lorist farewell and returned to his post at Poplar Coast with the rest of the mercenaries. However, he also asked Lorist nervously if they would be allowed to buy a few chain mail as the mercenaries were quite envious of how well-equipped the Norton soldiers were.
After asking for Hansk about the amount of armor they had, Lorist decided to sell 20 sets at 70% of the price at 6 gold Fordes each before sending the grateful mercenaries off.
With the resources at the Redriver Valley Bastide being unexpectedly plentiful, Lorist had no choice but to delay his plan to have every available person work on the walls and slow down the construction process to carry out the transportation.
The first few shipments that were sent to the construction site were mostly green vine glue because Shadekampf believed that it was one of the most important resources the dominion needed for its development. He understood that it was even more paramount given Lorist's choice to continue building a city in the valley.
Lorist had once asked Butler Boris why the Kenmays Family stockpiled so much green vine glue. The butler replied confidently that the Kenmayses had an contract with the Romon Empire to purchase 100000 buckets of green vine glue from them every year. That was why it was only natural for there to be around 30000 buckets of it at Redriver Valley Bastide, which was supposed to be the home territory of the Kenmayses.
There was one small accident during the transportation of the glue though. One carriage filled with buckets of those had its axle damaged right in front of the construction site, much to Old Man Balk's dismay as it was directly in the way of the supply route for the materials around the site. He responded by finding a few other people to attempt to push the carriage to aside, but the force and vibration had caused one huge bucket of green vine glue to splash all over the place including Old Man Balk's face, causing him to get a good smell and taste of the material.
All of a sudden, Old Man Balk stood there with his whole body drenched with glue before he quickly went to look for Lorist and pulled him to a corner where there wasn't anybody else. Carefully checking his surroundings to make sure they were alone, he secretly told Lorist, "Milord... I think I know where this glue can be found..."
Initially weirded out by Balk's sudden erratic actions, Lorist laughed in understanding once he heard the explanation. "I also know that. It's made in the Romon Empire, isn't it? You don't have to be so secretive about that. Isn't that common knowledge?"
Balk once again looked around before he said in a low voice, "That's not it, milord. I mean to say that I know where we can find green vine glue within our dominion."
"You mean we might be able to find and produce green vine glue in our own dominion?" said Lorist in a surprised tone.
"Yes, milord. A little more than 10 years ago, when I was on my way to boil seawater to harness salt for the family, I came across some herbs. But when I started picking them, I accidentally fell into a cave somewhere around the area. I thought I was a goner for sure, but fortunately for me there were huge vines with intertwining leaves all over that cave which allowed me to climb out and somehow retain my life. Before I started climbing, I lied down on the ground for some rest and noticed a peculiar quality of those vines. For some reason, it was moister than most plants I've seen and there weren't any insects around them. Apart from some decaying leaves on the ground, I couldn't even see a single ant. I was quite hungry at that time and had nothing better to eat or drink, so I bit into those vines and sucked out some of its secretions to sustain myself, but I stopped after tasting its extreme bitterness.
"That cave was a rather large one and I couldn't find the exit after walking around, so that's when I decided to try climbing those vines and halfway up the deep cave, I cried out for help. It was fortunate that some of my friends were looking for me, so they dropped a rope for me to hold on to while they hoisted me up. Due to consuming some of the secretions of the vine, my stomach hurt for quite a long time and I only managed to recover after spending quite a sum to purchase some medicines from Master Dunbarsen of Wildnorth Town. From that day onward, i've never forgotten the taste of that liquid that caused me so much pain. And just now when I got a slight taste of the green vine glue, it was exactly the same as that liquid I drank so many years ago..."
"You mentioned that it was very moist down the cave?"
"And that there weren't any insects or even a single ant at all?"
Balk continued to nod earnestly.
"The vines were also rather huge relative to others you've seen elsewhere?"
The old man then stretched his arms upward, indicating that it was easily taller than he was.
Lorist stroked his chin in deep thought. According to Old Man Balk's description, it does seem that those vines are similar to those found in the Romon Empire. If that is true, then the dominion will have one more resource to capitalize on for its development. We can also sell or trade them with others for some other resources if we have a surplus...
"Old Man Balk, keep this secret between us for now and don't tell anyone else. When we finish construction the outer wall of this valley, I will accompany you to that cave you mentioned and verify whether those vines were indeed glue vines," Lorist said.
Balk nodded and replied, "I understand, milord. I didn't tell anyone else about it just now either and went straight to you first."
"Good, let's leave it at that. For now, we have to complete the wall first."
By the time Butler Boris returned with his family to the construction site along with the convoy, he also brought Lorist some good news: he and Shadekampf had discovered a hidden room back at the bastide which stored up to 100000 gold Fordes and 120000 imperial god coins. Coupled with the multitudes of silver and copper coins within, there was at least 200000 gold Fordes' worth of money over there. That report had caused Lorist immense joy as he thought, the quickest way to wealth is indeed taking it from others... And merchant families like that should have the most amount of money...
After resting for around 20 days, Ovidis had returned to his former energetic state. Given that he was sick of lying around in bed for days, he pestered Lorist endlessly to allow him to go to the Redriver Valley Bastide for some exploration and even did a few somersaults to show Lorist that he had completely recovered. Having no other choice, Lorist arranged for Ovidis to lead the next batch of carriages and soldiers to take Reidy's place.
After seeing Ovidis, Lorist suddenly remembered the one thing he had neglected to do: he had yet to punish Grandmaster Ciroba, who had ruined his plan before it was put into motion. After asking some guards, he got to know that before the ambush, the metal armor equipped soldiers had all forgotten about Grandmaster Ciroba after being told to find a place to hide from sight. That was why he had managed to sneak out to alert the Feathersoar Mercenary Crew on that day.
Currently, Grandmaster Ciroba was dragged in front of Lorist like a sack of dirt by two other guards. Seeing the kneeling and shivering old man, Lorist asked, "What's up with him?"
One of the guards replied, "Milord, I think he's terrified of you..."
"Me? How is that possible? I've only just thought about him earlier today, how would I have the chance to go out of my way to frighten him?"
"It's true, milord," replied the guard. "Right after the battle that day, a few of us wanted to look for this cursed old guy to give him a good beating. But when we found him, he was crouched on the ground muttering something about seeing a demon. It was not long after that we understood that he was referring to you, milord. After giving him a sound thrashing, we tossed him back into his cell. Some of my friends reported that this pile of crap of a grandmaster was having severe nightmares that caused him to spring awake screaming about demons in the middle of the night while also begging for your forgiveness so that you wouldn't eat him alive... After that, some of us used your name to frighten him when we had nothing better to do and every single time it caused him to cry nonstop. It was fun while it lasted..."
Grandmaster Ciroba's experiences had been quite unfortunate during that span of time. Initially, he was naturally elated to find out that the Norton Family was going against the Feathersoar Mercenary Crew. Being a famed architect of the Iblia Kingdom and a citizen of Windbury City, he had long heard about the reputation of the Feathersoar Mercenary Crew and had even worked with them on several occasions. He believed that the Norton Family's forces would definitely not be able to match that mercenary crew given that they had went out of their way to set up such an elaborate plot to ambush them.
He thought that if the Feathersoar Mercenary Crew was able to defeat the Nortons, then he would soon be able to regain his freedom. That was why he was willing to take the risk to reveal the ambush to the crew before he was knocked unconscious by Ovidis.
The real crux was Ovidis's relatively light strike, which caused the grandmaster to wake up before the battle had ended. As he had wished, the Nortons were in full-on conflict with the mercenary crew. Having learned not to reveal himself so easily lest he get knocked unconscious again, the old man didn't go out of his way to cheer for the mercenaries and opted to spectate the battle while hidden.
As a person who had no experience on the battlefield whatsoever, Grandmaster Ciroba had only just found out about the cruelty and bloodshed present in any conflict. The only things he knew about war was those depicted in novels about fictionalized knights and heroes who gloriously led their armies to defeat their adversaries and returned home with beauties in their arms to live out the rest of their lives in happiness and bliss. But when he heard the agonized cries and saw the blood spurting out of the slaughtered mercenaries, he puked on the spot. To avoid having to see that sight again, he turned backwards just in time to see Lorist killing the two Gold ranked shield-bearers.
After that, the grandmaster witnessed Lorist rushing into the crowd of people and killing the mercenaries without breaking a sweat. Quickly losing count of the mercenaries who had died by Lorist's sword, Grandmaster Ciroba felt a chill down his spine. Quickly, he realized that he had made a grave error in offending a fearsome being like Lorist.
By the time Lorist had decapitated Crew Leader Adams, Grandmaster Ciroba had completely despaired. The image of the blood-covered Lorist had been burned deep within his mind, causing him to constantly fear his retribution for spoiling the plot. Deep within his psyche, he had already considered Lorist to be some kind of fearsome demon...
After he was beaten up by some guards and tossed back into his cell, he never had a good night's sleep as every time he tried to close his eyes, he would start to imagine the countless soldiers without heads or limbs crawling up to him, eventually melding together to form Lorist's blood-covered silhouette that would proceed to torture him endlessly.
The first time Grandmaster Ciroba awoke from that nightmare, he quickly begged for mercy and forgiveness. But that didn't stop the dreams from continuing. Had he been by the side of his family, there was little doubt that his mental condition would recover over time.
But at that time, he was locked up alone in a cell and the guards that watched over him were mostly ex-bandits who delighted in tormenting him after they discovered the one he was so desperately begging forgiveness from was Lorist. Their mean antics included pretending to have received Lorist's orders to cut off his legs, genitals, nose or ears and even fry him in boiling oil, all of which caused the old man to be terrified to the depths of his soul. Eventually his nightmares grew to be even more fearsome, causing the state of his mind to become even more brittle to the point that he lost all will to move after being told that he was being brought to see Lorist.
Conflicted, Lorist felt that he wouldn't be able to punish Grandmaster Ciroba given that he was already in such a fearful state that his bladder and rectum had relaxed and released their contents before Lorist even said a word.
Lightly fanning the stench away from his nose, Lorist said, "Take him away and help him wash off..."
But before he finished, Grandmaster Ciroba seemed to have misunderstood and quickly hugged Lorist's leg before he begged, "Milord... Don't... Please forgive me and don't fry or grill me! I'm not tasty at all! Milord, I can be very useful to you alive... I can build... Yes, I can build castles... Houses... Anything you want! Please don't eat me......."
As his pleading got louder and louder, the people at the tents not far away scrambled over and thought that something had happened. Reidy and Paulobins even thought that Lorist was in some sort of trouble and was in need of help.
With a grimace on his face, Lorist looked at the guards and said in an exasperated voice, "Look at you guys... You've really gone too far with this..."
The guards all had an innocent look on their faces as one of them said, "Milord, this is not our fault... Who asked him to be so much of a coward..."
Tired of arguing with them, Lorist shook the groveling old man off his leg and warned, "Get up. If you don't, I'll really start grilling you alive."
"Please milord... No..." said Grandmaster Ciroba as he quickly stood up.
"I'll give you a chance to make this up to me," said Lorist. "First, go take a bath to clean yourself up and report to Miss Telesti when you're done. Help her with the construction of my castle and I'll forgive you if you do well. Otherwise..."
Lorist revealed his two rows of gleaming white teeth and said, "You know what will happen..."
With an audible thump, the old man kneeled quickly and said, "Milord, I will definitely do my best until you're satisfied..."
"Reidy, take him away for a bath and bring him to Miss Telesti. Grandmaster Ciroba will be her subordinate in the future," Lorist instructed.