"Milord, Old Man Balk is here," Reidy said as he pushed open the door.
"Oh, have him come in," Lorist said. Currently, he was busy organizing the various documents on his table.
Old Man Balk entered with a beastskin scroll clasped by his side.
"Milord, good morning," he said as he saluted to Lorist.
"Drop the formalities," Lorist said as he waved his hand. "Old Man Balk, did you bring the things I asked for?"
"They're all here," Balk said as he rolled the scroll open and laid it on the table. It was a detailed map of the area around Morgan Hills.
"I rushed over the moment I received your order. Milord, we started the first stages of surveying the area around Morgan Hills. Under the guidance of Grandmaster Sid, we discovered a silver deposit, a tin deposit, a clay pit, a limestone quarry and three granite deposits. This year, the production of copper within the dominion have already recovered to its previous amount and we have started to begin early work on silver mining. So far, around 60 kilograms of silver is mined every month," reported Balk.
"You did well," Lorist praised. "Oh, and what is Grandmaster Sid up to now?"
"Milord, Grandmaster Sid is currently researching the equipment of the Whitelion Legion like crazy. It's a shame we didn't discover any iron deposits near Morgan Hills. That is what the family lacks the most right now," Balk said.
Nodding, Lorist said, "Originally we had two factories, one for armor making and another for ballistas. However, I've already ordered them to stop all manufacturing, mainly because we don't lack any good equipment ever since the return of the convoy and the rest of the iron we have left are to be made into farming tools. We will expand our farmland greatly next year so we will need a lot of those tools.
"Since the equipment we make cannot rival that of the Whitelion Legion in quality, I don't plan to have them continue manufacturing either. I have already tasked Grandmaster Fellin to start research into new types of ballistas and longbows. Notify Grandmaster Sid that I am also willing to sponsor his research effort so that we may one day be able to make armor of better quality than the Whitelion Legion ones we have now.
"The reason I asked you to come here today was to tell you that I intend to reorganize all the factories and mines within the dominion by setting up an industrial and mining department with you as its chief manager. You will be in charge of everything pertaining to mining as well as starting new factories within the dominion. Take a look at this first," Lorist said as he passed a thick beastskin document to Balk.
"This is a list of personnel picked from our 500000 plus citizens who have prior experience starting and managing mines and you should pick some of them to become supervisors of our mines. After introducing them to the general matters they have to pay attention to, have them report to you regularly on the development efforts."
Lorist then gave another beastskin document to Balk and said, "In here is a similar list with those experienced in running factories as well as the ones I intend to have built within the dominion. I have already readied the manpower, resources and funds required for the construction, so you will only have to pick them from the list to get things going."
Balk took the document and mused, "A pottery workshop, a leather factory, a clothes factory, a wooden writing sheet factory, a beastskin processing factory, a furniture factory and a blanket factory..."
Raising his head in confusion, Balk asked, "Milord, why do you want to start so many factories and workshops to produce daily use products?"
Lorist smiled bitterly and shrugged. "This year, we have to solve the issue of having our citizens spend the winter in the new development villages. Since Loze and Josk led their men to kill off lots of magical beasts, we've ended up with quite an amount of fur that we can use to make leather outfits and blankets which we must distribute before the coming of winter. Additionally, when most of the new citizens settle down next year, apart from supplying them with products for daily use, we have to also consider their increasing consumption of the products as well."
Lorist patted the thick documents held by Balk and said, "Many among the list are merchants and factory owners who have gone bankrupt for various reasons which caused their eventual fall into the ranks of the vagabonds. I've decided to give them another chance to pick up their former careers again. Tell them that if they manage these factories well, they will be able to borrow a sum from our family to gain personal ownership of those factories and are free to manage them however they please provided they adhere to our regulations. Tell them to be bold and do their job well and that the Norton Family will definitely support their efforts."
Balk nodded and said, "Milord, I understand what you're trying to say. I'll do my best to fulfill it."
Lorist then pointed on the calendar on the wall and said, "It's already the end of the 7th month right now. You have around 1 month to get things ready. After that, we'll head to the Bladedge Mountains to visit the valley that you mentioned before to see if there's really green clay vines over there. Oh, and we'll have Grandmaster Sid follow us along as well to check if there are any minable resources over there."
Lorist noticed that his work increased once again with the formation of Balk's new department, causing him to look at the calendar on the walls as each day while he waited for Charade's return from his vacation to take over the mountain of work seemed as long as a year to him.
I feel so stupid! Lorist thought. Why did I give Charade 1 whole month of vacation even though Lundmorde said that he only needed ten or so days of rest... Had it not been for what I said, I would've been able to return to Maplewoods Bastide to see my darling son...
Once again taking a glance at the calendar, he thought, Sol, there's still 15 days before Charade's vacation ends... How agonizing...
Lorist could no longer sit still, so he stood up and walked towards the map detailing the seven sectors. The migration of people to the first three sectors had already been completed and construction of the temporary villages and towns were under way. The fourth and fifth sectors were in the migration process with the sixth and seventh still being cleared of magical beasts. The seventh area was where Wildnorth Town was and the sixth was the most troublesome with its high magical beast count as it was more mountainous than the other sectors. However, Lorist was confident that the culling could be completed by the 8th month.
Bam! The door to the office was slammed open by Telesti who rushed within with an angered, flushed expression and both her eyes wide open.
"Locke, how can you go back on your promise like that?!" shouted Telesti incredibly angrily.
Lorist merely patted on his forehead as yet another headache began to manifest.
Lorist gestured for Reidy to close the door to the office.
"My beloved Telesti, sit down first and let's talk about this civilly."
"Locke, you've promised me that the construction of the valley city will go according to my plan and supervision. This, however, isn't what I wanted," Telesti said with anger still filling her voice.
Sigh, this is because of Charade, thought Lorist as he laughed bitterly.
He remembered promising Telesti that she would have full control of the planning and building of the valley city, causing her to give it her best for her work. After brainstorming for days and nights, she designed an almost fairytale-like garden city and even drew quite a number of pictures of its completed form.
From an aesthetic standpoint, Lorist couldn't help but admit that it was definitely one of the best he has seen. However, when Charade checked the designs, he almost fainted.
"There isn't even a city wall! In the mountainous area of Morgan Hills, any carnivorous magical beast can just jump into the city to hunt for prey! Also, the roads of the city should be constructed with practicality in mind so that things can be transported to their destination as quickly as possible. This road layout is so complicated and winding that 9 out of 10 people will definitely lose their way in it! Also, with the huge windows these buildings have, did she even consider the problem of retaining heat during winter?"
Charade critiqued the design for a whole half hour before abandoning the crystallization of Telesti's hard work altogether.
As for the already completed Firmrock Castle, Charade laughed at how it looked rather run down for a castle.
"Locke, my brother, you must understand that you now have around 500000 people under your rule and you're not like most other smaller nobles which only have thousands of subjects. You should convert Firmrock Castle into the Firmrock City Fortress so that it will be able to match the prestige of the Norton Family name," Charade said.
"However, there's only so much space within the valley. We can't just expand it because we want to," said Lorist in a troubled manner.
"That won't be a problem," Charade said as he took a map of the Firmrock Castle and drew rectangles outside each of the two walls. "We only have to build two more sectors here with the first one being the army base and business sector that deals with transactions outside the walls. The sector inside here will be the residence of the family members of the soldiers. Right now, it's used for the camp of the immigrants. However, we can always reclaim the land around that area after building the sectors. This way, the valley city in the middle will become the central city sector for the administration of our family as well as the central base for military operations. By the time these changes are made, we can proudly call it the Firmrock City Fortress."
Lorist had to admit that Charade made quite a lot of sense and he allowed him to redesign the layout of the city and reallocated all the personnel of Telesti to him.
Telesti was more of an introvert that disliked crowded places. That's why after she finished the design of Firmrock Castle, she returned to her hermit-like lifestyle and stayed within her home all day to analyze the materials her mother left her. She didn't mind the fact that her personnel had been allocated to Charade. However, she eagerly awaited the beginning of the construction and deeply hoped that she could name the city after her mother.
As for Charade, he couldn't care less about Lorist's personal promise to the young lady as the family's priority was to first settle down the 500000 plus subjects by developing the reclamation villages and new towns.
The first of the seven sectors of Felicitas Settlement had the planned valley city as the main town at its center. Charade abandoned the design Telesti made and found someone else to remake a simple, yet pragmatic layout and the construction had already begun only recently. That's when Telesti noticed the changes and stormed to Lorist's place for an explanation.
Recalling that Charade had tossed Telesti's design up to the top of the nearby shelf, Lorist got a stool and used it to reach out to the dust-covered plans.
Seeing her painstakingly drawn design thrown in a corner doing nothing but gathering dust, Telesti started to cry with droplets of tears streaking down her face.
"Sigh, don't cry. I was just about to tell you the reason we didn't use your design," said Lorist hurriedly in an attempt to console her.
Lorist repeated every one of Charade's reasonings that he could remember, only to be refuted by a single line of Telesti's. "But, Grandmaster Ciroba himself said that my design was brimming with spirit and genius and even said that he looked forward to its completion... He also thought that my reputation as a designer of the city would skyrocket after its completion..."
"Sigh, Miss Telesti, Grandmaster Ciroba was praising you from an artistic standpoint. While it is definitely a beautiful piece of work, the family has to first settle down 500000 of its subjects. Do you think that we can afford to appreciate your artistic talent? What we need now is to settle them down as soon as possible. Simple and quick is what this city needs to be. I'm really sorry about this, Miss Telesti... As the dominion lord, I have not been able to fulfill my promise to you. However, I didn't have a choice in that matter as well."
Lorist pointed at the documents stacked up in his rooms and said, "Look around. Knight Charade had already collapsed from the burden of his duties and it's up to me now as the dominion lord to make the decisions based on the torrents of documents coming in every single day. I'm really worn out as well, but I have to endure it so that we can pass this hurdle for the sake of the future of the Norton Family. I truly apologize for my inability to fulfill my promise and hope that I can make it up to you when the situation of the family dominion is stabilized..."
Telesti wiped her tears and looked around the office before she said, "I can see that you're quite busy... Then, how do you plan to make it up to me?"
Lorist stepped towards the map of Felicitas Settlement and pointed towards the seven sectors. "Look. These seven towns will be completed in three years. By then, I plan to build a basic school within each of these towns to train people to read and write. I also plan to have an academy built within the dominion. If you are willing, we can name the academy after your mother. That will be my compensation to you, is that alright?"
Telesti's face flushed with excitement once again. "My mother was a scholar and to her, using her name for an academy is the most honorable thing she can dream of... Thank you, Locke."
Telesti then propped her feet up to kiss Lorist on the cheek slightly to express her gratitude.
Lorist quickly turned his face around and planted his lips onto Telesti's before using his tongue to push open her mouth and began sucking. At the same time, he ran his hands all over her body, causing her to slump powerlessly in his embrace.
They were currently within Lorist's personal office and not Telesti's operating headquarters. Ever since he impregnated Irina some time during the 9th month of the previous year, he hadn't had the chance to release his pent up lust and right now, he was already at his tipping point. With a flip of his arms and a tearing sound, he stripped Telesti naked like a shaven sheep.
WIth her clothes torn open, Telesti snapped back from her daze and attempted to push Lorist away, only to have her body once again twitch involuntarily as Lorist lowered his head to suck on her pink, ripe 'strawberries', sending her into stupor from Lorist's fervent teasing.
Lorist then hoisted Telesti onto his work desk. With a sweep, the thick stack of beastskin documents fell to the ground before he placed Telesti onto the table and pushed her two fair legs apart. He then inserted his member deep into her forbidden zone gently.
With a slightly pained moan, a crimson red flower bloomed on Lorist's work desk as Telesti finally parted with her pristine, maiden state...
When their bodies parted, Lorist breathed heavily with Telesti reprimanding him in a worn out manner, "Locke, you're taking advantage of the situation..."
Lorist merely continued to lick on the two peaks on Telesti's chest before the humping resumed.
"Locke... You're... you're so despicable..." muttered Telesti who was currently sweating all over.
Lorist once again engaged in another round of intercourse...
Having given up with a teary look on her face, Telesti said, "Locke... My lower body feels a little numb... Help me out..."
Lorist embraced her and massaged her gently with his internal energy.
"Telesti, since we're already like this, will you marry me?" Lorist asked.
"I can't..." Telesti said as she shook her head resolutely. "I've taken an oath to remain single for the rest of my life... I won't marry anyone."
"But you're already mine..."
"I can only consider you a lover. Locke, it's not that I don't like you, but I really can't go against my vows..." Telesti said as she continued to shake her head.
"Locke, you've completely ruined my clothes..."
"I'll give you another chest full of new ones."
"Did you mean it when you said that you'll let me name the academy after my mother?"
"Yes, I did. However, it'll take three years for the development to complete. Why don't you help me out as my secretary? That way, you can remind me constantly about my promise to you."
"Alright, I'll help you out and keep an eye on whatever you're doing this time..."