"Come on, Reidy, don't just stand there laughing. Howard will be relying on you in his training from now on and it's your duty to guide him as his senior apprentice brother. Oh, and I just remembered that I haven't given you a reward yet since you broke through the SIlver rank a few months ago and I took you in as a family knight, right? What do you want as that gift?" Lorist asked with a smile.
Lorist was quite satisfied with both his disciples. Reidy was a quiet person who was earnest and loyal and was gifted with strength that was better than most. His body's condition was one of the best available with his mind also being keen and insightful. In other words, he was pretty talented on both the physical and the mental. During his four years journeying with Lorist, he trained from the Two Star Bronze rank all the way to the Silver rank, meaning that he broke through one rank every year and was progressing at breakneck speed. The ignorant youth from back then had already become a magnificent and prominent Silver ranked knight.
However, Reidy did something that was completely out of Lorist's expectations. He approached Lorist's study desk and suddenly kneeled down, saying, "Master, I want to train in the internal energy method you mentioned..."
Lorist was shocked as he came to realize that while he wasn't sure whether Blademaster Xanthi and Princess Sylvia truly believed that his technique originated from the ancient martial monks as his story suggested, Reidy definitely fell for it hook, line and sinker.
"Cough... cough, cough..." Lorist almost choked himself to death as he was in the midst of swallowing some tea. After clearing his throat and standing up, he said, "Reidy, you must understand that if you train according to the high-ranked Battle Force manual I gave you, you'll definitely become a Gold ranked knight in the future. And when you reach the peak of the Gold rank, you might be able to gain some sudden insights and become a Blademaster.
"It's not that I don't want to teach you the technique, it's just that training in internal energy is much too different from training in Battle Force. For you, it's like learning a whole new set of things that is totally unrelated to what you have done before. As I'm not sure whether you'll be able to take it all in, I cannot guarantee whether you will succeed or not. Right now, you are already far more fortunate than I was before and don't have to take so many risks like I did in the past. And just like what I said to Princess Sylvia, I'm still unsure of how I would continue improving down the road with my technique.
"Are you sure you want to train in internal energy? When I began training in it, I was still at the Iron rank and it was only done out of desperation. After beginning internal energy training, you will also no longer be able to rise in rank in Battle Force training. Right now, you're already at the Silver rank and I'm not sure what will happen if you begin training in internal energy from there. As this heavily concerns your future, I really don't recommend that you to train in this art."
"Master, I really want to learn it," Reidy said while raising his head and looking at Lorist resolutely.
While Reidy had many good points, his stubborn attitude was definitely not one of them.
Lorist gave it some thought before waving his hand and telling both Reidy and Howard, "Both of you should leave for now. Give me some time to think. Reidy, I will give you three days to reconsider. After that, I will give you my answer."
"Okay, master," said both of them before they left.
Lorist fell into deep thought as he tapped onto the surface of the table with his finger. He understood Reidy well; that disciple of his was someone who would not turn back after making his decision. During the past four years, Reidy had already become one of Lorist's most trusted people. Putting other things aside, based on Reidy's personality alone, Lorist was sure that his grandfather from his past life would definitely like him quite a lot and take him into their school of training without the slightest hesitation. Currently, Lorist wasn't hesitating about whether to teach him the technique, but rather whether Reidy will be able to learn it properly. He was worried that venturing into uncharted territory like this would heavily affect Reidy's future.
After all, the two paths were completely separate and distinct methods. As the Aquametal Technique was a hereditary technique, Lorist couldn't teach it to anyone except his own kin. It wasn't that there were any other internal energy schools within this world, but it was best if Lorist kept a trump card like his family's hereditary technique to himself in a foreign world like Grindia.
If Reidy really insisted on wanting to train in internal energy, Lorist was prepared to teach him the Dan Ocean Ki-Refining Technique. In comparison to the Aquametal Technique, the Dan Ocean Ki-Refining Technique was more stable and calm. It was one of the internal energy techniques that the ancestors of Lorist's family in his past life had modified based on another cultivation school's technique and it was split into five stages, each with increasing difficulty. The first two levels were rather easy and focused on guiding the ki into the body, cultivating the practitioner's grasp and mastery over it, and refining the body itself, further enhancing one's physical qualities. The latter three levels would compound in difficulty and anyone who managed to train successfully to the peak was definitely blessed with unparalleled talent.
Lorist had heard his grandfather of his past life mention before that one of his ancestors in the Qing Dynasty had took in an orphan as a disciple. After 30 years of painstaking training to reach the 5th stage of the Dan Ocean Ki-Refining Technique, that orphan was able to contend with one of the most powerful martial masters within the republic that succeeded the dynasty and his reputation was quite well known in the martial world. After that when the enemy invaded the republic, that man went to the battlefield for his country and gained one achievement after another in battle. But in the end, that person disappeared during one of his battles and was never heard from again.
Perhaps it was a rather good idea to teach Reidy the Dan Ocean Ki-Refining Technique. Firstly, that act would leave a lasting mark on the civilization of this world and be able to differentiate the training method of the Norton Family from other people's in the future. Also, if Lorist chose to teach the Aquametal Technique to his descendants in the future, they wouldn't be the only ones training with internal energy. Additionally, the Dan Ocean Ki-Refining Technique was indeed used by Lorist's past life ancestors to teach disciples of their school that didn't belong to their bloodline and unlike the Aquametal Technique, there wasn't a restriction on teaching it to others.
Aside from that, Lorist was also quite curious to see what results would take shape after Reidy trains in the technique. He could also use this chance to understand the effects of melding Battle Force and internal energy training. Little did Reidy know that if he insisted on training in internal energy, he would essentially become a guinea pig for Lorist's experiment.
After making his decision, Lorist no longer hesitated and took out a pen and a piece of beastskin and began drafting.
Three days later, Reidy appeared before Lorist again.
"Have you made your decision? Are you sure you won't regret it?" Lorist asked.
Reidy didn't say anything and merely nodded.
Lorist opened his drawer and took out a beastskin on which a diagram of the human body was drawn and handed it to Reidy. "I will give you three months to memorize everything on that diagram."
Receiving the diagram, Reidy asked curiously, "Master, what is meant by the 'pressure points' you drew in this diagram? Also, what are 'meridians'?"
"You can think of pressure points like the circulation nodes of the bloodstream in Battle Force training. However, it's completely unrelated to them. And while meridians aren't really visible to the eye like blood vessels, you can think of them as an imaginary blood circulation system. However, what flows within is not blood but internal energy. Right now, you have to remember the position of the pressure points and meridians within the human body."
Lorist sighed before he continued, "Reidy, this is a completely different training method to Battle Force and you have to unlearn all the concepts you used and remember all you see on that diagram by heart. Only after that will I teach you how to guide ki into your body and circulate the internal energy. This is an extremely risky move and I have no idea whether you will succeed at all. Are you truly sure you want to train in internal energy?"
Reidy nodded resolutely and said, "Master, I really do. If I continue to train in Battle Force, I will eventually become a Gold ranked knight and perhaps even a Blademaster like you said, but that will take far too much time and I would probably be around 50 years old by then. But if I learn internal energy from you, I might be able to defeat Blademasters before the age of 30 like you."
Lorist was struck with realization as he recalled that he told Princess Sylvia that he had begun training in the 'technique of the ancient martial monks' at the age of 18 when he could no longer make any progress to break through to the Silver rank. Right now, he was only 28 and within 10 short years of training in internal energy, Lorist was able to defeat Blademaster Xanthi. It was no wonder that Reidy was so motivated.
Right now, Reidy was already 20 years old and he had just broken through to the Silver rank recently. If he continued to train in Battle Force, he might be able to become a Gold ranked knight but he definitely wouldn't be a Blademaster at that age. But if he trains in internal energy, he might turn out to be another Lorist within ten years and be able to kill Gold ranked knights as easy as he killed chickens and even take a Blademaster head on. Given Reidy's unyielding personality, it was a given that he would insist on wanting to train in internal energy.
Lorist laughed out loud and stepped to Reidy's side and ruffled his hair. "Just give it your best effort. As long as you can remember everything on the diagram, you can take your first step into internal energy training. I will pay close attention to your progress in the near future, so don't let me down."
Howard knocked on the door twice and heard Lorist say, "Come in."
Pushing open the door, Howard reported respectfully, "Milord, Grandmaster Sid and Grandmaster Fellin are both here. They even brought with them a few sets of armor."
Lorist stood up and said, "Come, let's go take a look."
Upon reaching the reception room on the second floor, they saw Grandmaster Sid leading a few servants around to place the armor down properly.
Before Lorist left Gildusk City to become Princess Sylvia's escort, he had already written Grandmaster Sid a letter with a request to design a few armor sets for the Kenmays, Shazin and Felim families. However, he didn't expect that before one month even elapsed, Grandmaster Sid was able to come up with 7 sets of armor that were ready for production.
Seeing Lorist and Howard arrive, Grandmaster Sid received them and said, "Milord, according to your orders, I have come up with these stainless steel armors, 3 of which are traditional types while the other 4 are the newer full-body ones."
"How are their defense capabilities?" Lorist asked. That was the main thing he was worried about because if they were too weak, he wouldn't be able to sell them.
"Milord, don't worry. Even though they're only half as tough as our own steel armor, they are still comparable to those of the Whitelion Legion. We've conducted experiments by shooting at these armor with the steel ballistas of our family and the bolts could only penetrate the armor if fired at a distance of 260 meters, 10 meters closer than the Whitelion Legion armor's 270. I suspect that is because the quality of the black iron produced by our family is too good," said the grandmaster. When it came to these armor, he spoke incessantly and enthusiastically.
"How much do they each cost to make?" Lorist asked.
Grandmaster Sid took a look around him before raising two fingers in the air and whispered, "Milord, they cost below 20 gold Fordes to make..."
Incredibly satisfied, Lorist replied quietly, "We'll quadruple the price when we sell them, understood?"
Grandmaster Sid laughed out loud and said, "Milord, I was just about to tell you that each set of Whitelion Legion armor cost 150 imperial gold coins to make in the former empire! Back then, the empire was still strong and the exchange rate of imperial gold coins wasn't as low as it is now at 3 imperial gold coins for 1 gold Forde. It should've cost around 108 gold Fordes according to the rates today. As you specified in your letter to prioritize controlling the cost to make the armor because you were prepared to sell them for 40 or 50 gold Fordes each, I felt that the profit margin was too low. I thought that we had to at least triple that amount."
Lorist laughed and said, "Alright. Grandmaster Sid, you should rest well these two days. When the people from the other three families come, brief them about these armor and try to sell it for more than 80 gold Fordes. For each set sold, I will give 10 gold Fordes to your armor development department as commision for you to distribute to the smiths who worked hard for this."
Grandmaster Sid stroked his goatee and happily said, "Rest assured, milord. I will show you what I can do when the day comes."
And so, when Baron Shazin, Baron Felim and Count Kenmays learned that they wouldn't be dealing with Lorist but instead the stingy Grandmaster Sid, they were all flabbergasted.
Lorist merely shrugged and said, "I had no choice. Even though I'm the dominion lord, I cannot oppose the grandmaster's wishes. He's the sole armorer that serves my family and he has a really high status. I can only abide by his wishes. Otherwise, if he leaves the family, my tears would all dry up before I even get to cry."
All the three other nobles nodded in unison as they understood that armorers were people whom even noble families couldn't exert total control over as they were the cornerstone of the might of their military force. They believed that Lorist truly had his own troubles and decided to first listen to Grandmaster Sid brief them on the armor.
When the grandmaster gave the presentation, he went all out and praised his creations like they were forged in the heavens themselves. To better convince the three dominion lords, he even had three sets of Whitelion Legion armor brought over so that they could compare and contrast them against his own creations.
The armor Count Kenmays took a fancy to was the one that was coated in a bright layer of silver. That armor had three unique features, with the first being its smooth surface. The second feature was the tight and encompassing protection it afforded to the body as a result of being a hybrid between plate armor and ring armor which gave it an incredibly sturdy look. Among the seven sets of armor, Grandmaster Sid praised it as the one with the highest defense which surpassed that of the Whitelion Legion armor by at least 10 percent. That was one of the main factors why it caught Count Kenmays's attention. Third, it was the most expensive one and each set was to be sold for 100 gold Fordes with no room for negotiation whatsoever.
However, Count Kenmays had one question, and that was why the armor was coated so brightly in silver while the Norton Family's armor was colored dull greyish silver instead.
Grandmaster Sid looked at Lorist with an insulting gaze and said to Count Kenmays, "That is because that lord of ours is too stingy and diluted the silver concentration with a ton of lead..."
Count Kenmays laughed out loud and said, "Fine. I will choose this set of armor and place an order for 20000 sets for now. Depending on the situation, I might want to add another 10000 more later."
Since Count Kenmays had made his offer, Baron Shazin and Baron Felim no longer held back. Shazin Hennard ordered 10000 sets of armor which was priced at 80 gold Fordes each while Baron Felim chose an armor that cost 85 gold Fordes and ordered 10000 sets as well. Lorist was surprised that the two didn't even attempt to bargain and made their orders so quickly.
Curious, Lorist asked, "Why didn't you even try to haggle? Did you find a gold mine or something?"
Count Kenmays laughed out loud and said, "You don't understand, Locke. Just a while ago, we managed to get into contact with Duke Madras and sold the armor we bought from you previously. The good ones sold for 80 gold Fordes each while the ones in worse condition sold for 45. It's a shame we didn't have enough as the duke plans to form two legions of soldiers and will require another 10000 sets of armor. After paying with the money we got from the duke, the order we just made will only cost our families around 20000 to 30000 gold Fordes."
Lorist stretched out his thumb and said, "Good for you. Since there's such a good opportunity, why don't you help me sell off our old armor for a ten percent commission? In the meantime, I'll need you to use that profit to buy some food for my dominion. I will also pay you ten percent of that price for that. Just by doing this, you'll be able to get a commission of 20 percent. You in?"
Count Kenmays clapped his hands and said, "Only an idiot wouldn't take this opportunity. However, why don't you contact Duke Madras and handle this transaction directly?"
Lorist laughed bitterly and pointed to Hennard before he said, "He knows the best that back then, the forces of us, the Norton Family, defeated Duke Loggins's forces because we were able to fight our way through the Madras Duchy and cross Metropoulos River from his dominion, causing him quite a bit of losses. That's why he later sealed off that crossing point and prevented anyone from crossing the river there. If my family intends to send a merchant convoy there, I'm afraid the duke will send his soldiers after it."
Hennard merely nodded and smiled.
"Alright, then I'll accept your proposal as a job for the salt merchant committee. However, Locke, you're far too stingy. You're already selling the committee your salt for 10000 gold Fordes per 1 million kilograms. Even though you're already making money off that, why are you still taking 10 percent of the profit by involving your family in the committee?" Count Kenmays said as he recalled the agreement they had made previously.
Lorist shrugged and said, "Well, I could leave the committee if you want. I just have to double the price of the salt I sell you."
"Then forget it, it's better if you stay in the committee..." Count Kenmays said exasperatedly.