The fair, slender figure twitched continuously from Lorist's thrusts accompanied by ecstatic moans. In the end, amidst the loud, long moan, Lorist's hot desires were emptied onto Irina's body.
After giving birth to her child, Irina got more plump and she was no longer small girl she used to be. Lorist took a page out of Hennard's book and made Irina his concubine as well as included her son into the family registry as his first successor candidate.
He continued to toy with Irina's breasts while basking in the climactic afterglow. After a while, she pushed Lorist away and said, "Milord, let me get some water to wash you down..."
Lorist said, "There's no need. Just stay put here before we go for another round..."
"Well, milord, can't we leave it for tonight? It's still only noon right now, aah..." Irina's words were cut short as Lorist once again shoved his manhood into her body...
After giving birth, Irina insisted on staying at Maplewoods Bastide to raise her child and refused to follow Lorist back to Firmrock Castle. She said that it was because she had spent all her life there and had long been used to the scenery and wasn't willing to go to somewhere foreign. Naturally, Lorist didn't force her to come along and allowed her to do as she pleased. However, whenever Lorist went to Maplewoods Bastide, he would spend a few nights there and get intimate with Irina as well as check on his newborn son.
In the 10th month, Lorist was much freer than he usually was mainly because the failures in his experiments had demotivated him quite a bit, causing him to stop his research efforts temporarily. After resting for almost a week at Maplewoods Bastide, Lorist was reminded by Howard that he had to head to Bladedge Mountains to bring Telesti back to Firmrock Castle. So, Lorist bid farewell to Irina and his son and left for the mountains with his guards.
Telesti and her ten plus students had picked a spot to build the academy that was not that far off from Wildnorth Town. There was a hill there where chrysanthemum plants prospered as well as a serene stream flowing nearby. Telesti liked that place a lot because of the beautiful scenery and ordered her guard escorts to set up camp there so that she could give her students some lectures on nature.
Just as Lorist arrived at the campsite, Alisa rushed straight to him and gave him a firm hug before she said, "Uncle Locke, you're finally here!"
Lorist stroked the girl's head affectionately and brushed some grass off her hair as he said, "You rowdy lass, where were you messing around at? Your hair is full of grass!"
Alisa giggled and said, "The Chino twins are real idiots. They couldn't even differentiate between chickweed and fiddleleaf plants and insisted that there were the same and could both be eaten. They were then given a long lecture by teacher..."
Chickweed was considered to be a medicinal plant that was slightly toxic while fiddleleaf could be consumed as a normal vegetable. As the two plants looked rather similar, it was quite common for careless or uninformed people to think that they're both the same thing.
"Since Alisa is so smart, you can definitely tell them apart, right?" Lorist said as he laughed.
"Of course! I'm definitely the fastest to learn. We had to differentiate such a large pile of plants and I was the one who finished first. Teacher even praised me for that," Alisa said proudly as she waved her arms to indicate how big the pile of grass was.
"Wow, Alisa is so amazing. I'm sure you'll definitely be a great scholar like your teacher when you grow up," Lorist praised.
Alisa then pouted and said, "Hmph, I don't want to be like teacher. She's so timid. One time, she was so terrified after seeing a grey mountain rat that she screamed like her life depended on it. I want to be a female knight like Auntie Pesha when I grow up and ride on horses elegantly and kill magical beasts with my lance in one strike..."
"Oh..." Lorist was quite surprised to find out that Pesha had actually gained such a young follower as he wondered how that busty but slow-witted knight managed to impress Alisa. Then again, he felt that it wasn't a bad idea for Alisa to go on the path of a knight. Given her boyish, rowdy personality, it was hard for Lorist to imagine her as a serene scholar like Telesti.
"Go greet your brother. Have you forgotten about him after not meeting him for a few months?" Lorist said as he ticked Alisa's nose.
"Hmph, you're a bad uncle, always messing with my nose like that... Brother!" Alisa said as she jumped towards Howard who was standing behind Lorist.
"Teacher, look who I brought here," Alisa exclaimed as she pushed open the flap of the tent and squeezed through the entrance. Lorist also followed her into the tent.
Telesti, who was in the middle of writing and drawing something, raised her head and said with a smile, "Locke, you're here."
"Yup. I'm here to bring you back to Firmrock Castle. The weather will start getting colder in another month and your trip with the kids have taken quite some time already," Lorist said as he approached the easel and assessed the drawing.
"Is this your design for the academy?" Lorist asked.
Telesti stood up and hugged Lorist before giving him a light kiss. She then said, "Yes, that's just the first draft of the design I have in mind. I will have to give it to Grandmaster Ciroba later and let him modify it before the blueprints are to be drawn."
"Alright. We'll leave tomorrow then. We'll first head to Poplar Coast before going to Blackmud Marsh. Grandmaster Ciroba should be at either of those places right now. I also have to check out on the development of the construction of the roads over there before we return to Firmrock Castle together," Lorist said.
"Will we be bringing the children along with us?" Telesti asked.
Lorist thought before he replied, "Let's bring them with us. Since I have so many guards with me, they will definitely be cared for well. Also, the construction effort there is a quite a large scale project and it can't hurt to show these children the might of manpower which can even shape the landscapes and change a swamps into homes."
Poplar Coast had already been turned into a bustling construction site through the recent developments. With more than 20000 laborers working on building the new town, the foundation for the town walls had already been completed. Currently, the workers were digging out a moat and using the mud they unearthed to make bricks for the wall. The one in charge of the site was a thin, dark-skinned, middle-aged man whom Lorist remembered to be one of the staff promoted by Supervisor Hansk. He wasn't sure whether the man was promoted due to his own merit or the lack of staff to supervise the site.
"Milord, the work here is progressing smoothly and we will finish the first part of the construction of the wall before winter as well as the warehouses. Next year, we can begin gathering various resources for further work," reported the man respectfully.
"Not bad, you've done great. Continue to work hard. Oh, and, is Grandmaster Ciroba here now?" Lorist asked.
"Milord, Grandmaster Ciroba just left two days ago to Tortoise Hill. I heard that something about the drainage system is problematic and requires a redesign," replied the man.
"Oh," Lorist mused as he nodded. "The day is still young, so I won't stay here to interrupt your work. Please get me some clean water and fill up my water flask. I'll head to the Blackmud Marsh right after that."
"Alright, milord. Please wait for a bit, I'll call someone to get the water."
Slightly further away from Lorist and that dark-skinned man, a few large pots could be seen at a resting spot. Within the pots were large bull bones floating amidst the soup. That was actually one of the benefits the Norton Family provided the laborers. No matter who, one could have some soup to drink the moment one turned thirsty. Not only was the bone soup thirst-relieving, it was also rather nutritious.
The ones taking care of the pots of soup were a fat man and his similarly plump wife. They added some more salt into each pot after a few bowls of soup were served from each.
A tall old man could be seen standing near the pot taking small sips out of his bowl of soup.
"Old man, do sit down and drink slowly. You can even stay here tonight and I'll get you some bull bones to chew on. Don't think that just because they're meatless, they're not good. Just crack the bone open and the good stuff's in the marrow. It's also very nutritious for a person of your age," said the fat cook warmly as he handed the old, largely-built man a piece of black bread.
"Have this, old man. Dip the bread in the soup and it'll soften right away. Fill yourself up with it for now," said the cook before he went to stir the pot of soup a little more and called his wife to remove some firewood so that the fire doesn't burn too strongly. After that, he went back to the old man's side and sat down.
"I've seen types like you quite often in the recent times. Seriously, I'm not kidding. From time to time, some family members of the war prisoners will come here to seek them out and hope to find their husbands or brothers here. Most of the family members of the captured Northlander soldiers would be able to meet up without issue. But since you said that you're from the Winston Province, this will be a little bit more difficult. Most of the soldiers of the Second Prince's First Legion are people from the Winston Province. But after the battle with the forces of the Norton Family, they lost more than 10000 men. That's why, old man, I pray that you are ready for whatever outcome and hope that your grandson didn't get unlucky...
"Then again, the Norton Family forces are not like the forces of those other savage and violent nobles. They don't kill senselessly or take the belongings of the commoners. That, I can assure you. Like my wife and I, even though we were forced to move here, we didn't have much to complain about. Before that, we were working as cooks for our previous master and we would be beaten and scolded for the smallest mistakes. Only after we came here did we experience true freedom. When the construction work of this town is complete, the Nortons said that they would even give us homes and farmland. I am prepared to start a small restaurant to live the rest of my days in peace. I never would've dreamed that we would be able to spend days like this in the future...
"If you could read, you can easily check the registry to see if your grandson is listed there. But sadly you don't and you only know that he is called 'Silo' without knowing how it is spelled. There are many people with similar or identical sounding names, so you have no choice but to travel from one place and another to find him. Since he's a prisoner, he should be at Blackmud Marsh. There are three spots there and you have to spend some effort to find him. In fact, this is the wrong place for you to come to. The people here are laborers and they are paid for their work while those laborers at Blackmud Marsh are war prisoners who are serving their 3-year term without pay for their own freedom."
"Who's that?" asked the tall old man as he raised his head and looked at the distant group of people and carriages.
The fat cook stood up and exclaimed happily, "That's the dominion lord! It's so rare for us to be able to see him. I think he's passing through this place to head to the Blackmud Marsh for an inspection..."
"Which one of them is the lord? Is he sitting in the carriage?" asked the tall man.
"No, he's the one riding a horse at the very front. Our lord doesn't like to wear full metal armor. He has long black hair and eyes, so he's quite easy to recognize. Look, it's that one wearing the black cloak. I've seen him once before when he was inspecting the commoner camp back at Firmrock Castle," said the fat cook energetically.
"Oh..." mumbled the tall old man as he stood up. It was at that moment when the fat cook seemed to visualize the tall old man as a razor-sharp sword.
However, Lorist had already traveled far with his guards. The tall old man sat back down and looked no different from his frail self before.
"Thank you, my kind friend. Oh, I really worry for my pitiful grandson... If something bad happened to him, I really don't know if I can bear to continue living... Ah, you said just now that there are three spots at the Blackmud Marsh where I might find him, right? Can you tell me more about those places?" asked the tall old man.
"Hey, old man, were you a mercenary when you were young?" asked the cook, troubled. For some reason, he perceived that man beside him to be a sword. Realizing that the tall man had a large build and was even strong enough to head to the Northlands to seek out his grandson, the cook reasoned that he must've been a mercenary during his younger days given his demeanor.
The tall man nodded and said, "That's right. I was a mercenary for 40 years. Because my grandson's parents died early, I had to head home to raise him. But that kid couldn't resist enlisting into the king's army and said that he wanted to become a knight. After hearing about the king's army's defeat, I rushed my way here to see if I can find my grandson..."
The cook said, "Don't be too agitated. Old man, I'm sure that Singwa will protect your son from all ills. I think that our lord should be heading to Blackmud Marsh to make his inspections. The nearest part from here is the part where the Blackmud Marsh meets the Bladedge Mountains. The next part would be at the central road of Blackmud Marsh while the last part will be near Tortoise Hill. These three places are where the prisoners were sent to work. However, I think that most of the laborers should be at Tortoise Hill. I heard that the work there is in a bit of a rush as it's really important."
"Oh, then I ought to head to Tortoise Hill to check first. If he isn't there, I'll go to the other two places. Thank you for your bone soup and bread," said the tall old man as he stood up and prepared to leave.
The fat cook hurriedly stopped him and said, "Old man, it'd take you forever to get there on foot! Do you see the carriages filled with stuff over there? Those are the resources that are scheduled to be delivered to Tortoise Hill. I know a few of the coachmen and I will ask them to let you ride with them at noon."
"Oh, I am incredibly grateful," said the tall old man with thanks.
"What's there to thank for? I understand how hard it can be to have no one to rely on outside your home like this. I'm just doing what I can to help. I hope you will find your grandson soon and maybe settle down here to spend the rest of your days in bliss," said the fat cook with a smile.
Lorist brought Telesti and the children with him to first check out the land reclamation operations at the intersection point between Bladedge Mountains and Blackmud Marsh. After staying for a day, they continued on to the middle road construction site. The work there was progressing rather slowly mostly because it was frequently under attack from Ironspine Crocodiles. While not many people got injured, the work was slowed nevertheless.
The moment Lorist arrived, he managed to see the three super ballistas show their might by shooting a 20-meter-long Ironspine Crocodile to death. This was the largest crocodile he had seen so far. The children all gathered beside the huge carcass excitedly and the rowdy Alisa was the first to climb up on top of the carcass along with the Chino brothers.
Lorist decided to make that Ironspine Crocodile into a display specimen and thought that the huge beast would be more effective in frightening others than the gigantic mammoth specimen he had. For that, he stayed there for two days to arrange for it to be carried out before heading to Tortoise Hill.
Potterfang who was in charge of managing the prisoner camp was there to receive Lorist on his arrival. Seeing that the mud wall had been completed with the rest being on schedule to finish before the arrival of winter, Lorist was extremely satisfied.
When he reached Tortoise Hill, Lorist headed straight for the army camp while Telesti sought out Grandmaster Ciroba by herself. Lorist took strolls around the area and bossed people around, satisfying his desire to act like a true dominion lord for once.
On the third day, Lorist decided to head to the other end of Tortoise Hill where the stream was located to hold a grill party in the wilds. As Lorist arranged for his guards to hunt some food for the party, Telesti taught her students to draw the various sights of nature.
Holding two fat, juicy pheasants as he walked out of the forest, Lorist walked to the side of the grimacing Telesti and asked, "Hey, what's wrong? You look down."
"It's nothing... I was just brainstorming for the design of the academy's insignia," said Telesti.
"Haha, what's so difficult about that? Reidy, go to the carriage and get me that small box at the lower storage compartment," Lorist instructed. Without delay, the box was brought to Lorist right away.
Lately, Reidy had been struggling to memorize the diagram Lorist gave him and even frequently forgot the things he had read before. Sometimes, he would zone out and look like an immobile scarecrow.
Lorist opened the box and said happily, "Here, my dear, look at my collection."
Within the small box was a thick velvet cloth that covered many different academy badges.
"Look here, these are the academy badges I've collected during my time at Morante City. These two here are respectively the badge of the Dawn Academy and my dual Gold ranked instructor badge," Lorist said as he caressed his two most precious badges before caving in to the urge to put on the two badges on his clothes. He said excitedly, "Back then when I wore these badges and entered the academy, the students would all make way for me respectfully..."
Before he finished, a loud cry could be heard from afar. "Stand there, old man, agh!"
"There's an enemy attack! Ugh..."
Lorist turned back only to see a tall old man rushing out from the forests with a longsword in hand heading in his direction. Behind the man, three collapsed guards with blood gushing out of their throats could be seen.
"Norton Family leader, I will have your life!" roared the tall man as his body became one with the sword before he approached at a terrifying speed...