On the 32nd day of the 8th month, the Flying Fish of Dawn arrived at Silowas Island. The journey from Bullhorn Bay all the way to the island took 17 days and that was mainly because it was their first voyage there and the crew was unfamiliar with the situation at sea, so they elected to travel more slowly at night just to be safe. Old Jack said that when the sailors get used to traveling that route, it would take at most 10 days for them to make the same trip again.
Silowas Island was the only large island near the coasts of the Andinaq Kingdom and it was almost 150 kilometers away from shore. Usually, it would take a ship one day to travel from the coast of the kingdom to the island. The surface area of the island was enough to fit one county and three viscounties. But it was a shame that it was a dormant volcanic island, so two-thirds of the island's surface was covered by volcanic mountain ranges, beaches and forests with not much land to farm on at all.
According to the information Lorist was given when he accepted the enfeoffment of the island from Second Highness Auguslo, the total population of Silowas Island numbered fewer than 5000 with it having three villages and a small town called Whitebird Town. Given that it was quite inconvenient to travel to and fro the kingdom by sea, the nobles of the former empire and the current ones of Andinaq Kingdom considered Silowas Island to be a rural place, with there being precedent some refusing enfeoffment there in the past.
After the civil war of the empire ended, the Third Prince who founded the Andinaq Kingdom was worried that Second Highness Auguslo, who had incredible military achievements, would threaten the First Highness who was better at management and administration for the inheritance of the throne. The Third Prince didn't want his two sons to reenact the civil war that broke the empire into pieces, and he believed that war would not break out for a long period of time and that the state of the kingdoms and various duchies would stay the same, with the reason being that he thought that they would require some time to recover from their losses of the war.
With that consideration in mind, the Third Prince appointed the more reliable and resourceful First Highness to be his successor and decided to deprive the Second Highness of his soldiers so that he wouldn't pose a threat to his elder brother's position. Thus the Third Prince used the excuse that they were unable to sustain three huge armies to disband the Second Highness's Whitelion Legion and also sent the Fiercegale Legion to the Melein Duchy to help Duke Melein resist the Second Prince's assault.
In the end, the Third Prince also converted the whole of Silowas Island into one principality and gave it to the Second Highness as his hereditary dominion. The Second Highness was also ordered to go there and wasn't allowed to leave unless he was summoned back, effectively sealing his fate as an exile in stone. To the Third Prince, with the First Highness whom he personally taught managing the affairs of the kingdom and the threat that was the Second Highness gone, he felt that his first son would soon easily be able to succeed his throne and allow the state of the Andinaq Kingdom to stabilize.
What the Third Prince didn't expect was that he would actually be the target of the waves of assassins sent by the First and Second Princes and eventually got hit by a poisonous arrow despite his best preventive efforts. Even though the Third Prince managed to get rescued in the end, he became bedridden and ill. And the First Highness whom he thought was reliable and steady turned out to be a person of weak character and was taken advantage of the allied nobles of the Andinaq Kingdom who saw through his facade, causing much pressure to build up on the Andinaq Royal Family to the point that the territory of the royal family was divided between the nobles. Thus, the kingdom plummeted into yet another state of unrest.
The Second HIghness who had lost his army could only panic on Silowas Island as he had no power at all to affect the royal family and the kingdom's predicament. But during that time, Second Highness Auguslo got news about an incredibly large-scale convoy entering the borders of the kingdom that boasted a huge military escort force. Back then, that convoy was already in conflict with the Andinaq Kingdom nobles at the Green Plains.
Thus, the Second Highness left Silowas Island on a ship and hoped that he could mediate the conflict between the convoy and the noble faction while gaining some advantages for himself. What he did not expect however was before he even arrived, he got more news of the Battle of the Green Plains. The convoy's forces which numbered half of those of the allied nobles actually won a landslide victory and all the nobles that participated in the conflict were hanged by the convoy's forces as they continued their travels, razing one dominion after another to the ground.
Most crucially, that convoy flew the Raging Bear flag of the Norton Family and seemed to be intent on returning to their dominion in the Northlands, and the Second Highness's female knight and lover, Norton Glacia, was someone from the Norton Family. So, the Second Highness traveled to the camp of the convoy one night and used his lover's relationship with the Norton Family and the gear of his disbanded Whitelion Legion to successfully persuade Charade, Potterfang and the rest to agree to a cooperative relationship, successfully using the convoy to his advantage to cleanse the Andinaq Kingdom of those nobles and helping him rise to prominence.
After gaining enough power and influence in the kingdom, Second Highness Auguslo summoned the Fiercegale Legion back and restructured the Royal Family's Local Defense Legion and tossed a huge number of vagabonds and refugees to the northbound convoy while he proceeded to stabilize the kingdom and restore agricultural production.
Back then, the northbound convoy was in a precarious position as it still had strong enemies to deal with ahead in their journey and was also facing a food crisis, having been stopped from advancing at the border of the Madras Duchy. Had it not been for Lorist's trip to help out the northbound convoy, it might have collapsed in due time or forced to walk a path of blood and death to continue their journey.
The moment Lorist reached the convoy, he saw through the plan of the Second Highness almost right away. To bring Lorist to his side, Second Highness Auguslo even promoted Lorist to a count to elevate his status and enfeoffed his own hereditary dominion, Silowas Island, to Lorist as compensation for his troubles.
Right after that, Lorist led the convoy's troops to cross Egret Lake and attacked the army camp at Bread Hills during the night and managed to encircle Lichtana Citadel, thus securing a route for the convoy to continue traveling northwards. Following that, he barged into the Madras Duchy and conquered Kobo City during a snowy night and finally managed to bring the northbound convoy back into the Northlands. On the other hand, in concert with Lorist's movements, the Second Highness forced the Ironguard Legion who guarded Lichtana Citadel to surrender and occupied the Madras Duchy's Yungechandler Province.
When Lorist led the family convoy back to the Northlands, the Second Highness overhauled the citadel on the mountain path as a defense for Yungechandler Province and used the Madras Duchy's largest trade city, Vanades City, to turn Duke Madras's Seamountain Legion against the Second Prince's 'reinforcements', successfully causing the two sides to clash against each other. Following that they, would no longer pose a threat to the Second Highness.
After that, Second Highness Auguslo consolidated his soldiers and resisted the invading First Prince and his army of 70000. Initially, he ordered the Fiercegale Legion to steadily resist the First Prince's forces, forcing the First Prince to lose over half of his army of 70000. After that, Auguslo attacked the First Prince's remaining 30000 elite troops at Flowater Creek and managed to eliminate them altogether, forcing the First Prince to don the disguise of a refugee to escape.
After the attack at Flowater Creek, the Second Highness led his soldiers on a counterattack against the Redlis Kingdom and managed to force the First Prince to sign the peace treaty which stipulated that two of the provinces of the Redlis Kingdom would be given to the Andinaq Kingdom. After the Second Highness pulled his soldiers back, Duke Madras who had suffered heavy casualties against the Second Prince sent someone to him to request for peace as well, causing Yungechandler Province to be given to the Andinaq Kingdom, allowing it to become the largest nation after the fall of the Krissen Empire with Second Highness Auguslo's reputation soaring to the point that he was called a war god of the new generation.
It has been five years since then and Lorist finally managed to stabilize the situation of the Northlands and further expand and develop his family dominion. This trip to his new dominion, Silowas Island, was his first.
Silowas Island's port was built at the coast near Whitebird Town. It was a curved wooden bridge that stretched into the clear and blue ocean that boasted a clean and white beach.
What surprised Lorist was there were seven to eight other ships docked on both sides of the wooden bridge, a few of which were decorated rather grandiosely with their flags flying the emblem of some other noble families. It seemed that Silowas Island wasn't as rural and secluded as what others had said after all.
With no docking guide boats around, the people of the town near the coast were uninformed of the Flying Fish of Dawn's arrival. Not even one person showed up at the port to look at what was going on.
The Flying Fish of Dawn had already had her three sails retracted and only relied on the sails at the front and back to slowly propel herself forward to the wooden bridge. When she was near enough, a few of the sailors jumped onto the bridge and tossed over the mooring lines, fastening the ship to the wooden moorings of the bridge.
Lorist instructed, "Wilson, leave half of the crew on board to keep watch. Dulles, have your five ballista shooters stay back to defend the ship. I feel that something is off with Whitebird Town as there isn't a single soul on the port here. The others, follow me into the town to see what's going on."
It didn't take long until Lorist found out that it wasn't the case that the people of Whitebird Town had disappeared. Instead, they were all gathered in the central plaza, squeezing against one another tightly, with occasional waves of chatter and shouts of objection.
After tapping a man of forty or fifty years of age who was dressed like a sailor on the shoulder, Lorist asked, "Friend, can you tell me what is going on over here?"
That man didn't turn back and cursed out loudly with frustration. "What else? That son of a bitch Viscount Aslan is here to collect taxes again..."
"Collecting taxes?!" Lorist exclaimed. Isn't Silowas Island the new dominion of the Norton Family? Why would somebody else be sent here to collect taxes?
"Explain yourself! Who's here to collect taxes?!" When it came to money and taxes, Charade was the one who cared about it the most. He instantly burst out angrily as he thought, this is the dominion of the Norton Family. Even though the family hasn't sent anyone here to set things in order for five years now, to think that someone would dare to collect taxes here... This is no longer a small matter of offending the Norton Family... This is basically slapping us in the face! Charade grabbed the guy dressed like the sailor and pulled him right in front of him.
Even though the man had wanted to cry out in rage, when he saw the fully-armed guards standing around Lorist, he turned mute immediately. Anyone who had some experience in life would be able to recognize that the group was one that couldn't be trifled with. The man instantly lowered his head to beg for mercy and said that he would tell them everything he knew.
"It's like this... Today, Viscount Aslan brought a squad of soldiers here to collect taxes. Even though our town mayor, Old Hugo, refused his unreasonable request, Viscount Aslan flipped out angrily and even wanted to cane him publicly here at the plaza 50 times. Even though the garrison force of Whitebird Town was mobilized, Viscount Aslan brought a Gold ranked knight along with him. While the garrison soldiers are quite numerous, not one of them could take on the knight and the two factions are now at a stalemate. We've come over because we heard of the news and hope that someone can save Old Hugo, quick..." explained the man quickly.
"Isn't this island the dominion of the Norton Family? On what grounds is Viscount Aslan collecting taxes on?" Howard asked.
The man didn't overlook Howard just because of his youth and said, "Viscount Aslan claimed that he was entrusted to collect taxes by the Second Highness of our kingdom."
"Entrusted?!" roared Charade angrily. "This is already the dominion of the Norton Family. Why the heck would the Second Highness send people here to collect taxes?"
"This... I'm not too clear about this. However, I've heard that five years ago when Viscount Aslan first came over, he only collected a 10 percent production tax. On the following year, he collected 20 percent and said that the Second Highness had raised their taxation rate and even stated that they would collect poll taxes. On the third year, he came over to collect 30 percent of our income as tax and said that it was because the Second Highness wanted to raise an army. And apart from the poll tax, he introduced an alcohol tax, a port tax, and so on. The taxes for the previous two years were 50 percent and it also came with property tax, transport tax, mountain-and-forest tax and a fishing boat tax with unifying and restoring the Krissen Empire as the excuse for the raise," recalled the man.
"Good Sol!" Charade was so mad that he would blow up at any moment at hearing the ridiculous taxes that even he had never dared to imagine, let alone enforce. What was the point of enfeoffing that dominion to the Norton Family if the tax rate was that high?
"Then what other tax did he say he wanted to collect today? And why did the mayor refuse it?" Lorist asked.
"Well, I'm not too sure about the specifics either. But I did hear some rumors saying that the Norton Family that haven't shown their faces even once also has another dominion apart from this island. It's said that since their dominion is too far away, the taxes that should be levied on them are not given to the Second Highness. So, Viscount Aslan was sent over here to collect the taxes that the Norton Family owed the kingdom. If that were really the case, even if we handed over every single belonging of ours, that wouldn't be nearly enough and we would have to end up in debt! I heard that everyone would have to pay 3000 gold Fordes in order to be clear of that debt. That's why we're all gathered here with the intention of saving the mayor and also to express our objection to the ridiculous situation," said the sailor nervously.
"Hehe... Hahahaha..." Lorist was so mad that he was laughing uncontrollably. I see, so they can even come up with ridiculous excuses like that... That has really expanded my horizons. Usually, for an island like that which was thousands of kilometers away from the enemy nations with no close relation to the main kingdom itself, not only should the kingdom not collect any taxes, they should be subsidizing and supporting the folk of the island instead to make sure they stay loyal to the kingdom.
Lorist was incredibly enraged as he wasn't sure if Viscount Aslan truly was sent there by the Second Highness or if he did it on his own accord. In the beginning, Lorist had no intention on actually coming over to manage Silowas Island himself and there was no need for the Second Highness to send anyone over to collect taxes from the Norton Family either since he could just record the debt and claim it at another time as was usually practiced by most nobles. Lorist believed that it was possible that the Second Highness wasn't aware of this situation, meaning that Viscount Aslan would be in deep trouble.
"Blow our anthem and show our banners. I want to let everyone on Silowas Island know that the Norton Family, and their dominion lord, is here!" Lorist instructed as he turned back to face his subordinates.