Farama Village was located on top of a small mound by a small stream. By the time Lorist arrived with about a hundred others with him, the people of the village were already armed and prepared.
Patt rode forward on a donkey he found at Whitebird Town and shouted, "Open the gates! The dominion lord of Silowas Island, Count Norton, has arrived! Come out to receive him quick!"
Nobody in the village bothered to answer him and Patt repeated himself three whole times. In the end, a huge man appeared at the edges of the village fortifications with a raised longbow while calling out, "This is Farama Village, and we serve the Second Highness! This is not the territory of any dominion lord. Scram! Otherwise, I'll show you the might of my longbow!"
Even though Patt was pissed beyond measure, there was no way he could just charge towards the gate riding a mere donkey, so he rode down the mound angrily to report the villager's response to Lorist.
Lorist was currently seated in a luxurious carriage which was one of the spoils he got from conquering Seaview Manor yesterday. There were only three carriages and six horses within the whole of the manor and two of them were used for transport of goods while the last was for transporting people. Apart from the two horses that pulled Lorist's carriage, the other four were temporarily used by Josk, Freiyar and the rest.
"Milord, should we slaughter our way in then?" Freiyar asked.
Lorist merely shook his head. Farama Village was no Seaview Manor and he had already heard Hector speak in detail that the village here was originally called the Stream Village because it was located on a mound right next to a stream. When the Second Highness went to Silowas Island, his principality, the one thing he actually put effort into was the construction of that village.
Back then when the Second Highness first came to that island, most of the people that followed him were his trusted attendants and they brought their family members there with them, totalling up to around 4000 people. Quite a number of them had followed the Second Highness through many of his battles and perhaps because some of them were getting old or injured, they decided to settle down. So, Second Highness moved all the villagers of Stream Village to another location and ordered one of his subordinates who was skilled in construction, Farama, to build a place for the soldiers that had helped him greatly to settle down.
In actuality, the Second Highness had entrusted too menial a task for a talented man like Farama. At first, Farama even had building a whole citadel in mind and even ditched the original site at Stream Village because he felt that the terrain there would be hard to defend and moved the site up to the mound near the stream. After that, he began modeling the village after a citadel.
Had it not been for Second Highness Auguslo's whimsical visit to the site, he definitely wouldn't have realized that Farama intended to build a small castle that would take up to four years to complete. He questioned Farama angrily about who would man and defend the citadel and it was from that moment on that Farama was no longer regarded as a trusted aide of the Second Highness.
Farma thus left Silowas Island, but the construction work had already begun. As the Second Highness didn't want to waste the finished designs of the citadel, he continued building it accordingly but greatly decreased the work and resources required by changing stone walls into mud and wood walls and so on. By the time the construction was finished, the inhabitants asked the Second Highness to name the place and he called it Farama Village since that man was the one who first came up with the design.
And so, Farama Village became the place where Second Highness Auguslo settled his men down and eventually, the surrounding villages became absorbed into it as a result of continued development. The area the village occupied was the most suitable place to farm on the whole of Silowas Island and it covered around 5000 square meters of farmland. When the Second Highness left the island to fight for supremacy within the kingdom, there were over 400 households, roughly 1300 people, who wanted to stay behind at the village. Not only did they occupy almost all of the farmland, they even refused to pay their taxes.
Hector told Lorist that there were around 300 veteran soldiers who had experienced with the blood and gore of the battlefield. As they were veterans who had fought during the civil war of the empire, most of them had awakened their Battle Force and up to 100 or so of them were Silver ranked in power. Had it not been for the fact that they were already 40 to 50 years old with their bodies starting to age, the Second Highness definitely wouldn't have left them there to retire and farm.
Lorist turned to look at the men he brought. There were Freiyar and Josk, two Gold ranked knights, Els, Patt, Jim and Dulles, all Silver ranked knights, and tens of other Iron ranked guards. As a squad of 10 sailors stationed at the manor among the 16 that left the ship, the other 6 only had one Iron rank among them with the rest being Bronze ranks. Additionally, he had Howard, a Bronze rank, by his side. Charade couldn't come along as he was busy researching with Old Hugo, Hector and the others back at the town to find out how best to develop this dominion.
Also following Lorist were the limping Victor and the 100 or so garrison soldiers who were armed with nothing but pikes with no armor at all. They were only there to cheer as they weren't even qualified to become attack fodder. There was no way that Lorist could bring them along to attack Farama Village.
While Lorist didn't doubt that he could easily obtain victory if he rushed forward with Josk and the rest, a victory like this wouldn't be good for anyone. Apart from having to pave a path of blood, he was afraid that his guards and sailors would sustain huge casualties. Lorist wanted to avoid pointless casualties from trivial conflicts like that as best as he could. After all, he had all the time he needed, so he felt that it was better for him to toy around with the residents of Farama Village and to teach Howard a lesson on tactics while he was at it.
He waved for Victor to come over, and he did so in his usual limping fashion.
"Victor, does Farama Village rely on that stream as its water source?" Lorist asked.
"That is the case, milord," replied Victor.
"Tell me more about the situation."
"Dominion lord, you will not be able to cut off their water source. Farama Village was originally designed and built as a citadel, so the stream near the mound is within the firing range of their bows. Also, there is also a well within the village that taps into a subterranean water channel that is connected with the stream with another reservoir in their village. So there's no way you can stop them from collecting water from the river." Victor understood right away why Lorist asked those questions as he used to be a military officer in the Fiercegale Legion which used to be one of the three main armies of the empire, so he understood at least that much..
Lorist smiled and said, "Howard, ride back to Whitebird Town and have Charade release a notice to hire 1000 youths and have them bring some digging tools here. They will be paid one silver coin each day and their three meals will also be provided."
Victor looked at Lorist with shock and exclaimed, "Milord, are you going to trick those youths to become fodder for the attacks of Farama Village?"
Lorist clicked his tongue and said, "I'm not as cruel as you guys. The Norton Family will definitely not do something like that. Order your garrison soldiers to make preparations to set up camp. You'll understand what I plan to do when they come tomorrow."
Howard left for the village on horseback right after that.
Next day afternoon, a large group of youths rushed over under the lead of Old Hugo and Charade. To the residents of Whitebird Town, a small silver per day of work was rather good pay. If they could work like this for a year, they would earn up to four gold Fordes.
"Milord, what are you planning?" Charade asked.
"Look, I'm going to reroute the stream near the mound over there. The digging will start from that spot and circle around the mound to make a moat. I want to see what the idiots up there will do without water."
Even though Lorist made it sound easy, Victor who was right next to them almost fainted from hearing that. The dominion lord is set on cutting off Farama Village's water source after all. But as opposed to what he originally thought, Lorist didn't intend to do that by damming up the stream under the fire of Farama Village and instead chose to cut off the source of the stream even further away. That was a far larger undertaking and the combined cost of hiring 1000 youths for 1 small silver per day and providing food for them was at least 20 gold Fordes each day. Five days would mean that 100 gold Fordes would be spent. This was far too ridiculous as Lorist was basically forcing his enemy to kneel with the might of money.
For their freedom, the proud villagers of Farama Village still held onto their pride and refused to bow down to their oppressor, Lorist. But after another ten days, around 1000 Norton Family soldiers armed with their gleaming armor arrived, causing the villagers to despair.
"Milord, Nors and 1000 other men from the Local Defense Brigade, reporting for duty," said Nors, standing completely straight as he saluted Lorist.
The two whaling ships they had each transported 500 men to Silowas Island and even though they left two days earlier than the Flying Fish of Dawn, they were ten days slower to arrive. The leader, Nors, was a familiar face and he had been one of the knights who defended Beastguard Town, the central town of the sixth sector of Felicitas Settlement, during the first magical beast wave and helped Lorist to build an ice wall there.
This time around, Lorist was hoping to form the Third Local Defense Brigade and the Second Navy Marine Brigade at Silowas Island. Nors had come with the 1000 soldiers who were mostly veterans and in another two months, the family would be sending over another 1000 new recruits. After that, a recruitment drive would be started on Silowas Island to recruit 1000 local youths and that would be enough for a third Local Defense Brigade.
"Was the trip smooth?" Lorist asked.
Nors laughed out and said, "Initially, many of them got seasick, but over the course of ten days, they got used to it. However, just this morning when we got off the ships, quite a lot of them collapsed right away and only recovered after two hours of rest."
"That's normal," Lorist said. "After staying for a long period at sea and going back to shore, the ground will feel like it's moving up and down," he said with a snicker.
"Milord, are you going to attack that village? Do you want us to participate?" Nors asked.
"It's fine. Just look at the grass near the mound; they're already wilting. The villagers will definitely not be able to last through the next few days. I also hope that our forces will not have to suffer unnecessary casualties and just play along with them for a bit. This will end soon, so you guys should rest up for a few days. After this, the safety of Silowas Island will be up to you."
"Understood, milord. Please be assured that the Third Local Defense Brigade will not disappoint you," Nors said as he saluted.
Just when Lorist was relaxing after seeing his soldiers arrive safely, an atmosphere filled with sacrificial bloodlust built up within Farama Village. 128 men aged around 40 to 50 put on their old leather armor and took up their swords and pikes before drinking their last swig of strong liquor and heading towards the gates of the citadel in a neat row. Among them, there were even some old men who strode forward with walking sticks in hand. On the sides of the main path of the village were the sobbing family members who were looking at the old soldiers depart.
The 128 old soldiers were all the Silver ranked fighters Farama Village had and they shouted out Second Highness Auguslo's name before launching a suicidal charge at the forces of the Norton Family with the belief that their deaths would shock the newly-arrived Count Norton while also causing him to incur the rage of the Second Highness, thus allowing their family members to continue living their lives in peace.
The gates of the citadel opened as 128 old soldiers determined to die on the battlefield charged outward. Ack, there's quite a lot of distance to reach them... Indeed, the moat Lorist dug up was roughly 300 meters from the village, meaning that the brave old men had to first run a distance of 300 meters before they could charge into the formation of the Norton Family forces to fulfill their desire to die fighting on the battlefield. However, that was a little unfair to some old men who had to use walking sticks.
Naturally, the movements at the village alerted the Norton Family forces, but when Lorist saw the silver blade glow of the one who led the charge, he was elated and instantly ordered, "Family soldiers, retreat 100 meters backward. Knights above the Silver rank, I want all of you to come forward. Josk, hold your fire. Listen, I want them captured alive! These Silver ranked old men are perfect as laborers for mining! Not one of you guys is to hurt them too badly. Otherwise, you will take their place working at the mines!"
All of the soldiers laughed out after hearing that order. During the development of Blackmud Marsh, two of the cliffs at the Bladedge Mountains had to be shaved off. Back then, many Silver ranked fighters of the family had to toil hard there as it was far easier to cut rock with blade glows than pickaxes.
Given the age of the attackers, they had almost expended all their stamina after running up to 300 meters and jumping over the moat. They were so tired that many of them collapsed on the ground right away, and Lorist himself knocked more than half of them unconscious. He was so impatient that he even leaped over the moat himself to greet the onslaught of the few tired old men with walking sticks before disarming them.
There was not the slightest hint of death and tragedy on the battlefield with most of the old men merely put together in a pile. Lorist even beckoned for his soldiers to quickly bring some water to the old soldiers to relieve their thirst as they were all very valuable in Lorist's eyes.
In the end, Farama Village surrendered by bringing out the commonly-used white flag. Every one of the villagers from young to old all left the village and made it their first priority to get something to drink.
After they drank enough water, their punishment was announced by Lorist as they listened, despairing and helpless. Since they didn't pay taxes for five whole years, all of the villagers had to serve for five years as punishment regardless of gender and age. After five years, they would be free to leave and go wherever they wanted.
One old man couldn't help but ask, "Dominion lord, are you not going to hang us or kill us off? You're not going to sell us off as slaves either?"
Lorist said in a solemn voice, "There is no place for slaves in the Norton Family and we do not involve ourselves in slave trade. The only punishment for crimes is to serve time as laborers. Unless the your crime is too severe or you have taken another person's life, you will not be hanged. As long as you work as laborers without causing trouble, we will not take your families apart. But you better remember that if you dare to slack off or resist, you will merely be doing your family members a disservice and they will also be punished with you."
After settling the matter of Farama Village, the journey to the imperial capital was up next. Lorist decided that he would have 500 soldiers of the Local Defense Brigade accompany him and left Charade on Silowas Island to work on the registration of the residents of the island, the formation of the Third Local Defense Brigade and the Second Navy Marine Brigade, as well as the development the island.
Originally, Lorist intended to have Jim become the leader of the Third Local Defense Brigade that was to be formed and stationed at Silowas Island as he felt that it was about time he let the man go his own way since he had spent so much time with him. Nors on the other hand was considered by Lorist to be rather reliable and was assigned the position of the leader of the Second Navy Marine Brigade and would be in charge of recruiting more sailors on the island. What he didn't expect was that Patt didn't want to go to the imperial capital as he actually fell in love and was wooing the beauty, Martha, of Whitebird Restaurant, whom he had accidentally frightened to the point of tears not too long ago.
Lorist could only give Patt his blessings for him to one day return with a beauty in his hands and let him take Jim's position instead. Thus, Patt was made the leader of the Third Local Defense Brigade.