The castle of the Dina barony was not huge. It was at most around 15 meters tall, built of stone boulders secured with clay pasted between the seams. With time, the walls had turned dark-colored. Even thought it was cleaned often with limewater, there were still traces of moss in some corners of the building, with most of the rocks at the base of the structure covered in a mossy-green coat.
There was a small courtyard past the bridge and entrance. Most noble castles actually used this kind of architectural layout. Howard guided the two four-wheeled carriages to the side to park before bringing the four horses that pulled the carriages to the servants nearby. After that, he had the coachman and guards bring down four huge chests, which contained the gifts Lorist brought for the two girls and their aunt.
The boxes were brought to the main hall before they were opened. In three of them were various kinds of fashionable clothing and jewellery, while the other contained beauty products like makeup, combs, mirrors, perfume, silk handkerchiefs and many more. That was also one of the many benefits of the extermination of the Hanayabarta kingdom. Lorist had picked out four chests' worth of clothes matching the figures of Arriotoli and her aunt that were deeply imprinted in his memory.
Not long after, Lorist finally got to meet Arriotoli's aunt, whom he called Chessy back then, after two long years. The young aunt looked like she lost some weight over the years, but that only helped make her prominent chests seem more apparent. Had it not been for Arriotoli, who was still clasping Lorist's hands, the young aunt might just leap into Lorist's embrace right away. However, she managed to control herself and only stared at Lorist with teary eyes. It was not until Arriotoli made a few short coughs that she regained her composure.
It was, however, Lorist's first time meeting Arriotoli's younger brother and sister, as well as the silver-ranked knight of their household. As the heir to the position of the head of the Dina house, the 11-year-old boy looked thinner and paler than other boys of his age. However, he did thank Lorist politely according to noble etiquette for lending them a hand in a time of need, allowing them to obtain victory over the territorial dispute.
Perhaps because the boy was told to memorize what to say beforehand, he delivered his words with a little bit of stammer. When he finally finished, Arriotoli allowed him to leave, causing the boy to quickly pull the silver-ranked knight Massa away with him.
Arriotoli's sister, on the other hand, did resemble her quite a lot. The girl did not lie; her sister was indeed quite the beauty. She seemed gentler than most girls of her age, yet carried with her an elegant air. Arriotoli herself also gained a more heroic aura since two years ago when Lorist last met her.
Arriotoli's sister was called Fennazali. Both she and her young aunt loved the gifts Lorist prepared for them, as was apparent from how they busily rummaged around the four huge chests. Every time they found something that they liked, they would cheer loudly with joy and surprise, matching the clothes against their bodies or asking Lorist and Arriotoli whether something looked good on them or not.
On another note, Lorist was quite curious at the gaze Fennazali looked at him with -- it had a hint of shyness, which was natural for a girl whom he only met for the first time. Their young aunt on the other hand had a gaze filled with burning passion, one that showed how much she was struggling not to jump to Lorist for a hug on the spot. Despite Arriotoli's presence, she did not refrain from giving Lorist suggestive looks.
Arriotoli, however, only looked carefully at the gifts Lorist gave them without nearly as much excitement as her sister and aunt.
Lorist asked curiously, "What's wrong?"
The girl revealed a bitter smile and said, "I am happy that you gave us so many luxurious items, but seeing as how our dominion is within this rural valley, there aren't many people we can show them off to."
"Ahh," Lorist mused as he scratched his nose awkwardly, "Arri, you can always come with me. I have even more nice clothing at my place, all of them my spoils of course. You can take any of your choice. You don't have to stay here anymore."
Arriotoli shook her head and said, "After my father's fall in battle, the childish me only ever wanted to rely on someone with power and backing to help us maintain control of our barony here. In the end, I managed to get to know Princess Carey and attended her paradise gathering, thinking that I've finally found some good backing. However, the more I interacted with the princess and the rest, I found that I could trust them lesser and lesser. It was pure coincidence that I met you there, so I thought I should just marry you to leave that circle of people...
"In the two years I've been waiting for you here, I started training my bronze-ranked battleforce which I gave up long ago. Initially, I thought that I could rely on others to ensure the survival of my household. However, I came to understand recently that there's nobody more reliable than myself, so I started training hard in battleforce and the swordsmanship technique passed on through my family. Just look at both my hands..."
The girl stretched out both her palms that was full of callouses and blisters. Her skin had dulled quite substantially, and was quite far off from the fair, tender state that Lorist remembered.
Lorist grasped her hand and caressed it lightly.
The girl laughed bitterly and continued, "When your household knight came last year and told me your actual identity, I knew that the dream I've been clinging to would no longer come true. I've always thought that you were a knight, so I wanted to marry my sister off to you to stimulate your ambition and earn an achievement worthy of land just like my father. That way, both my sister and I can become the wives of a baron.
"To think that you're actually a count whose might even the king is wary of... You even dared to not give His Majesty any face. I've already long heard of the rumors of the Norton house's actions at the imperial capital. It was then when I realized that a count like you had far superior suitors than us. As long as you desired it, the nobles would offer up their daughters and wives to warm your bed without even asking for anything in return. After all, you're the power Count Norton. I doubt that there are any nobles in the kingdom worthy of being your bride, unless you're looking to take Princess Carey as your wife.
"As for us sisters, we're naught but nobles from a small and rural barony. Our status is too far off compared to yours, so I knew that there's no way that we can get married to you formally. Even if you are willing, the subordinates of your house will definitely be against it, because that would actually be a mark of humiliation of your household. All that's left for us sisters is to be your concubines.
"Locke, I think I won't be going with you. I've gave it much thought in these two years and I think that I'll probably just remain here in the dominion to wait for my brother to mature and succeed the title and land. After that, I will become the household knight of the Dina house and protect my home for the rest of my life. Don't try to convince me otherwise, I'm really confused right now. Let me have a few more days to think, alright?"
Lorist did not utter a word and merely nodded.
The dinner served that night was the best Arriotoli could serve. The toast bread with honey tasted surprisingly well according to Lorist. Even though the bread was not of the soft variety, being made of cruder wheats, it was surprisingly soft and sweet, making it extremely pleasant to eat. There was also roast turkey, goose, lamb ribs, baked fruits and potato mash. The dinner closed off with a delicious serving of mushroom soup.
The dinner table where they dined was long and rectangular, with the future heir of the Dina house, Arriotoli's brother, sitting at the main seat with a solemn look on his face. Sitting to his left were Lorist, Reidy and Howard. On the boy's right were the two sisters and Knight Massa. For some reason, the young aunt of the sisters was not present with them.
The young boy's excited gaze belied his solemn look. He did not know how long it has been since he had got such a lavish meal. Lorist took note of that and brought the food the boy laid his eyes on to his plate. Within a short moment, the boy's plate contained three lamb ribs, one large goose drumstick, one baked apple and a roast chicken wing.
The boy's mouth got more oily the more he ate, slowly growing more and more fond towards Lorist by the moment. That was especially the case when Lorist stopped his elder sister from harshly disciplining him, saying that he should not worry about his elder sister and eat all he wants in order to grow large and strong. Thus, the boy ate his fill and soon ended up bloated, having to be carried away by Knight Massa. Arriotoli was so mad that she stomped harshly on Lorist's feet a few times.
"Why isn't your aunt here?" asked Lorist.
The girl rolled her eyes and said, "The food you're eating here is all cooked by her. Without her in the kitchen, we'll be gnawing away at raw potatoes instead."
After finishing the delicious meal, the girl brought Lorist to his room at the third floor. He got the master bedroom whereas Howard was assigned a room for guards beside it. Reidy on the other hand had to live at the guards' quarters at the camp outside, as the castle was too small to accommodate Lorist's 200 plus guards. Lorist simply had them use the camp set up by Baron Andrew and his two sons so as to save Arriotoli the trouble.
Opening the window of the roo, Lorist could see the scenery of the village behind the castle. The village was rather small, with only tens of unlit grass huts within it. In the center of the village was a large bonfire, which was what the patrol soldiers and other villagers used during the night for illumination. Several butt-naked children were playing beside the fire, tossing grass and other stuff into the pile. But the adults soon came and gave them a few smacks on their behinds before bringing the crying children home.
A soft knocking on Lorist's bedroom door could be heard.
"Come in," said Lorist as he turned around.
The one who entered was the aunt of the sisters. In her hand was a tray and candle.
"I... I've come to make your bed," the young woman said with a flushed face, "Al-also... Here's some bread and fruit wine for your enjoyment..."
"Thanks, just put it on the table there," said Lorist as he acknowledged it with a nod.
The woman closed the door before putting the tray and candle on the side table and proceeding to make the bed.
Seeing the two round, rear protrusions when she bent over to adjust the sheets, Lorist approached her and placed his hands on them.
The young aunt suddenly froze, before half-kneeling on the bed without making a single move. Lorist flipped her skirt up without the slightest sign of hurry before removing his own belt and pants. He later propped his hot and hard member between the two soft lumps.
The woman let out a long and pleasurable moan from the depths of her throat as she matched her hip movements with Lorist's thrusts. Burying her head deeply into the pillow, her soft rear shook and shuddered as a slight pinkish tint slowly surfaced.
"Should I call you Chessy like before, or something else?" asked Lorist as he removed yet another one piece of the woman's clothes. Two years back, she had attended the paradise gathering with Arriotoli as Chessy and Daisy. It was only during the end of the gathering that the girl told Lorist her real name. However, her aunt had long passed out from the sheer exhaustion of pleasure making with Lorist and did not get to tell him her real name.
"Just... Just call me Anna. M-my real name is Dilianna."
Lorist's hands caressed the two glorious lumps hanging from her chest nonstop, causing her form to soften like water yet again. He then shed all his garments before giving it another push, engaging in an act of union with the young widow.
As the two continued, Lorist increased his pace. But right before the climax, he heard a knocking at the bedroom door. He suddenly burst into a series of quick piston thrusts, the sudden rise in pace causing the aunt to roll her eyes in climax before she slumped onto the bed powerlessly, still moaning and panting lightly.
Come on, thought Lorist in annoyance, to think that someone would come bother me just when I was about to climax... Tying a makeshift skirt around his lower body with a sheet, he rushed angrily to his door. He was surprised to find that the one beyond it was Arriotoli.
"Eh? What's with this smell?" asked the girl the moment her sensitive nose picked up on the distinct smell produced by 'male and female interaction'. But given that she had not engaged in any such activity, she could not quite recall what kind of smell that was. It was not until she entered the room and saw her aunt lying flat on the bed that she understood what had happened.
"Hmph, auntie, how dare you take your niece's man from her? That's going too far!" said the girl in anger, as if her favorite toy had been taken away from her.
"Nonsense, he's my man as well." Now that nobody other than Lorist and Arriotoli was there, Anna did not hold back from standing up for herself.
"Ugh..." Arriotoli was speechless. After all, it was none other than she who invited her aunt over during the gathering to spend a night with Lorist, so she could hardly blame her aunt for it.
"But we're not at the paradise gathering anymore," retorted the girl weakly.
"I don't care," Anna said, "I also stayed chaste for him for two whole years. I'm going to leave with him this time, even if it means becoming his concubine. I'm satisfied as long as I can be together with him. Locke, do you want me to follow you?"
Lorist nodded without hesitation. As Anna was only 30, only one or two years younger than Lorist, she was in her prime of beauty. Only idiots would not desire her.
"Arri, stop being so stubborn. The fact that Locke came over to see us means that he cares about us. Think about the rest of our lives. I believe that Locke is the best one we can possibly spend it with. He won't disappoint us," advised Anna.
"I don't want to be his concubine," said the girl, shaking her head.
"Arri, please come with me. Even though you won't have official status, you will still enjoy all the benefits a wife of mine would. If any of you bear children, I can list them under the family registry and they will also qualify as formal heir candidates. Also, I don't think I might ever take a formal wife. Like you said, there aren't many who are qualified for that position."
Holding onto the girl's shoulder, Lorist said sincerely, "I've come here this time, determined to take you and your family back with me. The situation of the kingdom looks to be in bad shape, and the nobles at the imperial capital are panicking without taking any effective measures and can only watch as the second highness's military campaign fail. I've obtained reliable information that the Union will probably head in this direction after defeating the second highness. Nobles like your Dina house who are situated near the borders will be the first to feel the brunt of their might."
The girl shook Lorist's hand off and said, "I still need time to consider... His Majesty the King wouldn't lose that easily..."
Lorist kicked the door close and hugged the girl, bringing her towards the bed, before he said, "You can take all the time you want to think about it later. But right now, you have to make it up to me for disturbing me just before I climax."
Initially, Arriotoli was being slightly resistant. But under the mutual assault of Lorist and Anna, she eventually succumbed to pleasure.