Here's this week's second release.
Lorist, Anna and Arri made love all the way through the night before finally ending up in each other's embrace and falling into deep slumber. Lorist only awoke the next day from the noise outside the castle. He realized that he was alone in the bed, with Anna and Arri no longer there with him.
The previous night had done wonders to refresh him. Lorist got off the bed and felt completely relaxed. All the fatigue that had built up vanished completely, allowing him to be at his best state. Everything almost seemed to sparkle in Lorist's eyes. Simply slapping on some clothes, Lorist went to the room next to his and had Howard wake up to gather some water from the well downstairs to prepare for a bath.
Howard walked out with dark circles under his eyes and complained, "Milord, you were making too much noise yesterday and I was unable to sleep at all! I only managed to fall asleep when it the sky started to brightened, but then you came to wake me up almost right away..."
Well, since I'm in a good mood, I'll refrain from bickering with this little bastard. Knocking on Howard's head, he said, "Alright, go get some sleep. I'll take a bath myself."
Howard groaned sleepily before closing his door and going back to sleep.
Lorist brought the bronze basin in his room and a towel to the well behind the castle before he started using the water to wash himself. Given the hot weather of the 7th month, goosebumps manifested on Lorist's skin the moment the chilling water splashed onto him.
Beside the well was a drinking fountain. The four horses pulling the carriages were being fed water and brushed by some servants. Just as Lorist was about to go close to see, he heard someone call out to him from behind. One of the female servants came over and said, "Milord, the mistress has invited you over for breakfast."
When Lorist made his way to the dining hall, he was surprised to see Howard there. Curious, he asked, "Weren't you going to get some more sleep?"
Howard gave a bitter laugh and said, "If only it were that easy to fall asleep again! This castle only has single-layered walls and the echo is especially strong. I'm able to hear the slightest movements of others super clearly. The noise of people and horses is too much for me to bear. I think I'll go take another nap at the camp outside later."
Howard was not wrong, as the castle of the Dina barony was built like a clock's circular structure. The advantage to that was that it was hard to attack, but the echo of sounds was a side effect. Just like a bronze clock cover that would hum when the bell beneath it rang, the upper floors of the castle would be affected by the sounds beneath.
Anna enthusiastically instructed a few servants to serve Lorist and Howard a lavish breakfast. there were bread coated with goat-horned bee honey, cheese, turkey bacon, fresh filk, some honeyed milk as well as some self-brewed fruit wine.
Arriotoli later arrived at the dining hall clad in leather armor, armed with her two-handed greatsword. Behind her was her younger brother and Silver-ranked Knight Massa. Seeing their sweaty looks, they must have finished morning training not too long ago.
Arriotoli placed her greatsword on a rack nearby before removing her leather gloves and placing them in a bronze basin to be washed. Using a rag given to her by a servant to wipe off some sweat, she came over and say opposite Lorist.
Lorist gave her a blinding smile, only to receive an eye roll in return. It was at that moment when Fennazali sneezed as she walked into the hall and took her place beside Arriotoli. "Sis, where did you go yesterday night? I think there was a cat in heat somewhere in our castle. It was calling out so loudly that I wasn't able to sleep properly. I wanted to find you to chase that cat away together, but you weren't in your room. The sound only quieted down when daybreak came..."
Pfft! Howard tried to stifle his laughter and said, "I'm sorry, I'm already full. I'll be taking my leave here. Enjoy your meal..."
He then left.
Arriotoli said with a flushed face, "Zali, I didn't hear any screeching cat..."
"Well, there's no way a cat can hear itself screech, can it?" Lorist interjected. Having spent quite the time with both Anna and Arri the night before, he found that Anna was the quiet type who would only lightly pant even after achieving climax. Arriotoli was different in that she would moan like a soprano singing in an opera. Her moans built up in tension and went completely out of control when she climaxed. It was no wonder her sister thought that there was a cat in heat somewhere in the castle.
Arriotoli's face was red with embarrassment. Gritting her teeth, she tried to stomp on Lorist's feet beneath the dining table, only for her leg to be clipped between Lorist's own legs.
"Arri, have you made your decision? Will you come with me?" asked Lorist as he picked up a honeyed bread for himself.
Arriotoli looked at Lorist with a hateful glare until her leg was released. Then, she revealed a smile as she shook her head and said, "I don't want to leave this place. This is the Dina barony, the dominion of my household. I will not abandon it."
Lorist began to worry and said, "Idiot, did all the sword-training turn your brain into solid muscle? Leaving now doesn't mean that you're abandoning your dominion. Instead, you need to do this to ensure the survival of your house and bloodline. Are you prepared to bury your own family here in this valley? If all of you perish, there would be no more Dina barony. Your brother is still young. Let him return here once he has matured to inherit the land. I can promise that your dominion will be returned to your house when the time comes.
Arriotoli started to get angry as she tossed the bread in her hand to Lorist and yelled, "While it's easy for us to leave right now, coming back in the future will be incredibly hard. Just like you said, it'll take another eight years before my brother comes of age. If I don't stay here in our dominion, who will acknowledge that is the case in the future? Who would remember us?"
"That's easy. We only need to use our swords to stimulate their memory," Lorist said with a chuckle, "With the House of Norton behind your back, there's no need to worry about the matter of your dominion. Arri, perhaps when your brother grows up, the House of Dina won't just have a small barony. You can even have a whole viscounty."
Arriotoli rolled her eyes and said, "Hmph, you say that like it's true..."
Fennazali asked curiously, "Lord Count, is the House of Norton really powerful?"
Lorist nodded and said, "I'm sure your sister knows better that our house is the strongest within the whole of the Andinaq kingdom."
"Since the kingdom is in trouble, why does the House of Norton not help His Majesty out of his dangerous predicament?" asked Fennazali naively.
"Well," Lorist began, "Second mistress, it's not that the Norton house doesn't want to contribute to the kingdom. The people in power at the imperial capital themselves have refused our offer to help out. Not only did they forbid our house from sending aid to the frontlines, they also instructed us to stay within our own dominion without taking any rash action. If that wasn't the case, I'm afraid I wouldn't have the time to come visit all of you.
"Did you hear about the War of Glass that concluded just last year? The Union and the Teribo kingdom got into war over the secret of glass production, ending with the extermination of the Teribo kingdom. The Union now controls the territory of the kingdom, and an estimated number of seventy percent of Teribo nobles have gone missing.
"It was later revealed that those nobles had encountered raiding mercenaries and private military outfits when they attempted to defend their own dominions. Those private armies and mercenary bands either killed or hanged the nobles. To the mercenary bands of the nobles, the more land the nobles they kill control, the more impressive the title they will be awarded for the deed.
"That's the reason I want you all to leave with me. Let's not hand ourselves to those enemies on a silver platter. Bring your house's land deed and title certification documents with you. When your younger brother matures and you wish to take your dominion back, the Norton house will definitely offer aid. We will definitely not disappoint you."
Arriotoli stood up in troubled fashion and said, "That's enough, Lord Count. Let me have some time to think about what I should do."
The girl has always thought that Lorist was exaggerating the facts and believed that the king would not lose that easily. Even though Auguslo had been trapped within the three provinces of the Redlis kingdom, he still had 170 thousand men under his control. Arriotoli felt that the Union would not be able to do much as long as the army was still with the king.
Lorist spent half a month of worriless days at the Dina barony, enjoying the company and hospitality of Anna. However, Arriotoli herself still had not made up her mind yet. On some nights, she would sneak into Lorist's bed and squeal like a cat in heat. But no matter what, she still did not want to leave her dominion and depart with Lorist.
By the end of the 7th month, word from Morante and Jillin Harbor finally let Arriotoli understand the direness of the situation.
A report by the Morante Daily, titled 'The God of War's End', recounted the events during the 2nd month of the previous year when the second highness crossed Cloudsnap Mountains with his army and stormed Frederika despite the odds, making him gain the reputation of a god of war of the new generation overnight.
It was a shame that the second highness got gravely sick following his conquest of more than half of the territory of the Redlis kingdom. Having missed the opportunity to unite the land of the two kingdoms, the second highness allowed the enemy to regroup and reform and even suffered quite a number of losses from the reckless arrogance of his subordinates, much to the detriment of his army's morale. By the time the second highness realized that something was wrong and took command despite still being sick, it was already too late.
At the frontlines within the Redlis kingdom, the second highness faced more than one enemy. For instance, the Wessia Merchant Guild from the Union had conquered part of the Redlis kingdom's territory, and the four central duchies had refused to abide by the second highness's demand to relinquish their independent status and return under his reign, launching into revolt. As for the nobles of the Redlis kingdom, they pressed their attacks on the Andinaq kingdom's royal local defense legion thanks to the second highness's refusal to give them the due preferential treatment nobles like them deserved.
On the 13th day of the 7th month, the four central duchies formed an allied army numbering 140 thousand men and sent it to attack the army of the second highness, which was stationed at the borders of the Handra duchy. They also slaughtered all the livestock in the vicinity and celebrated with a huge banquet, causing the 100-thousand-strong army of the second highness to crumble from the lack of food, giving the four central duchies a major and easy victory, allowing them to move their forces into Majik Province.
On the 21st day of the 7th month, the second highness retreated from Anderwoff Province and gathered around 20 thousand soldiers that were still willing to obey him to defend Frederika. The ones that encircled the city that time was the Wessia Merchant Guild's private army of 20 thousand men and 30 thousand more soldiers of the Union and other private parties, as well as the 80 thousand soldiers of the four central duchies and another 20 thousand soldiers of the nobles of the Redlis kingdom. The second highness had to deal with almost 150 thousand men, trapped within Frederika without food or reinforcements. The writer of the article opined that the time was nigh for the god of war's end.
That report was published on the 21st day of the 7th month in the Morante Daily, and the current date was the 34th day of the 7th month. Thirteen days had passed during the delivery of the paper to Lorist, and it was unknown whether siege on Frederika had begun, or whether the second highness still survived.
Lorist was enraged after reading the emergency report from Jillin Harbor. To think that the second royal local defense legion near the borders of the Madras duchy is still groveling slowly towards the frontlines at a time like this... They also sent 45 thousand men from their ranks over to Jillin Harbor to take over the security and instructed for the forces of the Norton house to return to Silowas... and demanded that we don't take any refugees?! Demands...
Gosh, they have so many demands! Lorist stroked his chin and thought, I see that I don't have a choice but to teach these fellows a lesson. They actually spread themselves thinner by sending 45 thousand men as a precaution against our house, leaving only 30 thousand men to save the second highness... Those people there at the imperial capital are completely treating us like enemies! I wonder if their stance represents the second highness's...
Arriotoli was completely dumbfounded by the article and the report from Jillin Harbor.
"How could this be?" stammered she.
Lorist laughed in a cold tone and said, "Do you know that those fellows at the imperial capital don't even know what to do about the predicament their king is in? They're still struggling for power over one another at a time like this... I think I understand now. They believe that allowing the Norton house to rescue the second highness is an opportunity for us to gain his favor, so they want to stop us from getting on the second highness's good side, lest they lose the favor themselves. That's why they sent the royal local defense legion to Jillin Harbor to chase our troops back into the ocean without even caring about how their king is being encircled this very moment...
"We don't have much time, Arri. Let's leave now. There's no point in thinking about this anymore. Don't make me force you to come along," said Lorist solemnly as he looked at Arriotoli.
"I'll come," the girl said, "But I won't be your concubine. If Aunt Anna wants to, she's free to do so. I can, however, be your lover. But you must make me a female knight and raise my younger brother into a fine knight and dominion lord."
"Deal," Loirst said, "Make your preparations quick. Only take what you need. We'll be leaving first thing tomorrow. You can bring the folk in your dominion along if you want. I won't split you up from your subjects. You can definitely nurture and train your subjects into a force that will defend the Dina house in the future."
"Thank you, Locke," said Arriotoli.