Enjoy the first release of the week!
Lorist and his allies stayed at the most famous hotel in Rotary street, Dauslyke, during their trip. It was one of the most luxurious establishments in Morante and was naturally the most expensive as well. Lorist did not want for funds, however, so he reserved the whole fourth floor to accommodate all of them.
Count Kenmays had brought two maidservants, four attendants, two household knights and ten guards with him. Baron Shazin brought all five of his concubines -- he did not exactly have a choice -- none of them were willing to give up the chance to go shopping in the Union's most prosperous city and begged to be brought along. Baron Shazin ended up being the one who had brought the most people along, a total of 24 people including the maidservants for his concubines, guards, and servants.
Baron Felim brought only one concubine and two maidservants, as well as his daughter Katrina and her four bodyguards. Lorist brought his two disciples, Reidy and Howard, Blademaster Shuss, Divine Marksman Josk, who had once again left his unit, as well as the three Dinas who were served by three maidservants and 20 guards. The whole group was 89 people.
Prior to the War of Glass, Dauslyke was the place where the foreign nobles who visited Morante would stay. There were always parties or balls being held, which provided an opportunity for the elites of the Union to mingle with the nobles and discuss business. Dauslyke was no longer as merry as it used to be. Lorist's group was one of the largest there.
When Lorist arrived at Red Grace, he was surprised to see Reidy sitting there with the owner, Charlando, drinking and chatting. Seeing Lorist approach, Reidy hurriedly stood up to greet him.
"Eh? Why are you here? What about the others?" asked Lorist.
"They have all returned to Dauslyke, Milord. I came over to see pops since I had some free time," answered Reidy.
As Lorist sat down, Charlando gave him a white-eyed look.
"Locke, now I really regret letting Els and Reidy follow you to The Northlands..."
Stunned, Lorist asked, "Why's that, old Char?"
"There were so many chances this time around... If Els were here, I would definitely get him to form a mercenary band and head to Teribo for a run. I bet he'd have returned with at least a viscounty to his name and could have become a noble right away. That would've been far better than going with you to the desolate Northlands fighting high and low," said Charlando before he sighed.
"Hehe, Reidy, do you regret following me?" asked Lorist without bothering with the old man.
Does that fellow really think that being a Union noble is that easy? Even though they gave out many titles, many of those are just for show. Apart from some who have always been regarded highly by the Union, such as Academy Head Levins, there is no doubt that the other entitled nobles made a bunch of other under-table dealings.
"Milord, I have never had an ounce of regret! Being able to follow you is my honor!" replied Reidy steadfastly.
Charlando pointed at Reidy and yelled, "You... To think that you've learned how to kiss ass! Look at yourself... You've followed him for ten years already... You were a two-star bronze rank back then, and now you're only a one-star silver rank! It's obvious that he neglected training you! Els only attempting to breakthrough to the gold rank now is only usual, since the dark attribute battleforce passed down in his family is harder than most. But for you, if you had stayed here at Morante, you would've already reached the peak silver rank and perhaps even broken through to the gold rank! After all, your constitution is far better than most normal people's!"
"I don't want to run the inn with you..." retorted Reidy.
"You... Stupid brat, pissing me off so much... Even though you've already botched your future, you still don't repent... I'm only worrying for your sake!"
"Hey, hey... old Char, how could you say that? What's that about me botching his future? Oh, I forgot to tell you that Reidy will stay at the one-star silver rank for good and won't be able to break through anymore. That's because he's training in my special technique, not battleforce. Even if you're a one-star gold rank, you are no longer Reidy's match." interjected Lorist.
"There's no way that's true! I'm a gold rank and he's a one-star silver rank. I can easily suppress him based on only the difference in rank. Come on, Reidy, have a match with me right this instant! If you lose, I won't let you follow him no more!" yelled Charlando, angered.
Reidy looked at Lorist helplessly.
"Go ahead, Reidy. Be sure to hold back."
Charlando's mood worsened even further when he heard Lorist's comment.
"Aren't you going to watch our match?" asked he.
"What's the point? The result was clear the moment you challenged him. My being here won't change anything," answered Lorist.
The old man turned and left, followed by Reidy. The match ended rather quickly; when Lorist just finished ordering some dishes from the maidservant of the inn, Reidy came back.
"How many strikes did it take?"
Reidy stretched out five fingers.
"Huh, five strikes? You need to work harder. I thought you would only need three," said Lorist, dissatisfied.
"That's not it," Reidy explained, "We had two matches. I defeated pops with two strikes in the first. He wasn't convinced and challenged me another time, which he lost after three strikes."
"Ugh," Lorist groaned before he turned to look at the rear of the inn.
Not seeing Charlando, he asked, "What about old Char?"
"He's sulking," said Reidy.
"I didn't mean that. What is going on with him tonight? He seems like he swallowed a whole barrel of gunpowder," said Lorist.
"He's embarrassed himself badly," Reidy laughed, "He had been gambling with maze cards at the old street. Just when he was in the heat of it, Madam Louise asked him to watch the two children when she went shopping. He agreed but didn't take it to heart. The kids drank alcohol secretly and ended up getting drunk. Madam Louise used an iron wok to pummel him quite a few times whilst he was still in the middle of the game and chased the other players away. She even had him kneel in the corner of the room and forbade him to leave while she brought her drunk children home."
Lorist could not help but laugh uncontrollably. Charlando had married Louise ten years earlier. Back then, he was still in rather good shape and managed to get Louise pregnant twice. He now had one ten-year-old and another seven-year-old. Perhaps because they were raised in an inn, the two children loved to drink and would do so the moment they were not supervised. Louise blamed it all on Charlando who had let them taste alcohol back when they were still feeding on nothing but milk.
But even Lorist did not expect Charlando to grow so fearful of his wife. The moment Louise's anger flared, Charlando would shrink up like a turkey about to be slaughtered. He completely lost the proud air of a gold-ranked swordsman.
"No wonder I felt the inn weird when I entered... Louise wasn't at the counter and I didn't hear the noise of the children," said Lorist.
"When I came in here, pops was kneeling in the corner over there. When I asked the maidservant what happened, he heard my voice and came over to vent on me. Fortunately, you came here in time. Otherwise, I would've been nagged to death..." sighed Reidy.
At that moment, the maidservant served the food Lorist had ordered.
"I guess we came at a wrong time. Let's leave after we finish the food. Help me eat some of this," said he.
"Alright, Milord," Reidy agreed as he poured Lorist a cup of blackcurrant wine, "Milord, we ran into some arrogant nobles when we were shopping at Rotary street just now. Some of them came over to flirt with the younger Dina sister and Baron Shazin's five mistresses. It ended with one of the nobles having a broken leg. The guy left barking some threats."
Lorist was surprised that something like that could happen at Morante. Only an idiot would provoke or flirt with female nobles at Rotary street. He had never heard of something like that happening during his ten-year stay at Morante. However, given the number of new nobles that had just been entitled by the Union, Lorist supposed it was nothing surprising. Perhaps, they were the relatives of such nobles. Even after bearing a title, a merchant would always be a merchant, they lacked a sense of the proper etiquette and behavior expected of a noble.
"Alright, I doubt it'll be an issue. Next time, make sure to break all four of his limbs. If he doesn't learn, cut off his trouble-making member. House Norton doesn't have to tolerate such crap from anyone," said he, nodding.
Lorist and Reidy walked back leisurely after finishing their meal. About half an hour's walk later, they could see Dauslyke's facade behind a few buildings. The moonlight was rather bright and the majestic buildings along Rotary street looked all the more magnificent for it.
Eh? Something's wrong. Why are there so many people gathered in front of the hotel? Something is definitely going on.
Lorist and Reidy gave each other a look before they hastened on. They quickly arrived at the entrance and saw just over ten guards standing at the entrance. On the plaza opposite the hotel were hundreds of badly dressed mercenaries waving their weapons around, demanding the hotel hand over a murderer.
Reidy pulled Lorist along.
"I think those people are here for us, Milord."
"Oh? Then are they the men of that noble you guys broke the leg of earlier today? Did anyone die from the conflict?" asked Lorist.
"Haha, while we did break the noble's leg, he brought quite a number of guards with him. Even though a few guards were lightly injured, almost two-thirds of the rest had to be carried back. Even I don't know if there are any who were injured too badly and died before they could be helped," answered Reidy.
"Oh, so that's the case. Let's circle around and go in through the wall behind," suggested Lorist as he pointed at the walls surrounding the hotel.
Upon entering the hotel, Lorist met with the manager, a polite man who had greying hair. When he saw Lorist, the manager let out a breath.
"Sir, are you the one who got into a conflict with Marquis Bejisanro's son?" asked he politely.
"Marquis Bejisanro? What's the deal with that? That's not a noble surname at all," chortled Lorist.
The name was far too weird to be the name of a noble house.
It was common knowledge that there were two sources of family names on Grindia. One of them was hereditary, a name passed down from a heroic ancestor. For example, the Norton family name was translated to Raging Bear in the language of fairies. Another source was a given surname, a surname granted to a person from another of status, like Baron Shazin's. A name like Bejisanro meant 'lowest of the alley'. It was a typical commoner surname.
The manager was also embarrassed by a name like that. Being someone who had tended to many nobles from various nations, he was also well-informed about the names of noble houses. He had no choice in the matter, unfortunately. It was no surprise given the sudden entitlement of more than 400 nobles in the Union, many of whom did not really understand what it meant to be nobility and only thought they would be able to act as they pleased.
While a name like Bejisanro sounded rather unique, those who understood the history of nobles knew that names like that were used before the magi of the magical civilization invented Grindia's current lingua franca. Following the introduction of the new language, many surnames were made using the language of fairies for those of magical heritage. Names like Bejisanro denoted that their ancestors were of the lowest social class that were not given names in the new language.
However, it was a miracle in itself that a surname like Bejisanro managed to be passed down for so many generations. Currently, the chief speaker of the Union's sub-council was none other than Marquis Bejisanro. It was rumored that the man was one of the ones who advocated for brute force expansionism. He had pushed for the Union to use their invincible force to destroy the nations that cut off their trade routes. He even proposed for a 100-thousand strong army to be formed to teach the nations that were unwilling to submit to the Union a harsh lesson. That kind of brainless rhetoric was surprisingly welcome to Morante's commoners, however.
After the manager introduced the background of the marquis, Lorist snorted.
"This afternoon, our ladies were harassed by the son of that asshat of a marquis during their shopping trip. He dared to have his guards forcefully take our ladies away! This is ridiculous. Since when did Morante become such a lawless place? That was the reason we gave him a little lesson. I was just about to make a complaint to the Union. Are all the nobles of that bearing? What an embarrassment to the other noble houses on Grindia they are!"
The manager laughed awkwardly.
"Lord Count, the nobility system was implemented only recently. Some rough spots here and there are to be expected. I should let you know that even if you make a complaint now, it would be pointless. Marquis Bejisanro is the current chief speaker of the Union's sub-council and he wouldn't bother with the complaint at all."
"Doesn't the Union have another high council?" asked Lorist.
"Lord Count, the high council members are the presidents of the big seven guilds. They aren't in Morant any longer. They are in their own dominions, so Morante is controlled completely by the sub-council. That's why Marquis Bejisanro's son is so arrogant and even dares to harass noble ladies at Rotary street. It doesn't help that he is not fearful of causing trouble or conflict, given how his father is in the expansionist faction."
Good Sol, to think that the Union has their own version of fascist skinheads, thought Lorist, stroking his chin. He looked at the raging crowd outside on the plaza.
"So those people want you to hand us over?"
The manager nodded awkwardly.
"That's right. But don't worry, Lord Count, since you have chosen to stay at Dauslyke, we will guarantee your safety. We only hope that no other incidents occur during your stay here in the next few days, so I hope you will watch over your guards and make sure they don't provoke more conflict."
"Alright then, we'll just rest here for three days. If the marquis still doesn't let up by then, don't blame me for not giving them any more chances," said Lorist, revealing the slightest hint of killing intent.