Here's the 5th release of the week! See you guys next week!
Knight 1: Charade, also known as 'The Fatty', bore the title Chief Knight of the House and was a one-star gold rank. He was born in a family with a mercantile background and used to be the supervisor of Dawn Academy's enforcement division. He was also one of Lorist's close friends.
Knight 2: Three-star-gold-ranked Grei Potterfang, nicknamed Pog, was of common birth and use to serve as a regiment leader in the Krissen Empire's Whitelion Legion. He was the first gold-ranked knight to pledge allegiance to Lorist.
Knight 3: Loze Wales, nicknamed 'Fiercetiger Loze', was a peak three-star-gold-ranked knight whose father was a mercenary. After he matured, Loze joined the army and became one of the legion's generals. He joined House Norton along with his friend, Potterfang.
Knight 4: Mons Malek, who bore the moniker 'Ironface', was a two-star gold rank of common birth who used to serve as a regiment leader in the Whitelion legion. After the legion's dissolution, he joined Lorist along with Fiercetiger Loze.
Knight 5: Josk, affectionately called Joe, was a three-star gold ranked knight known as the 'Divine Marksman'. He was born in a family of knights and was adopted by a noble. He joined Lorist for the sake of vengeance. He pledged to live life alone forever so that he wouldn't forget his deceased fiancee.
Knight 6: Chino Freiyar, a three-star gold rank who used to be a mercenary, had been forced into a labor camp because he had fought against some nobles. He was rescued by Lorist's convoy alongside his family and traveled to The Northlands to become a gold-ranked knight of the household.
Knight 7: Belnick, or 'Beck the White-haired', was a three-star gold ranked knight born to a servant family of the Norton household. When he was still a silver rank, he had been poisoned and remained in his sickbed for years before Lorist treated him. After being given a high-ranked battleforce manual, he eventually trained to the gold rank.
Knight 8: Brennan Evanport, known to most as Els, was a one-star gold rank who used to be a syndicate boss in Morante. He ended up following his close friend, Lorist, to The Northlands and became a silver-ranked knight of the house. After ten years of training, he eventually became a gold rank.
Knight 9: Waprey Terman, a one-star gold rank who was born in a family of freelance knights, was the first one to join Lorist's northbound convoy. Deeply trusted by Lorist, he got the position of the commander of the Raging Bear Knight Brigade.
Knight 10: Yuwen Ridest, nicknamed Yuriy, was a man from a line of shepherds from the grasslands. One of Lorist's close friends since the days of the academy, he joined Lorist's northbound convoy and eventually ended up being the commander of the light cavalry scouts.
Knight 11: Pajik, a one-star gold rank of common birth, had become the captive of the first young master of the Norton house during the time of the civil war. Following the first young master's death, he kept his word and was eventually knighted by Lorist when he returned to the dominion.
Knight 12: Senbaud, a two-star gold rank ex-pirate who had been forced to serve House Norton during one of Lorist's expropriation missions and eventually pledged allegiance to Lorist, was the commander of the Oceanic Legion.
Knight 13: Two-star-gold-ranked Jades used to be a slave. Originally a wandering knight, he had been captured and enslaved by a Hanayabartan slaver band and forced to fight for his masters' entertainment. He was eventually rescued when Lorist exterminated the kingdom and pledged his allegiance to his house.
Knight 14: Messen, a one-star gold rank who used to be a slave, used to be the captain of a village garrison before his enslavement. He eventually pledged allegiance to House Norton since he no longer had a home to return to.
Knight 15: Ovidis, nicknamed 'Big-beard', was a one-star-gold-ranked ex-bandit. After surrendering to Lorist and serving him, he eventually made many contributions to Lorist's cause. His trustworthiness and sincerity were the qualities that convinced Lorist to knight him.
Knight 16: One-star gold rank Dulles. Being of common birth, he had joined up with Lorist when he was still at Dawn Academy because he admired Lorist's swordsmanship. Dulles was utilized extensively and was the one who founded the carroballista unit so monumental to the northbound convoy's success. He was also one of Lorist's favorite subordinates.
Those were the 16 gold-ranked knights under Lorist's command. Their reputation had yet to truly become widespread, and they had no way of knowing that they would eventually come to be known as the Raging-Bear King's 16 Wings. With the growing might of House Norton, the Raging Bear sharpened its claws. Eventually, the time when their reputation spread far across the whole of Grindia would come.
In the guards' residential quarters, Lorist walked through the corridor and stopped in front of a room with a red-colored door. The door was shut, but not locked. Upon pushing it open, Lorist saw someone lying face-flat on the bed.
"Didn't I tell you? I don't feel like eating. Don't bother me," said the person without raising his head when he heard the door open.
On the table beside the bed were some honeyed bread, wheat porridge, meat soup, roasted fish, and two baked apples. There was also some warm goats milk in a glass jar nearby.
"Hehe, the sick menu looks rather good. It's far better than what we had at Dawn Academy. I still remember when we only had black bread and wheat porridge and nothing else. I cry a little bit inside every time I eat it again," said Lorist, standing in front of the table, looking at the food.
The person on the bed started before he got up hurriedly and said, "Mi-milord... Why have you come?"
"To check on you, of course. I hear you've been depressed so much you won't eat."
The person sitting on the bed was none other than Jim, who had failed his attempt to break through to the gold rank. Lorist had come to visit him.
"I'm disappointed Jim, not for your failure, but your current condition. Failing a breakthrough isn't a big deal. You can always recover with enough time. As the second in command of my guards, don't tell me you don't have the courage to face a little setback? Waxima, Pete and some others have also failed before, but they didn't fall into despair like you. Oh no, they're working hard to recover.The house trusts you all and will help you make your next breakthrough."
"Milord, it's my fault... I shouldn't have taken out my failure on others and cooped myself up in my room," said Jim with his head lowered.
Lorist sat down and stretched his hand to Jim's left hand.
"It's fine, as long as you recognize your mistake and learn from it. Make sure to finish your food and rest to recover your body. You will become my gold-ranked knight. For now, let me check what's going on with your body."
There were three methods with which a person could train their battleforce. The first was the basic method which one would use after awakening one's battleforce. It was the simplest and easiest to master and people of all battleforce attributes could use it. However, it was only good for use up to the iron rank. one would have to use a mid-to-high-ranked battleforce technique to breakthrough to the silver and gold ranks.
The second method involved the use of the standard battleforce technique taught in the military. The military battleforce technique was more complicated than the basic battleforce technique given its focus on attack techniques and practicality. Without a proper foundation in battleforce training, one might injure oneself from erroneous training techniques. Similar to the basic battleforce technique, the military battleforce technique could be used by battleforce users of any attribute, with most people able to reach the peak of the silver rank with it. Potterfang was one example of a person who reached the peak silver rank through training in the military battleforce technique. It was only after he started training in a high-ranked battleforce technique that fit his attribute that he broke through to become a gold-ranked knight.
The last kind of battleforce technique was the kind that was passed down from one generation after another in noble houses. One advantage of these techniques was that they were purer and could improve one's battleforce strength and output. Not only that, it could decrease the difficulty required to breakthrough to the next rank. Potterfang himself had to spend a lot of time getting acquainted with the different circulation diagrams of his high-ranked technique as he had developed many habits from using the military battleforce technique for too long. One had to keep circulating one's battleforce according to the high-ranked technique. Should one revert to the old military battleforce technique, one would fail when attempting to make a breakthrough like Jim, injuring oneself in the process.
That was the reason for the long time of seclusion training required before one broke through to the gold rank. Normally, breaking through from the bronze to silver ranks posed little problem as the major circulation diagrams only increased in complexity by a little. However, the major circulation diagrams for the gold rank was far too different from that of the silver rank. One had to spend large amounts of time to practice and get used to the new circulation diagrams to breakthrough to the gold rank.
For instance, a bronze rank only had to circulate their blood through 20 blood circulation nodes. The number could go up to 28 for iron ranks and a range of 36 to 45 for silver ranks. Gold ranks had to circulate through 80 to 100-odd blood circulation nodes. Only after one was familiar with the new major battleforce circulation cycle could one not make the mistake of using an old circulation path. That was what differentiated those who succeeded in breaking through to the gold rank from those who didn't, and was also the main reason people failed during their breakthrough.
Jim's situation was similar in that he had accidentally used an old battleforce circulation path while he was familiarizing himself with the new paths, causing the force within his bloodstream to clash and injure him. Currently, he was just like a cripple who could not use the slightest bit of battleforce. However, all he had to do was rest for half a year to recover. Not only that, he could start training with the high-ranked battleforce technique right away without having to retrain his old techniques. It would take him roughly eight months to a year to breakthrough the bronze and iron ranks to regain his former strength as a silver rank. Having experienced failure, he would still have gained some experience from the attempt so the effort was definitely not in vain.
After checking Jim's condition, Lorist offered some more words of consolation. Only after seeing that he had regained some spirit and finished his food did Lorist leave. When he arrived at his study at Firmrock Castle, he saw Tarkel waiting for him by the door.
"Milord, the detailed battle report was just delivered," reported Tarkel.
"Give me the report. Thanks for the hard work, go take some rest," said Lorist.
That report was about Melein' destruction as a result of the death of Duke Melein, a rank 2 blademaster and one of the three renowned war gods of the former empire.
In the time of the empire, the first one to be hailed as war god was the Wargod Knight, Duke Yanjinov, commander in chief of the imperial troops. Too bad he perished during a great battle thirty years earlier during the conflict between the Empire and the Union. Duke Yanjinov was blamed for the mistake that saw the empire's only swordsaint die in an ambush. He was stripped title and land. He faded from the limelight not long after and died ten years later. His death caused the overly ambitious first and second princes to pull out all the stops and start the civil war.
The second one to be hailed as war god was Duke Fisablen, Wargod of the Plains. The old fox had resisted the grassland barbarians' invasions without a single failure for many years, but he hardly ever left his dominion and was far away from the empire's administrative center.
The third wargod was Duke Melein, mainly because he held the position of Commander of the Fiercegale Legion, one of the empire's three largest armies, for almost a decade. The difference between the imperial local defense legion that mainly defended the empire and the Whitelion legion that fought in conflicts with other nations was that Fiercegale specialized in dealing with internal threats such as revolts and bandits. The reputation gained by Fiercegale over hundreds of battles was far less in comparison to that gained by Whitelion, which fought in open and large-scale battles. Even so, Fiercegale had come to specialize in mobility and flexibility thanks to Duke Melein's training. It had impressive offensive capabilities.
When Duke Melein wedded his beloved 16-year-old daughter to Third Prince Andinaq and united his house with the imperial family, he retired from his position as Commander of the Fiercegale Legion and returned to his dominion to spend the rest of his life. When the civil war began, however, Duke Melein had to stand at the third prince's side and fight the second prince's forces frequently. Even though there were some battles lost, in the end, he still managed to ruin Southern and successfully suppress the second prince. However, because Duke Fisablen was on the second prince's side, there was nothing much Duke Melein could do about the prince.
After the civil war, Duke Melein formed the Melein duchy. Originally, he had been on good terms with the four central duchies and had trade relations with them for quite some time. However, when the second highness rallied his soldiers and embarked upon his quest to reunite the empire, the duke had greatly supported him. When the second highness ended up trapped in Frederika, Duke Melein responded by attacking Shabaj with his troops. He hoped it would enough to help the second highness out. But, due to the years of fighting Melein had gone through, the duchy had long expended most of its resources. Duke Melein ended up unable to help the second highness much and gaining four new enemies for himself in the process.
The attack on Frederika by the four central duchies exterminated most of the second highness' remaining troops. While they didn't manage to find the second highness himself, they managed to stabilize the situation and decided to take out Melein and his duchy. Perhaps because they thought the second highness was hiding in Messen Castle, they decided to go all out to kill him lest he causes more trouble in the future. So, the four central duchies contacted Duke Fisablen and stated their intentions to invade the duchy without warning.
Duke Melein, who was trapped in his own castle, found that his soldiers were far too weak to resist the enemy's assault, so he abandoned The castle in an attempt to break out of the encirclement. He was stopped by Duke Fisablen's cavalry divisions at Mount Leiffdema. He was killed on the battlefield by ten arrows.
According to the report, Melein and Rimad provinces were absorbed by Shabaj whereas Duke Fisablen moved more than 100 thousand people from the duchy to Eastwild. It was said that it was part of the agreement between Duke Fisablen and the four central duchies.
I totally missed the initiative! Lorist sighed, Duke Fisablen hid everything from me and I wasn't able to find out why the two dukes were there. I thought they were going for Princess Sylvia just like I was...
If I knew their target was Melein, I could've taken Southern and Winston after Duke Fisablen deployed his troops and trapped them in Melein. I would've been able to force House Fisablen to give in to my demands and may even have stood a chance at taking Wild Husbandry! I could've made them reliant on House Norton for their survival and eliminated a target for worry while I was at it!
Now that the chance is missed, the effort to bring in more refugees from those two provinces will be affected. Before this, Duke Fisablen wanted it for his own dominion but he wasn't able to do so as his house didn't have that much money. However, now that they've conquered the greater and lesser golden creeks, their financial crisis is solved and they're also able to afford buying gear from our house to strengthen their forces. They will be able to import labor from Southern and Winston to solve their lack of manpower.
The most important part is that without Melein, Duke Fisablen gains a reliable route to the four central duchies. He might e en be able to send livestock over there in droves and trade with them for the resources he needs instead of with the salt merchant committee...our monopoly is in shambles! We are no longer able to control House Fisablen's trade!
Lorist shook his head as he looked at the map and thought that the house would definitely face heavy opposition from House Fisablen if he tried to conquer Iblia. Now that Duke Fisablen had the support of the four central duchies, there would definitely be a huge war in Winston and Southern. The unforeseeable missed initiative had cost more than Lorist had imagined!
"Have all the knights leading the three legions to gather at Firmrock Castle for a strategy meeting. Also, send someone to notify our allies. Have Count Kenmays, Baron Felim, and Baron Shazin come over to discuss the expansion of our influence."