Yes, it's finally that time. We've finally reached chapter 400. Now there're less than 200 chapters left until we've caught up with the author. We are so happy that so many of you have been coming along for the ride so far. Let's make these last 200 or so chapters an absolute blast!
ANd here's the quote of the chapter:
"A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair." ~ Norton Lysecott
Note: This chapter was accidentally released early due to a scheduling mishap, so we will continue our release on the site the day after. Thanks for your understanding and enjoy the extra early chapter!
"Locke, take a rest. Look, you're already sweating all over," said Sylvia as she wiped the sweat of Lorist's face with a linen cloth lovingly.
When word of how Lorist had insisted that he take her as his wife even at the cost of going against his house's officials and knights, including holding a meeting just to scold those who'd objected and forcefully suppressing their opinions, spread to Sylvia's ears through the gossiping maids, she felt incredibly moved and seemed like a completely different person. All her low spirits and depression faded away at once.
With her mood changed, her appetite returned to normal and she was getting much better sleep, unlike before when she still required Lorist to accompany her at night, holding her hand. She would panic whenever she couldn't see him. She was a two-star gold rank, so now that her emotional problems were gone, her body recovered quickly and she soon regained her stunning beauty.
She was still as clingy as usual though, which made Lorist feel a little troubled by what he had done. It wasn't that he didn't have a chance to finally bed her. There had been an instance one night where he'd made out with her enough that she was willing to dive into the river of love with him. But for some inexplicable reason, he'd decided to resist the urge and leave it for after their marriage. After all, the best moment should be left to the most important night of their lives.
So, he spent the two months at Firmrock with his self-imposed celibacy. While Dilianna and two other concubines were there too, he had no time to 'cheat'. Currently, he was living in the room next to Sylvia's. While they didn't sleep in the same room or bed, they were practically next to each other. Sylvia slept lightly and couldn't do so without Lorist remaining by her side. She would be woken by the slightest movement.
There was this one time Lorist had received an urgent military notification and had to deal with it in his study. However, it was a false alarm. A newly formed garrison squad had gone missing during its training session in Black Forest. The officers thought it might be a barbarian attack. So, Firmrock's troops were put into battle stations. After waiting for an hour, the squad made it back safely. Relieved, Lorist left his study and saw Sylvia in her night robes with her maidservants huddling in the corner of the study's mini lounge. According to the maidservant, when the princess realized Lorist wasn't by her side after waking up, she wanted to look for him no matter what. When she found that access to the study was restricted, she decided to wait in the lounge until he came out.
Seeing Sylvia's panicked, loving eyes, he had no choice but to forget looking for his concubines to relieve him and accompany Sylvia to her room to lull her to sleep again.
Every morning, he was greeted with Sylvia's smile before he had breakfast with her and headed off to his study to work. The local defense forces' expansion had gotten underway recently. Even with Freiyar and Belnick in charge, Lorist still had to personally sign off on the transfers and appointments. He also had to gain an understanding of the newly appointed knights and pay attention to the mine's development, as well as the fort to be built there. There was also the matters of the overhaul of The Northlands' roads and the general construction endeavors within the dominion. Having to provide general oversight to everything made Lorist so busy he usually didn't even have time for lunch.
But no matter what, he still had to accompany Sylvia for dinner every evening. Dilianna and his two other concubines, Daisy and Maria joined them. Fennazali and her elder sister Arriotoli still hadn't returned from new Dina barony. Dilianna's son was already almost two years old, so she brought him with her all the time. It didn't bother Lorist, but Daisy and Maria felt a little vexed when they saw the gazes Lorist gave his child. Ever since he'd returned two months ago, he still hadn't made a move on them.
Lorist had his share of troubles. Celibacy was taking quite the toll on him, but he didn't have the time to relieve himself. These days he was busier than ever during the day. And he spent the night with Sylvia. He only had his stupid mouth to blame for suggesting they left their 'best moment' for their wedding day. Even though Sylvia had already recovered more or less, whenever Lorist tried to strip her after a making out session, she would always say the same thing with teary eyes.
"Locke, do you still love me? Didn't you say you would leave it for the best night of our lives?"
Lorist slapped himself to calm his fire. Though she was right in front of him, he couldn't dig in at all. Sometimes, he was so sexually frustrated he was tempted to crawl into the two maidservants' beds. If not for his fear of inadvertently waking her, he would've done so long ago.
I wonder how long I can last... Lorist counted the days since he'd last relieved himself, Why was I so stupid to set the wedding for the 11th month? It's only the 7th... Looks like there's still quite a wait...
Though he had a rare free day today, he had to go to the training grounds behind the mountain after having breakfast with Sylvia. It was the first day Howard would officially enter secluded training to work on the Dan Ocean Ki-refining Technique. Given that he'd experience teaching the technique to Reidy, it wasn't too hard to repeat the process with Howard. Lorist left after teaching him some key points and making sure he wasn't making any mistakes.
Nowadays, the one who served by Lorist's side was Jinolio, Senbaud's son. He had only just turned 16 and awakened his battleforce a year ago. Senbaud had already written Lorist a letter to remind him so he wouldn't forget his promise to take him in as a disciple. Before this, Howard had already mentored him for a month to show him the ropes as Lorist's attendant.
Though Jinolio was only 16, his physique was incredible. Lorist himself was only 1.86 meters, but Jinolio was a solid 2.06, at least 20 centimeters taller. He was also big-boned and looked really tough overall, much to Lorist's displeasure. As Howard was shorter than 1.8, Lorist could easily stroke his head or pat his shoulders to praise him. However, given his new attendant's, he had to tiptoe to do the same.
The thing most unexpected of this new addition, however, was neither his height nor his girth, but his neat handwriting. It completely disproved Lorist's theory that his mother had been the letters' author. At the same time, he also realized that Jinolio was a gifted academic; he was so good that even Lorist felt he was inferior.
He once asked his new disciple how he'd learned so much. The honest and frank kid said it was all thanks to his teacher. It all started when Senbaud pledged to serve House Norton loyally and recalled that Lorist said he would be taking Jinolio as his disciple. He knew that Lorist had done it merely to appease him. However, he feared a person with his background might be looked down on by his peers in the house, so he decided to make sure his son wouldn't. Senbaud, in a flash of inspiration, thought that letting his son actually become Lorist's disciple would secure his position.
So, he thought of everything he could do to nurture his kid to appeal to Lorist. From his early childhood, Jinolio underwent physical training to mold his will and took classes to learn the traditions and etiquette of knights. When he was twelve, Senbaud attended a household knight meeting and heard Potterfang praise his own son, Howard, for his avid interest in reading. Upon hearing that Lorist greatly favored Howard, Senbaud realized his son was nothing more than a slightly literate hunk of muscle.
This won't do. I have to make Jinolio proficient in both the physical and intellectual. I can't have him lose out to Howard if I want Lorist to favor him.
So, Senbaud started looking for tutors. He couldn't find anyone suitable even after many months of searching. Everyone he came across was either too young or too old. The old ones without an impressive reputation made him feel they probably didn't do well in their field, while the younger ones couldn't inspire his trust. As his wife was quite the beauty, he didn't feel safe having young male tutors around. Given that he was the commander of a Norton legion and often had to go out to sea for months on end, them having an affair with his wife was a realistic possibility and he definitely wouldn't allow it.
In the end, he found Jinolio a female tutor that eight years the child's senior. She was young and beautiful and it was said her father was a famed scholar who had passed away from illness during the civil war, leaving her and her mother to fend for themselves. When Senbaud learned that she was at least four-fifths as accomplished as her late father, he was convinced and hired her as Jinolio's private tutor.
The woman proved worth her salt. Within four short years, Jinolio became a refined scholar. The interactions they had also let him not only develop respect for her, but also love. The reason he could write so finely was because of the painstaking effort he took to mimic his teacher.
"That female tutor of yours is really something, for her to be able to educate you so well. Oh, and, Jinolio, do you really like her? Personally, a difference of eight years isn't much of a problem. Since I'm your teacher now, I can find a way for you," teased Lorist.
Jinolio smiled bitterly.
"Thank you, teacher, but there's no longer a need. She's my father's concubine now."
Lorist couldn't find the words to react. He just patted Jinolio on the back softly.
After returning from the training grounds and having lunch with Sylvia, he took a stroll through the gardens. Tea time soon came. Sylvia quite liked Dilianna's son and played with him the whole time. Lorist was glad that Sylvia treated his concubines rather well. As the three present knew that Sylvia becoming House Norton's matron was already set in stone, they got along with her without any issues, save for how she monopolized Lorist the whole time without letting him look for the concubines privately, much to his frustration as well.
Having nothing better to do, he had Jinolio practice some basic swordsmanship techniques and pointed out his flaws, fully enjoying his role as teacher. He also demonstrated some techniques a number of times and ended up sweaty.
Just as Sylvia was lovingly wiping the sweat off his forehead, a guard came to make a report.
"Your Grace, Baron Kedan requests an audience."
Ever since Supervisor Hansk was made Governor of Silowas, Kedan had taken over the census department of which the former used to be in charge. Coupled with his responsibilities as the human resource department head, Kedan was busy almost all the time. Had something happened in the dominion for him to request an audience?
Hansk, Spiel, and Kedan were old hands in the house who came from Maplewoods. They were the three administrative talents trained by the old butler, Gleis, himself. Kedan was the first to get along with him after he took over the house and also the first to pledge his fealty.
Kedan was the only supervisor among the three who hadn't expressed any objection to Lorist's decision to marry Sylvia. When he entered the study, Kedan made a bitter smile and an exasperated expression.
"Your Grace, Madam Irina had me come over to remind you not to forget the promise you made back then."
Huh? What's going on with Irina that Kedan had to personally make a trip? thought Lorist as he dove into his memories.
Lorist and Irina's relationship had worsened quicker than ever these last two years. As the only maidservant Lorist had bedded since he returned to the dominion and the first concubine to birth him any offspring, Irina should have received the most love and care. However, she had an odd quirk in that she wouldn't leave Maplewoods. Given that Lorist was busy traveling around to develop the dominion and expand his power, Maplewoods rapidly lost its importance as the house's headquarters. Nowadays, the bastide was a forgotten corner in the dominion something akin to Irina's demesne.
Lorist had once fought with her because of their son, Lysecott. The eight-year-old was raised into a lawless tyrant thanks to how much his mother spoiled him. Lorist had given him a harsh beating and took him away from Maplewoods to put him in the care of Malek's wife, though Irina through a massive tantrum upon being informed of it. But after Lorist threatened to strip Lysecott of his rights as the first successor, Irina stopped causing trouble.
In the days thereafter, Irina wallowed in depression in the bastide. She hated how Lorist took her beloved child from her and binged all the time. In the two years since, she had doubled her girth. She was no longer the petite girl Lorist had bedded all those years ago.
"Your Grace, Irina's father was a household knight and he took care of us very well back in the day. But he perished in battle for the house's sake, so we took his daughter in. It was because of that connection that Baron Hansk was so against your marriage with Sylvia. I have come here because of Irina's beckoning to remind you of your word to not change the position of Lysecott as the first successor," explained Kedan.
Lorist was struck with a sudden realization. It turned out that Irina was worried that after he married Sylvia, their child would come to be the main contender for Lysecott's position as heir. After all, Irina was only Lorist's concubine. While Lysecott was on the household registry, the son of the main wife usually carried far more weight than that of a concubine.
What the hell is this? Even though I'm still alive and well, they're already discussing succession... If I do become a swordsaint, I might even outlive my sons. Come to think of it, it isn't weird for a swordsaint to have to attend his grandchildren's funeral...
"Tell Irina to stay put in the bastide and warn her to keep her imagination in check. During the year-end celebration this year, I will make her a life peer, a baron, and Maplewoods will be her dominion. It will only be reclaimed by the house a hundred years after her birth date. I hope she will live out the rest of her life happily. As for my sons, the elder one has already changed a lot and I will send him to attend Nico Academy when he is twelve. Before that, I will allow him a trip back home for a meeting with his mother. Since the younger one is still by Irina's side, I hope she doesn't spoil him like she did Lysecott. That will be all, Baron Kedan."
"Understood, Your Grace.