A Fleeting Moonlit Dream (5)
With the hard-earned money in hand, the revigorated Wenna purchased the three-storey building that was right next to their boutique. Completely renovating the place and linking the new building with the other two shops, the area of the boutique effectively doubled. Heeding Lorist's suggestion, she also build a T-shaped stage and hired a few young maidens with decent figures to act as the models for their boutique.
One month ago, the ex-captain of the garrison of the Windsor house came over from the dominion, bringing back with him ten or so servants and guards who used to work in the Windsor Castle. The new rulers of the place had fired them and they had wandered in the dominion aimlessly until just recently, after hearing that Miss Windsor was willing to offer them jobs in Morante City.
Among them were a father-son duo who both happened to be cobblers that used to serve the Windsor house. Their arrival was a delightful surprise to Lorist and soon, Windsor Apparels and Accessories expanded their catalogue of items to include their own shoes, which naturally took Morante City by storm. While there were a number of shops that tried to replicate their products, most noble customers knew to seek out for the distinct logo of the Windsor brand, which depicted a small mermaid. Windsor, in the ancient language of fairies, referred to the mermaid. Even the Windsor house's insignia depicted a warrior mermaid with a three-pronged fork.
Right now, it was almost customary to wear dresses and gowns by the Windsor brand to attend parties hosted by the elites of Morante City. There was even one such occasion where the daughter of a merchant guild chairman cycled through 17 different dresses and seven different high-heeled shoes throughout the party, effectively turning her father's banquet into an advertising event for Windsor Apparels and Accessories.
Now that the business was running without a hitch, the young mistress assigned the task of managing the boutique to Suzy and the clothes workshop to Lina while she started to plan to reclaim her dominion.
Lina's father, Knight Somm, had already arrived at Morante City a month before, bringing Lina's two younger brothers and her mother along. However, Somm's injuries were not fully recovered yet and he still had to rest and recuperate for a period of time.
Somm was a silent, well-built man. Lorist sometimes doubted whether he was actually Lina's biological father given their totally different personalities. How does a solemn, loyal man like him have such a nosy and meddling daughter? Lina did resemble her mother quite a bit though, but her mother was more gentle and amiable, whereas she had a sharp tongue and never hesitated to speak out on anyone.
The ex-garrison caption also brought some news from the old dominion. As the new rulers of the place were harsh and ruthless towards the dominion folk, the people there longed to be under the rule of the Windsors like before. Additionally, many of the old soldiers and guards that had lost their jobs had resorted to survive through banditry and were causing quite a lot of chaos in the area.
This wasn't an uncommon phenomenon on the Grindia Continent. Usually, when a new lord comes into power, he would introduce certain tax policies that greatly burdened the local folk to make up for the losses he has incurred throughout the conquering process as well as to make sure the people under his rule knew who's in charge. When the people in the dominion finally revolt one day, the new lord would take the opportunity to eliminate the ones who opposed his current rule and make an example out of them. In time, the new ruler would loosen his iron grip on the people so that they will eventually naturally cast away their loyalty to their previous lord and fully devote themselves to the current one.
Lorist believed that this was the perfect opportunity to sneak a few of their agents into the old dominion, a sentiment that Knight Somm also shared. With that, Miss Windsor ordered Somm to bring a group of ten or so people back to the dominion to form the resistance army after her 18th birthday and her coming-of-age ceremony, with their first priorities being setting up several hidden bases throughout the dominion, recruiting the soldiers and guards who used to work for the Windsor family as well as forming their spy network to monitor the situation of the dominion. After the initial phase, she would then start sending martial and material support to the resistance so that they may begin to disrupt the new rulers' affairs.
The coming-of-age ceremony was a tradition of the nobles in Grindia. It represented the entrusting of hopes and ambitions of the senior generation to the younger generation. For males, they would be bequeathed a ceremonial sword from a warrior in the family while females were crowned with a floral tiara. After some congratulatory words, the whole family would party and enjoy themselves at a banquet.
But Wenna's ceremony was rather simple and had only a few attendees. Placing a floral tiara on his mistress's head and sprinkling some sacred water unto her, Knight Somm expressed his wish that she would live a fruitful life and one day find someone she can truly devote the rest of her life to so that she would live on happily as a virtuous wife and a proud mother in the future.
After the coming-of-age ceremony, the Windsor house ceremony of succession was carried out. One by one, the old folks of the Windsor family walked towards the seated, tiara wearing girl and paid their respects, passing their hopes and responsibilities onto her as the new head of the Windsor house and pledging to her their unwavering loyalty. Even the pregnant Madam Windsor and her son went forward and bowed in respect.
When everyone present had paid their respects, the new head of the Windsor house stood up and summoned Hurd, the ex-garrison captain, drew a sword and tapped it against both his shoulders as he knelt, and proclaimed, "During the times of the Windsors' fall from power, it was you, brave warrior, who held on to your duties and responsibilities to us and gave hope and protection to the people in the midst of chaos and despair. As an acknowledgement to your noble deed, I, the eleventh head of the Windsor house, Windsor Prinna, grant you the title of Knight Protector of the Windsor house."
Knight Somm took a few steps forward and shouted, "Knight Hurd, are you willing to become the last line of defense of the Mermaid Castle?"
"I am willing!"
"Are you willing to die fighting under the banner of the mermaid?"
"I am willing!"
"Are you willing to march into battle without a shred of hesitation upon hearing the call of the mermaid?"
"I am willing!"
"Are you willing to devote the rest of your life in service of the house until you take your last breath?"
"I am willing!" shouted Knight Hurd, with each call louder than the previous as he trembled in fervor.
"Then I welcome your entry into the fellowship, my brother!" Knight Somm strided forward, lifted Knight Hurd from his kneeling position and gave him a big hug.
The onlookers broke into a thunderous round of applause.
Overlooking the ceremony as the main witness, Lorist recalled a similar scene from the memories of the body's original owner, where the young Lorist officiated one such knighting ceremony in the Norton household. Only, there were much more people back then and the atmosphere was even rowdier.
After the ceremony, Lorist and Wenna finalized their plans before Knight Somm and Knight Hurd began their journey back to the old dominion. Refusing the two knights' invitation for her to go back to the dominion with them to participate in the resistance, Wenna announced her plans to found the Windsor Trading Company that she would use to purchase weapons and equipment as well as hire Silver ranked mercenaries which the resistance will need.
Additionally, she also reminded Knight Hurd to train diligently in the high-ranked Battle Force technique that she had acquired for him as a gift for his knighting ceremony at a high price before working on anything else. With his current Three Star Iron, wood attribute Battle Force, it wouldn't take him more than half a year to break through to the Silver rank. But Knight Hurd said that he could not sit around training when his comrades are busy working away. In the end, Wenna gave him the task of organizing the reception of the equipment and manpower that she would later provide.
Lorist also warned Knight Somm that their current objective was not to form a large military force to go against the dominion lords but rather to build a spy network and to set up several strongholds in the dominion. He instructed that they were to avoid all conflict with the forces of the current dominion lords and focus on survival and information gathering for the time being.
Deep in the night, Lorist found it hard to fall asleep. He noticed that he had an incorrect impression on the noble families of this world after witnessing the knighting ceremony just hours before. He found it hard to reconcile the noble, just and loyal qualities the knights of the family had displayed with the notion that nobles were prideful, blood-sucking and self-serving monsters that took advantage of their subjects as they were often depicted in the comics and novels he had read in his past life. What he witnessed today made him cast away that stereotype and acknowledge that there were in fact honorable. righteous nobles who fought for a just cause.
The door to Lorist's room slowly opened and a girl wearing a floral tiara clad in white silk pajamas slipped in. Taking a look at the empty bed, she frowned and said to herself lightly, "Where has that fellow gone at this time of the night?"
Lorist let out a snicker from the balcony and greatly startled the young girl. She turned around immediately and said angrily, "What are you up to this late into the night? Shouldn't you be sleeping?"
Without a word, Lorist pointed a finger towards himself, to the room, then to the girl, posing her a silent question of what she was doing in his room at this time of the night.
Swift as a breeze, the girl leapt into Lorist's embraced and wrapped her hands behind his neck, saying in a whisper, "I was too overwhelmed by happiness to be able to sleep tonight. Lorist, thank you. Had it not been for your help, I wouldn't be standing here today. Not only did you give me hope, you also gave me a future..."
Closing her eyes, she proceeded to give Lorist a kiss, to which Lorist responded passionately. As they continued, Lorist's rationality slowly gave way to his instincts.
Pushing Lorist away, the girl said in a shy tone, "I want to... I want to dance for you."
Under the illumination of the moonlight, the barefoot girl's feet started moving about on the dark-red, wooden floor. Her pure white pajamas fluttered about in the calm of the night, seemingly emanating a soothing fragrance, as her body moved like the moon fairies of legend, offering a dance to the Silvermoon Mother Goddess.
When she finally stopped her dance and unmovingly basked in the moonlight, she seemed like a precious statue of unparalleled beauty.
Her face reddened again as Lorist gave her two thumbs ups. She proceeded to untie the knot of her pajamas and let it fall to the ground, revealing every inch of her bare, smooth skin in front of Lorist as her breathing intensified.
"Lo-Locke, do you think I'm pretty?", she asked in a soft and stuttery voice. It was at that moment when Lorist finally lost every shred of self-control that remained in him.......
During that fleeting moonlit dreamy night...
Hehe, it really does sound like an old-fashioned love story...