Knights and Gifts
Ever since Potterfang referred to Lorits as 'lord' in public, Lorist suddenly felt a trend brewing in the academy. He didn't know if it was Kelly spreading rumors around, but the workers at the Gold ranked instructor residences started greeting him rather cheerfully. Sometimes, when they saw him walking by, they would step aside and bow when he passes by and bow deeply as they say, "Good day, lord," which Lorist was horribly not used to.
Then came Terman. It was already getting rather late that night when Shadekampf reported that Terman had come to visit.
Lorist felt that it was rather weird as Terman usually wouldn't visit alone without anybody else, especially that late in the night. Maybe something's wrong? Or perhaps it's something about the Swordsmanship Society? Then again, there shouldn't be any activity since it's the semester break...
Lorist then went downstairs to receive Terman at the lounge.
He asked Terman to have a seat only to be ignored. Instead, Terman stood in front of Lorist rather respectfully and said something that startled him badly. "I've resigned."
"Huh?" Lorist was totally stunned...
He's just joking, right? Terman's the vice captain of the Enforcement Academy and is also the vice chairman of the Swordsmanship Society... Why didn't I get notified about his resignation even though I'm the Swordsmanship Society's chairman? Who permitted it?
"I've thought about it for the past few days and finally made my decision this afternoon. Charade doesn't know about it yet. I went to talk to the academy head about it and he has agreed to my resignation," said Terman solemnly.
"What made you want to do that?" Lorist got more confused the more he thought about it. Terman's position at the academy earned him roughly 9 gold Fordes every month. That was a salary that many would be envious of. Why did he suddenly resign?
Terman lowered his head and said, "I'm starting to feel that my days in the academy are far too uneventful and boring. I'm starting to crave some real battles. My father told me that as a knight, the greatest shame he had was that he didn't perish on the battlefield but to an illness instead. Being a knight myself, I don't intend to succumb to the same fate as my father's. I believe I should go all over the place to seek conquest and battle."
What... What kind of reason is that? Are you still the cool, collected and reliable Terman that everyone loves and trust? Don't tell me someone got transmigrated over here and took over your body? As Terman's good friend, Lorist felt that he had the responsibility to at least try to stop him from making such a rash decision before everything can no longer be taken back.
Before he could think of something to convince Terman to reconsider his decision, Lorist saw Terman kneeling in front of him on one knee. "Locke, this is the last time I will refer to you as such. Would you be so kind to take in a friend who has nowhere else to go with you on the journey north?
"I, Waprey Terman, am willing to pledge myself as a knight of the Norton Family and take you, Norton Lorist, as my lord and liege. I will follow in your steps and conquer your enemies for you."
Lorist was shaken yet again......
He suddenly noticed Potterfang standing beside them with Lorist's longsword in hand which he passed to him.
Drawing the sword out of the scabbard, Lorist tapped Terman on each shoulder twice and said solemnly, "Rise, my knight."
And thus the simple knighting ceremony was completed. Potterfang received Terman with a hug and said, "Welcome, my fellow brother."
Oh, it's the good old welcome speech. At least that part is normal, thought Lorist.
Shadekampf happily greeted Terman with a bow. As expected of the young master. Yet another Three Star Silver Swordsman joined us. Something like this would be unimaginable in the Northlands... The Norton Family will definitely prosper under the young master's leadership!
Shadekampf suddenly recalled something important and hastily reminded his young master, "Young master, you still haven't had a family knight badge made. I've brought you the design......"
"Give this to Reidy and tell him to order it from the badge makers. Oh, and prepare one Gold ranked one as well. Pog's going to break through really soon," said Lorist.
I really don't get why Terman would decide to pledge himself to me as a knight... Maybe that's the difference between this world and the one where I came from... In Lorist's previous world, the attitude of the people there were quite individualistic in that they often seeked accomplishments by their own ability to showcase their merit. However, the Grindians mostly racked up their accomplishments in service to a noble family instead. This was the main difference of the different cultures.
Lorist was starting to get more and more frustrated at the glaring differences between the two cultures. "Oh, Terman, you have a high-ranked Battle Force manual that's passed down in your family already, right?"
"That's true, milord," replied Terman.
"Then I won't give you a Battle Force manual. Shadekampf, go to my study and get that piece of Mizek Stainless Steel Armor for Terman as his knighting gift," instructed Lorist.
The Mizek Stainless Steel Armor was the staple product of the Mizek Sector of the Temanda Kingdom and was well-known for its relatively higher defense compared its counterparts which allowed it to withstand piercing strikes better than most other armors. However, the supply for the armor was rather low and it was really hard to even purchase one as it sold out rather quickly. Lorist had gotten one from President Peterson for 300 gold coins because he wanted to be protected any hidden attacks on the trip to his dominion. Never would he have expected that he would be giving it away just three days after getting his hands on it.
"Thank you, milord," said Terman as he accepted the armor thankfully.
Lorist then went upstairs and let Potterfang and Terman by themselves to celebrate the newly-formed brotherhood. "I'm going up to take a rest, I can already feel a headache coming. Terman, there's still a vacant guest room upstairs so you can move over for now."
Since Terman had already resigned from his post as a Gold ranked instructor, he could no longer stay at his villa at the instructor residences. It was fortunate that Lorist still had an empty room.
"Alright, milord," said Terman,
The news of Lorist's departure to the north to become a dominion lord spread like wildfire overnight in the academy. When Lorist was returning to his villa from doing some errands, he bumped into Supervisor Skali who gleefully forced Lorist to come with her to her house where she advised Lorist to pay close attention to his health as the Northlands were desolate and much colder than the rest of the continent. After that, she took out a hand-knitted fur coat and gave it to him before wishing him all the best on his journey to become a great lord.
Lorist accepted the coat but he was still curious about how she got to know all that even when he didn't mention a word of this to anyone else......
After dinner, Instructor Marlin came to visit and brought along a large chest which he said contained the things his wife always used and said that it was his gift to Lorist as he believed that it would prove pretty useful during his journey.
Lorist almost fainted when he heard that and desperately tried to reject the gift. Why would he need the things Marlin's wife used on the trip? His misunderstanding persisted until Marlin opened the chest. In the box were a set of horse armor, a saddle and some stirrups. Apparently, Instructor Marlin often referred to his treasured horse Jenny as his second wife.
Carefully caressing the items, he told Lorist that since Jenny was getting old and losing its ability to gallop, the items weren't much use for it and he only kept them for old times' sake. Now that Lorist would no doubt be riding on a horse or two on the journey north, these items would prove quite useful, especially the armor, which would give a horse a decent boost in defense.
Thanking Instructor Marlin, Lorist opened a couple of bottles of wine and drank together with him.
Instructor Marlin chatted with him quite cheerfully as he bragged about the heroic antics in the days when he served in the city garrison. In the end, he was sent back home totally wasted.
During the afternoon of the next day, it was Instructor Anfya's turn to come pay a visit. She brought with her yet another large chest. First and foremost, she told Lorist about her husband, Instructor Claude's successful breakthrough to the Blademaster level after gaining some insights following more than half a year of training. This was an event that would forever change the Dawn Academy's status, position and their reputation.
Lorist hurriedly congratulated her. Instructor Anfya then told him that within the chest were seven good quality swords which were part of Instructor Claude's collection. He had heard that Lorist was about to leave for the Northlands to inherit his position as the lord and believed that these swords would come in useful. While he was confident in Lorist's swordsmanship, he was concerned that Lorist's longsword wouldn't be able to handle the constant battles that he would no doubt experience in the future. That's why he decided to present these swords to him to aid in his journey.
Lorist thanked her again and started to think about what to gift to Instructor Claude to congratulate him for his recent success. Already seeing through Lorist's intentions, Anfya politely declined the kind sentiment. She mentioned that the main factor for her husband's breakthrough was the duel he had with Lorist one year back which gave him many insights to ponder over. As for herself, she said that she had already learned the art of pulse reading from Lorist so he didn't need to trouble himself over something like that.
Hearing Instructor Anfya put it like that, Lorist laughed out loud. While he couldn't think of anything to give to Instructor Claude, he had the perfect gift for her wife. Asking for her to wait downstairs, Lorist went up to his study and came back down with an intricate box in hand a gave it to her.
Instructor Anfya opened the box and was incredibly delighted. Just as she was about to take it out to closer inspect the gift, Lorist told her to take her time at home and also reminded her to not tell anybody else that she got it from him to save himself some trouble.
Instructor Anfya nodded and carefully made her way back with the box safe in her embrace.
In the following days, Lorist received tons of gifts that filled his study whole. Almost every one of his acquaintances came over to give him a parting gift that ranged from weapons, gloves, shoes, cloaks as well as cold-resistant clothing. Instructor Hughes gifted him a good set of leather armor while Welledor, the knight training instructor, gave him a pair of golden horse spurs. Instructor Wensen from the horse riding course gifted Lorist a fine Illinoihaus Horse. The breed of the horse was the favorite of heavy-armored knights as it was large in stature and was able to withstand a relatively heavier load as well as being quite intelligent and had one of the fastest acceleration times. The only drawback was that it wasn't suited to long distance gallops and was rather picky with its food.
Loboff from the herbalism faculty gave Lorist a set of test tubes and lab apparatus commonly used in the concoction of herbal medicines. The chest that contained the tools was even cushioned properly so that the things within wouldn't easily break. Lorist really didn't know what to say. It's not like I'm going back to be a herbalist, am I? What would I be able to use it for?
Next came Charade and Yuriy. Lorist felt relieved when he saw that the both of them came empty-handed and seemed that they were not here to send him off with gifts. He invited them to the lounge and Lorist was shocked the moment he heard what Yuriy had said.
"Locke, I have come here today with Brother Charade to join you on your journey. We have both resigned and are ready to become your knights."
Charade merely stood there pouting without saying a word.
Yuriy stared at Lorist go into the washroom and come out with a mirror-like silver plate in his hand. After looking into his reflection for a few moments, he finally let out a long sigh.
"Locke, what are you up to?" asked Yuriy, weirded out by Lorist's erratic actions.
Lorist replied, "I was checking if something had suddenly grown on my face and gave me a domineering air that caused the two of you to join my cause. Good thing there wasn't anything weird, cause you guys are just messing with me, right?"
Yuriy laughed out and said, "Locke, we're serious about this."
Lorist didn't want to believe it. "It's alright, stop kidding around. I still have lots of things I need to work on and I'm already exhausted. To joke around with me at a time like that is really not what friends do, you know?"
Yuriy's face turned solemn as he said, "Locke, I've really resigned from the academy. You know that I'm from the plains of the Khawistan Khanate's, right? Had it not been for the fact that my parents saved a count's life before, I wouldn't be studying at Morante City now. Just a while back, that count came back to me and asked whether I would like to become a knight under his family. I've turned him down as my father had perished under his service. While I'm the horsemanship instructor at the Dawn Academy, the students of my course don't respect me as I'm originally from the grassy plains. You should know this as well. Had it not been for you and our friends, I would have left this place long ago. Now that Terman has chosen to follow you, I would like to as well. I believe that he made the right choice to become your knight. This way, we can all be together even after you leave for the north."
"Alright, your reasoning has left me fully convinced. I welcome your participation, Yuriy. But what about the fatty? Since when was he the kind of person who would be willing to serve under another?" asked Lorist as he looked at the pouting Charade.
Yuriy laughed before saying, "It's like this. He received quite a bit of shock during this afternoon."
"Shock? What kind of master was able to pull that off? I should really pay that person a visit to learn that from him," said Lorist curiously.
"It was Terman," Yuriy replied.
"There's no way. How did Terman even do that?" Lorist was intrigued. Terman has always been a straightforward fellow who had always been messed around by the fatty instead of the other way round.
"Didn't Charade's father come over a couple of days ago?"
"Yup, I know about that. I even paid him a visit," nodded Lorist.
Charade was also not a local of Morante City. His family came from the Teribo Kingdom which was famous for its green and oil glass products. His father was a merchant who had property in both Morante City and the capital of the Teribo Kingdom. Other than that, he was also the cousin brother of Academy Head Levins and also contributed quite a lot financially to the academy. This was also why Charade was able to act so unrestrainedly as nobody dared to find any trouble with what he did.
During the two days Charade's father came to visit, he treated Academy Head Levins to a meal. After the meal, they decided to wander around in the academy, only to bump into Terman and Yuriy.
At that time, Yuriy was conflicted as to whether he should resign just like Terman. When he left his quarters, he saw Charade's father and Academy Head Levins and went forward to greet them. Just as he was about to wave hello, Terman approached while wearing the Norton Family's knight badge with Charade following him. As Charade was laughing at Terman's newly-obtained badge, Charade's father quickly pulled him away and gave a deep bow to Terman and asked extremely politely, "Good day, milord. Is there anything I can help you with?'
Terman, Charade, Yuriy and Levins were all stunned speechless......
Suddenly, the atmosphere turned weird in an instant. Charade's father then asked carefully, "Milord, you..."
Terman instantly ran away...
After snapping out of his trance, Charade shouted at his father. "Dad, that's my friend! Why did you do that?! That's super embarrassing! Gah!"
However, Charade's father knocked his head harshly and said, "That guy is a noble! Did you not see that badge on his chest? What a domineering Raging Bear! The sides of the badge also have a laurel design, which means that the family has at least 200 years of history. Even if he is your friend, you still have to act respectfully. There is nothing embarrassing about that, got it?
"In this world, there are two things that is worth one's respect. The first is a noble title and the other is knowledge. For example, your Uncle Levins here is respected for his extensive knowledge and the status of an academy head. However, knowledge can only awe a person for so long before it ceases to be inspiring once a certain amount of time passes. However, noble titles that can be passed down through generations can even raise the status of the whole family. Don't think that just because I'm wealthy, I don't have to abide by these customs. Even the richest man would need to show utmost respect when seeing a noble from a rural area, because they have the right and power to kill any commoner that dares to disrespect them, and that includes you as well.
"Don't even bother getting pissed off now. Are you thinking that you got away with getting on the bad side of some nobles before? Those people are different from landed nobles. They are mere honorary nobles whose titles are empty and hollow as they don't have a proper dominion, just like Uncle Levins. His title is only honorary and it can't be passed down to his descendants. You can easily tell the difference from the badges they wear. Why is your uncle not wearing his noble badge, you may ask? That's because he feels that it's embarrassing as he doesn't have a dominion nor does he have subordinates of his own. Without those, what kind of influence would one have anyway?"
Academy Head Levins was still speechless...
"It's my fault for not being able to procure a noble title for you to inherit. The titles you can purchase with money are merely honorary titles which don't really mean much. If you can manage to get a hereditary noble title for family, then I would die without any regrets! Your status in the academy doesn't count for crap in the real world. In the end, you're only a tool for your uncle's use to settle his problems. Think about it, aren't you just like the bodyguards of the high-ranked officials of the Trade Union? Even though they seem high and mighty and earn lots of money, they are but useless tools that can only follow orders."
Academy Head Levins started freezing all over again...
Charade's father sighed once again before continuing, "Back then I placed my hopes on you to help the family gain a noble title. But looking at you now, I only hope you can live out the rest of your life peacefully. Let's hope that your sons and grandchildren will try harder to achieve that dream for our family..."
After saying that, Charade's father turned and walked away alone, leaving Academy Head Levins, Charade and Yuriy standing amidst the leaves that were blown up by the twirling gust......
The three of them were completely silent. At that moment, Yuriy used the opportunity to tell the academy head about his resignation, to which he agreed immediately.
Seeing the fatty who was standing there flabbergasted, Yuriy added, "Charade here is also going to resign......"
Academy Head Levins merely turned to his back and started to leave. But he still said one thing, "Go... All of you, leave as you please. I hope that your ambitions will be achieved and wish you a safe journey."
"And that was what happened earlier. Locke, if you don't accept us as your family knights, then we'll have no choice but wander around as lordless knights," said Yuriy.