Lorist went out of the room and looked downward from the side of the wall.
The surrounding terrain was actually a valley. The distance between the two walls at either end of the valley was easily over 300 meters. The first wall that sealed off the entry of the valley into the Northlands was 70 to 80 meters long. Beyond that wall was a large empty meadow spanning 800 meters surrounded by mountains on each side, with another opening on the other end that was around 200 meters wide. Now that the walls were completed, the two valleys were effectively shut off.
This truly is a great place to build a city. The lands within the valley was flat and even, making it an ideal spot for a mountain fort. Even though there was nothing but hills on one side, the mountainous terrain that stretched deep into the Black Forests had formed a natural barrier that prevented entry to the valley from anywhere other than the two openings where the walls were constructed.
Within the valley, the slave laborers gathered together under the sun and chatted in their respective groups with the occasional brawl breaking out. To them, days like these when they didn't have to work were exceedingly rare opportunities to rest. The tens of guards who were standing guard even gave the slaves looks of envy from time to time.
At another corner of the valley were rows of decrepit wooden buildings that were surrounded by a wall constructed from tree trunks lined up side by side. That was the warehouse that Butler Boris had referred to where the 7000 buckets of green vine glue, food and other construction materials were stored.
A little further away from the warehouse was a large camp where many carriages could be seen. That was the camp that the convoy Lorist brought over had set up. A few of the family members of the guard squad soldiers could be seen bringing buckets of clean water from a nearby lake to wash their clothes with.
At that moment, a little girl could be seen capturing bugs within the bushes near the convoy's camp as her ponytail swayed like a pendulum from her running around.
Isn't that Miss Telesti's maidservant, Vinny? Lorist started to think of Telesti upon seeing that young maidservant and slapped his forehead. I now have my construction manager.
"Go invite Miss Telesti over here and tell her that I have something I need to talk to her about," instructed Lorist to a guard nearby.
After a while, Telesti brought Vinny and her Iron ranked butler to the 200-meter-long wall at the other end of the valley and Lorist brought them into the room with the sand table and subsequently told her about his plans to continue the construction of the hill city and sincerely requested for Telesti to become the person in charge of the project.
"Why was I picked to be the person in charge for this undertaking?" asked Telesti curiously.
Lorist shrugged and said, "Sigh, I don't have a choice. None of my men are suited for this task. The fortunate thing is that the blueprints have already been completed with the replica model of the castle being finished halfway. Apart from some details that may need to be ironed out, there is no need to redesign everything from scratch. And you, Miss Telesti, the adopted daughter and student of the famed scholar Nico Albess, must have inherited the knowledge and intelligence of your mother and have become an accomplished scholar yourself. Since you can understand the complicated routes of the ancient ruins, there's no one more suitable to work with these blueprints than you, right?"
Telesti still appeared hesitant. Lorist said that he would naturally assign some subordinates under her to work on the project together. And given his absence, Josk and Ovidis would be in charge of the defense of the area. He said that Telesti only had to focus on the construction of the city and that he would let her manage Boris, Reidy and the 1000 slave laborers as she saw fit.
Now that the Northlands was in turmoil, Lorist had no choice but to return to his dominion to quickly settle things. He promised Telesti that if she were to help out, after he stabilizes the family's situation in the Northlands, he would definitely bring her to the Blackmud Marsh for a trip. And after the completion of the city in the valley, he would allow her to pick her own villa where she would be able to continue her research for the rest of her life with the funding provided by the family.
It was not known which of the conditions had caused Telesti to change her mind, but she accepted the position as the manager of the project right away.
Letting out a relieved breath, Lorist instructed someone to bring Boris and Reidy over and ordered them to cooperate with Telesti with regards to the construction project. After that, he said that he would let her use the five buildings on the inner wall as her main office for the construction work.
Morning on the next day, Lorist noticed the 1000 or so slave laborers leave the valley in a neat line escorted by Reidy and Telesti's Iron ranked butler and another 40 plus guards to collect more building materials.
Upon entering the main construction office, he saw Telesti talking to Boris with the latter nodding fervently.
Seeing Lorist enter, Telesti asked him what business he had there.
Lorist mentioned that there were a few parts of the design that he'd like to augment and started showing the both of them by using the model of the castle.
The Kenmays Family had intended to develop the valley into a military stronghold that housed only the members of the Kenmayses, the garrison soldiers as well as their respective family members. That was the point that frustrated Lorist the most.
Pointing to the model, he said, "Look, they even prepared to erect another castle in the middle of the valley. Given that we already have the two walls at both ends, there would be no need for the castle in the middle, so we can do without it. Using the mountainside castle walls as the main base of the city will be more than enough. Now that the castle in the middle is removed, we can use the empty space for a plaza and build residential areas and marketplaces around it."
Telesti agreed wholeheartedly to the change as she personally hated the design of the city where another castle was placed flat in the middle and thoroughly destroying the landscape of the valley. Now that the plan to build castle had been abolished, not only would the difficulty in constructing the city decrease, it would also save them a lot of work.
The second thing Lorist wished to change was the four-meter-tall rock wall. The Kenmays Family had spent three months to construct that taller wall that faced the dominion of the Nortons and simply slapped together the 4 meter one with a couple of rocks at the entrance of the valley that bordered their own dominion.
Now that Lorist had already taken over this valley, he decided to revamp the shorter rock wall into a first line of defense for his dominion. Before Lorist entered the room, Telesti and Boris were discussing how to strengthen the fortifications of that wall.
What Lorist had in mind was not to have a common flat wall. He took out a blank beastskin and started drawing an arc with a protrusion in the middle of it and requested for the wall to be built like that. If the wall spanned more than 200 meters like the one they were standing on, it would take a long time to complete the changes. However, the shorter wall on the other side was only around 80 meters long and it would only take up to one month of intensive work to completely change it according to Lorist's design.
Seeing Telesti write his requirements down, Lorist bade farewell and left.
In the evening, Josk, Patt and Shadekampf returned from the copper mine after the successful completion of their mission. They brought back tens of mercenary captives and saved over 70 members of the Norton Family who had been put in charge of the mining operations.
Shadekampf brought over a white-haired man who was in his sixties and said, "Milord, this is Old Man Balk, the supervisor of the family's copper mine."
Balk greeted Lorist in an elaborate manner as his eyes teared up and said, "Milord, thank you for remembering and rescuing us from there..."
Lorist helped Balk up and said that he would never forget about the people of his family and that it was his obligation to look out for them, so there wasn't a need to be that polite. Now that the toughest times had passed, the family still had to develop in the future and he mentioned that he would require people like Balk to give their best efforts to ensure that happened quickly. However, he told Balk to rest up for a period of time as he had just been saved from forced labor within the mine.
Balk was extremely moved when he heard that. "I know that many things haven't gone too well for the family during the last two years, especially after the Third Young Master passed away. This time, our copper mine has also been forcibly occupied by the Kenmays Family and we were thrown into the it to work as captives. I never expected for anyone from the family to come rescue us and thought that I would be mining there for the rest of my life. I really didn't expect that Master Lorist, you would delay your return to the bastide to inherit your title for the sake of rescuing us...
"That's why, don't worry about me! My body is in great condition, so please give me some work to do as I can't just sit around doing nothing!" Lorist subsequently gathered the rest of the group and made his arrangements and also sent Old Man Balk to help Telesti out with her work.
On the 34th day of the 2nd month, Lorist left for the family bastide along with Shadekampf and Patt on a carriage after bidding their farewells.
In Lorist's memories, he recalled that there were a lot of maple trees around Norton Family bastide and every autumn, the leaves would turn fiery-red and paint the whole landscape in a beautiful, nostalgic red. Within the midst of the maple tree forest was a grand, white hill where the Norton Family bastide was located.
The young Lorist's memories contained a brief impression of the bastide. It was a really large place with vineyards, livestock farms as well as a large crescent-shaped lake where children would have fun in during the summer. Opposite the lake was the stable of the family that housed the handsome horses that the young Lorist used to admire so often in a daze. At that time, his mother was still alive and lovingly referred to him as little horse lover...
Seven hours after they departed, Shadekampf stopped the carriage and knocked on the door of the passenger compartment. "Milord, we've arrived."
Lorist stepped out of the carriage and discovered that he was standing in front of a greyish-white castle. The drawbridge has yet to be let down for them.
"What's wrong, Patt? Shouldn't the drawbridge be lowered by now?" Lorist asked.
Patt said, "Milord, there's nobody standing guard outside at all. I think that the people within still don't know that we're here..."
Shadekampf went back into the carriage and reemerged with a horn in his hand before he gave it two loud blows.
"Who goes there?" said a voice as two people appeared on the walls of the castle and looked at the ground below.
"It's me, Shadekampf! And there's Patt! We've brought the Second Young Master back!" shouted Shadekampf.
"What? The Second Young Master is back? Wait, let me report it to Butler Gleis and Milady Pesha..." said the voice before the two silhouettes on the walls disappeared. After a while, Lorist heard another sound of a horn from the top of the walls before the drawbridge was steadily lowered. The moment the main gates opened wide, a red-haired female knight carrying a horse whip walked outside with wide steps.
"Shadekampf, so you've returned after all. I thought that you've died in some corner of nowhere," said the female knight as she gave Shadekampf, who was standing at the side respectfully, a whip with a laugh.
Shadekampf lowered his head and said, "Thanks to your blessings, we've successfully found the Second Young Master and brought him back, as per our orders."
The female knight replied, "You two are pretty lucky..."
After that, she turned to Patt and said, "Huh, you've changed so much after returning from this excursion. I can barely even recognize you anymore..."
Patt didn't answer and merely nodded towards the female knight.
She didn't mind his silence and walked up to Lorist before staring hard at him. "Second Young Master?"
Within Lorist's memories, apart from his father, the one he most hated was that red-haired girl who frequently took his elder brother away from him and followed him around all day. Once, he curiously tugged on that girl's red ponytail and ended up getting pummeled very harshly as a result...
Now that the girl from back then had grown up, she turned into a tall, bright-looking female knight.
Lorist broke the silence and said, "Si-sister Pesha..."
Seeing that Lorist still remembered the respectful way he addressed her as a child, the red-haired female knight nodded in satisfaction. "Not bad. Little Locke, you've grown up so much and have become so tall. It's great to have you back. You must've suffered quite a bit on the way here, huh. Come in, Old Butler Gleis is already waiting for you."
Gleis was already at a very senior age; back when Lorist left his homeland, he was already 63. Now that ten years had passed, he had aged even more quickly and already lost his ability to walk. However, his Battle Force training still lingered and even though he wasn't as strong and capable as he formerly was, his gaze was still cool and sharp.
Holding onto Lorist's hand and not willing to let go at his sickbed, the old butler made a happy, yet melancholic expression and said, "Child, I don't know if I should be happy that you've returned or not. The current state of the Norton Family is like a sinking ship. We might just be sending you to your doom by pulling you into the same boat as us..."
Lorist laughed and said, "Grandpa Gleis, as a descendant of the Norton Family, it is my duty to come back and help out during times of trouble. I will definitely not let our family that has weathered through the last 200 years fade into the ashes of time just like that. The Norton name will one day become one that fills the whole continent with awe."
Gleis looked at him admirably and smiled. "Child, it is good to have some ambition. However, we should always take things step by step. Go have something to eat and rest up. We'll prepare you for the inheritance ceremony tomorrow. The family has been squabbling over this issue of inheritance for quite some time. I'm sure the matter will be put to rest now that you'll be inheriting the position of the family head."
Lorist stood up from the butler's bed and bade him goodnight before he left with Patt and Shadekampf to the dining hall.