Attendant and Carriage
It was nighttime and the Red Grace Inn was merry as usual. Instructor Marlin, having drunk a little too much, was telling Charade all about the plan for him to make tons of gold coins. The fatty's eyes instantly gleamed as he gave Marlin another jug of ale to shut him up, after which he dragged Yuriy and Terman to a corner and started whispering away.
Just as Lorist pushed open the door and greeted Charlando, who was manning the counter, he sat beside Instructor Marlin. Having spent the afternoon with President Peterson in the sauna, he felt a little worn out and decided to take a nap in his room, only to wake up when the sky was already dark and rushed over right away.
Instructor Marlin looked at Lorist with his drunken eyes and said, "Brother Locke... Yo-you're late... Here, have a cup of booze..."
"Brother Marlin, how much did you drink? You're totally wasted!"
It's over... I'll definitely be nagged at by his wife when I send him back... Lorist tried to dismiss that thought and called the serving girl Molly over to take his order as he had yet to have dinner. As she took his order, Molly also complained to Lorist about how he hasn't been coming over to the inn to spend the night with her and asked if he would want to do just that tonight.
Lorist was definitely moved after seeing Molly's splendid figure. It has been almost a month since he last had any nighttime action as he really has been too busy in the recent days. He wouldn't have come over to the inn either if it wasn't payday. He also recalled that Charlando and Louise would be getting married within a month and he still hasn't prepared a gift for them yet.
However, looking at how wasted Instructor Marlin was, Lorist turned down Molly's offer. "I'm sorry, Molly. I've really been too busy recently. I have to send this guy over here back to his home later so I wouldn't be able to stay the night. Maybe in another few days..."
Molly humphed with a tone of dissatisfaction. "Just you wait," said Molly coldly, before she turned and left.
Even so, Molly didn't forget her place as a serving girl and quickly sent the food Lorist had ordered to him. After getting a few bites, Charade sat in front of Lorist and swiped a piece of roast goose from his plate and started chewing away.
"Sol, did you wash your hands? Don't dirty my food like that," scolded Lorist.
"If you're not going to finish it, let me help," said Yuriy as he came over. He was even worse and took the whole plate of roast goose away from Lorist.
"I bet you guys are just here to make me pay for you again. I'm telling you beforehand that all of you aside from Marlin will have to settle your own bills."
"That's no issue," said the fatty as he spit out the bones of the goose before waving at the serving girls and pointing at Instructor Marlin, who was lying flat on the table. "Brother Marlin here still wants... one, two, three... six, six more cups of blackcurrant fruit wine and another two barrels of blackcurrant ale. Oh, and let chef McDuffin make him a few more delicious dishes to go with all the alcohol."
Upon hearing his name mentioned, Instructor Marlin who was lying flat on the table raised his cup and said, "Alright, let's drink..." before falling flat onto the surface once again.
"Sol, I never knew that would work... It's your win, fatty..." said Lorist with his mouth agape with the half-chewed food nearly falling out.
"Yeah!" Having successfully taking advantage of Lorist once again, Charade, Yuriy and gang clapped their hands in celebration.
In the midst of all the merrymaking, a person suddenly rushed over in front of Lorist and kneeled down. Very much stunned at this sight, Lorist asked, "What's going on?"
That person said loudly, "I want to be your disciple! Please let me learn the way of the sword from you!"
Charade and gang were totally flabbergasted. What was this situation about?
"Having seen all your battles within the past month, I really want to learn swordsmanship from you. Before, it was totally my fault for saying that you didn't qualify to teach me for just being an Iron rank. I am deeply sorry for that!"
"Brother Locke, that is the kid I was talking about. He's regretting his decision terribly right now," said Els, who suddenly appeared beside Lorist and swiped a bottle of fruit wine from one of the serving girls' trays. "Get us another bottle."
"I'm not paying for that, alright?" clarified Lorist. It was troublesome enough for Charade to have managed to order six more bottles of fruit wine which cost one large silver each under the name of Marlin.
"He's just joking. Put the bill on his tab," said Els to the serving girl before patting Lorist on the shoulder as he pointed at the kneeling youth. "Sit down, old friend. Let's first talk about whether you will accept him as your student."
Sigh, I really can't do anything about the bills, Lorist thought, before turning his attention to the youth on the ground. Hmmm, Els was right about him having a rather nice physique. He's only 16 and yet he looks so well-built and tall. I would have thought that he was 20 if I wasn't told of his age beforehand... Blonde hair, straight nose and clear eyes, he actually looks pretty decent. At this moment, the youth on the ground had a perplexed expression as he clenched his lips and awaited Lorist's decision.
"What's your name?" asked Lorist.
"I... I'm called Reidy Gezeizidorf," said the youth nervously.
"Hmm, then I'll call you Reidy. Reidy, having watched my battles, then you should know that I'm both a swordsmanship and Battle Force instructor at the Dawn Academy. As long as you enroll over there, I'll naturally be able to teach you swordsmanship without you having to kneel here like that. Also, I'm only eight years older than you, you know. I don't plan on accepting a personal disciple just yet. I think it's better if you and attend an elementary academy before applying to the Dawn Academy the next year," said Lorist.
Reidy was disappointed at the response, but he remained kneeling. "No, I don't want to attend school. All the people there laugh at me for being a country bumpkin and look down on me. I only want to learn swordsmanship from you..."
Having had vast economical development over the last twenty years of peace, Morante City has become one of the most advanced merchant cities on the Grindia Continent. Gradually, its citizens began to develop arrogance and pride for being born in the city. Just like how people in Lorist's past life would look down on foreign laborers, many citizens of Morante City would berate outsiders for being country bumpkins and assume that all of them fit under the stereotype of thieves and robbers. It could be seen that the attitude of the trade union's people has become intolerant and materialistic.
This kind of discrimination wasn't too uncommon at the Dawn Academy either and it was usually the main cause for disputes between local and non-local students in the academy. Lorist was surprised at how Reidy has already experienced such a thing at an elementary academy. It's no wonder Els said he had beaten up all the students in the whole class in one of the academies he had attended before.
"Brother Locke, just take him it. He's just that stubborn and wouldn't get up if you don't accept him as a disciple. Well, it's not like you have to actually teach him. Just treat him as your personal attendant and give him pointers from time to time. Since you're still a person with a noble status, nobody would say anything if you had a retainer or two following you around," encouraged Els as he sipped the wine from the bottle in his hand.
"This..." Lorist sometimes actually forgot that he came from a noble family. Even though he had been exiled from the family, he still bore the family name and had the right to use the Norton family insignia as proof of his noble status. If he were to mingle in high society, he would receive the treatment and service of a nobleman. It's just that Lorist had never paid much attention to matters such as these.
"Oh," Els sounded like he just remembered something. "Didn't you just move into a new place? I've been thinking quite hard about what to give you as a housewarming gift. It so happens that a guy who owed me money went bankrupt and is auctioning his possessions away to pay back the debt. Jindoz already went and collected his horses and carriage as collateral. Since you don't have a carriage yourself, I thought that I'd give that to you since I won't be using it anyway. That's why I think you should accept Reidy as he can help you take care of the carriage and the Zeno Horses."
Lorist gave a bitter laugh. Since Els is going out of his way just to make him take Reidy in, he said to the youth kneeling in front of him, "Reidy, I'm sure you've heard what Els had just said. Would you be willing to be my attendant for now? If not, you had better get up as I won't be taking in a disciple in the near future."
Reidy instantly got up and said, "Of course I'm willing. I'll make sure the horses and carriage receive the best of my care! I'll be bringing my stuff over now."
Seeing Reidy run off to pack his belongings, Els nodded and said, "This fellow will make a good attendant given his hardworking attitude and abundant energy. He's also a pretty good coachman as well. I'll be leaving him in your care, Brother Locke."
Charade looked at them with an expression of envy. "Els, why did you gift Lorist a horse carriage but nothing to me? I was even your classmate at that time! Was our relationship that shallow?"
"Hey, Brother Locke has given me a couple of great ideas for businesses that's worth thousands of gold coins. Jindoz said that if I didn't give him anything, I would lose all my face. As for you, what have you done for me other than taking advantage of me? You still dare to demand gifts? Dream on," said Els.
Still not convinced, Charade said, "I refuse to believe that Locke can come up with any ideas for a business that's worth that much."
Els told the whole thing about repackaging and selling the Terrence-donkey whip to the group since it wasn't that much of a secret to begin with and managed to convince Charade.
Yuriy nodded and said, "This business really is quite profitable."
When Els had heard about the idea from Lorist, he had someone sent to purchase all the Terrence-donkey whips available from the Relic Islands right away. The shipment will be arriving in another month and the medicinal wine and glass bottles were all prepared. Without the power and connections Els's syndicate has, no normal businessman would be able to prepare all that within a short period of time.
Charade said bitterly, "This bastard really has a brain that's much more wtty than most..."
Seeing Lorist about to finish his meal, Els placed the wine bottle back on the table and said, "Come, Brother Locke. Let's go check the carriage out. I've parked it in the back alley."
The group then went as a group to go see the horse cart. Its design wasn't like that of the normal coaches that one could rent on the streets. It was a four-wheeled cart that boasted a complete dark brown-colored carriage which was suited for long distance travel with four green glass windows that helped the interior of the carriage to gain some illumination during the day. The roof and back of the carriage was fitted with bronze racks on which luggage could be placed. At the front of it was a seat that could fit two coachmen.
Els kicked on the cartwheel for a bit before he gleefully said, "This wheel, axle and bearing were all made in the dwarven kingdom from fairy steel and are incomparably tough and long-lasting. The metal bracket that's securing the carriage is also fitted with a large shock absorber that will minimize the shakiness of the ride. With this carriage, you will no longer have to worry about transportation or shelter when you go on mercenary missions in the future."
"Sol, who would use this kind of carriage to mercenary missions? Only nobles use carriages like this," Charade interjected.
Ignoring Charade's comment, Els said to Lorist, "Come, let's check the interior out too."
The carriage itself was fitted with two grey leather seats on the front and the back which faced each other. The back seat can also be folded downwards into a makeshift bed. Below the seats were four small drawers that could be used to store small items. The walls of the carriage were fitted with a light purple velvet cloth with two lamps on either side to help light up the interior at night.
Els knocked on the walls and said," There's a thin steel plate within these walls and over here..."
Els pointed towards the roof and continued, "Above are six pieces of light metal plates that are fastened by a velvet string that can be released to cover the parts where there are windows and provide some temporary defense towards any potential threat from the outside. There is also a trapdoor which is hidden under the carpet. You can use it for an emergency escape if the situation is dire."
Terman was full of praise for the carriage. "The designer of the carriage has clearly considered most of the scenarios that one would encounter during long distance travel and has outfitted it adequately with certain necessary precautions. It must have been a pretty expensive one."
Charade looked at it full of envy. "It should cost no less than 100 gold coins. Including the price of those two Zeno Horses, I believe the actual price is even higher."
Zeno Horses were the most famous kind of mount on the Grindia Continent which were quite well known for their endurance, making them suited for long distance traveling even though their maximum speed was slightly slower than other kinds of horses.
Yuriy asked sheepishly, "Els, how much did you say that bankrupt merchant owe you?"
Els scratched his head in thought and said, "Should be about 30 gold coins, if not 40."
"Ugh..." Everybody was speechless.
Lorist didn't really mind whether the horses and carriage were taken by force since that was what the syndicates usually did anyway given their forceful management approach. Patting on the horse cart, he said satisfiedly, "Thanks, Els. I'll take care of it well."
Seeing Reidy carrying a rucksack on his back as he came over, Lorist called out to him and said, "Reidy, put the stuff into the carriage and prepare the horses. Fatty, come with me to get Instructor Marlin. I need to send him back."
Charade asked, "Will you be coming back to drink?"
Lorist shook his head and said, "Nope, I won't be. I still have to duel tomorrow and it's getting rather late. Oh, and, are you leaving as well?"
Charade said, "No, we'll be staying here for a bit more. The food still isn't served yet."
Lorist just remembered something and said, "Oh, I better go settle the bills lest you put your orders under my tab."
"Sol, you're so stingy, Locke. Didn't Els just gift you a horse cart worth 100 gold coins? Surely you wouldn't mind treating us something to commemorate that!"
"No way," replied Lorist.