Viscount Kermas was a tall, thin man. He was directing his farmer soldiers to set up camp outside the town walls when Lorist went to see him.
Lorist came to a realization why the baron had failed for both attempts in taking out the bandits.
Having received word that Fenyata Town was being threatened by the bandits at the gates, Viscount Kermas couldn't just sit and wait things out as he was the lord of that area. Thus, he brought his men with him with the possibility of there being a battle in mind. However, his soldiers looked pretty poorly-equipped and trained with most only wearing rags and tatters that wouldn't even keep one warm throughout the night. Given that they did not even have proper weapons, armors and shields were definitely out of the question. Most of them were either holding a long stick or some farming tool and using them as makeshift weapons. Some of them improvised by using metal cooking pans instead of shields.
This... this is the force Viscount Kermas used to fight against the bandits? Lorist was completely taken off guard by that group of men who he would believe to be vagabonds had he not known better. It's fortunate that the bandits had already been long taken care of by Lorist. Otherwise, the viscount's third defeat would no doubt come to happen.
The viscount was a rather cheerful person who was extremely grateful to Lorist's efforts as could be seen from the way he shook Lorist's hand heartily and reluctance to let it go, despite multiple of Lorist's own efforts to pull his hand from the viscount's grasps.
Viscount Kermas then started to praise Lorist for almost half an hour. In his words, Lorist was an incarnation of a magnificent and just war god and the savior of the troubled from the hands of evil.
To Lorist's surprise, during that half an hour of praising, not once did the viscount repeat what he said. Lorist believed that the viscount would've made an excellent bard with his way of words.
After that, Viscount Kermas, possibly worn out from saying all the good stuff about Lorist, or maybe even running out of good things to say, finally took a sip of tea to curb his thirst. Lorist finally managed to pull his right hand back and used it to wipe his face that was full of the saliva of the viscount.
Afraid that the viscount would launch into yet another long-winded conversation, Lorist quickly asked him what the reward bounty was for the extermination of the bandits.
However, Viscount Kermas only responded to the question with a weird look, as if Lorist had asked something that was unfit for a war god like him, causing Lorist to feel a little weirded out.
"Cough, cough..." After clearing his throat, the viscount apologized deeply for the lack of a reward for the bandits' extermination and said that the bounty had been lifted ever since the day he signed the agreement with the merchant guild as a witness.
Then does that mean all my efforts had been in vain?! Lorist gave the awkward-looking garrison captain a glance and looked back to the smiling viscount and came to a realization. So this viscount is only good for his way with words but is actually a freaking stingy bastard! I guess I should've realized this from the gloomy expressions of his farmer soldiers. I'm sure they aren't having a good life under the rule of this stingy dominion lord.
However, when Viscount Kermas heard from the garrison captain about Lorist being on his way to the Northlands to inherit his position as the family head, he quickly paid his respects to the well-known family of the Roaring Raging Bear and apologized even further about how the incident with the bandits had delayed his journey. He also mentioned that on account of the principle of mutual assistance between nobles, he would receive the prisoners of war from Lorist at no cost at all to relieve him of his troubles.
Other than that, the viscount asked for people to take the head of the Wolf of Plate Mountain down from being displayed, citing that the hot weather would cause it to rot and stink and attract disease-spreading insects to the area and prove detrimental to the health of the nearby residents. Even though he said that, Viscount Kermas tightened the bear fur jacket he wore around his body as a cold gust had just blown by which caused him to sneeze in response.
Hehe, this viscount is really too shameless. He actually has his eyes set on the prisoners and even wanted to get the head of the leader of the bandits for free. Even though Lorist was currently smiling, his eyes were radiating a cold light.
He first thanked the viscount for his kind intentions and expressed his admiration for the viscount's altruistic offer. But he then mentioned that he already had a way of dealing with the prisoners so that he wouldn't have to cause the viscount any trouble on that front.
As for the head of the bandit leader, Lorist said that he has decided for it to be made into a decoration to commemorate his victory over the bandits at Fenyata Town. He added that he wanted to show the people that the bandit who had caused Viscount Kermas so much trouble now ended up in his hands as a tool that would help to spread his fame and solidify his reputation as the magnificent and just war god who is the savior of the troubled from the hands of evil that the viscount said he was.
Lorist also mentioned that an iron ore mine was found near the bandits' lair and that it would also become his as he had defeated the menacing bandits and owned the right to the spoils. Lorist said that he planned to have the prisoners work at the mine for him and maybe even build him a castle at Plate Mountain Stronghold so that he would be able to live there after inheriting his position at the Northlands as this place was far better than his desolate dominion there. Also, he would then be able to collect toll from the people who used Plate Mountain Pass as he had to keep it safe from bandits in the future.
"I really like the scenery of Fenyata Town, especially that of the difference between your forces and mine." Lorist then pointed to his guard squad that was training not far away and said, "I believe this town will soon prosper in the future. Maybe the Norton Family will be able to gain another dominion..."
Upon hearing all that, the viscount struggled bitterly to maintain the smile on his face. He swallowed in anxiety after taking a look at his own soldiers and Lorist's and realized that he had made a wrong call. He had imagined that Lorist would happily agree to leave everything in his hands after some flattering given his young age and urgent need to return to his dominion to inherit the position. That way, the viscount would be able to trade empty praises for actual gains.
What he didn't expect was that Lorist was unlike those young and inexperienced nobles that would be too full of themselves and lose sight of everything after being praised a time or two and would be willing to give up on material benefits for the sake of petty reputation. The thought of Lorist making the head of the bandit leader into an ornament and telling everyone of his exploits made the viscount fear for his own reputation as well. What would people think of him if they knew that he had been defeated twice by the bandits that only took Lorist one attempt to exterminate?
The mention of the iron ore was nothing to scoff at either. That equated to a huge amount of wealth! If he allowed the young noble to take over the mine and build a castle there, what influence would he still have at his own dominion in the future? While Viscount Kermas wasn't worried about the bandits, Lorist was different. He had already hinted to the viscount that he had some plans on the viscount's territory and that he would have no problem defeating the viscount with his superior forces should there be a need for it.
I can definitely not let Lorist stabilize his influence in my dominion, no matter the cost. Viscount Kermas then pulled at Lorist, who was already preparing to leave, and requested with a smile on his face for the ownership of the mines to be handed to him, arguing that his citizens were suffering because they lacked access to iron ore and added that if he had the mine, he would definitely be able to improve the standard of living of his citizens and be able to better defend his dominion and not let the same bandit problem manifest again. He expressed his hopes that Lorist would reach out to his sense of justice and fairness to help him on this matter...
Lorist stopped the viscount's ramblings and said, "Lord Viscount, are you saying that you'll redeem that mine?"
Redemption was a non-conventional transaction that could be carried out among nobles. Should a noble's dominion be taken over as a result of a hostile invasion and be unable to take it back by his own abilities, he can request another noble for military help to reclaim his land and offer a fitting and proportional price as a remuneration to redeem it.
VIscount Kermas wanted to weasel his way out of it, but was unable to find a reasonable argument and hesitantly admitted that he wanted to carry out redemption. Given that it was a huge transaction of its own right, there would naturally be necessary procedures and protocols. Thus, Lorist asked Shadekampf to represent him while the viscount asked his personal accounting supervisor to estimate the value of the mines as well as the area around the bandits' stronghold. After some period of bargaining, both sides finally came to a price they could agree on.
However, Viscount Kermas started complaining again and said that he wasn't able to pay such a huge sum given the poor state of his dominion. But he did mention that he would be able to make up for that with the resources he had.
What other resources or supplies do we need? Lorist looked at Shadekampf and he stated that the convoy needed more work horses, carriages, mounts, food and textiles.
And so Lorist started to negotiate once again with the viscount and he finally agreed to provide 350 work horses and mounts, 50 four-wheeled long distance carriages, seven carriages' worth of food and three carriages' worth of textiles to trade for the ownership of the iron mine and the area around the stronghold. Lorist will also hand the jurisdiction of the prisoners as well as the bandit leader's head to the viscount as part of the trade.
Thus, the viscount joyfully stated that the resources would be prepared by noon tomorrow and Lorist would have to pass the prisoners and the decapitated head over by then.
In Lorist and Shadekampf's presence, Viscount Kermas ordered the garrison captain to gather the horses and carriages of Fenyata Town as well as the resources he had promised. He mentioned that the stores within a 50 kilometer radius of Fenyata Town would definitely have the necessary amount.
The garrison captain looked at the viscount hesitantly and asked how he would pay back the owners of the stores for the resources they were about to take for themselves, to which the viscount replied, "What payment? We just have to promise them tax exemptions worth the value of the resources they give to us!"
Lorist sighed in admiration at the viscount's method of gaining resources for himself without paying a single coin out of his own pocket and made a mental note to learn it from him. After saying his goodbyes, Lorist returned to the army camp and asked Ovidis and Patt to pick some people among the prisoner bandits who did not do too much wrong to join the convoy as coachmen for the carriages before turning in the remaining ones to the viscount the day after. He also instructed that the wives of the dead bandit leader and the younger women to be allowed to mingle and form families with the rest of his men to prevent a mismatch of numbers between men and women in his dominion and cause a disparity between Yin and Yang.
Even though they did not understand what Lorist meant by Yin and Yang, they hurriedly went to carry out his orders anyway.
That night at the Wine and Weary Birds Inn, Shadekampf was making his report to Lorist. "We've managed to obtain 13 carriages from the bandit stronghold and purchased 11 more around the town. Coupled with the ones we brought ourselves and Telesti's, we will have 76 of them in total.
"Originally, we brought over 12 Zeno Horses and we purchased 53 more in town and got another 48 from defeating the bandits. The trade with the viscount will also add another 350 horses to that number and total up to 463 horses. That is more than enough for each carriage to have 4 horses pulling it and the remaining ones will be given to the guard squad as mounts.
"Just now, Patt and Ovidis have also selected 111 youths from the prisoners to serve as coachmen with 23 of them having family members of their own, among which include 39 young women. The guard squad consists of 120 men with 46 of them having families of their own as well. The young women and the other family members total up to 274 people. If we factor in Grandmaster Sid and his family, we will need a total of 30 carriages for them.
"The things we got from the bandit stronghold also occupy quite a lot of space. Just talking about the coins, there are 12742 gold Fordes, 34261 imperial old head gold coins, more than 70000 imperial silvers, around 18000 imperial coppers as well as five chests' worth of silver and copper coins issued by the Trade Union. There are also two additional chests filled to the brim with other jewelry and ornaments. All of that will require 5 carriages to transport.
"We've also got 3 carriages' worth of silk, six carriages' worth of linen as well as 11 carriages' worth of food from the Plate Mountain Stronghold. Miscellaneous goods also take up another eight carriages, four of which have been used to store the equipment Grandmaster Sid uses in his craft. There are also 5 carriages' worth of iron ingots with another 3 carriages' worth of assorted weapons. If we include the other resources the viscount will be bringing over tomorrow, we will require 81 carriages in total to transport them all. However, we only have 73 right now...
"Milord, I've decided to go to town again tomorrow to see if I can buy a few more carriages and ask the shops around the area if we can exchange the 18000 imperial copper coins for silver or gold coins to save more space. If it still doesn't work out, we can let the family members squeeze into a smaller number of carriages and have some resources carried by the work horses to make enough space so that we can start traveling again as soon as possible."
Lorist shook his head and thought, this Shadekampf actually considers resources to be more important than his own life! Even though we could've solved the lack of carriages by leaving some resources behind, he wants to transport them all back. He's really looking for trouble where there isn't any to be found.
"Have you heard about Miss Telesti's matter?" Loirst asked.
"I got a rough idea about it. She came to Fenyata Town roughly three months ago with her maidservant, butler and two other coachmen with two carriages and 4 work horses. I heard that they had split up with a merchant convoy after traveling with them to the border of the Madras Duchy and stopped here for a month to look for another convoy that is heading to the Northlands before the incident with the bandits happened. After their coachmen found new jobs and left, they have been living at the inn and barely making a living by selling their work horses and occasionally helping others to copy books. Currently, they are left with only one work horse with one of the two carriages filled up with nothing but books," said Shadekampf.
Lorist nodded and said, "Prepare some horses and coachmen for them tomorrow and notify them to start preparing for the departure. We have already been delayed here for two extra days and must leave by tomorrow no matter what. Make a final check after the transaction tomorrow and ensure that we will be able to leave by the afternoon."
"Yes, milord," said Shadekampf as he turned and left.
"Wait, one more thing. Tell the inn owner to make three people's worth of food during these two days and send it to Miss Telesti," said Lorist.
"Alright, I'll do just that."