This is the third bonus chapter of the week, as well as the final one brought to you by Joshua L. from the USA! There will be one more release tomorrow to make up for the lack of a third bonus chapter last week, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, don't forget to vote on the strawpoll at the end of the chapter! Prince and I here just love it when you, the readers, ponder about the plot. This time around we have the poll, which should be a lot of fun to build conspiracies around.  And we also have a question with which you guys should have a lot of fun!  Don't forget to tell us your choice, and why you chose it!

15 percent sulfur, 15 percent charcoal powder, 50 percent saltpeter, 10 percent fire crystal powder, 5 percent rosin, 5 percent starch, add a little egg white and mix evenly. After that, the mixture should be placed in a mould and dried to form the gunpowder cylinder to be used with the dwarven firearms.

Lorist brought Howard to the public library in Morante City and spent only 1 large silver to get the librarian to help him search for the article published last year in the Morante Daily, one of the city's newspapers, by Professor Balbo of the Venus Academy.

What was interesting about the article was that Professor Balbo actually said the there was much room for improvement in the dwarves' formula. Unfortunately, he couldn't continue his research; there just wasn't enough saltpeter available for him to use.

The journalists of the Morante Daily even interviewed the dwarves, who, back then, had set up their shop for less than a month, about the room for improvement that Professor Balbo claimed there was. The dwarves said the formula was a result of the sacred, toiling effort of their ancestors. It was perfect and didn't require any modifications. The dwarves even thought that Professor Balbo made such a claim as a ploy to procure more saltpeter from the dwarves, and their response was none other than: scram!

Lorist felt a little embarrassed. He had initially thought that he could keep gunpowder a secret. It seemed he was one lagging behind instead. The many academies and experienced professors had long decoded the secrets of gunpowder. The only fortunate thing was that the saltpeter used by the dwarves had been extracted from ores that could only be mined deep underground. Additionally, the professors still had yet to realize that the nitric acid used to treat leather could be instead be used on saltpeter ore.

In ancient China, gunpowder was discovered only after centuries of experimentation. But the scholars of Grindia didn't know that the white crystals that appeared on wall corners were actually one of the core components of gunpowder. All they knew was that it could be used to make nitric acid for leather processing. Lorist considered that to be his fortune. He would one day be able to make far more effective gunpowder than those made by dwarves.

"Howard, bring two guards that can read to the library tomorrow and have them read through the newspapers and academic publications released during the past few years. If you think that anything is noteworthy, mark it down and hand the list to me. The family will be prioritizing development into our dominion and seafaring, so please take note on anything in those fields," Lorist instructed his disciple.

"Alright, Master. I will be looking out for them," Howard said happily. He had always been the type who loved to read.

After dealing with the matter of gunpowder, Lorist returned to the Red Grace Inn gleefully to carry out some more pressing matters.

Josk and four other guards had been spending the whole time at the inn to look after the 100000 gold Fordes Lorist brought along with him.

On the other hand, Els had been fuddled drunk by his mates of the syndicate he used to be a part of.

Dulles on the other hand went looking for his friends and classmates at the Dawn Academy and also returned dead drunk each day.

Lorist thought that it was about time he visited some of his old friends as well.

The following days saw Lorist being really busy, with him leaving early in the morning with two guards and only returning late at night. Mainly, he went to meet with the professors and instructors of the Dawn Academy, including Academy Head Levins and Blademaster Claude and his wife. After seven years, the Dawn Academy stayed mostly the same, but many of the people there had changed. There were quite a few of Lorist's acquaintances amongst the instructors that had already left the academy. However, the bronze statue of Lorist, erected when he obtained a 3000 win streak against Silver ranked opponents despite being an Iron rank himself, looked as domineering as ever, to the point that it was a renowned legend in the academy.

Academy Head Levins had aged a lot over these 7 years. The gift Lorist brought him was an undamaged magic tiger pelt. It would be a great help to alleviate the pains of his rheumatic condition. As for Blademaster Claude, he just received a great shock. When he first met with Lorist, he boasted confidently that he wanted to give Lorist some pointers in swordsmanship, only to lose in less than a hundred exchanges with Lorist in a fight.

Dulles, on the other hand, brought Lorist some good news. There were quite a number of academy alumni that were really impressed with Lorist's experiences and were hoping that they could also follow Lorist and join House Norton.

After giving it some thought, Lorist decided to accept them, but only after the risks and dangers were clearly laid out to them. The house needed more talented people, and the alumni of the academy were definitely more than qualified. Since they were his acquaintances and were willing to follow him, Lorist really couldn't think of a good reason to refuse them.

Upon receiving Lorist's permission, Dulles happily raised his hoe and began digging into the staff of the Dawn Academy.[1] During the seven years that had passed, many of Lorist's acquaintances had already become the core staff of the Dawn Academy. If all of them really joined Lorist, Academy Head Levins would have a huge headache coming for him.

Other than that, Lorist also went to visit Tim. The couple were living in a gothic, four-storey building not far away from the academy sector. The Peterson Merchant Guild had played a huge part in their purchase of the building, and they only had to spend up to 3000 gold Fordes for a building that was easily worth four to five thousand gold Fordes.

The Tebri couple were pleasantly surprised at Lorist's visit. Both of them were incredibly thankful for Lorist's efforts. Tim was saved by Lorist from a huge predicament with Count Cobry, and was also made into the rightful heir of Viscount Tebri as a result. Additionally, he had been introduced to his wife by Lorist. In some way, the blissful days he spent now was only gained after experiencing a fair share of troubles.

Tim was a rather well-known noble among the high society of Morante City. He complained to Lorist that before he became a noble, he was incredibly envious of them. But he understood their troubles now that he had joined their ranks. He had to put up a front all day long when he interacted with the other nobles, which he found incredibly tiring, and he began to feel that nobles were incredibly shallow creatures.

Lorist laughed at hearing Tim's complaints. During their casual conversation, Tim revealed a piece of incredibly crucial information: there was a chance that the Forde Trade Union would begin to implement a nobility system. However, unlike Lorist's noble title which was given to him by the royal family, the titles of the Forde Trade Union would be given out by their high council.

Lorist also told Tim about his arrangement with the Peterson Merchant Guild, and relayed to Tim his intentions of carrying out the trade at his dominion. Lorist added that he would definitely pay the necessary taxes. Tim expressed his willingness to help as well as his joy for being able to be of some use to Lorist, and assured that he would instruct Old Knight Gemors who was stationed at the manor at the viscounty to give his support.

When he returned to the Red Grace Inn, Lorist realized that Els and his good friend, Jindoz, were awaiting his return. Ever since Els left home to become Lorist's knight, Jindoz had taken over as the boss of the syndicate. It was quite apparent that he was far more reliable than Els; within the short seven years since Els's departure, Jindoz's syndicate had already become one of the largest syndicates within Morante City, and they already have control over at least half of the streets there. More than 4000 people worked for them.

Jindoz handed Lorist more than 50 gold Forde notes worth 100 gold Fordes each, but Lorist merely gave him a questioning look, not sure what it was about. Els then explained that the money was the rent that was collected over seven years from a building Lorist purchased at Rose Street before he left. Before he left, Els had left the unit under Jindoz's management, and he would collect 30 percent of the profits. The 5000 or so gold Fordes were Lorist's share.

After the explanation, Lorist recalled that he did in fact purchase a building back then. However, he recalled mortgaging it to Els for 5000 gold Fordes to raise funds for the northbound journey. However, that sum was already paid back in full during the journey. He didn't expect that his investment of 5400 gold Fordes back then would break even within a short seven years.

Jindoz laughed and said that it was only possible because the price of property within Morante City had been rising in recent years, causing rent to increase multiple times over. Otherwise, the profits wouldn't be that high. However, he said that he didn't come to meet Lorist just because he wanted to give him the collected rent. He said that he would like to acquire the magic beast jerky, whale meat, and salt for sale.

Jindoz laughed bitterly. He explained that he had no other choice, there were just too many people working under him. We was forced to look for other ways to earn some money. Nowadays, the syndicate had already taken control of half the shops around the streets of the city, so he felt that it would be rather convenient for Lorist's goods to be sold there.

Lorist agreed to Jindoz's request right away, but also said that he required his help for two things. First, he wanted Jindoz to find out about the situation of Professor Balbo. He hoped that he could recruit the man to carry out further gunpowder research for him. Additionally, he had Jindoz instruct the members of the syndicate to keep an eye out for some talented people who were only lacking a good opportunity. Lorist realized that the house required talented people in many areas, so he had to be on the lookout for them whenever he could.

After settling the matter with Jindoz, Lorist was prepared to head to the glass-producing Teribo Kingdom. Charade's father had started a glass distribution company there and Lorist intended to order the glass he needed from Charade's father exclusively. After all, he was a partner, and he had to deliver Charade's letter to him as well.

Charade's father was a successful merchant. It was said that the Teribo Kingdom's royal family even owned some shares in his firm, hence his benefits when it came to dealing in glass. He welcomed Lorist and the others warmly. As Charade had said, his father had yearned all his life to become a landed noble, so when he treated a person of such caliber, he presented himself with an incredibly respectful attitude.

"Uncle, you don't have to be so courteous, really. Even though Charade is my family knight, he's also my trusted friend and partner. As you're his father, you are considered my senior as well. Just leave these kinds of things to your servants. You didn't have to go about doing all this personally. If you do, I will feel incredibly troubled," Lorist said, not knowing how to react to the hospitality he was given.

After reading Charade's letter, he understood that Lorist was a legitimate landed noble. And when he realized that his own son was serving such a person, he went out of his way to make sure that all of Lorist's needs were met. That was especially the case when Lorist assured Charade's father that after another three years when Charade served for a full 10 years' term, he would give Charade peerage as a baron, and enfeoff a barony to him. When Charade's father heard that, he teared up in joy immediately and thanked Lorist unceasingly.

From that day onwards, Lorist realized that the treatment he received improved even further, to the point that Charade's father would accompany his servant for the smallest things. Even when the servant merely brought Lorist refreshment, Charade's father would be his shadow. That kind of hospitality greatly shocked Lorist. It made him feel rather uneasy. He decided to leave as soon as possible, he would be on his way the moment he had finished his matters.

As for the glass products required by the dominion, Charade's father promised confidently, even thumping his chest, that he would be able to supply as much glass as the Norton House needed, and even assured that there won't be any problems. Not only that, he didn't even require Lorist to pay a single copper coin as deposit. Lorist refused the kind gesture. Even though Charade's father was a rich and successful merchant, the order he made was easily worth 20000 gold Fordes. If some unexpected accident really happened, that would affect Charade's family. So, Lorist insisted that the deal be carried out as per usual practice, with the reason that official and private matters should not be conflated.

As for the letter Charade sent two years earlier, after Lorist failed in his experiments, to ask his father to find out what materials were used to make glass, Charade's father said that he hadn't managed to procure much information. It was mainly due to the degree of secrecy and care on the Teribo Kingdom's part to keep both the ingredients and the process of glass production secret.

However, he recommended Lorist go meet a person who had worked in the glass production plants for 32 years. The man, Mancheny, had followed in his father's footsteps, and took a position at the production plants. He eventually became a full-fledged glassmith, despite initially working a common laborer. He should have a complete grasp on how glass was made. Charade's father had first gotten to know him professionally, but the two had since become friends.

Charade's father mentioned that he had heard Master Mancheny complain about his fellow glassmiths. They were dumb as blocks of wood, and only knew how to do what they were told without bothering about experimentation and improvement. Charade's father, being the sensible merchant that he was, began to take note of Master Mancheny.

Master Mancheny was quite troubled these days. He and his wife only had one daughter, whom they treasured and loved with all their life. Now that their daughter had matured, they had started to trouble themselves over her marriage. Unfortunately, during the 36th day of the 9th month that year, on the harvest celebration, the couple and their daughter encountered Viscount Sirwa.

Viscount Sirwa had quite a reputation in Feyers City, the capital city of the Teribo Kingdom. The reputation wasn't a pleasant one. He was the nephew of the queen, and as fat as a pig and as lustful as a turkey. He had been implicated in the kidnapping of womenfolk within the capital on several occasions. Each had caused considerable commotion amongst the people. His antics had been toned down somewhat after a harsh punishment by the queen, however.

That very viscount had set his eyes on the daughter of Mancheny. While he didn't dare to take her away in public like he used to, he didn't hold anything back when it came to harassing the family. He intended to take the poor girl as his 26th concubine.

Given how much the couple treasured their daughter, it was no surprise that they had refused the viscount's demand without any hesitation. They greatly feared his retribution, and hid their daughter within one of the glass production plant's residences. They hoped they could avoid the viscount's claws by doing so.
While Viscount Sirwa wasn't able to interfere with the strictly-monitored glass production plant, he manage to bribe the plant's managers to drive Mancheny and his family out. It wouldn't take much effort to chase the Mancheny family out of the plant, and they could gain the favour of the viscount by doing so, so naturally the managers didn't hesitate. They accepted the bribe and began to cause trouble for Mancheny.

It didn't take long for them to issue Mancheny an ultimatum: since his wife and daughter were not part of the plant's workforce, it was illegal for them to be at the plant. But, considering Mancheny's 32 years of service, they would be willing to overlook the matter if he sent his wife and daughter out of the plant within three days. Otherwise, he would be punished for putting confidential information at risk.

Master Mancheny was incredibly troubled. He had spent his entire life working for the production plant. Now, in his last few years, he had been forced into such a difficult position. The most laughable part was that, being one of the people who knew the deepest secrets of glass production, Mancheny had two Silver ranked swordsmen by his side at all times. The two weren't there to work as his bodyguards, they were tasked with monitoring him to ensure that what he knew didn't get leaked out. They didn't bother to take any action on Master Mancheny's behalf, they simply waited for the drama to start.

Charade's father said that Master Mancheny's family had just been driven out from the production plant. Viscount Sirwa would forcefully marry the master's daughter in three days. Currently, Master Mancheny could do nothing about it. Charade's father said that if Lorist was willing to give a hand at a time like this, Master Mancheny would no doubt pledge his loyalty to the House, giving it access to glass production techniques.

That's not a bad idea, Lorist thought as he began to stroke his chin in deep thought.



[1] In Chinese, poaching can be literally translated as digging away at a corner. The author humorously made a play on words and described Dulles's action as literal digging.



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