This here is the second release of the week, enjoy!



Lorist lay on a luxurious bed lazily. He had just woken up after sleeping for a whole day and night.  He felt drowsy and didn't want to get up yet.

His laziness was not because of a weakened constitution, however. He was pondering the blood-red world he had once again entered. The previous afternoon he had led an assault on the palace and had faced off against the rank 3 blademaster Locksy Kabia. Locksy should logically have been far weaker than the blademaster Zarinan - the man who'd been sent to assassinate Lorist.  Zarinan was considered a quasi-swordsaint by many, which meant that his sword techniques had to be very close to that of a true swordsaint.  Blademaster Locksy, on the other hand, was not particularly strong, even though he was still quite formidable.

Kabia was, however, a very stubborn person.  He managed to keep Lorist occupied for more than two hours. He would retreat from time to time and have the archers protecting the palace fire volleys in Lorist's direction. The most annoying part was that Locksy's swordsmanship attribute was not particularly weak against Lorist's own. Locksy's was very similar to Lorists - sneaky chill. In fact, he thrived off the cold temperatures generated by Lorist's swordsmanship.

The fight caused Lorist to enter the blood-red world once again. Lorist's speed, agility, strength and other bodily qualities were doubled or tripled in the world. Thanks to the boost, he managed to decapitate the blademaster in ten strokes.

The moment Lud III saw Locksy's death, he knew that he no longer had any hope of delaying the inevitable. That was when he began setting his palace on fire. Lorist receded from the world a few moments after, incredibly exhausted. He laughed when he heard the guards report that the palace was on fire and collapsed.

Lorist pondered the nature of his blood-red world. As much as he would like to call it a swordsaint's domain, it was a little different from what he had heard. He also felt his swordsmanship was not up to a swordsaint's standard. He was as skilled as Zarinan had been at best.

The most documented domain was that of the Kalia kingdom's windstorm swordsaint. He had once deployed it publicly so others could experience it. Those lucky enough to be present during the demonstration described the experience as being put directly into a storm. The wind and rain made it impossible for them to open their eyes. Most people would be completely unble to fight in such a situation.  There would be nothing left to do but wait for death.

That was the reason Lorist thought that even if he were to break through to the swordsaint level, his domain would be one of snow and ice. That opinion was also shared by the blademasters that had faced him in combat.

What, then, is this blood-red world anyways? Even if it's not a domain, I feel absolute control over my environment after entering it. I could even kill rank 3 blademasters like they were livestock. In this world, with but a thought, I can appear wherever I want. Given how deeply this resonates with my soul, it feels like a domain, if not anything else...

However, Lorist could not be assured of two points. First, he had never heard of any swordsaint that had managed to master two different domains. Second, given how his swordsmanship wasn't too much trouble for Locksy, it was apparent that Lorist's skills were still far from that of a swordsaint. Should it have been the opposite case, he would have defeated the old blademaster in less than 50 exchanges.

But Lorist suddenly remembered that he was not training properly in the battleforce technique he learned in his current life. Instead, he was using battleforce to cultivate the aquametal technique. Perhaps, it had boosted or altered his domain? Thinking back at the insane boost in abilities the world afforded him, it felt almost like a buff in a video game that boosted his abilities. That was why Locksy was unable to take more than ten of his empowered strikes and fell at the eleventh one.

This world should be a domain. When I am in that state, my abilities should rival that of a swordsaint's. It must be why I suffer some fatigue as well.

Guess I should name this world. What should I call it? Bloodred Domain?

Lorist shook his head and recalled the night he engaged in slaughter with bodies littered all over him in the camp.

Since a slaughter always succeeds the manifestation of the domain, let's call this the Slaughter Domain. I should work on familiarizing myself with this ability as soon as I can. Perhaps, I should adjust my training to focus in that direction and try my best to train my body until the state is within the domain.

Upon concluding his thought session, he felt rather relaxed and called out, "Hey, anyone?"

Jim came in and asked, "Milord, what do you need?"

"Oh? Why are you here? You're still injured. You should rest up," said Lorist.

"I'm fine, Milord. The military herbalist gave me a checkup yesterday and said that my body has recovered completely, thanks to the medicine Els brought to the dueling grounds. I only need a few more days of rest for a complete recovery. Also, I'm the vice leader of your personal guard. I am only fulfilling my duties as soon as possible," replied Jim.

"Fine, suit yourself. Just make sure you don't overwork yourself," Lorist said, "Who's in charge of the situation right now?"

"Sir Charade is, Milord. Sir Loze passed on the duties the moment they met and took charge of the security of the capital," reported Jim.

"I see," Lorist said as he nodded, before he instructed, "Get me some food and drink. I'm starving."

Charade entered the room with a stack of folders just as Lorist finished gulping down two pieces of bread.with a thick stack of folders.

 "Milord, you're finally awake," said he.

"Aren't you handling things just fine?" asked Lorist as he picked up another piece of roast chicken.

"Ugh," Charade groaned, "Locke, I was originally going to thank you for coming into the dueling grounds alone to rescue me, but it seems you did so just so I could take over most of the work again!"

"Fatty, aren't you the one who likes desk jobs the most?" Lorist laughed, "Why did you change your mind all of a sudden after being taken captive?"

"Actually, I want to take a break," sighed Charade.

"What for?"

"Thinking about the household soldiers who had died protecting me at the dueling grounds, like Knight Fad, I know this can't go on any longer. I want to take a break to properly train and break through to the gold rank. If... If I had been a gold rank, there would have been far fewer household soldiers who had to sacrifice themselves for my sake. At the very least, that rat-faced blademaster wouldn't have used me to threaten Els. I've caused so much trouble because I neglected my training," grumbled he.

"That's not your fault. You're the chief knight of the household and it's only right for the household soldiers to protect you. However, I do agree that it's about time you raised your abilities. I'll agree to let you off on a break, but only after we return to The Northlands. You still have to help me deal with the bulk of matters here for now," conceded Lorist.

"We won't be staying here for too long. I promise you we'll return to Silowas by the end of the month or early next month," added he.

"What will happen to the archipelago?" asked Charade.

"We'll make it one of our overseas territories."

"We don't have a mandate from the Andinaq royal family. I'm afraid we can't make this place ours, Locke," countered Charade.

"No worries," Lorist said as he waved, "The second highness didn't care about us when we mobilized our forces. Additionally, the kingdom we exterminated isn't officially recognized by any other nations. They're nothing but pirates gathered up in one lair. If we leave these islands be, it might actually become the home of real pirates in the future. We can't leave this place lawless and unattended. Forget about a mandate. I don't care if others don't acknowledge this archipelago as our overseas territory. If anyone objects to our claim, they can come and take it from us."

Since Lorist was dead set on keeping the archipelago under the house's control, Charade no longer advised against it. After all, there were benefits to having another overseas territory.

"I understand. Oh, and, make sure to sign these documents," said Charade as he passed over the stack of folders.

"What are these?" asked Lorist.

"The forms for distributing food and other supplies, rewards for distinguished soldiers, and a list of items the fleet will be sending back to Silowas. Also, there are some distribution permissions for weapons and equipment for the new local defense forces."

Lorist sighed and began signing the documents.

"Aren't you going to look them over?" asked Charade.

"The fact that you brought them to me for a signature means that you've already given it a good look. There's no need for me to spend that much effort rechecking everything," replied Lorist.

"Alright, thanks for having so much trust in me. Actually, I still have another thing I want to discuss with you," said Charade.

"What's it about?"

"It concerns the slaves. Currently, there are more than 100 thousand slaves settled in the capital. Apart from the 30 thousand or so that are under our command, they are mostly those that worked in the manors of the royal family. If they are left to their own devices, they'll be nothing but leeches on our food and resources. Additionally, the wheat in the manors' fields are ripe and ready for harvest but are so far left alone. I believe that it won't be too good an idea to force the slaves to do so. What should we do about this?"

Charade felt rather troubled that perfectly good wheat was being left to rot as well as the fact that they were feeding the 100 thousand slaves for nothing in return. The sight of food being moved out of the warehouse to the unattended slaves around the capital pained his heart. But there was nothing he could do to the slaves, they had answered the house's call for rebellion.

"How much goods did we get from this place?" asked Lorist without even answering the earlier query.

"It's not completely tallied yet," Charade said as he flipped open a brown-colored folder, "This is Hector's report on Nupite. More than 5 million gold Forde coins were confiscated from the city.  The silver and copper Fordes amount to an additional 3 million gold Fordes. There are also millions worth of luxury goods. Hector says in his report he's formed a slave scavenging unit to dig up the nobles' and traders' underground warehouses. He believes we'll have another couple million gold Fordes' worth of goods by the end of the month.

"Also, we unsealed the three treasuries of the royal family and there are at least 1 million gold Fordes' worth there. I believe after we scour the noble sector, we will have even more. Locke, our lack of funds is practically solved. The funds we got from the kingdom alone is enough for us to continue development for ten more years."

"Hehe," Lorist chuckled, "I was the one who said it first. Money comes fastest when it's taken from the hands of a kingdom. Naturally, that only applies if we can win with the least sacrifice. The only sad part is that the dominion is far too remote. Our neighbors are all poor or troublesome. Sometimes, I really wish our dominion was located at the Falik Plains next to a juicy piece of meat like the Teribo kingdom. Just the thought makes me drool..."

Charade laughed and said, "Milord, we're nobles, not bandits! Don't say these kinds of things in front of others. Also, you said that we attacked the Hanayabarta kingdom as an act of retaliation against their slavers and slave traders. We are perfectly in the right for fighting back and exterminating their kingdom. We did not do this out of a need for money."

"No worries, I know. Earning money is just one of our side goals. Everyone understands this," Lorist said with a laugh, "Since we earned so much this time around, we can afford to be a little lenient on our spending. Post notices all over the capital later stating that we are recruiting the slaves for the wheat harvest. We will need to put the fields at the plains near the capital to good use and plant winter wheat after the current harvest. Even if we have enough stockpiled food, we can't count on it completely.

"Those who help with the harvests will be guaranteed food, shelter, and good clothing. We will also pay them a salary. I believe that the freed slaves would love to start accumulating wealth of their own. Those who work hard will be compensated a small silver a day. It will entice lots to join in.

"Also, from tomorrow onwards, the slaves that refuse to help us out will only be served two bowls of porridge a day with no bread or meat. Those who don't work don't even deserve food in the first place, and our provision are already more than we're obligated to provide. We don't have any special relationship with them, so there's no need for us to feed them well."

Charade stared wide-eyed.

"That won't be too good, right Milord? I don't recall you asking the light cavalry scouts to announce that when you were riling them up for revolt."

Lorist shook his head with a smile.

"No. All we promised in exchange for their help in resisting the royal defense army's oppression was freedom. Right now, they are free to go wherever they want and do whatever they please. No one will look at them as slaves anymore. We have already fulfilled our end of the bargain. We're not obligated to sustain them for the rest of their lives, understood?

"If these free men are willing to work for us in exchange for other benefits, they are more than welcome. Our house requires hardworking people who are willing to work for their own livelihoods, not parasites who don't want to do their part. If there are any that oppose our decision, we will show them the wrath of the Raging Bear!

"Also, you can make it known that we will soon be recruiting from the slaves to expand our army. Make sure to spread the word that we aren't looking for the fittest or strongest, but rather those who serve us the best."

Charade understood Lorist's intentions immediately.

"Understood, Milord."

"Good. There are over 400 thousand slaves here and most of them are youths not tied to any family. If we use them wisely, they will grow our manpower greatly. If we don't manage it well, they will become very troublesome instead. I plan to leave around 200 thousand slaves here and give them farmland and houses. They will live here as my subjects.

"Other than that, I plan to recruit ten brigades of soldiers. Coupled with the ten brigades already formed at Nupite, there will be more than 60 thousand soldiers. It should make up for the distance separating the archipelago and our dominion. In chaotic times, one must have enough might to protect oneself. As for the rest of the slaves, those who don't wish to return to their homelands will be allowed to move to Silowas to replace our losses. We need to restart our development there as soon as possible. That's the rough outline of my plan. What do you think?" asked Lorist.

"That sounds appropriate, Milord," replied Charade.