"Variability is one of the virtues of a woman. It avoids the crude requirement of polygamy. So long as you have one good wife, you are sure to have a spiritual harem." ~ Norton Lorist, on wives and women.

Arriotoli had been bullied by Lorist into forgetting the initial goal for which she came. In the afternoon, she hurriedly left Firmrock to return to the Dina barony in Delamock. According to her little sister, their younger brother would study in Nico Academy for three years until he turned either 16 or 17. After awakening his battleforce, he would attend Dawn Academy. This was the plan Lorist had for the descendants of his house as well. He didn't expect Arriotoli to remember it and have her younger brother to go through the same process.

As the regent and knight of her house, there was much she had to deal with in the dominion. After all, the dominion was rather new and problems frequently surfaced. For instance, it was common for the folk to slack off at the dominion lord's expense. So, she couldn't stay at Firmrock any longer. She returned in a carriage instead of heroically on horseback like how she came, much to her sister's curiosity when she was sending her off.

Why does my sister look so fatigued and sleepy? She wasn't like this when we meet at noon...

Arriotoli did bring a new train of thought to Lorist apart from sexual relief. He finally found a good way to placate his four concubines. So, he ordered Jinolio to set up the rooms beside his study into bedrooms which he called 'resting rooms'. He secretly brought his concubines into the rooms for some deep and intimate interactions, ridding them of their dissatisfaction.

Sigh, I've sacrificed quite a lot for my household's peace, thought he.

These days, Fennazali, Dilianna, Daisy, and Maria flocked to him like bees to flowers. He didn't have any free time. Perhaps because of their envy, they vented it on him for how much he spoiled and tolerated Sylvia. Now that they'd finally got their chance, they wouldn't rest until at least four rounds each time. In the end, Lorist was forced to put off his duties until after tea time.

Maria and Daisy attacked him together. He spent tremendous amounts of effort on dealing with them and wondered whether Dilianna and Fennazali would request the same treatment the next day for the sake of fairness.

Gosh, a new problem always surfaces when the old one is solved...

He now believed the usual one-man-one-wife convention in his previous world was actually meant to protect men. Even a person as well-endowed with talent as he was tired after dealing with four concubines. How were those who had tens and hundreds of women in their harems faring? He couldn't help but suspect those harem owners were constantly being cheated on.

It was all Sylvia's fault. Even though they were recognized concubines, they had to go about mingling with Lorist like they were having an affair.

If I have a proper schedule, then they won't come at me in droves...

But thinking about Sylvia's current weak girl state, he felt it was best he didn't shock her too much.

Actually, Sylvia's overthinking this. Since I wouldn't give up on my concubines for her, it's natural I wouldn't give her up for the concubines either.

It didn't mean he was an unfaithful man and taking Sylvia's feelings for granted. The main reason for the current state of affairs was that Sylvia had come into the picture a little too late. The four concubines came before her. As Lorist wasn't someone who could just cruelly ignore Sylvia's affection, he made the responsible choice to treat all of them fairly even if it meant lots of trouble for him. Yes, that was most definitely it.

Charade was currently seated in Lorist's study and enjoying a drink from the wine rack. He was one of the few who knew about the real purpose of the adjacent rooms. He was the one who had a secret path built between them and the rear castle so Lorist's four concubines wouldn't have to pass through the central hall to meet with him. That way, they would be away from prying eyes. However, Charade was quite dissatisfied at how Lorist's performance was decreasing as a result.

"Your Grace, you were late by more than half an hour again."

"I was, apologies," muttered Lorist as he pulled on the bell beside the wall.

Jinolio entered from outside.

"Awaiting your instructions, Your Grace."

"Some macks, please."

"Right away, Your Grace."

"Aren't you going to have some fruit wine?" asked Charade, a bottle in hand.

"No thanks. I'll only be thirstier the more I drink. Is there anything important with which we have to deal today?"

When they started talking business, Charade put the bottle down and picked up his folder.

"Quite a bit, in fact. This is the proposal to reorganize Oceanic Legion submitted by Commander Senbaud. Most of it is as you have specified."

"Oh? Did he not voice any objections?"

Charade shook his head.

"No, Your Grace. Instead, He acted as if a huge burden's been lifted from his shoulders. In his own words, 'I was sure I couldn't hold on any longer'. The stress of managing 58 thousand subordinates is really taking its toll on him. He said he felt something was off when he had to give permission to ten-odd small fishing boats to go out to sea and mentioned focusing on patrolling is much more relaxing than sitting in the office all day managing the entry and exit of transport and shipping vessels, becoming less and less like the commander of a legion."

"Alright then. It seems we've saved him from all the troublesome matters."

Lorist took the proposal Charade handed him and gave it a quick look.

"One patrol flotilla made up of six Blitz-class warships, four Swift-class warships, four LLDMs and 12 MAGs (middle-class agile guards), a total of 3483 crew... makes approximately seven thousand for two such flotillas. If we include the guard brigade of 3200 stationed on Silowas, the four guard ships docked there, and the five training ships and marine recruits at Bullhorn Bay, Northsea Fleet has a total of 61 ships and 11082 hands. Not bad."

"Commander Senbaud believes the guard ships built as merchant vessels to be outfitted with bronze cannons should be further reinforced. Otherwise, they won't be able to take the recoil. They face the risk of rupturing."

"I've already considered that. Funds will be provided," Lorist said as he read the proposal, "Also, have the flotilla at Hanayabarta included in Northsea's chain of command. The 12 warships also have to undergo similar modifications. Their crew have to be reorganized in the same fashion as well."

"Understood, Your Grace."

"Let the ranks of Northsea be Admiral of the Navy, Commodore, Captain, Lieutenant and Commander - for the shipboard marines' leader. Senbaud will be the first admiral of Northsea."

"Understood, Your Grace. I will have the order drafted tomorrow."

Lorist flipped to the next page.

"Over here, separate our merchant fleet from the guest-ferrying fleet. We just have to control the merchant fleet. Let others deal with the ferrying service. Maybe there will be some nobles who use their personal networks to start new ferry routes. JUst collect dividends. Also, we'll keep our whaling fleet but let go of fisheries. The nobles or rich civilians can easily catch more fish than us. Not only will we gain dividends, they will also be taxed. This will allow the merchant guilds that enter the market to become more active."

After discussing the matter of Northsea's reorganization, Charade brought out another document.

"Your Grace, this is about the end of Governor Hansk's term on Silowas. The garrison commander Molocinque and Vice-Commander Wellickson have reached the end of their terms. How should we deal with this? Do we let them stand for another term?"

Time really flies. Each term lasts five years,

He shook his head.
"No. Transfer the officials and knights whose terms have ended back. We can't have them stay overseas for too long. Have Hector take over as Governor and transfer Hansk back to the dominion. As for Molocinque, isn't Second Sentry lacking a commander? Have him take that post. Let Wellickson serve as one of Northsea's Commodores. The rest of the knights and officials are at your disposal."

"But, Your Grace, who will serve as Hanayabarta's governor?"

"Do you remember Butler Boris? He's been in charge of various matters in our dominion's administration for several years now. Given how hard he's worked to make some contributions, entitle him as an honorary baron at the year-end celebration. He'll serve two governor terms on Hanayabarta. After he returns in ten years, make him a landed noble. Similarly, have the knights and officials transfer to Hanayabarta and serve two terms and promote them when they return."

There was no other choice. Given how far out Hanayabarta was, only promotions and beneficial treatment would be appealing enough for people to accept a position there.

"Then, to which department will Baron Hansk be transferred?"

"Aren't we trying to revamp our roads? Have him take care of it. This is something the prosperity and development of The Northlands depend on. I can rest assured if Hansk is placed in charge. Hey, why are you clicking your tongue?"

Charade laughed coldly.

So this is your 'revenge' against him for causing such a huge commotion over your marriage... Now, his position has fallen from a governor to a traffic planner.

Then again, Baron Hansk's luck with people had always been rather bad. Being an old servant of House Norton, he frequently rode on his seniority when dealing with Charade and the others who came with Lorist to The Northlands. The instances of conflict had decrease quite a bit during his term as governor of Silowas.

After giving it some thought, Charade felt it was best for the man to be taught a lesson by being sent to the wilderness, so he didn't feel obligated to straighten out Lorist's behavior. It was his fault for being so vocal about his objections to Lorist's marriage in the first place. While he hadn't minded Spiel's objection, which was brought to him in private, Hansk's rallying of officials to object in unison was a huge mistake. It wasn't an objection in Lorist's eyes, but rather a threat.

"Nothing. My tongue itched, that's all," said Charade as he hid his disdain for Lorist's payback.

Since they both knew what was going on, there was no point in mentioning it outright.

"Also, the formation of First Sentry is complete. Baron Belnick led the legion to Fort Goldridge, so it should be time for Els to return."

"Right. Have him bring the guards back," Lorist said as he downed a mouthful of macks, "Also, I'm planning to have Els serve as the legion sergeant-major and a colonel of Jaeger as Josk's aide. Reidy will take over as the guard brigade's major with Patt as the brigade sergeant-major. What do you think?"

"The affairs of the guard brigade are not my concern," Charade said with awareness of his position, "But I'm fine with Els being appointed legion sergeant-major of Jaeger. You're finally willing to let him free, huh?"

Lorist laughed.

"It's not that I wasn't willing before. The time just happened to be right now. Both of you are important friends of mine. You're a baron now, so I felt Els should have the opportunity to rake in some achievements to catch up, lest you throw around your status in front of him in the future."

"I don't have the time for that! I'm so busy I don't even have time to get intimate with my wife; I sleep right after returning home. Unlike you, who fucks around in your restroom in the middle of the day," Charade said with a squint, "Also, there's one last thing. Zanben, vice-supervisor of the construction department, reports the duke's manor in Roaring Bear is mostly completed. He hopes you will find the time to make a visit. If you have any part with which you're not satisfied, changes can still be made. I'll let you arrange a visit yourself. I have to take my leave now. There's much more waiting for me..."

At dinner, Sylvia posed a question that greatly unnerved Lorist.

"Locke, did you notice, Anna, Fenli, Daisy, and Maria become more beautiful all of a sudden? It's like their skin is glowing with youth. I asked them how they did it, but they weren't willing to tell me. Do you know?"

Of course... Wasn't it because of the 'moisture' I provided?

Before Lorist thought of how he should answer, the four concubines laughed in unison.

After giving them a harsh glare, he turned to Sylvia and said with a smile, "Perhaps they've been taking enough beauty naps. There's a saying in Morante: 'beauties are born through sleep'. Only enough sleep will maintain a woman's beauty."

"No wonder I don't see them in the morning sometimes. When I visit them in the afternoon, they're still asleep..."

Sylvia felt as if she suddenly understood the secret to beauty. However, she soon revealed a troubled look.

"But Locke, I don't understand how they can sleep like that. I can't do it no matter what after I wake up."

They sleep early because they've been tired out...

Lorist wiped the sweat from his forehead.

"Well, that's to be expected, my dear. You're a two-star gold rank. They don't have battleforce. The energy you have makes it harder for you to sleep. Also, can you visit Roaring Bear in my stead? The city used to be called Gildusk. It's the city in the southern part of The Northlands. The duke's manor was just completely renovated and we will be married there. It will also be our home afterwards. If there's anything with which you're not satisfied, you may ask them to change it."

"Can't you go with me?" asked Sylvia expectantly.

"I'm afraid not. I'm heading to the east, before going to Bladedge Mountains and Northsea. I really don't have the time. I have to trouble you to make the trip on your own. It's going to be our home in the future, so I hope you can make sure it's perfect," said Lorist as he shrugged.

"Alright, I'll make the trip," said Sylvia with a disappointed look.

"What about them?" asked Sylvia as she looked at the other concubines.

"They'll go with you," Lorist decided, "We will all live together, after all. Let them pick their own residences there. You will make the trip together."

That was just in line for Lorist to get some rest. He had been rather troubled by their aggressive advances lately.

Sylvia nodded.

"Alright, Dear. We'll make a quick trip and return.

"Well... you don't have to rush," Lorist said with a pause, "Also, there are many manors belonging to the former nobles and duke. Pick one for each of you and they will be yours. All the income generated by them will belong to you personally, but they're not hereditary. The term of ownership only lasts for your lifetime. As for Sylvia, I've picked Cherry Blossom Ridge for you. You might want to check to see if it's to your liking."

"Kyaaaaaah!" Before Sylvia could reply, the four concubines screamed with excitement and joy.

It was something completely out of their expectations. At first, they were rather unwilling to accompany Sylvia to the southern part of The Northlands, but now they were itching to leave right away. They all rushed to give Lorist hugs and kisses.

"Alright, that's enough," said he with much difficulty as he tried to push them aside.

Seeing that Sylvia was pouting in a corner, he hurriedly went to console her and relieve her jealousy.

How will I spend my days going forward? Too many women is nothing but trouble... thought he as he slumped back into his chair.