Tales of the Reincarnated Lord - Chapter 480
On the Run
Delamock's skies were bright and cloudless on the 23rd day of the 4th month, Year 1788.
A strong horse pulled a four-wheeled cart across a narrow stretch of clay-and-lime road. Such 'flatboard' carts were rather commonplace in the province, mostly used to transport food and miscellaneous stuff. Each could move 1500 kilograms and was filled with linen sacks, making it look like small migrating mountains.
This particular cart, however, was mostly empty. It had only two people and a few linen sacks. A young man sat in the coachman's seat holding a long horsewhip, bobbing his head like one dozing off. The horse thus walked at its own pace. From time to time, it even stopped to graze. The other man, clad in typical gray-white farming wear, lay in the cart with a linen sack as a pillow. A straw hat covered his face to block out the sun. He slept soundly.
This wasn't common on the roads. The youth would whip the horse to the roadside when oncomers cursed at him and let them pass. Soon he would be dozing off again as the horse trotted along on its own.
Contrary to appearance, however, Lorist wasn't asleep. He just enjoyed the warm sunlight. Having stayed in the dark, dank storehouse for two months, he missed the sun and fresh air.
How many years has it been since I've had the time to enjoy the sun? In Dawn Academy I would read in the sun on my balcony. Ah… how free those times were.
Lorist wasn't in the best of shape. It took him six months to recover from his wounds. While their movements had been severely slowed by the pressure of their clashing domains, a stab was a stab, it just took longer. He still had to face the full force of his opponent's battleforce, which damaged his dantian. He was just a normal mortal right now, maybe even just a weak mortal. He couldn't do any labor or muster much energy. He was very grateful to have Reidy at times like this. Reidy's Dan Ocean Ki-refining technique was similar to his Aquametal technique, so Reidy could continuously inject internal energy into his body, which, along with being fed medicine every day, had mostly healed him.
The stab had gone straight through his chest. Lorist's palm strike had shattered the old man's sternum. But, as Lorist had to take the stab first, he had reserved a portion of his internal energy to protect his innards. So, while he managed to break Magrut's sternum, he didn't liquify his innards, which was why the old man could escape. Had his internal organs been liquified, even the gods would have struggled to save him.
Though similarly injured, Lorist fared far worse. Magrut could recover in peace and quiet in Morante and had the best medicine and perfect environment while Lorist had to move around in secret to avoid the blademasters after his life. He couldn't even go home or contact his family.
If a kingdom had a patron swordsaint, it would offer them some protection in the form of high-tier fighters. If they lacked that, they would at least protect him with an army. But Auguslo was only concerned with getting revenge, so he dedicated everything he had to fighting the Union, and Andinaq was at a huge disadvantage when it came to their top tier fighters. Since the Union blademasters couldn't fight against the swarm of soldiers, their best use would be going after the next greatest threat, Lorist.
Lorist was worried for his wife, concubines and children, but knew he had to recover first. He could do nothing until he was at the level of a swordsaint again. Nobody would go after his family while his fate was unknown, so he didn't have to be by their side. If his ongoing recovery was discovered, everyone would go after his family immediately. It was not without precedent after all.
Two swordsaints had been wounded in battle two centuries earlier. One was nearly assassinated, but escaped. Having failed, his assassins went after his family. When he had recovered a year later, he killed all 70 thousand people related to the blademasters and nobles that were involved in his family's death. Even the enemy swordsaint didn't dare intervene.
His reasoning was that he would do exactly the same if it were his family. He had warned his king not to do it, but they wouldn't listen. As far as he was concerned, they deserved exactly what they got.
The big-six were aware of this story, and were not willing to make the same mistake, especially not now that it was clear Lorist was a swordsaint. Killing him, someone who could threaten their strongest asset, was natural, but his family was off limits until he was dead. No one, not even Lorist, could really say anything against the Union for going after him, but touching his family was a whole other matter. Even household officials and knights were a risk. They had no interest in watching him rampage through their guilds, if they really went after his family, Magrut would no doubt do exactly the same as the second swordsaint in the old story.
They had nothing to worry about once Lorist was dead, they could wipe out the entire kingdom if they wanted, but as long as there was even a chance that he still breathed, they had to be very careful. Thus, the best way Lorist could keep everyone safe right now, was to stay hidden.
The winter harvests came after the rainy season. This was also the first year his household's harvest tax would be implemented. All his vassals sent their taxes to Kobo, where it was stored for his forces.
He had also set up a trade center for Delamock where all the province's produce could be traded slightly under market price. He had legislated a monopoly for the market so only he could buy produce from the lords, and sell to merchants. Every fruit, vegetable, and grain had to pass through his hands. It let him earn a three-tenths profit on the province's entire agricultural economy and nobody could do anything about it. He could easily drive any merchant that offended him out of business, and could make anyone he disliked starve. There was no way he was going to give that up.
It was in this carting hay-day that the two were heading into his domain. They left Kobo incognito amongst thousands of similar carts, no one knew where they were going.
Reidy had informed Lorist of the current situation immediately after his awakening. Everything about Auguslo's recovery and ongoing campaign, Tigersoar and Jaeger's exploits, Auguslo's miraculous and decisive assault on the Union's camp and subsequent recovery of Armenia and Malivia, and his ingress into Falik.
He was also informed of Marquis Krilos's fate. Auguslo was so furious he broke all of the man's limbs, destroyed his cultivation and paraded him all across the kingdom covered in feathers before sending him back to the Union, tied to a cow. He didn't paint him in honey since water could wash it off. He had him covered in raw lacquer before the feathers were applied. Even Lorist thought this was going a bit far. The particular mix Auguslo used was known to irritate the skin severely, causing intense itching, rashes, and swelling.
A chill ran down Lorist's spine for the duration of Reidy's narration. Krilos was completely wasted. If Auguslo did not hate the Union to hell and back before, he clearly did now. It was understandable, however. If not for Lorist, Auguslo would not only have become a prisoner, he would have been made the continent's fool. His legacy would have been as history's greatest non-fiction comedy.
Reidy knew nothing else, however. He'd hidden with Lorist in Kobo for more than two months after escaping the imperial capital and splitting up with Shuss. He knew nothing about what was happening to Lorist's forces or in his lands. And he couldn't ask around and risk rousing suspicions either. But Reidy wasn't too concerned since everything would be sorted out once Lorist recovered his strength. Even if the house had been uprooted, they could just rebuild it.
The two saw someone reprimanding a group of cavalrymen because the messenger eagle sent to The Northlands had not returned for a months, nor had any of the messengers. Selikoff increased the area's security so it wouldn't happen again. Luckily the messengers were found unharmed, it appeared only their letters were searched. That this was made public, however, was clearly to let the two know that someone was looking for them in the area. Clearly their information network had been uncovered and was being used against them.
Lorist currently had a full beard, no different from a common farmer. Even those who knew him wouldn't recognize him at a glance. Reidy, who usually had a mustache, was now hairless. He'd grown it after Lorist declared him a rank 1 blademaster equivalent to appear more mature. He looked much younger without it, like a farmer's son unresigned to his life in the fields.
The journey from Kobo to the Dina barony took three days. It would have been much slower if not for the new roads, at least a week. The barony lay in the west of Delamock at the foot of the mountains between it and the sea.
Lorist had spent a lot on the barony. He'd been very worried about scuffled between his stubborn lover and her neighbors, so he'd arranged for it to be in a relatively unpopulated area where she wouldn't feel too cramped. The cart pulled into the barony as the day's last rays of sunshine faded away.
"Don't go to the village. Head straight for the castle."
Lorist knew his way around after having been here twice. The wooden castle was actually a popular joke at noble parties in the province. Arriotoli had prepared it for her younger brother, the future baron. It wouldn't have been a problem to build a one out of stone, but she wanted her brother to build his own as he wanted. He was studying at Nico Academy at the time and couldn't give his input. She didn't mind the jokes, even working on it every year. Not a year went by that something didn't change.
The cart rolled into the castle. Security was rather lax, Lorist hadn't seen a single guard on the walls during their approach. He would have suspected the castle abandoned if not for the servants faffing about in the bailey.
Three people emerged from a hall bordering the bailey as Lorist got off the cart. The two in front were an elegant middle-aged couple, Arriotoli walked behind.
Reidy tensed up immediately. The couple carried themselves like blademasters. He secretly grabbed hold of the hilt of his sword, hidden in the closest linen sack. Arratoli recognized the two by the cart immediately.