Lorist regretted spending 1400 gold Fordes to purchase the 300 plus weapons and sets or armor from the market. After buying the old equipment off the Dawn Academy, he had Els go check out if any other academies had some old equipment up for sale as well. Unsurprisingly, after bribing a supervisor of a couple of swordsmanship academies with 100 or so gold coins, he managed to get up to 120 sets of used plate and scale armor as well as near a thousand spears for only 500 gold Fordes.

Lorist also told Els that this was a great opportunity for profit and encouraged him to get to know these armory supervisors better so that he would be able to purchase the used equipment for a low price regularly. "Look," said Lorist as he held up one of the plate armors, "It may look a little old, but if you have it polished and maintained, it would look and function almost as if it's brand new. If you do that and sell them in bulk at a reasonable price, there's no doubt that it'll be super popular with the mercenaries."

Spending money as if it were water, Lorist noticed that the 3000 gold coins he had was about to be completely used up. However, he still couldn't bear to let the old equipment of the other academies go unpurchased and wasted. Now that he had already spent quite a bit to bribe those supervisors, there's no way that he would leave those equipment alone, would he?

After giving it some thought, Lorist decided to go with it and auctioned off some of his belongings. They were mirrors handmade by Lorist himself. Back in the day when Lorist was still designing clothes for his ex-lover, he spent ten-odd gold coins to obtain a number of transparent crystal slabs. Some were left over and he intended to use them to try to make a telescope, but gave up after failing for a few times.

When Louise and Charlando were getting married, Lorist was thought hard about how to present them with a unique gift. That's when he used the crystal slabs to make 9 mirrors. Having been the head of a craftsman factory in his previous life, it wasn't hard for him to make those mirrors. He gave one of them to Louise and another to Anfya just a few days before and was left with seven of them.

The process of making the mirrors were not hard and the materials were easy to obtain as well. Worried that the mirrors would cause quite a stir on the market and garner unwanted attention for him, he didn't let anyone know that he made them. Now that he lacked the funds, he decided to sell a couple of them and asked Reidy to call Els over.

Lorist decided to offer 4 of them up for sale. When Els saw the mirrors on the table, he let out a surprised gasp. "Oh, so that mirror Louise had was your present..."

"How did you know about her mirror?" asked Lorist.

"Oh, that Louise treasures the mirror so much that she wouldn't let anyone see it. But I, the stealthy Els, have been playing around with it for quite a while. Just two days ago, I used it to shave my face! It's definitely much better than looking into my reflection on a silver plate. Of course, I placed it back in place so well that Louise wouldn't suspect a thing," boasted Els shamelessly.

Lorist told him that he hoped that he could arrange for someone to have the mirrors auctioned and instructed Els to say that the mirrors were found within some ruins and that they might have been magical mirrors that have lost their powers and have been in the collection of a rich family until they decided to sell them off recently to bring the family back from its dire financial state.

The mirrors Lorist made all had their own unique characteristics. The first one was circular with a diameter of about 15 cm with an intricate silver frame around it. Lorist spared quite a bit of effort and carved quite a number of English alphabets on the mirror to give it a simplistic, yet enigmatic feel.

The second one was a rectangular mirror with dimensions close to that of a book. Wrapping a random book with golden foil, he emptied the middle of the book and placed the mirror within. He even used gold to engrave the Chinese poem 'Quiet Night Thought' onto the page before the mirror, believing that there would be someone who would end up spending their whole lives researching the eccentric and foreign Chinese characters.

The third mirror was oval-shaped and Lorist fashioned a handle for it so that it could be used as a hand mirror. It was made of a special black-colored wood only found in Grindia which he obtained from dismantling a chest that was said to have been passed down through thousands of years. Lorist only spent a few gold coins to buy the chest from the market and used its wood to make the base and handle of the mirror. On the back and handle of the mirror, Lorist carved an intricate pattern of the Five Blessings found in traditional Chinese art.[1]

The fourth mirror was the one Lorist spent most time on. He used bronze to replicate a mirror used by the ancient Chinese and set a transparent crystal onto the reflective surface. He even tried to make it look old and slightly rusted to give it an air of ancient mystery. Beneath the mirror were the words 'Bright Moon Looking Glass' engraved in common Grindian script.

After agreeing to Lorist's request, Els kept the mirrors for himself and admired them for about half a day before he was willing to put them to auction.

Ten days later, all four of them had been sold without any incident and generated a revenue of 13000 gold Fordes. After deducting the auctioneer fee, Lorist was left with more than 10000 gold Fordes.

When Els delivered the money to Lorist, he told him that the four mirrors had caused quite an uproar in Morante City especially with regards to the weird engravings found on them. Some experts truly believed that they used to be magical mirrors that have lost their powers and the words found on the them could very well be what the magicians used to activate their mystical powers. When the auction for each of them started, the price increased exponentially. Els even said that he made quite a number of bids intentionally to raise the price.

Lorist was extremely happy with the outcome of the auction. However, that ploy would only work once and he rejected Els's proposition to make a few more.

With the money in hand, Lorist purchased almost all of the used equipment from the other academies. By the time Yuriy returned with 353 war horses, they had enough weapons and equipment for a whole army.

There was an estimated number of 50000 spears, 2000 sharpened training swords as well as a little less than 1000 two-handed greatswords and shortswords. As for the shields used for training, there were roughly 600 while there were 800 other shields of various designs. Additionally, they had 700 crossbows, 2000 plus cavalry lances, 1500 javelins, 71 sets of full body knight armor, 583 sets of plate armor used by heavy swordsmen, near a thousand sets of chain mail and scale armor, 2000 and more sets of leather armor as well as 12 ballistas mounted on chariots.

All these equipment have already been maintained and fitted for battle, the process of which consumed materials up to 2000 gold Fordes' worth. The shields and armors also have the Norton Family's insignia engraved upon them. Lorist paid the four academy equipment maintainers 10 gold Fordes each and the other students from the academy 5 gold Fordes each. They were eternally grateful for getting so much from only working for a month.

At times, Lorist would daydream about the 10000 more gold coins of profit he would get by selling the refurbished equipment off, but he dismissed that notion almost instantly. Charade's letter had returned and it stated that he and Potterfang had successfully acquired 700 strong, young slaves and 2800 others who were their family members and were currently on the way to the Lormo Duchy's Armatrin Harbor and is awaiting Lorist and the rest's arrival. The only weird part of the message was that Charade asked Lorist to not forget to bring the spinning chair and the hollow rotor along.

What is Charade thinking about? Lorist was completely clueless about it as when Charade had tried out the spinning chair for the first time, he started crying for his parents nonstop after getting off it. No matter how Lorist tried to convince him that training with the spinning chair would help him develop dynamic vision and give his swordsmanship a huge boost, Charade said that he refused to do that even one more time, even if doing so would give him the ability to fly. What would he do with that now? Don't tell me he's going to train with that on the way to the Northlands... We'll never make it in time if that's the case. Sigh, I guess I'll find out sooner or later since bringing those along would only require one more carriage.

Now that Patt had recovered, he had developed the initial stage of the dynamic vision ability. However, even though he would be able to react better when compared to normal fighters, it was still quite far off from Lorist's natural born ability. Every time Patt was reminded of his experience on the spinning chair, he would shiver in fear due to being tormented countless times by Reidy over the course of the training.

I guess it's about time we made a move. Lorist went to visit President Peterson once again and rented three large ships through the Peterson Merchant Guild which he would use to transport the equipment, personnel, horses as well as the thousands of sets of clothing Charade had ordered before he left. While the amount of clothing was no small number, it cost the least when compared to the rest of the things they bought at only 700 gold coins. Terman has been put in charge of having somebody pack the clothes up for the past few days before they depart.

I guess I'll have to wait for another two days... Due to Yuriy having to order the saddles and other items the horses needed, it cost Lorist another 1000-odd gold coins, thus making him feel that raising an army was extremely costly. Within but a few days, he had invested over 40000 gold Fordes and was left with less than 2000 for himself. He still haven't paid the cost for renting the ships either.

The day before they left, Lorist visited Instructor Claude, who had just recently become a Blademaster and handed his book collection to him for safekeeping. Lorist only took 100 of the ones he thought was most important on the journey and left the rest to Claude so that he could one day send it to the Northlands when there was an opportunity. Both he and his wife accepted the request happily.

Finally, it was the day of the departure. All three boats of the Peterson Merchant Guild slowly left the Hidegold Bay. Raising their sails, the ships sailed northward.

Looking towards the Hidegold Bay and the shrinking image of Morante City, Lorist felt a torrent of different emotions that were hard to express with words. I'm finally leaving the city I consider my second home. I wonder how long would it be until I make my way back here once again, thought Lorist as he let out a sigh. Given the uncertain nature of his future, he was worried about whether he would do well with his companions when they arrive at the Northlands.

At this moment, Alisa's clear laughter could be heard nearby. That girl thought that the journey was all fun and games and jumped around on the deck playfully, anticipating reuniting with her father after days of not seeing him.

Seeing Lorist a little downcast, Howard asked, "Teacher, what's going on? You don't seem too happy..."

Lorist smiled and replied, "It's not that. I just feel a little sad because your Uncle Els didn't come send us off today."

After he said that, Lorist heard a familiar voice ring out by his ear. "Milord, your knight, Brennan Evanport is here reporting for duty."

A silhouette suddenly jumped down from the ship's mast and landed on one knee, kneeling in front of Lorist. "I, Brennan Evanport, am willing to take Norton Lorist as my lord and liege and become a knight of the Norton Family. I shall struggle and fight to my very last breath under the banner of the Raging Bear."

Lorist was surprised and delighted. "Els, why have you come?"

Not saying anything, Els merely pointed towards his shoulders, indicating for Lorist to complete the knighting ceremony.

Lorist took out his sword and tapped on each shoulder twice and tossed the sword aside before lifting Els up and giving him a big hug, "I welcome your participation, my knight and brother."

After that, Els started feeling Lorist up and said, "Badge. Where's my knight badge?"

Lorist pushed Els away and said, "Sol, why would I have a badge on me? Don't touch me all over like that. Don't tell me you swing that way?"

"You're the one that swings that way! I was only trying to see if you have the badge on your person. Stop ruining my reputation," said Els exasperatedly.

"Alright, alright. Shadekampf, go get a knight badge and give it to Knight Els," instructed Lorist.

"So, tell me why you're here. Was Old Charlando willing to let you come?" asked Lorist.

"He doesn't know, I snuck out secretly. I've left him a letter though and have made arrangements for Jindoz to take over as the syndicate boss in my absence. The old man won't have time to bother with me anyway as he'll be busy staying home taking care of his newborn children soon enough. And Jindoz is quite a capable guy. I believe the syndicate will prosper even further under his management. I personally feel that coming to the Northlands with you to venture around is the best choice for a person like me," said Els as he looked towards the cabin, secretly complaining about how long Shadekampf was taking.

After a few moments, Shadekampf came back and presented the badge to Els. As he was putting it on, he asked Lorist, "Why didn't I see Terman and Yuriy around here?"

Lorist pointed towards the other two boats and said, "They're on each of the boats respectively and are tasked with transporting the equipment and horses. You'll be able to see them when we reach Armatrin Harbor. I'm sure they'll be damned shocked to see you here."

Having put his badge on, Els looked down at his chest with much satisfaction. "I don't really care about their reactions. What I'm interested in is the look on Charade's face. Let's see who's the 'Honorable Knight' now."

[1] Five Blessings Wikipedia link. Here's an image.