Fact was indeed stranger than fiction. Lorist checked the report to confirm he wasn't reading a romance novel.

Josk and Alisa's private affairs had little bearing on Lorist's lands as a whole, so the internal affair's department had not paid them any attention before. They naturally wouldn't skimp on investigating it once Lorist asked about it, however.

House Fisablen had gone to war with Lorist eight years earlier. Fisablen's sly manoeuvring had let him escape Southern as it fell to Wild Husbandry and set up an ambush with the grassland barbarian legion. He wiped the second and third Jaeger divisions out there and Colonel Pete died whilst Yuriy was heavily injured. Josk had pushed his men in to relieve his comrades and severely injured Duke Fisablen in the process.

It was the first, and one of the few, losses Lorist had ever suffered. He was short 30 thousand men by the time the dust settled. The two colonels were sent to the woman brigade to be treated, and there Alisa met Josk again. He was her first assignment as part of the brigade.

The first met when Josk was still a dashing young knight tagging along with her 'Uncle Lorist'. He wasn't a much of a talker and didn't smile often. Despite his youth at the time, he was still older than Alisa enough that there was a decent argument he should be called Uncle Josk. The two did nothing but see each other in passing once or two in the end, though.

The woman brigade gossiped about Josk being the most handsome of House Norton's knights during his stay at the field hospital. His lost love story only made him more attractive. Many were heartbroken when they heard about his injuries and wished they could have taken his place.

Alisa was 20 at the time, but Josk was already 36. She was likely at least partially influenced by her friends and comrades' worship of the man, but she quickly fell in love with him. She swore to herself, when Josk was about to leave the hospital, that she would marry him and no other man.

Josk, however, saw her affectations as just the crush of a young girl. He knew more than anyone the difference in their ages, he was practically brothers with her father. He had no intention of putting his friendship with Potterfang on the line for a likely messy relationship that had every chance of failing miserably. He believed Alisa would move on if he treated her coldly like so many of his fangirls.

But she just would not give up. She spent every waking moment by his side, regardless of how much Josk tried to get rid of her.

Josk was at the point of giving in when he was cleared to return to active duty and dashed out of the hospital like a man running from burning forest. Alisa would continue to visit him frequently, but he managed to avoid her most of the time.

Unfortunately she was a good tracker, at least when it came to him, so he still bumped into her more times than not. It didn't help that she would also come up with every excuse she could think of to either come visit him, or have to go to his compound, at which point she'd obviously go look for him. One of her favourite excuses was to put up a performance for the men in Josk's barracks with a troupe from the brigade. And she didn't miss any event related to him. She was there for his birthday, the day of his knighting, and the day of his entitlement as a baron. He also had to get letters from her every couple of days.

This had been going on non-stop for the entire eight years since she'd met again him again in that field hospital. Josk had been content with keeping her at arms length as he had been for however much longer it took. But Alisa's father was beginning to put more and more pressure on her to get married. Her brother and liege had also been getting involved lately.

But she didn't want to marry anyone but Josk, but Josk had no intention of getting involved with any women, period. He couldn't just continue to ignore her, but he also couldn't take her in because of his vow to his deceased fiancée, and he didn't know how to respond to her.

In the end, Alisa took matters into her own hands and forced herself on Josk. She visited Jaeger again with a troupe when they were returning from the campaign in the south. She fed everyone enough alcohol to make them pass out drunk, slipped Josk a nearly lethal dose of aphrodisiacs and spent the rest of the night with him.

Lorist's couldn't believe his eyes. He did not think the little girl he remembered had it in her to force herself on one of his subordinates. She didn't stop at that either. Since Josk had taken her virginity, she reasoned he had little choice but to take her in, so she moved into his castle and was practically viscountess already. Josk, in response, avoided his lands like death itself and thought up every excuse he could to stay with his forces or anywhere but home.

Lorist downed his cup of tea, only to spit it all over when he read about where Josk currently was.

Perfect! So he really was staying away because he didn't want to meet Alisa. Was he doing it out of guilt for having taken her virginity? Then again, she was the one to force herself on him, so he was the victim, really. And then she even took it upon herself to all but declare herself his wife already and take over governing his lands in his absence!

So that was why he wanted to take Jaeger out. He wanted to get as far away from the woman as possible. Unfortunately she had sent out every man she could to look for him and drag him to his dominion and force him to marry her. It was quickly turning into a massive scandal and would likely ruin Josk and Potterfang's family names.  The one was inept at dealing with women and the other was a draconic vixen with no sense of propriety.

Lorist finally pitied Potterfang. Josk was Lorist's trusted subordinate and dear friend. Though his rank wasn't that high, Potterfang considered Josk his equal as well. Now, however, it was only a matter of time before Josk became his son-in-law, and the man would likely resent him for not stopping the marriage.

As such, there was a wild goose chase going on all across the Northlands that had been causing quite a stir. Many people watched on and gossiped about it like it was a comedy. The two responsible for this affair didn't care, but Potterfang was at his limit. He just wanted everything to go away even if it meant forcing his friend to marry Alisa. Josk, however, was perfectly willing to live like a vagabond if it meant he could avoid the woman.

"Jinolio!" Lorist called, "Tell Reidy to find Josk and tell him I order him to return to his dominion and marry Alisa. He can drag the man in front of me if he still refuses."

Josk was hiding in Reidy's manor. He didn't have many close friends in the army. He had wanted to hide it out with Yuriy, but Alisa kept sending men to his lands and castle to look for him.

Reidy's manor was one of the eight Lorist had confiscated when he conquered Ragebear. He gave the three left after his wife and concubines each took one to Glacia, and Reidy, and the last one was still up for grabs. Not many people knew about the manors, which made them the perfect place for Josk to hide.

This was perfect.  Lorist could use the excuse of Josk having defiled Alisa to force him to marry her and it would solve a number of problems at once.  He didn't really think about the fact that it was against Josk's wishes. She was young, beautiful, and attractive, Josk must have enjoyed it, so he simply had no say in the matter. It also didn't matter that Josk had made a vow on his deceased fiancée's grave to remain faithful to her for the rest of his live, Lorist wanted him to marry someone, so that's what would happen. He had bedded the girl, so he had to wed the girl as well. It didn't matter in the slightest that it had been against his will, his wishes, or his vows.

Lorist thought about his old neighbor, Li, from his past life. The man had a daughter who entered a trading company after graduating and became the mistress of the company's boss. After three years of struggling, she finally got the boss to kick away his old wife and be made the main wife instead. Every time the balding boss came to Li's house, he had to address Li, five years his senior, as 'Father'.

As he expected, Reidy soon dragged Josk into the study. He knew Josk would not accept it. He didn't even answer Lorist after the man had tried gently convincing him for several hours.

Lorist was forced to drag his wife and concubines into the mess so they could slap some sense into Josk. He knew that, them being women and wives and concubines, they would side with Alisa no matter what. So he could count on them dogging Josk until he gave in and he would not be able to convince them otherwise no matter what he said.

It took the women just half an hour to convince Josk that he had some responsibility in the matter and a duty to marry her. They also convinced him that he was wrong to keep his vow to his wife when he had another women pining for him.

Successfully indoctrinated, Lorist returned to his dominion and wedded Alisa. The woman really loved him after all, so it wasn't her fault. He had a duty to be loyal to her since he'd taken her virginity. Surely it would be a very happy time for him.

Lorist was very happy to hear Josk had finally seen things his way like he should have so long ago and immediately arranged the marriage. It took less than a week for the marriage to be held. He also made sure to keep Josk by his side until the wedding just in case, but his women had done a good job and Josk didn't try to run.

Lorist could finally breathe a sigh of relief when the pair strolled out of the hall, husband and wife.

Just as he was about to leave for a short trip with his family after seeing his subordinate off, however, trouble once again came his way. It was from Morante, again… But this time it was the religious trouble rather than political trouble. The shrines so prolific in Morante, had come to ask for permission to build shrines in the Northlands and convert the populace.