……

Lorist was totally stunned. What did Alisa just say? That beggar said he was searching for a person called Norton Lorite? It should be Norton Lorist, right? That’s the name of the original owner of this body. Given that everyone calls me by my nickname Locke, it wouldn’t be weird if they didn’t remember that my original name, Norton Lorist and that I am the second young master of the Norton Family of the Northlands…

“What’s going on? I think I heard Alisa mention your name just now,” said Els. Els was aware of Lorist’s full name as he had helped him handle the ownership documents when the building was purchased.

Lorist regained his composure and saw that Alisa had already hopped back to the backyard cheerfully. He stood up and said, “I think the beggar Alisa mentioned just now is looking for me. I’ll go take a look, they might actually be from my family.”

“Oh?” said Els curiously. He bit into the drumstick in his hand as he said, “I’ll go with you.”

The two of them reached the backyard and saw the beggar that Alisa had mentioned. Dressed in rags, he sat on a bluestone pavement at the backyard and was consuming a bowl of oat porridge. The chicken drumsticks Alisa had given him were wrapped in a piece of grey cloth. It seemed that he planned to take the chicken away with him.

Alisa chewed on the chicken in her hands as she asked, “Why aren’t you eating the chicken? Isn’t it a little bland to have the porridge without it? Chicken drumsticks are delicious you know…”

The beggar nodded towards Alisa and smiled. “Pretty little princess, thank you for giving me these delicious chicken drumsticks. However, I have another person accompanying me so I intend to share it with him later…”

After that, the beggar looked towards Lorist and froze up entirely. He put the bowl in his hand down and rubbed his eyes before inspecting clearly once again, as if he couldn’t believe that the one standing in front of him was indeed Lorist.

“Second young master… Sniff… I finally found you… Ueeerrrghhh….” That beggar desperately crawled towards Lorist and even ignored the bowl of porridge that he had knocked over and hugged Lorist’s leg tightly as he cried nonstop.

“Ugh…” Lorist wanted to pull his leg back but the beggar had a rather firm grip on it. “Um, please get up first. You are…”

“Young master, don’t you recognize me? I’m Shadekampf!” exclaimed the beggar with a face full of snot and tears.

“Shadekampf?” Lorist mulled deeply and a scene of a young, honest young servant who shouted as he ran towards him… Young master… Wait for me! At that time, the young Lorist was rather haughty and bossed around that young servant quite a lot…

No wonder he recognized me almost instantly… Shadekampf was actually Lorist’s personal attendant from a long time ago.

“Shadekampf… It’s been too long… Has it been ten years already? First things first, stop crying and stand up properly,” said Lorist as he smiled.

However, Shadekampf ended up crying even harder. “Young master… You must return to the Northlands quickly. The old master is gone… the first young master is dead… and the third young master as well… The Norton Family only has you now… Everyone’s waiting for you.. for you to go succeed the position as the lord of the dominion… Wuueerrghh…”

Lorist’s body suddenly shivered. Even though his consciousness was not of this world, he was unable to ignore the blood of the Nortons that flowed in his current body and the throbbing emotion from the depths of his being shook even the core of his soul.

Els walked forward and held Lorist up and said to Shadekampf, “Stop crying and say things clearly. What is going on?”

“Last year, the old master lead a group of people to fight against the barbarian pillagers but got ambushed and was badly injured. Ever since then, he was bedridden and finally passed away at the start of this year after instructing us to come here to look for the second young master to inherit the dominion. We know that the second young master had went to Morante City for his education but we were unaware of which academy he was studying at. And, given that 10 years had already passed, we weren’t sure if the second young master would still be here and could only try our luck. After we finally arrived at Morante City, we went to every academy to ask about the young master but nobody bothered to entertain us because we were from the Northlands. Patt mentioned that the heroes of legend usually gathered information in taverns, so we did just that. And finally, here at the Red Grace Inn, we finally found you, young master,” explained Shadekampf. The conclusion of his arduous journey that he had with Patt had caused him to shed tears uncontrollably.

Lorist managed to stand up properly again and said, “Shadekampf, why did you say that my father and two brothers are dead? And, who’s Patt? He sounds rather familiar. Also, doesn’t my third uncle know where I study at? What happened to him?”

“The first young master had died from battle three years ago after he was drafted into the army of Duke Loggins who was serving under the Second Prince of the former empire. When that news reached the old master, he fell sick and became bedridden. The matters of the dominion were handed to the third young master after that. But three years ago, when the third young master was on patrol, his mount got startled by a magical beast and he fell from horseback and incurred serious injuries and passed away despite three days of emergency treatment. The old master’s sickness got a turn for the worse, but he recovered a bit during spring last year. Even so, he had to go to the battlefield once again as the barbarian pillagers started causing trouble again. In the end… sigh. Second young master, don’t you remember Patt? He is the eldest grandson of the old butler Gleis who had played with you quite often when you were small. He’s quite an impressive youth and is already an Iron Swordsman. The old butler sent us to come look for you because we were the only ones who knew how you looked like.”

Having said that, Shadekampf started to hesitate. “Second young master, your third uncle Lodesieg died seven years ago after the family’s merchant convoy was attacked by bandits. There were no survivors. The news stunned the whole of the Northlands at that time and there were even rumors that the soldiers of the First Prince were masquerading as bandits to gather military funds and resources. That’s why the first young master pledged his allegiance to the Second Prince rather than the First Prince.”

The bad news that came one after another caused Lorist to be unable to think clearly. The fact that the once proud and strong Norton Family that was entitled by the Krissen Royal Family themselves was actually embroiled in so much conflict and misfortune to the point where they had to summon the second young master that had been exiled from his homeland for more than ten years was rather depressing.

After calming down, Lorist asked, “Then, where’s Patt? Isn’t he with you?”

Shadekampf said in an embarrassed tone, “Patt… Um… He’s working as a baggage carrier at the pier…”

“Baggage carrier?”

“Yes. Given that we had spent all our own money during the journey, Patt went to the pier and started working as a baggage carrier to earn enough for our living costs here,” said Shadekampf stammeringly.

Lorist called out in the direction of the inn. “Reidy!”

Reidy quickly appeared before him.

“Go ready the carriage and fetch Shadekampf to the pier to seek out his friend and bring them to the public bath. Let them wash up and give them some clean clothes before bringing them back to me,” instructed Lorist as he put two gold coins in the hands of Reidy.

“That won’t do, young master. We have our own money, we can’t use yours,” said Shadekampf quickly as he took out a black, dirty pouch. “Young master, I still have 20 imperial gold coins here.”

“Oh? Didn’t you say you ran out of money just now?” asked Lorist curiously.

“Young master, these are the funds for your return trip to the North. Now that we’ve found you, we don’t have to worry about using it anymore,” said Shadekampf as he entrusted the bag of coins to Lorist.

Lorist was somewhat touched at how they wouldn’t spend the 20 imperial gold coins they had and would rather have one work as a laborer and the other in charge of begging for food. Were they just stubborn or really that loyal to the family?

Lorist then handed two gold Fordes to Reidy and said, “Have them change into clean clothing.”

Reidy then brought Shadekampf along and went to seek out Patt.

Lorist returned to his table in the inn with a distraught mood and opened the black money pouch and emptied its contents on the table. 20 golden coins could be seen: these coins were slightly smaller than regular gold Fordes and had a picture of a crowned old man’s head on one surface.

Upon seeing the gold coins, Charade’s interest was instantly piqued. He took one up and inspected it before saying, “An old head of the former Krissen Empire… It’s no longer worth much… 1 gold Forde can be exchanged for 3 of these. Currently, the three kingdoms and seven duchies in the northern part of the continent have started to use the currency of the Forde Trade Union and started recalling these imperial currency to be exchanged for trade union currency instead. Where did you get these, Locke?”

“Some people from Locke’s family came here and summoned him to return to his homeland to inherit the dominion. These old heads are the money they prepared for Locke to use to travel back to his homeland,” explained Els.

“What? Locke, you’re going back to become a lord?” Suddenly, every one of Lorist’s acquaintances gathered around the table.

“What are you guys so surprised about? I haven’t decided if I would go back yet,” said Lorist as he furrowed his brow in frustration. Right now, he had already made quite a name for himself in Morante City and already considers himself a Moranite after ten years of living there. The sudden summons from his family was far too shocking for him. Even though the Northlands were technically Lorist’s hometown, he wasn’t too familiar nor attached to it given that he had left it at a very young age.

“What is there to hesitate about? Of course you should go back and inherit the land. In Morante City, you’re only an academy instructor but back at your homeland, you’re a mighty and respectable lord! In your dominion, you are the law!” The one who said that was Terman, whose homland was a place called Rigol, which was also well-known for their mercenary knights. Craving battles and adventures were second nature to most Rigolians.

“However, Locke’s life here is pretty good now and he even has his own property here in the city. Additionally, he’s a famous dual Gold ranked instructor of our academy. There really isn’t a point of going back to the desolate Northlands as life here in Morante City is definitely way better,” said Steve. Being a local of Morante City, he was rather proud of the city and being one of its local inhabitants.

“Maybe Locke can go back once, inherit the dominion and then come back. He can leave the managing of the dominion to his subordinates and live his life in Morante City as usual,” suggested Yuriy, thinking that it was the perfect solution for both spectrums of the issue.

Lorist gave a bitter laugh and thought, it’s not as simple as you think, Yuriy… The dominion in the Northlands is easily over thousands of kilometers away from here and traveling to and back on quick horseback would take 3 months at least. After all, Lorist wasn’t like the nobles who had their dominions on the Falik Plains or the neighboring kingdoms who could return to their dominions within a few short days from Morante City.

Charade asked, “Where are the people sent by your family?”

“Reidy brought him to go find his partner. Both of them split up to look for me in Morante City,” replied Lorist.

“Find you? But you’re so famous. Doesn’t your family know that you are an instructor at the Dawn Academy?” asked Charade in a surprised tone.

“I have already lost contact with my family for almost 7 years you know. The people who do know about me studying at Morante City had already perished from bandit attacks, including my third uncle, who was the one who sent me here in the first place. The rest of my family members know that I’m studying in Morante City, but not which academy I’ve enrolled in. After that, the 6-year-war made it even harder for us to communicate. Only with the recent turn of events in my family did they decide to send someone to come for me. However, none of them know of my reputation as Iron Locke here. They have asked people at many different academies but no one knew who Norton Lorist was. After that, they decided to gather information from different inns before they met Alisa, who then came over to tell me about them,” explained Lorist.

“I see… No wonder they had a hard time looking for you. While many people know you as the famous Iron Locke, those who know your full name don’t even number more than ten. So, what are you going to do?” asked Charade.

“I still don’t know…” Lorist shook his head and said, “I’m really confused right now and I don’t really know which is the right course of action. I’ll decide after I talk to them when they come back.”

—————————————————————–

A moment later, Reidy brought Shadekampf and Patt who were dressed in clean new clothes back to Lorist. At that time, he was hugging Alisa as he sat looking at Howard having his hair cut by old man Luke across the back alley of the Red Grace Inn. Alisa looked at Lorist and asked, “Uncle Locke, you said that that beggar just now was looking for you? Are they sent here by your family?”

Lorist nodded and said, “Yes, I really have to thank you, Alisa, for treating him to the chicken drumsticks. Alisa really is a good girl.”

Alisa furrowed her brows and thought for a bit before showing an enlightened expression. “I know, Uncle Locke’s family are people who beg for food! They’re beggars!”

Pffft! Els spit out a mouthful of ale at Charade who was sitting opposite to him. Ignoring Charade’s complaints and clutching his belly while laughing, Els said, “A… Alisa… What you said was… too funny! Locke’s family members… are beggars… hahahahahaha!”

Lorist showed a troubled expression and said, “Alisa, Uncle Locke’s family members do not work as beggars. Look, he’s in front of you right now. Does he look like one to you?”

Shadekampf who stood before them had a face that was as red as a baboon’s rear. He really felt like finding a small hole and diving into it. Patt, who was standing beside him wore a swordsman garb and looked rather valiant.

Lorist placed Alisa down and walked towards Patt. After comparing their heights, he sighed and said, “Patt, long time no see. Both of us have already grown up to be so different from the rowdy brats we used to be.”

Patt sighed as well and said, “That’s true, young master. We’ve really grown up haven’t we…”

In Lorist’s memories, Patt was his rival from the days of his childhood. When the both of them met, they always broke into a fight and one of them always went home crying. If they meet on the next day, the whole cycle would begin all over again. Now that the both of them had met after such a long time, a feeling of intimacy and nostalgia sparked between them instead.

Patting Patt’s shoulder (TL: pun unintended. Please don’t kill me XP), Lorist laughed and said, “That’s great. You’re even taller than me now. I really don’t know what you ate to grow so tall. This journey must have been tough on you. Let’s fill our bellies first before we talk about the rest. I’ve already got the cook to start preparing the food in the kitchen. Sister Louise, you can start serving the dishes now,” shouted Lorist towards the inn counter.

After that, he turned to old Luke and said, “Luke, after cutting Howard’s hair, take care of Reidy’s too, followed by Shadekampf’s and Patt’s. I’ll pay you two large silvers in total.”

“Thanks for your patronage. I’ll make sure that they will looked refreshed like never before,” said old Luke, elated.

Lorist noticed Shadekampf’s and Patt’s uncomfortable expressions for having their master pay for their expenses and said, “This is my turf, so you better leave things to me. I’m your young master to begin with, so just let me handle the things my way. I’ll bring you back to my house after we have a nice meal. We can start having a serious talk after that.”





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