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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Felicia's Second Life Chapter 4 Part 2

Let's Interrogate (Not Torture) The Bandits! Part 2

"Non-violent method of questioning prisoners?" Suin asked when I found her in the kitchen two days later.

"Yes, is there any that you know of?"
"Why bother when torture gives you the information you want easily, my lady?"

"I don't want to torture people."

"But it's the most efficient, my lady."

"I said I don't want to torture people. Is there any way to persuade people to tell me what I want to know? I mean like a drug, hypnosis or music that makes them more suggestible?"


"Hard to explain that, sorry."

"There are herbs that make people more willing to follow orders. If you can wait until after dinner, I'll show you some of them."

"That works, thank you."

After dinner, Suin, Lili, mother and I sat together at the dining table. Suin showed us a collection of herbs that she once used in her previous profession. Some of it was so nasty that she kept them sealed inside lacquered wooden boxes.

"Here we have the Grieving Lady Thistle, it's harmless by itself, but mixed with vinegar and drank, it has the ability to dissolve everything from the stomach and below."

"How is this non-violent?"

"You don't actually use it, you threaten that you're going to use it."


"How about the Moonlit Grass Oil?" she showed us strands of blue grass and a dark blue liquid in a vial.

"What does it do?"

"As grass it merely causes upset stomach. As concentrated oil, it is absorbed into the skin and causes twitching of the body part in question. If dripped against the naked chest, it will cause heart attack."

"Isn't that fatal?"

"Not really, just rub it into the person's arm and threaten that you'd put it on their chest. They'll confess everything once their arms start twitching like it's possessed."

"Umm... I don't know about this."

"If diluted 10 times in water and rubbed on a man's penis or a woman's breasts and other sensitive parts, it raises its sensitivity and acts as an aphrodisiac."

"Ah?" before I could say anything, the basket containing the grass and its concentrated oil disappeared.

"This horrible thing, I'll keep it safe for you, my lady," Lili said with a red face and heavy breath. The basket which disappeared like magic was firmly in her hands.

Lili, were you a certain character from a certain anime with a wish-granting dragon in your previous life?

"How about this? The Wormsight Weed Powder causes terrible itching when used on skin."

"How will it help in interrogation?"

"The way you use it is to strap the victim down, then liberally rub the powder against skin. The victim will go insane from the unbearable itch," Suin said with a grin as she appeared to recall a particular point in her past.

"I said no torture!"

Suin looked disappointed.

"Well, next we have the Gravewort Concentrate. If consumed, the victim will have until sunset before the poison becomes active and kills the victim in the most painful way." Suin showed a bottle filled with pitch black liquid.

"I know I said non-violent, but I don't want to kill them either."

"It won't kill them, if they drink this potion," she produced a bottle filled with a clear liquid with purplish tinge, "It'll counteract the poison and acts as an antidote. It won't work if the poison is already active, though."

"I don't know about this... it still sounds like torture to me."

Suin pushes aside all the other herbs and then brought out a vial containing a clear liquid. "This is the Tincture of Truth. It makes people tell the truth."

"So you DO have something like this. Why didn't you show this earlier?"

"Actually, it doesn't force people to tell the truth. It only makes the victim reveal surface thoughts and a trained assassin can easily fool it, providing misleading information that can end up being a trap. The stronger the surface thought, the more likely it will come out instead of the other weaker thoughts. Alternatively, it can also be used to control the victim by putting the victim in a suggestible state and controlling the victim through soft whispers in the ears. The victim will accept and follow whatever he is told like a puppet. Avoid complicated instructions, though."

"This is still a lot more pleasant than your other solutions," I remarked as I inspected the vial. If I wasn't told it was a potion, I would've thought it was spring water.

Suin took the vial from my hand, poured a small amount of it into a glass of water and told Lili to drink it.

"Eh? Me?"

"Yes, drink it. I'm sure Lady Felicia wants a demonstration."

"Umm, my lady?"

"Are you sure it won't harm her?"

"Yes, it won't harm her at all, I think."

"Go ahead, Lili."

Lili looked conflicted, before she took the glass of water and gulped it down quickly. "Uuun, please don't hate me, my lady," she said as she handed the empty glass back to Suin.

"What is your name?" Suin asked after a few minutes.

"Why are you asking that, mom? You know..." Lili suddenly became quiet.

"What is your name?" Suin repeated.


"What is your duty?"

"Assisting Lady Felicia."

"What is one plus one?"


"Wrong, it's eleven. What is one plus one?"


"Ohh, this is fun," mother said as she clapped her hands, "Rub your cheeks."

Lili rubbed her cheeks until she was told to stop.

"Pick your nose," mother said again.

Lili picked her nose. I snorted at watching my always tensed best friend doing as told. Suin on the other hand, kept a neutral face.

"Bark!" mother commanded again.






"Howl to the moon."


I couldn't help myself, I rolled on the floor laughing my ass off. Mother was the same. Even Suin appeared to have a hard time maintaining her composure.

When I finally recovered, I wiped the tears that came out because of laughing too hard and asked Lili, "What do you think of Felicia?"

"Felicia is beautiful, kind, smart and generous."

I puffed my nonexistent chest.

"I love Felicia. I love her beautiful face, her long brown hair, her narrow waist, her budding chest, her delicious lips, her cute buttcheeks and her hairless xxxx. I want to kiss her, hug her, lick her, have xxxx with her. I want to xxxx and xxxx her xxxx. When we bathe together in Halston, I wished Felicia had touched my xxxx and kissed my xxxx and licked my xxxx and used her pretty fingers on my xxxx. I wish Felicia had taken me to her bed and xxxx me gently for the whole night."

The whole dining room went silent as all of us turned to stone at such a declaration. I briefly thought of hiding in a hole somewhere. Suin looked greatly troubled. Mother looked amused, but at Lili's next confession, she laughed merrily with one hand on her belly and the other slapping the tabletop.

"Ahhh, I can't stop myself anymore. My love, please make xxxx to me," she untied her hair, "Put your xxxx on my tongue and ride me like a xxxx. Make me your xxxx. Please be my bride and xxxx me all night long. Let's make sweet, sweet xxxx and climb the peak of pleasure together so we can xxxx and xxxx forever!" she moaned loudly while pushing down her dress, revealing a nice pair of breasts under a brown camisole.

Then her eyes rolled up and her head crashed onto the table faced down with a loud bang. Suin told us not to worry as she had expected that. Lili woke up about half an hour later. She moaned in pain and asked us what happened.

"As you can see, the victim will lose all memory of the interrogation. Any conditioning you placed will also disappear, unless you reinforce the conditioning every day."

"I see, it's good to know."

"Umm, what happened at that time? Did I do or say anything embarrassing?"

The room was quiet as we allowed the wind to blow.

"Umm... mom? My lady?"

"Nothing happened. You just said some stuff and fainted shortly after," Suin said.

"What kind of stuff?" Lili sounded a little panicked. Only now she noticed her state of undress.

I nodded while averting my gaze. "Just some stuff. Nothing you need to worry about."

"Indeed," mother tried her best to control her laughter while also averting her gaze, "Just some funny stuff."

"Ehhh? What stuff? What did I say? Please tell meeee!!!"

Of course we never told Lili what she actually said while under the potion's influence. Suin told her that Lili revealed about wetting the bed at 8 years old to her horror. If only she knew what she actually told us. What a precocious little girl Lili was.

Suin then put a few white pills covered in cloth into my hand. "This is the antidote, take two of these and for the next hour, it will neutralize the effects of the elixir. But be warned, it must be taken before you consume the potion, not after."

I thanked her and hid both the vial and the antidote inside my stash and locked it with a key. With the way mother was eyeing the potion, I half expected her to steal it from me while I was sleeping or working. Later I found out that mother asked Suin to make some more of the potion for her own use.

The next day, I went to the stockade. It was built last year, shortly after the trial where I ordered my first ever execution. The memory of the four men dangling under a rope was still fresh in my mind. The trauma was so debilitating that I couldn't hear, speak or see anything for a whole week after seeing them hang at the gallows. My sleep, whenever I could get it, was filled with nightmares of the four men coming for me with the noose still around their necks and their tongues hanging out of their mouths. Mother did her best to comfort me, and told me that she would've done the same even if I didn't judge them so. Despite that, mother told me that I should be judging criminals with a clear mind and neutral disposition, as a cloudy mind and biased preconception can easily judge an innocent wrongly.

I took it to heart, but I realized that as someone from the modern world, I couldn't do something like this. For Malcolm, who lived in a peaceful world, things like death sentences were only read about in newspapers. It wasn't something that you’d hear or participate personally in the modern world. In many countries of the modern world, death sentences were even abolished completely. As a modern person with modern values, I simply couldn't handle it. So ever since that trial, I had mother deal with the trials in father's absence. Maybe people would say that I was running away, but I'm a little girl now, I'm supposed to run away from this stuff.

"My lady, may I ask what we are doing here?" Lemy asked as we rode our horses closer to the wooden wall of the stockade.

I looked at the stockade with its large gateway building and four watch towers. It stood atop a cliff by the coast, overlooking the village, the port and a large area of the river. It was made entirely of log and earth, large enough to keep a maximum of 500 prisoners simultaneously.

This was what mother and I came up with after the execution of the four criminals last year. Having been peaceful for years previous, we have had no need for a dedicated prison. Stocks placed at the village center were often more than enough of a punishment. With the scoundrel's arrival, he also brought with him a bunch of outlaws which we had no idea what to do with. Executing them would be cruel as their crimes were only minor ones such as disturbing peace and tavern brawls as well as the error of following the wrong person.

Since putting fourteen people in stocks at the center of the village would not only be a hassle but also a waste of space, mother and I decided on having them build a stockade a short distance outside the village, on a rocky area that overlooked the Mrun river and the village. It was pretty much the first fortification built in Mruna ever, except that instead of keeping people out, it kept people in. The stockade was built out of logs, placed in two rows before having dirt packed in between the two rows of logs, creating a raised walkway from which sentries could look into the yard where the prisoners were kept. The only entry gate was a big building that connected the outside and the inner yard through two doors. In between the two doors were staircases that connected to the upper floors and the raised walkway. Apart from functioning as a sentry house, the gateway building also functioned as a billet for the stockade's sentries.

As for the bandits locked inside, we took great pains to ensure that they were taken care of as well any prisoner deserved to be treated. They slept in comfortable shanties, ate the same food as the sentries and got to walk around in the inner yard at any time they were free. Of course, we couldn't just let them eat and sleep for free. At this point, it was all me, mother stopped caring about them after they were locked up tight away from the village. Mother did suggest that their punishment should last until father came home in the winter, after which they could be released for good behaviour.

Apart from that, I had full authority. So I had them work on building my port first. It was great, I had my port along with its accompanying warehouses finished in just three weeks instead of two months that I previously expected at a quarter of the price. Definitely, slave labour is the best. Of course, having construction engines helped shave the man hours necessary. After that, I had them build the shipyard, clear some forest area for timber and farmland as well as build roads.

Yes, we have all-weather roman roads now! No more muddy roads in the winter or dusty roads in the summer. Woohoo! Of course, this only applies to Mruna, the rest of the road that connects to Halston and Renus is still dirt road.

Maybe now you're wondering about what we did with the loot we got when the bandits surrendered? Well, to tell the truth, it was all trash. I allowed my friends to choose anything they wish to take home, but the rest I just smelted into steel, because it was really just total crap to begin with. We did acquire some twelve horses, though. Thanks to that, all five of my best friends have their own horses now. The rest were left at the guard posts we recently built all over the barony for speedy delivery of messages.

"My lady?" Lemy asked again.

"Sorry Lemy, my mind was wandering. Well, we're here for some information."

"What kind of information, my lady?"

"I was thinking that our barony couldn't possibly have been the only one to be targeted by the scoundrel. They were too organized to have only done this for the first time. So we're going to ask them only one question, "Where do they keep the loot of their thievery?" Depending on their answer, we will ask the exact location.

"But they won't answer, my lady." Lemy argued.

"Of course they won't. You just let me handle that. Just ask the question when I told you to," I said as I walked into the stockade's gateway building and straight through to the south tower, where their meals are being cooked.

Only Lili accompanied me, I left the others in the gateway building.

"Excuse me, is breakfast ready?"

The cook, a slightly plump woman in sentry uniform was about to rebuke before she saw me and bowed at my appearance. "It's already done, my lady. All that is left is to share it with the prisoners."

"Very good, which cauldron is their drinking water?"

"That one, my lady," she pointed at a small cauldron filled with water. "It will be lowered into the inner yard shortly."

"Very good, leave us for a bit."

"My lady?"

"Stand outside. I'll call you when I need you to lower it to the inner yard."

The cook made a worried face as she wondered if she should follow that order. She probably thought that I was going to poison the prisoners' food. Considering that it had been a year since the trial and that most of the bandits were released for good behaviour months ago, one could imagine that the leftovers were the worst ones among them. Certainly, these men left behind were the veterans among the bandits, with a lot more pride and testosterone than common sense.

Sure, I was going to poison them, but I wasn't going to kill them. If I do kill them, I will probably get in trouble with the bandits that have turned over a new leaf and now living peacefully in the village. I'm not going to be the cause of a rebellion or rioting in the barony.

"Please don't worry. I'm not going to do anything that can't be reversed."

"Yes, my lady," the cook said as she went outside and closed the door.

I took out the palm-sized Tincture of Truth and after a short deliberation, decided to pour half the content of the vial into the prisoner's drink.

"Don't you think it's too much, my lady?"

"I'm worried it's not enough. Suin poured a few drops into the small glass of water that you drank last night."

Hearing me talk about last night, Lili's face coloured and she turned away. Lili was obviously still very much ashamed of what she thought she said. She still didn't know what she actually said under the influence of the Tincture of Truth, she thought she confessed to wetting the bed at 8 years old.

I mixed it well with a ladle and declared, "It's done. You can come in now."

The cook entered with a bow and made way for us to leave. Then from the top of the gateway building, we watched as one by one the prisoners, numbering six people, stopped moving and speaking with empty expressions on their faces.

"It's time. Let's go," I told the others as we walked down and into the inner yard before we started our interrogation.

Of course, since we were kids, we couldn't help ourselves from having fun with the mindless prisoners before us. We had these formerly prideful bandits dance and do embarrassing stuff that they would never do, with the guards on-duty laughing in good humour. We left the stockade with the information we needed and I left the sentry captain instructions to let the prisoners rest for the rest of the day.


"Is that it?" Gani asked as we hid behind some bushes about 200 feet from the camp.

We were hiding in the bushes of a forested area within the Duchy of Renus. My friends and I came here following the instructions given by the mindless veteran bandits we interrogated yesterday. Accompanying us was a 'section' of the spear sentries, a militia system comprising almost entirely of women of the barony, numbering 20 sentries not including the sergeant. Though this particular section was led by a captain as she also lead the entire 5 sections of the spear sentries, collectively called a 'company' of spear sentries.

You're asking if I got permission to cross over into the duke's land with an army? Who cares? Besides, if grandpa protested, I'd just say, "But how would I know I was supposed to ask for permission to hunt bandits, grandpa?" Then I'd give him my most innocent look and bat my long eyelashes like a clueless little girl. It will be absolutely flawless!

"Should be, they said it's a small camp in front of a natural cave," Lemy answered.

"Let's attack them," Somme urged.

"Not too fast," I said as I turned around towards a spear sentry behind us, "Captain, have your girls on standby downwind of the camp and wait for my call."

"Yes my lady," the spear sentry by the name of Merisa nodded. She silently slipped away through the bushes, her spear and round shield nowhere to be seen.

The spear sentry was designed similar to greek militia hoplites and also received the same types of training. Among others, they were trained to run two miles a day in full equipment which consisted of an 8 foot-long spear, a round steel shield, steel helmet, boiled leather body armour, boiled leather boots, their day provision, a shovel and two roman stakes. At first they were easily tired and couldn't even finish the two miles run in full equipment. But after half a year, they could run five full miles in full equipment and still had leftover stamina for mock battles.

Of course, when talking about hoplites, it wouldn't be complete without talking about phalanx. Apart from stamina training, I also drilled them in phalanx tactics. Due to that, they could now maintain phalanx formation even after charging the enemy for two minutes, beyond which their formation suffered. They could now even change the direction of their phalanx quickly.

Unlike the original hoplites though, I made some modifications to their equipment. First of which was their signature 8 foot-long spear, with a steel spearhead at one end and forked bronze point at the other. The forked bronze point, apart from providing another weapon in case the spear point breaks, also allows them to stab it into the ground to free their hands as well as giving them the possibility of pushing away ladders during wall sieges.

The second modification was their body armour. Instead of the linothorax favoured by the hoplites, I gave them studded boiled leather body armour, shaped to fit a woman's figure snugly. So it looked a little sexy, but it couldn't be helped. Lined under the boiled leather was a half inch layer of waxed paper.

Yes, waxed paper. Instead of scaled or splint paper armour that the Chinese once used, I used hundreds of sheets of very thin waxed paper to line up the inside of the leather armour, held together by glue and the steel studs. Now, for those sceptical of paper armour, it was actually a very common armour type in ancient China. Chinese records stated that paper armour worked just as well as steel armour at a fraction of the cost. Mythbusters also did a special on paper armour and proved that paper armour was just as good as steel in stopping arrows and sword slashes in comparison to steel armour while being significantly lighter. The thickness of the paper in the spear sentry's armour probably won't be able to stop bullets entirely, but more than enough to stop arrows and crossbow bolts at medium range without inhibiting movement.

Of course, the helmet was made in the same way. Even the large round shield was made of a steel plate, hammered into shape and lined with waxed paper on its back. It wasn't only to give extra protection against slashing and piercing attacks, it also gave the arm holding the shield some padding in cases of being hit by blunt weapons. Behind each shield were fastened three throwing knives 10 inches long for short range supporting attacks or for melee where it is too tight for them to use their long spears.

I do think my spear sentries are better armed than their husbands and brothers who are fighting on the front lines of the war. Better trained too, but that's not my fault. I offered to teach the men fighting techniques, but their pride was too big and they refused to be taught how to fight by a little girl who couldn't even raise a long sword. Thankfully the spear sentry that consisted mostly of women never had any problem with that.

The roman stakes were called sudes murale in Roman era. It was used in building temporary barriers. The spear sentries had regular training in building these temporary barriers due to their role of being patrolling policemen as well as border guards.

I looked at the place the spear sentries were positioned and the moment I saw their signal for 'ready' - a single spearhead raised vertically, I took out both my guns. On my right hand was the old pistol that I used in chapter 3, the double-barrelled flintlock-like pistol dubbed Boomstick Mk VII. Yes, it had been that many prototypes and failures. On my left hand was the new version of Boomstick Mk VII, the Boomstick Mk VIII, Sunset Screamer, made with better steel and citrine handle with Metrune family crest drawn inside.

I walked out of the bushes confidently. I was flanked on my right side by Lemy, and on my left side by Somme. Behind me was Gani with his long spear. All the boys were carrying the new spear sentry's shields. I left the girls behind to watch our backs.

"Bandits, stop what you're doing and surrender now!" I yelled to the mob of bandits numbering around 50 men in front of me.

The bandits looked at each other and laughed.

"Little girl, why don't you go play somewhere else?"

"Maybe she's here to play 'something else'?"

"Come sit on papa's lap, baby."

Hearing their words, I got very pissed. So I repeated my words with a bang. Nobody got hit by my bullet, but I couldn't care less if anyone got hit. Hearing my shot, all the spear sentries, numbering twenty women rushed out of the woods in phalanx formation, blocking the bandits' escape. Seeing that, the bandits quickly drew their weapons and charged against the spear sentries. The first few ones stupid enough to charge headlong against a wall of spears immediately got pierced by at least three spears at the same time.

Instead of pushing forward though, I told the spear sentries to hold position and gave the men another chance to surrender. Of course, they refused, even threatening to do some nasty things to the women once they've crushed the spear sentries' formation. They then blew a horn and retreated into the cave behind them.

It felt strange to me. It was extremely suspicious for the men to withdraw so suddenly after blowing the horn. I looked behind me, wondering if they called for reinforcement. But there was none. Then I could feel something hitting my back. It was an arrow, stuck in my leather and paper body armour.

Archers! The horn was to signal the archers positioned on the cliff. The archers fired again, raining arrows on our position.

"Raise shields! Raise shields! Block those arrows!" I ordered as the spear sentries raised their shields in the arrows's direction.

Suddenly I felt pain in my thigh. I looked down and I saw blood flowing down my leg. At the mouth of the cave, the men that retreated into the cave had come out firing arrows of their own. Seeing that, Somme stood in front of me, taking all of the arrows meant for me with his own body.

"Tortoise formation! Withdraw into the trees!" I ordered while shooting my guns at the archers firing from the cliff. Out of the three shots I had left, only one managed to hit, as they were slightly beyond the effective range of my guns.

Hearing my order, the spear sentries changed formation and provided protection for our retreat. Lemy and Gani quickly pulled Somme into the trees under cover of the spear sentries' shields. It was a quick and efficient retreat.

I had Serin have a look at those injured by the arrows, especially Somme. Thankfully nobody from our side died, at least not yet. The body armour did its job well. Many of the spear sentries’, Somme’s and even my own back looked like porcupines with so many arrows stuck on our armour. Some arrows managed to hit skin, but only Somme suffered serious injuries. Had we used normal armour, we would've likely died as a group there.

It was my fault. I was too confident. I thought they were just dumb bandits. I couldn't see the trap they had laid. It was entirely my fault.

"Withdraw to Mruna. Run like hell!" I said, intent to reduce further casualties.

As such, we withdrew from our first battle and our first defeat.


"My lady, they have started moving." a scout from the spear sentry informed.

"Perfect. Captain, is everything ready?" I asked the spear sentry's captain.

"Yes, my lady. My troops and the reinforcements are in position," the captain said, the front part of her body armour still had bits of arrows stuck into them. She only cut the rear part of each arrow instead of pulling them out, probably for bragging rights.

You know, like how people say 'you're not truly a rapper unless you've been shot at twice'.

"Good, wait for them to get in position."

"I'm sorry my lady, for not being able to join you this time," Somme said from his bed. Serin was right next to him taking care of his wounds.

"Don't worry about it. You've done your job well," I said as I walked away from him, "Now it's time for payback."

What? Did you seriously think I would run home with my tail between my legs? Hah! If you think so, you obviously don't know me yet. We only retreated the way we did to make them think we were running in fear, but in actuality, that was all an act. We retreated in order to lay a trap of my own. They thought they made a good trap? My trap was better.

The battle was short and decisive. We caught the bandits as they were moving their treasures from the cave to another position which I couldn't care less about. We had to wait half a day, but the moment spear sentry reinforcement numbering sixty women from Mruna arrived, we had them lie in ambush along the only road out of that area. Once they were in position, the captain blew the horn, signalling the spear sentries hiding in wait to spring up and attack the bandits from both sides of the road with their spear phalanx.

It was a clear victory. All ninety bandits, from the swordsmen to the archers were pierced by the spears of eighty women warriors in just a few minutes. In comparison, only sixteen of our spear sentries suffered light wounds and no casualty. The only survivors were the women and children they probably kidnapped from somewhere else to be used as forced labour or sex slaves. Those bandits who tried to run away were quickly downed by my pistols and my mounted friends.

Oh, we also took everything they carried with them such as horses, wagons, oxen, gold, silver and various other treasures. There were enough horses here to start a horse ranch. Not a lot of course, but the twenty horses we just looted should be enough to start breeding. We would've gotten a little more, but our overexcited spearwomen stabbed some to death.

Defeat? Pfeh! What a foolish thought. We just suffered a setback because I chose the wrong place to fight. There is simply a time and place for everything. I simply forgot about that for a moment. Silly me.

Ah, you were wondering why it worked? Simple. Imagine you're a drug lord and the cops stormed your hideout. You managed to beat them back, but if you are in the drug lord's shoes, would you still stay there and wait for more cops to come, probably bringing along heavy weapons? Of course not, it's only logical to protect your investments and your life. The only course of action would be to move your stash. The moment they came out from their fortified position, that was when I strike. Bye bye, good game. Muhahahahaha!


"So how much did we get?"

"Lots!" Lemy grinned, with jewels and gold coins in his hands.

"Give a silver coin to everyone who fought today. Then let's move the spoils back to my warehouse. Fuhehehehe."

A ransom of 200 gold? Pointless! Now I can pay it easily. Thehehehehe. You should've asked for 300 gold. Fuhahahahaha!

"My lady, you're drooling," Lili said as she took out a handkerchief.

While Lili wiped my drool, I wrote a letter addressed to grandfather and gave it to Lemy. "Take Gani and go meet the Master of Arms for the Duchy of Renus. Tell him the Barony of Mruna requests twenty guardsmen with sailing experience and give him this voucher."

"What are you planning, my lady?" Lemy asked.

"We're gonna sail up the Mrun River all the way to Lytis and bring our fathers home."

"Yes my lady," both Lemy and Gani saluted eagerly.

I spent the whole week selling whatever loot I could sell. Some I kept hidden as there were noble crests on them and I didn't want word to get out that I had the other noble family's treasures. It had nothing to do with feeling guilt. After all, if they were stupid enough to be cheated by the scoundrel, they deserved to lose their treasures.

What I was worried about was that if they found out I got their treasures, they would demand the whole thing back. Of course, I wasn't going to kindly return it to them like a saint. It's all mine now. Mine!


Lemy and Gani returned a week later with an army.

I put my hands on Lemy's shoulder. "Lemy, think I told you to come back with twenty guardsman?"

Sweating profusely, Lemy said, "Yes, you did, my lady."

"Then explain to me why you bring back THE WHOLE DAMNED DUCHY!"

Not only there were hundreds of duchy soldiers crowding the main street, I could also see the faces of the old counts and barons from neighbouring counties and baronies. Even my aunts were here. 

Heck! Why is that horny feral dog here too?

"Hahaha, please don't blame the young man. It was my wish to come see what this plan of yours was. And when I said that, everyone else wanted to come too. Please forgive me," grandfather said as he stepped out of his ornate carriage.

I fumed at seeing my grandfather's face, the memory of being snubbed for two days resurfaced in my mind. "Grandpa!"

"Papa!" mother screamed as she jumped out from the front door, "I've missed you, papa!"

I frowned.

<i>Mother, please don't ruin my pace.</i>

"Ahh, my dear flower Felicia. I've heard of your exploits with the bandits. If you had only told me beforehand, I would have been more than happy to ride to you with my whole cavalry unit," Feral said as he took my hand and kissed the back of it.

"Lemy..." I threw a smile at Lemy before I grabbed his face with the same right hand that Feral was just kissing.

"Ow, ow, ow. My lady, you're hurting me."

"Exactly what did you tell them?" I asked, still maintaining my smile as I tightened my grip on Lemy's skull.

"Just the battle, my lady, nothing else!"

"What about after the battle?" I asked, referring to the gold, jewellery and the rest of the loot.

"Nothing! Absolutely nothing!"

"What are you hiding, Felicia?" grandfather asked with mother still wrapped around him.

"Geh! Nothing, absolutely nothing you need to worry about, grandfather! Ah! Now that you're all here, want to take a look at the ship?"


"Heave ho!" the men cried together as they used the on-board pulley to bring up one of the ballistas meant for the stern hard point.

The original design included only one ballista in front for harpooning small whales or delicious tuna. I decided to add two more ballistae in the rear considering where we were going. Building the ballista wasn't all that hard, we had skilled carpenters and my steel spring could easily replace animal tendons, the only hard part was making sure that every ballista was of the same size and same quality.

I firmly struck the hull of the ship with my hand, feeling the cold, hard wood against my blow.

"Have the divers checked for any cracks?" I asked.

"Yes, my lady. They informed me that there are no cracks or leaks. The soaking of the wood went well," Gani answered.

"Good, was afraid I would end up sleeping at the bottom of the river."

"There is no need to worry, my lady. Nobody has experience building a boat of this size, but the builders followed your instructions to the letter."

"It's a ship, not a boat," I said, referring to the brig that was 165 feet in length with a beam of 40 feet and two rows of oar holes on each side, numbering 40 oars in total. Apparently, it was the first of its kind and also the largest ship to date.

This was supposed to be an ocean-going fishing vessel, capable of catching and carrying tonnes of tuna easily. I designed it to be the maximum survivable ship for ocean fishing. I even visited the shipyard every day and rejected every piece of log and lumber that wasn't cut or trimmed according to my specifications, causing dissatisfaction and disgruntlement among the shipyard workers. Later, I was told that it was twice larger than the largest ship anyone had ever seen. When it was almost complete, people asked me if I was building a warship. I kept telling everyone that it was a fishing vessel, but nobody believed me.

When I showed it to the nobles yesterday, everyone kept saying it would never float. They said it was too big and would be too heavy to float and I was like, "Dudes, did you even learn about buoyancy in school?" I made a profit out of them by making a bet that it would indeed float. I never knew cheating nobles of their money was so very pleasant.

I should do it again soon. I wonder if there are any scams they'd fall for. Oh no, not the kind of scams that the scoundrel did, I mean the kind of scams where they'd be happy to give me their money for.

Anyway, even grandfather was sceptical about it and offered to buy the ship at 80 gold coins if it would float. He didn't make a bet, but when the ship hit water in front of the shipyard, he looked like he fell in love for the first time. When grandfather saw it this morning after I had the sails fitted and the oars loaded, he raised his offer to 120 gold. Grandfather seemed very eager to give me his gold. Maybe his offer was below the market price?

I wonder if I should just sell it to him or wait for a better offer. Now that I've seen the finished stuff myself, even I doubt that it's anything other than a warship. I might've mixed up my measurements but it's too late to change it now. Guess I forgot a lot of stuff from that time I built a boat from scratch with my father as Malcolm. Anyway, even if I agree to sell it to grandfather, it's not like he can pay it now. All his money is tied up in the effort to pay the ransom.

Right now, grandfather is walking excitedly on the top deck, like a schoolboy on a trip to the zoo. He’s busy inspecting the central loading hole, the sterncastle, the tall masts, the sails and pretty much everything else he can touch. He even holds the ballista at the bow and turning it around on its swivel mount, as if he is aiming and attacking an invisible enemy ship. I had mother send all the nobles to rest at a local inn when grandfather started making 'pew pew' and 'foosh' sounds. Watching grandfather like this now reminds me of the term 'big boy's toys'. It was embarrassing to watch.

Seriously grandpa, get off the ship. You're bothering everyone.


  1. I started reading it today and I gotta say that I'm impressed. Much better than the stuff at RR. I hope that you continue.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Please look forward to future chapters.

  2. Thank you for your hardwork this is really great story with full of joke :D


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