Chapter 22: Homeward (1)

There’s no place better than home. Even if you’re not a homebody, you’d all have this feeling if you haven’t been home for a long while - one where your heart and mind is calmed and relieved. It was the same for Milton.

“Congratulations on your victory, My Lord!”

“Congratulations, Sir.”

Returning to Forrest Manor, Milton was greeted by Administrator Thomas and Knight-Captain Sansen.

“I’ll hear your reports tomorrow. I want to rest right now.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

Milton just received their welcome and pushed off hearing their reports till the next day. But before that, he introduced the new people he had brought with him.

“This is Jerome Taker, a Knight I brought back with me from the war.”

“I’m Jerome Taker, pleased to meet you.”

“Welcome to House Forrest, Sir Jerome.”

As though he had instantly recognized Jerome’s prowess, Sansen was very polite. 

Once he had introduced the men he had brought with him, Milton pushed off everything till the next day and dove into his bed. 

“Haa…. This is life.”

Closing his eyes, Milton felt himself sinking into his bed.

‘There’s really no place like home.’

There were a lot of things that needed to be done, but right now, he just wanted to rest. Once he had his day of rest, Milton would tackle the workload.

The next day.

“Is it morning?”

Waking up in his own bedroom, Milton ate breakfast and immediately called for his vassals. First, he had to get a report of what had occurred during his absence.

Milton read the report Thomas had previously prepared in the library. 

‘Not bad, not bad at all.’

The Manor’s situation was better than when he had left.  Thanks to Milton’s participation in the war with Strabus Kingdom, they were exempted from taxes this year and the output of the estate had increased considerably. Once he finished reading the report, Milton had a faint smile on his face.

“Administrator Thomas.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

Patting Thomas’s nervous shoulders, Milton praised him, “Well done. You’ve worked hard.”

At Milton’s praise, Thomas had a delighted expression on his face. 

“Thank you, My Lord.”

“I thought it would be great if we could just maintain the output, but it increased compared to previous years. Do you have any secret tricks?”

Thomas replied with an ecstatic expression, “To be honest, My Lord, my son did all that. Since he was originally a farmer, he truly understands what needs to be done for the best outcome.”

Thomas credited his son Max for managing the estate well and to be honest, Milton had already expected that. Max’s farming was at level 6. Milton had assumed this would happen once he had Max assist Thomas. This wasn’t the only thing Milton wanted Max to realize. 

‘Let’s see. Mm, it hasn’t even been a year and he’s already gotten stronger.’

Milton had glanced at Max’s stats. 

[Max]

Administrator LV.3

Strength – 17 Command – 35

Intellect – 72 Politics – 77

Loyalty – 65

Special Trait – Improvisation, Agriculture.

Improvisation LV. 4: React to unforeseen circumstances with the best possible method. 

Agriculture LV. 6: A deep understanding of farming. Increases the amount of produce harvested from farmland. Reduce the effects of drought and flooding to a minimum. 

Max's level as an administrator had gone up a whole level, and his overall abilities had also improved. Although the low level of loyalty was a bit concerning, Milton was happy with the rest of Max’s stats. 

On his way home, Milton had heard there was less harvest compared to previous years in other fiefs. But seeing how his own fief’s harvest had increased in comparison, it was obvious how useful Max and his specialty trait of agriculture was. 

‘Compared to him…’

Milton glanced at Thomas’s stats.

[Thomas]

Administrator LV.6

Strength – 08 Command – 30

Intellect – 45 Politics – 50

Loyalty – 89

Special Trait Caution

Caution LV 5: Reduces mistakes in getting things done. Gets things done carefully when doing something used to, but takes a while to get used to doing new things. 

Thomas’s stats had fallen instead of rising. It was the first time Milton had seen such an instance.

‘So stats can also fall. Well, I guess that’s only natural since as you get older, your body and mind abilities can get lower. A shift in generation is definitely necessary.’

This is what Milton had expected when he had made Max an assistant. He knew Thomas’s retirement wasn’t far off, so he wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible and have Max inherit the position. But first, Thomas had to retire. With that decision, Milton spoke to him.

“Administrator Thomas, how old are you now?

“I’m 62 this year, My Lord.”

If this was in Korea, Thomas's time for retirement had long passed. 

Resolute, Milton addressed Thomas. “ Thomas, as of this moment, you are no longer the Administrator.”

“My Lord?!”

Having been laid off, Thomas was shocked and Max’s face showed his displeasure. From his point of view, Thomas was fired after having devoted his entire life to the fief, so it was only natural for him to be upset. 

‘Huh, the already low loyalty, fell even further.’

Milton saw Max’s loyalty falling from 65 to 60. 

But one should listen to a person till the very end. 

Patting Thomas’s shoulder, Milton consoled him. 

“From now on, you’re not going to be the Administrator. Instead, you’re going to be an Elder of the fief.”

“Elder… My Lord, what does that mean?”

“This is a new position I’ve created to honor those like you who have devoted their entire lives to the fief.”

Seeing Thomas’s confused expression, Milton continued on. 

“You’ll step back from the day-to-day workload, and instead, your son Max will take over as your replacement.”

Up to here, it was an ordinary retirement, but Milton wasn’t done. 

“And even though you have retired, you’ll continue to receive what you’ve been earning as a pension. During your retirement, you’ll give advice when necessary. That is the position of an elder.”

In other words, Milton was telling Thomas to retire and rest while receiving a pension. 

“My Lord…”

Thomas was overwhelmed with gratitude. In this world, they worked until they couldn’t, and there was no such thing as a pension for the retirees. But for Milton to treat Thomas like this when he hadn’t even been very competent…

Due to Milton’s thoughtfulness, Thomas couldn’t help but shed tears of emotion. 

Milton glanced at Max, ‘Do you understand now?’

Max was very surprised by Milton’s actions, which by the standards of this world was very unconventional. 

Patting Max’s shoulders, Milton said, “Max, as of this moment, you are the Administrator of this fief. Do you accept the position?”

With a ninety degree bow, Max replied, “I gladly accept it, My Lord.”

When Milton rechecked Max’s stats, the loyalty trait that had fallen to 60 had risen to 72. 

‘Tch, should’ve trusted me, buddy.’

Milton was satisfied as Max’s loyalty level, which rarely rose, exceeded 70 for the first time. 

As soon as a new Administrator was decided upon, Milton looked at Sansen.

“Sansen, as you may have just heard, I hope you will also retire and support this fief as an elder from behind the scene.”

At his words, Sansen shook his head. “My Lord, if you tell me to relinquish the Knight Captain title, I will. But I feel it’s too early for me to retire.”

Unlike Thomas, Sansen wasn’t happy with retirement. It wasn’t a problem of money or treatment, but because his loyalty dictated he dedicate his life to the fief. 

‘He’s a stubborn one.’

Looking at him, Milton was reminded of Nelson on the Western Front. But if he wanted to have Jerome as the Knight-Captain, Sansen would become a hindrance. Even if Jerome did become the Knight-Captain, it would be difficult to ignore Sansen with his many years of experience on the fief.  Since Jerome wasn’t one who’d willingly let go of his authority, there was the possibility where there might be two Knight Captains. And because of that, Milton had to get Sansen to retire.

“Even though you would both be elders, I have something else in mind for you. For that to occur, I need you to step back and retire.’

“What is it that you need me to do, My Lord?”

“I am hoping that the twenty mercenaries who went to war with me will be willing to settle in our fief.”

That’s right. When the mercenaries saw Milton’s leadership on the Western Front, some thought it wouldn’t be bad to live under his rule. They couldn’t live their entire lives as a mercenary, and it was common for them to find a job as a soldier for a fief. However, Milton wanted to recruit and train them to become Knights, and the mercenaries knew this was an uncommon opportunity.  Understanding this to be an opportune opportunity, the mercenaries joined Milton’s household. 

“I have no complaints about their skills and abilities, but because they lived as mercenaries, they’re a bit rough in attitude. I want to take them in and train them as Knights but their behavior and composure is a bit…”

“And you want me to train them, My Lord?”

“You’re the ideal person. Who else has lived as a Knight their entire lives like you have?”

Once Milton convinced Sansen there was no one else but him, Sansen agreed. 

“As you wish, My Lord. I’ll take this task as my last mission in life and do my utmost best.”

And so, Thomas and Sansen’s retirements were handled. 

Having dealt with the most difficult personnel problems, all that was left was easy. It was easy to have Jerome become the Knight Captain. Rick and Tom, not to mention the Knight Trainees, all accepted him as the Knight Captain easily. As for all the soldiers who had participated in the war, they were exempted from taxes for two years and given generous compensation. And for the families of soldiers who were killed in the war, they were given double the compensation as comfort money and ten years of tax exemption. Administrator Max felt that such compensation was unprecedented and tried to stop Milton. But Milton held different thoughts. 

‘It’s best to give generous compensation; giving too little is worse than giving none.’

And because of such thoughts, Milton received unplanned profits. For doing something unprecedented, Milton’s vassals were filled with gratitude.

“The young Lord sure is amazing, isn’t he?”

“I agree! Who else would give compensation for dying on the field?”

“Although the previous Viscount wasn’t bad… but this young lord is even better. Maybe it’s because he’s younger.”

Amongst the vassals, Milton’s popularity skyrocketed. 

At the same time, a new message popped up. 

[The public sentiments of your vassals have been raised to the maximum. All traits have risen by one level.]

[A new trait ‘Clout’ has been added.]

“Oh ho… this is an unexpected windfall.”

Milton opened the stats window and checked for himself. 

Charisma LV. 3: Able to use the carrot and stick appropriately to raise the loyalty of subordinates. 

Awaken LV. 2: Awaken servants, increasing their abilities through psychological means, and raising their loyalty.

Clout LV. 1: Able to raise public sentiment of oneself through issuing rewards or giving rousing orations.

It was nice to see the level of Charisma and Awakening raised, but the new trait of Clout was also quite good. In recent years, the Republicans had been secretly inciting the people. So, for the stability of the territory, the Clout skill that could control the people’s sentiments was useful. While his abilities had leveled up and the newly recruited people had settled in, Milton still had something important left to do. 

Previous Chapter Next Chapter