After a while, the group finally arrived at the Lord’s estate. Upon closer inspection, the building had an impressive appearance, with the crevices of the walls overflowing with moss and ivy vines climbing up the walls, their lush green leaves radiating vitality. Although the doors and windows were old, they had been meticulously polished, and several majestic oak trees covered the house, casting dappled shadows on the ground as the sunlight filtered through the branches. The occasional unidentified bird’s chirp added to the peaceful serenity of the surroundings.
Upon the remembrance that he would have to stay in this place for a long while and that he would have to rule over this unproductive land, where no bird could lay eggs, Zhou Wen felt a sense of melancholy. Simultaneously, he vowed within himself to promptly discover a means to return to his own world.
As he arrived at the doorstep of the mansion, the door creaked open and a spirited young lady burst out, exclaiming, “Grandfather, you’ve returned?”
Feeling downcast, Zhou Wen lifted his head at the sound and thought to himself, Who could be so discourteous?
Before him stood a beautiful young woman with short, fiery red hair, attired in boyish clothing. She possessed a charming face with striking azure eyes, a slender and sturdy build, and exuded youthful vitality from head to toe. Her narrow sword strapped to her waist only added to her already impressive and gallant demeanor. She was truly a rare athletic beauty.
Upon seeing her, Vince immediately greeted her with a cheerful smile, saying, “Jessica, I missed you so much these past few days.”
Kress and Marlene also paid their respects to her, evidently holding her in high esteem. Zhou Wen regained his senses from his initial shock, composed himself, and prepared to approach her to say hello. Suddenly, he felt some coolness at the corner of his mouth and wiped it away with his hand, only to discover a trail of saliva.
He was shocked at his lack of composure and quickly turned around to wipe it away, but it was already noticed by Jessica. She cast a disdainful glance at him and asked, “Who is this creepy guy?”
Vince was greatly alarmed at her words and hastily said, “Jessica, what are you talking about? This is the young master.”
“What? This is young master Saul, why does he look like this?” Jessica showed no respect.
“Its fine, its fine.” Zhou Wen turned around with an awkward smile, but in his heart, he cursed, “Damned bitch, it’s not like you’re picking a husband. What does it matter what I look like? Besides, do you think I want to look like this?”
It seemed like Jessica had seen through Zhou Wen’s thoughts, and she gave him a cold glance before walking into the room and saying, “Come in.” She completely ignored him, even though he was the lord of the estate.
Vince felt extremely embarrassed and said, “Young master, that’s just how Jessica is. She means no harm. Please forgive her.”
Kress added, “Yes, after the old lord passed away, it was all thanks to Jessica’s management that there were no major issues within the territory. The people in the territory respect her greatly.”
Marlene then playfully took Zhou Wen’s hand and said, “Lord Saul, could you please not be angry with Jessica?”
With all three of them urging him, Zhou Wen had no choice but to nod reluctantly. At the same time, he was puzzled as to why Jessica had such a hostile attitude towards Saul. Did they have some sort of conflict in the past? However, judging from Vince’s reaction, it seemed like they were meeting for the first time.
Women’s hearts are like a needle at the bottom of the sea. Who knows what this nosy woman is thinking? Could it be that she just started her period? As he maliciously speculated, Zhou Wen followed the others into the room.
The interior of the estate was slightly better than the outside, but the furnishings were still simple. However, it was kept very clean. The sturdy wooden floor had turned brown due to age, and several portraits of the ancestors of the Lowell family were hanging on the walls. All of the furniture was old and some had begun to peel, but because they were well maintained, the smooth wooden surfaces gave a very comfortable feeling.
The mansion was divided into two floors. The first floor had a large hall with two rooms on each side and stairs leading to the second floor at the end. Two pots of flowers were placed on the windowsill at the corner, and the petals of the blooming flowers shone with a jade-like color under the soft light shining through the window, giving the whole layout a sense of Impressionist oil painting beauty.
Walking into the hall, Zhou Wen immediately saw a huge oil painting of a middle-aged man who looked extremely sickly. The painting was placed on a table covered with white cloth and surrounded by flowers.
Even if you don’t display world-famous paintings, it would be better to display some flowers and plants. Why would you want to hang such a painting here? The taste of the people in this world is really terrible. Thinking about this, Zhou Wen casually asked, “Who is the unlucky ghost in the painting?”
As soon as these words left his mouth, Zhou Wen knew he was in trouble. Sure enough, Vince and the others all turned their heads to look at him in shock. Zhou Wen instantly understood who the unlucky ghost was—it was his dead father, the former lord, Gary Lowell.
“Father!” Without giving anyone time to question him, Zhou Wen let out a heart-wrenching scream and lunged forward. “Sob, sob, sob…Father, you died so miserably, leaving us orphans and widows…How am I supposed to live from now on…” Trying to remember the mourning scenes from TV shows, Zhou Wen burst into tears and wailed with snot running down his face.
At first, he indulged in acting, but later on, he recalled being all alone in this unfamiliar world. Although he was presently without material worries, the possibility of being stuck in this impoverished and desolate place for his entire lifetime loomed large. If his parents from the other world found out that he had disappeared, they would be devastated, and the thought of it made him genuinely sad. The more he acted, the more he cried, and the atmosphere became so melancholic that it was as if the world itself had changed color, and even the plants and trees seemed to be grieving.
Marlene and Kress were deeply moved, with Marlene incessantly sobbing and Kress, a towering figure akin to a bear, accompanying her with mournful howls. The room echoed with their cries, which were so intense that any bystander unaware of the situation would assume that these individuals had lost their entire family.
Upon witnessing Zhou Wen’s genuine grief, Jessica, who had been observing with indifference, also appeared to be somewhat moved, her complexion slightly pale. Vince wiped away his tears and approached Zhou Wen, helping him up and saying, “Young master, please don’t be too sorrowful.”
Knowing that he had to put on a good show, Zhou Wen assumed the guise of a filial son, struggling out of Vince’s embrace and grabbing onto the oil painting, crying uncontrollably. He repeated this act several times before being forcibly pulled away by Kress.
As he cried, Zhou Wen thought to himself, “You may be a dead old ghost, but you provided me with food and shelter, and even left such a large piece of land for me. By shedding a few tears for you, we can both consider our accounts settled. Your son will never be as devoted as I am.”
Afterwards, the story of Zhou Wen’s mourning for the old lord was entirely publicized by Kress, which immediately earned him the respect of the people in the territory and brought him closer to them. The effect was beyond what Zhou Wen could have expected.
Once everyone had regained their composure, they gathered in the Lord’s study. Vince solemnly handed Zhou Wen a ring with the emblem of a pigeon carrying a shamrock, saying, “Young master, this is the crest of the Lowell family, passed down for generations. When you wear this ring, you officially become the fourth generation head of the Lowell family. As soon as the appointment letter from the capital arrives, you can formally inherit the Lowell territory.”
Due to the remote, impoverished, and insignificant nature of the Lowell territory, Zhou Wen did not even have to follow the usual protocol of going to the capital to pledge his loyalty to the king. The capital would simply send a letter appointing him as the new lord, and the transition would be complete.
As he put on the ring, Zhou Wen casually remarked, “I wonder where all of my relatives are. why haven’t I seen any of them?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, Vince stared at Zhou Wen, causing him to feel uneasy. Had he inadvertently revealed something again? Sure enough, Vince spoke up, “Young Master is surely joking. When the former lord passed away, there was only one member of the Lowell family left. So, this old servant hopes to see you get married and have children in his lifetime, to increase the family’s descendants. Then, even if I die, I will have no regrets.” He then glanced, intentionally or unintentionally, at his granddaughter Jessica.
Caught in Vince’s gaze, Jessica immediately blushed, while Zhou Wen was even more terrified. Did the old man know something about a pre-arranged marriage between Jessica and “Zhou Wen”? He would have to ask and clarify things when he had the chance. Although Jessica was beautiful, unfortunately she didn’t like him, and if he really had to marry her, his future life would grow to be worse than death.
At the same time, he was internally cautious, realizing that he was no longer Zhou Wen, but Saul Lowell. He couldn’t afford to make casual inquiries like this, or he might expose himself. If he was recognized as an impostor and accused of possessing someone else’s body, he would end up being burned at the stake. In the future, he would have to approach any doubts indirectly.
“Now, I have one more thing to announce,” Vince suddenly said seriously.
Upon hearing his solemn tone, everyone turned to look at him. Vince spoke slowly, “Now that the young master has returned safely to the territory, I can finally lay down a burden. I am getting older and my energy is not as good as it used to be, so I have decided to resign from my position as steward since I am unable to continue assisting the young master with the affairs of the territory.”
He then patted Jessica and said warmly, “I will rely on you to help the young master from now on.”
“What?” “What did you say?” both Zhou Wen and Jessica exclaimed in unison.
Vince chuckled and said, “Jessica has been by my side since she was young and is familiar with the affairs of the estate. She has managed everything smoothly in my absence. Now that the young lord is taking over as the lord of the estate, it’s time for this old man to step down. Jessica, I hope you will take over my position as the stewerd and assist the young lord well.”
He then sighed heavily and said, “Lowell is too poor and remote. Without a good lord and a competent stewerd, the people will suffer greatly. I hope you understand this responsibility.”
Zhou Wen couldn’t help but curse inwardly. As far as he was concerned, as long as he had a place to stay in this world, he didn’t care much about anything else. Moreover, the Lowell territory was located in a remote and poor area, and if he had a choice, he would not want to stay here.
What’s more, this Jessica was not a good match for him. The most important thing was that Vince was fond of him, and even if he had some improper requests in the future, such as letting Marlene sleep with him, hehe… Vince might even agree to it. If it was Jessica instead, he would probably be strangled if he made such a request. If she became the steward, how would he survive in the future?
But it was not too late to make up for it. Zhou Wen immediately flattered Vince and tried to convince him to change his mind, “Vince, there is a saying that an old horse in the stable still longs to gallop a thousand miles. Tang of the Tang Dynasty was still ambitious in his old age, while Li Guang, who was young, struggled to earn a title. People may age, but their hearts do not…. Your experience and maturity are exactly what I need in a steward to help me manage the territory. I have just ascended to the throne, and I need an experienced and steady steward like you to assist me. Let’s postpone your resignation for three to five hundred years. Jessica, you also don’t want Grandpa to resign, right?”
He didn’t care if anyone could understand his flowery words, he just poured them all out, hoping to turn the tide. To his surprise, Jessica resolutely said, “Okay, grandpa, I promise you.”
After finishing her speech, Jessica turned to Zhou Wen, whose mouth was open wide enough to fit a basketball, and said coldly: “In the future, I will do my best to assist the Lord in governing the Lowell territory. I hope the Lord understands my grandfather’s intentions and considers everything carefully.” The implication was obvious: if you dare to do as you please in the territory, don’t blame me for being impolite.
“It’s over!” This thought flashed through his mind, and Zhou Wen’s vision blackened, almost making him faint.
Upon hearing his granddaughter’s agreement, Vince was overwhelmed with excitement and tears: “That’s great, now I have no regrets… No, I still want to see the Lord get married and have children before I can rest in peace.”
“Grandpa!” Jessica immediately blushed and exclaimed loudly.
Vince was elated, and he chuckled: “It’s getting late. Let’s all rest after dinner. Tomorrow, Jessica will accompany the young master to tour the territory and become familiar with the situation. The young master must quickly get a grip on the internal affairs of the territory. After all, the young master has not been back for almost ten years.”
Marlene sweetly agreed and happily went down to prepare dinner. The meal was rich, but in the face of Jessica’s cold demeanor, he occasionally reminded himself to focus on etiquette, making it clear to Zhou Wen that this was a preview of the difficult times ahead.
Alas, I have no freedom. The loss of freedom is heartbreaking and brings tears to my eyes…I’m already very unlucky, and with this busybody monitoring me, what’s the point of living?
At the same time, at the dinner table, Zhou Wen witnessed what was truly a terrifying sight. To him, Kress was undoubtedly an ogre disguised as a human. With his sweeping movements, the food would disappear from Zhou Wen’s sight before he even had a chance to reach for his fork and knife. Despite this, Jessica and the others were unfazed, and Marlene even placed a large serving dish in front of Kress.
What sort of people inhabit this territory? Zhou Wen could only think to himself as he listened to the thunderous sound of Kress chewing. “Brother, if you keep eating like that, why don’t I just give you the house to gnaw on too…”
After dinner, Zhou Wen finally received some good news. It turned out that the lovely Marlene had been living here as a maid since she was young. The old lord lived a simple life, and with his wife’s early death and Saul studying far away, Marlene was the only one taking care of him in his old age. In other words, only he and Marlene lived in the entire mansion right now.
Hehehe… Sitting in the study and watching Marlene happily and busily clean up, Zhou Wen’s face showed an evil smile. Daddy Gary, did you foresee and prepare for this lonely son of yours to pass the long nights ahead?
Oh, God, you have finally been kind to me.
Shortly after, Kress and the others bid farewell and left. Marlene continued to do household chores for a while, and finally Zhou Wen heard her ask, “Young master, do you have any other orders?”
Eager for such an opportunity, Zhou Wen quickly said, “No, no, Marlene. You’ve worked hard all day. Go to sleep quickly. If you feel too hot at night, don’t close the door…”
Marlene knew nothing of his ulterior motives, and sweetly smiled, “It’s cool at night. Then I’ll go to sleep, young master.”
Once Marlene left, Zhou Wen knew he couldn’t be too hasty. He patiently searched for several books about the customs and geography of the continent of Modena. Although his mind had already drifted away, he was glad to have gained some knowledge about this world.
Of course, Zhou Wen was most concerned about his “homeland,” the Dinar Kingdom. Located in the central region of the continent, the kingdom occupied the best land and had a long history and strong national power. It was one of the most fiercely contested countries in the struggle against the Orcs, with the Northern Wasteland bordering to the north. To the west lay the Rulin Empire, separated by the vast Western Mountains, with conflicts only occurring at the Barin Territory, located in the West Sylvara Plains. The kingdom’s southern and eastern borders were adjacent to the sea and partially bordered by the Barmuk Kingdom.
The kingdom employs a system of feudalism, with dozens of territories of varying sizes making up the entirety of Dinar. Only the areas directly surrounding the capital were under the direct jurisdiction of the king. The lords hold nominal power, able to appoint officials, set tax rates, and wield great authority over their subjects, including the power of their life and death. Of course, as a poor lord from a remote rural area, Zhou Wen couldn’t hope to enjoy such privileges.
After briefly perusing the introduction to the Dinar kingdom, Zhou Wen turned to the section on the races of the continent. To his surprise, the Modena continent was very similar to the fantasy world he knew, with not only humans but also elves, orcs, dwarves, and other humanoid races, as well as a multitude of monsters, all of which were widely distributed throughout the entire continent and had numerous connections to humans.
“How boring. There’s no TV or entertainment at night,” Zhou Wen muttered to himself as he checked the time and quietly slipped out of the study.
Hehe, little Marlene, your brother Saul has come to see you…
Zhou Wen had managed to gather information on Marlene’s bedroom from Vince while Jessica wasn’t paying attention. The mansion was dark, but luckily the bright moon overhead provided enough light for Zhou Wen to see his way.
“I’ll have to figure out a way to install wall lamps in the future. It’s so dark, even ghosts would be afraid.” After stumbling on the stairs for the third time, Zhou Wen finally made it to the second floor and felt his way to Marlene’s bedroom door.
As he pushed the door, it surprisingly opened with ease. Looking at the open door, Zhou Wen felt astonished. Could it be possible that the door wasn’t closed? Even though he had come for a nocturnal visit, he had no intention of using force. He only wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. However, the situation now seemed to be different.
A lewd smile quickly spread across his face. “Hehehe, it turns out that this little girl also has desires,” he thought.
“Little Marlene, your elder brother Saul has come. Are you happy to see me?” he said with a lewd grin as he peeked into the room. In the moonlight that streamed in, Zhou Wen could vaguely make out a figure sleeping on the bed.
“My current appearance must be very vulgar, but beauty is everything, so why bother about it so much?”
“I’m here!” Zhou Wen shouted and pounced like a hungry tiger.
Little did he know that before he could even jump onto the bed, a lump suddenly rose up from under the blanket and kept rising towards him.
Before he could react, there was a loud bang, and Zhou Wen’s lower abdomen took a solid hit. He felt dizzy and disoriented and rolled out of the room like a gourd.
“Ow, my head, who on earth…” He groaned in pain while touching the back of his head. As he lifted his head, he was suddenly startled by the sight before him.
The tip of a slender sword, shining with a cold light, was pressed against Zhou Wen’s neck. On the other end, Jessica stood coldly with the sword in her hand, looking down at him from a higher ground.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“……If I told you I was concerned about Marlene and came here to cover her with the blanket, would you believe me?”
Without answering, the tip of the sword was pressed against Zhou Wen’s skin, almost piercing it.
“Wait, wait, let’s talk this out,” Zhou Wen quickly shouted.
“I felt something was off when you secretly asked my grandfather about Marlene’s bedroom. I never expected you to actually commit such a beastly act. People from the city are all the same, not good at all. I’m going to…I’m going to…” Jessica gritted her teeth with a flushed face.
“Wait, there is a reason why I did this!” Zhou Wen was afraid that she would say something like “castrate you,” which would be disastrous for him, so he quickly tried to shut her up.
Jessica disdainfully snorted, “Trying to argue again?” But the tip of the sword still backed away.
“In fact, I knew you were in the room. I came to find you, Jessica. Ever since I laid my eyes on you, I fell in love with you… That’s why I couldn’t help but resort to this plan,” Zhou Wen stared into her eyes and spoke with great emotion.
“You…” Jessica didn’t expect Zhou Wen to say such things. She felt both embarrassed and angry, her pretty face instantly turning red.
Seeing her reaction, Zhou Wen couldn’t help but be taken aback. “I didn’t expect you to be so innocent.” However, seizing the opportunity while Jessica was distracted, Zhou Wen quickly rolled over and fled.
It was only then that Jessica realized that Zhou Wen was tricking her. She was furious and raised her sword to chase after him. But he was still a lord and hadn’t really done anything wrong, so after hesitating for a moment, she didn’t actually attack.
At that moment, a door behind them opened and Marlene, still sleepy, came out holding a candlestick.
“What’s all the noise outside… Jessica, young master Saul? What are you two doing?”
In that moment, Marlene’s lovely figure, enveloped in candlelight, appeared as cute as an angel in Zhou Wen’s eyes. He quickly replied, “Jessica and I can’t sleep and we’re just chatting. Do you want to join us?”
Marlene looked at the two of them strangely, “Why did you take out your swords to chat?” Then she shook her head, “No thanks, I want to continue sleeping. You guys can talk slowly.” Muttering, she walked back into her room.
After such a fuss, Jessica’s killing intent dissipated. She deftly put her sword back into its scabbard and said coldly, “I’ll let you go this time. From now on, I’ll be living here. If you dare step into this area again, don’t blame me for being merciless!”
“Live here? Why?”
“I cannot allow Marlene to live alone with such a beast.”
“You…wait a minute, this is my home. Who are you to say I can’t come here?” Zhou Wen questioned in frustration. He had finally gotten the chance to be alone with a beautiful woman, and he couldn’t let her ruin it.
Jessica turned around, drew her sword at lightning speed, and swiftly turned it towards Zhou Wen’s chest. “For this reason,” she said, without even looking at him, and then she walked into the room and slammed the door shut.
“Huh?” Zhou Wen stood up, confused. Suddenly, his linen shirt made a ripping sound, and ten or so cuts appeared on it, causing it to turn into a mess of tattered cloth hanging off his body. His belt snapped, and his pants fell down.
Jessica drew her sword in an instant, but it didn’t even scratch Zhou Wen’s skin. Her accuracy and speed were astonishing. Zhou Wen stared at his pants falling down to his ankles and the tattered cloth hanging off his body, and it took him a while to come back to his senses.
“Understood!” he shouted towards Jessica’s room and obediently disappeared.