Regressor of the Fallen Family chapter 12

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Chapter 12

“Verification is complete. Welcome to Harun.”

Harun, the central estate reached by Kaihl through two days of horse riding.

This place had thick double-layered gates in its outer walls, standing several tens of meters apart from each other.

As a result, unlike when he first entered Kaihl, Logan had to go through a double check despite showing his identity plaque.

There were legitimate reasons for Harun’s strict vigilance.

Buzzing noises filled the air.

A sea of people surged into view as soon as the inner gate opened.

The bustling crowd was complex and peculiar in a different way than Kaihl, especially since a significant number of them wore shackles on their limbs.

“Move it, you lot!”

“Don’t dawdle!”

Crack!

Slaves scattered about, overseer guards wielding whips, and in between them strode individuals with formidable statures and grim expressions, armed with weapons.

Although this was a starkly different sight from a typical estate, it was an all-too-natural scene here.

“Indeed…”

Although it was his first visit in his current life, for Logan, this scene was all too familiar.

Harun was the royal city directly managing the agriculture of the Grandia Plains, the largest granary in the central region.

Originally just an agricultural estate, it gradually earned more peculiar nicknames as slaves to work the vast plains and mercenaries supervising them continued to pour in, beyond its initial intent.

A city of slaves and mercenaries, or the ‘human market.’

‘I first started my mercenary work here in a previous life.’

While the landscape of Harun was nostalgically fresh for Logan, much like in Kaihl, he had many tasks ahead rather than reminiscing about his past life.

‘Firstly…’

The top priority was to find a craftsman capable of making the weapon he had used in his past life.

But even before that…

‘I need to find an instructor. No, a guard now.’

The slave market, in the city, was a dangerous place to venture into alone.

Even with Logan’s confidence in his own strength, he could unexpectedly get struck from behind.

To avoid such nuisances, he needed a guard who could ease that burden.

‘An instructor as well as a guard. Just the right person comes to mind, but is he here now…?’

Logan’s steps, filled with the memories of his past life, led him down the streets he had trodden countless times before.

Click.

“Hey, watch where you’re going.”

“What did you say?”

A street where those carrying swords or weapons greatly outnumbered the unarmed.

Two burly men collided shoulders and glared at each other.

“Watch them eyes.”

“You best watch your own back.”

But after a brief exchange of intimidating words, they turned away, avoiding the flash of dangerous stares from around them.

In Harun’s ‘Second Famous Street,’ Mercenary Street, there was one unwritten rule.

The first to draw a weapon gets lynched.

Simple but effective, this rule maintained the law and order of this dangerous street.

Amidst the unruly yet liberating atmosphere, Logan was drawn to a place where buildings adorned with swords and shields were clustered.

The largest mercenary guild in the Grandia Kingdom, the Harun branch of Teynan.

At a glance, the large first floor looked more than 100 pyeong [Approx. 330 m²], bustling with noise loud enough to render the bell at the door pointless.

A guild building crowded with people, hard to believe it was only one of three branches.

“Here’s a mission to the southern region…”

“First come, first served for the rank B escort mission to the Empire!”

“Got any missions heading east?”

Among the mission boards filled with various requests, the clients in a hurry vocalized theirs, and dozens of mercenaries gathered in front.

Fortunately, Logan spotted his target among them.

‘Bingo.’

It seemed luck was on his side today; he found his recruitment target in the third guild building.

Had the target been away on a far-off mission, he might have considered looking for another mercenary, luckily, he had found the foremost on his recruitment list.

‘Kai…’

A grey-haired mercenary, engaged in idle chat with a guild staffer at the counter.

He looked younger than Logan remembered, but the square, stoic face and formidable build were unmistakable. The emerald eyes and the scar on his cheek remained just as Logan had seen in his past life.

‘Still the same… No, this was his prime, indeed.’

Though Kai was ‘only’ a rank A mercenary because he hadn’t awakened his Force, his weapon skills and combat prowess were masterful enough for even knights to fall prey if they were careless.

His skill with a variety of weapons, including bows and spears, was second to none, earning him the title of one of the strongest rank A mercenaries.

Furthermore, Kai was in his mid-forties, an experienced mercenary with excellent riding skills.

‘But his true value arises when he becomes an instructor rather than a mercenary now.’

In just about a year from now, after sustaining a serious injury and retiring from active duty, he would form his own mercenary group.

The mercenaries he trained would boast superior skills compared to their peers, embedding the name ‘Kai’s Mercenary Group’ in the mercenary world.

Logan of the past life had collaborated with them on several occasions, experiencing their prowess firsthand.

To a man, they attributed their skills to the leader and instructor of the mercenary group, praising Kai’s teaching abilities.

However, it was said he preferred fighting over teaching before retiring due to his injury.

‘I’ll have to pay a bit more, then.’

Regardless, he fit perfectly into the image of the mercenary group Logan envisioned.

“Kai Solon?”

Kai looked blankly at the young noble who suddenly addressed him.

Not until he verified the crest on Logan’s armor did he cautiously respond.

“…Yes, but what of it?”

“I want to employ you long-term.”

This young noble seemed to be just another privileged young lord, but at least his intentions would be clear within the mercenary guild, preventing fraud.

Kai’s eyes shifted to a gaze of interest as he looked back at Logan.

“Oh? A long-term contract? Interesting. So, how much are you thinking?”

“A minimum of one year.”

“Oh, that’s good. Then what would my duties be?”

“I’d like you to take charge of training and educating the C-rank mercenaries we’ll additionally hire.”

“Training and educating? Are you addressing me?”

Kai was baffled. The fancy-noble lad had sought him out – an expensive rank A mercenary – only to ask him to be an instructor?

A request he had never received before left him with no choice but to heave a sigh.

“…I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what you’ve heard about me. I’ve never specifically trained anyone before?”

“I heard you’re quite adept at instructing your comrades when necessary.”

“Who told you that… Hrmph. I have given some advice to young ones, thinking it might help us on missions, but that’s all, nothing formal…”

“So, are you turning it down?”

“Not that I’m refusing… it’s just that, I’ve never been an instructor before…”

It was a roundabout way of declining, but Logan’s reply differed from his expectations.

“I’ll pay you 4,000 gold a month.”

At those words, Kai Solon’s eyes flickered slightly.

The maximum usual salary for an A-rank mercenary was about 2,000 gold per month.

The young noble suddenly offered him double.

“Let me reiterate, I’ve never worked as an instructor before…”

“6,000 gold. Per month.”

“I’m more accustomed to combat missions. Money can summon even ghosts, sure, but…”

“8,000 gold. That’s the most I can offer. No more.”

With the price quadrupled at once, Kai Solon momentarily mumbled, unable to respond, but soon he laughed heartily and extended his hand.

“Haha, warriors over ghosts, I’d say. I am Kai Solon. Just call me Kai, employer. So what do you do?”

The young noble, or rather the god of wealth, smiled and grasped his hand.

* * *

Upon learning that Logan was not preparing for some war as the child of a border count but was actually the eldest son of the McLaine baronet family, Kai was momentarily astonished.

Nevertheless, this fact caused no hindrance to their contract.

“Aren’t you curious why someone from the remote McLaine estate is hiring mercenaries?”

“As long as payment is assured, I see no reason to be interested, employer.”

“You sure have a clear mind.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

Though Kai answered confidently, his expression turned curious when he learned of Logan’s next destination.

“The slave market?”

Mercenaries and slaves. The purpose of the journey from the McLaine estate to Harun seemed transparent enough, but the reason for a noble’s heir to do such a thing remained an unfathomable mystery.

Nevertheless, staying true to his principle, Kai did not ask, and Logan felt no need to explain.

“That’s right. Stay vigilant for any trouble that might arise.”

“That won’t be an issue. There’s hardly anyone around who wouldn’t recognize me here.”

Logan gave another look of appreciation to Kai, reaffirming his initial thoughts.

Although not exceptionally tall for a mercenary, standing around 180 cm, his muscular physique without any sign of fat, his facial scar, and various weapons adorned all over his body presented an imposing figure.

Depending on their knowledge, people would either avoid him or want nothing to do with him – a perfect impression for a guard in a market trading people, where human troubles were always the issue.

“Welcome~! What kind of slave are you looking to purchase? If you tell us your requirements…”

“Over here, young lord! Come take a look! We supply slaves cheaper than anywhere!”

The main street of Harun.

Large tents with wide-open entrances stretched along both sides of the thoroughfare, each containing slaves with ragged and dirty clothing, lined up under the watchful eyes of mercenaries.

The first landmark of Harun, the slave market.

Though not officially sanctioned, the tents started multiplying at some point with the tacit approval of the estate’s authorities.

Eventually, it grew into the largest human market in the Grandia Kingdom, becoming such common sense to visit Harun’s slave market to buy slaves that it became a widely accepted standard.

‘And with that comes daily problems.’

The captured descendants of defeated enemies or serious criminals, refugees caught after fleeing taxes or labor, or those mired in unsolvable debt.

Each had various backgrounds and dark gazes, which Logan encountered rapidly as he moved along.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this.’

He had seen too many former citizens turn to slavery after the downfall of the kingdom in a past life.

To Logan, both the supervisors and the slaves seemed no different – equally pitiable.

Regardless of his turbulent thoughts, the bustling crowd parted like a lie whenever he took a step.

All thanks to Kai trailing right behind him.

Even groups of thugs, who initially approached with ill intent thinking Logan was a naive youngster, quickly made a wide berth upon noticing his follower.

Logan’s annoyance was greatly lessened, and with a satisfied smile, he arrived without trouble at his intended destination.

A small, red tent with a closed entrance.

These sorts of modest-sized tents were often seen in the corners of the slave market.

Despite their small size, they were typically guarded by more escorts and mercenaries than the larger tents.

In front of such a tent, a middle-aged man escorted by mercenaries casually spoke up.

“Young lord. Do you know where you have come to?”

“I’ve come for a dwarf. Open up.”

“Ah, you know your business well. Racial slaves are precious, that’s why we have special management. This way, please come inside.”

At Logan’s words, the slave trader shifted his demeanor, and the red tent parted.

Inside, encased behind sturdy iron bars, Logan could see slaves with traits slightly different from the rest.

The first to catch his eye was a pair of pointed-eared beauties, whose attire could not dim their radiance.

Despite their lifeless eyes suggesting surrender, they were seated powerlessly yet remained a vision of beauty.

“These elves were difficult to acquire. Have you seen elves elsewhere? As for these…”

These were elves, known to retain their youth for centuries with virtually every individual surpassing the standard of human beauty, ensuring that they consistently ranked first amongst the preferences of slave purchasers.

“Hm…”

Even Logan of his past life had caught only a few glimpses of the beautiful racial individuals. Even Kai, who had spent a long time in this place, seemed entranced, having seen elves infrequently, uttering impressed exclamations.

The old man kept smiling and elaborating, but the actual buyer showed no interest.

“Enough. Bring out that slave there.”

Instead, Logan indicated a short and stocky slave nearby.

“Ah… Yes, yes, you did mention a dwarf. Of course. We’ll have him brought out!”

The young man showed no response even with elven beauties in front of him, prompting the old man to grimace and signal the mercenaries.

Observing him, Logan snickered internally.

‘Sorry, old man, but impulse buys are a no-go. Especially for mere ornaments…’

While elves were indeed highly sought-after, it was mostly due to their appearance.

There was no reason for Logan, currently preoccupied with war, to pay them any attention.

Logan had, in fact, much greater value placed on the dwarf slave who, by contrast, seemed even uglier next to them.

“Ergh, damn it.”

The dwarven slave, only reaching up to a human’s waist, showed a surly attitude to the mercenaries trying to lift him, despite being shackled with chains as thick as his limbs seemed stubborn.

“See for yourself, the true dwarf appearance. He will be quite useful to you. Among the dwarven craftsmen, this one is a rare master-level artisan, strong and enduring…”

“A master-level!?”

Logan’s eyes widened instinctively.

The old man wasn’t lying; the dwarves were a race born with a knack for delicate craftsmanship, unfit for their thick fingers.

From young to old age, they found meaning in life through crafting and perfecting artisanship.

‘And among them, a master-level yet…’

Logan’s need for a ‘craftsman’ was surpassed by his expectations.

“Got it, how much?”

Interrupting the explanation, Logan was direct in his questioning, prompting the old man to hesitantly hold up two fingers.

“Haha, for a master-level, you must give at least 200…”

“Tch. Do I look like a fool?”

Logan turned and walked away without hesitation upon hearing the old man’s reply.

At those words, Logan turned around without hesitation. No matter how valuable a slave from another race might be, a price several hundred times that of a robust slave was unlikely unless someone was making light of him. Moreover, dwarf slaves, despite their notoriety as artisanal races, had a fatal ‘flaw’.

“Red tents aren’t the only ones around here…”

“Wait, just a moment please, my lord!”

The slave trader hastily called Logan back and began to bargain. The deal was finally sealed only after the price of the dwarf had been lowered to 50,000 gold.

“Humans. They are truly relentless,” the dwarf muttered, observing the actions of the slave trader who seemed to be adding insult to injury, a manner of speaking quite uncharacteristic for a slave. However, Logan did not react unpleasantly to his words but simply shrugged his shoulders.

“Hmm, well, it’s basic, isn’t it?” Making a dwarf slave speak politely seemed less of a hassle than killing him. They were a race that became more defiant under oppression, making them difficult to manage as slaves. Despite physical confinement, their desire to maintain their pride through their words was a well-known fact across the continent about this fading race.

“Where am I to go now?”

“You’ll be going to the McLaine territory in the southwest. And there, you will make what I have requested.”

“Is that so….” A shadow of gloom passed through the dwarf’s eyes.

Most people who sought to buy dwarves, a race of artisans, wanted the same thing. However, very few owners were completely satisfied with the works created by dwarves forced into slavery. No matter how skilled the race, products crafted without passion could never be true masterpieces. Nonetheless, even considering this, their superior craftsmanship compared to human blacksmiths meant they were sold at higher prices.

Moreover, the difference in outcomes due to the absence of motivation was particularly pronounced in Hammer, the dwarf now sold to Logan. At times, Hammer, a high-grade artisan dwarf, could perform poorer than human blacksmiths. He was fortunate he hadn’t been killed by his previous owner in anger but was instead resold.

‘I don’t wish to die either…’

Motivation was not something that could be controlled at will. Yet, the new owner made a proposition that could potentially change that, his eyes shining with the suggestion.

“20 years. If you dedicate yourself to making items for me for the next 20 years, I am willing to let you return to the mountains.”

At this, Hammer’s eyes wavered significantly.

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