Regressor of the Fallen Family chapter 16

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Chapter 16: “As Expected…”

The situation unfolded exactly as Logan had predicted. There were two surefire ways to handle mercenaries: money and power. Mercenaries sold their martial abilities in exchange for money, and such work was a gamble with their lives. Therefore, they instinctively sought the favor of the strong. By being allies, they could increase their odds of survival, and even as enemies, they hoped for a modicum of respect. For veterans, this survival instinct was deeply ingrained in their souls. Logan, having lived for decades as a mercenary in his past life, knew this better than anyone.

“I’ll ask the lord’s physician to use potions on him, and after a few days of being bedridden, he’ll recover. Everyone knows that punishment for noble impiety isn’t severe, right?”

With a casual kick to the fallen mercenary, the mercenary’s body quivered. Even with this, no one dared to mention the truth—that a noble’s son is not a formal noble, and the crime of noble impiety usually warrants nothing more than a few lashes. Now wasn’t the time to worry about such trivialities.

“A force user?!”

“At his age?”

“Insane, is this even possible?”

Murmurs of astonishment were clear, and those who had sneered now quickly turned their heads away, avoiding Logan’s gaze. The brilliant golden radiance emanating from Logan’s hand had quieted the onlookers.

“Hmm.”

Even Kai, who had suspected something, let out a sigh. However, he knew he had to speak up.

“Was it necessary to go this far, employer?”

“These are not A-rank mercenaries like you. They might not outright breach the contract, but they could fulfill it half-heartedly.”

“What’s that to do with it? If I control them well…”

Kai appeared confused, but Logan didn’t bother to convince him. It was a necessary process because of the weapons that would eventually be doled out to them.

“Eventually, I’ll have to lead these men. If I press them with power now, they won’t disregard my orders in the future. That’ll make it easier for you to conduct their training, right?”

Faced with Logan’s resolve, Kai’s thoughts took a new direction.

‘Perhaps this isn’t just a mere game of soldiers.’

As the absurd term “crossbow cavalry” had been heard, tension once again gripped Kai’s heart. Logan internally smiled at this effect. This second effect was precisely what Logan had targeted with his performance.

“I am Logan McLaine, the one who has assembled you.”

Only after the tumult had calmed did Logan offer a formal introduction. Climbing onto the prepared stage, he began his introduction—though his recent display of force ensured that silence reigned over the training ground. He enjoyed the silence before continuing.

“I imagine many of you are curious about the reason I gathered you all by offering money.”

Logan paused, scanning the eager eyes of the mercenaries, before continuing with a smirk.

“For the record, the wait you’ve endured will be appropriately paid. Don’t worry, I’m not a madman who’s eaten monster flesh intent on deceiving you with empty promises.”

Soft snickers erupted from the group. Logan didn’t miss a beat and got straight to the point.

“I intend to train you into cavalry. Naturally, a long-term contract of at least a year will be the basis.”

“Wow!”

“Really?!”

For mercenaries accustomed to fighting for their lives in exchange for money, a long-term contract was a sweet deal. Clients don’t offer long-term contracts when battles are imminent. With every battle, a mercenary’s life expectancy drops, so long-term contracts generally don’t make sense right before a fight. Thus, long-term contracts implied no immediate battles and guaranteed a steady income.

“However, it is mandatory for everyone to undergo training under this A-rank mercenary, Kai. The training period will be at least three months.”

The excitement among the mercenaries died down at this nuance.

“This is a bit…”

“Even so, look at the pay.”

“Why at our age?”

“Oh, this is vexing.”

The mercenaries became noisy for different reasons, but Logan’s next words brought silence once more.

“The contract is for one year, the monthly salary is 400 gold, and the horses provided to you will belong to you at the end of the contract.”

The mercenaries stared at each other, dumbstruck at first, then comprehension set in.

“Wow!”

“Definitely doing it!”

The training ground was filled with cheers once more. It was an irresistible offer—C-rank mercenaries usually earned 400 gold during times of war, their price dropping drastically in peacetime. To guarantee them 400 gold unabated was akin to handing them three months’ wages as a bonus. It was a condition no mercenary could refuse.

“However, I intend to train you as crossbow cavalry. I have no use for those who can’t fit in.”

At this condition, some mercenaries’ faces darkened. The absurd crossbow cavalry class aside, to shoot while riding required agility and flexibility, skills that exceeded merely knowing how to ride a horse.

“We’ll start with a simple qualifying test.”

The murmuring amongst the mercenaries grew louder, but none dared to object. In the end, Logan signed contracts with 312 mercenaries, excluding 38—13 refused training, and 25 failed the test—and training commenced the following day.

* * *

– Become my knight.

Victor was prepared to do anything to achieve the objective set by his new master. But on his first day at the territory, the orders given by his master were most perplexing.

“First, eat well and sleep well.”

“Sir?”

“What you have to do is just that.”

Despite his confusion, the new master vanished after leaving those words. Moreover, from that day, the meals and lodging provided were luxuries Victor and his sister Ria had never experienced—soft bread, meat, and a soft bed put Victor ill at ease.

‘Why? Why is this?’

Determined to endure harsh treatment, he was bewildered. However, after three days, Victor’s curiosity was quenched.

“Come out, Victor. Training begins.”

The day began very early at dawn, and the new master started the day with Victor.

“You sure recover quickly for a young age. A few days of good food and sleep and look at you change.”

Logan observed Victor in the training field after bringing the boy there.

Feeling a bad premonition, Victor instinctively braced himself.

“Now, let’s run.”

His premonition became a reality shortly after.

“Hek. Hek.”

“If you slow down again! You can do more, run!”

As the barked commands echoed across the field, Victor gritted his teeth and ran again. Though his exhausted body didn’t magically speed up, Logan was already impressed with his current performance.

‘Just a bit of good food and he’s like this…’

Logan checked on Victor closely while demonstrating the kingdom’s swordsmanship, ensuring not to push the boy beyond his limits.

“Take a break!”

“Woah.”

Victor practically collapsed as soon as the word was given.

“Brother!”

Victor’s anxious sister, Victoria, called out to him. And with pitiful eyes, she looked towards Logan who gave her a nod and a smile. With that, Victoria rushed to her brother with a water bottle and towel prepared.

Logan watched their interaction with satisfaction.

‘Indeed, he has talent. And…’

At just fourteen years old, Victor was much smaller than his peers due to poor nutrition, but he only reached his limit after nearly running 20 kilometers—a clear indication of potential far exceeding ordinary humans.

More than that, Logan admired the boy’s tenacity to keep running despite being on the brink of collapse. Victor’s perseverance slowly dispelled one of Logan’s concerns.

‘At least he’s not naturally a noble slayer.’

Victor in Logan’s previous life symbolized violence, but what Logan observed did not indicate this was the boy’s innate nature.

‘There must have been a reason he turned out that way before. Probably…’

Logan’s eyes drifted to the little girl waving a fan towards her brother. After watching the siblings for a moment, Logan turned firm once again.

“Enough! Get up! Next training.”

It had been barely 15 minutes since Victor fell. Logan started the training with the kingdom’s swordsmanship.

“The position of the feet is crucial when switching from this stance to the after movement…”

Although Victor’s body was still trembling, and he struggled to catch his breath, his eyes did not waver from the sight of Logan’s demonstration.

‘Concentrate. Focus!’

Victor tried to clear his mind, which was clouded with the desire to collapse and sleep, or doubt that he could even get up again. One fact kept him standing.

‘If good food and comfortable lodgings are the price for all this, it’s worth it…’

He chewed on his lower lip until he could taste blood, which seemed to clear his mind momentaneously. With eyes now a bit sharper, Victor focused intently on Logan’s sword technique demonstration.

“Hmm…”

Logan had to try not to show his astonishment.

‘He follows along after just one demonstration?’

Even the most basic sword technique isn’t something a novice can mimic perfectly after a single demonstration, especially after an exhaustive workout that pushed him to his limits. But Victor, despite being at the brink of physical exhaustion, managed the movements with only a few minor errors.

‘How long did it take me to get this right?’

Faced with such natural skill, Logan couldn’t help but compare Victor to the greatest prodigy he had known.

‘…Even Ronian didn’t catch on this fast. Did he watch it twice?’

The more he thought, the more astonished he became, and then suddenly another fact struck him.

‘This kid is… of the same age as Ronian.’

In a past life, Victor became a notorious noble slayer, while Ronian earned fame as the youngest aura user. Therefore, Logan had never thought to compare them before. But now…

‘Maybe this kid could even surpass Ronian…’

On just the first day of training, it was perhaps too soon for such predictions. Still, Logan couldn’t suppress the broad smile of pride spreading across his face, and he announced with that proud tone.

“Again! Your footwork is slightly off. Today’s goal is to perform a perfect 100 repetitions. No food until then!”

The sword training ended three hours later.

“Haak. Haak.”

“You’ve done well. What you did today will be your daily fundamental training from now.”

“Heak. Huah.”

While Victor lay there gasping for air, Logan looked down at him fondly.

“If you can execute the kingdom’s swordsmanship over 1000 times continuously, you can consider yourself a knight.”

Instead of using the vague notion of ‘force’, Logan provided a specific number. Achieving such would require the level not of an ordinary person, but a force user. Victor’s expression transformed at these words.

“A knight…”

He neither knew the difficulty of the task nor if it truly possible, but it did not matter. The word ‘knight’ symbolized freedom, success, and hope to Victor. And…

‘Ria, my sister.’

Watching him from afar, his sister’s safety was implied in that promise.

“Can you do it?”

“Yes!”

It was the most determined response he had given since the training began.

“Good. If there’s anything else you need for your training, tell Rick. He’ll arrange almost anything for you.”

“…No, there isn’t.”

Victor hesitated for a moment then shook his head. It was a brief hesitation, but not one Logan would miss.

“Hmm. Really nothing?”

“Just… Please, just as now,” Victor struggled before completing his sentence. “Just ensure my sister is taken care of as you have been. That’s all I need.”

It was an expected reply, but it was enough to bring a smile to Logan’s face.

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