Regressor of the Fallen Family chapter 163

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Regressor of the Fallen family

Chapter 163: The Festival Period Passed Quickly

The festival period flew by swiftly, and the very next day, Logan made clear his intention to lead Clan McLain’s entire military force away from the capital.

“Are you really taking everyone? His Majesty places great trust in you. He would be pleased even if you left behind a few McLain knights as a ceremonial escort,” the Swordmaster said with a hint of regret.

The king had always wished that his closest guards were not from the Royal Knights but rather from the McLain or Esperanza Knights.

However, Logan willingly relinquished this role to the Esperanza Knights.

“Do not test me, Master. It makes me genuinely tempted to do so,” Logan chided.

“Did you actually entertain that thought?”

“Yes. Up until right before we reached the capital.”

“…”

In reality, it was perhaps to be expected.

This situation stemmed from the seeds of mistrust in the Royal Knights that he had planted in the king’s mind.

Logan chuckled and added,

“Don’t worry, I have given up on that. However, I trust that you will keep your word about that one matter.”

“The empire… are you referring to that?”

“Yes. You stated that you would fully cooperate in preparing for any invasions from the empire, and I have been counting on that.”

“It is our duty to protect the country from foreign invasions, even without your reminder…”

“You must start preparing for it immediately.”

Logan’s firm gaze and tone changed the Swordmaster’s expression to a serious one.

“…So you really believe the empire will launch an attack.”

“Yes.”

“Hmm… I have actually conducted an investigation after our previous conversation. But it seems the empire’s imperial succession struggle has not yet concluded. Analyses suggest it could drag on for at least another five years. It’s not a civil war like ours, but simply a customary competition for succession, and there is no precedent for the empire to invade another country during such a period.”

“There have been countless invasions following such periods.”

“The empire preparing for war, as you say, that’s before… well, never mind that. You need not worry about it. I am responsible for half of the western border, and I will not neglect it.”

Even in the past, you did just that, Master, and yet in the end you fell.

‘Of course, the circumstances now are worlds apart.’

As long as the Master kept his promise, Logan saw no need to enter into conflict with him out of greed.

If their goals aligned, the Master’s sword was as good as his own.

‘And if the situation calls for it…’

Logan buried such thoughts as he gave the Swordmaster a slight smile.

“Yes, I trust you. And we’ll offer McLain weapons at the lowest price possible. We must also prepare sturdy equipment for your soldiers.”

“…Are you even trying to do business with me?”

“Of course. Do you expect crossbows and magic bombs to spring from the land itself? We must have something left for ourselves.”

Sharing a knowing chuckle, the master and disciple shared a hearty laugh without any preamble.

After a long bout of laughter, they exchanged a genuine goodbye.

“Make sure to visit the capital often. Even though I serve as an advisor, at my age, I have no intention of chasing down all the nobles. Come and suppress any who get too greedy.”

“…I thought you wanted me to keep a distance from the royal family.”

“I only wish for you not to change. Someone like you can be a great role model for His Majesty.”

“We are hardly apart in age.”

“Yes. All the more reason for you to set a good example.”

The Swordmaster’s smile felt extraordinarily heavy that day.

It was because Logan recognized that it masked a blend of loyalty to the royal family and hopes for the Third Prince, or rather King Rogers, influenced by emotions.

‘How many kings in history truly desired outstanding subjects?’

Of course, his true merit may have been nothing more than his martial prowess, but outsiders saw more than that.

It was a wish that King Rogers, touted for his sagacious qualities, would genuinely blossom into his full potential.

With that thought, Logan smiled back at his Master.

The McLain family had ‘completely’ left the capital.

This fact caused a significant stir in the city.

Some saw it as an opportunity.

Others regretted missing their chance.

Most considered it unexpected.

– To leave the acquired authority and depart from the king’s side?

No matter how powerful his father-in-law as the prime minister and his Master as the duke might be, it was different from being by the king’s side himself.

Even if he had installed a loyal subordinate next to the king, no one would have objected. But to them, it seemed like he was washing his hands of it all.

Those who reached this conclusion mostly agreed on one thing.

– The bond between King Rogers and Logan McLain runs deeper than it seems.

Eventually, this led to countless invitations bombarding Logan and the McLain troops on their return to their homeland.

A procession of invitations arrived incessantly, every few hours.

Even the territories more than a day’s distance from McLain’s route sent invitations, employing numerous knights and gifts to extend their courtesies.

“There are so many fools willing to invite over a thousand elite soldiers into the heart of their domains.”

Logan lamented as he chose to camp in the wilderness, declining all invitations under the pretense of weariness.

It was fine for a while, but as the camping continued, he began to feel an extreme sense of fatigue, enough to make him regret not accepting at least one or two invitations.

The crackling flames of the campsite, under the star-filled night sky, made the weariness even more palpable.

‘No, that won’t do. Mustn’t let myself get sloppy. Stay focused.’

Logan lightly slapped his own cheeks to regain his composure, reminiscing on his intense training sessions with the Master.

Looking back, it had indeed been a fruitful time, with significant achievements.

Continuous training had been the right choice.

A familiar voice spoke out from beside Logan, who was reaffirming his resolve.

“What are you thinking about so seriously?”

“Ah… It’s nothing.”

“Ever since we left, you’ve looked troubled. If there’s something concerning you, perhaps sharing it with someone wouldn’t be such a bad idea?”

Emerald eyes shining brighter than the stars above, or rather, filled with warmth astonishingly contrasted with her previously frosty demeanor from days ago.

‘I don’t quite understand the reason, but that’s fortunate. Could it be that Father’s advice was actually the right answer?’

Logan coughed to hide his thoughts.

“It’s nothing important. There’s no need to share every little thing.”

There’s no need to spread unnecessary worries.

However, at his words, Eileen’s expression dimmed slightly again.

‘Did I say something wrong again?’

Caught off guard and glancing around,

“…Well, indeed. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Eileen sighed softly and began to get up, prompting Logan to rise as well.

“You need not speak of it. However, the sight of the commander of our forces looking so grave does not inspire the others. Celebratory as they are, they continue to shrink back in concern.”

Her words elicited an unintentional “Ah!” from Logan.

“I might not be aware of what the future holds, but it might be wiser to turn your attention to those beside and behind you for now. With that, I shall take my leave.”

Logan, without realizing it, grasped Eileen’s arm as she turned to go.

And without any intention, the thoughts in his head leaped out through his lips.

“I seem to be having some regrets.”

“…Pardon?”

Confusion replaced the stern expression on Eileen’s face.

While Logan exhaled a soft sigh at the unfounded complications,

“I probably should have made time for some sightseeing at the festival or toured the landmarks of the capital,” he lamented about such trivial regrets.

A faint smile emerged on Eileen’s face at his words.

Relief washed over him for some reason.

“If I did, it would have been better with you.”

Oh!

Startled by his own words, Logan let go of her arm and stepped back when,

“Ahahaha! What was that…?”

Eileen laughed out loud.

Bewildered by the attention drawn by her laughter, she wiped away the tears streaming down her face and gave Logan a radiant smile.

“You could’ve simply said something. Silly…”

Was that a joke? Did I miss the punchline?

While still feeling puzzled,

“We can do lots of things once we get back. Together. Whatever those things may be.”

A laugh emerged, almost as though it were a lie.

“Yes, that sounds nice.”

Eileen’s smile widened even further.

In that moment, the surroundings seemed to brighten with her grin, and Logan just stood there, gazing at her.

“Actually, I wouldn’t mind… right now.”

Her voice shrank noticeably compared to earlier.

Despite the quietness, Eileen had approached him closely, looking right up at him with those bright eyes.

Thump. Thump.

His heart started racing uncontrollably, leading his body to impulsively pull her in for an embrace.

As their lips drew closer, led by the atmosphere,

Clang!

Their forgotten armor clanged against each other’s, abruptly reminding them of its presence.

“….”

“….”

“Uh… um… your armor is… impressive.”

What nonsense am I spouting, you fool!

Logan wanted to smack himself for blurting out such a thing.

But he couldn’t bring himself to look at Eileen or to do anything else.

He just stared at her breastplate with a mix of wonder and annoyance.

Smooch.

“Goodnight.”

Her soft lips brushed his cheek, snapping Logan out of his daze. As he looked up, he saw Eileen hurrying away.

Her ears were as red as could be, even in the dark.

A warmth, as great as the pounding in his heart, spread throughout him, bringing a small smile to his face.

*****

“Here it comes!”

“Lift it up high!”

“Sound the drums!”

Boom—boom—boom—the ruckus began just as the familiar sight of Logan’s estate came into view.

And…

“What’s that?”

“It looks like a huge cloth banner… with writing on it?”

“Welcome home to Logan McLain, Hero of the Nation and the McLain Family Warriors who ended the war! Puhahaha! What’s with that?!”

A colossal welcome banner, visible even from a kilometer away, set off a wave of laughter among the McLain troops returning home in high spirits.

As a smiling Logan approached, he saw his father and stepmother, along with Dwayne and a vast crowd of estate residents all lined up.

“Welcome back!”

“You are the hero of this nation! We welcome the triumphant return of Lord Ducal Heir!”

“Thank you for ending the war!”

The cheering grew louder as Logan drew closer.

However, the joy on his face slowly stiffened upon seeing the estate residents up close.

Many wore genuinely happy expressions, but among them intermingled others with bandages, limping legs, and missing arms.

The aftereffects of a civil war.

Or, more precisely,

‘The aftermath of my actions…’

Any pride in his achievement quickly doused like cold water over his heart.

At the very least, he found solace in seeing even those injured smiling too.

“Wow! Thank you, my Lord!”

Was I even worthy of their gratitude?

Just as his spirits threatened to plunge once more,

“Waving would be nice, brother.”

“Huh? Oh, yes.”

“Our residents seem happy, don’t they? It’s all thanks to what you’ve achieved.”

“… It was a joint effort, not just mine.”

“Yes, led by you.”

“Come on now…”

“Your hand, brother!”

“Alright, alright, I got it!”

Logan returned his cheerful brother’s smile, and looking back, he saw the proud faces of healthy soldiers and residents far outshining those that were wounded.

‘Yes, that’s what matters. From now on…’

He reaffirmed his resolve.

With a bright smile, he waved enthusiastically.

“Here we are at last! Let’s hear a cheer!!”

“Woooooh!!”

The saviors of the nation.

Until that somewhat awkward title became truth,

Until none of those many people were reduced to slaves of an empire, to marginalized commoners, to experimental subjects,

And…

“Welcome back, my son!”

“Nicely done, Logan. Ronian?! Hurry up next to your brother! What are you doing way over there!”

“Oh, coming! Father, Mother! I’m back!”

“Don’t cling like that, you’re grown up now… Stop that silly act…!”

“Hahaha!”

For the well-being of my cherished family, for the laughter they held now, to be everlasting.

I will protect it.

‘For certain!’

With a clenched fist and a declaration of intent at heart,

Logan laughed brightly.

If you ever pass by our territory, it would be an honor for us to host you.

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