Regressor of the Fallen Family chapter 171

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Regressor of the Fallen family

Chapter 171

“Oh, Cleo. Come in.”

The king, who seemed familiar and even looked pleased, was a stark contrast to the Sword Duke, who raised an eyebrow at the unfamiliar voice he had never heard before and could not help but look behind him.

The sight that appeared through the doors of the great hall that immediately opened caused his eyes to twitch involitimately.

Court ladies bringing in extravagant royal cuisine—foods that one would normally only see at a banquet.

The court ladies carried opulent dishes and their thin, flimsy robes seemed to reveal their flesh with every graceful step, prompting the Sword Duke to frown in disdain.

“Your Majesty. What is all this…?”

“Ah. I told you, didn’t I? It’s for the memorial service. Or should I say a commemorative ritual? Since today marks the end of the twenty-seventh ceremony, please be indulgent. Hahaha.”

At those words, the Sword Duke’s brow furrowed imperceptibly.

Twenty-seventh ceremony. A memorial ritual to honor the deceased, held alternatively every three days for the nine Great Gods of heaven.

Of course, in no country in the world were memorial services celebrated with such indulgence in alcohol and food.

The Sword Duke, trying not to show his disappointment, forcibly changed the subject.

“That person over there seems unfamiliar?”

As the court ladies arranged the feast and the man next to them placed wine that he fetched from his sleeve, the friendly-looking official jolted momentarily.

“Ah, he was originally a scribe in the inner palace, but he has a knack for understanding people’s hearts, so he was recently chosen as the chief steward. The Royal Advisor also said that you should entrust Cleo with most matters from now on.”

“It is an honor to meet the Duke.”

Although the chief steward bowed respectfully, his demeanor inexplicably grated on the Sword Duke’s nerves, especially in the current situation.

“After the twenty-seventh ceremony today, take special care of Your Majesty’s health. Mind the drinking as well.”

While it sounded like a suggestion to the chief steward, it was really a message meant for the king’s ears.

But, lacking perception,

“How could I ever sway Your Majesty’s will? I simply follow orders.”

The chief steward responded irritably, and even the king showed a slightly uncomfortable expression.

While it was a vassal’s duty to offer frank advice, persisting despite the monarch’s aversion was not proper, so the Sword Duke inwardly sighed but nonetheless bowed his head.

“I apologize, Your Majesty.”

“Not at all. How could I not know the Duke’s concern for me? But remember, I am not the young child you need to protect anymore. So please, temper your worries.”

“I will keep that in mind, Your Majesty.”

“Good. Our conversation has drifted. What brings you here today?”

“Well, it’s nothing much, but…”

The Sword Duke was quick to get to the point, steering away from the uncomfortable subject.

“I came to ask about Your Majesty’s decision regarding the Kairon Wolves prostrating in front of the royal palace. I am concerned that if they die there, it may lead to baseless rumors about the royal family.”

“Ah, that opportunist? I was just about to make a decision. The royal family’s domestic affairs haven’t fully recovered yet, so even though it’s frustrating, we have no choice but to accept them, don’t you think?”

Fortunately, the king seemed to have reached the same conclusion.

“But, his title should be demoted, leaving him only a small domain in the borderlands, and his military authority also limited. Considering the assets he has hidden, at the very least, someone of an elder rank from the royal mage tower should accompany him.”

“…That’s a wise decision.”

Relieved that the king’s judgement had not faltered, the Sword Duke let out a sigh of relief.

“Ha-ha. Now, stiff formalities aside, Sword Duke, have a drink. Surely you didn’t come all this way just to talk business, did you?”

So, the king insisted, and the Sword Duke was forced to lift his wine glass.

‘When was the last time I drank alcohol in broad daylight?’

On this particular day, the alcohol tasted unusually bitter.

* * *

“Your Excellency. We have received a message for the royal family. You should look at it…”

After a rather unpleasant long chat, as he was leaving the palace, the Sword Duke was caught off guard by the voice of the palace official stopping him.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Since Cleo is currently in an audience with His Majesty, there’s no one else to ask but Your Excellency.”

“I don’t know who it is, but the king’s business comes first. Inform them to contact us later.”

“However, it is…”

The Sword Duke’s frown deepened as the official hesitated.

“Is the message so critical that it cannot wait?”

“Yes. It’s a message from Count Logan MacLaine.”

The Sword Duke’s heart stirred.

“Ah, Logan. Well… show me the way.”

“Thank you, Your Excellency.”

As much as it was undesirable, the fact that his apprentice’s influence still lingered in the royal court meant that the bowing and scraping officials no longer caught his eye.

He has ripped a hole into the old world honor, to forge a new era.

Now, he could only feel the weight on his heavy heart, thinking that this world might slightly deviate from the future he had envisioned.

[It’s been a long time, Logan.]

“…Master? Why are you receiving this message?”

Logan, startled to see his master’s face on the communication orb, stopped his respectful greeting midway.

[The king seems busy with his matters. Just tell me directly.]

Seeing his master’s mood appear not to be the best dampened Logan’s spirit.

“…Is something the matter?”

[No, not yet.]

“Not yet?”

With his master’s choice of words, Logan’s expression grew grave.

[…Do not worry. Was there a purpose for using the royal communication line? Tell me what it is.]

Seeing his master insist on proceeding, Logan thought it best not to pry further and got straight to the point.

“I have a retainer I wish to bestow a title upon. I’ve used up all the awards I received for merit, so I wished to plead with His Majesty to grant the title of baron to him.”

It definitely wouldn’t be difficult for Logan in his current position.

But his request seemed to sour the already displeased Sword Duke further.

[…A title, you say? Logan, if you start abusing your authority outside of principle…]

“I understand it would mean corruption. But this will be the first and last time. I regretfully failed to properly award my most dedicated retainer where it was not apparent to others. I am trying to make amends for that mistake. I ask for your favor, Master.”

Logan bent down as low as he could, expressing his utmost sincerity.

Watching the spectacle, the Sword Duke sighed deeply before finally speaking as if he had given up.

[…If so, you’re not asking for additional lands or rewards?]

“Of course not.”

[Alright then. I will make the arrangements. Just remember, Logan, unwarranted title grants end here – this is the last one.]

“I will remember.”

[Good. I’ll inform you soon.]

“Thank you, Master.”

The communication cut off, even before the Sword Duke could respond further.

Though he might find his request displeasurable, it was a stark departure from his usual demeanor.

‘Something must be troubling him.’

Worried by his master’s manner, Logan hesitated, but just then,

“Uwaaaah! Your Highness, why would you for someone as undeserving as me… Uuuuhhhh.”

Dwain, his face a mess of emotion, burst into the communication room overwhelmed with gratitude.

Logan eventually had to wrestle Dwain’s intense embrace, even with the administrator bawling tears of joy.

And within just a week, the barony grant for Dwain was delivered to the MacLaine lands.

* * *

“…In recognition of valuable contribution, I hereby bestow the rank of baron upon the commoner, Dwain Philsner. By King Rogers von Grandia, in voice of proxy.”

“Waaahhhh!”

As Logan read the decree, cheers erupted like thunder.

All the officials, attendants, and soldiers gathered in the administrative building.

The cheers for Dwain surrounded him so resoundingly that even his large bulk disappeared in the crowd, bustling around the manor for a long while.

“Now, this will make it easier for you to manage those new administrators Pavian and Roke, won’t it?”

Dwain, seemingly not yet over his swirling emotions, babbled with an odd expression, half-crying, half-laughing.

“I must admit, they have better skills than me. Truly, truly… thank you.”

“I don’t need people with just talents, I need someone I can trust. I’m not familiar with administration, am I? Stick around to help me out a bit longer. Don’t think about retiring yet. Agreed?”

“Yes, yes! Your Highness, I’ll do my best until I can no longer read documents!”

Right.

He would still be needed for paperwork in the future.

Seems like Logan won’t need to touch administrative work anytime soon.

A smile crept across Logan’s face just thinking about it.

The response to Dwain’s elevation in rank was larger than expected.

Speaking of the recipient himself, and among the established and newly appointed officials, it had boosted morale to great heights.

– Our MacLaine territory shows that even a civil servant, once they prove loyalty and capability, can ascend to nobility.

The speed at which the administrative department processed dossiers noticeably quickened, and although the faces of the administrators still showed signs of fatigue, their eyes shone with unusual luster.

‘One wonders how long that will last.’

In that time, the number of applicants for administrative positions had multiplied.

At least for the heavily burdened MacLaine, it was a very positive development.

* * *

“What’s with all those mobbing people over there?”

“Ah, those are the candidates for the administrative positions.”

“Administration candidates? Civil officers?”

“Yes, Heinikel sir.”

“People that crowd in just for administrative selection? Isn’t that a job that requires some smarts?”

“I heard that talents have been flocking from everywhere as the territory gained fame. Apparently, even knights seek enrollment frequently…”

“Really now?”

Heinikel’s eyes lit up upon learning from the soldier, and he immediately made his way to the manor.

“Your Highness!”

“Oh, Heinikel. What brings you here?”

“I came after hearing the news that a thousand applicants per day are flocking for the administrative selection.”

“Huh? Does the knight have an interest in administrative officers?”

“Not at all. I thought, if that many educated and literate people are crowding like this, if we were to recruit soldiers now, we would get a much higher turnout.”

The idea seemed plausible.

Becoming a soldier for MacLaine, now one of the most powerful figures in the kingdom, would be an attractive deal, especially in a time devoid of war, when the applicants would likely swarm in droves.

“Ah, well, I actually was considering recruiting more soldiers, seeing that our existing forces are insufficient for the expanded territory. Would you handle it, Your Honor?”

Expanding the existing self-defense force with crossbowmen was sufficient, but training as many potential knights as possible was also vital.

For Logan, there was no reason to decline if Heinikel was eager to take charge of the matter.

Heinikel replied with a broad grin, nodding vigorously.

“Yes, of course. I’ll use the sensory test that the Highness once mentioned as the selection criterion.”

“Yes, please do. And even if it seems odd…”

“Certainly not. I’ve actually noticed that those selected on that basis seem to gather Force much faster than the others.”

“…What?!”

Heinikel’s words noticeably shocked Logan.

“…Can you really feel that?”

It was an action Logan thought only he was capable of.

But to learn that sense was now within a knight who had lost his Force?

“Yes… You see, since losing the Force, I somehow became more sensitive to its absence.”

Is that possible?

How?

‘I’ve never heard anything like that in my past life.’

Confused inside, Logan, unaware, merely gazed as Heinikel humbly smiled.

“Anyway, it’s been very fulfilling. I can see those with the potential to become knights clearly now.”

“Ah… Yes… “

“Then I will prepare a report detailing the exact required personnel and training schedule to submit to you later.”

“Yes, yes. That would be great. But, Heinikel, could you tell me more about this feeling?”

Only now did Heinikel notice a change in Logan’s expression, tilting his head with slight confusion.

“Yes, of course. It’s not difficult.”

Heinikel freely shared the changes he had experienced in his senses with Logan.

‘Hm. How could this be?’

Logan immersed himself in this loop of thoughts, unable to escape easily.

He didn’t doubt Heinikel’s words.

After all, they merely confirmed what Logan had been sensing all along.

It was just that the process, his words, powerfully stimulated something in Logan’s subconscious.

‘In the first place, surviving after losing Force as a knight is unusual. Especially since Heinikel was injured by the Aura. Even more extraordinary… Yes, the Aura!’

Aura, the power of destruction that disrupts the Force at its roots.

And the sense awakened after losing the Force due to the Aura.

‘When I died in my previous life…’

That last vision he saw.

As well as the transcendental sense he acquired upon returning.

If there’s a common thread between them…

At that moment, a golden light began to flicker at the tips of Logan’s fingers.

As night deepened, the light slowly took on a richer golden hue.

It was a propitious light, distinctly different from the existing Force.

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