Regressor of the Fallen Family chapter 46

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[Chapter 46: Clayton and the Golems]

Even though Logan’s ambitions to fully integrate Clayton and the Golem Faction into his forces had ended in fantasy, the sheer power displayed in the current construction project was unsurpassed, making any cost-performance comparison unnecessary. With Clayton’s giant golem around, there was no need to risk deploying workers there.

‘It’s practically handling the biggest part on its own…’

Even if Clayton was exceptional among them, Logan had anew appreciation for why the labor costs of a 5th Circle mage were so exorbitant. They were a different dimension in terms of productivity compared to even the highest-level knights.

‘Knights who know nothing but the sword…’

While mentally decrying knights, Logan suddenly coughed to cover his sudden realization that he himself fell into that very category. His cough seemed to bring yet another loud noise to life.

Boom! Rumble rumble.

Once more, a thunderous roar that seemed to turn the world upside down filled the air.

Grooooan.

Amidst the noise, a giant creature’s movements revealed its presence, and screams could be heard from all around.

“Eeeek!”

“Mother!”

“I want to go home!”

“Ted, catch that thing! How many in its family? Hey you!”

Workers that had been gathered with difficulty collapsed in terror at the harrowing site created by Clayton’s golem. Among them was Dwayne, still with a look of utter defeat in his eyes.

“I must report to the head of the family…”

Seeing Dwayne trembling and the workers’ disheveled state, Logan let a smirk escape without meaning to.

‘The tunnel construction will be sufficient with just Clayton.’

There seemed to be no need to engage additional workers.

“Hmm, take all the workers to dig the canal. There’s no need to leave anyone for the tunnel construction.”

Logan’s current construction plans were to have the tunnel and dam completed as designed, so the water could flow throughout the wastelands that were going to be developed. The plan was to split the 8,000 workers between tunnel and canal construction, but it now seemed the plans could be altered.

‘It looks like completion will be ahead of schedule.’

A pleasant premonition brought a smile to Logan’s face.

“Yes!”

Hammer, who had been absentmindedly watching the golem, was a little late to catch on to Logan’s order and started rounding up the workers. This, too, turned out to be good news for them.

“Canal?”

“Where is the water supposed to be?”

“I mean we can do it if ordered…”

“Does this make any sense?”

“Why bore holes in the mountain for nothing, and why overturn the soil…”

“Hey, stop nagging. It beats lugging rocks, right? Besides…”

Rumble rumble.

While the noise continued, the territory’s people looked at the cliff generating the noise and shuddered before turning away. Everyone shared the same sentiment.

Even if it was on their side, how could one not be terrified of a magical beast created by a mage? A single mistake from the over 20-meter-tall giant could mean an eternal farewell from this world.

“Let’s just dig, right? Confident in that?”

“Sure!”

The task of digging evenly spaced canals across the vast wasteland, which was estimated to span over 800 square kilometers and far beyond, carrying a width of over 40 kilometers, would not have been an easy task even with the employment of the 8,000 workers. Yet, at this moment, not one person thought it would be difficult.

* * *

“Master! Lord! Master Patrick! Ah, come on!”

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The urgency in Dwayne’s pounding on the firmly locked door was palpable.

Rumble rumble.

The distant sound of thunder made his knocking all the more frantic.

“The young lord is blowing up the territory!”

His voice now sounded almost pitiful.

Bang! Bang!

“Please, open the doo-…”

Thud.

“What has Logan don-…”

Splat.

The forceful knocking turned into a punch that drove flesh into flesh.

Startled by the unfamiliar impact, Dwayne looked up to face a fist embedded in one of his eyes and a pair of angry red pupils staring back at him.

“Arrgh!”

Goosebumps erupted all over Dwayne’s body as he leaped back in a bizarre scream, prompting a concise critique from Patrick.

“Hmm.”

“My apologies…”

“Heh heh heh.”

“It was a mistake! I’m truly sorry, Master!”

“To think that I, who devote myself day and night to training, could be so careless… Heh, seems I still have much to learn. Dwayne, it’s as if you’ve awakened me.”

“No, I didn’t mean it like…”

“Well then, shall we go inside and discuss this matter in more detail?”

“Me too…?”

“Of course.”

Click.

Creeeak.

The moment before, Dwayne had been loudly pleading for the door to be opened, but now the door seemed like the gates of hell as it noisily swung open.

Sabotage stories had it that Triton’s territory made its doors out of ironwood, over one meter thick, and that inside lay an equally grey and menacing interrogation room.

“Really, I don’t need to go inside, I uh-“

“It’s fine. Come in.”

At Patrick’s urging, a reluctant Dwayne stepped into the training room.

Creeeak.

Dwayne felt a new shiver run down his spine as the door closed with a gentle smile and noise.

“…because it wouldn’t do for blood to splatter outside.”

The softly spoken words that leaked through the closing gap echoed down the empty hall.

Thud.

“Master?!”

A voice that seemed to scream from outside reached faintly through the thickly shut door.

After that day.

McLaine’s financial administrator Dwayne was bedridden with an inexplicable malaise and unable to return to work for a time.

* * *

‘Hmm. Something seems strangely quiet with my father. Did the Ironblood Sword and the Arcane visibly cure him?’

Despite Dwayne’s commotion multiple times, there was no response from the other side.

“Well, no response is even better.”

As Logan was smiling contentedly, a trembling sensation crept up from the ground beneath him.

Rummmble.

The delayed sound reverberated as the surrounding workers began moving about in turmoil.

“Go, go. Back to your stations!”

“If Hammer comes out, start with clearing the collapsed rocks!”

Around Logan, workers smeared with soot and grime hurriedly scrambled about. It was the mining operation, not the new dam project, that had already been underway for some time. The mine, secretly staffed with workers from the Teslon stronghold, was unbeknownst to the McLaine stronghold and was rapidly progressing with the arrival of a catastrophic scroll. It was bound to be the greatest source of future funds.

‘The dam has Clayton, and the mine Hammer.’

Everything seemed to be flowing smoothly.

Then, into Logan’s view staggered a dwarf, blackened as though doused in ink, dragging itself wearily forth.

“Ah, Hammer, you’ve worked har…”

“Aaaargh! I can’t take anymore! Just kill me!”

“Eh?”

“Can’t I even rest? Can the work not proceed without me?! Why must I be the only one slaving away like this?!”

Logan, bewildered, could only stare at the unruly dwarf.

“Treated like cargo?”

“Can’t ride anything but ponies, so that ruthless human force-tied me to one and made me travel back and forth between the tunnel and here!”

‘Ah…’

Watching the captain of the mine’s mercenary guards, Kai, wince, Logan understood what had happened. It wasn’t tough to guess why Hammer was grinding his teeth at the mere sight of him.

Sensing the unfolding drama, Logan, a master of compassion, brushed off the servile uprising with a chuckle.

“That’s right, you’ve been working hard. So, from now on, you take charge of everything. Just report to me on the progress, and that’ll suffice.”

“…what?”

Although Hammer had made an offhand comment about Logan not doing anything, in reality, Logan had been busily filling gaps, supplying materials, and overseeing work at the two construction sites, which was no small hassle.

And having the lord of the territory oversee the work, whether present or not, made a significant difference in the laborers’ efficiency.

To separately manage that…

“This is all…the tedious work for me, huh…”

As Hammer’s tongue twisted with anger,

“Cheer up! I seriously promise you’ll get a good rest once the work is finished!”

Does a good rest mean in the underworld or just getting some acupuncture treatment?

Confusion and rage swirled in Hammer’s mind, but before the poor slave could articulate his situation, the cruel owner had vanished without looking back.

Only then did the dwarf’s outraged roar erupt.

“Damned spoil of #@%&@%……”

* * *

‘The mine’s development would surely outpace the past, though the dam is a concern…’

As Logan brooded, he shook his head.

‘No, it will work. It has to.’

If the wasteland venture failed, the McLaine family would be forced to squeeze out all resources, regardless of rumors, and prepare for war.

Hoping for the plan’s success to afford a bit more leeway, Logan began to consider both failure and success scenarios for the dam and started redrafting his future plans.

Moments later, resolved, Logan made his way to the location housing the territory’s only artifact, the communication orb.

“The construction materials will be delivered without any issues. I’ve easily agreed to a monthly rate of 100,000 gold, given our existing timber trade. Anyway, once the mine’s set up and the wasteland is developed, the territory will change drastically. I ought to visit sometime.”

“That’s great. You should come next year.”

“Yet another comment about next year… What are you basing these remarks on? Not that you’d tell me if I asked.”

“No. Now I actually have to tell you. It’s a dangerous matter.”

“Oh?”

“When I was at the Sword Guild, I heard some troubling news.”

Of course, Logan had never heard such a thing.

But it was a necessary lie for the story he needed to tell.

“…Troubling news?”

“Is there no one around to hear you?”

“The security in the tower is solid. Even if the Earth Tower is failing…”

“There are rumors of a problem with the royal family.”

“What?! Th-that means?!”]

Philip’s expression tensed noticeably at the deliberate ambiguity of Logan’s words.

“I don’t know the details, but seems it’s a rather serious matter. While conducting trade, try to pick up any rumors coming from the royal sphere.”

Logan’s memories of his previous life indicated a civil war breaking out next winter following the sudden death of the king, but as a mere low-level mercenary back then, he had no guarantee the information was accurate. The only certain detail was the king’s demise.

‘If the king truly died suddenly as I heard, it will play out the same, but if not, there might be signs before it occurs.’

Just like the unexpected alterations in the outbreak of the territorial war with Teslon, the timing of the civil war must not shift without cause.

If history changed, even the smallest hint of when turmoil might erupt was crucial.

‘I have to know so I can start at the right time.’

For the McLaine family to upheave the kingdom’s power structure in the coming war.

“Don’t bother asking Nox; he’ll likely demand too much and draw suspicion. Just feel out the nobles bit by bit while trading. That should suffice. Take extreme caution and contact me immediately with any developments.”

“Understood. This seems quite serious…”

And the lead into this conversation was also a stepping stone for what was yet to come.

“How much is left over from Impo-Rick’s net profit after deducting construction material costs, food purchases, and funds sent to the tower?”

“Eh? Well… there’s a surplus of about 1.8 million gold.”

“Then set aside 500,000 as an emergency fund, and buy as many spears, swords, and armors as you can afford to send over.”

At Logan’s words, Philip’s face darkened even more.

“Is the royal issue really that serious?”

“Possibly so. Anyway, send equipment enough to fully arm 1,500 men by this winter.”

“…This isn’t a joke.”

“A joke? Spread out your purchases and collect them separately. It might cost more, but that’s fine.”

Buying so much weaponry at once could attract unwanted attention.

Logan’s tone deepened Philip’s expression, but still, the merchant couldn’t resist an objection.

“But 1,500 men? I believe there are fewer than 100 knights in the McLaine family, if I’m not mistaken.”

“It’s not for the knights. It’s for the soldiers.”

Hearing that, Philip reacted almost violently.

“You’re going to fully arm all the soldiers?! Have you lost your mind?!”

Whatever serious mood had been there vanished, replaced by incredulity, making Logan suppress a smirk.

‘Well, one could see it that way.’

A properly forged metal spear and sword, chainmail to protect vital body points, and additional metal armor.

Even basic equipment, if of good quality, would cost nearly 1,000 gold per person.

“And they need horses too.”

That would double the budget. In essence, Logan was planning to invest close to 3 million gold by winter to provide knight-level equipment to his soldiers.

“But even so, can the soldiers beat the knights? With that money, you could make gear for the knights!”

An objection that was only to be expected at this moment.

Current warfare was dominated by extraordinary beings like knights and mages.

Although there were trainees enduring harsh training with dreams of knighthood, regular soldiers were mere supports for the knights.

Spending such a huge sum on soldier gear?

“That’s foolish! With so much money, you have to spend it efficiently! You, who once crafted a weapon to sweep away ordinary soldiers, what are you thinking?”

Such a reaction was, in some ways, completely justifiable.

Yet Logan had different thoughts.

‘Too many territory citizens died in the last war.’

The first war after his return was won relatively easily through preparations, but the death toll among regular soldiers was higher than expected. Though largely due to Teslon deploying even conscripts, these losses reduced the expected yields from the territory for the year, largely because those dead included males from Teslon stronghold.

‘That’s why I need to minimize conscription.’

Future wars couldn’t continue, relying on consuming conscripts. It would be self-sabotage.

‘Besides, once the empire-wide war starts, poorly equipped conscripts would be literal cannon fodder.’

The escalating expense of properly arming soldiers may seem excessive to some, but to Logan, it was a surefire investment in the survival and future success of his territory’s people and his family’s ambitions.

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