Regressor of the Fallen Family chapter 55

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Chapter 55: Victor’s Pledge

“Pant, pant. I—I’m sorry!”

Victor’s breath was ragged, his words coming out in a hurried rush.

“No, it’s okay. Try it again.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, try it again.”

“Yes, right away!”

Logan smiled faintly, picking up the sword rolling on the ground and handing it to him.

‘He certainly has an incredible talent.’

It wasn’t empty praise.

Only sixteen and merely a year of sword training.

Was he fully accustomed to the most basic swordsmanship of Grandia Kingdom, or did he naturally assume the basic stance even when swinging wildly?

Even when his slashes deviated from formality, his stride was steady, his eyes fixed on an imaginary target.

‘The basic swordsmanship has been perfectly ingrained.’

Moreover, the force he mustered when swinging aimlessly was much higher than when using formal techniques.

It meant that such a temperament suited Victor well.

The nature of a noble slayer may have changed, but his martial prowess remained fierce and aggressive.

‘I can even discern the nature of his swordsmanship.’

It suggested he himself was transforming just as much as Victor.

A slight smile of satisfaction trickled onto his face.

The only problem was…

“Haap!”

Swoosh. Slice.

Boom.

Harsh and violent swordplay can never be perfected through solo practice.

‘He’ll need an opponent now.’

Not an overwhelmingly powerful being like himself, but someone on his level.

That meant opponents just short of Force User level—A-grade mercenaries or elite soldiers—sparring as real combat was necessary.

“Is it feeling cramped?”

“…”

Victor, who swung his sword with all his might, silently nodded his head.

Ordinarily, he would’ve denied it and just continued to practice diligently.

‘It must be because he feels it too.’

The future Aura User.

His talent once again left Logan in awe.

And fortunately, the solution to Victor’s frustration was straightforward.

“Tomorrow, I plan to leave McLaine Castle and train the soldiers in Teslon for the coming winter.”

“Excuse me?”

“Follow me. Make sure to tell your sister.”

But then…

“Can I not take Ria with me?”

This fool of a brother blurted out something absurd.

“Take a girl to a training ground swarming with men?”

“Is it impossible?”

“You think that’s really for her own good?”

“I want to go together!”

He really was a difficult one to comprehend.

Normally too mature, the moment his sister was involved, he turned into a child.

Wanting to bring his young sister to a place filled with men, especially testosterone-fueled teenagers.

‘What kind of trouble is he looking to start… Wait a moment?’

A thought suddenly flashed through Logan’s mind, and against his countier judgment, he nodded.

“Alright. Let’s bring her.”

“Thank you so much!”

Watching Victor leap with joy, Logan swallowed a sigh inwardly.

‘Ah… this kid…’

While Victoria’s control over her brother was good, her attachment was far too intense.

‘At this rate, he might just keep putting his sister first, no matter what I ask of him.’

This seemed like an opportunity to address his excessive attachment.

If everything went as planned, it would certainly…

“But remember, if any problems arise, it’s all on your head. You asked for this.”

“Yes! I will take good care of it.”

“That’s not the point! Victoria has her own tasks to handle, so make sure to treat her work separately. If you’re useless without your sister, you’re of no use to me.”

“I apologize.”

While his responses were prompt, Victor’s eyes were flickering with unease.

“Victoria. Come here!”

Since his arrival, Victoria who had been anxiously watching from the side came running over.

“I apologize, it’s not my brother’s fault, whatever it is. Please forgive him just this once!”

As the small girl bowed repeatedly with pale cheeks, Logan felt a headache coming on.

“No need for that.”

Though offered goodwill, their instinctual apprehension was the same as siblings.

‘Maybe that’s why he insists on taking his sister with him…’

Logan let out a bitter laugh, hiding his hollow feelings.

Children who have endured hardships, having only each other to rely upon.

One could hope they had found some comfort in the past year, but it still seemed too much to ask.

“We’ll be heading to Teslon Castle for the winter. Your brother will be training with the soldiers, so accompany the maids responsible for food distribution. Understood?”

“Yes!”

Her response was notably better than her brother’s.

After Ria left to gather her belongings…

“Do you cherish your sister that much?”

Logan asked casually, driven by curiosity.

In his past life, he had lived in regret, constantly apologizing to his family for his faults.

He was continuously striving not to leave that regret behind.

But the way Victor cared for his sister seemed different.

“She’s my only family.”

Victor’s answer was straightforward, perhaps disappointing for the complexity Logan had imagined.

Was it simply the instinct from a blood relationship?

“Hmm. Is that all?”

Logan prodded, and Victor hesitated before replying again.

“…Because of me, our parents passed away.”

Logan was taken aback by the unexpected response.

“Because of me, Ria lost her parents. I must protect her, my only remaining family.”

Victor bit his lip and bowed his head.

Logan had no desire to see further; instead, he looked away into the distance, not wanting to witness the shaken expression.

I will do anything to atone for my sins.

To protect my family, my sister, I will wager everything I have.

No, I must.

Could anyone else understand that tangled mix of affection and regrets as well as Logan himself?

A question asked on a whim had revealed a bitter truth and renewed his resolve.

“Alright. Be strong.”

‘Both of us.’

Logan tapped the shoulder of another version of his younger self and could only offer a comforting gesture.

* * *

With 50 soldiers and around 300 mercenaries escorting the 500 recruits—now trainees—they began their journey towards Teslon, slow but steady.

The tents and camping gear prepared by the mercenaries weren’t of the highest quality, but for those who had never camped before, it was all novel and exciting.

Logan personally served warm stew to the trainees, making eye contact with each one.

“I value ability regardless of status. Strive to be competent. If you prove your ability, I’ll ensure you’re knighted, no matter what your background or origins.”

Perhaps it was just a simple gesture or cheap food, but the naive recruits were easily moved by the slight show of kindness from their liege.

Despite the fact that most wouldn’t become knights, the word spreading of Victor being a former slave, less than a serf, spurred their motivation.

– Let’s become knights.

This resolve firmly embedded itself in the hearts of the trainees.

The ones from McLaine’s struggling farmlands, smaller and poorer compared to others.

Those chosen as talented by Logan’s new standards had an even fiercer determination.

– Absolutely…

“Thank you.”

“We’ll do our best.”

Whispers of resolution, small fists tightly clutched.

Though even wooden bowls filled with stew seemed a burden to hold, their eyes were all equally fiery.

Many of those eyes were on Victor, a sight that pleased Logan.

This was one of the reasons he had insisted on bringing Victor.

‘Perhaps the odds are even higher than I thought.’

In the face of another looming crisis, Logan couldn’t help but smile as he felt the pillars supporting the future of his family strengthen.

* * *

In Teslon Castle, opinions about Logan were polarized.

Only half a year ago he was known as the butcher of the former lord and his children, massacring numerous conscripted peasants.

Yet, he was also celebrated for distributing food during the lean season and causing crops to grow in the wastelands—the owner of a miracle.

However, regardless of how people chose to accept him, their reactions were the same when they met Logan in person.

They kept their distance.

From the villages outside Teslon Castle to the interior parts twice the size of McLaine.

No matter whom he met, all territory residents lowered their heads and skirted away at the sight of Logan and the fiery banner.

Inside such an atmosphere and before the gates of the inner castle, Victor welcomed him with an attitude vastly different from what Logan remembered.

“You’ve had a long journey, Your Grace. Would you like to dine first or shall we report immediately?”

With a ninety-degree bow and those familiar slitted snake-like eyes darting around—as always—but there wasn’t even a hint of hostility.

“…Victor. You’ve changed quite a bit.”

So it was no wonder Logan’s tone sounded incredulous.

“Hahaha. It’s natural for subordinates to serve their superiors, isn’t it?”

“And before?”

“I was but following my lady’s will. She owns my life.”

“Ho. Attempting to blame my mother, are you?”

“If you harbor resentment, take my head. I won’t complain.”

“Really? Truly?”

Logan, not one to pass up on the offer, drew his sword, and despite Victor’s resolved voice, sweat streamed down his brow, hands trembling conspicuously.

But the usually cunning eyes were locked onto Logan, unflinching.

“If this would spare my lady any blemish, please forget our past because of me.”

Watching his reaction, Logan chuckled and sheathed his sword.

Even with lingering past animosity, Victor’s loyalty to his stepmother was genuine.

“Just keep serving that faithfully.”

Instead of a slice, Logan patted his shoulder and moved on.

The middle-aged man almost staggered but brightened up immediately.

“Careful there. Anyone else might think I really hit you hard.”

“So-sorry. I was just too tense…”

“Tsk. If we eat with you like this, we might end up sick. Let’s start with the reports.”

“Understood.”

Fortunately, Victor proved more capable than expected.

“The financial situation is…”

“The state of the residents is…”

“And the paperwork for recruiting soldiers is all set.”

With Victor’s active cooperation, they quickly wrapped up the Teslon trainee selection the next day.

‘Sigh. Only about 250 here look like they have any talent. Well, we need the crossbow cavalry for now, and…’

The Empire had found a promising method for Force awakening, but the exact mechanics had not been understood perfectly.

Those seemingly lacking talent today might become Force Users tomorrow.

Logan comforted himself with that thought and selected another 500 trainees in Teslon.

* * *

1,000 trainees in total.

The barracks in Teslon fortuitously had enough space to accommodate nearly 1,500 men, including existing soldiers.

Face to face with communal living for the first time, the trainees’ unfamiliarity showed, along with their youth.

Among those gathered, some adjusted well…

“I’m Rom. Let’s do well together.”

“I’m Tess. Yes, let’s help each other.”

Others did not.

“Hey, what’s that? Aren’t you going to apologize?”

“You were the one blocking the way.”

“What did you say?!”

“Sto-stop it!”

Amidst the unfamiliar environment, the blood of the young wouldn’t allow them to settle easily.

“Quiet down, all of you!”

“If you don’t shut up and sleep, I’ll make you sleep!”

Despite the efforts of the senior soldiers and instructors, the trainee barracks remained lively with those unable to sleep.

The next day.

As county morning bugle calls sounded, trainees mustered on the parade ground, clumping together clumsily with half of them sporting bloodshot eyes.

Observing such a pitiful state, Head Instructor Kai didn’t even bother to correct the formation but announced the first training exercise right from the platform.

“Five laps around the inner wall. The last hundred finishers must run two extra laps.”

Taken aback by Kai’s abrupt order, the disjointed trainees were visibly shocked.

“Excuse me?”

“Run!”

“What is this sudden…”

“Run, let’s run!”

As one began to sprint amidst confusion, the rest reflexively followed.

Without considering that running five laps around the nearly 5km perimeter was near impossible for ordinary people, they blindly surged forward.

By the time they had finished one lap in over an hour, staggering began.

“Pant. Pant.”

“Hack. Hack.”

“Huff!”

Stumbling worsened, eyes glazed over, and some fell apart.

But among them, one stood out.

A boy with blue hair and distinct red and blue odd eyes ran at the front, showing no signs of fatigue.

“What’s up with that guy?”

“The, the slave…”

“Of the lord’s?”

As the distance grew, with others faltering, Victor’s performance ignited the trainees.

‘If that slave can do it…’

‘I can do it too!’

‘I won’t lose!’

Fire reignited in their eyes, and strength returned to their trembling legs.

Despite future repercussions from such overexertion, the trainees followed Victor as if enchanted.

‘The Victor Effect… just as young lord Logan said.’

Kai, running alongside to supervise, smiled at the sight.

Logan and Kai aimed not for physical toughness but perseverance, not giving up.

So the first exercise stopped at the fourth lap as soon as a hundred dropped out or gave up.

“Those who gave up or collapsed, get up and run two more laps. If you can’t, just go home. Got it!”

Newly inspired trainees grew pallid, others breathed sighs of relief.

“Huff, huff. I made it.”

“Don’t make me talk…”

“Cough. Huff. Whoa.”

“That monster.”

Amidst everyone hesitating, only one boy was casually stretching, loosening his muscles.

Others also knew that it’s better to stretch the body after intense exercise rather than resting immediately. However, even if they were aware of it, executing it right after pushing the limits in training was challenging.

In other words, while this training that stimulated the limits may be burdensome for other trainees, it seemed effortless for Victor. And Logan observed this from the secluded administrative office, far from the training ground.

His golden eyes gleamed as they scrutinized Victor’s expression and physical condition from a distance. As a result, Logan could smile with satisfaction.

“It’s definitely seeping with power. It won’t be long.”

If Victor awakens during training, all the soldiers present will become aware of one thing: that a slave can become a knight. And that realization will be more motivating than anything else for the soldiers.

“The status of a slave is enough to conceal Victor’s genius.”

Just as the approaching figure to Victor is showing.

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