Regressor of the Fallen Family (Novel) Chapter 61 - 62 - 63

Note: The Novel Will Be Corrected Until Chapter 105, After That Chapter It Will Be All MTL

C61 - 62 - 63

**Episode 61**

“Everything is going well, I see.”

“Yes.”

Responding to his father’s contented smile, Logan answered with a confident expression.

“Good. How about the soldiers’ training?”

“Excluding those drafted for public order, we are continuing with high-intensity training. Additionally, we have identified about 300 soldiers with special talents and are training them intensely, without deployment.”

“…Are we to understand that there’s enough potential among these 300 to become knights?”

“Yes. At least, that’s what I believe.”

Dwayne, who had little interest in knight training, simply clapped his hands with a slightly surprised expression, but Heinckel couldn’t hide a look of incredulity as he listened to the conversation between father and son.

Under the assumption that the soldiers were faithfully following their training, even if one scoured through the military for ten years like a madman, only about one in a hundred would awaken to their Force and qualify as a knight.

Simple calculations implied that among 1,500 soldiers, only about fifteen were likely to become knights.

Yet Logan spoke nonchalantly of a number twenty times greater, which was absurd to Heinckel.

However, his lord nodded in response with a smile, despite the implausibility of such an answer.

“…If you say so, it must be so.”

No matter how well the family fared, it seemed almost delusional to Heinckel.

While he had much to say, he could not bring himself to speak and instead repeatedly opened and closed his mouth in silence.

But the heir apparent did not stop there.

“We will maintain our current training system and plan to reinforce our soldiers annually. We will also bolster our cavalry and arms every year.”

“Your Highness! That’s…”

“No, why?! I am strictly against such a waste of money in these peaceful times!”

Before Heinckel could object, Dwayne, who had been smiling, suddenly flared up.

‘Mithril. It’s a repeat of the Mithril case. Overspending is a habit. It must be stopped!’

While Heinckel looked on bewilderedly, fortunately, this time even the lord furrowed his brow.

“…Are you planning for war?”

“Sometimes we must do things we do not wish to, like war. That’s what I have learned.”

But I never taught you that.

Padric forcefully swallowed the words that had risen to his throat.

Instead, he pointed out the harsh reality with an icy voice.

“Our family is in a period of growth. Excessive military expansion could be seen as provocation by neighboring families.”

“That’s correct. Wise words, my lord.”

Heinckel nodded at those words, and Dwayne gave Logan thumbs up as if to show agreement.

Yet,

“Whether we provoke them or not, we’re bound to be provoked.”

Logan’s bizarre statement bewildered everyone.

“What?”

“McClain Town has begun operating in earnest and the wasteland has been turned into plains. Sylvan and Pereta, both regions with excessive taxation, have many farmers deserting. Will those greedy wretches sit by idly?”

“…Do you think they will attack?”

“Yes.”

Logan’s confident response was immediately met with rebuttal.

“Whether Sylvan or Pereta, they do not take us lightly! With our current military strength alone, we can easily handle one of their domains.”

“Your Highness, if you are not informed, those scoundrels are too busy keeping each other in check. They cannot attack without a proper cause!”

Heinckel and Dwayne had points of their own.

Already committed to a plan, Logan could not retreat.

“Are you saying that if the two domains combine their power, they can easily defeat us?”

“No, no, that’s how it used to be. We have those weapons now…”

“They don’t know that. And we have more than enough causes already.”

“What?”

As Logan mentioned a cause, which can be crucial in a war among nobles, everyone’s gaze turned towards him.

“We’ve taken in quite a lot of refugees. How many of them do you think come from Pereta or Sylvan? If I were them, it seems like a good excuse.”

The room’s atmosphere chilled swiftly as everyone suddenly became aware of the fact they had overlooked in the development of their domain.

“If you anticipated such a thing, you should’ve blocked it!”

Despite Dwayne shouting, Logan remained cool.

“Why block it? Especially when we’re short on labor anyway.”

“But that could be a pretext for war… Your Highness, don’t tell me…?”

“…You wanted war from the start?”

As Dwayne’s face paled, Padric asked sternly.

“We will eventually have to confront our adversaries. If they arrogantly give us an excuse, it would be convenient.”

Logan, with his eyes cast deeply down, did not deny it.

“Your Highness!!”

“How could this…”

“Haah…”

The atmosphere in the office grew icy as they looked at Logan as if he were a madman.

Heinckel and Dwayne, unable to speak their curses aloud, expressed their frustrations with contorted expressions, while Padric made his displeasure known more directly.

“If you had such thoughts, you should have discussed it ahead of time!”

“If I had discussed it, would you not have opposed it?”

Their scorn was renewed at the brazen reply.

Padric also clutched his throbbing head at the sudden headache as if he had given his authority away too soon.

Caught in self-reproach and a deep sigh, there was a sudden commotion.

“Lord!”

A servant burst in through the door.

“Delegates from Sylvan and Pereta have arrived! They say they have matters to discuss regarding the escaped serfs…”

The news came with an eerily natural timing, freezing the room even further.

“Well, it has already begun. Shall we discuss what to do next?”

A smile spread across Logan’s face.

* * *

“Oh! Is it Sir Reihart?”

“That’s right. And you must be Sir Hamill?”

“It is an honor to meet you. To be entrusted with such an important role at your young age, you must be quite capable.”

“Not at all. I was merely fortunate. It is an honor for me as well to meet someone so influential from the Sylvan domain.”

Each escorted by three knights and fifteen servants, both delegations had a similar composition, meeting the minimum standards for protocol.

Considering they were essentially envoys sent to threaten, the pitiable size could have been disconcerting, yet there was not a hint of worry on the middle-aged faces of Reihart and Hamill as they exchanged greetings.

“Please take the time to enjoy our hospitality.”

“Surely you wouldn’t rudely turn a blind eye.”

“Ahahaha. If they have any decency, of course not. And we’ve already sent missives ahead.”

Their slightly elated demeanor was matched by the relaxed expressions of the knights accompanying them.

However, on the following day, when they passed Teslon Castle and slowly entered the old wastes, they involuntarily halted in their tracks.

“Indeed…?”

“All green… It looks like wheat sprouts…”

“This is incredible.”

Their utterances of astonishment were apt, for every field within sight burst with vibrant greenery.

For those who remembered its former state, the transformation was particularly shocking.

‘The once barren, dusty wasteland has changed so.’

Now, the only yellow in view was a distant rampart-like structure…

“Eh, Hamill. What is that in the distance?”

“Earthworks… It seems. My. To have built such a massive earthwork unseen.”

Those who heard murmured in surprise as they looked towards the earthen wall.

“Is that a castle?”

“No, how could such a large fortification be erected silently like this…?”

The procession continued eastward in silence, only to be further astounded upon nearing the village.

“Dozens of horsemen… Farmers are clearing the path. What’s that big road there…?”

As the farmhands swiftly made way for the approaching riders, a sight of a great cobblestone road connecting east and west came into view.

“An actual road…”

The paved road, wide enough to span 5 meters, cut through the green fields and stretched straight towards the earthworks.

The extent of what lay before them was beyond their wildest imaginations, and by the time they reached the earthwork (if it could be called that) after half a day’s ride, they were at a loss for words.

“Halt!”

“Who are you, and where have you come from?”

While the entrance to the earthwork at the end of the road was no more than a 3-meter-tall mud wall, not particularly spacious or grand, it drew the envoys’ attention not just because of its modesty.

“Soldiers… Not knights. The lack of emblems on the armor suggests as much.”

“Yes. But for regular soldiers to be equipped like this, McClain really must be making money.”

Half-plate mail, greaves, gauntlets, with swords at their waists and spears in hand.

The soldiers were outfitted with gear that would be credible on any knight, a staggering revelation reflecting the scale of this massive earthen fortification.

Caught off guard, they failed to respond to the soldiers’ inquiry, causing a hint of confusion among the ranks.

Then, a flame-emblazoned knight, signaling inside, approached.

“Knight Digrum of McClain. Please state your business, visitors.”

Their eyes followed the knight’s gaze to the banners behind Hamill and Reihart.

A flame with crossed longswords and a flying falcon on a banner, unique insignia representing a noble’s procession, and they hesitated to outright intimidate them.

While they would be unable to stop an envoy with six knights among a meager force even if they wished.

‘Such a vast construction, yet the earthwork’s gate is garrisoned by only a knight and five soldiers?’

Considering the scale of the fort, Reihart felt absurd for ever being tense.

“The military strength must be…”

Sharing the sentiment, Hamill smirked. Catching his eye, Reihart interrupted before idle talk ensued.

“That charade won’t do.”

Weak forces and rich domains were irresistibly attractive neighbors.

“Sylvan Viscountcy and Pereta Viscountcy envoys, we bear a message for Baron McClain.”

So they began cautiously, seeking to gauge the reaction.

Yet, the knight’s face showed no signs of softening despite Reihart’s smooth words.

“What brings the two viscountcies…”

“A missive has already been sent. We must speak to the baron for details…”

“A lowly knight dares to block an envoy! Will you be responsible for any consequences?”

Tch.

Reihart, hoping to glean some insights through gentle persuasion, clicked his tongue at Hamill’s hasty outburst.

There was no basis for him to intervene.

With a slight grimace, the knight stepped back.

“Follow me, I shall guide you.”

Hamill’s arrogance, seeking defiance, met Reihart’s gaze, but there was no need to incite trouble. They followed without protest.

Passing the humble gate, they entered a scene unfamiliar to Reihart.

Houses and novel establishments, evenly spaced along massive crossroads, captivated their attention despite a slight odor.

While not as elegant as renowned cities, it had a unique, raw charm.

Most notably,

“Kahaha, try and catch me!”

“Darn it! You’re it this time!”

“I’ve been it twice already, your turn!”

“Kids, these are high-ranking guests. Stay away from there!”

The people’s brightly lit faces lacked any shadowy corners.

The vibrancy uncommon in Sylvan Viscountcy captivated Reihart.

It was as though they seemed unusually clean.

‘Marvelous.’

Some sights did jar the eye.

Residents ducking away at the sight of their banners were likely runaways from their domains.

Yet their choice made sense; this place seemed genuinely better.

‘It’s certainly worth seizing.’

Reihart swallowed a laugh as he probed the leading knight discreetly.

“An impressive place, Knight Digrum. It seems superior to many castles.”

“Oh? Ah… Indeed.”

Different from Hamill’s brusque manner, Digrum offered a faint smile at Reihart’s courtly approach.

“Whoever conceived such an idea, it’s a splendid endeavor.”

Intending to buoy his mood with praise, Reihart received an unexpected response.

“All credit to our Young Lord.”

“What?”

“Our Young Lord conceived the town and managed the wasteland’s transformation.”

“Huh…”

McClain’s Young Lord, barely in his twenties, surely?

Shocked, he asked more questions, receiving similar replies.

“Our Young Lord is brilliant, valorous, leading the region’s progress…”

‘Enough. This flattery…’

Annoyed by the endless praise, Reihart had had his fill.

The sycophant’s vigor matched his own experience under a tyrant; yet Reihart refrained from such obsequious conduct out of sight.

He resigned himself to silently observing, seeking more accurate information.

Meanwhile, Hamill’s arrogance interrupted the tour.

“That smell! What’s with these ditches? Why endure such…”

They crossed paths with a narrow channel carrying wastewater while exploring.

Dissonant within the tidy village, but not to Reihart.

“Sewer system?!”

Recognizing its purpose was a moment of clarity.

“Ah, you know of it. Yes, it’s also our Young Lord’s initiative.”

While Hamill feigned interest, the knight’s tone brimmed with pride.

Reihart heard it differently, though.

“Truly exceptional.”

“Yes, indeed. The Young Lord is exceptional.”

‘No, you boastful—get ahead in life… Tsk tsk.’

The Young Lord couldn’t have devised such a thing.

Reihart had never engaged in such bootlicking, not even out of his lord’s sight.

He lamented the knight’s fervent allegiance but accepted the excellence of the town’s systems.

Most Granadia Kingdom castles were ancient establishments, complicating the retrofit of sewer systems from the empire’s major cities over the past century.

Even the aware nobility, reluctant to spend wealth, shunned these advancements.

Hence, many strongholds were filthy and reeked.

Acquainted with administrative studies from the academy, Reihart longed to integrate a wastewater management system above all else.

Unfortunat…

----------------------

Episode 62: Prelude to War

Amidst the watchful eyes of the McLain command, including Logan, the envoys boldly proclaimed with an arrogant demeanor.

“Our Fereta demands the return of the eloped vassals and, as compensation for preventing future occurrences, we claim the Teslon Plains adjacent to the Fereta territory and the newly developed wastelands to the southwest.”

“We, Sylvan, demand dominion over Teslon Castle and the transfer of the northwest part of the newly developed wastelands.”

Logan’s predictions were spot on.

The envoys had the audacity to utter such ludicrous demands.

They wanted an entire castle handed over and half of the newly developed lands. Their claims were no different from an outright threat, essentially challenging McLain to war.

‘What do you think?’

Logan sent a look that asked whether his predictions weren’t correct, to which Patrick sighed softly and nodded with a serious expression.

The signal descended to Commander Heinke below the platform.

With a hardened expression, Heinke stepped forward and shouted loudly.

“Are Sylvan and Fereta proposing warfare against McLain?”

“Insane!”

“How dare they!”

“Have they lost their minds, declaring such nonsense here?!”

Simultaneously, 30 knights lined up in front of the hall stepped forward in unison to protest.

One of them even hastily drew his sword, and the atmosphere in the hall became deadly in an instant.

The envoys hesitated for a moment but soon came forward more confidently than before.

“There is no rule that permits threatening an envoy, my lord! If you truly do not wish for war, I urge you to withdraw your knights.”

“We are the ones threatened here. When faced with a challenge, how can we refuse? McLain does not fear war.”

But, contrary to their belief, Patrick’s attitude was even more resolute.

The envoys’ expressions stiffened at this unexpected response.

“McLain would not leave a single blade of grass alive. Do you truly wish for such destruction?”

“You must be under the illusion that we will yield under pressure, Baron?”

The mustached envoy from Sylvan and the fox-like man from Fereta shifted their tone to a more overt threat.

The knights standing behind them only slightly widened their eyes but remained seemingly unfazed.

It was clear they still believed they held the advantage.

‘Maybe it’s time to crumble their foundation.’

Thinking of how enjoyable it would be to see their reactions change, a frosty smile formed on Logan’s lips.

“Fugitives fleeing tyranny are not bargaining chips. Father, we have no need for negotiations with these individuals.”

With a decisive word and step forward, all of McLain’s knights drew their swords in an instant.

Only then did the envoys’ expressions vastly change.

“Are you, are you serious about going to war?”

“Are you mad? Do you want to die?!”

Their roaring was met with only mocking smiles from the McLain knights.

The envoys reacted sharply in the face of such ridicule.

“You, you people…”

“Are you out of your mind? It’s war if it comes to this! Do you think McLain will survive?!”

While the Fereta fox hesitated with a stern expression, the mustached man from Sylvan yelled out as if in desperation.

At that moment, Logan eagerly responded.

“Ho-ho? Mad? How brazen you are. Daring to point fingers and hurl insults at this land’s lord? Are you in your right mind?”

“No, no, that was you who…”

Logan didn’t bother to listen anymore and continued forward.

“Stop him!”

Unable to ignore the escalating threat, the envoys’ guardian knights rushed to the forefront.

But Logan was quicker.

In the blink of an eye, a guardian knight grasped his gushing throat and collapsed.

In a lightning-fast succession, Logan’s sword dance left the entire envoy frozen in terror.

With the collapse of the knights in merely a breath’s span, the envoys, painted with horror, glared at Logan with blame and rage.

“One should be prepared for death when unsheathing a sword on foreign soil.”

Logan remained calm as he wielded his sword once more.

“I, I am an envoy…!”

With a slash, the mustached man from Sylvan collapsed, spraying blood.

The Fereta fox immediately fell flat on the ground.

“I will convey McLain’s wishes in full to our lord. Please forgive our trespass.”

Though slightly trembling, his voice was clear enough for all to hear.

“… Smart move.”

Before the prostrated Rihalt who dared not raise his head, Logan laughed and turned around. In the presence of all, including the enemies’ retinue, a death with excuse could serve as a pretext, but killing one who begs for mercy would only bring criticism.

Moreover, his primary objective was already achieved.

‘Luckily, those Sylvan fools are dim-witted.’

Satisfied, Logan bowed towards his father.

In response, Patrick spoke to everyone with an imposing voice.

“Let the knights of McLain prepare for war! To protect our sovereignty!”

His authoritative voice echoed through the hall, and the knights raised their swords in response.

* * *

“Truly, do you believe you can win against us?”

The Fereta fox, chased away and with a confused gaze, questioned.

Logan, with a sneer, responded without a word.

That day, McLain sent magical communications to the two counties.

“[We express our grave disappointment at their severe insolence and blasphemy…]”

Though the long, flowery communication was essentially a complaint.

– The envoys messed around and got themselves killed. We’re annoyed. What will you do about their insolence?

Contrary to the last word of the communication, which seemed to await a response, the entire McLain Knights’ Battalion immediately charged toward Teslon Castle.

The 70 or so cavalrymen cut through the center of McLain Town and charged across the plains unimpeded.

The fierce-looking red-haired middle-aged man at the forefront, running side by side with his son, inquired.

“Do we need to hurry so? They might not know, but surely you understand our military might could easily crush a single county.”

Between the thundering hooves, the voice clearly struck Logan’s ears.

Patrick, who had trusted Logan and held back his curiosity until the command to rush to Teslon Castle was issued, finally let out his words.

“So why the rush?”

Logan had a plan in mind from the moment he sent communications to the counties.

It was clear that Sylvan, or rather the side with the slain envoy, would protest vehemently.

“That’s why… we need to use it as a pretext.”

“You want to declare war first?”

“Yes. As soon as they make their move, we must swiftly capture Sylvan. The stronger the display of force, the less these trivial provocations will occur.”

Sylvan Castle was more than twice the size of the developed Teslon Castle, an even greater fortress than McLain Castle.

It boasted a military strength that made even the counts of Fereta envious.

But even so, Patrick just nodded and smiled at Logan’s words to quickly conquer Sylvan Castle.

“There is sense in your words. There’s no need to prolong the war unnecessarily.”

“Yes. There is no need to conscript additional soldiers. If we quickly capture Sylvan with our regular forces, Count Max Fereta will not act rashly. He is much too cautious for his own good.”

Max Fereta disliked taking any losses, was slow to decide, and even slower to act.

Logan did not bemoan the fact that he knew this from his past life.

Fortunately, his father did not ask how he came by such knowledge of Max Fereta’s disposition.

Instead, he focused on what was currently necessary for himself and for McLain.

“The crux of the matter is how quickly Sylvan falls.”

“Yes!”

There was no one who thought this conversation absurd, not the speakers nor any who listened in.

Their overflowing confidence accelerated the McLain Knights’ charge ever faster.

When McLain’s Knights Battalion reached Teslon Castle, nervousness was naturally expected among the soldiers ordered into combat readiness during their regular training.

However…

“Regular soldiers, excluding those on duty at McLain Castle, number 1,389. The mercenary corps adds another 313. All are armed and awaiting orders,” reported Kai, excitement overtaking any semblance of tension.

“…You’ve done well. Until the next orders, they can rest.”

The stone bolt cavalry that had turned last year’s territorial wars upside down had now quintupled in strength.

With the addition of the father and knights who had attained higher realms by mastering the Blood Iron Sword, their confidence was well justified.

‘Sylvan and Fereta, whichever it is, one of them will easily fall.’

Of course, battling both didn’t seem losing, but there was no need to do so, hence it should not be done.

It wasn’t merely about minimizing the damage that the war would bring.

‘If we integrate Sylvan and Fereta, we would have five castles in our domain, equating to territories comparable to the border counts.’

It wasn’t necessarily the case that a larger territory guaranteed an increased title, but the moment it happened, both factions of the first and second princes would be desperate to pull McLain to their side.

The focus of those central factions must not be drawn here to the southwestern countryside, at least until the civil war.

So Logan worked hard to create even a pretext for war.

Immersed in these thoughts.

“…there is good news,” came a voice.

Looking up, Kai still hadn’t left the room.

Logan had to inquire, driven by curiosity from the look on his face.

“Hm? Good news?”

“Victor has become a force user. He’s been waiting to report directly to you.”

“Aha! Finally!”

With an involuntary rise to his feet, Kai sighed softly and opened the door.

Although he could guess why that look was on his face, there was no time to give it thought now.

Right before the opened door stood a somewhat flushed Victor.

“Logan sir, I…”

“No need for long speeches, show me.”

His eyes, each a different hue of red and blue, blazed with energy. Then suddenly, a dim grey mist emitted from his figure.

A unique force color, not at all inferior to Logan’s golden hue.

Yet, it was also the mark of Victor, the noble slayer from the past life.

“Ha. Haha. It’s true. In just two years…”

The resplendent talent that had risen from mere slavery to a force user in the previous life remained unaltered in this one.

Victor’s growth felt like a signal that all would turn out well, and Logan couldn’t hide his joy.

Two days after arriving in Teslon, just as Logan started to wonder about the delayed response, the anticipated communication from Sylvan finally arrived.

“[We express profound regret at the blatant disregard for legitimate protest and the threatening use of force by McLain…]”

Much like McLain’s previous communication, this lengthy message was full of courtesy and decorative language.

But stripping it down to the bare essence:

– If you don’t want war with the Sylvan-Fereta alliance, hand over the escaped vassals, remit ten million gold each in reparations, and give up the Teslon Plains. You have one month.

McLain responded immediately and clearly without delaying:

“[Doubt surrounds the legitimacy of your protest, given the insolence displayed in our territory…]”

Putting the verbiage aside, the core message was:

– Stop babbling and fight!

Right after, a massive cavalry troop numbering nearly 1,800 charged from Teslon Castle towards the northwest.

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Chapter 63: Thud Thud Thud

“A month for the deadline. They’re quite relaxed, aren’t they?”

A deep voice punctuated the loud clatter of horse hooves as a cavalry unit dashed across the fields, reaching Logan’s ears at the vanguard.

“They must be talking about the time they need to ally among themselves.”

“Even considering that, it seems a bit long. Especially since Pereta has had an unusually sparse response.”

“By the time we take over Sylvan, Pereta will react. Or they might contact us during the battle.”

“Yes, that’s likely. But by then, everything will be too late.”

Padric turned to glance back, wearing a satisfied smile on his face.

The gallant knights leading the charge and the thousand soldiers trailing behind them, weapons in hand, brought smiles to their faces even on the verge of war.

With time to spare, Padric naturally took interest in other compelling stories.

“I heard your slave has become a Force user. Did you foresee this when you brought him in?”

“Yes.”

“Planning to make him a knight?”

“Once we return, I shall do so.”

“Heh, who knew you had such an eye for talent?”

“Fortune was on my side.”

As Logan smiled and looked back, he saw Victor, still in a soldier’s garb, riding at the front of the soldier’s line just behind the knights.

Though he could appoint him a knight immediately, as he had become a Force user, Logan had decided to delay it a bit longer.

‘He’s still raw. It wouldn’t do for him to clash with knights and get ruined too swiftly.’

Regardless of his consideration, Victor’s expression was slightly discontented.

Since his slave documents had been burned before him, it wasn’t an issue of status, but perhaps…

‘He wants to fight. With the strong.’

Logan let out a stealthy chuckle at that thought.

He had already prepared a worthy adversary to challenge the boy.

Ronian, who was diligently training in Blade Vision at McLain Castle.

The two prodigies would doubtlessly become excellent rivals.

‘I’ll let you fight to your heart’s content later. For now, hold on, kid.’

True adversity had yet to show even a shadow of itself.

The future’s greatest weapons were still in need of careful tempering.

“Forza!”

“Let’s go kick the backsides of the Sylvans!”

For now, it was time to utilize the present’s main actors rather than focus on the future.

Two from the McLain family, 73 knights, 1,390 soldiers, and 313 mercenaries.

Nearly 1,800 cavalry troops, after obtaining ample rest, raced for half a day.

Then, they could see the bewildered expressions of Sylvan troops atop the city walls.

* * *

– Come out, Sylvan! Accept my blade!

The booming voice shook the air, causing trembling among the soldiers atop the walls nearly a kilometer away.

“What… what is that?”

“Flame banners?”

“Quick, inform the lord!”

As the soldiers panicked, silver-armored knights appeared as if they had been waiting for the moment.

Each one donned armor embossed with a greatsword engulfed in flames.

At the forefront, a slightly overweight middle-aged man grimaced with disgust as he looked over the ramparts.

“McLain, to actually storm in… These madmen dare to make light of me!”

“My lord. Let me lead the way. I will stop Padric McLain.”

“We’ll smash them! All 120 knights of Sylvan are ready!”

“2,512 soldiers are also ready, since they’ve been anticipating their hollow threats.”

With the recently promoted high-ranking knight and his subordinate’s confident shouts, the battle lines were drawn.

Although McLain’s forces were unexpectedly numerous, their own troops were vastly superior.

Even after receiving magical communications, they hadn’t expected the enemy to really show up. But now that they did, it was almost laughable.

‘Callian also became a high-ranking knight. Padric McLain, you’re no longer the only one in this territory.’

As Sylvan seethed with fury, he abruptly steeled his expression as if recalling something.

“…What news from Pereta? No response yet?”

“Silent still. It seems they haven’t settled internal agreements.”

“My lord. Even if Pereta’s reinforcements come, it will take half a day. We don’t necessarily have to wait…”

“No, that’s not it. What if Pereta attacks us from behind after we’ve crushed McLain?”

“Excuse me?!”

“Isn’t it strange? McLain rushing in right after a declaration of war sent out immediately after protests, and silent Pereta. Callian, do you think that’s normal?”

“…It wouldn’t be.”

“Right. They’ve conspired together. The damn lot!”

Although there was no concrete evidence, Sylvan was convinced of his suspicion.

Otherwise, the swift and absurd behavior of the two families was inexplicable.

“These wretches dare…”

Barely containing his anger, he clenched his fists violently.

– If you’re scared, Sylvan! Continue to cower like a frightened fox! I will personally behead you!

Stung by the insulting shouts from outside the walls, Sylvan made his decision.

“Contact Beprost. Tell them that after smashing McLain, I will offer tribute worth half of its value.”

“Sir?”

“Do whatever to keep Pereta, those dogs, from taking action!”

“Understood!”

“And gather the knights and soldiers! Completely smash McLain, before those Pereta dogs arrive!”

“Sire!”

Grinding his teeth in rage, he muttered to himself.

“How dare they stab me in the back? McLain will be devoured first, then it’s your turn, Max Pereta.”

Sylvan’s gaze was no longer on the enemies outside the walls but on his rival to the south.

* * *

“Wouldn’t it be better to charge into the castle after the soldiers provide covering fire? With our knights’ skills…”

“No, not yet. If that Sylvan cheapskate runs away, we’d be in trouble. Wait.”

“Father is right. If the knights jump over the walls and fight haphazardly, we’ll damage the castle. They’ll come out soon, thinking they have the upper hand.”

“But still, with no response…”

“Sylvan cannot stand insults. Just wait a bit.”

How could the heir who spent his life in McLain territory know about him?

Heinkel swallowed back his words as he witnessed the enemy forces begin to move.

Moments later.

Boom.

As the castle gate opened, Sylvan forces began pouring out.

Knights in armor engraved with the crossed greatsword of flame, numbering in the hundreds. Cavalry numbering over a thousand. And a larger number of pikemen.

“Quite impressive forces, roughly 3,000.”

“Within the expected range.”

“Of course.”

McLain leaders, facing nearly 1.5 times their forces, were unfazed.

Rather.

– Those who know no shame, McLain…

“Advance! Charge!”

Before the opposing leader’s cry had fully subsided, Padric’s blade surged with red energy, unhesitatingly pointing forward.

“Charge!”

“Go!”

“I’m taking the lead!”

Inspired, McLain’s soldiers spurred their horses forward in unison.

“Such barbaric…”

The subordinate yelled in anger, but Callian simply snickered.

“Just look at them charge. They’re all just soldiers.”

Instead of leading with their knights, McLain’s line was rushing forward, oddly broken up and spread out, with ordinary soldiers leading the charge instead of having their knightly crests.

Seeing such a foolish charge, Sylvan cavalry laughed.

“Poor rabble.”

“Yes, fancy equipment. McLain must have made a good profit.”

“Shall we crush them?”

“Of course!”

– Charge!

Unlike the disorganized McLain forces, Sylvan’s army maintained a standardized formation with the knights leading the charge followed by a support of over a thousand cavalry.

A tested and proven formation it was, symmetrical and effective.

Once the knights and cavalry break through the center, the scattered remnants will be easily taken care of by the pikemen.

Callian imagined the battle neatly playing out in his mind.

But the reality of the battle unfolded in a far different manner.

“Let loose!”

Amidst the scattered McLain rabble, a middle-aged mercenary with grey hair shouted, and McLain soldiers promptly aligned themselves and raised crossbows.

Once the distance between the two forces narrowed to 300 meters…

“Fire!”

A barrage of death rained down upon Sylvan’s forces like a storm.

Screams and clangs of metal filled the air as the front lines of knights, previously lax, now fell beneath the onslaught of arrows, leaving the following cavalry defenseless and wrecked.

As their lines fell apart and tangled up, the Sylvan ranks were rapidly devastated.

“Increase speed!”

As Callian gritted his teeth and shouted, the knights closed ranks, enhancing their Force to the maximum as they charged.

With the leading high-ranking knight, Callian, and the others energetically charging their horses with Force, it seemed that victory was still within grasp.

However.

‘I’ll kill them. I’ll kill them all.’

As Sylvan knights, powered by fury, approached the McLain frontline…

“Disperse!”

Following the command from the grey-haired mercenary, McLain’s cavalry split off left and right, avoiding the knights.

“Target their soldiers, not the knights!”

Annoyed by those words, Callian clenched his teeth, but he and the other knights of Sylvan couldn’t turn back; McLain knights were now emerging from the center of their own forces.

“If you have the guts, try this!”

A red-headed giant bellowed confidently as a red Force blade over two meters long erupted from his sword.

‘Force Blade!’

Before Callian could contemplate its significance, he instinctively leaped off his horse to evade.

The nearly three-meter-long blade of crimson light swung left and right, slicing through knights who had withstood the rain of crossbow bolts, now cut down in swathes.

“Top tier!”

With more than seventy knights perfectly halved by one hundred and twenty, screams of despair filled the air.

“Annihilate the enemy!”

Padric McLain’s command roared as McLain’s knights dismounted and charged towards the still superior numbered Sylvan knights.

Every swing contained formidable force that pressed the opposition.

It was not just momentum but sheer power from McLain’s knights overwhelming Sylvan’s.

“How… How is this possible…”

In the midst of the battlefield, Callian stood with a dazed expression.

Henderson, a McLain knight well-known for his strength, reveled in the exhilaration of the battle, swinging his greatsword with gusto.

He felt an exhilarating surge of strength flow through him unlike anything he’d experienced before.

Though his previous encounters with mid-tier monsters during logging missions in the monster forest had been challenging, clashing with knights was incomparable.

To think he was pushing back two standard knights, equals to his past self, with his newfound prowess.

With each swing, his thrill intensified, strengthening his greatsword more and more.

His vastly improved force and heightened sensation had his blade carving ever more precise arcs through the battle.

Suddenly.

With a scream from the enemy, Henderson sensed his Force grow by more than thirty percent and realized he could harness it even more effectively – another thirty percent or more.

In this moment, he understood the sensation his seniors had only described in words.

“Rise up!”

Henderson’s battle cry echoed as he matured into a mid-tier knight in the heat of combat, seeking his next target.

‘Hmm, Henderson too?’

Watching his subordinates ascend to the next rung mid-battle, Heinkel couldn’t help but smile.

‘The lord’s rigorous training was not in vain.’

The intense battle felt far from desperate.

Sensing his assurance, a Sylvan knight ground his teeth and swung his sword at Heinkel.

“Let’s see how long you keep that smile!”

The movements of the surrounding knights were on a different level, clearly elite mid-tier knights circling Heinkel, but they were the ones being pushed back.

“A high-ranking knight!”

“These aren’t anything like Callian’s moves…”

Grinning at their despair, Heinkel simply smiled.

‘Mid-tier knights are precious.’

Perhaps these opponents would be conscripted under his command, and he took care (not to damage them too?) as he handled them with ease.

Simultaneously, Heinkel looked around for any ally who might be in danger.

Only one enemy, a high-ranking knight, was of any concern.

With his side’s ultimate weapon rushing towards the castle, he was ready to intervene if necessary.

However, Heinkel turned away with a laugh as he saw a head of red hair dart toward the enemy knight.

‘There will be plenty of spoils once these lot are captured.’

Victory was theirs.

A satisfied smile spread across Heinkel’s face.

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