Regressor of the Fallen Family (Novel) Chapter 10 - 11 - 12

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

C10 - 11 - 12

Chapter 10: Nothing Left but Debt

He would not bother to throw bait like this just to deceive someone who had nothing but debt.

“This one must be undoubtedly mad.”

And there was nothing more foolish than engaging in lengthy conversations with a madman.

But still.

“…How much do you plan to invest?”

Because there was always a chance, however slight.

With the thought of preparing for the unexpected, Philip tossed the question nonchalantly.

“Perhaps a rich young master can’t handle his excessive wealth and splurges foolishly.”

Understanding it was a pitiful hope, Philip couldn’t help but cling on to it. After all, in his desperate state, he couldn’t afford to ignore even a rotten lifeline.

“How much debt do you have? And what about your plans for the next venture?”

To Philip’s surprise, the madman’s answer had some logic to it.

A faint hope began to rise in Philip’s heart.

“…Would you really invest in a trading company that has already failed once?”

“Well, it’s fine. I believe in Mr. Philip’s talent. I want to invest and see.”

‘When have you ever seen me…’

Yet despite his constant ranting, the madman’s gaze never wavered.

Such consistent reactions were not characteristic of a madman.

Putting aside his prejudices, Philip felt a sense of familiarity in the intense gaze of the young man before him.

The eyes of someone missed.

‘Father…’

It was the gaze of a person confident in their judgement, someone who knew exactly the path they must take and had the belief to walk it to the end.

It was then that Philip allowed the hope he had been forcibly ignoring to raise its head again.

“Are you serious about investing?”

His heart fluttered.

It was like seeing a ray of light in a pool of despair, as his slim hope grew stronger.

“Yes. How much would you need to pay off your debts and make a fresh start? I’ll support you fully.”

Just as these sweet words made Philip’s mood soar.

Tap.

An insignificant noise caused him to reflexively turn his head.

Dust fell off from the self-proclaimed investor’s armor, revealing an emblem.

The moment Philip saw the emblem, the enthusiasm bubbling inside him turned ice cold in an instant.

‘Of course, it figures.’

The bitter feeling was all the more miserable because of the high expectations he had held.

“I’ll meet your conditions as best as I can. Just let me know.”

All excitement had faded when he came face-to-face with the swindler’s grinning face.

“Ha, really… Such a despicable young lad. I was about to let you off lightly, thinking I misunderstood something.”

Cold words naturally spilled out.

‘What? What did he say?’

Logan was taken aback. Everything was going well when suddenly he couldn’t conceal his bewilderment from Philip’s abrupt words.

“You. If you’re going to scam someone, at least prepare properly. Like those bastards who scammed me before.”

“…What?”

Philip’s dramatically changed expression was met with an unexpected retort.

“Ha…”

It seemed he was spitefully picking a fight with someone who might have saved him.

Had he not known the boy’s future, he would’ve thought of him as a fool.

No, even with that knowledge, it seemed like an act of utter stupidity.

“You, what are you saying…?”

“You’re not an investor, are you?”

“What?”

Is this guy crazy? Why the sudden change?

Having failed once in business, is he now like a mad dog eager to bite anyone?

These questions and more were reflected in Philip’s eyes as he answered with a snort.

“You haven’t been in Kail long enough to even shake the dirt off your shoes. And you come straight to the merchants’ district to talk about investing? You know who I am?”

Philip pointed to his shoes, which, just as he claimed, still had some dirt on them.

That finger soon pointed to Logan’s chest.

“Plus, I’ve memorized every noble family crest in this country. That crest on your armor is from the MacLaine baronial house of the Southwest. So what’s the problem? Dear noble-man-cum-swindler?”

Though the claims were untrue, Philip felt a pang in his chest as he seemed to know what would come next.

“The MacLaine house is a family of leeches living off their in-laws. And they’re talking about investing? A family that can’t even pay off their own debts?”

‘Ugh…’

It was painful to admit these irrefutable facts.

“I’m truly sorry that I have to advise you, but impersonating a noble and getting caught will get you executed, you know? They’re rather strict here, understood?”

Philip gestured cutting across his neck, his face a mix of cynicism and irritation.

“No, but that’s actually true…”

“And more crucially, your attitude!”

“What’s wrong with it…”

“An investor is an absolute superior to a desperate merchant. Yet you’re behaving as if you’re anxious to invest in me. Even the target of your deceit is wrong. You rookie scammer. I’m truly dirt-poor, got it?! You bastard!!”

His voice became increasingly forceful, the last of his words almost a scream.

“I’m so broke that I don’t even have money to buy food for myself, you son of a…”

Philip’s voice filled the dust-coated shop, brimming with emotion.

Seeing a grown man cry is as uncomfortable as having to console a weeping woman.

Feeling this anew, Logan still hesitated to make a move.

Despite Philip’s accusations containing many inaccuracies, they could have been reasonable doubts had Logan not been through his own experiences.

‘And that’s the problem.’

Despite such talent, the young man had been scammed. If it were the same renowned merchant he had known in his previous life, things would be different.

‘He’s not that capable person yet.’

Perhaps the trials and tribulations he had yet to face would create the man he would one day become.

Actually, it must have been exactly that which crafted his future self.

‘Time must have crafted the merchant.’

But Logan didn’t have time to wait for the Gold Bug to awaken the abilities he had in his previous life and go through all that hardship.

‘What to do…’

Logan’s trail of thoughts suddenly reached a fundamental question.

‘Wait, why do I need to invest in the trading company at all?’

The future imperial merchant was considering abandoning the path of a merchant entirely.

‘This might be the chance to make the future empire’s top ten merchant my own!’

His confused thoughts seemed to align suddenly.

Even if the man didn’t grow to where he was in the previous life, it would still weaken the power of the Ares Empire on its own.

Having organized his thoughts, Logan spoke with a bright smile.

“If I were to pay off all your debts and hire you for life, how much would it cost?”

That was enough to stop Philip’s wailing.

“What are you saying?! Are you still trying to scam…”

About to shout again, Philip was silenced upon seeing the golden aura bursting from Logan’s hand.

Could a young genius capable of using Force actually be a noble impostor running scams?

It would be idiotic to throw a promising future into the gutter like that.

And that realization proved every speculation Philip had made so far was wrong.

“Ah… Ahaha, really?”

Seeing a stunned Philip, Logan reminded himself, ‘He is the future merchant. One of the empire’s top ten.’

With a composed expression, Logan gathered his thoughts.

After an awkward silence, a resigned voice spoke up.

“Ah… so you were really a young master. Eeek. But what did you say…?”

Trying to convert his derogatory speech to respect, Philip ended up sounding extremely awkward.

“I said, how much would it be to hire you for life if I paid off your debt?” Logan clarified.

“…You’re willing to hire me? For life?”

“Yes. Name your price for the contract. Consider paying off your debt as a gift.”

Logan thought it would be clear-cut at this point.

However, Philip’s expression grew more twisted upon hearing this.

“…I must first apologize for the disrespect I showed due to my misjudgment.”

A sense of foreboding washed over Logan at the ominous prelude.

“But! Unless there’s been a tremendous change I’m unaware of, the MacLaine household wouldn’t have the means, would they?”

“Ah…”

“Are you suggesting we both sink together with my debts on top of yours? I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in a suicide pact.”

Philip firmly expressed his refusal. He might’ve misjudged the person, but one thing was clear to him.

‘The MacLaine baronial house is a beggar’s family. What would they have to offer!’

It wasn’t a scam, then either the noble-young-master was mocking him, or the young master was too naive to understand the harsh realities of the world.

‘Being born noble makes the world seem like an easy place, huh?’

Philip decided to teach this young nobleman a lesson in reality.

“The existing debt alone is 250,000 gold, and my person is worth that much too. The only certainty for a merchant is a contract. Can we sign it right away, or should I wait?”

Throughout his exceedingly sarcastic tone, the young master’s expression hardened.

‘That figures.’

Seeing that look, Philip was about to extinguish the last bit of hope he had held when suddenly…

“500,000… Seems like odd math to me. How can someone in 250,000 debt claim a personal value of another 250,000? Unless you mean a negative 250,000.”

Struck out of nowhere by a forcible fact, Philip felt a deep blow to his heart.

“Urgh. It’s… it’s that…”

“Fine. I’ll add another 50,000 for your pride. So, how about 300,000 total?”

“Wha…? No, what did you say? Three, three hundred thousand?”

“Would you rather not?”

As Logan’s words grew more brief, Philip seemed too shocked to even notice.

“Then shall we leave it as is?”

Utterly bewildered by the unexpected sum, Philip collapsed at that one sentence.

“300,000 gold! Yes! Absolutely yes!”

To Philip, it was as if salvation had unexpectedly arrived in response to a casual remark. There was no reason for him to refuse.

“Shall we make a contract right now?”

“…Excuse me?”

Logan nonchalantly put down his traveler’s sack as if it were nothing significant.

Thud.

The sack sounded unusually heavy, echoing weightily in Philip’s chest.

A golden glow peeked out from the opened top, revealing a bag full of gold coins.

The money Logan had withdrawn earlier that day from the Coppers Kail branch.

Any merchant would go mad at the sight of that pile of gold.

“Thankfully, it seems I have enough for the upfront payment.”

Philip thought he saw a halo around the smiling owner of the backpack.

‘…What is this man? An angel?’

Feeling somewhat detached from reality, Philip remained speechless for a while.

“It, this, for real?”

Gazing at the gold coin sack as if in a dream, Philip soon held Logan’s hand with tears welling up in his eyes.

“Th-thank you. I really, truly thank you. I considered resigning myself to a life of slavery…”

‘And now I find myself kneeling… Ah, I already was, indeed.’

Sinking to the floor was one thing, but now his posture resembled a worshiper praying to a god, an admittedly overwhelming sight.

“So, why do you wish to employ me, to go to such monetary lengths?”

“Didn’t I say? I believe in potential for the future.”

“Do you really think so? That I may bloom late and help increase your wealth?”

‘No, it must happen. For my own purpose, it must.’

Logan’s determined gaze seemed to move Philip once again.

“…Nobody has ever shown me such trust. Not even my late father did so much…”

Overcome with emotion, Philip took a moment to compose himself while Logan looked on with a faint smile.

“Let’s go make that contract.”

“Where to…?”

“We can’t write a contract here, can we?”

“Really?”

Regardless of where the contract is written, what does it matter?

Logan took the befuddled Philip to one of the rare magic shops in Kail.

* * *

“There. Contract complete!”

As a drop of blood from Philip’s finger fell onto the contract, the bluish mana inscribed upon it glowed brightly, ensnaring his body.

It was an expensive magical contract worth 10,000 gold.

From now on, if Philip intentionally committed an act harmful to Logan, he would experience soul-rending agony.

Unless he wanted to suffer, he’d need to awaken his own Force to become a superior knight or pay a wizard of at least the 4th circle hundreds of times the sum to lift the curse.

In essence, the contract exchanged Philip’s life for 300,000 gold, a contract for all intents and purposes akin to buying a slave.

Thus, it was understandable that Philip’s face soured, despite just moments ago being filled with emotion.

“A scum, using an exorbitant contract worth the price of 30 slaves just to make one slave out of me. And with 300,000 gold on top of that?”

Philip’s continued grumbling fell on seemingly deaf ears, as Logan’s face was brimming with smiles.

“How else would we trust each other at first meeting? If you invest a fortune, there ought to be a guarantee.”

Though Logan spoke casually, Philip was clearly agitated but sighed in acquiescence.

‘Better than being dragged off by those other scoundrels.’

Being treated similarly to a slave was better than being officially branded and treated as one.

That was what he told himself to feel better, but his spirits irresistibly dampened due to the previously high expectations.

As Philip’s gloom was starting to set in again, Logan casually remarked.

“We can always get rid of the contract once we build mutual trust. So, let’s do our best from here on.”

A vague promise, without any specified period or conditions.

Yet, that simple statement was enough to kindle a small flame in Philip’s dead-looking eyes.

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

Chapter 11: Debt Repayment and Preparations

It had taken only a day to pay off Philip’s debt and sort out the remaining burden he carried. In his only remaining asset, his mansion, Logan explained to Philip what had to be done going forward.

“I may take you with me, but you won’t be formally employed by the family right away.”

There was no need to tell him the unpleasant truth that hiring him could potentially tarnish one’s own reputation.

“So for now, I just wish you’d do what I ask of you here.”

“Yes, I understand, Lord Logan.”

Despite likely having questions, Philip’s response showed no hesitation.

Was it because he felt there was no need to question since he had already signed a contract, or was it simply a lack of drive?

As Logan viewed Philip’s potential with some doubt, he knew he needed to test him.

‘We’ll see once I give him a task.’

Initially, he thought to take advantage of the merchant’s skills not in making money, but in procuring goods. His second objective in the trading city of Kail was to secure necessary supplies for the immediate operation in his fiefdom.

“The first task I’ll set for you is to purchase large quantities of cartridges, springs, and glue made from the southern imperial ironwood.”

“Yes?”

Philip looked perplexed, so Logan, instead of explaining the reasons, outlined the specifications of the materials needed.

“And it would be good if we could get about a hundred samples for various experiments beforehand.”

“Are you planning to sell toys?”

Putting aside his cheeky attitude and the mocking tone, since the purported purpose of employment was to make money, it wasn’t strange that Philip’s mind went in that direction.

“Um, something like that.”

However, there was no need to discuss right now the plan to create weapons for the war.

For the time being, Logan was more focused on producing the samples based on his memories from his previous life.

As for the matter at hand,

“The southern imperial ironwood is known for its durability, so quality springs will only need to be standardized, and as for glue, the stronger the adhesive quality, the better, correct?”

“That’s right.”

“Then, there’s really no need to buy them here or even from the empire.”

Philip spoke quite quickly and unexpectedly.

“What?”

“Ironwood from the northern king’s territories is even sturdier than the southern imperial ironwood. They are mainly produced in the northern Triton estates. There are many artisans who make goods from ironwood there, and naturally, there’s glue too. Personally, I think it’s far superior to imperial produce. Buying directly rather than through merchants here would also mean a cheaper price.”

“Oh?”

Logan, now a mercenary, had used weapons made from these materials only after the collapse of the kingdom, an unknown fact to him.

“I still have connections from my ancestors in those places. If you wish, I can contact them to have about a hundred samples sent to the MacLayn estates purely on credit. Shall I make the arrangements?”

“… Yes, do that.”

Logan nodded, simply taken aback by Philip’s rapid and unexpected response.

‘More competent than I thought.’

But Logan still held back on his assessment of Philip.

With that in mind, he brought up the most significant matter he had contemplated.

This was an item that, even with his current shortage of business acumen, could be enough to make money, leveraging information from the future.

‘He’ll probably panic, though.’

With the feeling of playing a mischievous prank on a fussy friend, Logan casually dropped the bombshell as if nothing was wrong.

“I’m also thinking about buying monster meat.”

“Ah, I see… What?!”

Philip’s surprise was only natural.

Monsters weren’t natural creatures; they enjoyed destroying nature and tormenting other life forms—byproducts of ancient demon kings or the remnants of unrecorded ancient civilizations, or perhaps simply born from sorcery.

According to scholars, their opinions varied, but they shared a common perspective:

– Monsters are antagonistic to other life forms, their blood and flesh carry toxins and continue to harm living beings and destroy the environment after death.

That’s why, when vanquishing monsters, it was customary to burn anything other than their bones and hides. Only special parts of particularly unique monsters were harvested for magical or specific purposes.

“I must be hearing things because of bad ears, you meant the byproducts of monsters, not the meat, right?”

“No, I meant the meat.”

“… Are you serious?”

Despite the polite words, Philip’s expression clearly read, ‘Did I just see a madman?’

Logan just grinned and added more to his explanation.

“I’m planning to buy and stockpile the meat of the lower-class monster Karok.”

“… Karok, you said?”

The lower-class monster Karok looked similar to a wild boar with a horn on its forehead.

Even if they resembled commonplace livestock, their blood possessed toxins, which meant their meat was not fit for human consumption.

“Yeah, Karok meat.”

“Why are you emphasizing meat? You don’t mean there are people who eat it?”

“I just want you to purchase and gather that meat.”

As Logan focused on dictating his request without answering Philip’s question, Philip gave him a look as if he had been presented spoiled food.

While his gaze silently conveyed, ‘Are you seriously out of your mind?’ Philip attempted to reason clearly.

“Monster meat is best disposed of by burning. No matter how much you pay for it, it will only ensure a loss.”

“It won’t be, in this case.”

“What kind of nonsense…”

Philip choked back a curse that was about to escape as he looked at Logan, but Logan appeared to be undeterred, his eyes shining even brighter.

“Haah… Well, if you say so. How much do you intend to use?”

Philip eventually asked, signaling surrender with a raised hand gesture.

However, the ensuing answer made him involuntarily leap to his feet.

“One million.”

“One million?! Have you gone insane!”

Philip’s near-hysteria was laden with unfiltered emotion, but Logan simply responded with a smile, firm in his assertion.

“I’ll spend even more if it turns out to be profitable. Definitely.”

“No matter what rumors you’ve heard, a rumor is not a reason to invest such money! For a rumor to become reality, you need indisputable, concrete evidence!”

Philip spoke with a voice so loud and flushed in the face, turning heads of people passing by outside the mansion, yet Logan’s demeanor remained unchanged.

“Evidence will come, definitively.”

“How can you be so sure with…”

To Philip’s exasperated protest, current common sense dictated that his response was entirely logical.

Yet in a few years, the situation would drastically change.

Next summer, in one of the empire’s towers, a serum neutralizing monster blood would begin being sold.

It was a neutralizer made from common ingredients, without rare herbs or magic.

Though it only worked on the blood of low-level monsters, its cost-effectiveness was extraordinary.

Moreover, anyone could make it if they knew the ingredients.

Since monster hunting by mercenaries and hunters mostly involved low-level monsters, this serum would rapidly spread across the continent.

Soon after, in regions where food was scarce, the consuming of Karok meat and other livestock-looking monsters began.

This shocking new culinary culture spread, and during the winter of the same year, numerous cases surfaced of people curing ‘impotence’ by eating Karok meat.

Even those physically castrated due to injury reported its effectiveness.

And the moment the Grandia royal tower officially confirmed it,

The capital Gran saw a sudden explosion in demand for Karok meat.

Less than a year later, the already rare-monster species Karok became all but extinct in the continents.

Afterward, its meat was traded for more than its weight in gold.

Even dried jerky slices became as valuable.

Although humanity fought monsters for thousands of years, never had they eradicated an entire species.

Yet, due to research indicating its benefits to virility, a single low-ranking monster species disappeared.

‘It’s absurd.’

But Logan couldn’t exactly explain to Philip that he had seen the future.

“You’re certain about this, even though I am firmly opposed?”

“That’s correct.”

With a resigned sigh, Philip seemed to ponder for a moment, though the contemplation did not last long.

“So, what price are you thinking for the purchase of Karok meat?”

“At the current time, Karok meat has no value. No one’s buying, and it’s probably all being burned anyway.”

Despite questioning why Logan would buy something evidently useless, Philip refrained from voicing this.

“So if just delivering the carcass can earn money, with the carriage fee considering the standards of the kingdom, 200 gold might be enough. That’s per carcass, and if we catch a lot of Karok at once, transportation would be much cheaper. Bulk shipments would be best.”

“Oh? You’ve even considered transportation costs to no end.”

Philip’s commendation came with a hint of sarcasm, which was particularly irritating.

“Is my calculation wrong?”

“No, it’s not incorrect.”

“Then?”

“If you set the price and budget at one million… Were you thinking of commissioning a royal-grade hunt from the mercenary guild and then having me purchase them?”

“… That’s the idea. What’s wrong with that?”

“Oh, nothing. The calculations are accurate, but you’ve completely misdirected the approach.”

“Huh?”

“Why go to the trouble of paying mercenaries expensive fees when you can get the same results cheaper? Why act the fool… Ah, suddenly I’m feeling stiff all over.”

“What are you saying…?”

As Logan fixed him with a disdainful glare and attempted to retort, Philip quickly changed his expression and continued his thought.

“It’s not carcasses you need but the meat, right? And you said that meat is currently being discarded.”

“That’s right…?”

“Then simply put out an offer to the merchant guild at the price of beef, and everything will be resolved.”

“What?”

“Merchants who will buy and sell anything for profit are dime a dozen. Especially if what they’re acquiring is essentially trash, there’ll hardly be any cost to them.”

“Wow…”

Logan’s mouth fell open in speechless surprise.

‘This guy, he’s already proving his worth.’

As it turned out, the top ten merchants of the empire were not just more competent than expected but exceeded all imagination.

“From now on, leave all money-related matters to me, Lord Logan. My fate is now tied to your future, after all.”

Only Philip’s reassuring yet unsettling words slightly ached in Logan’s heart.

* * *

“How much?”

“The deposit is 50,000 gold. We will buy smoked Karok meat sealed or dried jerky at 1 gold per kg. The merchant guild’s guarantee must be clearly included. If the deposit runs low, we’re prepared to deposit an additional 100,000 gold.”

“Wow…”

The deposit proved the sincerity of the request, ensuring the merchant guild’s handlings were not wasted.

Despite the contract signed and a deposit made, every pair of eyes at the guild remained locked on Philip in disbelief.

“Crazy…”

“Buying monster meat?”

“Claude Trading went bankrupt, was it because of the mad owner?”

Although the surroundings buzzed with skeptical voices, there was no shortage of merchants willing to take on the order.

“Would you be interested in meat from other monsters?”

“Our company specializes in monster by-products; if it pleases you…”

Many were ready to sell the meat of all monsters as if hungrily eyeing vulnerable prey.

Within a mere two days of leaving the request with the merchant guild and placing a deposit, strange rumors spread throughout the commercial circles of the Kail estates.

The rumors spoke of the disinherited son of the fallen MacLayn family going mad and amassing monster meat.

Logan’s reputation spread rapidly.

“…I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were going through such hardship.”

Philip apologized with a bow—he was the one who spread the rumors, ensuring faster dissemination of the Karok meat request as part of a larger plan.

The unintended side effects never crossed his mind.

“Ha, what’s to fuss about? That made things spread even wider. Good, very good. Well done!”

What was shocking beyond anticipation was the laughter and applause of the person in question.

“Th-thank you… Ha ha.”

Despite having spread his supposed disgrace, Philip received compliments.

*’This guy really must be mad,’* Philip thought, but fortunately, he didn’t voice it aloud.

* * *

To care for the imported Triton estate ironwood and accumulate Karok meat to send to MacLayn territory, Philip stayed behind in Kail.

To achieve these goals, Logan had entrusted him with an astonishing sum of 500,000 gold.

– As long as you carry out the job I’ve given you, you’re free to invest that money into other businesses. If you’re confident of succeeding, even borrowing is an option. And I will generously reward the outcomes.

Shedding any doubts about Philip’s abilities after the Karok meat affair, Logan made a bold decision.

Philip himself was stunned, unsure why such trust was extended with the money.

*’It’s all money saved thanks to this guy anyway.’*

Having budgeted 1.5 million gold for expenses in Kail territory, he had spent only 450,000 gold.

Even accounting for the expected 150,000 gold for purchasing ironwood, over 900,000 gold was saved.

Therefore, there was no reluctance in entrusting—or rather, investing in—Philip.

In fact, Logan felt quite relieved.

*’Philip Claude. The mission of securing financial support has been perfectly cleared.’*

The amount of 500,000 gold also represented a successful first step in recruiting talent for the future.

While employing Philip was part of overcoming the imminent crisis, the real preparation was for the aftermath.

Now he needed to find talents to triumph in the first crisis of the estate war.

*’We need an engineer.’*

Someone who could recreate a concept discussed only with an experienced user.

*And, if possible, an instructor to train a mercenary troop.*

It would be beneficial to find a mercenary capable of training and controlling the troops that Dwayne was arranging.

Both of Logan’s plans required exceptional talents, and luckily, the place to recruit such people was not far from Kail.

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

Episode 12

“Verification is complete. Welcome to Harun.”

Harun, the central estate reached by Kyle through two days of horse riding.

This place had thick double-layered gates in its outer walls, standing several tens of meters apart from each other.

As a result, unlike when he first entered Kyle, Logan had to go through a double check despite showing his identity plaque.

There were legitimate reasons for Harun’s strict vigilance.

Buzzing noises filled the air.

A sea of people surged into view as soon as the inner gate opened.

The bustling crowd was complex and peculiar in a different way than Kyle, especially since a significant number of them wore shackles on their limbs.

“Move it, you lot!”

“Don’t dawdle!”

Crack!

Slaves scattered about, overseer guards wielding whips, and in between them strode individuals with formidable statures and grim expressions, armed with weapons.

Although this was a starkly different sight from a typical estate, it was an all-too-natural scene here.

“Indeed…”

Although it was his first visit in his current life, for Logan, this scene was all too familiar.

Harun was the royal city directly managing the agriculture of the Grandia Plains, the largest granary in the central region.

Originally just an agricultural estate, it gradually earned more peculiar nicknames as slaves to work the vast plains and mercenaries supervising them continued to pour in, beyond its initial intent.

A city of slaves and mercenaries, or the ‘human market.’

‘I first started my mercenary work here in a previous life.’

While the landscape of Harun was nostalgically fresh for Logan, much like in Kyle, he had many tasks ahead rather than reminiscing about his past life.

‘Firstly…’

The top priority was to find a craftsman capable of making the weapon he had used in his past life.

But even before that…

‘I need to find an instructor. No, a guard now.’

The slave market, in the city, was a dangerous place to venture into alone.

Even with Logan’s confidence in his own strength, he could unexpectedly get struck from behind.

To avoid such nuisances, he needed a guard who could ease that burden.

‘An instructor as well as a guard. Just the right person comes to mind, but is he here now…?’

Logan’s steps, filled with the memories of his past life, led him down the streets he had trodden countless times before.

Click.

“Hey, watch where you’re going.”

“What did you say?”

A street where those carrying swords or weapons greatly outnumbered the unarmed.

Two burly men collided shoulders and glared at each other.

“Watch them eyes.”

“You best watch your own back.”

But after a brief exchange of intimidating words, they turned away, avoiding the flash of dangerous stares from around them.

In Harun’s ‘Second Famous Street,’ Mercenary Street, there was one unwritten rule.

The first to draw a weapon gets lynched.

Simple but effective, this rule maintained the law and order of this dangerous street.

Amidst the unruly yet liberating atmosphere, Logan was drawn to a place where buildings adorned with swords and shields were clustered.

The largest mercenary guild in the Grandia Kingdom, the Harun branch of Teynan.

At a glance, the large first floor looked more than 100 pyeong [Approx. 330 m²], bustling with noise loud enough to render the bell at the door pointless.

A guild building crowded with people, hard to believe it was only one of three branches.

“Here’s a mission to the southern region…”

“First come, first served for the rank B escort mission to the Empire!”

“Got any missions heading east?”

Among the mission boards filled with various requests, the clients in a hurry vocalized theirs, and dozens of mercenaries gathered in front.

Fortunately, Logan spotted his target among them.

‘Bingo.’

It seemed luck was on his side today; he found his recruitment target in the third guild building.

Had the target been away on a far-off mission, he might have considered looking for another mercenary, luckily, he had found the foremost on his recruitment list.

‘Kai…’

A grey-haired mercenary, engaged in idle chat with a guild staffer at the counter.

He looked younger than Logan remembered, but the square, stoic face and formidable build were unmistakable. The emerald eyes and the scar on his cheek remained just as Logan had seen in his past life.

‘Still the same… No, this was his prime, indeed.’

Though Kai was ‘only’ a rank A mercenary because he hadn’t awakened his Force, his weapon skills and combat prowess were masterful enough for even knights to fall prey if they were careless.

His skill with a variety of weapons, including bows and spears, was second to none, earning him the title of one of the strongest rank A mercenaries.

Furthermore, Kai was in his mid-forties, an experienced mercenary with excellent riding skills.

‘But his true value arises when he becomes an instructor rather than a mercenary now.’

In just about a year from now, after sustaining a serious injury and retiring from active duty, he would form his own mercenary group.

The mercenaries he trained would boast superior skills compared to their peers, embedding the name ‘Kai’s Mercenary Group’ in the mercenary world.

Logan of the past life had collaborated with them on several occasions, experiencing their prowess firsthand.

To a man, they attributed their skills to the leader and instructor of the mercenary group, praising Kai’s teaching abilities.

However, it was said he preferred fighting over teaching before retiring due to his injury.

‘I’ll have to pay a bit more, then.’

Regardless, he fit perfectly into the image of the mercenary group Logan envisioned.

“Kaisolon?”

Kai looked blankly at the young noble who suddenly addressed him.

Not until he verified the crest on Logan’s armor did he cautiously respond.

“…Yes, but what of it?”

“I want to employ you long-term.”

This young noble seemed to be just another privileged young master, but at least his intentions would be clear within the mercenary guild, preventing fraud.

Kai’s eyes shifted to a gaze of interest as he looked back at Logan.

“Oh? A long-term contract? Interesting. So, how much are you thinking?”

“A minimum of one year.”

“Oh, that’s good. Then what would my duties be?”

“I’d like you to take charge of training and educating the C-rank mercenaries we’ll additionally hire.”

“Training and educating? Are you addressing me?”

Kai was baffled. The fancy-noble lad had sought him out – an expensive rank A mercenary – only to ask him to be an instructor?

A request he had never received before left him with no choice but to heave a sigh.

“…I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what you’ve heard about me. I’ve never specifically trained anyone before?”

“I heard you’re quite adept at instructing your comrades when necessary.”

“Who told you that… Hrmph. I have given some advice to young ones, thinking it might help us on missions, but that’s all, nothing formal…”

“So, are you turning it down?”

“Not that I’m refusing… it’s just that, I’ve never been an instructor before…”

It was a roundabout way of declining, but Logan’s reply differed from his expectations.

“I’ll pay you 4,000 gold a month.”

At those words, Kaisolon’s eyes flickered slightly.

The maximum usual salary for an A-rank mercenary was about 2,000 gold per month.

The young noble suddenly offered him double.

“Let me reiterate, I’ve never worked as an instructor before…”

“6,000 gold. Per month.”

“I’m more accustomed to combat missions. Money can summon even ghosts, sure, but…”

“8,000 gold. That’s the most I can offer. No more.”

With the price quadrupled at once, Kaisolon momentarily mumbled, unable to respond, but soon he laughed heartily and extended his hand.

“Haha, warriors over ghosts, I’d say. I am Kaisolon. Just call me Kai, employer. So what do you do?”

The young noble, or rather the god of wealth, smiled and grasped his hand.

* * *

Upon learning that Logan was not preparing for some war as the child of a border count but was actually the eldest son of the Mackline baronet family, Kai was momentarily astonished.

Nevertheless, this fact caused no hindrance to their contract.

“Aren’t you curious why someone from the remote Mackline estate is hiring mercenaries?”

“As long as payment is assured, I see no reason to be interested, employer.”

“You sure have a clear mind.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

Though Kai answered confidently, his expression turned curious when he learned of Logan’s next destination.

“The slave market?”

Mercenaries and slaves. The purpose of the journey from the Mackline estate to Harun seemed transparent enough, but the reason for a noble’s heir to do such a thing remained an unfathomable mystery.

Nevertheless, staying true to his principle, Kai did not ask, and Logan felt no need to explain.

“That’s right. Stay vigilant for any trouble that might arise.”

“That won’t be an issue. There’s hardly anyone around who wouldn’t recognize me here.”

Logan gave another look of appreciation to Kai, reaffirming his initial thoughts.

Although not exceptionally tall for a mercenary, standing around 180 cm, his muscular physique without any sign of fat, his facial scar, and various weapons adorned all over his body presented an imposing figure.

Depending on their knowledge, people would either avoid him or want nothing to do with him – a perfect impression for a guard in a market trading people, where human troubles were always the issue.

“Welcome~! What kind of slave are you looking to purchase? If you tell us your requirements…”

“Over here, young master! Come take a look! We supply slaves cheaper than anywhere!”

The main street of Harun.

Large tents with wide-open entrances stretched along both sides of the thoroughfare, each containing slaves with ragged and dirty clothing, lined up under the watchful eyes of mercenaries.

The first landmark of Harun, the slave market.

Though not officially sanctioned, the tents started multiplying at some point with the tacit approval of the estate’s authorities.

Eventually, it grew into the largest human market in the Grandia Kingdom, becoming such common sense to visit Harun’s slave market to buy slaves that it became a widely accepted standard.

‘And with that comes daily problems.’

The captured descendants of defeated enemies or serious criminals, refugees caught after fleeing taxes or labor, or those mired in unsolvable debt.

Each had various backgrounds and dark gazes, which Logan encountered rapidly as he moved along.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this.’

He had seen too many former citizens turn to slavery after the downfall of the kingdom in a past life.

To Logan, both the supervisors and the slaves seemed no different – equally pitiable.

Regardless of his turbulent thoughts, the bustling crowd parted like a lie whenever he took a step.

All thanks to Kai trailing right behind him.

Even groups of thugs, who initially approached with ill intent thinking Logan was a naive youngster, quickly made a wide berth upon noticing his follower.

Logan’s annoyance was greatly lessened, and with a satisfied smile, he arrived without trouble at his intended destination.

A small, red tent with a closed entrance.

These sorts of modest-sized tents were often seen in the corners of the slave market.

Despite their small size, they were typically guarded by more escorts and mercenaries than the larger tents.

In front of such a tent, a middle-aged man escorted by mercenaries casually spoke up.

“Young master. Do you know where you have come to?”

“I’ve come for a dwarf. Open up.”

“Ah, you know your business well. Racial slaves are precious, that’s why we have special management. This way, please come inside.”

At Logan’s words, the slave trader shifted his demeanor, and the red tent parted.

Inside, encased behind sturdy iron bars, Logan could see slaves with traits slightly different from the rest.

The first to catch his eye was a pair of pointed-eared beauties, whose attire could not dim their radiance.

Despite their lifeless eyes suggesting surrender, they were seated powerlessly yet remained a vision of beauty.

“These elves were difficult to acquire. Have you seen elves elsewhere? As for these…”

These were elves, known to retain their youth for centuries with virtually every individual surpassing the standard of human beauty, ensuring that they consistently ranked first amongst the preferences of slave purchasers.

“Hm…”

Even Logan of his past life had caught only a few glimpses of the beautiful racial individuals. Even Kai, who had spent a long time in this place, seemed entranced, having seen elves infrequently, uttering impressed exclamations.

The old man kept smiling and elaborating, but the actual buyer showed no interest.

“Enough. Bring out that slave there.”

Instead, Logan indicated a short and stocky slave nearby.

“Ah… Yes, yes, you did mention a dwarf. Of course. We’ll have him brought out!”

The young man showed no response even with elven beauties in front of him, prompting the old man to grimace and signal the mercenaries.

Observing him, Logan snickered internally.

‘Sorry, old man, but impulse buys are a no-go. Especially for mere ornaments…’

While elves were indeed highly sought-after, it was mostly due to their appearance.

There was no reason for Logan, currently preoccupied with war, to pay them any attention.

Logan had, in fact, much greater value placed on the dwarf slave who, by contrast, seemed even uglier next to them.

“Ergh, damn it.”

The dwarven slave, only reaching up to a human’s waist, showed a surly attitude to the mercenaries trying to lift him, despite being shackled with chains as thick as his limbs seemed stubborn.

“See for yourself, the true dwarf appearance. He will be quite useful to you. Among the dwarven craftsmen, this one is a rare master-level artisan, strong and enduring…”

“A master-level!?”

Logan’s eyes widened instinctively.

The old man wasn’t lying; the dwarves were a race born with a knack for delicate craftsmanship, unfit for their thick fingers.

From young to old age, they found meaning in life through crafting and perfecting artisanship.

‘And among them, a master-level yet…’

Logan’s need for a ‘craftsman’ was surpassed by his expectations.

“Got it, how much?”

Interrupting the explanation, Logan was direct in his questioning, prompting the old man to hesitantly hold up two fingers.

“Haha, for a master-level, you must give at least 20…”

“Tch. Do I look like a fool?”

Logan turned and walked away without hesitation upon hearing the old man’s reply.

The value of racial slaves may be high…

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