Regressor of the Fallen Family (Novel) Chapter 67 - 68 - 69

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

C67 - 68 - 69

C67

The bustling streets and countless crowds visible between the gates of Hwasung were akin to those in the trading city of Kail, no less populous, and in the central region of Harun, no less merchant-filled. Right behind the city gate, the noisy main road seemed to truly showcase that this place was indeed the center of the southwest.

However, what really captured the attention of Logan and the Phereta party was a figure standing at the very front, looking in their direction. Amidst ten knights, each bearing the emblem of a rose blossoming within flames—a symbol of the Bifrost family—stood the foremost knight. With striking silver hair, even his irises tarnished with a silvery hue, this middle-aged man’s cold demeanor matched his pale skin.

“The Knight of Moonlight, Flantz?” someone uttered, recognition flashing.

“To be greeted by one of the highest-ranking knights personally…”

“Is that the legendary Moonknight himself?”

Being one of only two highest-ranking knights possessed by Bifrost and easily recognizable due to his distinctive appearance, most knights could identify him at a glance. His appearance signaled to all that Bifrost placed great importance on the heir’s entourage.

Of course, despite the rigid manner of Flantz, which did not seem to be of his own volition, no one protested.

To have one of the strongest warriors of the southwest as their guide was an honor that seemed to humble the knights of the party; even Flonz, who had been red-faced until moments ago, was no exception.

“It is an honor to meet you, Sir Flantz.”

“Pleased to meet you,” came the cool response, strikingly different from the eager demeanor they showed when meeting Logan, almost as if they couldn’t help but grovel.

Logan, however, barely noticed Flonz’s antics, his expression furrowing slightly.

‘A highest-ranking knight and two superior ones to greet a pair of countryside nobodies… this has gone beyond a mere welcome—it’s practically an intimidation.’

Just then, his eyes met with the piercing silver irises that were staring intently at him. Ignoring the blonde head bowing incessantly before him, Logan faced the gaze filled with deep curiosity, not shying away. Seeing Logan’s unwavering look, the owner of the silver eyes approached him.

“If on that side stands Phereta, does this side hold the young master of Maclain?”

“I am Logan Maclain, Sir Flantz.”

“How certain. Astonishing. A mid-ranked knight at such an age?”

Logan’s greeting triggered an uproar among those nearby.

“What?”

“The young master himself?”

“It’s not just the sword that’s exceptional…”

Amidst the murmuring crowd, including the Phereta party, Logan clenched his fist with a sense of triumph.

‘That’s got their attention!’

From the rank of superior knights onward, a distinct, sharp aura that could be felt only by those of the same rank or higher was normally evident—an aura that could not be concealed. However, having reached the rank of Post Core Third Star, Logan could now control even those subtle waves of energy. If he chose to hide it, he could appear as inconspicuous as a commoner, something his father found astonishingly clever.

And that was one of the primary reasons he had decided to journey to Bifrost alone.

‘I can hide my true strength.’

Realizing that this could extend even to other highest-ranking knights, he couldn’t help but be pleased.

“Thank you. I will strive to make a name for myself, worthy of Sir Flantz, albeit in the distant future.”

“Ho. You should aim higher with that talent. At least to the level of transcendent beings. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The tone used by Flantz was distinctly warmer than that used toward Flonz, and naturally, this was followed by Flonz’s grimace and the audible sighs of his companions.

After a couple of hours of slowly walking through the bustling streets, the party finally entered into the inner city.

Leading the group, Flantz halted in front of a lavish five-story building within the inner city. Although Bifrost was somewhat dismayed to learn that Logan had no attendants accompanying him, fortunately, there was no further trouble.

“This is Bifrost’s guesthouse. The heirs of Percival and Rufman have already arrived. Until the evening party tomorrow, please rest and wait here.”

“I’m quite impressed by Bifrost Castle. I’d love to go out and explore if that’s possible?”

“Certain areas within the inner city are restricted, but with our knights escorting, the rest is certainly accessible. Inform the guesthouse manager.”

“Understood.”

As Logan responded with a smile very different from his initial stiff demeanor, Flonz merely gave a weak nod. Once Flantz nonchalantly turned away, Flonz mumbled,

“Coming without even a servant, does he even have proper attire for the party?”

Logan paid him no mind and simply asked where his room was, ignoring Flonz’s sharpened tone.

‘Barely worth watching. If these fools represent the heirs and knights, then taking over Phereta at the time of civil strife will hardly be a challenge.’

Laughing to himself, Logan turned his back to the Phereta party.

‘I wonder what the Count will say.’

He hadn’t brought any party clothes on purpose; he had no intention of walking around without his armor in this place, where anything could happen—a place warranting endless vigilance since it was an ancient land lost by his ancestors.

* * * The following evening.

“Knock, knock.”

“It’s time for the party. I’ll escort you to the banquet hall.”

When the politely knocking servant saw Logan emerge still in his armor, he looked somewhat taken aback.

“I’m just a country bumpkin unfamiliar with parties.”

With no ready retort for a nobleman self-deprecatingly calling himself ‘rustic,’ the servant had no choice but to comply.

“Presenting Logan Maclain of the Maclain household!”

Upon the servant’s announcement and Logan’s entrance into the banquet hall, all eyes within turned to him.

“My, what’s with that armor?”

“He doesn’t know any better, being from the countryside.”

“That’s a bit…”

Within the expansive banquet hall adorned with paintings and decorations on every wall, and brilliant chandeliers hanging from lofty ceilings, Logan in his armor naturally became the center of attention.

While the others snickered or frowned at his uncommon entrance, Logan confidently made his way through the crowd toward the inside of the hall, arriving at the high seat wrapped in red silk and standing atop a stairway, where a middle-aged man in a luxurious suit bearing the emblem of a red rose, eyed him from above.

“Son of Maclain, I, Logan, greet Lord Roger Bifrost, the ruler of this land. Congratulations on your birthday.”

His greeting was polite yet ordinary, but perhaps because he was from ‘Maclain,’ it elicited a slight spark in the Count’s eyes.

“Good. Well met. But I heard Maclain’s been quite prosperous lately, couldn’t you even prepare proper party attire?”

The Count’s speech was unexpectedly worldly, a blunt tone unbefitting a lord among nobles. Logan, however, remained unshaken.

“It seemed better to wear something I’m accustomed to as I am not familiar with festive rites. Please forgive any offence.”

“Weren’t you quite the party attendee in the capital?”

Logan tensed slightly at the Count’s mentioning of a well-guarded fact, but composed himself and retrieved a fancily-wrapped box from his pocket.

“I thought it appropriate to bring a sample of my recent achievements as a birthday gift. Imphorik, a health food known to be quite beneficial for men.”

The lavish wrapping could hardly disguise that Imphorik was actually Carok meat, which many now recognized. Especially someone from Bifrost, who was directly involved in its trade – an unsuitable gift for a Count’s birthday.

Yet, the Count paid no attention to Logan’s gift.

“Your presence indicates Maclain is willing to follow my cause, right?”

“If your cause serves peace, Maclain is ready to lead.”

“Yes? Interesting thought for such a young hero. I thought there would be resistance.”

Peace for the nation, my foot.

As Logan inwardly sneered, the Count continued with a casual demeanour.

“Good. Enjoy the party for a while. I will introduce you grandly shortly.”

Faced with an unnecessary gesture, Logan watched as the Count began receiving greets from the others lined around.

‘Percival. Rufman.’

The heirs from other houses, who appeared to be in their thirties, were interacting with the Count casually as if they’ve met not just once. However, it was clear from the Count’s focus solely on the heirs that the purpose of the party went beyond mere socialization.

‘This is all within expectation, but…’

Even during their brief exchange, Logan was keenly observing the Count, thus fulfilling another reason he had come to this place, albeit an unwelcome conclusion.

‘He truly is a Fifth Circle magician. Tsk.’

The Count’s mana circle embedded within his heart was incredibly difficult to detect, suggesting that he might be hiding it in some way. This confirmed the rumors Logan had heard in his past life about Count Bifrost’s formidable prowess during internal conflicts.

In that past life, since the story involved the defeated second prince’s faction, Logan hadn’t paid much attention.

‘But a Fifth Circle magician could accomplish that.’

A magician of the Fifth Circle was treated as equal in strength to the highest-ranking knights and their effectiveness was magnified in a large-scale war.

This hidden power within Bifrost would be enough to counterbalance even the only advantage that Maclain held.

Although the information was acquired easier than expected, it wasn’t something to lightly dismiss.

‘There’s still a significant gap between our strengths. Not to mention the Count and his two highest-ranking knights. Sigh… what to do, what to do…’

As Logan brooded alone, a loud voice called for attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Count will now address us.”

Amidst the quieting music and the focused attention of the guests toward the high seat, the Count began to speak.

“First, let me thank the distinguished guests who gathered here to celebrate my humble birthday. And…”

Considering the scarce presence of nobles from outside the southwest, Logan thought, ‘Inner guests’ is more like it.

“Although he couldn’t be here personally, I express my endless gratitude and respect to our Second Prince, who has graced us with ‘The Tear of the Sun.’”

Gasps erupted at the Count’s words, and seeing the expected reaction, the Count continued with a satisfied smile.

“For a long time, our Southwest kingdom’s nobility has lived apart, unlike other regions.”

The situation was flowing as Logan had anticipated.

“There’s no need to explain the complex reasons as you all here understand. It’s time we leave fruitless traditions and hollow promises behind and unite. Our likely next heir to the throne, the Second Prince, seeks support from our Southwest!”

As Logan covered his distaste with a wine glass, the Count suddenly pointed at him, drawing the attention of everyone present.

“Here we have Logan Maclain, the heir of Maclain house, pivotal to the Southwest strife two hundred years ago.”

As if on cue, everyone near Logan distanced themselves from him.

And then,

“Logan is an extraordinary young man. He led Maclain to greater glory by winning two recent wars, and has reached the status of a mid-ranked knight at the mere age of 21. Even the highest-ranked knights I know did not achieve as much at his age.”

This unexpected praise shifted the audience’s perspective immediately.

“Our kingdom’s pillars are the Aura users and transcended beings, and this talent is certainly comparable to them. Considering he’s still in armor, one can see his dedication to training. Even his recent broken engagement may well stem from over-focusing on training.”

Amidst the awkward laughter, the Count managed to weave a joke into his speech.

“I have no intention of intimidating or coercing such a fine talent. I merely wish to make a suggestion. Logan!”

“Yes?”

“The grandfather of the Second Prince, Duke Waltermine, is seeking talents like you. If you’re willing, I’d happily recommend you as his disciple. What do you say?”

At the Count’s offer, the hall erupted.

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

Chapter 68: “Disciple of the Superhuman?”

“A disciple of The Flame Sword?”

“That country bumpkin truly struck gold.”

From all around, there were those who sent envious glances while murmuring among themselves, and

“Your Excellency, please grant me an opportunity to prove my valor!”

“I believe my talents are second to none!”

“I beg of you, give me a chance!”

Young men cried out, their voices tinged with jealousy.

Each of them wore fancy, fitting ceremonial clothes that highlighted their bulging muscles, indicating they were knights or nobles of similar martial prowess.

However,

“Amongst you, is there anyone who became an intermediate knight at the mere age of twenty? Or possess strategies and tactics that have led their family to victory in two critical battles tied to their fate?! Above all…….”

The Count’s harsh scolding diminished the previously loud voices to a murmur.

“Even with such abilities! Who among you would brave the disgrace for the sake of your family and bow your back, selling wares personally in the capital? I, for one, am more impressed by Logan McLaine’s actions than his skills.”

The banquet hall grew silent with those final words.

The way they looked at Logan changed noticeably.

‘Why would he say that…….’

It was more than mere overpraise, as all of it was true.

However, Logan could not respond to those words right now.

The moment he shows even the slightest bit of positive acknowledgment, he would be hooked by the nose, and if he were to forcefully reject, he would provide Beiphros with an excuse for invasion.

Fortunately, Logan had a sturdy shield.

“Your words honor me, but I have already committed myself to a master.”

“Eh? Wasn’t your master your father, Baron Patrick McLaine?”

“That is not the case. Fortunately, I have been blessed with an excellent person as my master.”

“It’s the same either way. Having many mentors in life is beneficial, as is the case with martial mentors. If even The Flame Sword, a renowned aura-user of the kingdom, becomes your new teacher, I’m sure your master would not object.”

Of course, it was a far-fetched story.

Knights were taught to regard their lord, their mentor, and their father with equal reverence.

Originally, this meant to serve one’s mentor as one would serve their sovereign, but it was also interpreted as a caution against serving multiple mentors.

The culture among knights and mages was similar in this regard.

Some mentors even restrained their disciples from serving others, fearing the leakage of secrets.

Certainly, the Count was aware of this, making it all a perfect sham.

“Unfortunately, I must decline. My master would surely not permit it.”

Logan’s flat refusal turned the Count’s face stone-cold, and the previously excited atmosphere of the banquet rapidly quieted down.

Nevertheless, the Count’s face soon returned to a smile as he continued,

“Such decisiveness and speed in the young. However, The Flame Sword is scheduled to visit my estate soon. Perhaps you could receive some guidance then. I intend to give this opportunity to all the noble heirs under ‘my command.’ We could even invite your master to join.”

“Ooh…”

“Indeed, that’s the largesse of a Count.”

The Count subtly confirmed McLaine’s inclusion along with the stay of the heirs.

It was then that Logan fully grasped the Count’s intentions.

He sought to ensnare McLaine by any means, whether it be through subjugation or conquest. From the moment Logan set foot here, McLaine’s options had narrowed.

In this situation, he couldn’t outright refuse again.

‘If I refuse, they will seize me, citing insult, or they might even point a sword at me.’

From the start, they had only presented him with one choice.

‘It’s fortunate I had anticipated this and have prepared accordingly.’

Hoping that his countermeasures would not be late, Logan simply bowed his head.

“Thank you for the generous offer. Given your insistence, I cannot refuse. I look forward to it.”

As Logan made these complicated considerations and stepped back,

“I am grateful that you have accepted my offer, Young Master Logan.”

The Count glanced around with a smile on his face.

“The decision of McLaine shall be the starting point for the Southwest to unite once again. And…….”

Pausing deliberately to draw attention, the Count then resumed,

“Prior to organizing this event, there had already been several discussions. Circles close to mine, like Knight Jeff Percival and Baron Derek Lupman had long promised to unite beneath Beiphros’ banner.”

Those from the mentioned families, already aware, nodded along, while only the faces of Phereta’s party turned solemn, having known of this beforehand.

“In this venue, to honor their allegiance, I intend to present the heirs with fitting gifts.”

Clap, clap.

With the sound of clapping, the banquet hall doors opened once more.

Ten knights – not servants – escorted a cart into the hall, seeming to guard it.

Clunk.

A silk cloth laid over the display stand on the wheeled cart, and atop it sat two transparent glass cases.

The items within the cases captivated everyone’s gaze.

A beautiful longsword flashed alluringly, its slender, silvery blade and radiant luster catching the light.

A huge warhammer, whose simple shape was complimented by the undulating blue light, as tall as an average adult man.

The unusual luster of these items revealed their identity as uncommon weapons.

“Artifacts?!”

“If the color of the magic is that deep, they must be at least 3rd class…”

“Of course. Given the Count’s reputation, they must be treasures worth at least several tens of millions of gold.”

“Truly a collector of treasures…”

Artifacts.

Magical tools crafted with materials imbued with or inserted with magic, to exert magical effects perpetually.

While elemental circle mages could also create artifacts, most often it was the class mages, commonly referred to as the wizard faction, whose artifacts were highly versatile.

For this reason, artifacts were typically classified by the class of the enchantment.

Despite their versatility, production cost was immense, as even the cheapest material used was typically mithril – not to mention the wizard’s labor fee, which drove prices sky-high.

Thus, ordinarily, artifacts crafted as weaponry were enchanted with magic of at least 3rd class or higher.

To craft a 3rd class artifact, the services of a 5th class wizard were needed, inflating the price to astronomical levels.

‘Giving such things as gifts? Indeed…’

Logan couldn’t help a bitter smile of admiration.

Certainly, Beiphros’ wealth, having risen to the top three of the kingdom, was not enviable without cause, having swallowed and grown on the lands of his ancestors.

“Silence, everyone!”

The Count called for quiet, yet a satisfied grin crossed his face.

“Witnessing the people’s reaction delighted him.”

“Ramon Percival. Step forward.”

“Yes!”

A sharp-featured, brown-haired man of about thirty stepped forth.

“Do you swear your loyalty to me?” the Count asked.

“Yes. On behalf of the Percival family, I swear my loyalty to you, Count Roger Beiphros.”

“Good. I, Roger Beiphros, accept your oath and bestow upon you this sword as a token of your allegiance.”

“I will serve you faithfully!”

“This sword from Lanpton is a 3rd class artifact, enhancing the wielder’s strength and the blade’s cutting edge. Use it to guard your family and to serve Beiphros!”

“I am indebted to your generosity!”

As Ramon Percival knelt, mirroring the ceremonial bestowal of knighthood, the banquet observed quietly, taking it as due course. For Logan, this scene loomed as a profound pressure.

Furthermore,

“I am not stingy with my givings. The families that unite under Beiphros shall receive their due rewards!”

While emphasizing these words and looking directly at him, it was clear it was not a mistake.

The Count’s pointed stare intensified the pressure, and that is when,

“Why bother with such items? Don’t you think Lord Logan’s sword seems superior?”

Phereta’s fool, who had approached unnoticed, absurdly cut in. He had meant to whisper to Logan, but his voice carried too far.

“Young master?!”

His knight gasped.

“You idiot… Haah.”

Logan’s face contorted, but Fron just flashed a snarky grin, acting unconcerned.

“No, I just thought the Count was being overly generous. Don’t you think? In my opinion, Young Lord Logan’s sword looks far superior.”

The continued uncouthness caused murmurs to spread, and the Count’s expression hardened. Unaware of the impact of his words, Fron seemed oblivious to the drastic shift in the banquet’s mood.

‘Is this fool digging his own grave out of bruised pride?’

Logan certainly wanted the rumors of Hamar’s sword, Lux, to reach the Count, but not like this.

Access to genuine Dwarven craftsmanship was simple once known, yet greedy nobles never thought in that direction.

‘Had I not seen it myself, I wouldn’t have considered it either.’

In the worst-case scenario, if his plans didn’t appeal to the Count, Logan had intended to use it as a bargaining chip or stall for time.

But now,

‘That damned fool…’

Some brute had stormed in and turned the tables completely.

“Ah, so Young Lord Logan’s sword is that remarkable?”

The Count’s eyes locked onto Logan’s waist, his gaze shifting from that of a gatherer of unity to a collector burning with greed.

“Indeed, I was fortunate to acquire a Dwarven piece.”

“Really? A true Dwarven craft? In rarity alone, it could compare to an artifact, as enslaved Dwarves have long lost the skill of their ancestors.”

If only you promised them freedom, you too could possibly possess it.

While Logan sneered inwardly, the pressing matter was to navigate through the present predicament.

“May I have a look at your sword, young master?”

Logan was certain that once handed over, his sword would never return.

Therefore,

“Although young, I am a knight, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to dismissively hand over my companion. I apologize.”

No matter what, he could not give it away.

– A low-grade artifact is nothing compared to this. It’s a masterpiece, the first of its kind I’ve crafted. Have you heard of a legend attached to a Dwarven piece with a spirit? It doesn’t just come to life because I wish to craft it again.

Hamar’s proud words resonated in Logan’s ears.

A Dwarven piece with a spirit.

Even without the almost mythical legends that followed its name, Lux, which Hamar had tailored for Logan’s physique, had become his soul’s companion.

But despite his diplomatic refusal, the Count was relentless.

“A sword is your partner, you say… Heh. You speak with an old-fashioned touch that belies your youth. How about this, then? Show us its worth through a bout.”

“A bout?”

“Why yes. We have people here who have just received my artifacts. A competition would be suitable for comparison. Ramon Percival, you’re an intermediate-level, aren’t you?”

“Yes, my lord. I’m but modest, having barely reached that stage a few years back.”

Despite his modesty, reaching the intermediate level at around thirty was not slow at all. And with newly received Lanpton’s sword in hand, Ramon’s eyes were brimming with confidence.

“Then let’s have a spectacle of the future leaders of our lands demonstrating their valor for the festivity!”

Clap, clap.

As the Count clapped, the center of the banquet hall cleared to make space.

‘Good grief. I didn’t agree to any of this…’

His opponent was already armored on top of his formal attire.

Unexpectedly entangled in an annoying situation, Logan’s expression twisted in irritation.

“However, a mere bout would be dull, so let’s raise the stakes.”

The Count’s eyes glinted mischievously, everyone’s attention turning to him.

“If Ramon wins, I shall claim that Dwarven sword, and if Young Lord Logan wins, I shall bestow a suitable artifact. How does that sound, Ramon?”

“I shall follow your command.”

“And you, Young Lord Logan?”

The turn of events had changed things significantly.

“I accept.”

“Quite magnanimous.”

It was a chance worth taking.

“I must say, I am equally in awe of your largesse, Count.”

Indeed you are.

Despite not stating the full extent of his thoughts, the mutual understanding between the Count and Logan was evident as they both smiled.

‘This is an unexpected windfall.’

The annoyance caused by Fron had long evaporated.

In Logan’s eyes, the fool before him began to look like a free artifact.


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

Chapter 69

“As I am the elder here, I will allow you the first move.”

“No, thank you. I do not wish to hear later that I gained an advantage by starting first.”

I can win without any concessions.

If the opponent wasn’t foolish, they would understand the meaning behind those words.

“Being called a genius makes one reckless, it seems. For your sake, I shall teach you that there is a heaven above heaven.”

Ramon Percival’s expression hardened as he drew Rampton’s sword.

The moment he did, the magic stone set in the hilt of the sword vibrated, casting a subtle glow over his entire body.

“Wow!”

“Impressive.”

“Is that the beautiful effect of an artifact?”

While the surrounding spectators were busy admiring, Logan snorted internally.

‘It’s not like you’re announcing your presence here… Perfect for getting killed.’

The count probably had given him an artifact more for its showy effects than its practicality.

Little did they know, but presumably, ‘Rampton’ had most likely ended up dying in battle, just being a lamp on the battlefield.

Ching.

Even without any special magic effects, the Lux emitted a faint light the moment it was drawn.

To those interested in armor, the inherent beauty of the modest-looking sword was immediately evident.

Perfect balance. A blade that’s sharp and sturdy.

It was as if the sword proved that crafted with its sole purpose in mind, it could indeed be this beautiful.

The eyes of treasure collectors and accomplished knights changed immediately, but Ramon Percival did not have the eye to appreciate it.

“How can you handle an artifact with just a pretty sword like that? I’m worried you’ll later find your weapon inadequate for the defeat.”

“That won’t happen, so don’t worry about it.”

At Logan’s calm answer, Ramon’s brow twitched.

“Be careful.”

Thud.

The next moment, Ramon’s lithe body charged forward like an arrow.

His eyes were serious, and the blade he thrust forward was clothed in a glow akin to that of his body.

Like an old knight from a tale, gallantly charging forward to restrain evil.

The influence of armor played a part, but Ramon, thinking Logan was acting carelessly due to hidden skill, had intentionally made the display dramatic.

‘I should entertain him moderately.’

Among the spectators were the likes of Moon Knight and Plantz.

While it was possible to hide one’s vigor, to avoid the eyes of a high-class knight completely required an adequately convincing performance.

Kwaaang!

“Kuh!”

He let himself wobble just enough.

Ssak.

“Gasp!”

He let his skin scrape a bit.

“The end is… Agh!”

He even provided sharp-looking counters now and then.

“Not bad!”

Chang! Chang! Chang!

Showing a bit of fighting spirit along the way.

The final blow seemed to be aided by luck, almost theatrical.

“Hooh… I guess I was lucky.”

With that, the sword Logan pressed against Ramon’s neck wavered with a long exhale.

Using Poscoeur to raise his metabolic heat and make sweat over his body was his way of placing a perfect period in his performance.

However, the opposing actor didn’t seem to agree.

“This, this is a mistake, Count! It’s because I’m not used to this sword…”

Ramon’s face turned beet red as he begged, looking not at Logan but at the head of the banquet hall.

But then,

“Enough!”

“Please, give me just one more chance…”

“Enough, Ramon. You have disappointed me. Especially with that attitude.”

Count Bifrost’s reaction was chilly, and his gaze towards Ramon turned equally cold.

“If you feel unjust, you should speak to your opponent. Why are you complaining to me? Or do you want to say that you lost because of the treasure I gifted?”

“No, not at all! I apologize, Your Excellency!”

Ramon immediately fell to his knees and prostrated himself, leaving Logan, who was the actual opponent in the duel, in an awkward position.

“Tsk, tsk, all the way to the end… Ah, I forgot to cheer for the winner. I apologize for the unsightly scene, Mr. Logan. You won.”

“Thank you, Count.”

“Since my man disrespected you and made a mistake, I will specially open my treasury for you to choose an artifact for yourself.”

“Oh!”

“The Count indeed!”

“Such generosity…”

“Everyone, let’s give a round of applause to our young hero!”

“Wow!”

The atmosphere shifted instantly with the Count’s words.

Yet from his cold face to his now smile-masked visage, the dramatic change in the Count’s expression seemed comical to Logan.

‘He’s trying to keep me here somehow, isn’t he? No matter what he gives, it’s all the same.’

The Count was probably only thinking of temporarily moving the location of whatever artifact he gave.

‘It won’t go the way he wishes.’

For once, Logan didn’t hide his feelings, wearing a content smile.

At that moment,

“Your Excellency! I have a… moment…”

A man rushed in with a somewhat flushed face.

Overdressed for a mere messenger, he bowed deeply and whispered a report to the Count.

As the Count patted his shoulder with a beaming smile, whispering something in return, the man hastily ran back out of the banquet hall, and the Count looked around the room with a bright face.

“By serendipity, a distinguished person with whom I have ties, honorably sent a message. They regret not being able to attend in person but have sent a magical communication, and they wish to give a speech in the presence of everyone here.”

Who could such a person be, making Count Roger Bifrost so happy with just simple communication?

As everyone present felt puzzled, a man who had dashed out earlier bustled back in carrying a crystal ball as large as a person’s torso.

“Careful! Don’t rush so… Tsk, tsk.”

Even for the Bifrost Count, that was a sizable communication crystal, drawing admiring comments from the crowd.

The Count moved the crystal to his seat and smiled warmly.

“It’s been a while, Duke. It is my humble joy to see you well like this.”

[Excessive courtesy is flattery, Count. Do not demean yourself on such a good day.]

“Absolutely not, how could I dare? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the strongest superhuman of our kingdom, the pillar supporting the royal house. The Duke of Swordsmanship, Felix Esperanza!”

As the Count introduced the protagonist of the magical communication with a proud voice, even Logan’s face became similar to his for the first time.

[…while celebrating the dependable Count’s birthday of our kingdom. Personally, I regret that I could not attend, but I trust that the distinguished guests here are surely witnessing the generosity of Roger Bifrost, Count of Bifrost. My humble speech ends here. Enjoy the party, and I wish for the Count’s continued health.]

“Ahahaha. Thank you, Duke!”

The Count almost tore the corner of his mouth with such happiness, but then.

[Oh? But there… isn’t that Logan?]

The unexpected comment from the crystal caused the Count’s face to instantly harden.

Pfft.

‘He’s really bad at acting.’

I nearly spit out the wine I drank earlier at the awkwardness.

However, as the one who had made the ‘request,’ Logan couldn’t disrupt the stage himself.

A congratulatory speech from the Duke of Swordsmanship, an eminent noble of a current neutral faction neither siding with the First nor the Second Prince.

The Count couldn’t possibly refuse whatever his affiliation.

‘Moving forward, we’ll have to manage well.’

Logan bowed politely in the middle of the banquet hall, where the crystal was in full view.

“It’s been too long. Master.”

With those simply uttered words and a greeting, the banquet hall fell utterly silent.

“Master?!”

“The Duke of Swordsmanship?!”

“Huh…?”

“How unexpected…”

As the once silent hall filled with chatter, the Duke continued indifferently.

[Why are you there… Ah, your home is indeed in the southwest as well.]

“That’s correct.”

[Odd to see my inattentive apprentice’s face like this. Well, when will you come to the capital? I’ve certainly prepared the party for you.]

“Unfortunately, I may have to stay in Bifrost Castle for a while due to family matters. The Count has made an offer I cannot refuse…”

Logan elegantly veiled the meaning of ‘I’m being threatened.’

[Count. Is that really the case?]

The Duke asked a simple question that shelved the complex family affairs for the moment.

“Haha, that is… Ah, no, Your Excellency. If the Duke is looking for him, my own matters can wait.”

[Oh, is that so? That would be greatly appreciated. Logan, let’s meet in the capital soon.]

“I understand. Thank you, Master.”

While the scenario had been laid out, the sincerity in his last word was real.

As he watched the faint distortion on the Count’s face, it felt immensely satisfying.

* * *

The following morning.

– You have made a good connection, Mr. Logan. However, my offer still stands, so I hope you reconsider.

Logan mused over the Count’s words and stern expression from the end of the night while he snickered, only to be interrupted by a knock at the door.

“The Count has commanded my assistance with a report.”

The attitude of the knight, who seemed to have come unwillingly, was rigid, but Logan found it rather pleasurable.

There was another party planned for the evening, but he had no intention of attending.

‘I suppose it’s a good excuse. Just pick up the artifact and leave.’

He would have left yesterday had it not been for this.

Of course, he wasn’t expecting much.

‘The really important items are probably put away.’

He wondered how things would have played out if the Duke’s communication had occurred today instead, but it was a futile thought.

He was lucky enough that events had unfolded as he hoped.

Shaking his head to rid himself of greed, Logan followed the knight with a light heart.

“You have one hour to browse. The Count has granted permission for you to take any one item. Please understand you may be subjected to a check when you leave.”

“Understood.”

A massive stone door guarded by eighteen knights, including three senior knights.

At the door, Logan received further instructions, and then ten knights split to each side and began to push with a battle cry.

“Uaaaah!”

“Haaap!”

Thoom.

The knights’ shouts accompanied the door as it slowly opened, nay, was pushed.

The unexpected security measure took Logan by surprise, unable to close his jaw.

‘Physical strength is required to open the storage room for the artifacts… Whose idea was this?’

The deed took a full minute, and finally, with a heavy noise, the door opened, revealing stairs leading into the depths.

However,

“What…? That’s it?”

The door itself was only about 1m thick.

‘It took ten knights straining to move this?’

With no magical energy detected, it didn’t seem magical…

He didn’t have time to ponder.

“Please, go in. You have one hour. The door will be closed afterwards.”

Logan, still filled with questions, left behind the sweat-drenched knights bearing resentful looks to enter.

After a short walk down the narrow stone stairs, he came upon a large, well-lit chamber.

The sight took him aback; he couldn’t help but exclaim.

“Wow…”

An underground stone chamber as wide as several hundred square meters.

The underground chamber, which should have been dark, was brilliantly lit by countless luminous stones embedded in the ceiling.

Night-shining stones – rare gems that emitted their own light.

Just the night-shining stones alone, if sold, would fetch millions of gold.

Of course, even without them, the small treasures scattered over the chamber seemed to dwarf that value.

‘About 30 of them?’

At a glance, about half of the artifacts he saw seemed to be armor or weapons, yet…

“As expected, you cleaned it all out, didn’t you?”

Arranged in sections for armor, weapons, and other items, there were many empty glass cases that once appeared to hold something further back in each section.

‘The leftovers are at best the same level as those at yesterday’s party…’

With no guides or explanations, he couldn’t even tell what effects the artifacts had.

While Count Bifrost outwardly made a grand gesture, Logan couldn’t help but find his stinginess quite unsurprising, although not completely incomprehensible.

“Free artifacts worth at least ten million gold each, not bad. Well, I’m thankful.”

With a delighted heart, Logan began examining the artifacts.

Having practiced Poscoeur, his heightened senses allowed him to feel even the finest differences in the quality and magnitude of the magic within the artifacts.

He passed over the magically-infused swords and spears for now.

He was satisfied with Lux, and at a glance, he couldn’t sense any superior power compared to the items presented at the banquet.

Logan then turned his attention to the armor, hoping to find something suitable to wear.

‘This one’s electric magic? What, to electrocute the wearer as well? This next is fire? Using the armor offensively? Good grief…’

Amid the unimpressive selections, picking a decent item required thought.

Finally, Logan narrowed down his choice to three artifacts:

An upper body armor barely perceivable in weight, despite its robust hardness.

Gauntlets that instantaneously project a shield spell.

Greaves that lightened the body and bounced off impacts.

He weighed which one to choose while in contemplation.

‘…Huh?’

Swoosh.

Focused on examining the artifacts, a faint sensation of Poscoeur seemed drawn to a particular area.

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