The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin (Novel) Chapter 29 - 30

C29 - 30

The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 29

Chapter 29: To the Academy (3)

“Boss! Another serving of roast whole pig over here!”

“We’re out of booze at our table! Hurry and bring some more!”

Amidst the boisterous atmosphere, drunken men engaged in rough revelry.

It wasn’t quite a fitting place for an eleven-year-old boy, but it didn’t matter.

This country wasn’t so strict as to deny minors a taste of alcohol.

I found a vacant spot without any fuss and sat down.

As if on cue, dozens of gazes turned my way.

I also scanned the table occupants lazily.

Unremarkable swords and armor—the hallmarks of common mercenaries who lived off commissions.

“This doesn’t seem quite the place for a young lord, does it?” voiced a woman in a red silk dress, approaching to take my order.

Perhaps in her late twenties?

The deep cleavage was noticeable, though it wasn’t much of a distraction for me.

“You don’t appear to be here to drink. What will you have?”

Her tone was flat, betraying a hint of annoyance.

“Of course. The best thing you have here.”

Indifferently, I retrieved a gold coin from my pocket and handed it to her.

“Hm?”

The woman’s eyes sparkled for a moment upon receiving the coin.

“This… are you sure? This is more than enough to buy all the food here…”

“Then bring me some drink to accompany the meal, and keep the change as a tip.”

Her face brightened instantly at the mention of a tip.

“A young lord who knows how to spend! Please wait a moment. Customer~!”

Her tone completely changed as she rushed into the kitchen.

I watched her leave, then returned my attention to the others, now focusing on me once more.

Some seemed to relish the smell of money coming off me.

“Has the rich young master come to tour the city?”

Eventually, a man from across the room approached my table.

He was a burly mercenary, large enough that the table shook when he sat down in front of me.

“I didn’t invite you to sit.”

And he reeked of sweat. Did he even bathe today?

“So stiff! I almost want to mark that pretty face with a few bruises! Ku-ha-ha!”

Was that intended to be a joke?

The sight of him laughing to himself made me think that bruises would be his, not mine.

“You seem young and unaware of the world. Money should be spent where it’s useful, not tipping a wench for shaking her chest!”

And what does that have to do with me?

“Moreover, in times like these, walking around alone without guards could lead to an untimely death! How about it? I don’t know where you’re headed, but why not hire me to ensure a safe journey?”

I couldn’t help but smirk at his proposal.

With knights themselves in high demand, was there really a market for such low-quality mercenaries?

Clearly unworthy of consideration.

“As you’re still young, I’ll offer you a special discount—”

“Get lost.”

The people around us started murmuring.

“What did you say?”

“I said, get lost. I have no desire to eat with your face in view.”

The color rose in the mercenary’s face, flushed with anger.

“A cocky young master, aren’t you? But you should watch whom you’re addressing. One wrong step could spoil that pretty face, you know?”

He tried to intimidate me, exuding a false aura of threat.

I had merely stopped by for a bite, and now some good-for-nothing was trying to ruffle my feathers.

I contemplated whether to gouge his eyes out or break his fingers and stuff them in every orifice—but in the end, dirtying my hands on him wasn’t worth it.

Instead, I simply locked eyes with him, uttering no word.

After all, true predators do not blindly attack their own kind. They measure each other with stares, the first to sense a limit submitting and withdrawing.

Would it be different with humans?

For a lumbering creature that’s hardly a predator, a real killing intent is all it takes to subjugate it.

-Sssss

As a menacing red aura slowly arose, my hair fluttered in the pulsing energy.

The weighty silence of the surrounding atmosphere became charged with deadly promise.

“……!?”

The mercenary was clearly feeling overwhelmed, with fear beginning to take root.

A bead of sweat traced its way down his cheek, betraying his inner tension.

If he didn’t want to be torn limb from limb, he had to leave—immediately and without a word.

“Sorry to interrupt your meal…”

He mumbled a pathetic apology and swiftly stood up.

He seemed to be retreating to his own table, but then, in a haste as if fleeing, he disappeared out of the tavern.

He was even more of a coward than I’d thought.

“What just happened here?”

The waitress, who had taken my order, returned food in hand, sitting down beside me suddenly.

“Did you just send that ruffian packing?”

“He left on his own accord.”

I played dumb.

“That bastard is well-known around here! He preys on outside merchants, acts as if he’s protecting them for the day, then demands a hefty sum for his ‘services’!”

Hmm, none of my concern.

My sole purpose here was to eat.

I began to prepare for the meal silently.

She had brought me a delectable stew packed with generous chunks of meat and a side of fresh fruit juice.

“I asked the kitchen to add more meat especially for you! It’s one of Safern’s specialties, and I’m certain you will be satisfied!”

I’d have to taste it to be sure.

I scooped up a spoonful and took a bite.

The rich butter blended with the springy, plump meat, creating a pleasantly harmonious flavor.

Without much fanfare, I quietly continued to enjoy my meal.

“But are you really traveling alone, sir? In times like these, it’s unusual to see nobility without guards, especially with the rumors of fearsome assassins on the loose…”

“Not feeling the need…”

A coachman would suffice, if anything.

“Still, it might be wise to have a few guards. With all those assassins roaming about the country…”

At the mention of assassins, I stopped eating for a moment.

“Assassins?”

Were they referring to murderers, not mere thieves?

“Do you know the name of this assassin group?”

“Their name? I think it was Mi… something?”

It was then that Brian, whom I’d sent on an errand, entered the tavern.

“There you are, my lord!”

He looked sweaty as if he’d been searching for me for a while.

“Get this lad something decent to drink.”

“Of course! Just a minute, please!”

The waitress eagerly rose from her seat.

“What are you waiting for? Have a seat.”

“Th-thank you!”

Brian sat down awkwardly. “Did you find out what I asked you about?”

Once we arrived at the inn and unpacked our things, I’d given him a sort of mission—find out why the empire was so desperate for more bodyguards.

He started to speak with confidence in his eyes.

“It wasn’t difficult to find out. It’s an issue that extends beyond Safern to the whole empire—it seems even children in the streets are aware of it.”

Even street kids knew, and I was unaware?

That was unsettling.

“They say assassins appeared, is that correct?”

“Yes, it’s a group of assassins named Mistra…”

-Plop.

My spoon dropped into the stew.

My eyes, previously detached, snapped open at the response, and Brian froze, caught off guard by my reaction.

“Is, is there a problem?”

“Do you even know what ‘Mistra’ means?”

My gaze was sharp and questioning.

“Well, it’s quite famous, isn’t it? Following the ‘Divine Massacre’ decades ago, some disciples enraged by the loss formed a group of killers, targeting nobles across the continent…”

Yes.

But that was only the surface of the truth.

There were certainly distortions within that narrative, but that wasn’t the focus now.

“What evidence do they have those people have reappeared?”

“People say the bodies left behind by these assassins are chopped into dozens of pieces, and black mist covers the area. Plus, the victims are usually corrupt officials or nobles, resembling the acts of those who vanished years ago…”

The waitress, returning with a drink, chimed in.

“Yes, that’s right! That’s why nobles and wealthy people have been seeking extra guards lately, all fearful for their safety. Even the local lord is among them.”

I leaned back in my chair and lost myself in thought for a moment.

How should I respond to such an unexpected situation?

Under normal circumstances, I would’ve ignored it, but this wasn’t something I could simply dismiss.

The solution was simple, however.

I just had to see for myself.

-Swish

I pushed my chair back and stood up.

“Where are you going?”

“Just out.”

Before leaving, I slid the half-eaten bowl of stew toward Brian.

“What is this?”

“It looked good, but I couldn’t quite taste it.”

With a look of bewilderment, Brian and the waitress watched as I left the tavern with ease.

Night had fallen, and a chilling air roamed the streets as darkness set in.

* * *

“Someone came looking for me? The son of Duke Verto?”

A bald man rolling a drink in his hand asked with half-closed eyes.

“Yes! He stopped by on his way to the Royal Academy.”

“Oh, you mean the dud from the Verto household. I hear he’s been coming and going from the frontlines over the past year, but never mind; it’s none of my business.”

Disinterestedly, the man snorted through his nose.

“What about the other matter I asked you to look into?”

“Well, I’ve been thoroughly investigating, reaching out to mercenaries from other countries… How about we stop there, lord? If we keep increasing the guard at this rate, it might affect the management of your lands…”

“What? You think I should just be killed by those bastards?”

“No, that’s not what I meant…”

-Whack!

“Ugh!”

Struck on the head by a wine glass, the servant toppled backward.

“I’m not hiring guards just to protect my own neck. What good is it to just shake in fear of some lowly assassins? They must be caught and made an example of, or they’ll never learn their place!”

“My lord, I apologize for failing to see your profound intention!”

The servant scrambled up, no time to nurse his wound, bowing profusely.

“If you understand, then don’t argue. Make sure by tomorrow to have the number of men I’ve called for. And silence the lips of those around us, understood?”

“Yes, my lord, I’ll make the arrangements!”

Hastily, the servant left with a bleeding head.

Now alone, the lord cursed and slammed drink after drink.

“What good did those fools ever do? You think if I die, you’ll take my place?”

The drunken lord managed to stand, unsteady on his feet.

“I am Fawaqron, the lord of Safern! Followers of the Black Mist? Come if you dare! I’ll tear your flesh to shreds to garnish my drinks! Ku-ha-ha!”

As he stumbled around the room, bellowing and cursing, a cold voice pierced the air.

“……Nonsense.”

Startled, the lord halted his rants, scanning the surroundings.

“What the—?”

No one was in sight, but a strange black smoke curled up from a corner of the room, soon enveloping the lord.

“Hiiiek!”

In panic, he rushed toward the door.

-Bang, bang, bang!

“What’s happening? Why won’t it open?”

The door was locked, and no one responded to his shouts.

“Anyone there? Come quickly! They’re here! The followers of Black Mist…!”

As his calls were cut short, the lord’s body slumped as if lifeless.

Moments later, his body was dragged away, disappearing into the darkness.

The room was left silent, save for the sound of rolling empty bottles.

---------

The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 30

Chapter 30. To the Academy (4)

What happens when one is born human but is denied humanity?

They are exiled from society, become isolated, and receive no recognition from anyone.

As weak individuals form groups, establish order, and make laws,

to remain a part of that human group, one must abide by these rules.

And if they don’t?

Simple, they are no longer considered human.

Look at the heinous criminals who commit murder, rape, assault, and so on.

Do we treat them as human?

As much as they commit inhumane acts, we never place them in the same category.

It may seem minor, but being denied one’s very essence is a terrifying thing.

And we never know what those who are excluded will turn into later on…

So why am I bringing this up?

Because even among those exalted beings, the gods, there are those who have been excluded in this way.

Among the gods, there was one who was not acknowledged as a deity and was banished from the celestial realm, the scorned deity—Aer, the God of the Black Mist.

This decree by the gods also applied to their creations, the humans.

One must not follow the God of the Black Mist.

No one taught us this; it’s like a taboo ingrained in our minds the moment we are born.

This notion has been perpetuated in human society for a long time.

However, just as the human heart cannot remain consistent, this idea wasn’t destined to last forever.

On the day the Black Mist was first witnessed on the continent,

there were those who defied the longstanding notion of the gods and later came to be known as ‘Followers of the Mist’.

For the first time as humans, they revered Aer as a god, and even negated other gods.

But the price for denying the divine order was steep.

Those who stuck to the old beliefs saw the Followers as negative beings that should not exist in the world, insisting that only ostracization and annihilation were the answer.

In other words, they denied their own humanity.

And so the Followers of the Mist were thoroughly ostracized by their fellow humans and ultimately exterminated, and only a handful of survivors later regrouped to form an organization known as ‘Mist’.

Having experienced exile once, they retained no complacency or mercy.

They aimed to denounce the world order centered around the light and reveal the vile aspects of humanity lurking in shadow, with assassination as their chosen method.

Their primary targets were the upper classes of human society, whose atrocious acts remained hidden from public knowledge.

However, due to their brutal methods, even the common people held them in poor regard.

In the end, like the entity they worshipped, they continued to exist, denied the very essence of being human.

Now, how do I know this story?

Because I was an assassin within the Mist.

Common knowledge claimed that the Mist was purged by the ‘Purification Army’, led by the Knights of Light, but this was nothing but a distortion of the truth.

They were not subjugated; they merely concealed their own presence.

Supposedly waiting for the day when the heir to the divine power would reemerge, but that’s complete nonsense; it was primarily the whims of that foolish god.

Anyway, the main reason I’m heading to the academy is to make contact with Mist once again.

But how could they have started operating already without me?

Unless that cursed god played another whim, it makes no sense.

I cannot travel to the academy in peace without verifying it with my own eyes.

With a calm heart, I looked around.

Just as a bright sculpture casts a dark shadow, even a thriving city has its exceptions.

Roads stretched in all directions and buildings rose densely between them. At some luxurious buildings sporadically visible, armed guards in swords and armor stood watch.

At a glance, they seemed not like professional guards with knightly experience, but rather ordinary mercenaries.

It was an atmosphere devoid of warmth or compassion, to say the least.

[Have you come out for hunter only to be reduced to hunting humans?]

Ceyram materialized and pinched my cheek, speaking firmly.

“Just something I want to find with my own eyes.”

[That ‘Mist’ or ‘Meatball’, that thing? Even Aer, pretending to be a god, must have wanted a group of followers at his beck and call, right?]

Surprisingly, Ceyram didn’t know about the Mist.

Even though she’s a demon sword that inherited the divine power related to the Mist, as you know, she’s been in slumber for hundreds of years.

It was impossible for her to know an organization that had been the talk of humans just a few decades ago.

Besides, she didn’t particularly fond of that foolish god who was akin to her father.

[Looking for a needle in a sand dune? How do you plan to find these maybe-there folks?]

“It’s nothing. Just like throwing bait to catch fish.”

I entered a deep alleyway with no guards in sight.

A void with not even an ant passing by.

The perfect atmosphere for a quiet killing.

Finally finding a suitable spot, I squatted down and slowly closed my eyes, drawing out the black mist energy that had been lurking within me.

-Swish.

The dense clusters of mist filled the chilly alley.

Any ordinary human lacking courage would turn tail and run at once.

The fundamental principle of an assassin is to leave no trace, but the followers of the Black Mist are different.

Wherever they have been, there’s always a dirty black mist left behind as impossible to occur naturally.

It’s like a marker proving they were once there.

Now, if you really are hidden in this city, you cannot ignore the scent I am now emitting.

So come forward and witness my presence!

I will prove whether you are the ones I’m looking for!

“…….”

But as I said earlier, if the ones supposed to smell me aren’t in this city, then this black mist is nothing more than smog.

After coiling in one spot for 30 minutes waiting, the only thing that came was the damp evening breeze.

Eventually, I began to feel self-critical for what I was doing.

[Is master playing at being a plaster statue again?]

Ceyram appeared to be amused by my seemingly foolish actions (?).

Indeed, if I haven’t seen an ant for so long, they probably don’t exist in this city.

I could have just gone to the headquarters and woken up that foolish god to ask directly, right?

I’ve been acting like a blind man in front of the most certain method.

I rose from my spot and dusted myself off.

-Slither slither

Just as I was ready to disperse the mist and head back to my lodging, I heard a strange noise from the far end of the alley.

It sounded like something being dragged with effort.

I immediately tuned my ears to the source of the noise.

-Clop, clop.

Mixed with the noise were the footsteps of a stranger.

The footsteps belonged to one person, but the presence I felt was not solitary.

Moreover…

[Do you smell blood?]

As if having caught a whiff of something exquisite, Ceyram savored the scent.

Mixed with the growing presence was the filthy scent of blood.

Pleased that my 30 minutes playing at being a statue wasn’t in vain?

My lips, which had been straight, were now curving into a broad smile.

“……?”

But the excitement of waiting for them to approach was short-lived,

as the footsteps that had been drawing closer suddenly snapped to a halt.

-Dart dart!

They stopped, and then there was the sound of a sprint.

The problem was that it wasn’t coming towards me, but instead moving away.

Meaning they were running away from me.

[Running away?]

“What is this madness?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, I dashed from my spot.

I had baited and waited, only to have the prey sniff and flee?

It was clear that the figure wasn’t scared of the unfamiliar mist, but was fleeing from my presence within it.

As I cut through the mist and turned the left corner, I finally spotted the back of the retreating figure.

-Thump!

Without hesitation, I grabbed the throat and slammed him to the ground.

“Choke!”

The overpowered figure coughed in agony.

I calmed my racing heart and quickly scanned his entire body.

Height, around 170 cm; weight, about 70 kg.

Though his face was hidden by a black mask, judging from the wrinkled skin on his nape and the sound of his voice, he was a middle-aged man.

In his outstretched right hand, a bloody wooden club.

Next to his wandering left hand, a huge sack fit for stuffing a person.

Judging by the red stains visible through the yellow fabric, it was clear the blood scent had come from there.

“Damn!”

The bloody club danced in the air.

The scoundrel tried to grab the club and swing it at me.

But since my hand clung tightly to his throat, the club fell far short of its mark.

I squeezed his throat even harder.

“Crack…!”

His vocal cords strained and in the pain of being strangled, he lost his senses.

Only when his body went cold and he was on the verge of fainting did I let go.

[Is this guy a follower of that buffoonsome god?]

Ceyram poked his head with her finger to see if he was still alive.

The black mask, blood-stained club, and though I hadn’t checked yet, the sack that likely held a person—they all seemed to fit the criteria… but something was too clumsy.

“Sa…”

The man, gasping for breath, barely managed to make a sound.

“Spare me, please…!”

A desperate plea for life.

I found myself sighing without realizing it.

It was a sham.

A fake who’d clumsily mimicked the appearance of others.

For an assassin who shook the continent to beg for life so pitifully…

It was impossible for true members of Mist to tolerate such contemptible behavior.

This man was not from the Mist.

-Wriggle

Suddenly, the beige sack next to me stirred.

“Ughhh…”

Accompanied by an unsettling groan.

Considering the rough and husky voice, it didn’t seem likely to contain a beautiful woman.

Curiosity piqued, I untied the sack to take a look.

Hmm…

Inside was a middle-aged man with no hair and a potbelly like a mountain.

Though I did not recognize the face, the quality of his clothing suggested he might be a wealthy noble.

It appeared he had been struck with something blunt, as there was a wound on his forehead with dark red blood flowing.

It seemed the intention wasn’t to kill with a single blow, but merely to knock out and kidnap…

A miss.

I had come in search of Mist and instead got entangled in a mundane crime scene.

The more I get involved, the more it seems like it’s only going to give me a headache…

“That man must not…”

The masked man reached weakly toward the sack with desperate eyes as if it contained bars of gold.

What a pathetic sight, almost enough to bring tears to my eyes.

I tied the sack up again and handed it back to him.

“……?”

Through the mask, his eyes blinked, clearly puzzled.

“I don’t care what your game is, if you don’t want to be torn apart, don’t go around like this.”

“…Yes?”

“If someone other than me had seen you, you’d already be dead.”

Subsequently, the mists that had dominated the area dispersed.

Leaving the man lying there in bewilderment, I left the place at my leisure.

(To be continued)

Editor’s musings:

We will change Dark Mist to Black Mist. It sounds better.

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