Regressor of the Fallen Family (Novel) Chapter 195

Chapter 195

Chirping.

The sunlight shining through the window and the sound of birds announced the arrival of morning. Unable to sleep due to a myriad of thoughts, Viktor rubbed his swollen eyes as he rose from the bed. Though the lodgings were comfortable, this place was enemy territory. And he, a knight bound by duty to protect his lord.



Thud.



The heavy armor that he casually flipped over to wear brought back some clarity with its cool touch. From this morning until evening, it was his and his members' turn to accompany their lord. The supernatural battles that floated before his eyes through the night, seen yesterday, had to be forcibly shaken off. However, it was not easy.



'Could I ever become like that?'



As a knight, how could he not dream of becoming an Aura User? Yet, contrary to his lord's firm belief that he would naturally become a superhuman, the realm felt despairingly distant, leaving him feeling suffocated.



'It's all so daunting...'



In ancient times, when humans were far fewer and even Force Users were not common, what did the knights of that era, who could not don armor without a squire's help, feel upon witnessing a Force User? To them, an Aura User of a higher realm must have seemed like a person from an entirely different dimension.



He smirked.



'Being able to worry over such a thing is something, at least.'



Viktor shook his head a few times, took a deep breath, and then stepped out of his room. He had transformed from a suffering sibling in the slave markets of Harun into a genius knight of the Maclaine family, while his younger sibling became the hope of the Mage Tower. Their lives had already changed drastically.



Today, he had to accompany the very person who made that possible – his benefactor and lord. Shrugging off all distractions, Viktor walked with a confident stride towards his lord.



* * *



"The Western 3rd Legion stationed here in Ruspelheim is tasked with defending our kingdom's borders. In the worst-case scenario, they could also serve as the vanguard attacking our kingdom. So, keep a keen eye on them."



Viktor tensed up at his lord's concluding words. Though not explicitly mentioned, it seemed the lord viewed the empire as an inevitable adversary. That must be why the plea was made with such a deferential tone.



- Deeply impressed by your valor, may we witness the might of the 3rd Legion you command? We wish to reference it for our modest domain.



If that's what the lord believes...



'It shall be done. Unquestionably.'



Viktor directed his Force towards his head, dispelling even the slightest fatigue, and concentrated his mind. Upon entering the military camp set up on the outskirts of Ruspelheim,



He couldn't help but grimace at the display of might boasted by the empire's Western 3rd Legion.



"Attention! Salute the distinguished guests!"



"Salute!"



The sight filled with ranks of soldiers, a thousand 'knights' lined up in the training ground, executed their movements with flawless precision, raising their swords towards them.



And the Aura User from yesterday, Blake, approached slowly with a pleased smile amid that sight.



"How was it, Lord Logan? We slightly modified our usual training for our guests, but was it satisfactory?"



"Remarkable. I can see the might of the empire's legions."



Blake's smile broadened at the lord's admiration.



"Don't mention it. It's a pity we can only show you this much since the majority of our legion’s forces are deployed to the border areas."



Walterheim, one of Grandia's finest domains, had boasted of its thousand-strong knight order.



And here, 'merely one of the Western 8th Legions. So, this is the empire...'



Thinking of the empire as an enemy, Viktor found it impossible to maintain the leisurely smile his lord wore.



"I must apologize for yesterday’s rudeness to the burly gentleman. My inability to restrain provocations led me to act impulsively.""It will be all right. Sir Luther is the type to accept the outcome, so he won't take it too hard."

Despite those words, it seemed as though he was still sulking and hadn’t shown up.

Victor, who dared not question his lord's words, could only bow his head in silence momentarily.

Meanwhile, an 'enemy' Aura User who stood at the forefront of the knights had summoned 30 knights and introduced them to Logan.

"These are the elite of the Third Legion who will accompany me in escorting Duke Logan to the imperial capital."

"It is an honor to serve such a distinguished guest!"

The 30 knights knelt on one knee in unison, their voices ringing out as one. The display, like the one just moments before, made it evident just how well-trained the Third Legion truly was.

'Out of the 30, nine are high-ranking, the rest are mid-ranking, and then there’s one...' Logan's gaze met with someone whose strength he couldn't quite gauge.

'Perhaps top-tier…'

The sheer luxury of being able to dispatch such elites for a diplomatic escort, unrelated to the legion's primary duties, was frightening.

"Isn't this overkill? Just having Duke Blake here is overwhelming enough."

"How could we afford to treat His Majesty's guest with anything less than our best? We will ensure a safe escort without any incidents to the best of our preparations."

Gone was the sight of the fierce superhuman from yesterday, replaced only by the polite Blake.

The fact that a superhuman could act so considerately for the sole reason of being the Emperor's guest weighed heavily anew.

"Ha, well, if you insist. I accept your kind offer. But Duke Blake, I'm quite curious about the empire's armaments. What kind of weapons do the soldiers of the Third Legion primarily use? Perhaps crossbows as well…?"

The kingdom's foremost nobility.

The hero who had saved the country in a civil war.

For a moment, all that pride seemed to be put aside as the lord bowed his head before the enemy, darkening Victor's expression.

'He really is preparing for war…'

Victor found himself reassessing the knights of the Third Legion with renewed interest.

'These men could be the vanguard. I must gauge their level. And…'

To protect this life,

'I must become stronger.'

Victor, devoid of any special talents, knew that all he could do was train.

He firmly resolved once again, looking at the back of the benefactor who had changed the fate of him and his brother.

"Crossbows? Why would we use such inefficient weapons? Ha, you do make an interesting point."

Logan nodded, looking into Blake’s unshaken eyes.

Further investigation would likely reveal it, but it seemed the empire's repeating crossbows hadn’t been deployed in actual combat yet.

"Ah, it was just an example. We use them on our side, you see."

"Oh? Well, I suppose it's fine for hunting, but for war?"

It confirmed to Blake that the kingdom's affairs were of little concern to him.

"Ah, we have improved versions. They might not stand much chance against the mighty knights of the empire, though."

"Ha ha ha. Your praise is too generous. Now, please come this way. I'll show you the facilities the knights use for training. There might be many aspects your kingdom… Ah, my apologies, could learn from."

Their excessively patriotic pride, even flaunting the knight's barracks that were not much different from those in his kingdom, was noted once more.

After touring the training facilities and the state of the weaponry in the Third Legion's garrison,

'Third Legion's total manpower can be estimated at about 25,000. Definitely less than what it was 20 years later. No crossbows, and about 1,100 knights… Doesn’t seem like they're hiding anything.'

Logan nodded with a smile, comparing the current state with his past life and deducing the legion's situation from the traces left.

Thanks to Blake's eager cooperation, the process took much less time than expected.

"Indeed, the empire is different. I've learned a lot."

"Not at all. Your keen interest in military power as a young hero has been highly impressive to me as well."

"There won't be another large city like this on our way to the imperial capital, will there?"

"That's correct. But the imperial capital is different. Once you arrive in Aserian, you'll realize it's truly another world."

"Is that so?"

Though Blake was mostly obliging in his responses, he clearly maintained certain boundaries.

Logan, skirting around various topics and subtly probing for information about other legions, the current state of the imperial succession conflict, and the military deployment around the imperial capital, received no answers to these more in-depth questions that a legion commander would certainly know.

"I'm sorry, but I cannot answer those for you."Was it reluctance or inability to speak?

Considering Blake's previously boastful demeanor about his legion, it seemed more like the latter.

"Even a superhuman legion commander must have lines they cannot cross."

If so, it implied the Emperor's authority was immensely stronger than that of a superhuman.

The more he learned about the reality of the Empire, the more the unseen Emperor's shadow seemed to grow.

It was two days after leaving Rustfelheim that the party set off, once Logan had thoroughly verified the information he gathered through various channels.

A significant part of this process was facilitated by the McLean trading company's branch office established by Philip.

- "Your conjectures are fairly accurate. Here’s the precise information."

The branch head, originally from Grandia and a businessman in Rustfelheim for a decade, was quick and reliable in his work, to the extent that Logan wished he could pat Philip, whom he hadn’t seen recently, on the back.

"All details regarding the Third Legion are now clear. Assuming the addition of a repeating crossbow, we can consider their force equivalent to the initial expeditionary force of the Empire at the onset of the war."

The stay in Rustfelheim was worth it for this reason alone.

Logan offered a sincere smile to the mayor who accompanied him to the city gates.

"Thank you for your hospitality. My stay was pleasant!"

"Hahaha. The pleasure is all mine, Lord Logan. I hope you will remember me."

Still that talk?

Seeing the mayor, who couldn't let go of the baseless hope that a high noble from the kingdom might defect to the Empire, Logan could only respond with a wry laugh.

The journey that followed was comfortable.

As long as a superhuman of the Empire accompanied them, raising their flag, no rebel or bandit in the untamed lands dared to attack.

Moreover, since there were no major cities between Rustfelheim and the Imperial Capital, Luther Kail drew little attention.

Furthermore, whether due to Blake or the Emperor's summons, the party always received a warm welcome in even the small cities and domains, reducing any discomfort.

However, Logan himself couldn’t avoid feeling a certain unease.

"Oh, what an honor."

"Why don’t you stay a bit longer?"

"This is my daughter. Isn’t she pretty?"

The onslaught of Empire nobles trying to win favor or even tie family bonds left him sweating more than once.

Especially since Blake began making cautious conversations about training after observing the party's commitment to practice during stops and travels, which only added to the discomfort.

"While we’re moving, I see the knights are always training. Now I understand the source of their skills. Would you consider sparring with me?"

"Apologies, but last time, it was solely the artifact’s effect that produced the aura. A sparring session with a superhuman might be too much for my body to handle..."

Blake's proposition was met with a calculated but polite refusal.

Given that Logan was a guest of His Majesty the Emperor, Blake found it difficult to insist further.

However, Blake's continual keen interest from a distance in the party's training, especially Luther and Logan’s, was mentally taxing.

The shadow of the Emperor cast over their polite demeanor felt all the more heavy.

Thus, the journey stretched beyond a month, with the party witnessing various imperial domains, gradually experiencing changes.

"Now I see why it's always ‘Empire, Empire’. Even the smallest domain has things we don't have. Truly..."

These were the words of Henderson, the team leader.

The party was deeply impressed by the convenience and splendor of the new cultural aspects they encountered while passing through the Empire’s territories.

"Learn what you can, note down what you wish we had back home. If possible, we’ll take it back with us."

"Really, my lord?!"

Such a statement was enough to excite them.

'The main point is to learn, you fool.'

Logan inwardly lamented.

And as these conversations became more frequent, the pride among Blake and the Third Legion’s knights gradually swelled.

"Someday, our domain, no, our kingdom will possess a strength surpassing that of the Empire. With our lord at the helm."

Faced with Viktor’s excessive expectations, Logan could only offer a bitter smile.

After a journey of a month and a half, the party finally arrived at Aserian, the largest city of the continent and the Imperial Capital of the Empire.

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