Befitting his reputation as the Flash, Rhineland managed to deflect some of the oncoming bolts as he charged. But searing pain shot up his shoulder and sides, and the horse tumbled forward. Rhineland jumped off from his saddle, rolling as he landed to lessen the impact of the fall.
“… Hold your fire.”
Rhineland saw the dead bodies of his companions as he rolled on the ground. He grit his teeth and charged with what sounded like a mix of a battle cry and a scream. Rivelia ordered the agents to stand down and stepped forward to personally face his will.
Their swords clashed together, and Rhineland’s face widened with surprise and confusion when he confirmed Rivelia’s face.
“Lady Rivelia? What is…”
Rivelia grimaced, watching Rhineland fall deeper into confusion. She was certain after meeting his sword. Rhineland was not a turncoat.
“Sir Rhineland, I know you’re confused but listen…”
Rivelia attempted to reveal herself and explain the situation, but Rhineland’s face twisted as if he’d realised something.
“I see, that’s what it was.”
“You filthy nobles. I thought Pendletons were different, but you are all the same.”
“Sir Rhineland, please calm…”
“Shut up! I will never submit to you!”
Rhineland mercilessly swung at Rivelia with his sword. Seeing his reckless behaviour that neglected any sort of defense, Rivelia believed there was a misunderstanding. She parried his attacks, trying to convince him in between swings. But her words didn’t reach Rhineland.
“What are you even doing.”
Isaac sighed at the sight and signalled one of the nearby agents to come over. He stole the agent’s crossbow and pulled the trigger. Rivelia was wearing a defensive coat, but Rhineland wasn’t wearing any armour.
Multiple bolts drove themselves into Rhineland’s side, and he collapsed onto the ground. Rivelia saw the bolts bounce off from her coat’s barrier and turned around.
“What are you doing!”
Isaac glossed over Rivelia’s angry stare and threw the crossbow back at the agent before walking up to the two.
“How long are you going to play around?”
Rivelia blocked Isaac’s path as if to protect Rhineland and shouted.
“Sir Rhineland is not a turncoat!”
“We have no reason to kill him!”
Isaac clicked his tongue annoyingly and pointed at the burning camp as he stared right back at her.
“What bullshit is that? Then did those retards die because they were turncoats?”
Isaac coldly ordered Rivelia, who was stumped for words, and she meekly moved aside. Isaac stared down at the squirming Rhineland before lighting his cigarette and crouching next to him.
“You want one too?”
“… Cough. Is that you, Sir Isaac?”
Rhinelad spoke with a quivering voice as blood spilled from his mouth. Isaac looked at him emotionlessly and breathed out some smoke.
“For your information, it’s not the Pendletons.”
Rhineland struggled to look up at Isaac’s face. Looking back at Rhineland’s lifeless eyes, Isaac spoke without a shred of emotion inside.
Rhineland’s eyes opened wide, and Isaac stood up.
“Hold on, it won’t take long.”
It was unknown where Rhineland gathered the strength to do so, but he grabbed at Isaac’s leg and begged to Isaac’s emotionless eyes.
“Please, let the princesses…”
Rhineland’s hand dropped before he could finish his sentence. Isaac’s eyes shook for a moment hearing Rhineland. He watched Rhineland’s body slip away and quietly muttered to himself.
“The kids should live, the kids should…”
Leaving behind Rhineland’s corpse, the group boarded the airship for the second destination. When they arrived, Rivelia figured out Isaac’s intentions.
“This is not acceptable.”
Rivelia blocked Isaac’s path, and Isaac made a bloodthirsty smile.
“What do you mean why! There could be civilian casualties.”
“Nothing new there. Unlucky civilians die all the time. Don’t tell me you believe there haven’t been any civilian casualties throughout all of Central’s history?”
“Those were unavoidable casualties. But this is a village completely unrelated to our mission!”
“What do you mean, ‘unrelated’? This is one of the Marquis’s supply bases.”
“You know Marquis Lichten isn’t charged with anything!”
Faced against Rivelia’s continued rejection, Isaac sighed.
“The Count’s army was annihilated after an ambush. Is that normal?”
“At least you know that. Then how will the Count react? They’ll obviously point towards the Marquis as the culprit. He’ll file a complaint to the Department of Administration. Then, Central will be involved, and the war will be on pause until the investigation finishes.”
“How are we supposed to find the demon and his turncoats in that situation?”
“Are you saying that the Marquis must also suffer damages so the Count can’t blame him as the culprit?”
Isaac was pleased to see Rivelia finally understand and nodded. She spoke hesitantly through her grit teeth.
“I will take command this time. If we infiltrate stealthily and only eliminate the guards…”
“No, the village will be wiped out entirely.”
“Are you out of your mind?!”
Rivelia blurted out at Isaac’s order to massacre civilians, and Isaac responded, irritated.
“It’s you who should come back to your senses. The Count lost an entire army. But the Marquis only lost a single supply base? Do you really think they can accept that? What if they suggest that this was an inside job? We have to do it properly. If there are civilian casualties, the Count can’t point to the Marquis as the culprit. That’s when we show up.”
“That is absurd.”
“Don’t worry. It seems most civilians have already left the village because of the war. Those left are employees tasked with managing the supplies. There’s only ten or so of them.”
“Civilian casualties are unacceptable regardless, be it ten or a hundred!”
Rivelia continued to reject the end result of civilian casualties, so Isaac sighed in defeat.
“I guess there’s no choice. Step aside.”
“You can’t do this!”
“Sigh! Hey, damsel, I’ve said it clearly. Step aside.”
“I will report this to the higher-ups.”
“Fine. I’ll give you 10 minutes. Contact them.”
With Isaac’s approval, Rivelia immediately rushed to the airship to contact the higher-ups. Isaac watched Rivelia’s back, and when she disappeared he lit his cigarette and looked at the village as he spoke.
“Move in. Leave no survivors. Kill them all.”
Kainen spoke out hesitantly, and Isaac immediately took out his shotgun and fired at Kainen.
Bang! Kainen stumbled from the force of shotgun’s pellets. Isaac looked coldly at the dumbfounded agents, who didn’t expect Isaac to really shoot, as he spoke.
“You retards were promised a future in return for absolute obedience. Has watching that childish damsel throw a tantrum given you the impression that you are in the same situation? I don’t need your opinion. Move in.”
The agents grit their teeth and put their hoods back on. They moved in toward the village, which was showing signs of commotion because of the loud explosion. “Enemy!” someone shouted, and screams ran rampant inside the village.
Isaac put his shotgun back and smoked as he waited. The screams stopped even before Isaac finished his first cigarette. Isaac chuckled and stepped into the village.
“They really are useful when it comes to hunting humans.”
Isaac glimpsed at the dead guards littered in front of the village gate. He walked to the village plaza with a slouched attitude, but when he saw his agents gather a group of survivors and wait hesitantly, he frowned.
“Let’s see, are they all civilians?”
Isaac looked at the group who wore casual attire instead of military uniform. He tilted his head and began counting them.
“Huh? I’m sure I was told there were seven, but only six are here. One’s hiding. Find him.”
Some of the agents scattered into the village, and Isaac took out a new cigarette as he asked.
“And are you guys deaf or something? I’m sure I told you all to kill everyone. Or are you so appalled that you’re going to give up everything?”
“… Do we really kill them?”
“I have no idea who you are with that hood on. Who are you?”
Kainen hesitated for a moment, then took off his hood and spoke.
“We should at least wait until the higher-ups give us their approval…”
Kainen tried to buy some time, even risking his identity’s exposure. But he shut his mouth when Isaac took out his shotgun.
“Oh, please sir, we are just civilians. Please spare…”
A middle aged man immediately begged when he felt Isaac approach behind him ominously. A wave of pellets lodged itself into his back.
“He killed him!”
“Please help me!”
The civilians screamed and tried to escape when they saw the body burst to pieces with a loud explosion, but they were stopped and thrown back into the village plaza by the agents.
Isaac shot the back of another man. He then reloaded his gun and moved on to the next.
Isaac did not discriminate between his victims, whether they begged, cursed vengefully, or soiled themselves in panic. When Isaac pulled the trigger on the last victim, he heard an enraged shriek.
Isaac’s face spun backward with a ‘smack!’ and his body flew into the air, landing on a pile of crates.
“I’ll kill you!”
Rivelia found the civilians, whose bodies had been torn to tatters by the shotgun. She drew her sword and rushed at Isaac.
Kainen and other agents managed to block Rivelia’s attack, a strike which was wholeheartedly intended to kill.
The agents’ faces stiffened at Rivelia’s scolding. They shook their head and disobeyed her command. In fact, they slowly started surrounding her.
Rivelia glanced behind to see that the agents were intent on facing her. She bit her lip, and a droplet of blood, infused with her fury, crawled down her chin.
“You dare try to stop me when all of you have witnessed what that man has done? What happened to the pride of being an agent of Central?”
The agents kept silent, and it was Isaac who answered her as he climbed out of the pile of boxes.
“Kukuku. Does pride bring food on the table? It’s only those with full stomachs that speak of honour and pride. Ouch. That really hurts. I guess you really are a sword master?”
Though the defensive coat managed to protect him against the brunt of Rivelia’s attack, it failed to dissipate all of its impact. Isaac spat out the blood that had pooled inside his mouth.
Anger lit in Rivelia’s eyes. Isaac found a box that was still somewhat intact and crossed his legs as he sat down.
“What, you want to kill me? Then do it. A human’s gonna do what they want to do. Isn’t that right? But you’ll need to take care of these retards first before you can kill me.”