“Hey, it’s been a while. So, did you finish your homework?”
Isaac questioned Rivelia with a mischievous smirk, which she responded with a shake of her head.
“I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“I hate you.”
“I’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again. Nothing new there.”
“That is why I will continue to disobey your orders, Director.”
Rivelia’s answer finally caught Isaac’s attention—his eyes gleamed in anticipation.
“I do not think that Central is as corrupt and motivated by profit as you do, Director. Central is a congregation of all races, bound together by one ultimate goal—to protect this world. Although there may be small conflicts seeking individual gain within the organisation, I don’t think they have forgotten their ultimate purpose.”
“I will continue to resist you from within.”
“It won’t make a difference.”
“I will continue nonetheless. I will continue to argue against you again and again, even if I have to watch powerlessly as this world’s rules, morals, and logic crumble.”
“You think I’ll change my mind that way?”
“You will reconsider your decisions at the very least once if I continue to bother you. That will be my first step.”
“You think changing me alone will make a difference? I’m just the tip of the iceberg, albeit a very extreme one. The core has already begun to rot.”
“I will change it.”
“What if the Pendletons are rotten?”
“I will change it.”
“And if the Empire is rotten?”
“I will change it.”
“But what if this world itself is rotten?”
“I will change it.”
“You’re going to fight the world? I’m sure that’s difficult, even if you are a Pendleton.”
“I will work to change it until my last breath. Because I believe in this world’s justice and righteousness.”
“Many have died fighting for righteous causes before.”
“I will do it alone. I won’t sacrifice anyone.”
“You do realise how empty that claim is, right?”
“I will still do it.”
Isaac silently observed Rivelia. Her eyes did not falter. Gazing into Rivelia’s clear eyes brought a sick smile on Isaac’s face. Had the quenching finally finished?
“In my world, we have names for people who bring bloodshed to those around them in the name of their ambitions. When they fail, we call them failures, traitors, rebels, insurgents… But when they succeed, we praise them. Revolutionaries, prophets.”
And… Heroes. Isaac smirked as he reminisced of Rivelia, who had left the rooftop after Isaac’s spiel. The Hero and Demon lord were finally prepared. All that remained was a stage befitting a battle between the Hero and the Demon Lord.
Isaac happily opened his eyes from slumber. Every day was such a joy for him. His heart pounded in anticipation for that day to come soon. But there was something else that plagued his mind as well.
“Are you awake, Sir?”
“Bring me some water to wash with.”
Isaac ordered Laila, and she brought a jug of warm water with great struggle. She tried to pour the water into the basin, but her head didn’t even reach the basin’s edges.
Within moments, the water spilled from the jug, drenching Laila. A puddle formed on the floor. Isaac watched apathetically.
Laila disappeared to find a rag to clean with, when Rizzly, who had been watching helplessly from the side, said.
“Aren’t you forcing too much on her?”
“What can I do when she wants to do it?”
“Leave her be. She would have given up already if she wanted to.”
“I’m concerned that I’ll wake up to find your dead body in the morning.”
Isaac smirked at Rizzly’s distress.
“That’d be nice too. Rizzly and Laila, even the names seem to go together. Teach her well.”
Rivelia had previously left the two children in Duke Pendleton’s care. Rivelia was relieved to see her overprotective father overjoyed with having more daughters, but the two girls insisted on following Rivelia back to New Port City.
Rivelia couldn’t possibly reject their request, and ever since then, Laila had been Isaac’s self-proclaimed servant, following him at all times, ever attentive.
Meanwhile, Julia had lost all of her smiles at the shock of learning her parents’ deaths. However, after being accompanied by Kunette for some time, she slowly began to recover.
A month had passed like this, and even Rizzly, who was so concerned that they would both make the extreme decision, could ease his troubled mind as he watched Laila give her best attempt at assisting Isaac.
At one point, Rizzly couldn’t bear keeping the secret anymore and itched to tell Laila the answer to Isaac’s homework. Laila refused outright, stating that she would figure it out on her own, which impressed Rizzly.
Nobody knew how, but even in the midst of serving Isaac, she made time to learn from Cordnell and Krent. Starting from basic mathematics, her growth surprised everyone. She was now studying the basics of law and finances from Kalden and other Campus hubaes.
At the same time, she was undergoing basic physical training and learning all sorts of magic and martial techniques from agents of Security. Knowing the tragedy behind her, they couldn’t help but pity her; but even then, they were impressed with her diligence and praised her tenacity and willpower.
Word began to spread that although she was only performing basic chores for now, she would soon grow to become Isaac’s secretary in place of Rizzly. Isaac, on the other hand, was patting himself on the back for making such a strong first impression that they no longer dared to assign him new missions. That was, until a sudden call from Mazelan sent a grumbling Isaac to the communicator room.
-You antisocial ingrate, anyone else would have at least called in to check in on what was happening out of curiosity after you pulled off that stunt.
Mazelan jabbed at Isaac the moment Isaac answered the call, apparently somewhat hurt that he was never contacted afterwards.
“In my world, there is an excellent cultural norm that calls should only be about business.”
Isaac apathetically replied to Mazelan as he buried himself into the chair. Mazelan, irritated by that comment, glared at Isaac before forming a conceited smile as he spoke.
-Really now? That’s a great culture. I’ll be brief then. You’ve received a title. You’re now a baron, and New Port City is your fief. Good luck.
Isaac stared blankly at Mazelan as he failed to understand what he meant, but Mazelan in turn just laughed wholeheartedly at the sight.
-I’m ending the call then.
“Wait, hang on…”
The monitor turned off even before Isaac could utter a sentence. Isaac considered calling again, but that felt as if he was losing. Isaac exited the Communicator Room with a deep sigh, predicting that he will be tired for the next foreseeable future.
“Hm? Did the call not go through?”
Rizzly and Laila, who were putting away the alcohol glass Isaac had been drinking from before, asked in confusion when Isaac exited so quickly. Isaac took the glass from Rizzly’s hand, sat on his chair and spoke.
“He said I’m going to be a baron.”
“What? What is that nonsense?”
Rizzly asked back, dumbfounded as he refilled the empty shot glass in Isaac’s hand while Laila pouted in confusion. Even Isaac, who consumed the alcohol in moments, could only shrug.
“I’m wondering what bullshit this is myself. Go tell the damsel about this and find out what’s happening.”
Laila quickly paced out the room, while Rizzly himself nodded back worryingly. He had a worrying suspicion that Isaac was asking for Rivelia because of tension between him and Mazelan.
“Yes sir. I’ll try to find out what’s happening using my connections to the capital as well.”
As Rizzly left the room to investigate, Laila returned with Rivelia.
“So what’s happened?”
“Did Mazelan sunbae not explain to you?”
“He just gave me a brief summary.”
Rivelia pondered for a moment before she commented.
“It’s somewhat complicated.”
“I have all the time in the world, so speak.”
Rivelia quickly organised an explanation in her head and continued.
“I just received this piece of information from my family as well.”
“The Pendletons? Why are they getting involved now?”
“That’s why I’m saying it’s complicated.”
“I got it, so shoot.”
The cause of this started from a very insignificant incident—an ordinary party where young nobles looked for partners.
The nobles grouped together, boasting about their talents and knowledge. But this was a party full of young, enthusiastic men. The topic naturally led to women, and Rivelia was always a point of discussion there.
Talking about Rivelia naturally brought the subject of New Port City. The conversation slowly ran tangentially to Rivelia, shifting to slander Isaac and New Port City until someone asked a question.
Isaac failed in his attempt to absorb the fiefdoms. But Isaac was just the Lord’s Representative, not an official Lord. But if he succeeded, would the takeover be justified?
The discussion that started from this small curiosity quickly led to a different subject, for Isaac had failed anyway, and there were no insults left in their vocabularies for him either way. The Emperor decreed that if Isaac successfully managed New Port City, he would be accepted as official inheritor to his Rondart fiefdom and given title of Baron. But Isaac forfeited his title.
That was where the contradiction was. What happened if Isaac succeeded in his mission when he’d already given up on his promised reward?
The Emperor’s decree took priority no matter what. But both the mission and the process of inheriting a title were laws decreed by the Emperor himself…
The Emperor’s two verdicts were contradictory. Of course, the discussion led to which came first, and the argument that started from the young nobles’ gossip slowly climbed up in both ranks and age of participants, quickly engulfing Gabelin.
Since the incident had come to this stage, not even Central could remain idle. Especially when this argument had become a battle of pride between nobles, who requested that the Department of Law deliberate and issue a verdict on what should be done. Something needed to happen. So the result was that Isaac would be given the title of Baron, and New Port City was declared his fiefdom.
“… That’s what it seems on the surface.”
“Is that even possible? Weren’t graduates of College supposed to work for at least 10 years beforehand?”
“In the case of continuing the family line, the graduates usually perform both official and family duties simultaneously.”
“Even just one… wouldn’t be a problem for you lot.”
Such a task would be child’s play for the geniuses of College. Even if there were momentary lapses in their duties, Central would cover in their stead.
“So when did this happen?”
“About 3 days ago.”
Isaac lit the cigarette in his mouth. It was impossible that Central wasn’t eavesdropping on this noble party, considering that they were worse than a police state.
Even if they did miss this, they could have easily stopped the topic from becoming such a widespread topic amongst the nobles. Such censorship would be much easier with nobles rather than commoners.
But they neglected the issue completely, even propelling it to the forefront of Gabelin. The story on the surface would be good enough of an excuse if Isaac wasn’t involved with Central, but he even held the title as the Director of Security.
It was hard to believe Central would treat a Director so poorly. No matter the reason, there were a total of 4 such individuals throughout Central. So this was no neglect… No. It was safe to assume this incident was purposefully orchestrated by Central itself.