Tension choked the air. Nobody dared to guess how Isaac was going to react to this. Isaac silently watched the egg drip onto the ground and shrugged.
“As a benevolent Lord, I will overlook such expressions of emotion from my subjects. Everyone…”
Another egg was flung at Isaac.
This time however, the non-humans had been watching the crowd keenly, and the culprit was quickly caught and brought in front of the lectern.
Isaac looked down on the neatly dressed child, shackled and even gagged. Isaac sighed and waved his hand to gesture the child be let go.
This time, it wasn’t a single egg, but a torrent of eggs and garbage being thrown at Isaac. At the same time, the people began shouting a slogan.
“Out with the wicked Lord! We want freedom!”
“The reunification was invalid! The citizens never wished for reunification!”
Cordnell’s face paled at the possibility that this would turn into a riot as he watched the crowd chant in unison. Rivelia frowned and glared at the masses.
Troubled, the non-humans mixed amongst the crowd looked back at Isaac for orders.
But rather than be angry or discontent, Isaac smiled, gratified by the rowdy mob.
“This may turn into a riot. We should try to calm…”
Considering that the entire plaza outside of the City Hall was chock full of people, they easily numbered five thousand and potentially more.
The unison chants of the people in the plaza were more than enough to shake the building’s foundations.
“I’ve received reports from other elves and North Bears in the streets. They’ve found protests all over the city bearing the same slogans.”
Isaac smiled at Rivelia’s frantic report.
“It was organised. They’ve already set their minds to it.”
“What shall we do?”
“Aren’t you curious as to how far humans will go when they’re hysteric? Let’s just watch them for now.”
Rivelia sighed at Isaac’s orders and continued assessing the situation as a new report from an elf came in.
“It’s already too late. The protestors have already clashed with citizens of New Port City.”
“Ohoh! Now that sounds interesting. My boys might be outnumbered, but they’re most definitely not outmatched. It’ll be an even fight. Let’s go watch that.”
“… This isn’t just entertainment.”
Isaac snickered at Rivelia’s retort and bit down on a cigarette.
“Look at them. Isn’t it so intriguing how humans in this world and the other act the same way? They gave away their rights, enticed by the promise of fortune, but they cry the moment they realise that not doing so will be more profitable. You said this all happened at the same time right? That means they’ve been preparing for this. I bet you my entire fortune it was done by the same people who called for reunification.”
Isaac claimed boldly, which Rivelia met with a brief sigh. There was no way Port City could invalidate the reunification.
Port City was Isaac’s fief legally and otherwise the moment their delegates, charged with the power of attorney for their citizens, signed the papers.
Suddenly, a loud ‘bang!’ rumbled through the earth, shaking people to their core.
The blast almost swept everyone off their feet. Chaos ensued and people screamed in terror. Rivelia swiftly supported Isaac and prevented him from falling over.
Elves and North Bears immediately took to the skies, running up the walls to reach the rooftop. They all looked to one direction and murmured to each other.
“That’s our side. I can’t see from here. Let’s go somewhere… H, hig!”
Isaac tried to say the elves were looking toward New Port City, but Rivelia took this as an opportune moment to grab Isaac’s collar. She then ran up the City Hall’s outer walls.
Smack! Smack! Smack!
Each time Isaac was slammed onto the wall, a barrier materialized. Isaac was then thrown onto the rooftop, and he seriously contemplated as to why a barrier didn’t materialize when Rivelia grabbed his collar. Why wasn’t that considered an attack?
Isaac turned his head at Rivelia’s utter shock—only to watch New Port City blankly.
Perhaps because of the setting sun, it looked even more red.
Dang! Dang! Dang!
With the sound of an emergency bell, black smoke rose as flames devoured the city.
Isaac went up to the edge of the roof, sat down and placed his elbow on his lap and his chin on his hand. He bit down on his cigarette.
“This is a great place to watch a bonfire.”
“Now isn’t the time to say something like that!”
Rivelia shouted at Isaac, stunned by Isaac’s gall to be so nonchalant in this situation. She was just about to take charge of the situation when suddenly another explosion boomed, setting the warehouses aflame.
All of the warehouses lining the Grand Canal all the way to the lake simultaneously caught fire. The smoke looked like a black serpent slithering into the sky.
Rivelia watched in utter shock, at a complete loss for words. Isaac got back on his feet and watched with a stiff expression.
“I will take charge of putting out the fire.”
Rivelia went down to the plaza instead of Isaac, who stood deep in thought silently. She ordered the agents of Security to rally the firefighters and put out the fire.
Isaac watched briefly with his arms crossed as the agents, elves and North Bears ran in an attempt to control the fire when Rivelia came back to him. Isaac uncrossed his arms and lit a new cigarette.
“Who knew I was coming to Port City today?”
“… I doubt there was anyone. Laila fell ill so suddenly that we didn’t have time to announce it.”
“Not even the elves or the North Bears?”
“Yes. Not just them, but the administrative body and Security agents as well. The changes were unbeknownst to everyone.”
Rivelia began to figure out the meaning behind Isaac’s questions. Her face stiffened, but Isaac simply took out a new cigarette and lit it.
“So it should have been me running frantically originally, right?”
“If everything went as scheduled, there would have been only you and I in New Port City, Director. Do you think this was an attempt on your life?”
“This shitfest can’t possibly be just a fire.”
“… But the damage to the city is too great for this to be taken as a simultaneous attempt on your life.”
“That is what I don’t understand. Why did they blow up the warehouses if they knew I wasn’t there? They could have delayed or feigned a diversion instead.”
“Perhaps they were found out by Mr. Rizzly? Mr. Rizzly is an opponent difficult to face, even for me. It’s impossible for anyone with ill intent to have caught him off guard.”
Rivelia argued back at Isaac as he mumbled along with a serious face.
“Oi, damsel, you said it yourself before. It should have been just the two of us in New Port City originally. Do you really think they wouldn’t have prepared a method to face a swordmaster in that situation?”
Rivelia’s face darkened, finding that Isaac’s words had reason.
“Isn’t this a serious situation then?”
“But don’t you think it’s somewhat strange? I don’t know who it is, but will that person have the courage to provoke Rizzly?”
Rizzly was a North Bear. And with the rumours that the title of Captain of the Warriors was reserved for him, he was most definitely a significant member of his tribe.
If they were to attack Rizzly, not only the North Bears but all non-humans would rally in retaliation. If they didn’t want to risk that danger, they had to avoid him.
“It is strange.”
“Right? Maybe setting the city on fire is their backup plan. So let’s put out the fire first. Put all airships to use.”
“Yes. Setting the warehouses on fire was probably intended to isolate New Port City momentarily. Seeing how they managed to blow it all up in one go, they must have been preparing this for a long time. But I doubt they factored in the airships in their calculations at the time. Considering we have airships, it’s hard to even say we’re isolated in the first place. We’ve got plenty of smart people, so if you order them to load water onto airships and pour it over the warehouses, I’m sure they’ll figure a way to do it.”
“And damsel, your job is to get rid of this noisy lot and bring Rodney and Niske to me.”
“Do you think they are related to this protest?”
“Don’t you think the timing is too impeccable? I almost didn’t pay them any heed, but they seemed to be in a bit too much of a hurry to get away, and I doubt that they did that just to avoid me. They must know something.”
There was a commotion when Cordnell fainted from seeing the warehouses burn to the ground, but Isaac just silently watched New Port City as he smoked.
He was expecting something to come, but to think they’d come at him like this.
What Isaac was most curious about was who planned all this.
Burning the warehouse district was a painful blow. Isaac could understand why Cordnell was unconsciously foaming at the mouth, imagining all the costs for compensating owners and reconstructing the district.
The severity of the damage had a very real possibility of hindering his future actions, yet there wasn’t a single word of warning. Be it Central or even the Queen.
Rumours spread like wildfire. First, it was caused by those discontent with reunification. Then, it was an even more baseless rumour that it was an inside job to justify Port City’s destruction. But it was nothing in comparison to the rumor’s peak, which had been distorted to the point where it claimed that Isaac would burn down Port City out of vengeance for the fire.
The citizens of Port City panicked at this rumour, and were convinced by protestors that they had to join in order to invalidate the reunification to protect their wealth. The entire city seemed to have joined the protest, and the shouts of slogans echoed endlessly throughout the streets.
The only reason there hasn’t been any violent clashes between Port and New Port City citizens was because agents of Security patrolled across the city, punishing the looting, mugging, and rape by beheading the culprits and hanging their heads as examples. They also violently subdued instigators in an attempt to pacify the situation.
Plus, citizens of New Port City immediately ran back when they heard the warehouses were on fire to offer a helping hand in putting out the fire. So the citizens of Port City had no opponent to face.
“What a shitfest.”
Isaac mumbled as he sat on the rooftop of Port City, looking down on the protestors who clenched their teeth at the sight of him. Like the mobs that surrounded nobles during the French Revolution, these protestors were swept into by mob mentality and chattered about loving freedom and invalidating reunification, forgetting for a moment their opponent was Isaac.
“Shall we subdue them?”
“Woah! You surprised me. When did you get here?”
“… I’ve been here for some time now.”
Kainen looked with disdain at Isaac. As Isaac had ordered, airships began loading water into the airships and letting it rain over the area.