Yoo-rah sipped her tea as she carefully observed the Grand Council discuss the topic grimly.
‘Hm. I may have caused that. Does artificially opening a Gate create a connection with Heaven and Hell too? Interesting. I’ll need to research this. Sigh. That’s more work that needs to be done. It’s starting to get cumbersome, doing it all alone…’
“Does the Queen have any input?”
One of the council members asked. Yoo-rah smiled and put down her tea cup. Although Central and the Grand Council were now functioning bodies, it was still Yoo-rah that managed all of its affairs. So the Empire began referring to her as ‘Queen’ in mocking, and soon enough she was called as such by all races. And Yoo-rah liked that name.
“The coming of the angels and demons is a grave threat. Central already has its hands full with the battles against the Expeditionary Forces. So we must pull them out at their roots before it’s too late.”
“How will you do that?”
“Central will focus on eliminating the demon and its warlock minions. Angels are much more troublesome than demons; we must eliminate anyone who has been affected.”
“B, but how can we kill the tens of thousands of people who’ve succumbed to the angel? Killing a demon is simple enough; we could just point at the atrocities they’ve committed, but the followers of angels are innocent in the public eye. If we were to commit a genocide without reason, there will be problems.”
The Emperor argued, his expression pale. Yoo-rah smiled at him as if there was nothing to worry about.
“Don’t worry. It will be recorded as a tragedy, not a genocide.”
“What do you…”
“It’s been a while.”
“Is that so…”
“There’s something I need you to do.”
“I need you to trigger a volcanic eruption in the southern province of the Empire.”
“Do you know what the consequences will be?”
“We have to cut off the infected area. All of it. Or we risk reinfection.”
“… As you wish.”
In stopping the Calamity, all the elder races had been sacrificed for the Old One to become one with the world. As the sole member of the elder races left, he needed to maintain the seal.
The Old One was essentially jailed for perpetuity, unable to move a single inch. Each time the Old One moved, disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and others of the sort would occur on the surface.
An eternal prison for an unending atonement seemed an appropriate seat for the representative of the elder races. So one of the dragons, revered even among the elder races, took up its mantle as the price for all of their arrogance.
“Three fiefdoms were wiped out from the sudden volcanic eruption.”
“Send out a rescue team.”
“… Do you know how many citizens of the Empire lived in those three fiefdoms?”
“Do I have to know?”
“… They numbered a hundred thousand. Many of them hadn’t even been affected by the angel.”
“… Is that all you have to say?”
The Emperor glared at Yoo-rah, who took her time to sip on her tea before answering.
“You see, plagues need to be quarantined completely to prevent its spread. The moment you let emotion interfere, everybody dies.”
“And what of the innocents who are sacrificed as a result?”
“A pity. And?”
The Emperor, who continued to stare down into Yoo-rah’s cold irises, left his chair.
“The Empire will not forget this.”
“Don’t worry. It won’t be the only time if the Empire and Central fail at their jobs again.”
“Hm. He really is capable. Perhaps I was too quick to wash my hands of him?”
Yoo-rah muttered after reading the report on the recent defence of the Gate. Although she was researching a method to nullify the Expeditionary Forces’ firepower, she had little to show for now.
In the meantime, this world was just throwing body after body at the Expeditionary Force’s incursion. The Empire, who was suffering the bulk of these casualties, grew more discontent as a result.
At the same time, the non-humans that needed to prevent the Empire from growing too strong were only weakening. They needed to come up with a strategy to weaken the Empire, but the Emperor was doing everything he could to develop the Empire after Yoo-rah’s infuriating actions.
Unlike the stubborn non-humans, the Empire didn’t shy away from acquiring and adapting the knowledge of the other world’s humans, accelerating the Empire’s development further.
“You found others like me elsewhere?”
“Yes. One of the children born among the elves was too bright for their age. So we kept a watchful eye, and they invented paper.”
“But this world already has paper.”
“They managed to succeed in mass producing it, but its methods are identical to that of the other world’s.”
“My research has encountered delays regarding that technology, since I’m not an expert in that field. Just thinking about all the chemistry behind it gives me headaches. But I guess the elves’ special affinities allowed it to happen. Is there a possibility that such cases can arise in other races and humans?”
“We’ve already found a few cases of which we are certain of.”
“Hm… And what was the message the Old One wanted to deliver?”
“Yes. The Old One requests that you think again before asking to move, as moving too much may endanger the seal itself.”
“A request? I guess I was too harsh with him. Don’t worry. It will be Central dealing with it from now. The Old One will only deal with matters that Central fails to address, and only in matters that involve the angels and demons. I promise that.”
“And we will need to restructure Central.”
“I was planning on it for some time now. Central’s power has grown to be far greater than I thought. And the Empire’s influence is slowly encroaching into Central. We need to partition that power. Also, Central’s grown too reliant on what I say to act. That’s no good. You will need to take one of its seats, Elicia.”
“Yes. We’ll call it… the Directorate of Surveillance.”
“Yes. Its purpose will be to detect angel and demon activity and find people like me in this world. I’m sure your power as the Old One’s representative will be more than enough for it.”
“It is possible…”
“And all of its members will be non-humans.”
“You’re going to make humans and non-humans compete against one another?”
“That would only worsen the already-sour relations between us. We need another power to act as a mediator. You could call it a… ‘tripartite.’”
“You’re telling me to comply with this?!”
“This is unacceptable!”
“This isn’t something you should be so angry about. I’m sure about that.”
“This was caused by those who were corrupted by demonic…”
“You know those excuses won’t work on them. The Black Tigers are the ones most closely descended from the elder races. Do you really think you can get away with the demons as an excuse, when the culprit expressly believed in those baseless rumours? These ridiculous rumours that their flesh and blood can cure disease and increase your longevity have spread throughout the Empire. Shall I show you the statistics on the rise in attempted kidnappings of non-humans? Don’t think the anger of the Black Tiger Tribe will be restricted to those affected by demons. The Empire must take responsibility as the representative of humans.”
“That is why the Empire will be resolving the matter ourselves.”
“You’re saying humans will be taking over the issue because it is a ‘human matter’? I’m sure you know the non-humans will find that statement arrogant.”
“The Empire has the strength to back it.”
The Emperor spoke rather proudly of his threat. The Queen smirked.
“That is the Grand Council’s decision.”
The Emperor was about to announce the Empire’s withdrawal from the Grand Council and walk a separate path—when Yoo-rah stopped him midway.
“It’d be such a shame if a disaster were to strike in the middle of Gabelin. How would it handle a simple earthquake and tsunami?”
The Emperor glared daggers at her, but it was Yoo-rah that held the upper hand.
“Don’t worry. The Empire will stay. It’s much easier to manage when you’re all under a single banner.”
The Emperor left the room without a word, biting the corner of his lip so hard that a droplet of blood streamed down. When the Emperor disappeared, a man entered the room from the secret door behind Yoo-rah.
“As you suspected, the Empire was considering going its separate way.”
“Right? It’s been only three generations and they’ve already reached this stage. Yet the non-humans still think it is a punishment to take seats in the Empire’s offices. They can be so tiring.”
“But I still can’t understand your decisions. Why me?”
“Because you won’t pick a side. Just like me, you’re from another world. And besides, we share something in common.”
“But I still don’t agree with your goals.”
“It doesn’t matter. You just need to keep neutral.”
“That’s quite the tall order you’re giving me.”
“Ah, and since you’re responsible for analysing all the information from Surveillance, we’ll just call it the Directorate of Analysis.”
“Analysis… As someone from Intelligence, I suppose it suits me perfectly.”
“And tell me more about Joon-young. Was he always such a standout in his squad, even in peacetime?”
“Rather than a standout, he was very resourceful in always cutting slack. I’ve never seen such a blend of a lazy sergeant and a tightass officer. But… It seems he changed after I died.”
“You want to establish a school?”
“Yes. With the development of the defensive coat, the Empire’s army is no longer needed. Now, what we need is an elite few to defend the Gate. For this, we need an establishment to gather and educate these talents.”
“Surveillance agrees with the Queen.”
“Analysis also agrees.”
“… Strategy also agrees.”
With agreement from all the branches, Yoo-rah smiled.
“It is unanimous. Then we’ll call it… Campus.”
Duke Pendleton, the head of the Directorate of Analysis, muttered his disbelief. Yoo-rah maintained her playful smile.
“Yes. We’ll scout for prodigies in Campus, and those who have been selected to become agents of Central will be moved elsewhere. Hm… We’ll call that College.”
“You have come.”
“… You’re unbelievable. How could an elf die before me?”
“Huhu. I apologise.”
Yoorah looked down at Elicia, who lay on her bed gasping for air. Having lived a long life, she was calmly accepting her death as it came to her.
Yoo-rah sat next to Elicia and grabbed her hand.
“Who is the next representative?”
Not even a dragon could possibly see and remember everything happening in this world. So the Old One needed a vessel through which it could distribute its knowledge—Elicia’s sole purpose.