“Hurry up and walk!”
A savage roar came from behind. It pushed Isaac, knocking him over. He was unhurt thanks to the defensive coat, but he had no motivation to get back on his feet either.
“Ha. Crawling on the ground suits you.”
The mockery was met with boisterous laughter all around. Isaac ignored the noise and sighed.
“This wasn’t within my expectations…”
With the communicator still jammed and using Media to reveal the truth out of the question, Isaac and his crew decided to take the straightforward approach: taking Isaac’s personal airship to visit the Grand Council themselves.
On their way to Central’s headquarters where the Grand Council resided, Kunette’s face was shaded with gloom realising that not only Reisha and Rizzly’s personal communicators but even the communicators installed in the airship were jammed too. It turned out that Kunette was well aware of the Queen’s monopoly over the communicators and had been making preparations to fight against it since long ago, only to find out it was all for nothing.
The moment Isaac’s group arrived at Central’s headquarters, they were greeted by Central agents, who came to arrest them. Reisha and Rizzly protested, Rivelia resisted, and Kunette even revealed her rank, yet Central’s agents were relentless.
“I must say she was quite beautiful…”
Isaac smirked, reminiscing Kunette in her human transformation. The gentle blonde hair dropping onto her shoulders, large amber eyes, and pale white skin. A figure so perfect it looked straight out of a cartoon. She was someone Isaac remembered.
It was the same woman Isaac saw when he was stabbed with a knife back in Campus. How could anyone call themself a man if they forgot a beauty like her. Rivelia and Mazelan had good reason for ogling her in astonishment after hearing her confession. Kunette was just a little teddy bear in her bear form, yet Kunette as the Director of Surveillance was a fully grown woman. Of course the disparity would be extremely jarring.
Isaac too was curious as to why Kunette was just a child in her bear form, but they weren’t in a position for idle chatter. Central’s agents seemed to panic at Kunette’s transformation, but they were prepared. They took out letters from Duke Pendleton, Lanburton, and the Chieftain of the North Bears. Isaac’s group could do nothing but submit.
The agents then separated the group, citing quarantine procedures. They were locked away in isolation, when suddenly Isaac’s cell was opened the moment he entered. A group of werewolves barged through, carrying Isaac into an airship and bringing him to a werewolf reservation.
The werewolves, for whom vengeance was a tradition, warmly welcomed Isaac. He was thrown into the group like a toy.
“Ha! Look at this maggot! Getting comfortable lying on the ground are you? Get up!”
One of the werewolves wasn’t impressed by how Isaac was smirking, thinking of Kunette. It kicked Isaac’s side, making Isaac fly through the air until he hit a wall.
“I wonder what they’re so excited about…”
Isaac simply lay on the ground, pondering, when one of the werewolves grabbed Isaac by the collar and threw him into a cell.
“Hm. You think you’re safe because of the defensive coat? Let’s see how long that faith lasts. Soon enough, you’ll be begging us for mercy. I can’t wait for that day to arrive.”
The werewolf spoke as he locked the cell. Other werewolves snickered in agreement, while Isaac cocked his head. No matter how hard these werewolves tried, they’d never expend all the mana crystals in his coat.
Plus, they had brought Isaac here on their own accord when Isaac was supposed to see the Grand Council. When they found out that Isaac was missing, Kunette would definitely get mad. As for the damsel… maybe? Anyhow, many individuals would be furious about Isaac’s absence, yet these werewolves seemed so carefree. Isaac sighed and grabbed for a cigarette.
“I’m letting you guys go because you’re letting me smoke here.”
“Life never goes as planned~ but can you have any motivation~ if your very first step is a mistake~.”
Isaac hummed the meaningless sentence, lying on the hard bed of his cell with a cigarette in his mouth. Just as Isaac was saying, all of his motivation had evaporated.
These mutts, who were so confident they’d have their revenge, never visited Isaac again after locking him away as if they’d forgotten about him.
So sudden was their change in behaviour that even Isaac was confused. Isaac’s thoughts only ran in circles; he couldn’t figure out why they were acting this way. Werewolves were so obsessed with revenge that this world even had a saying about not killing werewolves. Isaac was so confident that they brought him here for vengeance. But they didn’t even show their faces. At the same time, neither Kunette, Rizzly, nor Reisha came to see Isaac.
They should have come to find for Isaac once they found out he’d gone missing, but a day turned to two, to ten days. Isaac had given up counting and even then, much more time had passed. Yet nobody had come for him.
“Is this a new torture method? I swear it’s been more than enough time to make a normal man go mad…”
Isaac mumbled as he blankly looked at the smoke rising from his cigarette. It had been an endless loop of rolling on his bed in this windowless cell. His only light source was a glowstone stuck to the ceiling.
Humans were bound to lose their sanity when they lived alone for too long. Isaac thought maybe the werewolves were using this to torture him, but he came to the conclusion that they didn’t have the brains to concieve of such a method. If they did, they wouldn’t have taken him from Central headquarters in the first place.
Being locked away for such a long time was truly beyond Isaac’s expectation. He was frustrated that he was kept in the dark, unaware as to what was happening outside. It was enough time for the rush of emotions from killing the Three-eyed to subside.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have killed that fucker with three eyes.”
The situation turned awry when Mazelan, whom he thought was dead, was alive. But the Queen had no choice but to protect Isaac since he had something she wanted.
“It’s just one betrayal after another.”
The Invaders joined hands with the Three-eyed, betraying the Emperor and wiping out the core of Directorate of Strategy. The Three-eyed joined hands with the Queen and betrayed the Invaders. Isaac himself killed the Three-eyed, and the Three-eyed had lied with his life on the line, tricking Isaac and the Director of Surveillance.
So many questions were stacked on top of another. Why did the Three-eyed lie? Was this whole fiasco just a ploy concocted by the Three-eyed and the Queen? Or were there other factions playing? Did the radicals really betray the Queen? And so many more questions on top. But Isaac was here rotting away instead of finding out what was happening.
“Ah, I don’t care. It’s annoying! I’m done!”
Isaac could feel a headache coming from this jumble of thoughts, so he threw away the cigarette and pulled the blanket over him.
“I wonder if that damsel passed on my order properly?”
Just before they were separated, Isaac gave an order to Rivelia as insurance. It wasn’t much. Just to tell the Directorate of Security agents and the mercenaries in New Port City to not play around and continue working because he’d be back to check in on them.
It was so simple of an order that one could pass it as a joke. Isaac was slightly concerned, but considering the damsel’s stubborn and hardheaded personality, she should have conveyed the order.
“… Are you serious?”
The Emperor, in complete disbelief at what the Grand Council had offered him, asked them again.
“Is our offer inadequate?”
Of course not. The Emperor closed his eyes and went deep into thought. Was this what one would call an offer too good to pass? The agents of the Directorate of Strategy were talented candidates who were to become the next generation of leaders for the Empire. With all those agents gone, they would be shorthanded for the foreseeable future. But they had also lost an entire generation of leaders who were to replace the current commissioners once they retired and continue supporting Central’s activities.
Nurturing new talent didn’t simply happen overnight, and even the loss of a single College graduate was painful. And he had lost them all. All that was left to the Empire were non-combatants and Dark Royale. And the Grand Council had presented him with an offer he couldn’t refuse as a consolation.
“I’m sure this isn’t unfavourable to the Empire?”
The Queen added, which only stoked the Emperor’s anger. She was right. Rather than unfavourable, this offer would allow humanity to triumph over the non-humans in time. But he couldn’t bring himself to accept it.
It felt foul. No word could describe how foul it felt. The Director of Surveillance, who was fond of humans, was arrested for simply watching as Isaac killed the Three-eyed.
The Director, who was considered a moderate, was gone. The Council members who had supported her had fallen from grace with her arrest. In this power vacuum, the radicals took control.
According to the investigation, Isaac had killed the agents of Strategy and even the Inspectors and the Three-eyed, who had attempted to stop him after discovering his misdeeds.
This conclusion had more holes in it than a sinking ship. It was obvious who the real culprit was, but without any power to resist the Grand Council, the Emperor was left with the options to either fight a war he couldn’t win or submit in silence until the Empire recovered. The Emperor was prepared for the worst-case scenario: to lower his head against the radicals and the Queen, who had complete control of the Grand Council. But they gave him an offer instead.
What frustrated him the most was that even though he knew the offer was a poison apple, he had no choice but to swallow it whole. The Emperor sighed deeply and asked Duke Pendleton.
“What does Pendleton think?”
Duke Pendleton, who was silently watching the situation, pondered for a moment before nodding.
The Emperor had no choice but to be dragged along. Though we may not win, we will make you feel pain one day, the Emperor thought to himself. He grit his teeth and bowed to the members of the Grand Council.
“I give my gratitude to the decisions made by the Grand Council.”
“Don’t be. We thank you for all the sacrifices the Empire has made for us.”
In this precarious mood, the moderate council members looked at each other worriedly. The radicals did not take the chance to trample over the humans; instead they gave them an offer that’d make them thrive. They couldn’t speak for or against this situation.
As meaningless formalities were exchanged, Duke Pendleton spoke, frankly displeased.
“Why don’t we stop with this useless chatter and get on with it.”
The precarious mood instantly evaporated, replaced with an awkward silence. Everyone looked at each other until one of the council members coughed dryly and spoke.
“Ahem. Then let us discuss the members for the peace treaty delegates we will send to the Expeditionary Forces and the terms of negotiation.”