Isaac wouldn’t have tolerated the mutts and their persistent slander. That’s why Isaac already prepared an escape plan and even his next steps. But nothing happened, so Isaac just simply stayed put. Isaac was impressed by how the Queen read him so perfectly.
“So it doesn’t matter if Kunette knows now?”
“There’s no time left. Both you and Kunette foolishly squandered your last chances.”
“That might be true for Kunette. But I couldn’t care less what happens to this world.”
The Queen sipped her tea with a satisfied smile as Isaac replied nonchalantly.
“But did you really not bring any souvenirs after coming back from the other world? No noodles—not even cup noodles or its soup base?”
Isaac began reminiscing about the rich flavours of the chemical powders as he watched the monitor. The insides of his mouth were dripping with drool as he asked with anticipation, to which the Queen replied apologetically.
“I didn’t bring anything with me.”
Isaac hung his head, despondent from disappointment. The Queen snickered and continued.
“But Reisha seemed to have gotten many fans. They’ve quickly noticed how much of a glutton Reisha is, so they gave her a lot of food as a present. She brought all of it with her back. ”
Isaac’s head shot up like a firework.
“Then I’ll be able to taste some soon.”
“Ah, I don’t think so. Reisha is with Kunette at this moment.”
“Shit. Nothing will be left between those two gluttons. But wouldn’t there be problems if Reisha tells Kunette everything?”
“She didn’t go there willingly.”
That meant the Queen locked Reisha in the same place as Kunette.
“The North Bears and elves won’t stay put after this.”
“It doesn’t matter. Frankly speaking, they are hostages.”
“Aren’t you going a little too far?”
“So what? It’s only for a moment. I’m prepared for the coming flak anyway.”
Isaac made a face at the Queen’s brazen demeanour. Had her plan come so close to fruition that obscuring it was pointless?
“I didn’t want to ask this, but I have to.”
Isaac threw his burnt cigarette into the tea cup and lit a new one. His lungs expanded with the smoke, his chest visibly puffed up. Isaac finally popped the question he didn’t want the Queen to answer. She just looked back at him with a smile.
“Where in our old world is the Gate opening?”
Isaac asked. The Queen smiled brightly.
“It’s as you suspect.”
Isaac looked at the ceiling with an empty expression. He laughed bitterly. No, he already knew the answer instinctually, but he wished he didn’t.
The nation’s suffering and eventual destruction was all because of this Gate. Could they cope with it? Even he, who had resigned himself to everything, still felt a burning rage when remembering the faces of those who met their end. Fighting for the last moment, and for what?
Not to mention this world wasn’t completely separate from the old world. The Expeditionary Force’s invasions—their mere presence—was a constant reminder of their nation’s tragedy. The urge for vengeance would never fade away, not even with time. Madness was the only natural conclusion.
Isaac’s personal airship landed quietly where the old City Hall used to be. Isaac left the ship with the Queen and scanned the surroundings. He muttered.
“Now this is an unexpected welcome.”
Isaac expected a massive crowd throwing insults and whatnot at the arrival of the greatest villain to be recorded in history. But it was just Lanburton, Kainen, Security agents, and the mercenaries.
“Where’s everyone else?”
Everyone saluted Isaac politely when he approached. Lanburton stepped forward and answered Isaac.
“New Port City was reappropriated as a free trade region for specifically interdimensional trade, so ordinary citizens are restricted from entry.”
“On whose orders?”
Everyone’s eyes fell on Kainen. Isaac followed suit, and Kainen fumbled around in panic. Isaac approached Kainen and asked.
“Are you the Lord of this city now?”
“… No sir.”
“Then who told you to kick out all the taxpayers here? Do you know how much money I make in a single day? Are you going to compensate me for it?”
“… Those were the Emperor’s orders.”
“He said that?”
Kainen’s face paled when Isaac spoke about the Emperor in such an informal tone, ignoring the usual decorum of respect.
“Kuku. Don’t be so mad. Our old world had restricted areas that only select individuals could enter too, remember?”
Isaac took a moment to consider the Queen’s explanation, eventually nodding in agreement.
“True. This is the correct procedure—to open in stages. Then what happened to my source of income?”
“Yes. You kicked out all of Port City’s citizens, so we relocated all the citizens of New Port City into Port City.”
“To Port City? Wouldn’t they have been dispersed throughout the rest of the Dukedom? But why aren’t the brat and Cordnell here? Do they not want to see my face again?”
“They are too busy dealing with many problems regarding compensation, which is why I haven’t told them. I’m sure they only just realised you’re here from seeing your airship.”
Isaac nodded at Kainen. Compensation for the shops, casinos, and the entire magical artefact district would take more than a few days.
“Then everyone I don’t see here is still in Port City?”
“That’s not something a handful of us can tackle on our own.”
Kainen answered naturally. Isaac quickly swept over the faces of all the Security agents and smiled inwardly. Everyone who originated from the Directorate of Surveillance and Analysis had remained in Port City, and only those from Strategy had come to welcome him. What’d be his next move?
“We should go now. We’ve already prepared where the Gate will open.”
The Queen’s voice hurried them along, and Isaac shrugged. Just as he was about to follow the Queen, Lanburton immediately approached Isaac.
“I have something to tell you.”
“Ah! And what happened to the elves and northbears?”
“… They’ve all returned to their tribes.”
“Really? I guess they can’t hang out with me after I shot that three-eyed fucker.”
“That aside, I’d like to talk privately …”
“Why don’t you speak as we walk?”
The Queen intervened in the conversation with Lanburton, putting him on the spot. Lanburton glared at the Queen and grit his teeth, to which Isaac smirked at. Isaac tapped Lanburton’s shoulder.
“I’m sick and tired of secrets now. I don’t care what the secret is, just say it.”
With that, Isaac followed behind the Queen. Behind them were Security agents, mercenaries and the Queen’s bodyguards. Lanburton tried to weave his way next to Isaac, but the Queen’s bodyguards moved to block his path every time.
“Hehehe. My Lord, I’m glad you are safe.”
“Hm? Ah! Your name is Flander right?”
Isaac asked, and Flander rubbed his hands together, grovelling with such glee that Isaac immediately remembered him.
“Hehe. With your blessing, we have done our best.”
“”Really? So how were they? Were they useful?”
Isaac asked Kainen. Kainen furrowed his brows and glared at Flander before replying.
“Well. They were capable. And sharp too.”
Handling the mess with the Directorate of Security’s limited personnel was a huge endeavour, but it was much more bearable with the mercenaries as their limbs. And they would cajole the agents at the right moment without being overbearing; Kainen wondered if grovelling was a mandatory class for mercenaries these days.
“Good to hear that you’re doing well.”
“Hehehe. Thank you.”
Isaac’s pace slowed down as he spoke with Flander, which was the opening Lanburton needed to quickly join in.
“I have something to say.”
“Can you say it here?”
Isaac asked, to which Lnaburton looked at the Queen and spoke.
“I guess I don’t have a choice.”
“Then go on.”
Isaac didn’t slow his pace, and Lanburton followed closely behind.
“As ordered by the Director of Surveillance, you have been appointed the temporary leader of the Directorate of Surveillance.”
Isaac had to stop and turn to look at Lanburton after hearing that.
“The Director of Surveillance has stated that in the event that she is unable to command the Directorate for any reason, the Directorate will enter an emergency state, and leadership will transfer to Sir Isaac temporarily. Now that I’ve told you this, the Directorate of Surveillance will follow your orders going forward.”
Isaac stared at Lanburton as he processed a frankly unimaginable scenario. He caught the Queen’s brows twitch ever so slightly, and sniggered as he raised another cigarette to his mouth.
“When did she issue that order?”
“We are simply following the scenario of an emergency state.”
“She prepared this in advance?”
“Che! She couldn’t be slow like the bear she is.”
The Queen spoke, frustrated but still unimpressed.
“I guess Kunette won’t be going quietly. Although, I wonder if it will have any impact.”
“Since the Director of Surveillance has been locked away, the Directorate of Surveillance has been operating in an emergency state. But we had halted all operations until now since you, who is supposed to give new orders, weren’t here. So give us the orders…”
“I know, you can go. But I think you’re already too late.”
Lanburton’s face brightened immediately and quickly left the plaza. Isaac asked the Queen, who watched Lanburton disappear into the distance.
“That’s surprising. I thought you’d stop him.”
“As you’ve said, they’re already too late. If Surveillance’s entire force was here, that may have been a problem. But you moved them away for us. Mr. Lanburton is a respected elder among the elves, so friction with him isn’t something I want.”
“Lanburton is that reputable?”
“Of course. He was an elite agent operating in this world and ours back in his youth.”
“What an exceptional guy.”
Isaac seemed unimpressed in contrast to his remark. He followed behind the Queen, looking at his surroundings as he walked. New Port City had turned into a ghost town, not a single person in sight.
After walking for a long time, a great piece of architecture at the docks finally came into view, just past what was formerly the magical artefact district. Isaac whistled in awe at the giant circular gate that was reminiscent of the movies and dramas of his past.
“Wow, it’s a stargate.”
“Huhu, it just ended up looking that way as we built more and more of it.”
The Queen replied with pride.
“So what do I need to do now?”
“You have to open the Gate with the key.”
The Queen led Isaac to a two metre tall stone tablet around thirty metres away from the Gate. The tablet was inscribed with indecipherable letters from top to bottom with a hole in its centre. The Queen pointed at the hole.
“The Gate will begin to function when you put the key in here.”
Isaac took out the pen from his finger. He looked at the pen for a moment and then asked the Queen.
“This is the last time I’m asking. Is this what you really want, Queen?”
“Yes. I’ve waited hundreds of years for this.”