The Queen spoke without a shred of hesitation. Isaac sighed briefly.
“If you say so.”
Isaac pushed the pen into the hole. Soon enough, the tablet started shaking, its vibrations echoing into the ground. Blue light radiated from the hole, setting the strange glyphs alight.
Isaac tried to pull his hand out, but he realised his hand was stuck like glue.
“Wait a second, why’s this… Kuuk! Kuaaack!”
Electrifying pain shot through his hand and quickly spread throughout his body. Isaac convulsed in pain, feeling his nerves sear beneath his skin.
The Queen ignored Isaac, too absorbed in her excitement. She walked slowly toward the Gate while her guards, Security agents, and mercenaries remained in their positions.
The Queen exclaimed with her arms open. The Gate’s outer edges absorbed the blue light, creating a faint blue veil.
“… Are you really that happy?”
Isaac commented, leaning on the stone tablet, not expecting the pain. The Queen turned to him with a bright smile, tears crawling down her cheeks.
“That’s right. Hiding my emotions—that’d be asking too much of me right now. Does it not please you, Mr Isaac?”
Isaac took out a cigarette, watching the Security agents crowd over the Gate as if inspecting it. He lit the cigarette and asked.
“It just came to me. Opening the Gate with a key means you can close it too, right?”
“The pigs from the other world should know the Gate is their only lifeline now.”
The Queen’s plan would need more than a few years after the start of interdimensional trade. It would take at least a generation for magical technology to establish itself as the mainstream before her plan could make the biggest impact.
Over time, intelligence bureaus of the other world would realise that their lives were in the hands of this world. And naturally, they would try to absolve themselves from their dependence, whether it be through diplomacy or by force.
“That’s right. So I have agreed to give the key to the Expeditionary Forces.”
The Queen answered. Isaac looked at the pen that returned to his finger and smiled bitterly.
“I’m just asking as a precaution, but the only way to pass the key to someone else isn’t to kill the original owner, right?”
Isaac asked, to which the Queen smiled.
“You’ve done so well up to this point, Mr. Isaac.”
“I thought that’d be the case.”
Isaac grumbled as he continued smoking.The Queen looked through some of the documents her guards passed to her.
“I guess this is farewell. I need to attend the ceremony commemorating the start of interdimensional trade. I need to take the key with me.”
“Bring some noodles on the way back.”
Isaac spoke nonchalantly. The Queen laughed and shook her head, almost in mocking defeat.
“You are so funny, Mr. Isaac. Wait for me on the other side. It’ll be a while before I join you.”
The Queen spoke and pointed her chin at Isaac. Immediately, the Security agents and mercenaries advanced towards Isaac.
“Ha. I should have expected my brother to betray me since he was born a traitor, but are you betraying me too, Flander?”
Isaac spoke, disappointed. Flander squirmed apologetically.
“Hehe. I thank you, Lord, for all you’ve done for us. But we’re mercenaries, and mercenaries stick to whoever offers the most money. And it’s not often lowborn scum like us get the chance to work for Central.”
Isaac grumbled rudely at Flander’s explanation. Scanning the group of Security agents, he then addressed Kainen.
“And what did she use to buy you all?”
Kainen smirked at the question.
“You said it yourself—betrayal necessitates a reward greater than the risk. The title of Duke is much more attractive than that of a Count.”
“Hm? Duke? That’s for the brat, no?”
“Huhuhu. It’s mine now. To think that sharing half of your despicable blood will finally come to use.”
“You say that, but I guarantee that you’ll need to give it all up when the brat grows up.”
“Ha. You don’t need to worry about it. I’ll convince Laila.”
Kainen proclaimed boldly, laughing—which Isaac met with equal audaciousness.
“Wow! Look at this criminal. You’re planning to marry that brat? At your age? Where are your morals? Then again, you wouldn’t have betrayed me if you had any. Are you really a College graduate? What with that empty head of yours?”
Everyone was trying their utmost to hold their laughter except for the Queen. Rather, the Queen didn’t even bother to hold her laughter.
“That’s not it! Damn it! It’s pointless trying to buy time with this farce! No one’s coming to help you! You sent Lanburton, your only hope of survival, away already!”
Isaac watched Kainen throw a tantrum and asked the rest of the Security agents.
“That paedophile aside, what about you guys?”
“She has promised us the territory surrounding New Port City. In the future, the world will revolve around these territories.”
“You’re completely ignoring the Emperor now?”
“Isn’t it obvious what they’ll choose? Between some county that the Emperor promised in the future and ownership of the territory with a future laden in gold right now?”
The Queen answered in their stead. Isaac grunted as he got back on his feet.
“So, how are you going to kill me? It’ll take you ages for anything to get through to me.”
The Queen answered Isaac again.
“Ah, don’t worry about it. As a consequence of the Gate opening, the defensive coat’s function should have disabled temporarily. It’ll take about a day before it starts functioning properly again.”
Isaac sighed emptily and glared at the Queen.
“Aren’t you too thorough with your planning?”
The Queen shrugged off Isaac’s glare and responded.
“You often see villains lose because they talk too much in the movies.”
“At least you know you’re the villain.”
“A sinful woman, I am.”
The guards circling her the moment the Gate opened wasn’t just for show. She planned to escape beyond the Gate if the final stage of the plan failed. Quite cunning of her.
“But if my coat has been disabled, doesn’t that also mean that your coats aren’t functioning?”
Isaac pointed it out, and this time, everyone burst out in laughter.
“You humour us to the end. What? You think you stand a chance if both sides don’t have coats?”
Of course not. Everyone here knew that Isaac would be dead ten times over even if it was a one-on-one duel without defensive coats on either side.
“Just mentioning it.”
“Huhuhu. Don’t think you’ll be graced with a quick, painless death. We’ll need time to settle our grievances from working for you.”
The air eerily rang with the drawing of cold blades from their sheathes. Isaac looked at the sharp edge of the sword. He leaned on the stone tablet and placed a new cigarette in his mouth.
“You’ll let me have one last cig before you kill me, right?”
“We can’t have that.”
One of the Queen’s guards approached Isaac like the wind and took the cigarette out of his mouth. The guard then rummaged through Isaac’s clothes, confiscating all the cigarettes in his possession.
“Wow! Now isn’t that harsh?”
Isaac looked at the Queen, irked. The Queen took the cigarettes the guard brought her and spoke.
“Using choyu leaves like that was my innovation in the first place. Did you really think I wasn’t aware that choyu leaves invigorate your body with mana?”
Isaac sighed and scratched his head. Kainen grinned coldly and spoke.
“And there goes your last hope. I can’t wait to see you drowning in despair and begging for the sweet release of death.”
Isaac glanced at Kainen for a moment before turning to the Queen once again.
“But you know, one of the things you said before was correct.”
“… What’s that?”
“How villains always lose because they talk too much. It’s the cliche of cliches. ”
“What are you on…”
Kainen looked down in complete disbelief at the sword that had pierced through his chest. He weakly turned around and saw Flander, grinning with glee.
“You bastard… Kuhuk!”
Flander kicked Kainen’s back, toppling him and pulling the sword out. Kainen grasped his chest, only to see that all of the Security agents had suffered the same fate at the hands of the other mercenaries.
The agents would usually never fall victim to such a thing, but not even they knew how to respond to an unexpected ambush with their defensive coats disabled.
The Queen’s face stiffened, and her guards tightened their circle around the Queen.
Those were Kainen’s last words as Flander grinned and raised his sword.
“Pay for the sin of betraying Lord Isaac with your life.”
Flander beheaded Kainen and walked toward Isaac. Flander kneeled and presented Kainen’s head to him.
“I bring you the head of the traitor.”
Isaac looked at Kainen’s head, his wide-eyed expression of disbelief frozen at the moment of his death. Isaac nonchalantly ordered Flander.
“Why’d you bring me that useless thing? Throw it away.”
At Isaac’s order, Flander tossed the head to the Queen as if it was garbage.
Kainen’s head spurted blood as it flew, only to be blocked by the Queen’s guard. The Queen watched the head roll on the ground for a moment and looked back at Isaac, who seemed to be waiting for her with a grin.
“Was this outside your expectations?”
“… Why did the mercenaries betray me?”
The Queen looked at Isaac, almost equally in disbelief as the now-dead Kainen. No matter how stupid the mercenaries were, they should have known that they wouldn’t leave this place alive if they became Central’s enemy.
Not only that, they were also promised wealth and status. Yet they backstabbed the agents without hesitation. Every single one of them. This wasn’t some sudden change of mind. They had been planning to do this from the start, which made it all the more puzzling. Isaac wasn’t someone deserving of others’ loyalty.
“Betray you? I’m the only thing these people look up to in the first place.”
When Isaac decided to screw this world over, he realised that his greatest hurdle was that he didn’t have anyone else to move on his behalf. It was impossible to screw over Central, which ruled over this world, by himself.
Isaac had spent a significant portion of his days looking for a way—when he remembered the fool who ousted the syndicate bosses and offered himself to Isaac’s servitude. Isaac originally thought this was some ploy of a third party to hinder him, but after much thought, he realised it wasn’t.
The Arc Royale—fanatics who were undyingly loyal to the Royal Family and the remnants of an angelic invasion. And now there were those like the Arc Royale in New Port City—except that Isaac was the subject of their loyalty.
But it was dangerous to meet these fanatics personally while Central was watching his moves from every angle, not to mention Kunette being the Director of Surveillance herself. Of course, Isaac wasn’t aware of that back then.
So Isaac created an environment where these fanatics would join together by presenting them with situations only lunatics would volunteer for. And Isaac gained confidence he was correct after many incidents he had witnessed.
It was still just an assumption, but Isaac then ordered them to help Security agents and involve themselves in Central’s activities.