“You really despise humanity that much?”
The Emperor looked at the faces of each of the Council Members as he buried himself into the chair, deflating into it like an empty husk. It seemed that most of the members were unaware of the plan’s true fallout, the horror and confusion paralysing their expressions.
“We loathe you. We despise you. We detest mere coexistence with your kind in this world.”
The tigerman Council member, who had proudly unveiled the entirety of the plan, responded. The Emperor quietly lamented. The members in assent with the tigerman and endorsed the genocide of the human race were the most extreme of the radical faction.
The Emperor’s emotions were screaming at him to throw the entire Empire’s might against all non-humans in an indiscriminate total war. But the Empire’s army wasn’t entirely composed of humans. Non-humans were integrated in its entirety, from the lowest footsoldiers to the highest ranking generals. The army would never follow the Emperor’s order.
Even if they did, all they would manage was cause a significant number of non-human casualties. That was all.
The Emperor couldn’t possibly forfeit the future just to appease his rage. His duty was to protect his people. Between the choices of extermination or exile, the Emperor had to choose the path that would save his people; and that method meant taking the non-humans’ aid.
The desperate Emperor looked towards the other members of the Council, silently pleading for an out. But they all avoided his gaze. It seemed that even the moderates were convinced by their plan. To be fair, this plan would solve the problem of humanity without dirtying their hands at all—right up the moderates’ ally.
Suddenly, the door barged open. Kunette entered the room, flanked by Reisha and Rizzly. Everyone flinched, warily watching Kunette—who seemed ready to draw blood at a moment’s notice.
“It seems like you’ve been up to some interesting things since locking me up.”
“Hmph! Don’t forget that you are still a sinner.”
The tigerman snorted. Kunette smirked, taking her seat next to the Emperor and crossing her legs. She looked tauntingly at the council members, demanding that they continue.
“Did you know of the mercenaries’ betrayal?”
The Emperor whispered to Kunette, to which she shook her head stiffly. Their betrayal was a shock even to Kunette.
“The emissaries of the Expeditionary Forces will arrive soon.”
“We better focus on capturing that Isaac before he causes a scene.”
“We only needed him alive until the Gate opened. He must now pay for killing the Three-eyed.”
The radical faction were the only vocal ones in this meeting, dictating the agenda to capture and eliminate Isaac. The Emperor, Kunette, Duke Pendleton and moderate members maintained silence.
“Then who should we delegate this to?”
It was originally the Directorate of Strategy that performed jobs like this. But all of its agents were dead, and the Dark Royale had become insurgents.
“Since you must atone for your sins anyway, the Directorate of Surveillance will be responsible for investigating Isaac and the Dark Royale’s disappearance.”
Kunette’s shrill laughter pierced the air at the tigerman’s order. Even the other council members looked at the tigerman with unease about his arrogance.
“Since when was I indebted to anyone?”
They had locked away the Director of Surveillance for 40 days without a case. To think they would order her—who had all the time in the world to sharpen her fangs as she waited for her eventual vengeance—instead of offering any word of apology. It seemed that even the tigerman realised he was a bit drunk on victory, clearing his throat before he spoke again.
“Ahem. Is there any reason for bad blood between us? We may walk different paths, but please don’t forget your duty as the Director of Surveillance.”
“Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that. Rizzly, what is the Directorate of Surveillance’s purpose?”
Rizzly glared at the tigerman and answered.
“The Directorate of Surveillance is to monitor and investigate angels, demons, and its turncoats, uncovering their identities.”
“You heard that? Finding invaders or the Dark Royale isn’t in Surveillance’s jurisdiction.”
“This is an important matter! And now that the Gate is opened, there won’t be any more Expeditionary Forces or invaders, let alone demons and angels!”
“That’s your problem. Is there any reason for me to help you with that? Now that the directorate no longer has a purpose, I hereby declare the Directorate of Surveillance disbanded.”
Everyone looked in shock at Kunette. The Directorate of Surveillance was one of the strongest bodies in this world. Its authority was so absolute that the radicals could only afford to lock its Director away for forty days, even after stoking anger from the death of the Three-eyed. And Kunette was now announcing that she would dissolve it with her own hands.
“Are you really going that far?!”
The tigerman jolted up and growled. Kunette too stood up and shouted, not yielding an inch.
“I admit that you have the sword in hand. I may not have any countermeasure to your plague right now, but don’t assume everyone here agrees with your plan. Where in your arrogance did you think that everyone would fall in line once you started your project? Why don’t you cry about it to the Queen you love so much!”
Kunette bellowed at the tigerman, then immediately headed to the exit.
“Don’t misunderstand. Just because I’m not stopping you doesn’t mean I’ll be assisting you. And wasn’t the disbanding of Surveillance part of your plans anyway?”
Just as Kunette was about to leave the room with Reisha and Rizzly, Duke Pendleton spoke.
“I thank you, as a representative of humans, for your last act of kindness as the Director of Surveillance.”
Kunette smiled bitterly and replied.
“I wonder… Do I even deserve those words of gratitude?”
“Oh! How the times change so quickly. I could never have imagined this when I was young.”
The old man mumbled to himself, glued to the windows on his seat, watching the scenery pass quickly. It wasn’t just the old man. Everyone here was riding the train for the first time of their lives and couldn’t suppress their excitement.
However, the old man realised that his excitement was a bit inappropriate for his age. He coughed sheepishly and sat back down, discreetly looking at the young man next to him.
“Ahem. Are you going to Gabelin too?”
The young man, who had been reading a book, closed it and answered.
“Of course. I couldn’t possibly miss out on such a historic moment.”
The old man smiled with glee when the young man replied back.
“Right? I’m going to Gabelin too. My son has an important part in this ceremony, you see. I told him that he didn’t need to, but he insisted on sending me an invitation.”
The young man remarked cordially to the old man’s subtle boasting about his son.
“Oh. That’s amazing.”
“Ahem. I’m not saying this just because he’s my son. He’s been called a genius since he was young. That’s how he managed to enroll in Campus, and after graduating, he’s been working in the Department of Supplies since.”
“Oh! That’s what all the Empire’s bureaucratic elite have to go through! You must be proud!”
The old man puffed his chest at the young man’s words of envy.
“You know it! And within the Department of Supplies, my son works directly under Vice Commissioner Mazelan—a man of royal blood.”
“Wow! He’s set for life now. There’s nothing that’ll stop you or him now.”
The old man dismissed the young man’s flattery with a wave of his hand but still continued to boast about his son.
“But what’s the point? I’m sure you know of the Milros tragedy. My son was right behind Sir Mazelan, risking his life and working in that nightmarish place. I was so worried about him.”
“Oh! So your son is one of the heroes who stopped the Milros tragedy?”
Gradually, the old man’s voice had been increasing in volume, as a middle-aged man sitting behind them exclaimed aloud. Everyone in the car now looked at the old man, whispering amongst each other.
The old man, momentarily fazed by the sudden attention, cleared his throat before addressing everyone.
“That’s right! My son is one of the secretaries standing beside Sir Mazelan himself! He’s so close with Sir Mazelan, neither hesitated to risk their lives for each other in Milros Castle. He trusts my son so much that Sir Mazelan kept him in his retinue after being promoted to Commissioner.”
Everyone murmured in awe of the old man. The old man’s sense of pride was now sky-high.
“Does that mean your son will be going to the other world?”
“Man, he says his son is the right-hand man. Of course he’d tag along.”
“Wow! A different world, I wish I could go too.”
“I heard ordinary citizens will be able to travel there for free in a few years. Let’s just wait until then.”
“But are they really human? They were wearing some weird fabric on the news last time.”
“Haven’t you been listening to the news? They said that—what’s it called, virus? Bacteria? Exist between our world and theirs. A common cold in our world could become fatal on the other side. That’s why they’re delaying the start of the exchange despite having opened the Gate. They’re still investigating. ”
What started as an old man singing his son’s praises now changed to the topic of the other world—a world where only humans existed. A Gate that suddenly appeared. And beyond it, a world where only humans existed—and all that was public knowledge.
People of this world took it without much shock or confusion. They had already known about the existence of spirits and the spirit realm, which the non-humans could communicate with and utilise.
In fact, they were more interested in seeing what the world looked like on the other side. News outlets quoted words of greeting from the other world, and people here took a keen interest in a world without non-humans.
“Then are you all going to watch the ceremony?”
The young man asked. Everyone who had gathered next to the old man nodded in unison.
“You bet! How could I miss out on this historic moment of seeing humans from another world?”
“I heard they’ll sign a formal pact with the emissaries of the other world.”
“They said that only merchant guilds will be allowed to trade at first. But I heard that although things from the other world look fascinating, they aren’t that much different from ours, are they?”
“Well, what do you expect? There’s the saying, everyone thinks the same wherever they are.”
Everyone smiled eagerly anticipating the ceremony.The old man, still basking in the accomplishments of his son, blurted out once more.
“It’s good and all, but I don’t understand why the successor of that scoundrel of New Port City is inheriting his fortune. That villain is worse than the monster that my son risked his life to set right!”
Everyone went silent, and the middle aged man who talked to the old man first explained.
“Hey now. You know how hard of a time Lady Laila went through. I’m sure you know why.”
“… W, well I do! But look what that son of a bitch did! He clasped hands with a warlock and unleashed a sinister spell on Milros County, massacring thousands! For revenge, no less! My son nearly died there!”
“That’s right! Who could forget what that Isaac fellow had done?”
“He’s a greedy, treacherous bastard. Of course he’d try to monopolise the Gate!”