The investigation into the Milros County incident revealed that Isaac had been aware of the Gate’s existence during his reign over New Port City. But instead of reporting it to the Empire, Isaac had tried to monopolise it with the intent of smuggling goods and accumulating a vast fortune from it.
Not only that, Isaac had allegedly acquired the technology behind airships from the other world and put them to action in secret. He even tested weapons during the Wolfgang and Lichten war, and had the audacity to swallow Wolfgang’s territory whole by adopting Laila.
Isaac then unveiled the airship to the public, feeding his oversized ego. And the crescendo of his evildoing—he unleashed the foul plague in Milros Castle as vengeance for his childhood abuse, massacring countless civilians.
When the situation got out of hand, he immediately fled. But as the dust settled, Isaac had claimed with a straight face that it was he who resolved the issue. Central’s investigation soon disproved his lies and uncovered all of his schemes. Isaac had been on the run since then, evading arrest.
“Who was it again? Kainen? Or was it Kaizen? Some brother of his visited the Emperor himself, protesting the Emperor’s decision to give all of Isaac’s wealth to Lady Laila.”
“I’ve never seen such a pathetic excuse of a human being. I guess everyone in their family is a son of a bitch.”
“So what happened?”
The young man, who had been listening quietly, asked.
“What do you mean what happened? What was it? He insisted on ruling the land in place of his niece until she came of age, until Lady Rivelia lopped his head off!”
“Wow! Really? Isn’t that murder?”
“Ha! Murder my ass. Turns out, the Karondart family was a vassal of Pendletons. Lady Rivelia stripped him of his title herself and sentenced him to death row. Corruption in that family runs so deep that Lady Rivelia personally led her knights to the Karondart Barony to tear it out by its roots.”
“Wow! Amazing! But is Isaac still on the run?”
“Ha! No matter how hard he tries, he’ll never escape Central’s reach.”
“But just how much money has he hoarded up until now? I don’t understand why there are so many people still willing to shelter him.”
“Ah! I heard that. There was some Count that was being investigated by Central.”
“Lady Rivelia is on his tail, so he’ll be caught soon enough. I swear, I wouldn’t miss the execution of that bastard for the world!”
“Me too! He’s not dead until I see it with my own eyes—not until I see his crying face as he begs for forgiveness!”
Everyone was swept up in their emotions—cursing Isaac, cheering Rivelia and Laila, and praising the Emperor’s mercy.
As the atmosphere heated up, people started pulling out alcohol from their baggage. Emotions gave way to the beginning of a great feast, to the disappointment of the old man no longer in the centre of attention. The young man conversed with the old man, and the old man excitedly continued bragging about his son.
“Oh! We’ve finally arrived! Gabelin sure is different from the rest of the Empire! Look at those buildings! I bet the other world doesn’t have a building nearly as tall. Don’t you think so too?”
The old man lauded patriotically to the young man as he looked at a 7, 8-story building from the train’s window.
“I guess so. I didn’t see buildings like that in the past, but I guess development happens quickly in the capital.”
“Have you been to Gabelin before?”
“I’ve stayed for a few days in the past for work.”
“Really? Then are you here for work again?”
“Yes. Something like that.”
“Hm. I don’t know what kind of work you do, but let me know when you’re in a tough time. I will talk with my son and see if he can help you.”
The old man offered, but there was a hint of worry that the young man would actually take him up on the offer. The young man smiled and softly replied.
“Haha. I appreciate your generosity, but I like my work at the moment.”
“Of course! You have to do what you enjoy.”
The old man smiled brightly, the weight off his shoulders. A mass of people left the train, all of them likely arriving to see the emissaries from the other world.
The old man looked about in confusion, having never seen such a massive crowd in his life.
“Is someone coming to see you?”
The old man, who was lost by his lonesome, gladly welcomed the approaching young man. The old man began bragging again.
“Ahem. My son said he’d come see me, even when I told him he didn’t need to.”
“Wow! He’s capable and a good son!”
The young man continued to talk with the old man. The old man’s worries subsided, caught up instead with singing his son’s praises as he kept an eye on his surroundings.
“Ah! There he is! Ricksly, over here!”
The old man waved gleefully at his son.
“Then I’ll be heading off.”
“Hm? Don’t be like that. Why don’t you have a cup of tea with us? And do you have a place to stay?”
“Ahaha. I have a schedule to follow, you see. Thanks for the offer.”
The young man bowed to the old man and quickly disappeared into the crowd. The old man wanted to at least give the young man a show of appreciation for his company, but he couldn’t possibly stop someone who was leaving so quickly.
Leaving his disappointment aside, the old man hugged his son, savouring the moment.
“Have you been well? And who was that man next to you before?”
“That man was sitting next to me on the train. He was a good young man, keeping me company throughout the trip so I won’t get bored. Even now, he stayed with me despite having a schedule to follow. Ah! I should have asked for his name! How rude of me!”
The old man finally realised he didn’t even know the man’s name. Ricksly cocked his head, looking at the direction the man disappeared into.
“Ha, no way.”
Ricksly’s heart sank when he saw the face of the man next to his father. He looked eerily similar to Isaac, the man declared an enemy of the Empire. Ricksly was very suspicious since he had seen Isaac before, but listening to his father, he thought that maybe his suspicion was misplayed. Isaac wasn’t a man polite enough to bear his father droning on and on.
Isaac leaned next to a pillar, watching Ricksly leave with the old man next to him. He smirked. Isaac had been curious about who this close aide to Mazelan could be, not expecting Ricksly to show up. He considered acting like he knew Ricksly, but he decided against it. The old man might have had a heart attack from the revelation of the young man’s identity.
Isaac passed the crowd and sat on the stairs outside the train station. He looked into the plaza. Gabelin was in the middle of a festival, celebrating the beginning of trade with another world.
Screens were plastered all across the plaza, playing programs about the other world to its attentive watchers. A new world—a new age excited the people, and even Isaac could feel it.
Would any of them know? Know how the Empire feels as they prepared for this exchange? Know just how grim their future would become?
Isaac pulled out a cigarette from his pocket, lighting it. Since this wasn’t a world where cigarettes were a common sight, people gave Isaac strange looks.
As Isaac burnt through two, three cigarettes, people started gathering behind Isaac, standing behind him.
The sight grabbed everyone’s attention, and the passersby whispered to each other.
“How’s the preparations?”
“It is finished. We await your orders.”
Isaac smiled. He got on his feet and stretched. The plaza that was once brimming with people has now become empty.
Many were aware of Isaac’s face, the enemy of the Empire. And with so much attention on him, it seemed someone had finally reported it to the police.
“Now, I order you. Die for me.”
“We follow your order.”
Isaac walked down the stairs, and his men followed as they pulled out firearms from their clothes. Isaac headed to the plaza, listening to the cocking of the guns like music. A group of soldiers assembled, surrounding Isaac and his men.
“Isaac Rondart, you are surrounded! Drop your weapons and surrender!”
Isaac looked around. The soldiers were armoured, and they were armed with the modified crossbows aiming straight at Isaac.The soldiers looked nervous, facing an enemy of the state that they had only heard rumours about thus far.
The culprit behind the Milros massacre, the villain with the largest death toll in history. Isaac laughed at the soldiers and pulled out an eggbomb.
“Now, let us begin the war.”
Arrows rained onto Isaac as he cracked the eggbomb and winded his arms back to throw it. With the sounds of gunfire, screaming, and shouting, the first battle of Gabelin started.