The Empire’s first enemy of the state was now on trial in a historical moment. Many wanted to attend the trial in person; merely being there would be the talk of their lifetime. But only the royal family and high-ranking members of Central were allowed to watch the trial in person, as the inner plaza was reserved for the visiting emissaries.
Those awaiting the trial’s start lounged in the waiting room, enjoying simple hors d’oeuvres and tea. Every single member of the royal family with direct relations to the Emperor—who would seldom show their faces in broad daylight save for official matters—was there. They were too busy gorging themselves in worldly pleasures. So many were the attendees that the Emperor himself had to make the list.
Mazelan looked at these royals from the 1st in line of succession to the 30th, all of whom would be a rare sight in normal times, and sighed deeply.
“No wonder our Emperor routinely despairs over the Empire’s future…”
The seat of the Emperor wasn’t so easygoing that just anyone of royal blood could sit on it. That seat was forged from the blood of conflicts against Central and non-humans.
Yet these royals, gloating over their lessers purely because they shared the Emperor’s blood, were playing the fool trying to affix themselves to high-ranking members of Central’s Grand Council with chatter. Mazelan could feel the Emperor’s words about the Empire falling even if it weren’t for the radicals sinking in.
These fools pretended as if Mazelan didn’t exist, most of them misunderstanding that the Emperor favoured him as a College graduate, giving him the position of Vice-Commissioner of Supplies and now promoting him to the Commissioner of Trades, a newly created department. How pathetic they must’ve looked to the high members of the Grand Council. Despite the bubbling emotions within him, Mazelan could only sigh at the depressing thought.
“The trial will begin soon. Please make ready to attend.”
The butler announced. All of the royals and Grand Council members made their way forward, but the butler blocked Mazelan’s path.
“… What are you doing?”
“The Emperor has restricted the trial’s attendees to be of his direct bloodline and Central’s high-ranking members.”
“I am also…”
Mazelan quickly stopped himself from arguing with the butler. He couldn’t reveal that he was associated with Central, and it’d be too arrogant to declare that he too was partly royalty here.
“I am attending as the defendant’s lawyer.”
Mazelan grit his teeth and glared back. But the butler, having spent his entire life working in the Royal Palace, only shook his head politely.
“The defendant has refused his lawyer’s defence.”
Mazelan could only ask back, dumbfounded. The other royals passed him, smirking.
With their noses high, the royals passed Mazelan as if there stood an insurmountable wall between them. Some members of the Grand Council patted his shoulders sympathetically. The waiting room was now empty save for Mazelan and the butler, and Mazelan knew well that the butler wouldn’t be plotting any schemes to create a new faction for himself. Mazelan held his temper and asked.
“I highly doubt you’re just being stubborn at this point. What’s happening?”
The butler took out a letter from his pocket and handed it to Mazelan.
“This is a letter the Emperor tasked me with giving you.”
Mazelan took the letter begrudgingly. But as he read the contents of the letter, his eyes began to widen. He raised his head and looked at the butler in disbelief, to which the butler spoke calmly.
“It’s time for our counterattack.”
The royal guards who had stood motionless until now straightened their postures. One of the doors of the plaza opened, and a group of people poured into the plaza. The non-humans looked at Isaac stiffly, while people wearing extravagant clothes whom Isaac had never seen before chattered circles around Isaac, all insulting him in utter disgust.
Once they all found their seats, the Emperor and Duke Pendleton entered the plaza and sat at the head of the plaza in the judge’s seats.
“Hey! It’s been a while.”
Isaac greeted the Emperor and Duke Pendleton. The humans sitting on the left raised a ruckus and started hurling insults at Isaac. Isaac glimpsed towards the left and asked the Emperor.
“What are those?”
Their faces turned bright red, having never been treated with even a hint of disrespect in their lives. They replied at the peak of their lungs, to which the Emperor simply sighed and spoke, exasperated.
“They are royals.”
“Oh dear. They are very important indeed.”
The royals flew into a rage at Isaac’s comment. The Emperor and Duke Pendleton frowned deeply. Those oblivious fools. They would never amount to anything more than opportunistic pigs indulging in the lives of plenty they were born into.
“Stop wasting time and get started.”
A tiger who sat amongst the non-humans on the right side of the plaza spoke annoyedly. The royalties ceased their clamour immediately. Isaac looked at the Emperor with pity.
“You have it hard too.”
“You uncouth mutt! How dare you speak impudently to the Emperor himself!”
A young man stood up and shouted. All the other royals loudly grumbled in assent. Isaac looked at the man doubtfully, then looked back at the Emperor. He could see the Emperor’s face crease as he spoke.
“… He is my son.”
“That’s right! I am the crown prince…”
“Shut up and sit.”
“Father, how could you speak to me in such a…”
The crown prince paled with shock as he objected, but the Emperor’s cold stare placed him back on his seat.
“Wow, I guess you really did make up your mind. Then who are you guys? Are you all who I think you are?”
Isaac, who watched the crown prince with amusement, now turned to his right and looked at the non-humans. Most of the high-ranking members of the Grand Council avoided eye contact with him, but a select few—including the tiger—did not.
When Isaac’s eyes met with the tiger’s, the tiger’s nostrils flared with hot steam, and he bared his fangs. He was smirking, as if daring Isaac to struggle.
“He is Taigon, the representative of tigermen. They were among the most enthusiastic about opening the Gate.”
The Emperor spoke bluntly as Isaac and the tiger engaged in a staring contest. Isaac smiled.
“Hey, it’s nice to meet you. This is our first time seeing each other right? I really wanted to see the face of the person who fucked me over so badly. Very nice to finally see each other.”
Taigon snorted and spoke.
“Hmph! There is nothing for me to say. And what gave you the idea to bring the royals here, Emperor?”
The facts behind Central’s Grand Council and Isaac were secret as one would expect. But the non-humans were disturbed by the Emperor including these clueless royal figures in the trial and how the Emperor eagerly responded to Isaac’s every question.
“I am merely removing an obstacle to the Empire’s survival. I merely thought they deserved to know the reasoning, as they are of my bloodline.”
The royals didn’t know why the Emperor and Isaac spoke so familiarly, why the members of Central talked down on the Emperor instead of the opposite, and what this Grand Council that the Emperor spoke of was. But they were a group of people who had been reliant on the prestige of their bloodline in an empire of meritocracy, being constantly judged by everyone around them for their entire lives. The royals realised the situation wasn’t how they imagined it to be and quietly observed. Warning bells were ringing in their heads—their survival was on the line.
Satisfied with the Emperor’s explanation, he glared at the Emperor hastefully.
“Now, we shall begin the trial for Isaac Rondart, the enemy of the Empire. Since this is a public hearing, please take care not to speak of confidential knowledge.”
The Emperor announced. Two massive screens materialised over the palace’s walls, showing countless people who had gathered in the outer plaza to watch the trial. The crowd roared in excitement, and the noise echoed well past the walls repeatedly.
The Emperor looked at Isaac for a moment, who smiled back at him. The Emperor spoke calmly.
“Defendant Isaac Rondart’s crimes are irrefutable and unforgivable. Therefore, I sentence defendant Isaac Rondart to death. Does the defendant have anything to say?”
Isaac blinked, dumbfounded for a moment, before bursting out in laughter.
“What the, what kind of trial is this? I knew it was all just a formality, but don’t you think you skipped too many steps?”
The crowd beyond the walls were the ones to reply. They shouted calls for Isaac’s immediate execution for his insolence of speaking to the Emperor so rudely.
“Is that all you have to say?”
“Can’t you at least let me have one last smoke before I die? They let those on death row have one last smoke in my world, you know. Ah, I didn’t even get my last supper too? Wow! How inhumane of you.”
Everyone was at a loss for words—that was when Isaac looked at the two screens on the wall and asked.
“All of this is being broadcasted right?”
“The entire continent is watching you now.”
“Kuk. How the times change, am I right?”
Isaac snickered at Duke Pendleton’s reply. Isaac saw the screen closing up on his face. He smirked and said.
“Now, it’s time for our counterattack. Rise and squirm, maggots.”
Gabelin’s police force was extremely experienced with crowd management, owing to Campus’ annual graduation ceremonies. This occasion was no different, and the entire police force was deployed to maintain public order in preparation for the emissaries’ visit.
The few squads on break from their rotations were gathered in a break room that was separate from the main building, watching the broadcast on a screen.
“Wow, there’s so many people.”
“Shit, the graduation ceremony is a warzone, and we’re getting two of them this year.”
“It’ll be worse. I mean, they’ll be seeing humans from another world this time.”
“I mean, why can’t they just watch them through the screen? I don’t get why they’re so eager to see them with their own eyes.”
The police squad sighed deeply for their colleagues out suffering in the field. They’d have to join them suffering for a few hours later.
“I hear the railway squad that captured Isaac is receiving medals?”
“Its captain and the captain of the 13th squad that went to reinforce them after receiving the report are receiving nobility titles, while the rest of the members are being promoted by one rank.”
“Ku! So lucky of them.”
These police officers were initially saddened by the fact that they were on duty, as history was in the making. But they were pleasantly surprised when their hard-headed captain allowed them to watch the broadcast.
“Ah! It’s starting!”
“Captain, come here! It’s started!”
The police force called out their captain half-heartedly, their eyes still glued to the screen. From their room, they echoed the crowd’s rage when Isaac dared to speak to the Emperor rudely. When Isaac said it was his time to counterattack, they merely cocked their heads.
“What does he mean by that?”
“I guess he’s finally lost it now that he knows he’ll be killed.”
“Sniff! Sniff! Hey, what’s this smell?”
“You’re right. It doesn’t smell like something’s burnin…”
The police members soon lost consciousness and collapsed. The captain looked at his men, collapsed on the ground, and closed the door to the break room. He then headed to the main building of the police headquarters.
The main building was designed to house offices for high-ranking officials and store police equipment. Crime and jail reports were filed elsewhere, so in times of festivities such as this, even the chief of the police would leave the building to lead on the field. Thus, the building was completely empty.
As the Captain approached, the guards of the main building joined him.
“How’s the preparations?”
“It is finished. There’s no one inside.”
One of the guards handed the detonator to the Captain. He looked at the detonator before addressing the guards.
“For the Empire.”
“For the Empire.”
With a loud explosion, the Captain and the guards disappeared. Soon after, the historic police headquarters, which had been constructed during the founding days of the Empire, crumbled under its own weight.