“Ha! Time for a counterattack, you say? Go ahead, amuse us with your struggle.”
Taigon ridiculed Isaac with the most cynical of expressions, while the clamour from the outer plazas reverberated through the walls. Confused, the court audience looked at each other first, but the two screens on the wall flickered and changed to show different locations.
“Isn’t that the Commissioner of Administration?”
“They are high-ranking Administration officials. Are they being held hostage?”
The royalties whispered to one another, noticing familiar faces in the mix. One of the masked men stepped up and spoke.
-We are devout followers of Lord Isaac!The Department of Administration’s headquarters is under our control, and all high ranking officials of Administrations are within our hands. We have only one demand. Release Lord Isaac and guarantee his safety. We will kill one hostage for every hour our demands are not met. Do not dare try to attack us. We warn you. We have planted bombs throughout the building. There will be no negotiations. Our fight will continue until Lord Isaac is free.
As a show of force, the man walked toward the group of the hostages, pulling out a middle-aged man from the mix. The middle-aged man resisted his grip, only to be quickly beaten mercilessly. The masked man thrusted his sword into the hostage’s nape, silencing his pleas for mercy for the last time.
Even after his final scream, his neck spasmed on the sword’s blade until his body eventually went still. All of this was broadcasted live throughout the continent.
Everyone in the court, from the royalties to the members of the Grand Council, silently watched the brutality on display.
“Hmph! After all that time, all you could come up with were hostages? Did you really think the Emperor would cave to a mere hostage situation—and one of humans, no less?”
“You don’t seem so surprised?”
“You’ll need more than a pathetic ruse.”
“You’ll still have to release me.”
“Ha! Just because you have some hostages?”
“You’d be in quite the pickle if you let all the hostages die, especially when it’s all being broadcasted live to the entire continent.”
Taigon burst out in laughter at Isaac’s comment.
“Did you really think we aren’t aware of your true intentions?”
Isaac’s eyebrow twitched. Taigon doubled down, brimming with confidence.
“You’re causing a ruckus in Gabelin to serve as a diversion for your true goals elsewhere.”
“… Well then, what are my true intentions?”
“Hmph! It’s obvious! Connect to New Port City!”
Taigon ordered, and the screen changed to the view of New Port City.
“Are the preparations ready?”
“… We will die traitors.”
“But be remembered as heroes.”
With that, the group of men began arming themselves, from various small arms to grenades and even a rocket launcher. The armed men remained on guard until the signal came, and they all charged forward with a roar.
Only a few people had been assigned to greet the emissaries that were arriving from beyond the Gate. The first half of the party were Rivelia, Reisha, and some Central agents. Laila and Cordnell, the de-facto rulers of New Port City, were the second.
Laila looked at the Gate with an exhausted expression. Isaac’s villainy had taken its toll on her. And that Gate was the cause of it all.
Rivelia, Riesha, and Kunette stood far away from Laila awkwardly, and Rizzly was left to deal with the unfortunate circumstances.
“If we secure the Queen here…”
Rivelia muttered, but Kunette, who was in her human form, shook her head.
“No. Don’t. Just protecting her is difficult enough. We don’t have a choice.”
The Empire and Pendletons had no choice but to cooperate with the radicals. Rivelia and Kunette had come here to protect the Queen, despite hearing of Isaac’s arrest.
The Queen was no longer a partner to radicals but a hindrance. If the Queen died here, the cure would be lost forever, leaving the plague to rampage through the continent as the radicals wished. Rivelia and Kunette had to protect the Queen if they were to buy time for the Empire and humanity, even if it was for just a second.
But securing the Queen was not a definite solution. The Queen was unlikely to simply give them instructions on how to create the cure, and even if they tortured the answer out of her, they had no clue how long it’d take to manufacture and deliver the cure throughout the Empire.
Rivelia’s heart was beating furiously at the irony that she had to protect the accursed Queen, who had created this situation in the first place.
“… Here they come.”
Kunette said, and the Gate’s formerly calm surface began to ripple. Everyone looked at the Gate anxiously as its reverberations shook the earth. Soon, the Queen showed herself, protected by her guards.
“The air is so much better here.”
The Queen mumbled with a deep breath. The guards also took a deep breath, revelling in their return home after such a long time. They were finally in heaven, free from the disgusting, polluted air in a world full of humans.
Following behind the Queen were tens of people in suits, all excited if not nervous. They looked at their surroundings, and gasped in astonishment.
“Oh dear! You come to see me? That makes me happy.”
The Queen, spotting Rivelia and Kunette, left the emissaries behind and approached the two with a wide grin. One of her guards quickly ran in front of her and tried to stop her, displeased, but the Queen spoke to the guard with a smile.
“Unless you’ve been told otherwise unbeknownst to me, why don’t you step aside?”
The guard quickly left with his tail in between his legs, the Queen’s smile suffocating him. The Queen was respected even by radicals who despised humanity. A mere guard couldn’t possibly stand in the way of the Queen.
“The Pendletons and the Directorate of Surveillance will take over the Queen’s protection from here.”
Rivelia announced through her clenched teeth, glaring at the Queen. The Queen’s guards tried to argue back, but the Queen spoke first.
“Hohoho. I didn’t think you guys would care so much about me. I suppose I am a naughty woman.”
All they could do was stand quietly with their fists clenched at the Queen’s taunt, which was so very reminiscent of Isaacs’. Laila and Cordnell approached her.
“Hello. It’s nice to meet you for the first time. I am Laila, Lord of New Port City.”
The Queen burst out in laughter. She was amused by Laila’s audacity to look straight at her while introducing herself. The Queen crouched to look into Laila’s eyes at her level and pinched her cheeks.
“Oh dear, how adorable. I understand why my man is so into you.”
“… Who do you mean?”
Kunette, Rivelia, and Reisha sprang up at the Queen’s words and glared at her.
“Who else but the man who has to die today.”
Despite her best efforts, Rivelia was almost about to blow a gasket. The Queen was uncannily similar to Isaac in her ability to infuriate someone.
The Queen finally let go of Laila’s cheek, who stood firm but politely. Instead, she grabbed her hand, leading her to the emissaries.
“Here, let me introduce them. They are humans from the other world.”
The emissaries were caught off guard at the bare-bones welcome, only seeing tens of people gathered in front of them when they expected an audience of hundreds or even thousands. But their eyes gleamed the moment the Queen brought the young girl to them, the Queen having previously informed them about the Lord of this city.
From what the Queen had told them, the emissaries assumed that Lords were of similar status as that of a king or queen. With that in mind, they had brought anything that would earn the young girl’s favour, be them dresses, dolls, toys, sweets, or cartoons.
They practically tripped over themselves to be first to introduce themselves. One of the Queen’s technologies that caused an uproar in the other world was the translator. It had destroyed all language barriers. For now, it only allowed one to understand the language, but that was all you needed. Each and every one of the emissaries had one in their ears, and Laila too wore the translator the Queen gave her.
“Hello. I am…”
“Hi. My name’s Rosena. I’ve brought a present for you.”
The emissaries had been trained on how to approach Laila based on their own nations’ intelligence analyses. Some regarded Laila as equals, while others approached her in a more friendly manner. Yet Laila was emotionless as she greeted the emissaries.
In their minds, the emissaries doubted if Laila was truly a child—when a mob armed with firearms charged towards them, blasting their guns along the way.
“An ambush! Form a perimeter!”
Cordnell ducked in fear at the sound of gunfire and ran as fast as he could toward Laila.
“Wow. You run well. I didn’t think you’d have the time to exercise.”
“Now isn’t the time to joke around! Hick! T, thank you.”
Cordnell shouted at Reisha, when Reisha quickly swung her rapier. Sparks flicked from her sword, and Cordnell quickly realised that Reisha had deflected bullets away from him.
“Laila, are you hurt?”
The first thing Cordnell did when he reached the emissaries was ask about Laila’s safety. Reisha grumbled as she looked at Cordnell enviously, then looked at the Queen’s guards.
“Why don’t you guys help too?”
The guards’ faces were dripping with cold sweat, but they remained close to the Queen. Reisha was infamous as a berserker even among the non-humans, mainly because of the legend of the bloody pancake. Their lives seemed bleak knowing they’ll be on her bad side from now.
“They can’t help it. They need to protect and watch me. You know that.”
Reisha stomped furiously. She wanted to join Rivelia and Rizzly in battle, yet she had to remain next to the Queen for her protection.
If these guards were to feign insanity and kill the Queen, they could simply blame it on the ambushers. Reisha had to remain next to them to prevent it.
“Ah, reinforcements. Dumb bear, swap!”
Reisha spotted the airships approaching them from beyond the Minolen mountains, seemingly having foreseen a situation like this. She called out, and Rizzly, who was in the middle of parrying bullets and rending the limbs of his enemies, hurriedly came to her.
“You crazy bitch!”
“Hey, you’re pushing it now. You want to talk back? You’re so worried about the brat that likes you that you aren’t even fighting properly. ”
“… Huhuhu, it’s because I’m grateful.”
Reisha scolded Rizzly, and Rizzly smiled. The two high-fived and split off.
Most of the emissaries ducked on the ground at the sudden gunfire, and their security guards kneeled down, pistols at the ready. Aiming their pistols at the surroundings, a white bear suddenly rushed towards them. Panicked, the guards turned their guns to the bear.
Rizzly bared his fangs and growled—but one of the attackers had found an opening as Rizzly tagged in, and he jumped forward.
The emissaries fell backward in fear as the guards unleashed fire at the man armed with an RPG-7. The rocket fired, but it was blocked by a strange blue barrier. The explosion engulfed the emissaries, and then it dissipated. They breathed a sigh of relief, while the man resigned himself to death.
A single swing from Rizzly’s arm sent the man’s head into the distance, his body now a fountain of blood. Some of the emissaries fainted at the sight, while the pistols of the guards changed back to Rizzly. Rizzly was about to say something, when the Queen stopped him.
“Stop. Don’t try anything funny and just come inside.”
Rizzly sighed, then approached Laila.
“Ahem. Are you hurt?”
Rizzly spoke as he hid his bloody paws behind his back. Laila smiled at the adorable sight.
“No. I’m fine. Don’t worry.”
Rizzly grinned like a happy father. The emissaries seemed relieved by the sight and slowly got on their feet.
The tens of airships dotting the skies landed on the ground so quickly that they seemed to be falling from the skies. They disembarked men onto the field and then immediately took off, making room for the next airship. The men charged into battle the instant their feet touched the ground.
“Who are they?”
The only “emissary” to immediately survey the field in reaction to the gunfire asked the Queen. He was the leader of the true delegates to this world; most of the emissaries were just a guise.
“Our world also has people who reject our interdimensional interactions.”
The emissaries nodded at the Queen’s explanation. People were the same no matter where they were from.
“B-but going into battle with just a sword when they’re facing a hail of bullets…”
“Wow! He just deflected bullets with his sword right? Dear god!”
Realising there was nothing to fear, the emissaries started to peek out at their surroundings. The Queen smiled, listening to their astonished whispers. This was an unintentional show of force. The powers of a sword master and non-humans were being filmed at this moment.
This recording wasn’t live, so the eventual public broadcast wouldn’t show anyone dying. Still, it’d be vital information for the leaders of every nation. But when the Queen reached that conclusion, she realised something was amiss. She looked to the battlefield again.
Something was wrong, but she couldn’t grasp what it was. Rivelia, Reisha, and Kunette were killing the ambushers one after another, and the presence of reinforcements was beyond her expectation. The enemies fought onward, desperately looking for an opening to get to the Queen.
The Queen did expect an attack, but this was such a poor attempt. In her mind, the only way Isaac would succeed would be to use himself as a diversion. All of Central’s forces would be concentrated in Gabelin to prevent Rivelia and Kunette from rallying their forces. Isaac would use that opening to get his hands on her, although the Queen didn’t expect Isaac to let himself be caught.
But if Isaac was truly aiming for her, Rivelia and Kunette would have turned on her and joined the attackers. Successfully abducting her meant that they might have a chance at getting their hands on the cure.
It seemed that the radicals had readied their own warriors within the reinforcements because they were still distrustful of Kunette and Rivelia. But those two were killing the attackers without hesitation, protecting the Queen. That meant those two chose the Empire over Isaac. Did Isaac act independently now that his greatest force, Rivelia and Kunette, had turned from him?
The Queen was relieved when her thoughts reached that point. It all made sense if Rivelia and Kunette chose the Empire. Even if Isaac had the Dark Royale, all they could muster was pitiful resistance. A pathetic last stand, like what she was witnessing at this moment. Even so, they were surprisingly weak, considering they were Dark Royale’s combat force.
“L, Laila, this isn’t something children should see. Come here.”
As the Queen looked at the attackers with suspicion, one of the female emissaries spoke those words. The Queen sighed and covered her eyes. She couldn’t tell if it was an act of pity or a calculated act to befriend Laila, but it was the wrong decision.
If they wanted to pull such an act, they should have done so at the start of the battle like Cordnell did. Fussing about a child seeing violence when the attack was almost over was a sign they were looking down on Laila just because she was a child.
‘Do you think I’d be concerned about her if something like that would work on her?’
Her impression of the emissaries took a quick and steep nosedive. As expected of a child personally taught by Isaac, Laila had immediately taken control over New Port City before anyone could even think of intervening when the Empire threw away Isaac.
Sure, she had assistance from the officials of the city such as Cordnell and Soland, but the fact that a child acted so decisively so quickly meant she couldn’t be underestimated.
Laila looked at the emissaries disdainfully as they waved at her from a distance with sweet words, still fearful of Rizzly. She spoke to the Queen.
“Is what I heard from the translator true?”
The Queen scratched her cheek and nodded.
“The other world is so hypocritical. I understand why Lord Isaac hated it so much.”
Laila’s sharp rebuke froze the emissaries in place. The Queen, who’d been watching the battlefield, shouted.
“Ah! Keep one person alive. We already know the answer, but we should ask anyway.”
The Queen’s order only agitated Rivelia further, her swings increasing in ferocity and brutality. The ambushers dropped on the ground, their blood gushing into the air. And when the last attacker was captured, the emissaries let out a sigh of relief.