Reisha gleefully dispelled her disguise before Rivelia could stop her.
Irei burst into tears, seeing her mother change into someone else in front of her.
“… Take her elsewhere and explain to her carefully. You’re so similar I doubt you’ll have a hard time getting through to her.”
“Uuk. I am happy and sad that I can’t deny those words.”
Reisha took crying Irei elsewhere, a complicated look on her face. Meanwhile, Ike greeted Rivelia and Kunette with a bow as they approached Isaac with a frown.
“It’s been a while, mothers. Forgive me for my negligence of not knowing who the first mother is.”
The two girls could only blink their eyes in disbelief. Isaac pointed at Kunette and replied.
“You are over there.”
“You must be my birth mother. But I have no desire to distinguish you from other mothers because of this. For you all loved me equally.”
“Uh. Um, okay.”
Isaac watched Kunette and Rivelia stutter in confusion. Isaac asked as he took a deep puff of his cigarette.
“So what’s happened?”
Rivelia and Kunette’s senses finally returned as Isaac’s question broke through the haze of confusion. The two coughed dryly before looking at Ike hesitantly.
“Ike, I’m sorry but can you leave us alone for a second? We have something to…”
“Let him be. You can already see he’s going to be scouted by Analysis or Surveillance in the future.”
It was true. If the child hadn’t been brought to them by a dragon, he would have been suspected of being an Invader. No nine year old acted like this.
Kunette contemplated for a moment before she continued.
“… Do you know about the Queen’s legacy?”
Isaac stopped for a moment. He then replied as he exhaled a bit.
“I couldn’t possibly know of it, nor do I want to involve myself in any of it.”
“We’ve detected strange activities from the remnants of the radicals.”
“Shouldn’t they be playing dead at this point?”
“There are those who can’t stand taking such a stance.”
“We’ve managed to capture one of their members who betrayed and fled their reservation, and they mentioned the Queen’s Legacy.”
“What is this legacy?”
“They don’t seem to know much either… but it seems the Queen had other methods to accomplish her goal without the Gate. It’s just that the Gate method was most probable to succeed, so other plans secretly continued as contingencies. Some of the documents detailing it were leaked from the laboratories when the Invaders were exterminated, and the remnants of the radicals are using them as clues to find this Queen’s legacy.”
“Rather unsightly, looking at sore losers…”
Isaac smiled bitterly as he breathed out the rest of his smoke as Rivelia continued.
“We will need to focus on tracking down the Queen’s Legacy for some time.”
“I suppose you won’t have the time to visit me during that time.”
Both Rivelia and Kunette looked at Ike disappointedly. They were going to miss out on watching these children grow and all the joy that came with it.
“Well they are nearly at an age to enter school anyway. We’ll just send them to Campus.”
“I would like to enter College if it’s possible. Though I am lacking, I believe my chances of acceptance are adequate.”
Ike, who had remained silent until now, proposed. Isaac looked down at Ike with a pout.
“What is up with this kid’s personality?”
“First of all, thank you for accepting my request for an interview.”
“Let us proceed, for we have no time.”
“Ah, yes. Then I’d first like to ask what your impression of Isaac is, Lady Wolfgang, having suffered under him.”
“That is very rude.”
“That is not a name you can speak so freely. Especially from you.”
“It seems there are many things you must learn as the successor to Pendleton. And the first thing is manners. Don’t worry. I will teach you only as much as I have learned in the past. This is by no means bullying or revenge for my past. I am simply teaching the Duchess’ successor. Understood?”
Ivel could only repeat himself to Lady Wolfgang. Afterwards, he was lectured endlessly by her the entire day regarding courtly manners.
“Thank you for accepting the interview, Count Cordnell.”
“Hahaha. Welcome, welcome. Now now, come here and sit.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you. Since you must be busy, I will start by asking about the first time you met Isaac.”
“Hey now, you can ask questions like that whenever you want. But first, look at this.”
“Sorry? This is…”
“These are the documents regarding an over-budget settlement in New Port City’s Ceta district and those are documents about entries to the casinos and related facilities. Check if there’s any errors.”
“Why must I do this?”
“Because you are one of our employees now, you must work for us. This is by no means punishment for what happened in my past. It is all official work.”
“Relax. Relax. You’ll learn how to do it in time. I know from experience.”
“… Thank you for seeing me, Sir Rizzly.”
“Kukuku. I see you’ve been through a lot.”
“So, you want to know more about Isaac?”
“Yes. I know you worked as his close aide in the past. What was Isaac like as a person, having seen him at his side?”
“He was a good man.”
“Of course! To us North Bears, anyone who gives us honey is a good person. Whatever he’d done, he always let us eat as much honey as we wanted.”
“Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Soland.”
“I see you haven’t had much success, having resorted to interviewing me.”
“… Ahem, before I ask about Isaac, I have a question. What is the relationship between you and my father?”
“A fucked up relationship.”
“A very fucked up relationship. Shit. Just thinking about it pisses me off. How long do I have to be stuck here for? Shouldn’t I be some coveted resource at this point?”
“Shit, I’m not in the mood for this. Boys, we’re going out drinking.”
“Ah, and don’t you dare go anywhere near the casinos. Or I’m dead.”
“Hohoho, a handsome man has come to visit.”
“Kuk, ahem. Lady Milena, I would like to interview you regarding Isaac. Can you spare…”
“Oh my! Are you asking me on a date? How long has this been? I’d love to, but I don’t think I can. Ah, and please don’t loiter around the Blue Roses and brothels. Lady Rivelia will kill us otherwise.”
Ivel, who had just spent the entire night going through the financial documents, was heading to his room for some sweet rest, only for it to be spoiled by Irei’s sudden appearance.
“Irei? Why are you here?”
“Oh my! Look at your face! Just how bad has it been for you lately?”
Ivel could only smile bitterly as Irei made a ruckus poking and prodding his face. He had been suffering lately. In fact, he had been suffering greatly ever since he was announced as Duchess Pendleton’s successor.
The successor issue—the talk of the Empire—had met its end when Rivelia publicly announced Ivel as her son. Which riled up the Empire as a whole.
But, she also announced that Ivel was too inexperienced to manage the dukedom as a fresh Campus graduate, so he was to learn within the Wolfgang Dukedom. It was quickly followed by Duchess Laila announcing that she would train him thoroughly. Ivel didn’t take those words seriously at first, but Duchess Laila was indeed being thorough with his discipline.
So much was his suffering that he even considered using his position as Pendleton’s successor to ease the burden on him, but New Port City was like a mansion haunted by the Isaac Cartel, its members hiding at every corner.
If Ivel were to flex his position, these men and women—who had all been thoroughly trained by Isaac—would laugh heartily as they put him through the wringer. And Ivel too despised himself for even considering such an option, even being afflicted by depression some time.
The one saving grace was that in this city, nobody would dare approach him for their own benefit.
“How is Ike doing?”
“Hmph! I don’t know. Ike Oppa doesn’t even tell me where he is ever since he entered Central. He keeps on saying it’s confidential. He only contacts me rarely.”
“You know what he’s like. But seeing how he entered Central, his capabilities are basically fact. Does he have any interest in the seat of Duke?”
Ivel asked, and Irei laughed as she tapped Ivel’s shoulder.
“You know what Ike oppa is like.”
Of course he does. That perfectionist. Ivel sighed briefly, shedding all his regrets. He asked Irei.
“So why are you here?”
Ivel asked, and Irei replied with a grin.
“I’ll be graduating next year. And I’d like to write a thesis before I do too.”
Ivel frowned, hearing that word from Irei. Here he was, entering the city with such ambition to complete a thesis about Isaac. But everytime he mentioned the name Isaac, his workload would double or even triple along with a stream of lectures about even the smallest things. Because of this, Ivel had been procrastinating on the project.
“… So you want to write a thesis about Isaac?”
Cordnell asked, with a hint of deja vu. Irei replied with a smile.
“Yes. I believe the conspiracy theory that Isaac is still alive has some basis.”
Cordnell, Laila, and Rizzly all considered the possibility that Irei already knew everything.
“Come out clean. You know, right?”
Ivel aside, Irei was considered as a full elf, unlike other half elves. And as such, Irei had the right to know the truth about Isaac. After all, she inherited the souls of an elf and Isaac.
But they could be jumping the gun, so needed to be tactful with their approach. Laila asked with a glare, and Irei continued with the most innocent look on her face.
“Truth is, I’d like to investigate the mystery woman over Isaac.”
“… The mystery woman?”
“Yes. When the documents about Gate were revealed, a woman who wasn’t from the Empire’s bureaucracy nor royalty was leading the project. But her name is never mentioned in any of the Empire’s documents. I am going to be the righteous detective who will unveil the entire scheme and all these crimes in the future, and as my first step, I will unveil the identity behind this mystery woman.”
Laila wrapped her face with her hand and asked Cordnell.
“This is because of that popular show Detective Colus, right?”
“Um… I’d assume so?”
“Cancel its production.”
“How could you do that?! Do you know how good it is? We haven’t even figured out the culprit of the serial murders! And we just found a decisive clue!”
“The culprit is the detective’s assistant.”
“What! Lies! How could a twist like that be! No! It can’t be! I don’t believe you! You’re just trying to make me give up! Well it’s not working!”
Irei fumed in anger with her hands on her waist. Laila smirked and pointed at Rizzly.
“I didn’t know your uncle had such talent in that field. You couldn’t even figure that out when the author of the original book is named Grizzly?”
Irei looked dumbfoundedly at Laila and Rizzly. She collapsed on the floor, seemingly having lost hope in this world and shouted.
“Lies! That’s an even greater twist! How could you stab me in the back like this? So mean!”