Trade, transportation and tourism. These were the three attributes that made this region famous. But on one side, there stood the city of culture and trends, while on the other was a city of slums where vagabonds roamed the streets and the crime rate couldn’t have been any higher.
When Isaac received his orders to change this city within three years from Mazelan, the first things that ran through his mind were Las Vegas and Macau, which were famous for their casinos and entertainment.
Using any of the more normal means would have taken both too much money and time, but most important of all, it would never succeed under the constant sabotage from Port City.
But what if it was a city specializing in gambling and entertainment?
The city was already situated in a position where people constantly traveled through for one reason or another. Even if the people didn’t want to gamble, they could still visit the place for its grandiose buildings, women with the beauty to capture their hearts, and entertainment and events that lighting up every street in the city. And maybe, some of them may consider gambling out of curiosity.
Isaac didn’t even need to put effort into trying to make those people open their wallets. All he had to do was copy and paste the marketing strategies used by Las Vegas and Macau.
He was well aware of how dangerous gambling is and how easily it can break a man. But so what? He wasn’t one to care about someone else’s life being ruined by gambling when his death was fast approaching.
He wasn’t afraid of death. He would accept it if he were to die from an accident or a grudge he rightfully deserved. But what he couldn’t stand was someone else profiting from his own death.
This is why he amassed the funds and manpower from the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds, learned about all the laws, and visited the gambling dens and brothels. It was to gather information and develop and improve upon his plan using the collected intelligence. Even if the public criticized him for carrying out his lazy and deplorable actions.
“The most pressing problem is the demolition and reconstruction of the aged buildings.”
Within the room where the four syndicate bosses were held, Cordnell and his fellow employees from the merchant guilds, Lanburton representing the elves, and Rizzly, who represented the North Bears, discussed the plan Isaac had proposed.
“Even if you were only redeveloping the Ceta District, it’d still be difficult to open the casinos within this year if you consider the costs for materials and wages for the labourers.”
“You must also consider the funds. You have a million Giga now, but there won’t be much left once you finish redeveloping the Ceta District. If you include the construction of supporting buildings and lodges for the guests, we are guaranteed to go bankrupt before we finish the project. The Seven Grand Merchant Guilds has decided that they will not invest any more. Mr. Goldman from Rivolden Merchant Guild has said he could invest more due to his personal ties with you, but it’d be like trying to fill a faulty bucket with water with the sheer scale of the expected spending.”
“You must also remember that your mission is to normalize New Port City within 3 years. Even if this project were to succeed, there won’t be any point in this if the citizens of New Port City succumbed to gambling addictions too.”
All of the employees seemed displeased by the proposed plan, as they didn’t hesitate to make their arguments rejecting it in unison.
Isaac listened to the arguments from the employees as he quietly smoked his cigarette, and once they were done, he started countering them one by one.
“Wages? New Port City is a hive of unemployed labor. You’re worried about their wages when there are people who would commit murder for a single meal?”
The employees’ faces went pale when they heard of Isaac’s words, while the four bosses nodded in agreement with Isaac.
“Materials? Are you really worried about gathering enough materials when we are the city itself that boasts of being a centre of transportation? And its costs? I’m sure the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds would be happy to provide me with all of the materials without any added costs other than its original price and transportation fee.”
Pounden of the Headstone Merchant Guild began to sob when Isaac finished his words. It was the expected reaction from a merchant ordered to do work for something that has no profit on his side.
“Funds? I have no plan to reconstruct all of Ceta District from the start. We are making two casinos, one for commoners and one for nobles. The rest will be lodges. Most of the buildings in Ceta District already are pubs and brothels, so just changing its interior will do the trick for now. Well, this isn’t something we need to discuss right now, but we’ll talk about it again once our professional city planner finally gets here.”
“Hm, it’s true that the guests won’t have any difficulties if they are divided by status.”
Soland nodded as he made his remark. He has seen many occasions where nobles were forced to disguise themselves in order to gamble because of their pride. If one of the casinos was reserved for nobles, they wouldn’t have to resort to such measures and enjoy gambling freely.
“And the citizens of New Port City, gambling? I guess you guys haven’t understood what I meant. If any citizen who hasn’t received approval from the city enters the Ceta District, they are fined ten thousand Giga. If they gambled, their hands will be amputated, and any who dared to use the prostitution service will be castrated. I’ve looked up all of this. This is all within my jurisdiction to decide.”
Everyone was surprised by how harsh the punishments were. Isaac smirked at the sight, twisting the butt of his cigarette and lighting his next one.
“Too harsh, you say? My life is on the line. I wanted to make them all death sentences but it was out of my authority so I settled with that instead.”
Everyone understood after hearing that explanation and nodded.
“Ah! Also, gambling and prostitution is still banned in all the districts other than Ceta District and will have the same punishments as what I’ve declared just now.”
“Are you telling us to die?!”
Soland jumped off his chair to shout out those words before Rizzly quickly subdued him with a punch to his gut.
“Then shall I die instead? Do you all want to die now and watch me visit you guys in hell 3 years later?”
“… No sir.”
No one had the courage to speak up against Isaac while Rizzly stood with a firm fist, ready to shatter the skulls of any dissidents. Their instincts and experience in the streets were warning them that Isaac was more than ready to make such orders.
“But I will give you means to survive.”
“I’ll be outsourcing. You have experience with running gambling dens, so you make sure my casinos run nice and smooth. If one ever goes in the red, you’re dead.”
Soland’s face paled when he heard those words.
“The staff I have may somehow run the casinos for commoners, but it’d be impossible to run the casinos for nobles! The dealers and workers I have are used to dealing with the brutish sailors. They’re bound to make an incident! Plus, I don’t even have enough staff to run both casinos at once!”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m leaving you with management and education instead.”
“Huh? Educate? Who?”
Soland asked with a perplexed look, and Isaac turned to look at Lanburton.
“Does working as a dealer in a casino sound interesting to you?”
“Hoh! To work in the casinos where one can see human greed at its greatest! Hahaha. I’m sure the elves will line up for the job.”
“Being a dealer won’t be the only thing I’ll be asking you guys in the future, so you can look forward to it. But I need all of you to learn how to be a dealer in case some of them need to be replaced when they decide to move on to another job.”
Lanburton politely lowered his head.
“Smartass, your job is to teach these elves the rules of gambling and what a dealer’s job is.”
Despite the confusion, Soland could already feel the success that would entail from this delegation. To make the beautiful elves deal their games? That alone would pique enough curiosity from guests to play in the casinos.
While Soland felt both envious of the creative idea and depressed for not being able to think of it on his own, Isaac started speaking to Milena.
“Crazy bitch. You better pick the girls properly. I will not allow you to force the job to the girls. Make sure you pick volunteers who are prepared to sell their bodies to feed their families.”
“And those arrogant nobles want women who can match their standard, so educate any smart girls if you ever see them. But you already knew that from running high class brothels right?”
“Hoho, you don’t have to worry about that. But how shall we split the profit…”
“Profit? What profit? They get to keep whatever they earn by selling their bodies, so what do we even have to share? Just tell them to pay their taxes when it’s due.”
“Then what about me?”
Milena asked with a sobbing face when Isaac clearly stated his intention to make her income as a pimp to disappear.
“I won’t stop you from receiving payments for the educating the volunteers. But, I will punish you if it’s to the point of usury.”
Basically, she was tasked with running a school which gathered and taught women to work in the brothels. She had to prepare herself for a significantly reduced income and the loss of all the girls she had under her influence.
“We can work as dealers too!”
Rizzly stepped up and shouted out those words, feeling a sense of rivalry after seeing only the elves get work from Isaac.
“I will appoint the North Bears as the police for now. Rizzly, you are now Captain of New Port City’s Ceta District Police Force.”
Rizzly smiled as he thanked Isaac. The four, who were still in the dark regarding the contracts, looked to Isaac as if he was insane.
“It’d be very nice if you were to tell me what I should do now.”
Dinozo spoke those words with a calm demeanor, as if he expected to lose his job anyway.
“You can take over what was Foxt’s territory, which has been co-managed by all of you up to now.”
“Does that mean you will leave all of the police work to North Bears alone? I know I’m not in the position to say this, but the North Bears won’t be enough to maintain public order in all of New Port City.”
“No. I’m only taking care of Ceta District. You guys deal with your districts yourself.”
The four dropped their jaws after hearing such irresponsible words from Isaac’s mouth. Isaac smirked once again at the sight.
“It looked like I was slowly strangling you guys to death right? Think about it. If people are working, it means they are earning money, right? If people earn money, they are bound to spend it. Then, where will that money go to?”
It was obviously going to go back to the syndicates that ruled the districts.
Therefore, all money spent by the citizens flowed directly into the pockets of the syndicate bosses. This was a measly sum when the employment rate was at rock bottom, but if it were to rise, the money that flowed in the market would rise with it.
“You think I only need dealers to run my district? I’m going to need restaurants, waiters, coachmen, labourers and so on. There are going to be many jobs, and their pay will be 50% higher than the Empire’s average wage regarding their work.”
Money was bound to congregate if casino began running. Instead of locking away all that money, releasing it back into the market was bound to make the market thrive.
“The most important fact is that I have no interest in collecting taxes other than Ceta District.”
Those words were the final push. The profit they’d make if there wasn’t any tax from the city would rise exponentially over time. It’d be even more massive than before Isaac had even arrived at New Port City.
With the four seemingly convinced, Isaac turned his eyes to Cordnell.
“You make sure to finish the survey on the city before the casinos’ opening.”
“Is that even possible?”
A proper survey was going to be impossible when they not only had so little time, but didn’t even have any decent estimates on the total number of citizens.
“All work in New Port City is reserved for citizens of New Port City alone unless there is a special reason. The only way for outsiders to make money here is to gamble. Nothing else. If we ever find a non-citizen working in New Port City, all of their possessions will be confiscated, and they will be evicted out of the city.”
“That seems too harsh of a restriction.”
“My life is on the line here. I have no reason to look after the cry-babies for this decision. If they don’t do as they’re told, they’ll be kicked out of the city penniless.”
It seemed like Isaac was placing so many restrictions just because his life was on the line, but no one had any counter arguments. It was a line of reasoning which everyone could understand.
“Do we have to register too?”
Excluding the people of the slums, most of the people who lived in New Port City were criminals and convicts who came here for refuge. But their identities would be revealed once they filled out the surveys, which would naturally reveal the crimes they have committed. There was bound to be backlash from them.
Isaac looked with a cold glare to Milena and the other three.
“You see, I believe bastards who make people cry tears of blood don’t deserve to live. That means you lot are people I should be killing, not working with.”
The four immediately dropped their heads, since the man who held both the authority and the means to kill them spoke those words upfront.
“But the reason why I’m letting you guys live is because it’s too much of a bother to deal with your districts. I won’t tell you to become my subordinates. I had no intention of doing so in the first place. Just shove yourself into your own little corners, and I’ll leave you alone. But, if you ever disobey or ignore my orders, I will personally clean your districts. Street. By. Street.”
There was a long silence after Isaac left that before the four could finally speak.
“What do we do now?”
According to the orders from Port City, they must not cooperate with Isaac. But if they don’t cooperate, Isaac wouldn’t hesitate to kill them all.
Soland, who still clutched onto his stomach in pain, spoke to Milena.
“What else but to act as double agents.”
“The Administrator won’t care about what we do as long as we manage our own districts.”
“Port City won’t stay silent.”
Soland laughed at Dinozo’s words.
“That’s why we have to be double agents. If you tell them we are only acting like we’re cooperating to gather information, I’m sure our masters would understand.”
“What if Port City orders us to sabotage Isaac’s plans?”
“We will have to tell the Administrator of what we have been ordered to do and ask for his mercy to go ahead with our orders.”
“Will it work?”
“This is the only way for us to survive. We are worms caught in a fight between giants.”
The news of turning New Port City into a city of entertainment spread across all of the Empire, carving Isaac’s name into everyone’s minds. Whether it was in a good way or not depended on the morality of the listener.
As the commotion bubbled on outside, Brolen was reading a report in his office. He sighed and moved to the monitor that was placed in his office.
Central had been using the Communicator long before it was released to the public. They had the technology to connect directly without passing through the operators by dialling a specific code.
Once Brolen dialled the code, a voice began coming through the blank screen.
“A city of gambling and entertainment…”
Brolen quickly shuffled through his report after hearing those words from the monitor.
“It seems he’s modelled it after Las Vegas and Macau. Not only is he building the casinos, he’s also gathering famous chefs, artists, bands and actors through the connections of Seven Grand Merchant Guilds.”
“Sounds like it’s been confirmed then.”
“Yes. But the problem is that the target has gathered too much attention from the world, and it’d be a problem for us whether he succeeds or not.”
“Does it matter? I’m sure the options are still to either recruit or process the target.”
“If the surveillance target succeeds, he will completely take over New Port City.”
“So he’ll be in a situation where we can’t process him rashly if we fail to recruit him. Hm, and if he fails?”
“Project 401 will go out the window.”
“The project the Directorate of Strategy initiated 10 years ago?”
“Yes. The goal was to take control of the city and its deplorable living conditions to gather manpower through the orphanages and raise funds and launder money using the gambling dens. It was a long-term project with a scheduled completion on the year 400 and later, and New Port City was chosen as the ideal candidate.”
“I guess the men from the Directorate of Strategy are crying right about now.”
“They told me they’ll have some beer before coming up with some form of retaliation.”
“I understand their need for alcohol when a project they’ve been working on for 10 years ends up in the rubbish bin. I’m also concerned that Duke Pendleton will make a commotion.”
“I am prepared.”
“This is why I’ve been telling them to cooperate with the Directorate of Strategy. Look at where we’ve landed ourselves in. So much blood has been spilled over a surveillance target that we aren’t even sure whether he’s type 3 or 4.”
“It is my fault.”
“You are dismissed from this project for now. Order the Directorate of Strategy to help the target succeed and move in a way that increases the probability that we can recruit him. If it’s impossible, we will move instead.”
“I am sorry for making you worry.”
“No. In truth, I was very interested in Las Vegas and Macau when I first heard of it, so it wouldn’t be so bad to visit the place for a vacation someday.”
“The only problem is that the surveillance target’s personality is too extreme.”
“That could be managed through those at his sides. Actually, he’s got quite the intimate relationship with Central. It’s rare for a target to be an acquaintance of 5 agents.”
“There’s another agent from the Directorate of Strategy in the mix too.”
“An agent from Directorate of Strategy?”
“Yes. The agent had been working on Project 401 as a local from New Port City ever since its inception. The agent was deployed to New Port City immediately after being recruited.”
“Tsk. The agent must be quite distraught, knowing the project they’ve been working on for 10 years is vanishing into thin air. Give the agent a reward that matches their sacrifice.”
“I’m sure the agent will be greatly pleased if you personally encouraged them face to face.”
“Is that so? Then I shall have a meal with the agent some time.”
“I will make the arrangements.”