Isaac’s scheme to identify which district allowed the outsiders to infiltrate the city without his permission was cut short before it even started. The ten thousand Giga bounty had motivated the syndicate members to action.
The commoners of New Port City are a group of exploited, weak individuals who earned just enough to survive another day. But the members of the syndicate were group thugs who were confident of their fighting capabilities. They spent their days fighting against mercenaries as sport to pass their time.
Isaac looked down at the corpse, wounds covering every inch of its body. He sighed and spoke to Cordnell.
“Give them their reward.”
Cordnell nodded as he shuddered from the shock of seeing a dead body for the first time. Watching the group of thugs yell and scream with laughter around what is now a bag of meat had made Cordnell see for the first time the true nature of New Port City.
The syndicate members left with the corpse, stating that they will clean up the mess themselves. Cordnell left the area too, stating that he was feeling faint.
Isaac spoke to Rizzly.
“Where did he disappear to?”
“According to my scout, it seemed like he was going toward Soland’s district. But he wasn’t sure because of how fast that man was caught.
“He seemed pretty slippery on my end. How did they get him?”
“They threw tens of nets at him from the rooftops on both sides of the alleyway, pinning him on the spot. They swarmed at him afterwards. They never had intention of capturing him alive, opting to kill first instead.”
“Well, I understand using that strategy considering they’ve fought against many mercenaries in the past. Maybe I should have just asked him.”
“Shall we perform an investigation now?”
“No, don’t bother. It’s not like this will be their last time.”
“True. It’s doubtful they’ll give up after just a single failure.”
“This is starting to piss me off.”
As someone who has earned the infamy of Crazy Terrorist with his guerrilla and urban warfare, sabotage was in the realm of his expertise.
The acts of sabotage from Port City and Count Milros were starting to stress out Isaac because of how childish their attempts were.
“Are they really oblivious or are they not doing it because they have a different objective?”
Their acts of sabotage included coaxing the workers to negligence, faulty construction, stealing building materials, inflating the construction cost via overuse of materials, delaying ships which carry the construction materials and ruining some of the materials through poor maintenance from the warehouses. It seemed like they were making continuous attempts at sabotage, but it wasn’t effective enough and became even more futile when bosses of each syndicates would knock on his door and tell exactly what they were ordered to do, making it simple to retaliate.
“What is their goal?”
Isaac asked to Cordnell who was complaining about the increasing cost of the construction.
“It’s obvious! We’ve spent so much of our investment on pointless expenses!”
“But the construction is almost over though?”
“We went over the budget long time ago.”
“Still, what they’ve done is too weak…”
“This is weak? Then what would you do, Sir Isaac, if you were the ruler of Port City.”
Isaac didn’t even make a consideration before answering Cordnell’s question.
“That’s obvious. I’d cause arson on the warehouses containing our construction materials along with the construction site itself, burning it all to the ground. Not that pitiful little pranks they’ve been doing.”
“Uhuh. Just thinking about that made my brain freeze. But wouldn’t it be difficult if we increased security?”
“Plus I’d assassinate any who are co-operative to me. If that doesn’t work, I’ll start killing the workers at random. I’d be screwed if nobody wanted to work for me despite how much I was willing to pay.”
A chill went up Cordnell’s spine hearing Isaac’s brutal method. It was something he’d never considered.
“Would they ever do that?”
“That’s why I don’t get it. That’s exactly what I’d do.”
One of the most extreme methods to achieve result was terrorism. And its effectiveness matched its brutality.
Isaac had no choice but to suspect Port City had something else in mind, not performing these extreme methods when it was clear they would be in trouble if this project were to ever finish.
“Well, just thinking about it won’t bring up the answer, and I’m bound to find out in the future. What happened to the order I gave you by the way?”
Cordnell sobbed at Isaac’s question.
“Well they are all quite famous in their field of work…”
“I don’t need people that are that famous. They just need enough fame for people to think ‘Ah! That guy!’ when they hear their name. If that’s too difficult, then you can bring in those that have fallen from their peak.”
“But why do we need so many people? I understand bands and theatres but why are you inviting artists such as painters and sculptors too?”
“What are you going to tell the guests who got bored of gambling? Just tell them to go home and sleep?”
‘I understand you’re bringing in bands and theatres to hold the guests in the city but…”
“It’s the same thing. I will sponsor artists in poverty with my money in return for the rights of their works. Once I have enough of their works, I’ll open a museum or a gallery of my own for tourism.”
“Heh, I didn’t know you were so interested in such things, Sir Isaac. There are many noble who support artists but you’d be the first one to help the artists to this level.”
“Hm? This isn’t support but investment.”
“Huh? How can it become investment?”
“If just one of the artists I’ve been supporting becomes famous, all of the works he had made previously will increase in price with him. Buy cheap and sell expensive. It’s basic business.”
“Do you realise how long that will take for your investment to pay off?”
“The Ceta District will continue to be mine even if I were to be relegated as the Lord’s Representative. I’ll just live rich for the rest of my life. Well, it doesn’t matter even if none of them becomes famous. Just the reputation that I support poor artist will be enough to make it worth it. It’s not bad to have the City of Art and Culture added to City of Gambling right?”
“That’s true but that’d only happen if you succeed!”
“I’m saying it because I’m confident. No, it has to succeed.”
“Che, I don’t understand where you get that confidence from.”
“You’ll know if I’m right when the time comes. Just finish the construction and make sure you find the bands and theatres that will perform our opening ceremony and use the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds’ connections to send invitations.”
“Wouldn’t it look rather shabby? The only things in construction are the casinos. The rest are still the same. We don’t have the funds to construct hotels and theatres with what we have left.”
“We can use the profit we earn from the casinos to build them in the future, and until then the guests will need to use Port City for those services. It’s not even that far away. Just worry about the opening ceremony.”
“Sigh, I don’t even know anymore. I think it’ll be easier if I just do as I’m told.”
“Yeah. That’s what it’s usually like. It’s easier once you give up.”
“What? Really? I just sent it out of whim but they really came?”
Isaac looked with surprise at the report Cordnell handed to him. He never expected any of this year’s graduates from Campus to apply for a job. With the graduation certificate from Campus, they were free to choose whatever job they wanted.
Not to mention Isaac suddenly became a student of College just before his graduation. The students of Campus were bound to show hatred toward him, but to think there were graduates who were willing to work under Isaac!
“How many are there?”
“There’s three of them.”
Even Cordnell seemed he couldn’t believe this situation. He may be one of the higher staff members in his guild, but he was a graduate from a business school after his application was rejected by the Campus.
But to think he gets to work with those from the Campus!
Cordnell was feeling both excitement and fear. Fear that he will have all of his reputation he had built up in New Port City stolen to them.
“Bring them in for now.”
Cordnell disappeared for a moment, and came back with two boys and a girl. None of them seemed too familiar to Isaac, since social life wasn’t his priority during his Campus days.
“Hello Sunbaenim. It’s been a while.”
In front of Isaac stood a boy with black hair and vibrant atmosphere, a red headed girl who seemed extremely shy and a boy who stared at Isaac with discontent as if he was trying to challenge him. Well, they all seemed to have a strong personality of their own.
“I’m sorry. This was much unexpected on my part. I just sent it on a whim but didn’t think anyone would actually apply for it.”
It was an unexpected profit. If it’s graduates from Campus, they could instantly solve the lack of manpower in the administration department.
“Hm, don’t feel too bad about the fact that I don’t remember your faces. In truth, there are very few people whom I actually remember. I think I might know the girl though… Is your name perhaps Selia?”
The girl slightly nodded. Isaac remembered her as the extremely shy girl who continued to refuse all presents from Isaac when he was gifting all commoner girls presents to both help them and solidify his position as the supplier.
“Yes, Sunbaenim. I am Kalden. This unhappy chap over here is Trentor, and this shy lady is Selia just as you said.”
It seemed Kalden was either bold or very adaptive, as he started his long explanation of the situation they were in without hesitation.
All three of them came from households which weren’t different from the slums of New Port City. They managed to attend the Campus without too much difficulty since there wasn’t any enrolment fee, but it didn’t change the fact that their houses were deep in poverty.
One of Kalden’s family members was deathly sick, and the family had to borrow money for treatment. The medical fees ended up swelling the debt so much that Kalden found no hope of paying off the debt with an average pay even with his certificate from campus. This was the reason why he applied to New Port City, and he added the comment that he’d like his wages and any bonus on time with a snicker.
Trentor was in a similar situation as Kalden, and he was deep in debt even before he studied in Campus. His enrolment in Campus was the only thing holding his family together; otherwise his family would have shattered to pieces long ago.
Selina lived with an abusive father and a mother who was the main target of violence. She managed to enrol to Campus thanks to her excellent affinity to mana unlike Isaac. The moment Selina entered the Campus, her father used her as a warrant to borrow money for himself.
Basically, all three of them were desperate for money to not care about their pride.
”Hm. Cordnell. Investigate on their families and pay off all of their debt and give them their living expenses.”
“Huk! Sunbaenim, you don’t have to do that already…”
“Don’t feel so pressured because this isn’t out of good will. You can pay back portions of this with your wages. Just think of this as advance payment.”
“But are you sure you guys don’t want to visit your family?”
“I’m fine since I’ve seen their faces with the Communicator. Plus my family is too far away for me to visit and return back in time.”
“Well, I won’t force you if you don’t want to. What about you two?”
“I don’t mind either.”
“…I don’t want to go.”
Whether it was Trentor whose displeasure was clearly on his face despite standing in front of his employer, Selina who seemed extremely shy at first but has the strong will to speak for herself or Kalden and his sociable nature, all three of them seemed not to be your average people. Perhaps they would never have applied to work under Isaac if they didn’t have such personalities.
“So what do we do for our work?”
“Hm? You just graduated, so have some rest first. There’s much to see in Port City and they host excellent food so rest well in there. I’ll call you guys over when needed. Ah! You don’t worry about expenses, just talk to Cordnell for it all. Cordnell, why don’t you show them around Port City?”
Isaac took out a cigarette and prepared himself to slack off again and Cordnell quickly lead the three down the stairs, who still seemed confused as to what was happening.
It seemed Trentor felt like he had been ignored and angrily spoke to Cordnell.
“I could see you guys have made many work to be done as I made my way here. Just give us a day to rest and we’ll start work immediately. Just tell us what needs to be done.”
Kalden nodded in agreement with Trentor.
“One day of rest is more than enough. Trentor and I majored in administration so leave all desk work and document processing to us. Ah, Selina is an expert in many areas of magic, so she’ll do well in that area.”
“… Leave it to me.”
Cordnell stopped and quickly turned to face the three when they spoke out, replying with a serious face.
“I know this may sound like a joke to graduates of Campus, but I will speak these words as the man who has experienced work under Sir Isaac before you.”
The three listened attentively because of how serious Cordnell looked.
“We will pay for all the expenses. So until Sir Isaac calls you over, live and play the most extravagant way possible, exceeding what you have ever dreamed of. Eat the best food, shop in the best shops and play to the point you begin to doubt whether you should really do this. Otherwise, the regret of not doing so will forever be etched into your bones.”
…Just like me.
Cordnell cried on the inside as he stopped himself from speaking those last words, while the three were confused as to how they should take his words. It sounded like a joke but Cordnell seemed so serious about it.