Isaac’s daily routine remained unchanged no matter what happened around him. The one thing that did change was he no longer stayed in the plaza in front of the city hall. City Hall Plaza was the only place large enough to accommodate all the workers during their meal times, and Isaac was keenly aware that the workers found his presence unnerving. So Isaac moved over to rooftop of City Hall instead.
It seemed that Port City had given up on their childish attempts at sabotage, as no news of it had been coming lately. Isaac gave minimal input regarding the construction itself, only giving out basic orders and leaving the rest of the work to his underlings, but the opening ceremony required much of Isaac’s attention in order to be successful.
Even this was done with minimal effort on Isaac’s part, since he never monitored the situation himself. He instead called over his employees for a meeting to check that everything he’s ordered was underway and gave new orders whenever he thought of something he forgot to mention in the past or something new. All of his employees complained about the increasing size of their workload, but that wasn’t going to stop Isaac’s leisurely lifestyle.
Atop the city hall, which had been remodelled to become a makeshift meeting room, Isaac lied on his back with a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other when suddenly a group of people entered the area. They were all of the merchant guild’s employees, Lanburton, Rizzly, all of the Syndicate Bosses and the Campus graduates, who were called in for the first time.
“Our workload has decreased since all of the major constructions are complete, and the only thing left is finishing the interior of the buildings.”
“Doesn’t matter. Your workload will increase again once we open for business. More importantly, how goes the training for the elves?”
Lanburton spoke out confidently to Isaac’s question.
“We are just waiting for the opening day.”
“I swear, no one would even dream of cheating elves as their dealers.”
Isaac replied as if Soland’s input was obvious.
“That’s why I hired the elves in the first place. But don’t let your guard down. Anything can happen when there’s money on the line. Well, I won’t blame you if you are tricked by something ingenious to the point of admiration.”
The elves had a power called the ‘Eyes of Truth’, which allowed them to see through lies. No amount of trickery and lies were going to work against them, and the only way to win against them was through sheer luck and skill. The integrity of our casinos could never be doubted.
“How about the girls?”
Isaac asked Milena, and she also spoke with confidence.
“Hohoho. Our preparations have been made to perfection.”
“The most important thing on your end is the STDs. Make sure you let all of your girls know that they must be checked for STDs every week in order for them to work.”
“But isn’t one week too short? The fees for the check-up aren’t something you can scoff at…”
“Ah, haven’t I told you guys this yet? Everyone in the city who holds citizenship can use any and all all medical services free of charge.”
Everyone let out their cries, and Cordnell who seemed to feel light-headed shouted out to Isaac as he faltered.
“T, then who’s going to pay for the medical fees…”
“It’s paid by the city, of course. Make sure the medical facilities and the treatments are up to date. It doesn’t have to be the best in the Empire, but it better be at least above average. Ah! You said you had nothing to do right? Construct a hospital immediately.”
“It’s not something that comes into existence just by talking about it!”
Everyone mentally sent their condolences to Cordnell, who seemed like he was about to cry.
Just one sentence from Isaac had exponentially increased the workload of all of the employees. If anyone complained that it’s impossible or impractical and refused, he would start blackmailing them into submission by mentioning the investment first, then his own life. There was no way to go against Isaac.
When they asked for some sort of a break or a holiday, Isaac would argue back that he had already given them the break when they first arrived.
“How goes the citizenship registration?”
This work was too difficult for the normal employees to handle, so it was left in the hands of the Syndicates instead. Since it was announced that registrations are accepted until the opening ceremony, the project must be reaching its end by this point.
“We will need more time for it to be completed.”
“There are too many migrants from other cities entering, making it difficult to identify them. They also don’t like the idea of registering.”
“Many of them don’t have proof of identification because they were abandoned as a child and lived on the streets ever since.”
“Some also don’t have a name or lost them, instead being called by nicknames they earned in the back alleys.”
Isaac frowned, unhappy about the four’s sobbing excuses.
“I’m not changing the deadline. Anyone who hasn’t registered by the opening day will be kicked out from the city. Tell them that if you have a history you don’t want to expose, use a fake name. If you don’t have a name, use your nickname to register or make a new name. And make sure you register all the orphans and the elderly too.”
“I understand the children, but why the elderly too?”
“It’s all part of management. I’m going to advertise that some of the profits made by the casinos will be donated to the orphans and the elderly as charity. The number of guests are bound to increase when you give them the excuse that any loss they make will help those in need.”
Everyone admired Isaac for this unprecedented idea.
“How do you come up with ideas like that?!”
Soland asked Isaac in admiration while Isaac replied emotionlessly.
“It’ll come naturally to you too if you don’t want to die in three years.”
Soland firmly shut his mouth.
“But are you sure we should register them all without any evaluation? Citizenship is given immediately once they apply, so we may end up in a similar situation with mercenaries infiltrating us like last time.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll leave any criminals without citizenship to you four to deal with. Either bury them somewhere or give them a tour under the lake.”
The non-humans seemed unphased by Isaac’s casual remark of murder, but the humans in the meeting room felt a chill crawl up their spine.
“And if they have citizenship?”
Isaac smirked at Milena’s question.
“I will personally take any crimes committed by my citizens as attempted assassination attempts at my life when they know that one of my requirements is to lower the crime rate. They will be sent to forced labour, no exceptions. Axlon. I heard you’ve been complaining that you were shorthanded? Just wait, I’ll send some lively ones to you.”
Axlon couldn’t hide his giddiness after hearing those words.
“Oh! Really? I look forward to it! Don’t worry. I’ll make sure none of them ever escape.”
“What! That’s too harsh. I need to make a living too. Let’s make it fair. 5:5.”
“You’re really thinking of ripping me off when you’re getting free labour? Fine, I’ll be generous this time. 6:4. You know I’m 6 right?”
“Huhu, I don’t have any complaints with that. My reputation was starting to falter because of all the setbacks on my quotas.”
Isaac and Axlon happily discussed on how to make profits with convicted criminals, while the rest looked at them with disdain.
“I guess everyone will have no choice but to register with Isaac at the helm. But who’s going to administer it all? It seems the employees from the guilds are at their limit already without adding this to their desks?”
Just as Dinozo said, all of the employees from the guilds hastily shook their heads with a pale face, showing their inability to receive the added work.
“Hm? Don’t worry. I have talented individuals none of you can even compare to right here. They are my proud Hubaes.”
Everyone’s eyes naturally focused towards the Campus graduates.
“U, um… what’s the population of New Port City?”
Kalden asked as cold sweat dripped from his head.
“I wonder? Probably about a hundred thousand?”
“We are expecting a rise in population from immigrants because of the rumour that we are giving citizenship to even outsiders.”
Kalden’s face went pale with panic at Isaac’s reply and Soland’s added input.
“A, and when do we have to finish it by?”
“Before the opening day.”
“So we have about one to two months.”
“You don’t have to finish it too fast. Just take your time. Not many people like it when you guys show off your skills as Campus graduates, so take it easy and just try to at least work at their level.”
The three graduates swore at Isaac in their minds. They finally understood what Cordnell meant when he told them to play to their hearts’ content.
They took his advice to heart and lived the most luxurious lives until now, knowing that any money they spent would simply be deducted over time from their wages. They lived in the fanciest hotel in Port City, bought all the souvenirs for their families and toured the city visiting all the famous restaurants in between.
Now they had no excuse to refuse working. It was just as the saying went, ‘Too much renown comes back as poison.’ Even though it was clearly obvious that this was an impossible task, everyone seemed to look at the Campus graduates with admiration in their eyes, believing they could do it because of what Isaac said. The Campus graduates’ pride stopped them from saying otherwise.
“Understood. We will finish it in time.”
Isaac looked to Kalden with surprise. Even if they excluded those who were registered already, there was at least half of the city who had yet to register.
And the registration process was much more complex than just listing their name on the document after receiving their application. The reason Isaac made this unreasonable request was to break their pride as Campus graduates to make it easier for him to order them around in the future.
“Well, fine. I’ll look forward to it. You don’t have to report to me about anyone who complains to you. Just fuck them up. I don’t care if they die.”
“Do you really think it’ll be possible with just the three of us?”
Trentor looked to Kalden with displeasure in his eyes as they walked to their lodge. He was unhappy that Kalden accepted the work without consulting with the rest.
“Of course not.”
“Then why did you accept his work! You should have at least asked for more time!”
“He must have found out.”
Both Trentor and Selia looked at Kalden with surprise.
“What! Impossible! How could he possibly find out!”
In truth, there were many graduates who wanted to work in New Port City because they were tempted by the high pay promised by Isaac. But they also found working under Isaac to be at the very least, bothersome. So the three of them were chosen to be the advance party and analyse the situation to see if this work was doable before calling the rest over to work together. Already, there were around ten or so other students who were delaying on accepting work from other places they’ve applied for just to wait for the three to send back their news.
“Are you really saying that after you’ve seen what Isaac’s done in Campus? He spent one painstaking year to kick out those disgusting nobles. Those bastards who had been harassing Selia.”
“I know. That’s why we were chosen to see how the situation was like as scouts.”
“That’s exactly what I mean. Remember what Isaac said to us before? Just common sense is enough to realise that the three of us aren’t enough to go through a hundred thousand people, which is still increasing by the second. But he told us to take our time. He knows that it’s impossible with just three of us but it’s possible if the rest of us joined in and split each district to finish the job.”
“I see. You’re right in saying that it will finish faster the more people work on it, since we don’t really need to do background checks.”
Trentor started to agree with Kalden, while Selia spoke out with worry.
“But, what do we tell them? I don’t think they’d come if we speak the truth.”
“Let’s just tell them we’ve been playing around like kings and queen while we’ve been here and tell them to join us in the fun.”
“Then we send them immediately into work? Hm, it’s a good plan.”
“Won’t they get mad? We got to work after playing around for so long but…”
“Then what do you suggest? Shall we do it with just the three of us?”
Selia shook her head, firmly denying the possibility.
“Well, they’ll badmouth us for some time but they can have their rest once this work is over.”
‘Will it be possible? I’ve heard what Mr. Cordnell had been complaining to me about, and it sounded a lot worse than I had imagined.”
“That’s why I’m saying it’s not fair for just the three of us to suffer through it.”
The three of them discussed with each other as they walked up the stairs leading to the bridge when a shadow peaked out of the alleyway. The shadow watched the three, and then mumbled to itself.
“What do you mean Isaac’s found out. It’s clearly obvious that he’s just abusing you lot to make it easier to order you guys around. Tsk tsk. This is why new graduates aren’t as smart as they think.”
The shadow sighed deeply at the ground as it looked at the bridge.
“Sigh. What am I saying. I’m in no position to say any of this. I almost got myself involved because I felt so bad for my Hubaes.”
“We’re in trouble!”
As usual, Isaac irresponsibly pushed all duties to others and spent his time slacking around on the rooftop of the city hall when Cordnell hurriedly rushed over hurriedly. Isaac looked at him with a blank look.
“I’m starting to get really tired of hearing those words. What is it now?”
“The Department of Law! The Department of Law has made an announcement.”
“Huh? Were there any taxes we missed?”
“Tax isn’t the problem right now!”
Cordnell frustratingly showed a paper to Isaac. Isaac read the paper without much interest at first, but his eyes began to widen as he read on.
“During the reforms of punishment regarding crimes, the Department of Law has determined that an open and active trade regarding sex could lead to the worsening of morality and cause disorder in societies. Therefore, the Department of Law has determined it is right to change the category of prostitution from Misdemeanour to Felony and that its punishment can no longer be adjusted by the Lord? What the hell is this?”
“What else! We’re screwed!”
“Hm, no matter how I see it, I think they’ve changed this law to target us.”
“I’ve asked some of my friends in the capital. Even the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds have been stabbed in the back! Someone forced the Department of Law to ban the legalisation of prostitution. Now, anyone who has been caught regarding prostitution must be punished by what has been set by the Department of Law!”
Rivolden Merchant Guild had already built three hotels in New Port City on top of the many investments it made. If this project were to fail, it will be a devastating blow to the guild itself, and Goldman would need to take responsibility and step down from his position as the Guild Master.
The rest of the guild employees in New Port City weren’t too concerned since they accepted the job with the expectation that it was going to fail; their pay already took that into account. But Cordnell was now at risk of being cut off from his guild along with Goldman, putting his livelihood in jeopardy.
Isaac suddenly burst out in laughter, and Cordnell looked to him as if he had gone insane after his plan was destroyed even before it began.
After a long time snickering and chuckling, Isaac took out a cigarette and asked to himself.
“Ah, now this is something I haven’t even thought of. They got me good. Is this what they call a ‘difference in perspective’?”
When it came to harassing and sabotaging someone else, all Isaac could come up with was terrorism or assassination. Violence aimed directly at the target. He did so because it was quick and efficient, and it was his preferred method.
But those people came up with a completely different solution unlike everything Isaac had been thinking about. They would use the law to entangle their foe, pinning them into an endless struggle against the law until their foe withered to death.
It was not a barbaric method where a man could be injured or killed, but an elegant, bloodless method that was both cunning and slimy – befitting of nobles. Isaac felt refreshed by this unexpected turn of events.
“What do we do now?”
“Why are you even asking that? Just continue as we always have.”
“We have no way to win! We should immediately negotiate with Port City to at least earn back part of the investment…”
“Are you telling me to die?”
“It’s not like you are guaranteed to die after three years.”
“Would you keep me alive if you were them?”
“But there’s no other way…”
“What do you mean there’s no other way? Who monitors and enforces the law in New Port City?”
“Are you going to just turn a blind eye at it?”
“Can I not?”
Cordnell hesitated for a moment and then replied.
“Well… the reason we could do business like that until now was because Port City had been protecting us. But now that Port City has become hostile, they’ll get the Department of Law involved instead of defending us.”
“Why’s the Department of Law a problem?”
“Because the Department of Law has an investigative branch that will monitor and assess whether the Law is being upheld and punished fairly! If you were to turn a blind eye to a crime that is now considered a felony, you will give the Department of Law the right to remove the police force in the city and replace it with men from the Department of Law itself!”
“Tsk. How thorough of them. Doesn’t matter. It’s not easy to convict someone for prostitution. I’ve also read up on some of the law books myself. In order to prove prostitution was happening, they must catch it at the scene red handed. Do you think that’s going to be easy?”
“What can you possibly do if they catch them while they’re discussing about the price!”
“That’s why the city will set the price instead. All the guest has to do is just choose the girl and head straight to the hotel without discussing about money. Can the government stop a man and a woman who have decided to spend a passionate night together in a hotel? Can they?”
“With the power the Department of Law’s investigation branch holds, they can assault the hotels and immediately investigate for their identification. An excuse like that will never work when the two of them don’t even know each other’s names.”
Isaac went into thought with Cordnell’s refute.
“Huh? That is a problem. Hm… Fine, let’s do this instead. Cordnell, go see my Hubaes and tell them to issue a work identification for our working girls.
“What is this ‘work identification’?”
“Identification you use for work. What else? For their names, hm, let’s make it fancy and make it ‘Blue Rose’ for all of them.”
“That’s not even a name.”
“Did we ever take that as an issue before? This problem is a lot more sensitive than you think right now. Imagine if we unified it under the name of Milena instead. How would a commoner girl who has the name Milena feel if they ever found out?”
“They would be extremely displeased.”
“If she’s a noble?”
“I’d imagine she’d have a seizure.”
“I don’t want to see that happen.”
“But why do we have to give the same name to all of them?”
“Because it’s for work. When someone falls into a panic, they can’t even think of the simplest things. But when everyone has the same name, you don’t even have to worry.”
“What about age? Even if you unified the name, you can’t lie about your age.”
“Just print the ages that seems to be the best fit. If it’s right, you go over it without a problem. If it’s wrong, then they can just argue with each other for lying about their age. It will be confusing at first to our male guests, so make sure you explain it thoroughly whenever they visit.”
“This is just a childish prank where we cover each other’s eyes!”
Cordnell shouted out with a befuddled look at Isaac, and Isaac replied with an expression that seemed to speak ‘so what?’
“Does it have any legal issues?”
Isaac came from a world where all kinds of prostitution and sex trafficking took place. There were many methods to abuse the loopholes regarding prostitution.
Cordnell dropped both his head and shoulders, when suddenly Isaac spoke out as if he’d just had an epiphany.
“Ah! Make sure you tell Crazy Bitch this too. If she ever finds a guest who abuses our working girls, they are to be arrested regardless of their status, whether commoner or noble.”
“That’s going to be a problem on our end.”
“How dare they treat the citizens of New Port City like a target for sexual relief? They must be punished according to the Empire’s law for attempting prostitution.”
Cordnell dropped his jaw in astonishment. For once, he found Isaac’s shameless behaviour to be almost awe-inspiring.
The employees were skeptical about the orders Isaac had given out even as they worked on it, but Isaac was confident. It is a man’s instinct to look at anything that resembles women. Buying sex with material had always been present. In truth, it wasn’t just New Port City that was turning a blind eye to it, but most of the cities had brothels in secret where these acts happened commonly.
“I see that most of the work is done now.”
Isaac peered over the rooftop of City Hall. The view showed the Sky Bridge and the long pathway that led to the centre of Ceta District.
Back when Isaac first came, even this place, which was supposedly the most furnished region, was in an abhorrent condition because there wasn’t any administrative body in the city. This is why Isaac had to invest not only on the casinos but the city’s infrastructure as well.
The road, which was once just a long straight lane made of uneven gravel, was now polished to the point where a race could be held on the road. It was made possible by the extremely expensive road work material which once again made Cordnell whinge.
The only thing was that the road showed no distinction between pedestrian walking and driveways since New Port City was already designed in a way that made it difficult for carriages or automobiles to enter.
Many businesses lined the streets on the sides of the road, brought in by not just the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds but other private businesses as well. The road was also decorated with outdoor cafes, fountains, colonnades, and benches for the guests to rest at.
“Now, all we need are some guests.”
Alcohol, gambling, women.
These were the three things all the wise men in the past had warned against. It was because of how attractive they were to men, and when all three of them gathered to one spot, it was bound to bring in the people.
Isaac looked at the empty street with a smoke in his mouth, and then looked to Rizzly who stood at his side.
“Aren’t you bored of just following me around all day? Don’t you feel like you’re being cheated? It seems the rest of your men are enjoying their time playing right now.”
Rizzly showed a somewhat lukewarm reaction and scratched his cheek.
“It’s common sense that the strongest man protects the employer, who is the most important person to us. I’ve also been threatened to do this too.”
“You don’t know how scary Kunette is, do you?”
Rizzly quickly shut his mouth, sporting an expression that screamed ‘I made a big mistake’ when Isaac spoke those words. Isaac narrowed his eyes and began to pressure Rizzly with silence. Cold sweat rose from Rizzly, but he was saved by someone who barged up onto the roof.
“We’re in big trouble!”
“Is there any small trouble instead?”
Cordnell’s head blanked out at Isaac’s horrible joke, but he quickly regained his posture and began stomping around in frustration.
“Now is not the time to make horrible jokes!”
“Hm, that hurt. I actually put some thought into that joke.”
Isaac complained at Cordnell’s reaction, when the rest of the guild employees, Isaac’s Hubaes, and Lanburton rushed over to the rooftop as well, demonstrating how critical the situation was.
“I guess we really are in big trouble if all of you came out like that. So, what’s the problem?”
Everyone shouted in unison at Isaac’s apathetic reaction.
“Port City has opened a casino!”