It was the day of the trial, and a crowd of people flocked to the plaza to witness the event. It was the first murder case in Ceta District. Although the culprit was caught red-handed at the scene, there was much debate as to what conclusion Isaac would make, especially when considering the identity of the criminal and the authority of the Marquis that stood behind him.
The Order of Heavy Combat Knights, which was the pride of the Marquis, assembled and surrounded the plaza, preventing anyone from entering too deep. Many thought that even Isaac had no choice but to yield to the might of the Marquis after seeing the knights restrict and control the area to their liking; it was almost as if it was their home territory. And as expected of the city of gambling, there was a secret wager on what judgement Isaac would hand out for Dogman.
Isaac scanned the populated plaza. It was an amalgamation of knights, tourists, and citizens who were all eagerly waiting for the trial to begin.
“Hm, let us begin. Rizzly.”
Isaac called out for Rizzly atop City Hall’s roof, and Rizzly responded by shouting down at the crowd below them.
“Silence! Sir Isaac, graduate of the College, Rank 1 knight and the Lord’s Representative of New Port City shall make his appearance!”
Confused, the crowd looked to the roof where Rizzly’s words originated from.
Rizzly stepped away from the edge of the roof and brought out a strange looking chair. Everyone wondered why the chair had extra legs behind the seat itself, and their question was quickly answered. Once Isaac sat on the chair, Rizzly lifted him up along with the chair and placed it at the edge of the roof. The extra legs fit perfectly with the small fence which lined the edge of the roof. The employees looked dumbfounded. The chair must have been made for the sole purpose of allowing Isaac to look down at the crowd without leaving the roof, most likely due to laziness and to have unobstructed view at the crowd beyond the fence.
The crowd reacted the same way below. They screamed when Isaac suddenly appeared at the edge of the rooftop, but once the chair was fit on the fence, it almost seemed as if Isaac was floating in midair with the chair.
Isaac didn’t even seem bothered at the dangerous spectacle. In fact, he seemed at home as he looked down at the crowd with his legs crossed and his weight shifted on one of the armrests.
“I will now announce the verdicts.”
Trials followed a series of complicated procedures, and the final verdict was typically made only after the procedures were over. However, Isaac suddenly announced that he would skip all of the procedures and jump straight to conclusion, astounding all of the defendants and the crowd.
But what they thought about this was beyond Isaac’s care, and he promptly ordered Kalden.
“Huh? Y, yes…”
Kalden wondered if it was alright to continue, but he had no choice except to proceed as Isaac ordered. Kalden called the defendant of the first case to stand at the front of the city hall below Isaac’s feet.
“Eh… This is the first trial. Defendant Neidan is charged with theft. He was stealing from one of the grocery shops owned by Rivolden Merchant Guild while he was hired as an employee…”
“Wait. Are you a citizen of this city?”
Isaac cut off Kalden and spoke down at Neidan, who quickly fell on his knees with tears dripping from his face.
“I am sorry! I must have gone mad!”
“Yes. You really did go mad. Charge him with a fine ten times the value of the stolen goods. The city will reimburse the shop first, and the defendant will be subject to unpaid labour until his debt is repaid in full. Next.”
“Huh? That’s it?”
“What? Do you need more?”
“He must be punished for his crime.”
“And I gave you his punishment. Unpaid labour.”
“I’ve never heard of such light punishment.”
“Light you say? Do you want to work this month without getting paid?”
“Huh? Why me?!”
“See. Do you think unpaid labour is light punishment when you’re struggling to make enough money in the first place? Ah! Don’t you think about slacking off just because you’re not getting paid. If we catch you doing so, we’ll send you straight to the mines. Hm… No, this isn’t enough. Hire a supervisor who will watch over those carrying out the punishment. Now we have both unpaid labour and another job.”
Behind him, Cordnell was whimpering, but the noise went into one of Isaac’s ears and escaped through other as he continued.
Kalden muttered to himself and hesitated for some time before bringing out the next defendant to the plaza with a sigh.
“This is the second trial. Defendant Korven was working as a waiter in a restaurant, but was caught in an argument with a difficult customer. The argument escalated and Korven ended up in a fist fight with the customer. He was arrested and charged with assault.”
“What! You assaulted a customer? Why I ought to rip you to pieces with my own hands!”
Isaac burst out in anger when Kalden finished describing the defendant. He then shouted out at the crowd in the plaza.
“I, the Empire’s official, a College graduate, a Rank 1 knight, and the Lord’s Representative, will give you the absolute standard when administering my land.”
Everyone listened keenly as they held their breath. Many people in the crowd were citizens of the city, but there were a number of outsiders mixed in the crowd. Knowing what the lord liked was crucial to determine what they found to be significant.
Once everyone’s attention was at him, Isaac continued with a firm voice.
“Money is truth, justice, and power.”
There was a brief silence. The people couldn’t understand what Isaac meant and began to murmur to each other in confusion.
Isaac continued his speech as he looked down at them.
“Those who live in New Port City are trash and maggots that don’t even deserve to live.”
Another wave of silence befell in the plaza, but this time it was a cold one. The abusive words stupefied even those who were standing behind Isaac, whose mouths were left agape in astonishment.
“Why? Because you don’t have money! When something unfair happens to you, when your belongings are taken from you, when you aren’t given the right pay, and when you submit without resistance against violence. It’s all happening because you don’t have money.”
Everyone tilted their head at Isaac’s explanation, which sounded both plausible and wrong at the same time.
Isaac’s emotionless voice continued.
“The reason why you can’t leave this dumpster of a city is because you have no money. You can’t even care for your sick family because you are poor. The reason why you sell your body to feed your family is because you are poor, the reason why you have a hierarchy which feeds on the weak is because you are poor, and the reason why you kill others to save yourself is because you are poor.”
“All of this could have been avoided if you had money.”
People were still split on what they thought about Isaac’s words. There was no one in New Port City who never worried about money. They scavenged through the trash to quell their starving bodies and stole from others. All in the name of survival. It was their way of life, and it had always been so.
“Life without money is miserable. That is why you, who have no money, are trash and animals who only know how to speak. Those in Port City knew this, and that is why they threw away their pride and elegance in a fiery riot to save their own wealth.”
Isaac’s calm and quiet voice sunk deeply into everyone’s ears, and their eyes turned more and more menacing toward Isaac. The employees and hubaes were aghast at Isaac’s monologue. Even the wisest of men spoke back when they were insulted directly. And wrath from those who suffered through poverty was even more dangerous. If their emotions exploded into a frenzy, it would turn into a riot so large that even the North Bears and the elves wouldn’t be able to stop it. The knights, on the other hand, would watch with a grin on their faces.
Even Rizzly and Lanburton began to tense up as the atmosphere worsened with every passing moment. Rizzly quickly sent out his signal to assemble his tribesmen.
“And I have given you an opportunity.”
There was a pause. People wondered at what Isaac meant by an opportunity. Isaac watched the attention focus onto him once more and began to talk to the waiter who fought with a customer.
“Put your life on the line for the single coin your customer throws at you. Even if they are the greatest assholes who slept with their mothers, if they came to New Port City with money, they are guests. Lick their asses if you must to open their wallets. That is your job. Honour? Pride? Self-esteem? That is a luxury only those who have money can own. None of it matters if you are poor. If you find the world unfair and disgusting, make money! If there is any trouble or complaints with the guests, then you will be sent to work in the mines, no questions asked. Unfair you say? It was the guest’s fault? Doesn’t matter. They are not guilty if they have money, and if you have none, then saving the world wouldn’t keep you from receiving a guilty verdict.”
“Therefore you are guilty! You are to be sent to work in the mines for one month! Make sure the guest is properly reimbursed.”
The waiter was taken away in a state of confusion. Everyone fell into deep contemplation whether Isaac’s verdict was lawful or not.
“Is this really okay?”
Cordnell asked Kalden with a serious face, and Kalden could only answer by resting his throbbing head on his hands.
“I don’t know. I know that this is a verdict made by the Lord just as the laws say, but all of the verdicts follow the law too… A verdict like this has never happened in the past… There’s nothing I can say since I’m no expert in law.”
“Sounds to me like it will become a problem later on.”
Cordnell and Kalden sighed unanimously as they looked to each other.
“Yes! The next trial is, um…”
Isaac urged Kalden to proceed with his shout. Kalden stuttered as he tried to proceed when he suddenly realised the reason behind Isaac’s actions. They are not guilty if they have money. They are guilty if they don’t. Therefore, the verdict of the murder case which Marquis Duberon’s son was involved in was not guilty.
Isaac’s cunning move avoided conflict against Marquis Duberon while at the same time making it seem as if he wasn’t submitting to their power. Kalden was impressed by Isaac’s political manoeuvring, but at the same time, he was disappointed. It felt as if his expectation of Isaac, that he would be different, was destroyed. While Kalden was busy being conflicted by his thoughts, a drunk man was led into the plaza while being supported by Anton.
“Is that him?”
“Is he drunk?”
Cordnell spoke back with confusion at Isaac’s question.
“Um, you told me to provide him with everything he wanted so…”
Isaac listened to Cordnell’s excuses as he looked at Dogman, who was still out of his senses and demanding more booze while snickering away. Isaac looked at Anton, who had a difficult look on his face, and their eyes met. After the brief exchange of looks, Isaac looked to the sky as he complained to himself.
“I guess I did commit some serious atrocities in the past to deserve getting involved with retards like them regularly.”
Kalden asked Isaac to repeat his words, but Isaac ignored him and whispered an order to Rizzly before looking down at Dogman.
“How dare you! You dare look down on the successor to Marquis Duberon!”
Isaac thought to himself that Dogman at least had some personality in that stupidity of his as he continued to make a ruckus without realising what was happening. Isaac sighed and continued.
“Now, now. This is an official matter so we’ll deal with the formalities later. So I heard you killed someone?”
Anton quickly blocked Dogman’s mouth before he could say something unnecessary and talked in his stead.
“It was an unfortunate accident; he didn’t mean it. Marquis Duberon will take responsibility and pay for the damages incurred in the accident.”
“So you’re telling me that you’ll pay me money for killing someone?”
“It was an accident that happened in drunken stupor. The Master regrets his actions greatly, and he will have some time to look back on his actions.”
It seemed that events like this had happened many times before to them. Anton insisted that all of it was an accident, but it was clear as day that Anton didn’t have any sense of remorse or was even apologetic in his actions, while Dogman had the audacity to appear in trial drunk. It was very difficult to take what Anton was saying at face value.
“Well, I guess it’s too bad for the person who died. But the survivors have to live on. A hundred thousand Giga will be your fine.”
“I believe that is quite large for a fine?”
“It needs to be at least that much for people to think ‘Ah! I’ll lose money if I kill that fucker,’ before they stab someone in the heat of the moment. Plus, my citizens would need this much of an incentive to motivate them to become the most exceptional asswipes, in addition to feeding their families.”
Many of the outsiders shouted out at Isaac’s nonsensical argument, but the citizens of New Port City seemed rather convinced. A hundred thousand Giga was more than enough for their families to leave New Port City and have a fresh new start in their lives, one filled with happiness. It seemed both reasonable and doable to them. These were the slums where people killed for loose change, after all.
“Are you trying to toy with me?! A hundred thousand Giga you say!”
Dogman seemed agitated and tried to trample towards Isaac, but Anton stopped him forcefully. The worse of a scene they made here, the more it impacted the honour of Marquis Duberon and his family.
“We will pay for it immediately.”
“Immediately? I guess you are quite rich?”
“I have been ordered to resolve this incident as quickly as possible, no matter the cost.”
“Cordnell, get the money for me.”
Cordnell walked down to the plaza hesitantly and came back up with a check in his hand.
“It is a blank check signed by Marquis Duberon.”
“I guess he really is the great noble of the south to have this much wealth.”
“Then is it alright if we leave?”
“Huh? But it’s not over yet.”
“You’ve already received payment for our crimes.”
“That’s the verdict for the murder. We still have one more thing to discuss.”
“Smartass. Bring me the account book.”
Soland quickly handed out a piece of paper to Isaac as soon as he was ordered.
“Dear me, you’ve been eating a lot. Let’s just make it 10 thousand Giga for staying here each night. If we sum up the costs for all the alcohol, food, services plus administration… I’ll make it simple by making it a flat number. It totals to one hundred million Giga.”
A cold silence fell on the plaza. Everyone lost their words when they heard such an unbelievable number come out from Isaac’s mouth. Anton quickly regained his senses and shouted back.
“W-what do you mean by that!”
Anton’s astonished voices were replied by Isaac’s calm voice.
“What do you mean? It’s the costs for all of the services Dogman used while we were waiting for the trial to start. I can’t let him stay here for free now, can I?”
“B, but that’s not the problem!”
“Then what is the problem?”
Isaac looked as if he truly didn’t know the reason behind Anton’s question.
“The hundred million Giga! That doesn’t make sense at all!”
“Well, let’s see. I’ve clearly stated in our laws that those who use New Port City’s goods and services without a ticket are subject to their costs being adjusted by the Lord himself. What can you do when I decide to sell my goods and services at a high price? You shouldn’t have bought it in the first place if it was too expensive!”
Everyone was at a loss for words. This was almost like the thief scolding his victims after getting caught stealing.
“You crazy bastard!”
“Why are you saying that to me? Dogman already signed the I.O.U because he ran out of money and wanted to buy with credit. Shall I show it to you?”
Isaac waved a stack of papers in his hand that was given to him by Soland. Anton looked at Isaac while gritting his teeth.
Tricking the great master was easier than taking candy from a baby, especially with his inferior mental state. He would have signed it without a care as long as those around him fueled his arrogance.
“I will say that the court session is over since you’ve paid your fine, but you still need to repay your credit. I’m not letting him leave until he repays it all. Huh? Wait a minute. What if he just gives up on everything in prison because he doesn’t have the money? Hm, I can’t possibly let him stay for free. What should I do…”
Everyone was sickened by Isaac, who seemed like he was thinking about the most pointless problem at this point. Isaac, on the other hand, seemed to come up with an excellent answer.
“Aha! It’s fine as long as he doesn’t sleep in my territory. Rizzly, make a giant steel cage and float it in the canal. Lock him in the cage until they pay up. That is beyond my district, so I wouldn’t need to worry about lodging fees. Huh? He might drown you say? Just make a small breathing hole too. Wait, no! The cage will need my metal, so I need to be paid for the cage itself too. Ha! What a problem. Is there a better way to solve this problem?”
“Are you asking to fight the Marquis over the death of some peasant?”
“Who says I’m asking for a fight? I’m just telling you to repay your debt. Well, I’m always open to readjusting the debt if you were to negotiate with me. If you’re open to negotiation, that is. Kukuku.”
It was Isaac’s revenge at the Marquis, who refused all negotiations because it would tarnish his pride.
All of the knights drew their swords at Anton’s shout. A murderous atmosphere overwhelmed the incredulous mood.
“I guess Marquis Duberon really is great after all. Drawing swords in preparation to rampage through the middle of a plaza like that. I wonder what Central will think if an army were to rampage through another city when it’s not for war?”
Isaac’s sarcastic comment made Anton and his knights flinch. Central’s biggest mission was to find and eliminate all possible rebellions. Killing Isaac wasn’t a problem for Anton, but if they gave Central reason to intervene, the Marquis would have no choice but to abandon Anton and the knights regardless of how much power he had.
Anton hesitated for a moment, which was enough time for the North Bears and Rizzly to shapeshift into their bear forms and surround Anton, while elves lined up on the rooftop with their bows drawn at the knights.
“Kyaa! It’s Mr. Frazer! You look amazing with that bow!”
“Look! It’s Mr. Mirvaden, the winner of the race! Kyaa! Look over here please!”
“Ang! Mr. Rizzly, you look adorable!”
Was it a mistake to involve the elves who worked in the Escort service too? All of the women in the plaza screamed in excitement when they saw the elves. The elves reflexively waved at the women in response, and the screams grew louder.
Even Isaac was confused when the atmosphere of the situation unexpected flipped on its head. Meanwhile, Anton sheathed his sword, and the knights followed suit after a delay.
“You will regret this.”
“Didn’t you say that last time? Hurry up and bring me the money to repay your debt. The longer you delay, the larger it will become.”
“Kihihi! Bring me more booze! I’ll drink everything you throw at me!”
Dogman still didn’t seem to understand the situation he was in as he continued to laugh and shout. Isaac asked a question as he watched Dogman’s behaviour.
“Is he acting like that because he’s drunk, or did he always have a screw loose in his head?”
There was no answer. All of the employees and hubaes had collapsed on the floor, too devastated to utter a single word.
“Huh? Why are you all like that?”
“Because now you’ve become an enemy of the Marquis.”
Isaac frowned as Soland gave him the answer.
“Who says I’m fighting him? I’ll make sure to release him as long as they pay up.”
“That’s how most fights break out.”
Isaac smirked as he watched Dogman scream his throat away. He then promptly ordered Rizzly.
“Take that noisy fool somewhere else.”
With that, two North Bears grabbed each arm of Dogman and dragged him away. The knights flinched at the sight, but they held back from making any reckless actions and instead looked to Anton for orders.
Anton seemed like he was about to shatter his own teeth with the force he was gritting his teeth. He stared intensely at Isaac and then turned away.
“We will retreat for now.”
“Stop! Do as you are ordered.”
Anton silenced the Knights with a single order. But just as he was about to lead the knights away from the plaza, he was called to by Isaac.
“Do you still have something you need to say?”
“Hm. It’s not much, but I think it’ll be nice for your order of knights to know about this.”
Anton folded his arms as if telling Isaac to try him. Isaac grinned and turned to Soland, who signalled his men that had been waiting at the edge of the plaza.
“Huh? What’s this?”
“There’s a number of them. Why is he handing these out?”
Soland’s minions handed out the portraits they had been working overnight to the people.
Many of the people muttered to each other wondering about the portraits, but the knights turned stiff when they saw the portraits. Especially when some of the minions handed out the portraits to specific knights with a giant, sinister grin despite having their faces covered behind their helmets. Those specific knights could only shudder at the sight. It meant they’d already figured out who they were and what they’d done.
Isaac savoured the taste of his cigarette as he waited, and once enough of the portraits had been handed out, he began to speak.
“The portraits you see now have been released throughout the Empire. The crime they have committed is assaulting the Blue Roses of New Port City. Anyone who brings the head of any one of them will be given a hundred thousand Giga as a reward.”
Everyone lost their minds when they heard Isaac’s announcement.
“That’s nuts! He’s going to pay a hundred thousand Giga for some thugs that assaulted a prostitute or two?”
“Impossible! How much money does he have?”
While the crowd grew louder, the knights were growing more and more tense, and the direct culprits turned pale under their helmets.
All of the women, dressed in fine clothes with a blue rose etched into the left chest of their clothes, looked to Isaac.
“Do they call you filthy whores who sell their body for cash?”
The women’s faces sank at those words. Deep down, they knew it was a fact, but hearing those harsh words directly stabbed deeply at their hearts. They too had dreams, but the cruel reality simply grabbed at their feet and dragged them down instead.
“So what? Is there a problem? Raise your head. It’s not like you’ve committed a crime.”
Isaac’s calm voice lifted the faces of the women.
“What’s wrong with using your body to survive? I don’t expect you to have pride in your work. It’s not really honourable work in the first place. But don’t feel inferior about it either. Raise your head. For your survival! For your families! To escape poverty! You’ve abandoned your future as women and sold your bodies, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about it. Be confident. While I am here in New Port City! Anyone who treats you harshly just because you sell your bodies will be arrested and sent to the mines no matter their birth, and I’ll pay whatever is necessary to catch them if they ever escape.”
With Isaac’s speech done, each woman placed their hands on the shoulder of the woman next to them and bowed as they bent their knees. It was the greatest honour they could offer Isaac.
“It’s been a hundred years since I’ve last seen this.”
Lanburton quietly muttered to himself as he watched from afar. It was a salute that was both forgotten and known to everyone at the same time. It was the greatest salute one could do to another, no matter what race they were. Even emperors found it hard to receive such a salute from someone.
And it was given to Isaac by some of the dreamless, vengeful people of the slums who were overflowing with discontent at their society. A strange silence and an emotional mood began to set over the plaza, and Isaac shattered the mood completely.
“What are you still doing here? The court session is over! Drop the useless act and get back to work! Bring in that money!”
‘He’s not saying it out of embarrassment. He truly feels nothing at what has happened.’
Lanburton used the elves’ innate ability, the eyes of truth, to look into Isaac. It was a great honour for one to receive that salute from another. But Isaac truly felt as if all of it was pointless.
‘This is why humans in this world and the other are so fun.’
Lanburton smiled as he moved his feet to volunteer for Escort service again, which became his hobby. Surprisingly, there were many women who found Lanburton to be their type, and he was quite popular among the ladies.
We have confirmed that the great master Dogman, successor to Marquis Duberon is a type 4 invader.
Mental dysfunction observed due to incompatibility.
Requested to aid the Marquis in return for securing the type 4 invader.
Agreement made, armed intervention expected from the Marquis.
Altered project 401 abolished.
To continue following the original project 401.
Unable to protect Surveillance target 728.
To disregard target.
Addition. Prevent contact between type 4 invader and surveillance target 728. Prioritise the recovery of type 4 invader. If unable to stop them from meeting, permission to eliminate surveillance target 728 is granted.
In a dark meeting room where just enough light was let in to identify what was inside, there was a rectangular table with ten or so people seated at their place.
The person seated at the lowest seat looked to the person at the head of the table and complained.
“Why did you make this decision?! It is still possible to appease surveillance target 728.”
“The recovery of type 4 invader is a cover-up.”
“We have confirmed that the ‘demonic’ turncoat has hidden itself in New Port City.”
“Recovering the faith of the Queen is of higher priority than the life of a surveillance target. This was the only method we could use to not alert the turncoat. Arrest anyone who tries to leave New Port City in fear of war. Once the Marquis takes control of New Port City, send in the agents to search for the turncoat.”
“The Queen is doubting our abilities over the fact that the turncoat managed to infiltrate her laboratory. The Queen or the surveillance target; you know which is of more value to us, right?”
“Don’t bother yourself over this mission. In fact, why don’t you take a vacation?”
“Do you not trust me?”
“It’s to make sure our work is done thoroughly. This is an order.”
“… Yes sir.”