“… It’s changed so much.”
Rivelia muttered as she looked around her. She remembered touring Port City when she was a child. Although the memory was somewhat biased because of nostalgia, the Port City she remembered was a peaceful city, its clean streets populated with friendly smiles.
But the Port City standing in front of her was not the one she remembered. The smiles had disappeared from its citizens, replaced by an air of suffocating sadness and gloom throughout the entire city. Meanwhile, the slums of New Port City that had shocked her young mind in the past had transformed into a sprawling city which surpassed even Port City in her memories.
“Wow! The city has become so much grander since the last time I was here!”
“… It’s changed a lot.”
Reisha couldn’t hold her excitement as she crossed the Sky Bridge, and even Kunette seemed to agree with Reisha, nodding along with her. As for Rivelia, she had to acknowledge Isaac’s accomplishments, although she hated to admit it. Methodology aside, Isaac did achieve impossible results.
But Rivelia’s approval of Isaac lasted only until she finished crossing the Sky Bridge. The moment she came down from the bridge and entered the Ceta District, her anger obliterated any shreds of approval she had about Isaac.
“What is this?”
Everyone who was involved with the city’s management had gathered to greet her, some familiar to Rivelia as her hubaes. It would have been fine if this was everything, since she could have simply given a warning that this was too grand of a welcoming party. But Rivelia could not condone the crowd that lined the streets behind them and the palanquins mixed in the crowd.
“C, congratulations on becoming the mayor.”
“You are… Selia if I remember correctly?”
“You remember me? It is such an honour!”
Selia handed Rivelia a bundle of flowers, her eyes welling up with tears. Rivelia accepted the flowers out of reflex, but her expression quickly turned cold as she asked her question.
“Who are they behind you? And… Reisha, Kunette, don’t ride it!”
Reisha and Kunette ran over to the palanquin and hopped onto it before Rivelia could finish grilling Selia. Rivelia could feel her head ache watching the two. She massaged her temples and sighed as she shook her head.
“We’ll go to the City Hall for now. Is the Administrator there now?”
“Huh? Yes. And um…”
Selia quickly stopped Rivelia when it seemed like Rivelia was going to walk to the City Hall. That act spent all of Selia’s courage, and her face turned bright red, flustered. Kalden reluctantly stepped forward in her stead.
“Nice to meet you, sunbaenim. My name is Kalden.”
“I’ve heard of your name before. You had quite a good reputation back in Campus, correct?”
“Thank you for remembering me.”
“I never thought you’d end up working under the Administrator.”
Kalden could only smile bitterly at the jab Rivelia made at him.
“We shall lead the way for you. Please, take a seat.”
“Take a seat? On what? That palanquin? I’ll walk to the City Hall instead.”
Rivelia tried to pass Kalden and march forward, but Kalden quickly spoke with a troubled tone.
“I understand what you’re trying to say but… with Reisha-nim and Kunette-nim on the palanquin… it won’t look nice for the public…”
Rivelia’s feet stopped with that explanation. What Kalden said was true. It wasn’t going to make a good impression if Rivelia walked alongside Kunette and Reisha, who were being carried on a palanquin. Rivelia was somewhat aware of what her position was after graduating from College. She had to consider the authority and honour of the Pendleton family when she acted. If she stubbornly refused and walked to the City Hall, it was going to give the impression that the Pendletons were inferior to the elves and North Bears.
On the other hand, those two didn’t seem like they were going to listen even if Rivelia ordered them to get off the palanquin. Rivelia became quite fond of them during the trip together. Rivelia could get them to walk if she forced them to, but doing so would jeopardise the relationship she managed to cultivate after an arduous struggle. There were too many things at risk by doing so.
“Uuuh, you guys are just too wild!”
“Kyahaha! What about it? It seems fun.”
“… I don’t see Isaac.”
Rivelia reluctantly got on the palanquin. Reisha giggled at the sight while Kunette seemed mad that Isaac hadn’t come to greet them at the bridge.
Soon, the men lifted the palanquin onto their shoulders with an ‘oomf.’ The palanquin moved on, carrying an entertained Reisha, a furious Kunette, and Rivelia, who was forcing herself to stay composed while struggling to figure out how she should react to all this. Kalden tried to follow them, but a confused voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Wait! What about us?”
One of the police members shouted out to Kalden. They had been left behind like baggage. Kalden simply sold out Isaac in this unfortunate situation.
“Our Administrator has stated that you grunts, who should be maintaining public order in this city on your feet, shouldn’t even think of moving around with a palanquin. The idea had been rejected. Plus, it would seem that you are all equal to the mayor if all of you were on palanquins too.”
Some of the police force tried to argue back, but their companions stopped them from doing so since what Kalden said was true. Kalden also didn’t have any intentions of providing any services to this new rival faction entering the city. So the police force had to follow Rivelia on foot.
“Look! It’s Rivelia-nim!”
“Wow! So it’s true that she was the greatest beauty in the Empire!”
“That elf, Reisha doesn’t seem like she’d lose to her though?”
“Kyaa! Cute! Kunette! Look over here!”
As the group moved down the main street toward the city hall, they were received by the giant crowd which lined up on both sides of the street. While receiving the warm welcome from the crowd, Rivelia’s head ached at what was supposed to be a simple arrival turned parade. She turned to Kalden
“What is all this? I thought the date of my arrival was kept a secret?”
Kalden could only smile bitterly and sell out Isaac when Rivelia interrogated him.
“The Administrator said that he couldn’t miss such a wonderful opportunity to gather a crowd. Thankfully, he only released the news this morning, so the crowd isn’t as big as it could have been.”
“An opportunity you say? Are those flags being flown by the crowd the result of that? It has the faces of Reisha, Kunette, and I on it.”
“It’s a product being produced and sold by the city. It has become quite profitable.”
“He sold my face to make money?”
Rivelia couldn’t help but gnash her teeth, feeling that she had been used by Isaac again. Kalden hurriedly gave the prepared excuse.
“All of the profits will be used to develop the city further. The Administrator forced the project through despite our opposition, claiming that you would be happy to help if it was for the development of this city.”
Nothing had changed about him. That cunning method of proclaiming a noble justification whenever using someone, denying any right for objection. The past Rivelia in the College would have paced around in anger, but she now had enough experience to not overreact about such minor things.
“Ah! It’s Isaac!”
Reisha shouted out in excitement. Rivelia raised her head in response and saw Isaac leisurely smoking at the front gate of the City Hall.
“Yaho! I’m here, sunbaenim! Now give me that ‘never-before-seen-experience’ that you promised me!”
“… Isaac, you didn’t come out to greet me. Bad. I’m going to hit Rizzly.”
“Kuhuk! Why me, Kunette-nim?”
Reisha jumped off the palanquin and grabbed Isaac by the shoulders, shaking his upper body around. Kunette also jumped off the palanquin and began to kick Rizzly to relieve her anger, whose only crime was to be around Isaac. While all that was happening, Rivelia quietly got off the palanquin and approached Isaac.
“It’s been a while, Sir Isaac.”
“What is it?”
Isaac stared into Rivelia, and in response, Rivelia frowned.
Isaac smirked and shook his head. Rivelia’s beautiful eyes shone just as brightly as in the past, but Isaac knew instinctively from his past experience. One who has killed another human being has their nature changed ever so slightly. It was unsure whether this was in their aura or their disposition, but the change could be felt. It didn’t matter for her, since the people of this world could use that aura as a weapon itself. Rivelia wasn’t a delicate flower raised in the gardens after all. She was a protagonist who had risen to become a sword master, which Isaac had failed to do so miserably.
It seemed her stay was going to be more difficult than expected, since she wasn’t the young brat he knew and now had the experience to sidestep the traps Isaac was going to place.
“Before all that, what is this palanquin?”
“It’s a form of public transport run by the city.”
“Is that so?”
Isaac’s eyes widened when Rivelia accepted Isaac’s response so easily.
“What is it?”
“Nothing. It’s just your response was so casual. I thought you’d at least tell me to show some respect.”
“Hmph! I am not the same as back when we were students, Sir Isaac. As a knight of the Empire, I will prioritise our ranks over the difference in our birth.”
“Well, all I’ll say is thanks for going over it so easily.”
“I must introduce someone to you first. He is the captain of the police force who will assist us from now on. Sir Helvent?”
A kind-looking elderly knight stepped out in response to Rivelia, who had a warm smile as he approached Isaac.
“Huhuhu. Nice to meet you. I am Helvent Sterron.”
All of Isaac’s administrative body screamed in astonishment at his greeting.
“Ueek! C, Count Helvent!”
“Is he famous?”
Isaac asked for more detail, still curious as to who he was. Reisha answered with a grin on her face.
“Sir Helvent was the commissioner of Gabelin’s police force. He is also our College sunbae.”
“I have given up my title, since I’ve already retired.”
Helvent simply laughed generously, but no one else could laugh with him. He was the hero of the commoners, who had proven to the world that one could rise up the ranks so long as they had the ability. As a commoner, he graduated from the College and served in the police force all his life, rising to the rank of Commissioner of the capital’s police force.
“Dear me, you were my sunbae. That’s a lot of pressure to know that you left retirement just for me.”
“Huhuhu, there is no need for that. I’m actually thankful that this old body, which has been idling away, is of some use again.”
Helvent insisted on everyone not being pressured by his presence, but there was no way such a thing could be possible. Not only was he a very high ranking sunbae, he was also a cunning snake if he had spent his time as the Commissioner.
‘I knew they’d send a veteran to control the grunts, but this is too much.’
Isaac complained to himself. To these children who think the world is their oyster, the rank of commissioner would keep them in line.
“We will do our introductions in due time. For now, I’d like to receive a complete report regarding the city. All representatives of each department are to get ready and take me to the meeting room.”
Isaac smirked, seeing Rivelia act so brashly. He thought to himself that much had changed and led her into the City Hall.
Rivelia tried her utmost to keep a calm face, as she suppressed her anger once she stepped up to the rooftop. The rooftop had been transformed completely into a residence, with a bedroom on one corner, a kitchen in another, and a Communicator Room to finish it off. Rivelia could feel Isaac’s clear intention to never set a single step off this roof, and the fact that he was willing to spend so much money to make it happen frustrated her so. Meanwhile, Kunette and Reisha acted as if they’d found a new toy and began to bounce around on the bed and began shuffling through the cabinets in the kitchen to find some snacks.
“Is this the meeting room?”
“Something like that.”
A small vein surfaced on Rivelia’s smooth forehead in response to Isaac’s nonchalant answer, and it promptly disappeared.
“Sigh… let’s hear the report for now.”
Kalden, who stepped up as the representative, began to nervously read the report to Rivelia. The report only included works which were made by Isaac’s order alone, excluding any of the city’s businesses, policies, administrations, and welfare services that were somewhat illegal or aroused her active curiosity. Once Kalden finished reading the report, Rivelia sighed.
There were so many things wrong with the administration of this city that she lost count of all the things she wanted to point out. She was amazed that the city managed to run as it was until now with that extremely lax and generous administration. All they’d been doing was simply pouring money into their problems until it disappeared.
It was obvious that Isaac’s intent was to accomplish his mission through money alone within his given amount of time. What would result after Isaac’s rule was obvious, which was a concern rightfully brought up by the Directorate of Strategy.
“Sir Isaac, have you ever considered what would happen to the city once your mission had finished?”
Rivelia tried to turn a blind eye to the best of her ability, but it was impossible to act oblivious. Rivelia stared sharply at Isaac, and Isaac simply answered as he breathed out a puff of smoke.
“Does that have anything to do with me?”
Rivelia reached an epiphany when she heard those words: that she was a fool for even trying to work with that man without clashing. She’d made her decision.
“Sigh… thank you for the report. Then we must first solve our most important matter.”
“Good. I happen to have some important matter to clear up with you.”
“Agreed. You are aware that the hierarchy of our ranks over this city is complicated, despite my title as mayor, no?”
“Hoh? I was about to say the same thing.”
“Just as you’ve said, Sir Isaac. We will draw a clear line between our jurisdictions. I will focus on the city’s public order, welfare policies, and improving the efficiency of the administrative processes as the Mayor of New Port City. Any objections?”
“Everything sounded fine until you said ‘improving the efficiency of the administrative process.’ What is that?”
“Don’t worry. I’m not planning on stopping any of the projects that are the result of your retardation. It means I’m simply going to reform all of the administrative processes, which have been done through brute force by our inexperienced hubaes here.”
“Well, that’s fine then.”
Isaac glossed over the issue without a problem, but everyone else in the meeting was startled by Rivelia’s sudden insult. They tried to brush away reality, practically hypnotising themselves into thinking that they just heard it wrong.
“But public order and welfare policies include New Port City as a whole.”
“That’ll be a problem. I care not about the welfare policies, but all of the districts excluding Ceta District are under my possession. My representatives will be taking care of public order in my domain.”
“I accept. But, if any significant crimes were to occur, the police force will have the sole authority to investigate and arrest.”
“Wouldn’t I have the right over the court ruling, though?”
“What verdict you make is entirely your right as the Lord, so I have no plans of encroaching on those rights. I just want to make sure about this. The police force will only take care of Ceta District’s public order, but if any significant crimes were to occur in other districts, they will have the right to investigate and arrest suspects. Do you accept?”
Isaac shut his mouth firmly and looked at Rivelia. What was the reason? She glossed over the topics he thought she would fight over while aiming for something Isaac had never considered.
Was it to leave the possibility of intervention from the police force to pressure him? Unless the syndicate bosses were trying to commit suicide, no crimes were going to be leaked into the public.
And even if the police force were to ransack his districts, it wasn’t going to impact Isaac much. All it would do was dry up Isaac’s income, and considering that New Port City was being run by the overuse of funds, even Rivelia would have no choice but to turn a blind eye to a certain extent in order to avoid failing the Emperor. Of course, it would have no effect if she was prepared to commit a double suicide.
“Well, I guess that’s fine.”
Isaac didn’t know what her intention was, but accepted it nonetheless. With Isaac’s approval, Rivelia made a satisfied smile.
“Then we will proceed as we have agreed upon. Any objections?”
Isaac shrugged, implying he doesn’t have any. Rivelia wiped the smile off her face and turned to the administrative body.
“Then I will announce a welfare policy as the mayor of this city.”
“New Port city’s welfare policy will take responsibility of the orphans and elderly who have no place to call home by constructing an orphanage and a rest home. Also, a school and hospital will be built in each district, and the ultimate goal is to provide one house for each resident of this city.”
Rivelia’s thundering announcement brought Isaac to bewilderment, and the administrative body immediately reacted to this unforeseen event.
“It’s too difficult to proceed without gathering any funds for the policy!”
“We don’t have any funds to run a non-profit organisation!”
“Currently, it is too difficult to acquire enough land for public buildings when we are already dealing with overpopulation!”
“Orphanages and rest homes aside, constructing a school and a hospital in each district is a waste of city funds.”
“One home for each resident is ludicrous! No matter how small you construct these homes, it will be impossible to reach that goal!”
Rivelia was impressed by the immediate voices of objection coming from all sides. It was a testament to how well they had been trained by Isaac’s bizarre orders.
“Has Sir Isaac ever took your objections into account and rescinded his orders?”
Never. No matter how much effort they’d put into objecting, Isaac simply treated them like barking mutts and forced the plan through. Perhaps they would have had more strength behind those words if Isaac had ever failed once, but not once did Isaac’s plans fail. Truth be told, it would be weird if Isaac’s plans were ever to fail when such monumental amounts of funds were used to proceed with the plans.
All of the administrative body shut their mouths, and Rivelia nodded with satisfaction at their reaction.
“I am the same. You are to do as you’re told.”
“… Wh, who will be responsible for carrying out your orders?”
Kalden carefully asked to Rivelia. Isaac always pushed all responsibility to the rest of the administrative body, but Rivelia was different. By clearly defining who is responsible, the rest could avoid the aftermath if it were to fail.
Rivelia spoke out as if there was never any doubt about the answer.
“That is obviously the Administrator’s job. All work will be done by the Administrator. I will simply receive reports from time to time.”
This was it! They thought it was strange that Rivelia was going so easy on Isaac, but to think she had this in mind! Everyone’s eyes were now fixed on Isaac, whose face crumpled at the sudden and disastrous news.
“Why do I have to do that work?”
“Because that’s what an Administrator would do.”
“But I’ve already got work to do as the Lord’s…”
“That and this are two separate things. Isn’t that what we agreed upon?”
Isaac frowned and looked upon Rivelia. She got him. She purposely mentioned the police force to keep Isaac distracted from what she really wanted. With the jurisdiction clearly defined, Isaac could not talk his way out of the work as the Administrator. All Isaac could do was regret that he acted too rashly and make an attempt to escape from the work.
“Just giving out the order like that won’t make it…”
“That is your problem to solve, Administrator.”
Isaac shut his mouth at Rivelia’s stubborn refusal. A sniffle could be heard, and Kalden was surprised to find Cordnell wiping his tears.
“Huh, why are you crying all of a sudden?”
“To think I’d live to see a day like this. I have no regrets anymore. All of my grudges have been washed away in one instance.”
Everyone agreed with Cordnell and nodded together. How long had they suffered under Isaac’s tyranny! Each and every member of the administrative body swore their allegiance to Rivelia, who managed to deliver a decisive blow to Isaac the moment she arrived.