“Ow. My head. Hm? What the? Where is this?”
Isaac woke from his slumber, immediately greeted by a crushing headache. Realising that his arms and legs had been tied firmly to an X-shaped cross, Isaac slowly began to look about his surroundings.
It was a small room with mana crystals embedded all over its white walls. In front of him was a table, a chair, and a door at the other end of the room – all embedded with mana crystals.
“Must have cost them a fortune.”
The mana crystals just in this room would be enough to shake up the pure mana crystal market for some time to come. But who was Isaac supposed to blame but himself for falling for the same trick twice in a row.
However, Isaac was glad to see that his little scheme worked despite everything that had happened, seeing how Isaac was still wearing his coat. He had secretly drawn magic circles under the coat in case someone tried to take off his coat while he slept and kidnap him. It was simple adhesion magic. Although it was a basic spell, Isaac had stacked multiple circles on top of another on his shoulders and at his sides under the coat.
Isaac complimented himself, repeating quotes such as ‘forewarned is forearmed’ and praising how insightful he was. However, Isaac quickly realised none of this would have mattered if he never got kidnapped in the first place, immediately dampening his mood.
Isaac took a deep breath and began to analyse his situation.
Kidnapped. Limbs tied. Lens is fine. The pen? Isaac glimpsed at his right hand, and the pen peaked out of his finger. Good. I still have my trump card. Problem is that none of this matters when I don’t have my cigarettes… Shall I see how they’ll treat me, knowing they can’t torture me thanks to the coat? No, why did they kidnap me in the first place? Is it money? Are they still not satisfied despite how much I’ve given them? Or do they want all of it for themselves?
Isaac was clueless as to the reason why they kidnapped him, especially when he was more than willing to give them anything they asked for.
“Sigh. I’d really like a smoke right now.”
Just as Isaac muttered, the door opened, and a man he’d never seen before entered the room along with the warlock Isaac met in the mine.
“Hm? Why isn’t he disarmed?”
“We don’t know what he did, but we couldn’t take the coat off.”
“Interesting. Is it the power of the Queen’s Artefact?”
Isaac simply glared at the two who were casually conversing with one another, and it seemed that the man noticed his stare after some time. The man spoke to Isaac with a bright smile.
“Hey! You’re awake. Did you sleep well?”
Seeing the man sit on the chair with the warlock standing behind him, Isaac replied.
“Did you really need to kidnap me when we could have just talked?”
“Hm? What do you mean? Of course we have to kidnap you. We are the vile warlocks after all.”
The man pointed at the warlock behind him as if he didn’t understand what Isaac meant, and Isaac began repeating the explanation he gave Trentor with an annoyed look. The warlock visibly grew more and more frustrated as Isaac continued his explanation, but the other man seemed very interested and keenly listened to his explanation. When Isaac finished, the man chuckled.
“Puhahah! This one is quite the find isn’t it?”
The warlock frowned in response to the man’s words, and the man who chuckled turned to look at Isaac with a smile.
“Well, I guess we have no choice since we’ve been found out. I am Ismael, leader of the Dark Royale.”
“… What is this Dark Royale?”
“Simply put, we are a secret organisation within Central.”
“So that means this isn’t Central’s official move.”
When he heard Isaac’s answer, Ismael turned to look at the warlock, desire shining in his eyes.
“Look at that. Just one sentence and he figures out everything. There aren’t many like him. Don’t you think it’ll work if we thoroughly convince him?”
Ismael suggested to the warlock in a way resembling a child nagging at his parent, and in response, the warlock answered as he exposed his barely-recovering arm.
“He’s a man who betrayed me, a warlock, the moment my back was open after we made the contract despite not even a single day having passed. Are you confident that you can control him?”
“Hng. I’m not.”
“Hey, let’s put things straight first. I am a College graduate, 1st Rank Knight and the Lord’s Representative of New Port City. Did you really think I’d join hands with a warlock? I’m sure it is fine to betray a warlock, is it not?”
Isaac asked Ismael seeking his assent, and Ismael nodded in approval.
“Yes, of course it is. Betraying, lying, scamming, mugging, and even killing a warlock is worthy of praise and reward, not punishment.”
The warlock grimaced.
“And you should really take off that shell of yours. I know we overstep our bounds, but we should at the very least follow procedures when we can.”
“… Yes sir.”
A shadow covered the warlock, and when the shadow dissipated, a middle-aged man Isaac had never seen before showed himself.
“Is that all you have to say? Others tend to quiver in shock after seeing that.”
“I wonder? Is there anything that can surprise me?”
Isaac answered with a bored look, and Ismael chuckled as if he was really enjoying it.
“Ah, it’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun. But work is work. Let’s begin. Name.”
Ismael placed a paper on his desk and asked Isaac as if he were being interrogated. Isaac grumbled his answer.
“Ha. What are you playing at? I am Isaac Rondart, Graduate of College, Rank 1 Knight and New Port City’s Lord’s Representative.”
Ismael asked again as if he didn’t listen to a single word Isaac had said. Isaac frowned.
“I already told you.”
Ismael waved at the middle-aged man as if he had been expecting Isaac’s response. The middle aged man nodded and left the room.
“I don’t know why, but we always get the same reaction. But you’re in luck. You have a friend who’ll help you understand. I’m sure you’ll be happy to see him again.”
While Isaac occupied himself with trying to figure out who Ismael was referring to, the middle-aged man brought another man who had been tied up like Isaac from outside. He plodded the man down next to Isaac and left the room again.
“I don’t remember who this is. And did I have a friend?”
Isaac said to Ismael after checking that he didn’t recognise the face of the man. Ismael continued to smile with pleasure as he stood up and grabbed and pulled at the man’s hair to show his face more clearly.
“Now that’s harsh. You should at least remember the face of the man who almost destroyed your city.”
Isaac looked again at the man, still oblivious to his identity.
“I’ve never seen that face before.”
“Wow. How cold of you. Do you remember Dogman?”
“Ah! That retard!”
Isaac nodded, finally remembering who the man was.
“But why is he my friend?”
“Oi. Wake up. He’s saying you’re not his friend.”
Ismael slapped at Dogman’s cheek, but he was still unconscious. Isaac frowned, seeing that Ismael’s strike was powerful enough to make fragments of his teeth fly out of his mouth.
Even if he was abandoned, Dogman was the eldest son of Marquis Duberon. If they found out, they’d never stay put about this. But seeing how recklessly Ismael treated Dogman, they were either so powerful that the Marquis wasn’t even a factor or they’d finished talking with the Marquis.
It wasn’t good news to Isaac whichever the answer was. Dogman let out a small whimpering moan in response to Ismael’s continued violence.
Ismael finally stopped striking him and got back on his chair, keenly watching Isaac and Dogman with great interest.
Isaac realised the moan Dogman was making weren’t just grunts of pain but quiet muttering. It was something he couldn’t recognise at first, but as the muttering became clearer, Isaac’s face stiffened.
Impossible. This shouldn’t be happening. I must have heard it wrong. Isaac continued to deny it with all his might. What Dogman was speaking about did not exist in this world. The words that leaked from his mouth were so simple that even kindergarteners knew back in his old world.
“Please help me… Forgive me… Help me mom… Help me please…”
TL Note: Dogman’s dialogue is written in English. Original English in the text is few and far in between, so we will note whenever it is so.
“… What in the world is he on about?”
After much silence with a stiff face, Isaac complained. Ismael giggled, liking the response he was getting.
“This is my favourite part of this work. Most of the people who come here try desperately to act oblivious in this situation, just like you. Shall I tell you something interesting?”
“You’ve thought so lowly of this world. How long do you think the Empire had been watching you?”
Seemingly struck by lightning, Isaac answered with a cracked voice. He quickly realised the response was as good as admitting it, but what’s done was done. Ismael burst out in laughter.
“You must have spent so much time speculating in that head of yours, but simply put, you just got the wrong answer.”
“… I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You don’t need to. We aren’t the type to ask politely, and we can find out whatever we want if we want to. Central can’t since they have many restrictions, but we don’t. A warlock is an excellent tool in a situation like this. There’s no need to interrogate, no need to torture. We just need to extract the memories in your head.”
Isaac’s brows furrowed in response to Ismael.
“You’re going to look into my head?”
“That’s right. We will be looking at all of the memories of your past. Not just this world, but your old world too.”
Isaac replied with a serious face.
“I’d love to, but he’s been waiting so eagerly for this moment.”
Ismael smiled as he pointed at the middle-aged man. The middle-aged man quickly turned into an elderly one as if he’d been waiting and approached Isaac. Even before Isaac could speak, the old man’s hand covered Isaac’s face. Isaac quickly fell unconscious.