Despite being completely innocent of any crime, the council members shivered in terror. Everyone here possessed some kind of embarrassing secret hidden away. And these secrets would be revealed to the world if the Director of Surveillance willed it out of anger. Nobody wanted to suffer the shame and embarrassment. Yoo-rah smiled at the council members’ reactions and continued.
“I resolved to establish the Directorate of Security after finding out there was a spy within Central. The creation of a new organisation directly tasked with fighting our foe. This alone would have enough of an impact to inhibit our foes. This was just an idea at first, but the moment I found Isaac, I knew he was the perfect candidate. Our enemies won’t be able to predict his unconventional and illogical actions.”
“… Does it not apply to us as well?”
Everyone nodded in agreement with the Emperor’s remark. They all thought that he was indeed a strange man at first, but they didn’t realize the extent of his lunacy until Isaac actively tried to kill his men in the name of training. It was much better to kill a monster that could not be controlled. There was a debate to kill Isaac at one point, and it was the Queen who’d stopped it.
“There are still some of you who question Rivelia’s position in the Directorate of Security, correct? That’s because I have explained and convinced Duke Pendleton of the future you’re all worried about.”
Everyone finally seemed convinced and nodded together. Duke Pendleton came so close to open rebellion before suddenly quieting down. To think there was this secret behind it.
“So, she is the kill switch for that monster.”
“Well, there is that, but we also needed an actual commander. I mean, Isaac isn’t the type to lead an organisation right?”
As everyone nodded in agreement to Yoo-rah, she continued.
“The Directorate of Security will continue to combat angelic and demonic turncoats as originally planned. The Directorate of Security will be the new face and shadow of Central. So I would ask you all to support it earnestly.”
“How did it go?”
The Emperor barged into his office fuming with anger, and Ismael, who had been waiting inside, asked. The Emperor poured himself a glass of wine and gulped it all down before slamming the table, unable to hold his anger.
“Shit! We’ve been had! Completely and utterly.”
Ismael looked at the Emperor silently, waiting for an explanation. The Emperor buried himself into his chair and told Ismael what had happened in the meeting.
Ismael’s face cumbled after having heard of the entire story.
“This is her warning.”
“I know. Shit! Just look at all these problems because of one screw-up…”
The Emperor grumbled and Ismael dropped his head apologetically. The start of this incident was quite mundane.
The royal family had always been disgruntled with the fact that the Queen’s authority was higher than theirs. So they kept a skeptical eye on her and soon began noticing some suspicious movements. With great difficulty, they managed to persuade one of the invaders that had been working in the Queen’s own laboratory to help them.
The man was capable, but his envy of the Queen and haughty personality made him easy to recruit. The royal family plotted a scheme to oust the Queen.
It was a simple plan; the recruited invader would steal one of the Queen’s Artifacts and escape the laboratory. The Empire would then arrest the man using the excuse that he had joined forces with a demonic turncoat and use that incident to occupy the Queen’s laboratory and secure both the lab’s researchers and their research data.
It was supposed to unearth the intentions behind the Queen’s suspicious activities, but even if they didn’t find anything, having gained direct access to the Queen’s research data was a massive profit. But the Queen immediately accused the traitorous researcher of being a demonic turncoat and publicised the theft of her artifact, forcing Central to intervene.
With that plan in ruins, the Dark Royale deployed a fake and barely managed to escape by the skin of their teeth as both Central and the Queen were right at their doorstep.
However, they failed to recover the artifact in their rush, and it ended up in the hands of someone they’d never expected. This drew the Queen’s attention elsewhere, and the Dark Royale breathed a sigh of relief. But the chase for the researcher was still ongoing. It was too much of a burden to keep the researcher.
So they planned on eliminating the researcher in secret, but this researcher was incredibly sharp and cunning. He escaped their custody, so the Dark Royale decided to bring Isaac into their fold and use his acquaintance with the Queen against her. But this Isaac was no ordinary lunatic; he ended up annihilating one of the lesser organisations under the Dark Royale.
With even that plan failing, even the members of the Grand Council that had been questioning the Queen’s actions and turned a blind eye on the Dark Royale’s activity had turned their backs on them. The Dark Royale had no choice but to lay low until the situation calmed down, when one of the agents coincidentally found the escaped researcher.
They decided to only watch closely in case it was a lure to bring them out. Through their close surveillance, they found out he had been planning to contact the Expeditionary Forces. Immediately, both Ismael and the Emperor realised that this was an unprecedented opportunity.
If they could prove that the Queen had been secretly contacting the Expeditionary Forces, even the Grand Council, who tended to side with the Queen, would have no choice but to curtail her authority.
So they moved in secret to prevent the Queen from finding out. But the situation escalated more and more. As they continued to watch the researcher, they found out that the Expeditionary Forces could open the Gate without alerting their devices and even succeeded in opening a Gate beyond the Forbidden Lands. These Gates were the size of a pinhole, allowing communication between both worlds.
Although this news needed to be shared and discussed within Central, they didn’t have any definite proof. If they acted rashly, it’d only alert the Queen. Just having dubious evidence left them disadvantaged and at risk of a counterattack.
So they continued to watch quietly – until they found a crucial opportunity. The researcher found out that the Directorate of Security was visiting the Forbidden Lands, and made a deal with the Expeditionary Forces to hand over Isaac and Rivelia as the price for fleeing to their world.
This was the opportunity to completely dethrone the Queen. Whether the Queen was involved in this matter or not didn’t matter. The fact that one of her own men tried to hand Rivelia over to the Expeditionary Forces was so damning that she wouldn’t be able to escape Duke Pendleton’s wrath.
All the Royale Family needed to do was let slip the news that this was uncovered by the Dark Royale, and the Pendletons would do all the work in dismantling the Queen.
Of course, risking Rivelia’s capture to the Expeditionary Forces was unacceptable in any circumstances. So all Dark Royale agents were deployed into the Forbidden Lands, and they secretly plotted with Commander Noxvil, who was on the royal family’s side, to hide the agents and sabotage all forms of communications.
And the result? The Directorate of Strategy had been played the fool. The Grand Council celebrated the unprecedented victory, and when the Emperor ordered the Dark Royale to at least secure the researcher, they found out that the researcher had never boarded the airship heading to the Forbidden Lands in the first place.
They’d been playing in the palm of the Queen’s hand the whole time. The Queen knew everything from the start. And she used small talk to misdirect them before revealing the information about the Gate before the Emperor could, rendering all the evidence gathered by the Dark Royale useless. This strengthened the Directorate of Security while crippling the Directorate of Strategy.
The Emperor couldn’t do anything but watch as the Queen paved the way. The evidence he held was too weak to overturn what had been revealed by the Queen – not to mention that he didn’t even have the witness with him. He was so outmatched that it felt empty.
“Can you handle it?”
The Emperor asked worryingly, and Ismael replied with a smirk.
“Why do you even need to ask? It’s something we were prepared for since the beginning. I will take over all of the charges. I’ll lay low for some time.”
“Is breaking free of that woman’s shackle anything but a fleeting dream even after 300 years since the Empire was founded…”
“We will find an opportunity if we continue to endure. If we can’t do it, then our next generation, or the generation after…”
“I was wondering when they’d talk about the next generation. They are so persistent. Is this their tradition as well?”
Yoo-rah snickered as she eavesdropped on the conversation between the Emperor and Ismael. She thought she and the first Emperor had a decent relationship, but as the generations passed, the Royale Family grew increasingly more hostile.
“We’ve brought him here.”
Yoo-rah raised her head and turned back. In front of her were tens of men and women wearing white gowns holding a shackled man in their midst. The group had forced the man on his knees, and Yoo-rah looked down coldly at the shackled man.
“Miss Yoo-rah, please…”
The man’s beg was met with Yoo-rah’s sigh.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t know?”
“I, it was never my intention…”
The man’s desperate excuse only further soured Yoo-rah’s mood. She frowned, and one of the men who stood next to the shackled man shut his mouth by punching his face.
“But I’ll ask this first. Why did you do it?”
The man stuttered as he answered.
“M, my family… they’re still alive.”
The group of men and women made a commotion, and Yoo-rah sighed.
“Hey, Professor Jung. Do you still not realise what you’ve done? We barely succeeded in creating this device using the resources we tricked Central into giving us.”
“I, I never knew it was that important.”
Yoo-rah responded annoyingly in response to Professor Jung.
“Of course you didn’t. I’ve been keeping it in storage in order to keep it outside of their attention, all the while keeping it out in the open to make it seem irrelevant. Do you have any idea how worried I was leaving it in the open? How many sleepless nights I’ve had fearing they’d ask for it, that they’ve found a use for it, that it would break while being left unattended for so long. And just as we were about to move on to the next stage, you ruined it all.”
“P, please, at least spare my life…”
Professor Jung begged, but Yoo-rah shook her head.
“The fact that you’re still alive even after joining hands with the Emperor is partly due to your complete, almost startling incompetence. Because of your distrustful nature, you tried to plot your petty scheme by dealing with every faction there is, only for it to backfire, and now you’ve found yourself abandoned after outliving your usefulness. Not to mention you even lost the very artifact you stole yourself. But the most important reason was because your actions were what allowed me to find Mr. Joon-young. But you’ve crossed the line this time.”
Professor Jung’s expression crumbled in utter terror in the face of Yoo-rah’s words, his jaws chattering in fear. Suddenly, a melody came out of Yoo-rah’s pocket, and Yoo-rah naturally took out a cellphone all the while waving her other hand as if asking to throw out the trash.
“No! Forgive me! I’ve made a mistake! Just give me another chance…!”
The professor begged desperately as he was being dragged away from Yoo-rah, but nobody pitied him. The room finally became quiet after the professor was taken away, and Yoo-rah took a small breath and answered her phone with a plastic smile on her face as if in a business meeting.
“Oh my. That’s rare of you to make a call. What’s happened?”
“Hohoho. First of all, let me pay my respects. Really, I’m at complete awe of your persuasion techniques. Oh, don’t misunderstand, I’m not blaming you. It was probably him that tried to make a deal with you in the first place.”
“That’s not right. Oh dear? Are you worried about my safety?”
“Compensation? Haha! That’s a funny joke. What makes you think you’re entitled to compensation when you were defeated without firing a single bullet?”
“Are you shifting the blame now? I may not have expected it either, but I never would have assumed that you’d be crushed so helplessly. That’s why you should only focus on one job at a time. See how everything falls apart when you try to do too much at once?”
“Yes. I hope we can continue to maintain our partnership with firm trust in one another. Of course! Our alliance is forged by our blood.”
The conversation seemed somewhat pleasant at first, but Yoo-rah immediately grit her teeth fiercely the moment she ended the call.