That meant she could raise an army. She could use this world to provide an abundance of supplies. She just needed to retake the Gate… No. There was an error in this hypothesis. The destination beyond the Gate was uncertain. She’d only look like a fool if the other end of the Gate didn’t lead to Korea after retaking it.
There was also the issue of not knowing who was providing the equipment in the Forbidden Lands and for whom as well, and whether Isaac should consider the Gate opening the moment he arrived just a coincidence. Every conjecture had too many holes in them because of the lack of information.
There just wasn’t enough information, and what little he had wasn’t reliable. It should have been possible for Isaac to gather these high level information using his title as the Director. But Isaac wasn’t interested. Not to mention that investigating and gathering information would only draw suspicion, making it infeasible.
“Were you here?”
Isaac stared blankly into the air, pondering on his dubious hypothesis when a voice came from his side. Isaac turned to see Rivelia, who was clearly exhausted.
“Were you captured by Duke Pendleton?”
Rivelia nodded weakly, having no strength to even utter a word. Isaac could imagine vividly of how much of a scene the notorious overprotective father would have made.
Isaac snickered at Rivelia’s palpable mental exhaustion and dropped his burnt cigarette. Isaac stubbed out the blunt with the sole of his shoe and put a new one in his mouth as he spoke.
“How about it? I’ll give you another chance.”
Rivelia looked back at Isaac with complete disdain and annoyance, as if he was speaking nonsense.
“Just consider it a whim. I’m giving you a chance to leave the Directorate of Security. This is the last chance for you to no longer suffer through, see, or experience any more of this abominable disgrace.”
Rivelia quietly peered back at Isaac, noticing that there was a hint of seriousness in his words.
“I despise you.”
“Nothing new there.”
“That’s why I will watch every crime you commit and report it to my superiors. And I will arrest you immediately the moment the order is given.”
“What if your superiors order you to kill me?”
Rivelia’s eyes faltered for a moment, but she announced back with a firm expression.
“As long as it doesn’t clash with my beliefs, I will terminate you as ordered by high command.”
Isaac smiled widely, satisfied by Rivelia’s answer.
“Good. Please don’t change your mind about that.”
“That will never happen.”
“Once again, I welcome you to this fucked up world.”
Rivelia watched Isaac react gleefully to her declaration. Her expression grew increasingly cold, when Rizzly strolled up to them.
“You were here. I’ve been searching for ages.”
“Hm? What the? Now that I think about it, did you go elsewhere before?”
Rizzly spoke with a wounded expression.
“I was next to you the whole time…”
“Really? Then how come I never saw you?”
Isaac cocked his head but glossed over the issue without a care.
“What about Kunette and Reisha?”
“They’ll be here soon.”
Kunette and Reisha appeared the moment Rizzly finished his sentence.
Isaac stepped aside and evaded Reisha’s tackle while picking up Kunette, who clung on to his pants. Reisha regained her balance and cried.
“Hing! Sunbaenim only likes Kunette!”
“I would have dodged Kunette too if she was heavy.”
“Wow! That’s sexual harassment!”
“I’m not heavy!”
Reisha rolled her feet in anger, while Kunette proudly repeated what Isaac had said. Rivelia, who watched the scene, sighed.
Kunette and Reisha glued themselves to Isaac, but their vigil only lasted for a few days. The two seemed to have gotten bored and disappeared elsewhere, probably to have fun. Rivelia, on the other hand, smoothly transitioned all of the work from Isaac’s body double on the first day of arrival and managed the city, once again demonstrating her capabilities.
Isaac spent his days idly, ignoring the occasional visits about complaints from Cordnell and Kalden.
Agents of Security gathered back to New Port City one by one despite having never been told where to regroup after their vacation. Rivelia replaced the New Port City’s police force, whose members had become irrelevant after Rivelia’s transfer, with agents of Security.
Meanwhile, Isaac got bored of his lazy schedule and used his authority as a Director to assemble classified information about conspiracy theories and mysteries throughout this world, piecing the hidden truth together.
Each time Isaac requested information, Central firmly reiterated its confidentiality. There were many interesting truths that made Isaac’s mouth tingle as he took the time to dive deeper. That was when the Queen contacted him.
-I heard you’re into conspiracy theories lately?
Yoo-rah spoke with a deep, thoughtful expression at Isaac the moment he entered the Communicator room, and Isaac shrugged it off.
“I guess this is why they say the King has donkey ears.”
EDN: This is a reference to a Somalian myth in which a hairdresser fails to keep the king’s secret – that the king has donkey ears. Rumors spread about the king’s donkey ears, and the hairdresser was imprisoned for being unable to keep secrets to themselves. Read the myth here.
Yoo-rah chuckled for a moment before she spoke again.
-Now that you’ve had your rest, I’ll be assigning you a mission.
“Already? Aren’t you the slave driver?”
Isaac complained, but Yoo-rah shrugged helplessly.
-This is a top secret mission. As part of the Directorate of Strategy, the Dark Royale would normally take this mission, but they have to focus on reorganising because a certain someone utterly sacked the Directorate of Strategy.
“But that wasn’t my fault was it?”
Isaac spoke out in his defence, and Yoo-rah nodded in agreement.
-I know. But it’s also true that you can’t argue against it. The Directorate of Strategy pushed the mission over to Security, stating that they don’t have the capacity to handle this assignment after such incompetence. The Grand Council accepted their statement.
“… Why does it sound like they’re trying to impede me?”
-They are impeding you. This won’t be an easy mission, since it was supposed to be done by the Dark Royale. How you complete this mission will determine your evaluation.
“What will happen if the evaluation is poor?”
Isaac blurted out with a mischievous look in his eyes, and Yoo-rah replied with a bright smile.
-Make it impossible for them to evaluate.
The Barony of Wolfgang in the western provinces won quick, consecutive battles triumphantly, absorbing nearby fiefdoms and rising the rank to Duchy.
Recently, the Duchy had declared war on the Marquisate of Lichten and were embroiled in provincial war. Many judged that this was a foolhardy move galvanized by overconfidence from the recent victories, but the Wolfgang Family managed to defeat the main force of the Marquis and rise victorious despite the huge disparity in military power, all thanks to the feats of their combat knights.
During that process, many of the Wolfgangs’ knights rose to hero status, boasting names such as Fount, the knight of destruction, and Reinlant, the quick. They all sounded childish to Isaac, however.
The Lichten Marquisate lost much of their territory from this defeat and were on the brink of losing their title as the Marquis. There were many talks within the capital parliament regarding the possibility of birth of a new Marquis, when the Lichten Family declared the 2nd war and used all of their funds to recruit mercenaries and soldiers from their vassals. The Wolfgang County also recruited soldiers and mercenaries in response. The public had high anticipations for this war, as it was going to be of the largest scale in recent history.
“So who’s the bad guy?”
Both were suspicious with the information at hand. The Lichten Marquisate was in such a dire situation that it wouldn’t be strange for them to join hands with a demon. Wolfgang, on the other hand, had expanded at such a fast pace that the knights who made exceptionally notable achievements were suspect.
“… It’s been analysed that Count Wolfgang had proceeded with the provincial war after turning some of his knights into demonic turncoats.”
“Demons huh… are they strong?”
“If the demon retains all of its strength, then Central will need to send three platoons of armed forces to even stand a chance at killing it. And half of the participants will die in the process.”
“Isn’t that too tough of a target for us to handle?”
“You should be aware that the demon gifts its power to the turncoats in order to avoid Central’s eyes. Once given, the power cannot be taken back, even if the demon desires so, unless the recipient dies. And the demon weakens the more power it gives. So normally, Central kills only some of the turncoats and tracks down the power that returns to the demon.”
“So it’s a tricky situation. Killing turncoats makes the demon stronger, but we have no choice but to kill the turncoats in order to find this demon.”
“… That is why these missions were usually executed by the Dark Royale.”
“What method did they use?”
“… The Dark Royale refused to release information regarding that subject.”
“Is it their trade secret? Well, no matter. Tell me more about this Wolfgang.”
“Count Wolfgang Asmodeus. After graduating from Campus, he returned back to his fiefdom along with some of his colleagues whom he shared close bonds with and inherited the title. Afterwards, he focused on developing his fiefdom for 10 years, then suddenly declared war against Jigzon Barony and came victorious. After absorbing the fiefdom, Wolfgang focused on military expansion rather than infrastructural reorganisation and declared war against five other baronies and two viscounties, achieving victory in all of them and earning the title of Count. These occupied lands were originally owned by the vassal families of Lichten Marquis, and the Lichten family would often interfere in the Wolfgangs’ business up to the recent wars. Wolfgang achieved decisive victory and succeeded in occupying half of the Marquis’ lands.”
“Wait, all of this is related to Marquis Lichten? What about other fiefdoms unrelated to Lichten?”
Rivelia looked through the document before nodding at Isaac.
“There are some, but there is a massive difference in power between them and the county, so they declared themselves neutral.”
Isaac frowned after listening to Rivelia. Something was off, but Isaac couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
“Provincial warfare itself is a sensitive political subject, so Central can’t intervene openly. Which is why it is the perfect environment for turncoats to thrive.”
“True, everyone would find it difficult if Central kept poking its head.”
Isaac nodded in agreement.
“What will you do?”
“We’ve got some time until the war begins right?”
“The Directorate of Analysis has concluded that the war will begin immediately after the exchange of declaration of war and agreement from both sides, which is expected to take place in less than a month.”
“That sounds enough. Call Cordnell for me.”
Cordnell’s life has gotten much better lately. His tyrannical overlord handed some fatty over to him. Cordnell’s first reaction was a deep inner sigh, but it turned out this fatty was a graduate of College, and his abilities were approved within Central too!
And just as his CV said, the fatty proudly demonstrated his talent by taking over the most problematic areas of work and dealing with them efficiently, which put a smile on Cordnell’s face.
After hanging out for some time, the two found each other to be likable, what with similar tastes and hobbies. Cordnell, who had been keeping his complaints within his heart until now, could openly insult and trash his cruel overlord and leave the illegal funds involving Central to Saints. Cordnell managed the clean official funds, reducing his workload greatly. He was even starting to hold this false hope that he could stand working in this environment. Until Isaac called him over.
“Let’s start a new business.”
Cordnell refused outright. Everyone in the room looked at Cordnell in astonishment, and even Isaac shut his mouth for a moment in confusion before speaking again.
“Are you really asking that question? Why would you want to start another business when you’ve already met all of the Emperor’s terms? I don’t know what you’re going to do, but don’t do it. No, I won’t do it.”
Everyone looked at Cordnell’s brave yet foolhardy declaration in awe, and Isaac made a troubled expression.
“Why don’t you hear about it first? It’s going to be a great success if it takes off.”
“I don’t care even if it’s the greatest success in the world. I won’t do it. I can’t do it.”
Isaac grumbled with a mischievous look against Cordnell’s stout defence.
“Che. Fine. I won’t do it then.”
“Good thinking, sir.”
“Instead, I will use my authority as the Lord’s Representative.”