Faced against Kainen’s resolve, bloodthirst slowly evaporated from Rivelia’s eyes. In that moment, Kainen followed Isaac and began clapping slowly. The clap spread like a plague, and other agents began following along one by one as if they were possessed.
The applause echoed all over the village, and Isaac spun in circles with his arms wide open and shouted out excitedly.
“That’s right! Harder! Louder! So Central, and this fucked up world, and the fucking Empire hear you! Applaud so they know retards like you exist!”
The intense applause echoed above the cold bodies on the ground. Saints and his agents shivered in fear of this abnormal sight, caught in the middle of this village possessed by madness.
Rivelia approached Isaac, who sluggishly moved his body around as if dancing to the rhythm of the applause.
“Hm? Why aren’t you clapping damsel?”
“… I swear on my sword and my life that I will kill you myself one day.”
Rivelia declared coldly, and Isaac responded with a sincere, bright smile. He bowed magnificently, his left foot behind his right, and swung his arms in exaggeration, placing his right hand on his chest and his left on his back.
“I will gleefully await that day.”
Isaac arrived at New Port City to restock his weapons supply. When he climbed up to his residence on the rooftop, he spotted Rizzly cowering in a corner and asked.
“What are you doing there?”
“Can’t you tell? I’m just contemplating why I’m living like this.”
Rizzly grumbled as he got back on his feet, and Isaac couldn’t help but smirk after taking one look at Rizzly.
“I see they had their fill with you.”
“It was no joke, I tell you.”
Patches of Rizzly’s white fur were missing as if he was balding, replaced with a colourful range of ink.
“Where’s Kunette and Reisha?”
“They are on their way here now.”
“Send them off again tomorrow.”
“Please! I beg of you, spare me!”
Hearing Isaac’s cruel orders, Rizzly prostrated himself at Isaac’s feet. The sight of a giant bear groveling at his feet as if it was constipated may have made him popular with girls, but it was just revolting to Isaac, who knew of Rizzly’s human form.
“Since when did North Bear Tribes use cuteness as a weapon?”
“Hng. That’s a habit I grew dealing with human females… Anyhow, I will die if it continues like this!”
Just as Rizzly hung his head with a grim look at Isaac’s unswerving attitude, he spotted Kunette and Reisha peeking their heads out the entrance of the rooftop behind Isaac. Rizzly’s eyes gleamed and he returned to his human form as continued the conversation.
“Are you not taking Kunette nim with you because you’re worried she will see unsightly scenes?”
Kunette and Reisha’s ears perked when Rizzly asked the question.
“Rumours really do spread fast. Where did you hear it from? Or was it that obvious?”
Though the agents of Security volunteered, tempted by its reward, they were originally spies sent from other Directorates. It was a given their information would be updated in real time.
“It’s the first mission of the Directorate of Security. All other Directorates are keeping you on close surveillance just to see how you work.”
“So they know everything I’ve done.”
“Yes. Men from Strategy are at a loss for words, as it exceeded their wildest imaginations while Analysis is, how to say, grinding their teeth at how Rivelia nim was treated.”
“What about Surveillance?”
How the human factions felt was irrelevant. Surveillance was what was important. No matter how strong humanity was, its civilization would be knocked back into the medieval ages if the other races of the Directorate Surveillance decided so.
“The morales and common sense of another race is of no concern to us.”
It was a cold, hard fact. Only humans forced their beliefs and standards onto others.
“Anyway, is that really the reason you excluded Kunette nim and Reisha?”
Rizzly quickly asked in a hurry, noticing Kunette’s eyebrows were narrowing for every second they spent on tangents. Isaac took out a cigarette and nodded.
“… Well it’s part of the reason. It’s not a good show for kids to watch.”
Rizzly almost accidentally burst out in laughter at hearing the word ‘kids,’ but Kunette’s eyes gleamed like a knife’s blade.
“Ahem. If that’s the case, you don’t need to worry about it.”
“As I’ve said before, the morales and common sense of humans is of no concern to us. Whether the human is righteous and just or evil beyond comparison, they are both humans to us.”
Isaac was somewhat shocked at Rizzly’s response. After a pause, Isaac snickered.
“Is that so? Kuku. I guess that makes sense too.”
Rizzly let out a sigh of relief at Isaac’s laughter and asked.
“Then how about the three of you move together in the next…”
Isaac shook his head. A wave of despair hit Rizzly’s face, and the glares from Kunette and Reisha grew increasingly hostile. Rizzly desperately tried to convince Isaac.
“Is it really that important that they go and play with the fake?”
“Of course. I need to set up my alibis early on in case someone suspects me.”
“Then can’t you set up fakes for Kunette nim and Reisha and have the fakes roam the city together?”
“Huh? Does that work?’
Isaac tilted his head, then smirked.
“But that still won’t do.”
Rizzly screamed, and Isaac looked back quizzically at why Rizzly reacted such a way. He breathed in his cigarette and answered.
“Reisha isn’t a problem. But Kunette is still a child.”
“I’m telling you that child part…”
Suddenly, Kunette exposed her molars at Rizzly. Rizzly immediately shut his mouth, and Isaac, still oblivious, muttered in a bitter tone.
“Because it bothers me even if we are different races. Kids should eat well, play well, and sleep with the thoughts on what to play tomorrow. But even now, there are children who starve, who sell themselves for a single coin, who steal a loaf of bread just to survive. This world is fucked enough with only adults killing each other. No matter how they die, it’d be nice to give them a single memory to go back to. To remember the good old days, rather than cursing the world.”
Rizzly seemed at a loss for words and simply looked at Isaac. Isaac smirked.
“I know I’m not in a position to say this, but it’s probably the only good left in me, and…”
Hypocrisy. A contradiction. He who demanded that children should live good lives was simultaneously the reason for their fates as orphans and children of widowed parents.
“Tsk! Now I’ve become all emotional because of that damsel. Forget it.”
Isaac remembered Rivelia crying as she hugged the dead boy in her arms. He clicked his tongue, and Rizzly scratched his head. Kunette and Reisha seemed to have disappeared.
Saints said, and he noticed Isaac wasn’t in a good mood. Saints sent a questioning look at Rizzly, who was next to Isaac. But all that returned was a shake of his head. Saints decided to choose his words carefully.
“How was the trade?”
“We sold them at the market price.”
“They say war makes money, and it sure has an excellent margin.”
Although Seven Grand Merchant guilds had close ties with Central, they still didn’t partake in any actions that crossed the line. So Saints had to create a phantom merchant guild in order to act.
The Seven Grand Merchant Guilds sell military goods to both families. Isaac steals it and hands it to Saints. Saints’ phantom guild sells those supplies back to Seven Grand Merchant Guilds. The Seven Grand Merchant Guilds takes it and sells it back to both families. Was this really ‘trade,’ when one party didn’t spend a single coin on producing and basically recycled goods they “obtained” from their customers?
“They’ll notice quickly.”
Saints spoke with worry. Though the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds bought them without a fuss because of Isaac’s request, they would most definitely grow suspicious with time.
Isaac’s merchant guild was selling military goods when he didn’t have any means of production, and most of these goods are products that are made by their own guilds. It’d be strange if they didn’t notice.
“Doesn’t matter. At that point, we can directly sell it to the Count and Marquis. We’d make a profit even if we sell them at half price.”
“I’m sure the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds would be angered.”
Even if Isaac was selling them much cheaper than them, Isaac was making a profit since he didn’t have to factor in production costs. The Seven Grand Merchant Guilds needed to compete against their own products, which was most definitely impossible.
But they couldn’t even complain since this was Central’s work and Isaac was involved in it. They had no choice but to bleed money.
“More importantly, what about that brat’s siblings?’
“Um, I think it’ll take some time.”
Saints hesitated before he answered. Isaac turned and looked at Saints coldly. Saints remembered Isaac’s insanity back in the village. His spine shivered, and he quickly answered.
“When the rumour of civilian casualties spread, more and more people started approaching the brat’s siblings to try to get at their compensation money.”
“Doesn’t matter. We need to keep our promises.”
“But won’t they just take everything from them if we do?”
“In my world, we have a saying that goes ‘hide a tree in a forest.’”
“Do we sponsor this brat’s entire extended family?”
“We are making a profit without spending a single coin here. I’m sure it won’t matter if we use it for the good of this world for once. And tell Smartass to send over some of his men. It’s obvious who would aim for money in those children’s grubby hands. Tell him to fuck up all of them. I’m sure they’ll disappear once they realise someone from the shadows is protecting them.”
“And what about what I asked you to look for?”
Saints glanced around, keeping his guard up against the Rizzly’s growing suspicion, and handed Isaac a thick pile of paper.
“I understood everything once I started investigating under your orders Sir Isaac.”
“So you’re sure?”
“Yes. Only the oldest locals in that province barely knew about this information. Seems they really tried their best to hide this?”
Isaac slowly looked through the documents Saints handed to him. Curious, Rizzly approached and tried to peek over his shoulder, but he was immediately rebuffed by Isaac’s glare.
“Am I not allowed to know?”
“This is the damsel’s homework.”
Isaac answered Rizzly nonchalantly. He then set the documents on fire, turning them into ash before speaking to Saints.
“Who else knows about this information?”
“Even Central missed this. No, Analysis may have information on this, but they were bound to miss it since it wasn’t required in their comprehensive analysis. Currently it’s just me and you, Sir Isaac.”
“Hehe. Once Central investigates my movements, they are bound to find out.”
Isaac nodded in agreement and turned to Rizzly.
“Make sure you pass this warning not just to Surveillance but Strategy and Analysis as well. This is the homework I’ve given the damsel. It doesn’t matter if she asks for it first, but if you guys give the information to her when she doesn’t even ask for it, I will make sure to kill every agent from the culprit Directorate on sight.”
The threat was all the more scary knowing it wasn’t a joke.
“I’ll make sure to send it properly.”
Rizzly nodded, but Saints hesitated before asking again.
“But, are you really going to continue?”
“What, you feel sorry or something?”
“Don’t tell me there’s an innocent little thought in your head that’s saying this has never happened before?”
“We can’t do anything about what’s already happened, but we can at least stop what will…”
“No, with Central’s decision and my involvement, the matter is already done.”
“… Yes sir.”
Saints’s head hung at Isaac’s declaration. He was disappointed by his higher ups for authorizing this incident, but what really pissed him off was that they involved Isaac in it.