The Seven Grand Merchant Guilds, who had reluctantly purchased a portion of New Port City’s lands under Isaac’s pressure, enjoyed a hefty profit from skyrocketing real estate values.
Critical information such as reunification with Port City wouldn’t slip by the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds, so they’d poke their heads in to try to get a share of the profit. But their prior betrayal had left them estranged from Isaac; all they could do was wait patiently and play around Isaac’s mood and foster relations with Isaac’s close aides, asking that they put in a couple of good words for them.
“Screw it. Exclude the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds. Involving them when they’ve already lost our trust will only get on our nerves.”
Isaac grumbled, when he seemed to have remembered something and asked Rizzly.
“Hang on, are you guys allowed to join in so blatantly like this? Isn’t this insider trading, technically?”
Rizzly smirked and shrugged.
“Not like this is the first time. Rewards like this are what makes this job worth doing. Central overlooks this because they know all of its profits will circle back to Central.”
Isaac clucked his tongue in disappointment. The Pure Bloods were probably founded with good intentions in the beginning to aid Central.
But as generations came and went, they started to abuse insider intelligence to increase their own wealth and power, corroding at its very purpose. Isaac was surprised that Central had left them alone despite most definitely knowing about it.
“Is there anything else? It’s such a shame to give up on it…”
Isaac dashed his lip and went back to pondering—when he heard a sharp voice.
“You aren’t allowed to come up here!”
“Ohoh! So you’re that bitch! Get over here!”
Laila’s voice quickly turned into screams, muffled by violent grunts from the stairs leading up to the rooftop. Isaac, Rizzly, and Rivelia’s eyes immediately turned to the stairs.
There stood a middle-aged man with his face flushed red from alcohol. He held a firm grasp on Laila’s hair, dragging her over as he came onto the rooftop. Rivelia’s hands immediately reached for her sword, and Rizzly exposed his fangs in anger and growled.
Isaac looked at the man wondering what stupid bullshit it was this time, when he and the middle-aged man’s eyes met.
When the man saw Isaac’s intrigued expression, his face twisted, his eyes boiling with hatred. He shouted at Isaac.
“You! Because of you! Someone like you!”
Rivelia and Rizzly dared not move recklessly while Laila was held hostage, and the middle-aged man walked towards Isaac, nose flaring with rage. Rivelia and Rizzly flinched and were about to spring into action. But a shadow suddenly appeared behind the man and stabbed into the right armpit directly above Laila’s teary face.
The man screamed in pain and let go of Laila. Immediately, the shadowy figure grabbed his shoulder and held him to the floor.
Julia ran up the stairs crying to hold her sister, who had collapsed where she was released. The middle aged man screamed in agony. Their voices blended an unbearable dissonance, when Isaac looked at the suppressed man nonchalantly and asked Rizzly.
“What is that?”
“Well… I believe that it is Viscount Aintz, the one that came here as the Chief Promoter.”
Isaac cocked his head at Rizzly’s answer.
“He was a principal target of your orders.”
“Ah, that retard?”
Isaac finally understood and nodded. He then scolded Reisha, who was sitting on top of Viscount Aintz, her knee pressing deeply onto his back.
“Reisha, what do you think you’re doing, injuring our guest like that.”
“Huh? Sunbaenim, you saw what this bastard did to Laila!”
Reisha protested Isaac’s logic, which made her seem like the unreasonable one, but Isaac replied sternly.
“Uhuh! Don’t you know a guest who pays me money is more precious than a kid that drains it from me? Get up and apologize.”
Reisha grumbled with a sad face and got back up by bouncing her knee off of Aintz’s back and promptly got him on his feet too.
“Kuak! You bitch!”
Viscount Aintz flailed his remaining sound arm and wailed a play’s worth of insults.
Julia clutched Laila, trembling and terrified by his violent act. Laila hugged her sister and glared at Viscount Aintz, while Kunette stepped in front of the two in a protective stance and growled at Viscount Aintz.
“Huh, what brought you up here? You seem like you’ve had a few glasses already. Why don’t you enjoy some more alcohol or visit the casino? Ah, we’ll be covering your medical fees since this one is our doing. And I will compensate you handsomely as well.”
Isaac spoke out of pity and turned his head away. Aintz’s face twisted to that of a spectre’s.
“You… It’s because of you. Because of you I’m… Die!”
Viscount Aintz rushed at Isaac, but Kunette, who had been pouting all this time, growled and swung her tiny arm. With the sound of bones cracking, Viscount Aintz rolled toward Isaac on the floor. Rizzly kicked Aintz on the stomach, sending him flying away like a ball. After a moment of free fall, the body slammed back onto the floor.
Isaac watched Aintz throw up his stomach’s contents, and then he looked toward Kunette and Rizzly with an unsatisfied expression.
“Tsk. You two need to be taught a lesson. If the guest tries to hit you, you should take it with a smile. What will employees think—not just that, what do you think they’ll learn to do when the city’s highest officials act like this?”
Reisha looked at Isaac’s scolding in complete bafflement, while Rizzly, the subject of Kunette’s ferocious glaring, grumbled his answer.
“He’s probably not a guest.”
“I heard he’d been banished from his family. The Lichtens are refusing to make payments with him as their excuse too.”
“Isn’t he the only heir left for the main family?”
“That very heir had thrown his fiefdom away with gambling, so the branch families joined forces and ousted him.”
Isaac tilted his head.
“It wouldn’t be if he was the head of the family, but Aintz was just the most likely successor.”
“Then how come I didn’t hear the news that he’d been exiled by his family?”
“You’ve been troubled by the situations with Port City and the Duberons lately. I’m sure Mr. Kalden would have reported it to you by tomorrow. Just this morning, some of the Lichtens’ diplomats arrived, and Mr. Kalden is currently in a meeting with them. I think this man was enraged at the news of it and barged in uninvited.”
“How come you didn’t say a word when you already knew everything?”
Isaac asked, and Rizzly shrugged nonchalantly.
“Mr. Kalden asked to keep it a secret if I could.”
“I think the administrative body is trying to settle it by themselves. They probably didn’t see the need to antagonize another Marquis Family when we are still on awkward terms with Marquess Duberon.”
“I guess they tried to gloss over it because they don’t know the insides of this issue.”
From the administrative body’s point of view, what Isaac had done was tempt some fool of an heir into gambling and led him to a road of ruin, attempting to absorb an entire fiefdom for free. They didn’t know the finer details.
And out of luck, everyone else from his father and brothers had died from the war, making him the sole successor of the main family and strengthening his claim. A perfect situation for Isaac to use the debt to repossess the land.
Within the Empire, many people owned the title of Marquis. But only 30 or so of them were hereditary nobles, making the Marquis class one of the most elite classes in the Empire.
And Isaac’s relationship with the Duberon Family was uncomfortable at best. Rather than add another Marquis to the list, it’d be much more convenient and beneficial to act as if it never happened and maintain friendly relations.
“But shouldn’t Kalden be aware of everything?”
Kalden has inadvertently stumbled upon Isaac’s relations with Central. Ever since then, he had received a certain level of information regarding Central so that he could do his job.
“I doubt it. Mr Cordnell wouldn’t have a reason to be involved, since this belongs to the administrative field. No one else would go through the trouble to tell either, and the Directorate of Strategy would never openly talk about one of their failures.”
Isaac was convinced by Rizzly’s answer, when his eyes glistened at a sudden epiphany.
“It’ll be difficult to get my money using him as an excuse right?”
Isaac stared at the fool who had passed out after being Reisha’s punching bag.
Even as Kunette kicked his buttocks, his unconscious body would only flinch out of reflex. It was difficult to tell if the man had passed out from the pain or the alcohol at this point.
The Lichtens used this idiot to complicate and hinder the debt repayment process. But if Isaac went along with their scheme, he’d no longer have the pretext to absorb the Lichtens’ territory.
“Perhaps this is an opportunity?”
It just happened to be that Isaac was still considering how to deal with the economic crisis that’d resulted from the Lichtens.
Plus, his meeting with the Director of Surveillance had been canceled, which meant he no longer had an excuse to act.
But here they were, literally handing Isaac an excuse to act first—huzza for this idiot.
Isaac smoked as he watched Kunette vent out her frustrations at Viscount Aintz, then Reisha who was comforting Laila and Julia, and finally at Rizzly, who looked uneasily at Kunette and grumbled. After some brief forethought, Isaac let out a final puff of smoke and spoke.
“This is an emergency. Rizzly, Reisha.”
Isaac spoke with grievous seriousness. Rizzly’s face stiffened like Isaac’s, and Reisha cocked her head.
“I will declare an emergency. Halt all elven and North Bear activity and have them occupy all the city’s strategic points, fully armed. The other districts will be overseen by Smartass, and tell him to set the mood dead serious by all means.”
Rizzly and Reisha’s eyes bulged wide, while Kunette looked at Isaac hesitantly before running over and jumping onto Isaac’s torso.
“Seriously? Do you want me to?”
“This isn’t something you do lightly.”
Reisha and Rizzly repeatedly asked Isaac to confirm. At first, Isaac simply nodded back and forth at the two as he pet Kunette, cradling her in his arms. But it was a single, last glare that finally led to action. Reisha and Rizzly closed their eyes as if they’d given up and acted.
Rizzly transformed into a bear. He puffed up his chest and then let out a single mighty roar.
The roar echoed throughout the city, and the North Bears reacted immediately.
Reisha pulled out a small horn from her pockets and blew it with all her might.
All elves perked their ears as the horn’s deep sound echoed throughout the city. The elves moved swiftly.
The people on the streets were left curious, watching the elves and North Bear, the forefront of the entertainment of this city, leave from their stations. Soon after, they returned, except they were fully armed and watching their surroundings with a sharp, deadly look in their eyes. The ordinary people realised something was up. The foolishly brave stayed to find out what was happening, while the meek quickly left the city.