Most of the Lichtens’ nobles had already joined Saint’s side. Saints had used his connections and called in favors from his previous dealings with military goods to convince them to join him. However, the pro-war faction rejected Saints’ offer and persuasion vehemently.
The leader of the pro-war faction was Viscount Rosenberg, an in-law of the culprit behind their current state of ruin, Viscount Aintz.
Everyone Rosenberg had asked for assistance had ignored them. If he wanted to preserve the family title and their dignity, surrender was not an option. This was the very man Saints had visited.
The Rosenberg Viscounty was protected by both an inner and outer wall. Only the Viscount’s vassals and soldiers resided within the inner walls. The inner area, which once sounded of elite, professional troops marching, was now an embarrassingly desolate space.
Because the Empire’s law dictated that all soldiers had to be volunteers, soldiers were allowed to quit at any time.
Not many were willing to put their lives on the line for such a pointless war undeserving of being a “provincial war,” so they had been handing in their resignations.
Viscount Rosenberg had sent away not only his common subjects but also his non-combat knights and those directly under his employ, determined to fight an orthodox war. Around him stood the few remaining loyal soldiers and combat knights.
“My decision will not change no matter what you say.”
Viscount Rosenberg announced with a firm expression. He stood on the empty plain just in front of the inner gate, fully armed. Saints didn’t even get the chance to utter a single word.
Facing such resoluteness, Saints just groaned in woe—when suddenly, a band of mercenaries swooped into action.
“Enemies, stop them!”
“Kuack! Protect Sir Saints and retreat!”
“You treacherous scums! How dare you attack an emissary!”
Viscount Rosenberg and his troops couldn’t even react at the sudden incident, simply watching the chaos unfold.
The man who seemed to be the leader of the mercenaries grabbed the back of the confused Saints’ and retreated. Immediately, the mercenaries unsheathed their swords, and the Viscount’s troops also unsheathed theirs in response.
However, the mercenaries began cutting at each other instead—screaming and stabbing at their fellow mercenaries to kill, falling by each others’ blade.
“This is mad, they are all mad…”
Viscount Rosenberg collapsed onto the ground, and even his knights were too dumbfounded to assist him, watching the dead bodies blankly.
“Is this… Is this how it will end!”
Viscount Rosenberg began coughing up blood out of pure shock. All of this happened so quickly that he couldn’t react. An appeal? He couldn’t prove the allegation, and even if he could, who would believe him?
Twenty men had died.
He had difficulty believing what had just happened in front of him. Regardless of how he might insist on how they all killed each other, he would just be ridiculed for coming up with such a poor excuse.
“How, how can this be? Just what did Isaac promise them in return for suicide?!”
Rosenberg’s enraged cry echoed throughout the empty plain. That was unfathomable. This was inexplicable loyalty from mere mercenaries not knights.
‘This is dangerous…’
Isaac noticed an error as he reviewed his plans from the start again after sending Sants away.
Maybe the Empire really was trying to recruit him; or maybe, they were trying to chip at Isaac’s defenses, looking for an opening.
The problem was Isaac couldn’t figure out their intentions the moment he received news from Central. To be fair, Isaac was preoccupied with many things, but he really couldn’t let things slide like this.
If this happened one too many times, he’d find himself backstabbed before he could do so first.
‘Shit. I really did let my guard down. How could I not think of this first?’
Isaac wasn’t sure if this was the Empire’s extension of an olive branch or a noose tightening around his neck, but the Empire had just willingly unbound one of his shackles.
If they delayed reunification with Port City until after the release of the new technologies or even kept their release secret from Isaac, they would have dealt a square blow to Isaac.
Even if the people of Port City were blinded by greed—or perhaps because they were blinded by greed—they would quickly realize the potential of airships and trains. If they did, the matter of reunification would just be water under the bridge. Port City would no longer need to rely on New Port City.
Even if both cities had become near equals in recent history, Port City held the advantage in almost all aspects.
Sure, you could build landing zones for airships anywhere, but trains had to enter through Port City due to geographical reasons.
The train alone would resurrect Port City.
Then, Isaac would have to engage Port City in an ultimately meaningless fight on top of everything else.
Regardless of all other reasons, Isaac’s tyranny was only possible through New Port City’s massive wealth.
Once that advantage disappeared, the Empire would gain a card that could contain Isaac. Central’s intelligence wouldn’t have missed this—yet they overlooked it.
Now that Isaac thought about it, the Empire had really overlooked many opportunities to put a leash around the monster that was Isaac.
Did they wish to be on friendly terms? Or were they trying to lull him into a false sense of security before quickly eliminating him?
There was one way to find out.
To be greedy just one more time. If they originally intended to use it as an olive branch, it would trigger a hostile response along the lines of ‘this fucker’s trying to climb all over us just because we’re spoiling him.’ But if it was the latter, they’d simply keep on giving.
“What would be nice…”
“I’m just wondering what the best choice is, among all the technologies being released.”
“That’d be the train.”
“It’s strong, tough, and big.”
Isaac smirked at Rizzly’s opinion, which seemed more in line with the reasoning of someone buying a car. The train… sadly, wasn’t the answer.
Even if they released the technology, they wouldn’t be able to put it to use immediately.
Before they could create a spider web of tracks across the continent, they had to first lay tracks between key locations—something that would take more than a mere one or two years.
The same went for broadcast networks.
There was an advantage of entering the market first and creating a quasi-monopoly, but it also meant you were directly competing with Central—the provider and originator of the technologies—and the broadcast companies associated with it. Even so, broadcast unlocked avenues of infinite profit.
From advertisements to programs, dramas, movies, music, reality shows, and the pinnacle of all commerce, home shopping networks.
Doing it all alone would be impossible, but maintaining even just ten percent viewership throughout the continent would pull in as much profit as New Port City’s current activities.
But this would take just as long to set up as with trains, what with training employees, their management, and the growth of associated businesses—regardless of how quickly they set up the infrastructure.
For Isaac—who didn’t have much time left—it wasn’t going to be ready by the time he would need to use them.
But the airship was different. Unlike a plane, airships could be mass produced.
In the future, aviation laws, fairways, sovereign airspace, airports, and such would be developed, but airships themselves required nothing more than a tarmac.
“The airship is the answer.”
No matter how Isaac looked at it, nothing surpassed the airship. And Isaac could quickly come up with a decent bit of pretext for acting, something he would struggle with for the other technologies.
“Now, how will they respond…”
There was one fact most of the people trapped in New Port City’s casinos weren’t aware of.
The Empire’s magical spires were undergoing a golden age thanks to the industry’s concentration in New Port City.
Countless magical spires competed with and exchanged knowledge with one another, drastically improving the quality of magical goods.
With such clear indications laid in front of them, even the most skeptical of spires converged at New Port City one by one.
New Port City’s market for magical goods used to only serve consumption within the city themselves, but its growth attracted merchant guilds that traded other magical goods, culminating in a giant market.
At first, only offensive and defensive magical tools were traded, but the entry of new merchant guilds spurred the development of household, medical, auxiliary, and other diverse fields of magical goods.
New Port City had not only provided a research and testing facility but also transformed the marketplace into an exhibition advertising the goods. Customers with the financial power to purchase such goods could enter at any time to test such goods.
Plus, New Port City cared not about what the spires created; they simply followed the motto of ‘buy first, test later.’ They also cared not about the price tag on these goods.
The city would then test the product thoroughly and provide feedback in a review, discussing necessary changes, inconveniences with the product, and the like. New Port City was simultaneously the spires’ greatest customer and partner.
“Are they all here?”
“I’ve only gathered spire engineers only related to the tech we want.”
The engineers had curiously gathered atop the rooftop of the city hall, New Port City’s infamous landmark that was to be avoided at all costs. But when they saw their colleagues, they knew immediately that this wasn’t an ordinary call.
Every engineer that Isaac called was associated with Central in some form, some aware and some not.
The special nature of Central naturally demanded cutting-edge magical goods and an equally high level of confidentiality. Most of the engineers had met one another at least once during the development and improvement of the aforementioned magical goods.
Some of these engineers were directly associated with Central. Thanks to Central’s support in acquiring expensive resources and tools, they had risen above others to become masters in their respective fields.
A grim worry took the edges of their pupils as they confirmed each other’s presence. .
All of them had been core figures regarding the airship’s development, from its design to manufacturing.
These inventors were aware that the airship would be revealed to the public next year, so they quickly deduced what Isaac wanted.
Isaac looked at the engineers gathered in front of him. He took a puff of his cigarette and spoke.
“There’s something I want you all to make. I don’t care how much it costs, but it must be made as quickly as possible.”
“Just say the word. We will make whatever you want just as you want it. Isn’t that right?”
One man stepped out and confidently boasted, all the while looking back at his colleagues for their assent.
Isaac indeed boasted of incredible notoriety, but he was also famous as the most generous of sponsors.
Isaac’s call meant unlimited access to an endless supply of priceless resources—all to create his bidding.
They could order assets they normally would balk at purchasing in normal circumstances to make Isaac’s good. And the remainder afterwards would then be divided up among themselves.
As the unawares silently agreed on the terms of their work, Isaac pointed his finger to the sky and replied.
“Make me a flying ship.”
Everyone froze at Isaac’s request, and the man who stepped out forced out a smile and asked.
“Ahaha. You’re joking right?”
“How can a ship fly!”
All of the engineers cried absurdity, yet Isaac replied boldly.
“That’s what you need to figure out.”
The engineers that were already in the know accepted Isaac’s demands calmly, but it only further confused the other engineers.
-An airship! Just what are you thinking!
“You said it’s going to be revealed next year anyway. I don’t need everything else—just the airship. As part of our growth and desire to transport more, faster, and conveniently, we developed the airship. Don’t you think that’ll make a good excuse for its development?”
-And who are you to decide that for yourself?
“Hm. Compensation? Solatium? Reparations?”
-What bullshit is that!
“Is this how you treat me just because I didn’t sign a contract putting my faith in Central’s name? What did you tell me when I first came here again? Oh, that I’d only be tasked with things related to angels and demons. And who was it that tried to one-up me on my very first mission? An oral contract doesn’t count as a formal contract to you all, of all people?”
Isaac argued back, and Mazelan shriveled back. In truth, Mazelan and the Directorate of Strategy had no excuse.
So they simply looked at Isaac fearfully; truth be told, they were relieved when it seemed Isaac was going to gloss over the issue.
“Hng. I’m sure the higher-ups are going to peck at us but it’s already happened. And we did do you wrong before, so it might work, but I don’t think I’ll come out unscathed… Can you at least tell me beforehand next time?! Do you have any idea how surprised I was when rumours about an airship began popping up?!
Mazelan, his expression rumbling like a volcano, shouted resentfully at Isaac—who replied with apathy.
“I’m going to be happy with just the airship, so hand over any used airships you aren’t using.”
– Why used airships?
“Because I’m going to do all the advertising for you too. Ah, seriously, I should be paid for this too. Tsk! The Directorate of Strategy should lower some of the barriers to development and even be spreading rumours on my behalf as well. I’m going to send the airships throughout the Empire and offer services to paying customers at the New Years festival. I’m sure the airship alone will make a decent profit for some time with that.”
– How is that related to advertising?
“It’ll be amazing seeing an airship for the first time right? It’s flying after all. You’d like to ride it, right? You’d be able to drastically reduce transit times and transportation costs, right? The nobles would want one for themselves, right? Who’s going to be able to handle the expenses for all those airships? Me? Or Central?”
-Oh! So there was that method! I see that your skills in scamming students back in Campus hasn’t gone anywhere!
Mazelan was impressed by Isaac, when suddenly he gained an epiphany and shouted.
-Wait! That’s going to happen regardless of who reveals the airship!
“… Tsk. That was close. I could have gone away with it.”