The audacity of the statement was beyond their wildest imaginations.
When realisation dawned upon the administrative body, their eyes narrowed in disgust at the sight of a filthy pedophile. Kunette let out a blood-curdling scream, and fought her way out of Isaac’s arm. Once free, she clawed at Isaac’s face; it was spine-chilling how it shredded through the defensive coat’s barrier.
Reisha grabbed at Isaac’s head from behind, shaking him back and forth as she berated him. Rivelia approached Isaac with untold fury, announcing—sword in hand—that she’d behead Isaac right this moment.
Rizzly stepped up to stop Rivelia half heartedly, purposely leaving openings for Rivelia to attack through. Each time Rivelia’s mana struck at Isaac, two to three mana crystals powering the barrier shattered.
The chaos went on for some while, but everyone eventually began to regain their composure. Slowly, they admitted to being caught up in the heat of the moment before starting to quietly look at Isaac expectantly, believing there to be a deeper purpose behind his declaration.
Isaac bore their gazes upfront, casually pulled out a new cigarette, and continued.
“An arranged marriage is a common method in maintaining power for noble families right? It’s not like we’ll get married immediately, and it can only happen once you’re of age anyway, so let’s start it off with engagement first.”
“Sunbaenim, I’m disappointed in you!”
Kunette, Rivelia, and Reisha jumped at Isaac, debating amongst themselves which method was best-suited for Isaac’s death. Isaac finally felt the fragility of his mortality when the number of dimmed mana crystals outnumbered those shining, and he raised his hands in a surrender. The three women glared menacingly at Isaac, fuming in anger. Prattle on stupidly, their glares said, and his life would be the last thing he was going to worry about. Isaac took out a new cigarette to replace the previous one that was crushed during the struggle and spoke.
“Is there any better method? In order to meet the requirement for the title of Duke, I will need Wolfgang’s territory too. Then, I will become the most infamous scoundrel in history who absorbed both a Marquis and Count’s territory. And once I’ve risen as Duke, I’ll file for divorce. If I forfeit all of my wealth to the brat as part of the proceedings, the title will also pass on to her. So we both get what we want. A win-win strategy, you could say. Truth be told, there’s not much keeping me to my words, so the successor to Pendleton, the elves, and the North Bears will serve as witnesses and maintain the right to force these terms even if I refuse to do so. So? Is there a better solution?”
Everyone agreed that Isaac’s plan was plausible. A confederation of the Wolfgang family and Rondart Barony would create a territory meeting the size requirement and provide Wolfgang with financial support.
With the requirements met, Wolfgang would become the second hereditary Dukedom. The first would still be Isaac, but afterwards, it would be Wolfgang’s time.
Additionally, this course of action would appease the Wolfgang family and solve the manpower issue they were suffering from at the same time—a tempting solution.
The Wolfgangs also had nothing to lose, as their financial state was dire to say the least.
With support from New Port City, the Wolfgang Family would be able to stabilise their rule, and with inheritance firmly locked into their favour, it’d be illogical to reject such an offer.
As Isaac’s plan became more and more plausible by the second, Isaac called out Laila, who was standing there blankly out of shock.
“So brat, what do you think?”
Laila finally came back to her senses. Emotion rushed back to her face, and she stood in confusion for some time before speaking back firmly.
“If that is the only way…”
“What are you saying, Laila!”
“Kyaack! Laila you dummy!”
“Uwek! Did you really have feelings for him? Wow! Falling in love with the man who killed your family! I want to try that too!”
Rivelia asked Laila to reconsider, Kunette went mad, and Reisha was busy running off on a tangent. Stuck between the three, she was being bounced around like a ball when Isaac commented on the situation.
“So, you got any better ideas? Isn’t it basic to propose a better method if you want to reject something?”
The three closed their mouths.
Rivelia’s eyebrows formed a crease as she thought deeply. Kunette and Reisha massaged their temples and pranced in circles. But none of them could think of a solution.
“Noble society will not stand idly by if they find out about this. Central can’t silence the nobles without a proper reason too.”
“We don’t need to worry about that. Even if this is leaked, the world won’t care because there are many more surprises waiting in line far more exciting than this marriage alliance.”
Rivelia drew in a sharp breath. It was true that this scandal would have shocked the entire continent in normal times, but the release of new technology from next year onwards would change the paradigm of the world—a revolution.
An alliance through marriage between two families was nothing compared to entering a new age.
So, their acts would slip under the radar. Sure, it might catch on later, but it’d be far too late by then.
“Um… actually, it’s nothing.”
Kalden timidly raised his hand as he scanned his surroundings, and Isaac subtly stared back at him with a frown. Kalden flinched and quickly withdrew his hand, but it didn’t escape Rivelia.
“If you have something to say, say it.”
Kalden’s eyes clearly took Isaac into consideration, so Kunette and Reisha stood up to block Isaac’s body from Kalden’s view. Kalden finally seemed to have built up the courage, but Isaac struck first.
“You’ve been pretty free of late right?”
“… It’s nothing.”
Kalden’s courage evaporated immediately. Kunette and Reisha immediately went off at Isaac. That was when Cordnell snorted and stood up boldly.
“Hmph! What’s there to be afraid of when we’ll die of overwork either way! Everyone seems to be only thinking of marriage, but that isn’t the only method. If inheritance is the goal, there is the option of adopting Laila.”
“Rejected. I can’t possibly have a child when I’m not even married….Ugyack!”
Isaac tried to establish his defiant disapproval, but sitting next to Isaac were Kunette and Reisha, who quickly grabbed the legs of Isaac’s chair and threw it in the air. Rivelia caught the flying Isaac midair, spinning him around once before throwing him off the rooftop like a shot put. Isaac was thrown out of the rooftop before he could finish speaking.
“I would like to hear more about that option.”
Rivelia let out a refreshed, appeased smile. Cold sweat dripped from Cordnell’s and Kalden’s backs as they quickly explained about the alternative.
New Port City never lost its light, even at night. And at the centre of its white way was the City Hall, where Isaac grumbled from the rooftop.
“Shit. Wasn’t that too far? Pedestrians asked me if there was a rebellion. You know what pisses me off more? Everyone just accepted it and moved on, saying it was a long time coming.”
Rizzly smiled bitterly in response and handed him a glass of fruit wine.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t have pushed them so hard. And it’s true they did rebel against you. Mr Cordnell ignored your threats.”
“I need to slave him harder.”
“He already is. You can lash him all you want, and it won’t make a difference.”
“Tsk, did I push him too hard?”
Isaac dashed his lip with barely a hint of disappointment and moved on without a care. Rizzly asked him a question this time.
“But are you really going to hand her everything? Isn’t it a shame to give her New Port City of all things?”
Isaac smirked and bit down on his cigarette.
“While the plan of action has fundamentally changed, it’s one of many things I had already planned.”
“New Port City as well? Was that your intention from the start?”
Agitated, Rizzly asked. Isaac spun around and leaned back, resting his elbows on the fence.
“I’ve lived for too long already. At this rate, I’m going to build an attachment to this life. I should finish this up before it happens.”
“Is Laila just that?”
“She deserves the reward.”
“Are you sure it’s a reward?”
“If becoming the master of this giant city isn’t, what is?”
Rizzly frowned and grumbled to himself, and Isaac snickered.
New Port City now, especially because it was joined together with Port City, was akin to a flowing river of gold.
With so much profit involved, peoples’ ambition naturally flocked towards it.
But the reason why it had been so quiet until now was thanks to the Queen’s protection, along with the public announcement of the Emperor’s interest in the city. Unofficially, the title of Director of Security of Central warded off threats.
But what if Isaac disappeared and Laila inherited the city? Schemes and plots beyond those concocted by the fools of Port City would rush to snatch potential profit in the city.
Both of them knew that Laila had to withstand all the trials alone, which is why Rizzly grumbled and Isaac laughed.
“But do you really not care about the loss? Humans usually don’t give up on things like this. Because of greed, of course.”
Rizzly asked with great astonishment, and Isaac glared back with a snicker.
“I don’t know who came up with the quote ‘slow as a bear,’ but I bet that person didn’t know how cunning bears are. I’m actually getting curious. Are North Bears really obsessed over honey? Or is that how you guys trick the world?”
“Hm, I wonder what you’re talking about?”
Rizzly grinned and played innocent. Isaac looked at him for a moment, before grabbing a new cigarette.
“Well I guess it doesn’t matter. Just take care of the brat. With the wealth she’ll have later, you’ll be slurping up a bottle of elven honey everyday.”
Rizzly drooled as he daydreamed until Isaac’s glare brought him back to reality. Rizzly laughed awkwardly.
Isaac smirked at the sight, stubbed his cigarette out on the fence and looked into the night sky as he spoke.
“Pass this message to the Director of Surveillance. Next year will be an interesting one.”
“… Next year, is it?
“Weren’t you guys anticipating it when I greedily demanded the airships?”
Isaac, who backed the Queen, had forfeit all investment options that would take time to repay his investment. Instead, he staked his claim on the airship, which would immediately turn a profit.
There was no need to concern the Directorate of Analysis over this action. Anyone with a brain could deduce that this was definite proof the Queen would make her move soon.
Rizzly gulped, a difficult expression on his face. He tried to say something, but hesitation kept his mouth shut.
But Isaac, who was looking up into the night sky, didn’t notice Rizzly at all.
As Isaac expected, the news regarding absorption of Lichten’s territory, reunification of Port and New Port City, and Isaac’s adoption of Laila and taking over Wolfgang territory, was buried under the reveal of airships.
A flying ship that appeared at the New Years Festival. A ship so luminous and luxurious that people would doubt their own eyes in a stupor before being overtaken with excitement.
No praises were left unsaid for the greatest invention of the generation, which fulfilled humanity’s dream to fly. People practically fought each other to be the first to ride it.
Thanks to that, the conspiracy regarding Isaac and adoption of Laila was buried without a sound.
It seemed that Rivelia’s work had paid off, as she had planned the flight path and designated all the transfer points and installed airports in the locations. Each time the airship approached, people flocked en masse to see it.
And even before the shock of airship settled, the Emperor announced a new beginning and revealed the fruits of their labor to provide his populace with a better life.
The first of the developmental measures was the installment of Communicators, which at first only operated in public eras like a business. However, they were soon installed in every household.