“You think this makes any sense? Why do I need to take the brat’s place? I might be lenient, but don’t you think there’s something wrong with our hierarchy?”
Rivelia faced Isaac’s grumbling with the patience befitting a swordmaster.
“Is that brat playing sick?”
“… She never would have gotten to this point if she was the type to fake sickness in the first place.”
“Why of all days does she have to be sick today.”
“She’s been suffering from tremendous anxiety recently, despite her attempts to not let it show. I assume the adrenaline from recent events has worn off.”
Today was the ceremony for reunification. Port City had been rowdy for the grand festival since the morning, but Laila, the one to attend the ceremony, suddenly fell sick.
Isaac saw Laila with an intense fever, so he ordered her to be seen by a healer. But the idea was opposed by not only the healer but Rizzly and Rivelia as well. They explained that using healing magic on a child who had yet to develop their immune system was akin to poison.
There was no one else fit to replace her.
Considering the significance of this reunification, it warranted the presence of a prominent representative.
In New Port City, only Isaac and his adopted child Laila had the authority to play this role.
Which was why Isaac had to go in place of the sick Laila.
Of course, Isaac practically vaulted off his chair and refused to attend outright. Boiling with a fever and stumbling on every step, Laila still said that she would go. Isaac pointed at her, arguing ‘she says she’s going!’
Rivelia, who had been using kind words to try to convince Isaac at first, exploded in anger. ‘I believe there exists an excellent saying in your world, Director,’ she had quoted, ‘to kill first and think later.’ Isaac gave up his ground quickly after.
So Isaac had to attend in place of Laila. Rivelia had originally wanted to decline the invitation addressed to the Pendleton name.
But she was worried about letting Isaac go alone, and Rizzly wished to tend to Laila. So Rivelia ended up deciding to accompany Isaac.
“Ohoh! Seeing this is starting to convince me that coming here was a good idea. A great sight.”
Isaac crossed the Sky Bridge to enter Port City. Isaac smiled to see what awaited him—a time of great festivities.
New Port City citizens laughed and chatted as they ate and drank at the city’s expense. Elves and North Bears joined the cause. And behind them were the starkly contrasted groups of Port City citizens, blatant disdain and hatred in their eyes as they watched the New Port City citizens. Isaac breathed in the situation to the fullest.
For people of New Port City who’d just begun to adjust to clean streets of their city, Port City was a different world—a place of pristine roads and buildings exhibiting fabulous decorations.
Was this not the forbidden land, a land which they admired but could have never approached when they were young?
The city that had brought them despair and defeat was now under their feet, where they could eat and drink for free. But what excited them more than anything was that people of Port City could only watch in displeasure.
Many roads bubbled with clashes between excited New Port City citizens and Port City citizens who still remembered what the old New Port City used to be.
Arguments and fights between them were mediated by Port City’s police who were blatantly biased and tried to actively suppress New Port City citizens, but the New Port City citizens had the elves and North Bears on their side.
Whenever these non-humans thought the police weren’t fair, they’d intervene without question and remind New Port City citizens to ‘tell that to Isaac if you think it’s not fair.’ The police had no choice but back off with their tails in between their legs.
Of course, both the police and non-humans showed no mercy when it came to criminal activities such as pickpocketing, punishing them heavily to make examples out of them. This established proper order in the festival.
After a number of crimes, their violent suppressions, and mediations, the two groups resolved to simply watch each other on alert.
“… Yes. It’s a sight that depicts exactly what you’d expect in this situation.”
But even this bustling and somewhat threatening mood changed when Isaac appeared. The music stopped and laughter disappeared.
If it was a normal festival, people would have cheered or praised Isaac, their Lord.
But both New Port City citizens that enjoyed the festival and the displeased Port City citizens shut their mouths tight. They dared not turn their faces away, only looking at their feet waiting for Isaac to pass quickly.
The sea of people split into two on their own.
Isaac pompously walked through the conveniently made path.
Rivelia followed him, sighing with relief that she wouldn’t hear him grumbling at the very least.
In front of Port City’s City Hall, a sea of people were waiting for the ceremony to start.
As if to prove the benefits of recent technology, screens were installed along many of Port City’s roads so people unable to find a space in front of Port City’s City Hall could watch.
The lectern where the ceremony was to commence shone with absolute luxury as if to demonstrate New Port City’s newfound wealth. It was almost mysterious as to why Cordnell allowed such an expenditure on something that would only be used once.
And next to this lectern, representatives and the administrative bodies of both cities waited for the most important member of the cast.
“What do you mean I’m late? I made it just in time.”
Rivelia imagined how refreshing it’d be to smack the back of a grumbling Isaac as she followed behind.
“Huh? What are those guys doing here? Are they here as volunteers or something?”
Isaac saw agents of Security standing between the lectern and citizens. Rivelia smirked and answered.
“They’ve all volunteered to stand guard for Laila.”
Isaac looked back at Rivelia dumbfounded and argued.
“They’ll do guard work for the brat when they don’t even do it for me?”
“Because Laila has recruited agents of Security.”
“I hear the territory you must manage will be quite big once you become a duke?”
Acknowledging Rivelia’s insight, Isaac held his tongue.
Members were culled once through training and again during the war of Wolfgang and Lichten. Now all that remained were spies sent from other Directorates and those who were truly desperate for the reward they were promised.
But a new option materialized for these agents—one that did not ask them to follow the Directorate of Security blindly.
Vast, rich lands without owners, free of any conflict that might arise from its possession.
The master of that land was still young, and she had too few retinues to manage it for her. But agents of Central, who were graduates of College, were the perfect and proven candidates.
All Laila needed to say was ‘I’ll take you as my vassal.’ This one sentence was enough for these agents to throw their defensive coats in Isaac’s face, finally vent their curses, and quit their job immediately.
Of course, such a situation was unlikely considering the relationship between Isaac and Laila, but being able to take one step away from the clutches of Isaac was a satisfactory outcome.
“I see the brat’s done something adorable. I’m really liking what she’s doing.”
Isaac was pleased that she was already creating a faction of her own in secret.
Isaac smirked and walked up the stairs to the lectern, where he saw nervous men pacing in circles.
“Hiik! I, Isaac!”
“… And who are you to call out someone’s name like that?”
Two middle aged men turned their heads, and Isaac walked closer to them. Isaac’s mood worsened when the two men screamed in terror when they saw his face.
Isaac frowned and watched their pale faces as they bowed and apologized fervently, slowly stepping away in the process. But what annoyed Isaac was that their eyes constantly shifted back and forth, almost as if they were troubled.
“Why do their faces seem familiar to me?”
Isaac cocked his head as the two men ran away desperately, and Rivelia answered.
“It’s Rodman and Niske.”
“Ah! I remember. But they were still here? I thought they moved elsewhere long ago?”
Isaac snorted at Rivelia’s answer as he stepped up to the lectern. The crowd under him began to murmur.
It was very apparent they were troubled by Isaac’s appearance instead of Laila’s.
Isaac rested his body on one of the chairs at the back and smoked with a bored expression. Rivelia stood behind Isaac.
“Huh, why did Lord Isaac come instead of Miss Laila?”
Cordnell, who had been making preparations for the ceremony, approached with a look of great surprise.
“Miss Laila had fallen sick suddenly, so I brought the Lord instead.”
“Man, that’s going to screw up all our schedules.”
Cordnell massaged his temples for a while. He then sighed and spoke to Isaac.
“We will go through all the formal procedures, but all I ask is that you give a speech at the very end, Lord Isaac. I doubt you care enough to do a proper job and I most certainly have no expectation of you as well, so just say whatever and leave. That is the only thing I ask of you.”
Rivelia pondered if she should warn Cordnell of all people for crossing the line, but Isaac was already infuriated by something else.
“Isn’t my job done now that I’ve shown my face? And why is it last? Just go through the ceremony as quickly as you can. I bet I can easily pay off the monthly installments on the airship with the amount of money that’s been spent on this useless ceremony.”
Cordnell almost fainted at Isaac’s response, so he decided to ignore Isaac completely. He moved over to someone else and began barking orders, hastening the preparations.
Isaac glared at Cordnell, grumbling up to the start of the ceremony. As the ceremony progressed through its formalities, Isaac lit cigarette after cigarette out of boredom as he waited for his time to speak.
“… Something feels wrong here.”
Rivelia warned Isaac, and Isaac, who had been dozing off, opened his eyes lazily and looked at the people under him.
“Hm. Something certainly does feel wrong.”
This was the day Port and New Port City announced their reunification. A time that might have been unpleasant for Port City but also a time that New Port City should have been cheering.
Just as they saw from the roads they walked through, there should have been a good mix of boos and cheers in the crowd. But everyone in the City Hall wore displeasure on their face, wielding daggers in their eyes and keeping their mouths shut.
Cordnell and the agents of Security on the lectern were also taken aback by the unexpected response. They pushed through with the ceremony in a great hurry out of panic.
As the cold silence continued, it was finally Isaac’s time to speak.
“Now, I shall enliven the mood with a great speech.”
Isaac, who had been bored to death just moments before, got off his chair immediately, eyes glistening in anticipation.
Rivelia had been worrying about Isaac and what mess he was going to start again when Isaac reached the podium to speak.
Even before Isaac could speak, an egg flew over from somewhere, hitting Isaac’s face.
A protective barrier materialized and Isaac was saved from the gooey bombardment, but everyone from Rivelia, agents of Security, the elves and the North Bears—all part of the security detail—and others behind the lectern dropped their jaws in utter shock.
Some bumbling, oblivious fool provoked Isaac!