“If Sir Anton truly contracted a demon, it would explain how Mr. Rizzly was defeated.”
The mystery of Anton’s fight against Rizzly was now solved. Having lost everything but his grudge against Isaac, Anton contracted a demon for his revenge. And it was the Order of the Empire who introduced him to and set up his contract with the demon.
Rizzly’s strength alone would not have been against Anton, one of the strongest individuals in the world if you excluded swordmasters, when further empowered by a demon. Plus, with Kalden killed by a traitor and Laila held hostage, what strength remained in him after would have faltered.
“But I must say they are hidden in quite the uncanny spot. Port City people must’ve been quite the party animals in the past to have built a villa here of all places.”
“They are just rotten to their cores.”
Rivelia glared at Isaac with an irritated voice. This villa was where Port City hid Anton from Isaac and the location of this villa was impeccable to say the least.
High above the mountains, the villa itself was hidden from outside thanks to the ridges of the Minolen Mountain range, but the villa itself had an unimpeded view of its surroundings. The mountainous terrain meant it was only accessible by crossing the lake, making it the perfect location for an impenetrable fortress.
The villa’s location was by no means an accident. Constructed during the golden age of Port City when money flowed in abundance, this villa was meant to be a retreat for unfettered hedonism against the backdrop of thrilling gladiatorial bloodshed below.
But it only saw such debauchery a number of times before Central, concerned by its negative social implications, quietly ran an operation in the shadows. Now, everyone that knew of its existence was a shell of their former selves, counting out the remaining days of their lives.
As they docked the ship at the concealed port, Rivelia bit down on her lips and spoke.
“There was an agent who volunteered to follow Rodney and Niske. We ordered the agent to return after their whereabouts were identified but…”
“You’ve lost contact?”
Rivelia nodded guiltily, knowing that she should have identified who volunteered for the job even if it was amidst the confusion of fire and riots. Isaac took out a cigarette.
“So there’s still a rat we hadn’t caught yet. He wouldn’t have escaped alone, so he must be with them now.”
Isaac mumbled as he disembarked the ship. Following up the narrow trail, the mountains seemed to part ways to reveal the magnificent villa. Isaac walked across its gardens and approached a group of elves gathered at the centre. One of the sharper elves quickly brought a chair and Isaac naturally sat upon it with a new cigarette.
“We’ve finished setting up a perimeter, and there haven’t been any signs of escape attempts.”
Lanburton reported and Isaac looked back blankly, even forgetting to light his cigarette.
“What have you all been doing, not finishing the job?”
“Although it frustrates me to say this, if Anton did contract a demon, then our powers alone wouldn’t be enough to face him, as Lady Rivelia explained.”
Isaac looked back, dumbfounded by Lanburton’s explanation.
“Then why did you guys go ahead of us in the first place?”
The moment the Order of the Empire coughed up Anton’s whereabouts, the elves and North Bears immediately rushed to this villa. So Isaac believed the situation would be over by the time he arrived, preparing all sorts of quips he would tease Rizzly with. But the fact they only surrounded them and didn’t even attempt a rescue baffled Isaac.
“It’s to block off their escape. Against Anton, we still have the power to at least slow down their retreat.”
Lanburton confidently said. Isaac was very tempted to berate him, but he simply sighed.
“It’s a good thing I brought this just in case.”
Isaac extended his hand and Rivelia handed to him a magical artifact used to amplify one’s voice. Isaac had borrowed this artifact with no regard for its previous owner when they stopped by the Magical Spire District before heading to the villa. The artifact looked and worked very similarly to the megaphones back in his old world.
“Ah! Ah! You are surrounded. Abandon your weapons and surrender! Kuh! I always wanted to say that.”
Isaac giggled while the elves and North Bears looked at Isaac, unsettled. Isaac’s childlike attitude seemed to disregard the gravity of the situation—one of their own was a hostage in a life-or-death situation—but none had the courage to express their discontent to Isaac.
Suddenly, one of the windows of the 2nd floor shattered, and a man clad in bandages showed his face.
“Ohoh, is that ugly mug Sir Anton by any chance?”
The megaphone delivered Isaac’s mockery with clear precision, and Anton simply replied with a murderous glare.
Suddenly, the gun in Anton’s hand started blasting, unleashing a barrage of bullets.
Elves and Northbears scattered in all directions to avoid the bullets while Rivelia stepped in front of Isaac, sword in hand.
Sparks flew and clangs rang out at contact with Rivelia’s swings. After using up the entire magazine, Anton threw the gun away without a hint of remorse.
“Uwah, you did that to protect me? What an honour.”
Isaac joked to Rivelia, who sheathed her sword and stepped back stoically. Isaac breathed in his cigarette once and spoke.
“So, what’s a man that dumpsters a swordmaster using a gun? Lost your confidence all of a sudden? Why don’t you drop all the formalities and fight this damsel. I’ll at least cheer for you out of courtesy.”
Anton grit his teeth at Isaac’s taunt and disappeared back into the villa, only to reappear and throw something at Isaac. One of the quicker elves carefully approached it, and upon recognition, almost gagged before bringing the object back to Isaac. Immediately all North Bears transformed into bears and bared their claws and fangs, growling at Anton.
Isaac calmly breathed in the cigarette as he looked at the arm held up by the elf. A thick arm covered in white fur stained with fresh blood. It was obvious whose arm this was. Isaac took out a new cigarette and asked.
“I’m asking this because I don’t know, but you can reattach dismembered arms with the medical technology of this world, right?”
“It is possible but it will take very long to recover fully”
“Better than being disabled forever.”
Isaac nonchalantly smirked, but his head now ached, knowing that this situation had become very complicated.
If Isaac took things too far and it resulted in Rizzly’s death, it would be difficult to expect future support from the non-humans, let alone the North Bears. His opponents knew they were bound for death, so they wouldn’t hesitate to act drastically. Isaac couldn’t let his guard down when Anton, a man who had gone to such lengths to contract a devil, blocked his way.
‘I’ll have to prepare for the worst-case scenario of the non-humans and I going separate ways.’
But lowering his head and pulling punches wasn’t Isaac’s style, which inevitably led to one thing—playing a game of chicken. And going too far was right up Isaac’s alley.
“Ah ah. Listen, hostage-taker. I will consider your options if you give us your demands now. So release the hostages and surrender.”
“My ‘demands’ is only one thing. Your death. I assure you the hostages will be returned safely if you kill yourself immediately. Kukuku. You are aware that my life is just all about your death, right? I care not about myself. Either you cling onto that disgusting life of yours and kill two people, or sacrifice yourself and save the two, although I highly doubt you’ll choose the latter.”
Anton’s corrupted voice was akin to grating metal. Everyone’s brows furrowed listening to his hoarse voice when Isaac replied.
“Let us negotiate. Tell me what you want.”
“I told you already! Your death! That is the only thing I want!”
“Is it not the basics of negotiation, to give away one thing when you take another? Solving conflicts through conversation is the way of reasonable humans. Let’s resolve this with words.”
Utter bewilderment took over the silent mountain range. To think the words ‘let’s resolve this with words’ would come from Isaac’s mouth. After a brief silence, Anton regained composure and snickered.
“Kukuku. I don’t know what you’re planning to do with buying time, but it’s useless. Either you will die or the hostages will.”
“Uhuh! We aren’t getting anywhere with this conversation!”
“… I don’t think you even attempted to have a proper conversation.”
Rivelia commented and everyone else nodded in agreement. Isaac ignored this and continued.
“Will you give me some time to think?”
“Kuku, think all you want. I’ll give you at least that much.”
Isaac cocked his head, expecting something completely different. His eyes glistened and feigned a more casual demeanor.
“Alright. But before I go and think, I’d like to say hi to the people of my neighborhood.”1EDN: Isaac usually refers to his own world something along the lines of “hometown,” which is why he calls people from his world his “neighbors.” In other instances, we have changed it to make the phrasing less awkward, but the awkward phrasing works better here.
“… What are you on about?”
“I guess you didn’t know? I’m sure the man who betrayed Central is there, so ask him.”
Anton disappeared, and Isaac quickly flicked his finger and called Rivelia.
“The Expeditionary Forces aren’t here. Find them with everything we have.”
“Are you sure?”
Rivelia seemed dubious and Isaac took out a new cigarette as he explained.
“That innocent man doesn’t even know what invaders are. Seeing how he actually went off to ask, we can conclude that man Delkrew is here but the Expeditionary Forces aren’t.”
“Did we get here before them?”
“Impossible. And by the look of how that bastard Anton is acting, they’re trying to buy time. I think it’s a two-pronged attack… But it makes no sense that a man who doesn’t even know I’m an invader is performing a joint operation with soldiers from another world…”
Isaac scratched his head, his thoughts tangling up like a ball of twine. It irked him that the Expeditionary Forces weren’t here, so he called Lanburton with a glare alone and whispered.
“Make the preparations.”
“Already? Isn’t it too sudden? Provoking him now is…”
Lanburton argued with great worry and Isaac replied with a smile.
“And provoking me is fine?”
“The fact the Expeditionary Forces aren’t here means they’re doing something elsewhere. And I highly doubt it’s something mundane. We have no time to waste here. We have to make some sacrifices. Start it now.”
Lanburton straightened his back at Isaac’s order and looked back hesitantly. A group of elves quickly put up a screen and made a ruckus setting up a broadcast.
“You’re an invader?”
Anton blurted out when he reappeared, flaunting his demonic powers as he bared his fangs.
“Yeah. That’s me.”
“Is it fun to play with the world?! You despicable Central dogs!”
“Don’t you think it’s funny that a man who contracted with a demon is enraged by the tyranny of his rulers now of all times?”
Anton shot daggers with his eyes and Isaac flinched dramatically as he whimpered.
“Oh dear me! I’m so scared! You just might be able to kill me like that!”
“Kuku, prattle all you want. The lives of hostages dwindle the more you do.”
Anton threatened Isaac, and Isaac grumbled.
“Wow. That’s harsh. A man trying to kill me can’t even tolerate some banter? You trying to gabjil me just because having a hostage makes you the gab?”
“… What do you mean by ‘gabjil?’”
“Gabjil you see, is something you can’t do. You’d have to be at my level to do it.”2TLN: Korean contracts often use the term ‘gab’ (갑) and ‘eul’ (을) to describe ‘contractor’ and ‘contractee.’ Gabjil (갑질) is the term used when someone abuses their power on the weak to get what they want, most often to get something they shouldn’t. For example, slave driver bosses who may force their employees to do unpaid overtime, blackmail them, violate labor laws, etc. This relationship does not have to be defined by a contract; it could be something like a professor “asking” his postgraduate students to cook dinner for him. Source.
The elves signaled to him that all the preparations are made. Isaac lit his cigarette and spoke.
“But you know. Don’t you think it’s unfair that only you get to hold hostages and make threats?”
- 1EDN: Isaac usually refers to his own world something along the lines of “hometown,” which is why he calls people from his world his “neighbors.” In other instances, we have changed it to make the phrasing less awkward, but the awkward phrasing works better here.
- 2TLN: Korean contracts often use the term ‘gab’ (갑) and ‘eul’ (을) to describe ‘contractor’ and ‘contractee.’ Gabjil (갑질) is the term used when someone abuses their power on the weak to get what they want, most often to get something they shouldn’t. For example, slave driver bosses who may force their employees to do unpaid overtime, blackmail them, violate labor laws, etc. This relationship does not have to be defined by a contract; it could be something like a professor “asking” his postgraduate students to cook dinner for him. Source.
Ooohhhhh, that’s what he meant when he said “sacrifices”