“Ha! This is better than the one I had before!”
Thoroughly impressed by the sofa’s soft embrace and firm support complementing his body wherever he desired, Isaac shouted to those in front of him.
“And when did you guys run away?”
Only Rivelia, Lanburton, and Cordnell attended the meeting room in person. The rest of the administrative body were attending through a communicator, avoiding Isaac’s gaze with a dry cough. These individuals had been deployed into Wolfgang’s and Lichten’s territories to take over the administration. So despite not having a reason to attend the celebration of reunification, they had still attended the ceremony.
Just like the Security agents, they wished to leave a good impression on Laila, the adopted daughter of Isaac and most certainly a future Duchess. But the assassination attempt on Isaac, riots, and Kalden’s death quickly convinced them to escape the city post-haste.
Cordnell, who couldn’t leave the city due to his responsibilities of securing and managing the city’s funds, glared menacingly at the traitors. But those on the other end paid it no heed, having been on the receiving end far too many times already.
The administrative body spoke out first in response.
-There are constant requests for updates on Lady Laila’s wellbeing from Wolfgang’s constituents.
“How much is known to them?”
-As of now, the rumours speak of an assassination attempt on Lord Isaac and that it had been stopped.
The Administrative Body reported, and Isaac turned to Lanburton.
“What about Rizzly?”
-The reattachment surgery finished successfully. He is currently staying in hospital, where he is prioritizing the purification of the remaining demonic energy from his body.
“And the brat?”
-As for Lady Laila, the demonic energy infected her fever-weakened body. She will need a longer stay before recuperating fully.
“I don’t care how much it takes, but make sure she’s fully recovered. It’d be a problem if that brat dies now.”
If Laila were to die now, Isaac was bound to attract suspicion about it all being an inside job. If Anton truly wished to screw Isaac over, then killing Laila would have been a checkmate. But even in his corrupted state, killing children apparently didn’t seem to suit his taste.
“You heard that? Tell them to buzz off, because she’s still alive.”
One of the members of the administrative body responsible for Wolfgang spoke carefully.
-On a side note, a portion of the Wolfgang’s vassal family has mobilised their newly recruited troops, although it hasn’t been confirmed yet.
“Mobilised? Where to?”
-Well, they seem to be moving in secret, but tracing their path, we think they’re heading towards the elven reservations.
“Are they aiming for the small brat? Let them be.”
“What? But if they get a hold of Lady Julia, they will claim rightful succession.”
“It doesn’t matter. It was the big brat I adopted as daughter, not the small brat. Not to mention, the elves aren’t going to hand her over anyway. What else?”
-Employees from the former Wolfgang and Lichten territories, respectively, clashed when it was revealed that remnants of the Lichten factions were responsible for the assassination attempt.
“I have no time to waste on that. I will allow brute force crackdowns. Whenever there’s a clash, beat them down and lock them up. I’m sure their heads will cool in a dark prison cell.”
The administrative body wore a reluctant, troubled expression. Isaac sipped his drink and spoke.
“What’s the problem?”
Indecisive, the administrative body seemed unwilling to formally answer Isaac. Isaac’s eyes narrowed, and Rivelia stepped in, noticing their nervous, dodging glances.
“Just maintaining a proper administration alone is difficult with the current state of the administrative body. The noble families may have moved elsewhere, but that won’t quell the discontent of the middle class that have made their homes there generations ago.”
“So they’re antagonistic to outsiders?”
“I’m sure part of their goal is to increase their weight as influential voices in the region.”
Isaac remarked. It wasn’t that he couldn’t understand them. Strictly speaking, the administrative body had simply been given their position through connections.
The higher-ups could scream until their lungs gave out all day, but if the middle management ignored them, it’d be the same as barking into thin air. Plus, it wasn’t just the scholars who managed administration that opposed them but the police force and the ranking officers that commanded them as well. The administrative body was in the same situation Isaac was in at the beginning of New Port City—stranded and without a limb to crawl out of this hole.
Of course, the middle class wouldn’t be able to blatantly ignore the orders of justly appointed magistrates supported by the laws of fiefdom. But there were plenty ways for the middle class to fuck them over if they tried.
Isaac pulled out a smoke and pondered. The administrative body remained deathly silent, waiting for their orders.
They had heard the whispers from their elven and North Bear friends. The method Isaac used to rescue Laila and Rizzly and how he burned people alive. The only thing that came to their mind was that Isaac was furious, and he’d let nothing stand in his way.
In times like this, bowing down and doing as you were told was a safe bet to survive. Rivelia, oblivious that the rumours have already spread, cocked her head when she realised that the administrative body was awfully quiet. That was when Isaac spoke out.
“We will create a provincial army.”
“… A provincial army?”
Cordnell’s face paled, hearing Isaac’s declaration, while the administrative body stilled, bewildered by the decision. The reasoning behind creating an army was no issue since the province had been enlarged to that of a dukedom, but this wasn’t exactly the greatest time to do so.
“All armed forces that reside in my lands will now be recognized as part of my provincial army. Therefore, the provincial army will also uphold public order.”
-T, that will cause an uproar!
“Anyone who argues against it will have their titles and occupations stripped.”
The administrative body’s faces darkened. Crimes occurred even in the safest regions. Even if they essentially blacklisted everyone who spoke against it, their influence would still remain in the populace. In fact, it was more likely the police force itself would evaporate into thin air.
“That might weaken the power of the administrative body instead.”
The administrative body nodded in assent, but Isaac’s decision was already set in stone.
“The Security Agents will act as the province’s Inspector Generals.”
“There aren’t enough Security agents to surveil the entire province.”
Isaac nodded at Rivelia’s advice.
“That would be the case if they were alone. I’ll be hiring the mercenaries, so tell the agents to move with them.”
Rivelia wore a worried expression.
“But the current Security agents are disguised as New Port City’s police force. Moving with the mercenaries may restrict their capabilities.”
“Ah, about that. I’ll be recruiting the mercenaries into the Directorate of Security too.”
Rivelia immediately shook her head, the idea being completely preposterous to her.
“That’s impossible! How can you hire them into Central—not even in secret! If you lack personnel, you should file a request to Central’s headquarters.”
“I don’t know. How can I believe anyone who volunteers for the job when even the folks that underwent the training betrayed me over their beliefs? Who knows how many traitors are still hiding in the midst?”
“We will do a thorough…”
“I would have done so in the past, but we don’t have time to waste anymore. Those hired by money are much more trustworthy than those who’d betray me for their beliefs. Proceed by hiring the mercenaries under Central. There’s no way mercenaries would dare betray Central, so they’re actually my most trustworthy minions in the current situation.”
Rivelia didn’t dare speak. The betrayal of Security agents was a shock even to Rivelia. Especially the betrayal of an agent technically loyal to the Pendletons. The betrayal was so unfathomable that its murky motives loomed over Rivelia’s every passing thought.
Rivelia understood in her head that the mercenaries were the most trustworthy to Isaac. But mercenaries… Any and every agent of Central would be enraged at the idea when they found out; they’d believe that they were being ridiculed.
“This will not please the agents of Central.”
Lanburton offered his advice with worry too, but Isaac simply scoffed and replied.
“Let them. This is my message—that I don’t trust Central. Now that they’ve found a traitor, they should shut up and keep their head down until they finish purging their ranks. What am I to do with these proud agents of Central who are so offended that mercenaries are joining in their oh-so-noble work?”
Rivelia and Lanburton’s faces crumpled as they hung their heads..
“We will proceed as you said, but we doubt that local powers will cooperate with you. What will you do?”
“Cooperation? Now that’s a funny word. There won’t be negotiations. The Inspector General will have power near equal to that of a Lord and the power to interpret the law as they see fit. If anyone is uncooperative, fuck them.”
Everyones’ jaws dropped in shock. What Isaac said was tantamount to allowing the Inspector Generals to change and twist the laws to their favor!
The administrative body in charge of laws clutched their heads in fear of what was to come. The aftermath of the rampant Inspector Generals would be theirs to deal with, along with all sorts of court hearings.
“But Central has requested that Security agents be summoned for interrogation.”
“What? But there could still be members of the Order hiding in the midst.”
“Even better. I’m sure they’ll take the chance to act now that I’ve given them the equivalent authority of a Lord. Even better if they betray me.”
Everyone felt a chill crawl up their spine.
“And we can have the mercenaries trail behind them and act as their watchers. As I was saying, we have no time to spare for what happens in Lichten’s and Wolfgang’s territory. Crush them to the point that they despise me.”
“What are you going to do with all that hatred?”
“I’ll take it all in. It’ll make the brat’s job easier once she succeeds and appeases their discontent.”
-That’s true, but there was a possibility of a war for independence occuring.
When the Department of Law favored the Lord in a ruling to the discontent of the populace, this set of rules came into play. A majority vote from the populace would allow the populace to declare a war for independence.
Considering that so much funds, troops, and supplies were required for war, there were very few cases of such events happening in the history of the Empire.
But this time was different. Unlike the vast lands of the Wolfgangs and Lichtens, Isaac’s territory was but a single city. It could be difficult for them if they acted independently from one another, but if the local forces united and rebelled in unison, Isaac would have no way to stop them. He simply didn’t have the capacity to fight a war in the first place. Anyone with a brain in their head was aware of this fact.
The administrative body’s worry was met with Isaac nonchalantly stubbing out his cigarette. Isaac spoke to Lanburton.
“Are there any elves who have a hobby of assassinating humans?”
“If it’s subterfuge you ask, then the Dark Elves are the most talented.”
“Good. I’ll be requesting their services when I need them later.”
“They’ve been complaining to me that it’s been boring of late too. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.”
The administrative body looked blankly as plans for assassination coalesced in front of them.
“You heard that? Let them declare independence if they want. Just make sure to keep a list and hand it over to Lanburton.”
“Don’t worry. They’ll all be seen as accidents or natural causes. They’ll be capable of at least that much, right?”