“Of course. The Dark Elves do savor the thought of making the murders look natural if not like accidents—without weapons or poison, of course.”
“You got that? I’ll be sending the Security boys soon, so if anyone steps out of the line, put them in the list.”
The administrative body clutched their heads when Isaac ordered them to come up with a kill list. Weren’t assassination plots supposed to happen in a dimly lit room shrouded in smoke?
If this open discussion about assassination were to leak outside, the Department of Law would immediately dispatch an investigator.
The administrative body put their faith in Rivelia—their last hope and the only person who could somewhat curb Isaac when he was out of control. Rivelia, on the other hand, didn’t even bat an eye at the administrative body’s silent plea and sighed as she replied to Isaac.
“You don’t even need to consider assassination.”
Isaac’s face looked like that of a disappointed child who’d been told by his mother to stop playing and come in for dinner. Rivelia glared at Isaac, feeling a migraine coming on in her head watching Isaac’s reaction.
“It seems that you’ve forgotten, but the Pendletons had supported the founding of Wolfgang Dukedom in the past. The Pendletons will step in if anyone were to declare a war for independence. Elven intervention won’t be necessary.”
“That’s no fun…”
Isaac grumbled and Lanburton also dashed his lips in disappointment. The administrative body hurriedly answered that they’d do as they were told and ended the call in fear that Isaac might stubbornly demand they go along with his original idea. Only Lanburton, Rivelia, and Cordnell were left in the meeting room with Isaac.
“It seems the outside mess has been dealt with. Why don’t we sort out the mess inside now. What happened to the mining district?”
Rivelia, who was now seeing Isaac in a new light for dealing with each situation so smoothly like flowing water, quickly raised her head and answered.
“Parts of the single-residents district were damaged, but there weren’t any deaths.”
“Hurry up with the repairs. Conscript the citizens if you need to. A man needs to have at least a comfortable resting place. Next!”
While Rivelia wondered who would call such a suffocating coffin of a room comfortable, Cordnell stepped up to present
“Many reservations have been cancelled due to the recent incident.”
“Accept them all and send a letter of apology along with a coupon that allows them to use the city’s services at half price. Next!”
“… We are currently investigating the damages from the warehouse district fire, and it’s looking dire. The merchant guilds who stored their goods in the warehouses are demanding compensation.”
“Request for some relief from the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds and repurchase what was being stored in the warehouses at that time. Deliver the goods to the location of the transaction if you can; otherwise, deliver them to the merchant guilds using the airships. That should work out to be cheaper than paying them up front. I’m sure the merchants will like it better too since it’ll help retain their credibility.”
“But transporting so many goods will take time….”
“We should have free airships around thanks to the drop in reservations. Use as many airships as we can to transport those goods around. And contact Mazelan sunbae in the Department of Supplies to get approval for construction of new airships—pronto. Next.”
“The greatest problem is the magical artifacts. The explosion of the mana crystal mine created a massive mana storm, destroying most magical artifacts. All magical artifacts in the single residents district have stopped functioning.”
“Commission the magical spires that created them to repair it.”
“But even the artifacts in the workshops of the magical spires district have broken down because of the mana storm too. They are maintaining the stance that they will not provide any aid until we also compensate for the damages caused by the elves and North Bears during their ransacking.”
“I see. They’re really trying to strip me bare naked even though I’ve been playing the smiling fool for their own sake. Tell the representatives of the magical spires to watch out because I’m not in the greatest of moods.”
“… Yes sir.”
“Then is that all of the emergencies?”
“I think that’s most of it…”
Cordnell’s words faltered, overcome by the strange sensation of seeing all the work being solved with a concrete direction in a matter of moments.
In New Port City, most administrative processes and actions would normally be written into documents that the administrative body would collect and pass to Rivelia, Rizzly, Cordnell or Kalden. Those four would then pick apart a few documents that required Isaac’s final stamp and visit him. Their task? To convince and appease that lazy Isaac until he gave his delayed approval on the document.
So much time was lost between each step. But this was the first time all of the work was completed by Isaac’s own volition, albeit the methods were violent.
Cordnell felt first-hand the difference of administration between handing a document to a higher-up and one that is personally directed by the head, although that was the norm outside New Port City. He also realised that this was no ordinary emergency, since Isaac was working. Others in the room seemed like they were in the same boat; everyone felt awkward looking at Isaac, who had been giving keen orders.
“Is it that strange that I’m working?”
Isaac smirked, realising the looks the three were giving him. The three immediately coughed and avoided making eye contact.
“There is still one most important issue.”
“What is it?”
“We have no money.”
Cordnell once more cried about money. Isaac’s eyes narrowed as he glared back, but Cordnell kept his serious tone and shook his head.
“These aren’t my usual hysterics, but a serious issue. We’ve barely managed to scrape together a budget with the little funds we had, but it’s now completely useless thanks to that incident. We can ignore the mana crystal mine since our share of it was never large in the first place, and the damages to the magical spires are also bearable since we only need to compensate for damages caused by elves and northbears. But I don’t even know where to start for the funds required to reconstruct the warehouse district. Of course, we can reduce some of our losses following your orders, Lord Isaac, but our greatest damage is to our credibility.”
“True. No one would like to store their goods again when the entire warehouse district burnt down.”
In the past, there were no alternatives to New Port City. So everyone had to use its warehouses, regardless of its credibility. But the introduction of airships and trains changed the scene of transportation completely.
If merchant guilds were to take a small detour or suffer small losses by using trains and airships, they could transport their goods to trade without needing to rely on New Port City.
“Plus, we need funds to compensate for damages caused by small clashes within the city and damages to citizens and repairing the mines and the city. We also need to calculate the funds needed to support the Wolfgangs and administer the Lichtens’ lands too.”
“Didn’t we have a separate account for that purpose?”
“Thankfully, it was scheduled to be paid out in installments, so it isn’t an immediate issue. But the entire plan was calculated around the city’s average monthly profit. But this incident will cause a significant drop in the number of visitors to the city, so we’ve lost one of our sources of income. And it’s our biggest too.”
“So time is the issue now.”
“We will continue to operate, but it will take time until the city stabilizes. We can’t bear the losses with the current amount of revenue we’re making until then.”
“Do we have any emergency funds?”
“We used to have that once.”
Isaac tilted his head in question, and Cordnell slammed his hand onto the table and spoke.
“We tried to withdraw the emergency funds we deposited to the Bank of Empire, but they refused, citing that it was tied in as a deposit to pay for this airship’s installments.”
Isaac felt Cordnell’s grudging stare to be slightly overbearing and coughed.
“Should we ask for a refund?”
“They said they won’t take refunds.”
“Wow. That’s harsh. Then where should we sell it?”
“You think I didn’t look that up? But who could possibly buy this thing? This isn’t just expensive, you know. This is something a single individual could never hope to buy. Even you bought this in installments, Lord Isaac, so who else do you think can buy this?”
Cordnell continued grumbling, and Isaac silently smoked his cigarette since he had nothing to say. Lanburton squeezed into the conversation after a brief assessment of the situation.
“If it’s the funds you need, then our kin and the North Bear tribe will make an investment. New Port City is a secure venture for development, after all.”
Cordnell’s face brightened significantly listening to Lanburton.
“We will welcome investment from the elves and North Bears anytime. It will help to rebuild our tattered credibility too.”
“The Pendletons will also invest in the city’s well-being, as we are also partly to blame.”
Rivelia spoke, and Cordnell’s face brightened thinking all the problems were solved, until Isaac spoke to him.
Cordnell shouted back at Isaac, baffled by his refusal. Isaac breathed out his smoke and answered.
“Their voices will become louder when they have more shares.”
Isaac spoke coldly. Rivelia frowned, thinking that Isaac was looking down on her good favour, while Lanburton turned away with a cough as if Isaac had hit the mark.
“But this isn’t just me crying about money this time. It’s a serious lack of funds. If things turn for the worse, we may have to declare bankruptcy.”
“Don’t worry. We have a way to make some money without accepting investment.”
“What? Was there an emergency fund even I wasn’t aware of?”
“We do now.”
“How big is it? Is it your personal property? Real estate? I don’t mind bonds too. If we can use it to get some loans…”
Cordnell excitedly spoke as his face came closer to Isaac’s.
“I don’t know how big it is, but it’ll be enough to cover all the repairs and have some left over.”
“… Do you really have an emergency fund?”
Suspicion set in Cordnell’s eyes, his excitement extinguished. Cordnell originally thought it’d be enough to give them a small breathing room at best, but Isaac boasted that it’d solve all the issues immediately. It was impossible for Isaac to have such a large stash without his knowing.
“Send this message. Port City’s taxes will be raised to 200% from now on.”
Cordnell looked blankly and replied with a dumbfounded look.
“Their tax is 200%.”
“I mean, what’s that…”
Cordnell held down the ‘bullshit’ in his throat, but the look in his eyes finished the sentence for him. Rivelia and Lanburton looked at Isaac as this—after everything else—was the moment he’d finally gone mad.
“Tell them to fuck off elsewhere if they don’t like it. And we’ll confiscate the wealth of those who took part in the riots and have them exiled from the city.”
“The riot was an assassination attempt on my life. Therefore, those who started the riot are suspected of the attempted assassination of a Lord. What is the punishment on attempted assassination of a Lord?”
“… It’s the execution of the culprit and their next three generations.”
Even if the hurdle between the ranks were bafflingly low, the Empire was a feudal society. The Empire had built a solid foundation for citizens to complain and be compensated for a Lord’s tyranny into their legal system. Which is why they were equally, if not more brutal with their suppression when citizens used illegal methods to fight against a Lord.