For severe offences such as assassination, the culprits and the next three generations of their bloodline were executed—with no exception—and their wealth was confiscated. Not only that, distant relatives as far as their third cousin fourth-removed1A third cousin fourth-removed is essentially the seventh generation of your great grand uncle’s/aunt’s family line. This chart only goes up to your third cousin twice-removed, but you can just extend it downward to visualize the severity of the punishment. were blacklisted from employment in the Empire’s bureaucracy, and if any of them were already being employed, their positions were revoked. In comparison, confiscating their wealth and banishing them from the city was an exceptionally merciful punishment.
“But some of the rioters were simply swept up in this wave of discontent.”
“That’s the fault of idiots who failed to think for themselves and went along with the mob mentality. Is there any reason for me to look after them? People regret past mistakes throughout their lives. Let me ask you this. Those Port City bastards are still making a ruckus, aren’t they?”
Everyone remained silent at Isaac’s question. These Port City residents, still swept up in the frenzy of rebellion, were protesting all over the city as a show of their opposition to reunification. Cordnell looked to Rivelia as his hope of last resort, but even she shook her head silently.
“Even if they were simply swept up in this wave of emotion, Lord Isaac is the ruler of this land in every legal sense with reunification complete. Their protest against reunification itself is illegal, not to mention its ties with the assassination plot. It is exceptionally punitive, but we also can’t let this go without consequences, as per Lord Isaac’s wishes.”
Cordnell’s head hung at Rivelia’s answer. Even if the hurdles between the classes were low and the rights of citizens guaranteed, it didn’t change the fact that it was a caste system at heart. And those of the higher caste did not forgive a revolt of their lessers.
“Send the mercenaries to accompany the Security agents in their mission of quelling the dissidents. It’ll be good training for when they’re deployed to Lichten’s and Wolfgang’s lands.”
“… Do you think the Security agents will carry out such an order?”
Their task was to essentially squeeze the ordinary citizen dry. There was beyond a hint of doubt that Security agents would not full-heartedly complete their missions, even if their targets had committed a crime. Isaac smirked and answered.
“Well, I’d bet that they’d carry out my orders with more zeal than they used to.”
“What’s your reason for it?”
“Because I’m their only future now.”
The very existence of the Directorate of Security was in peril now. A revealed traitor was just an alarm bell to start purging the ranks. The Directorate of Security was no exception.
They have survived Isaac’s tyranny until now, believing in the Emperor’s promise of land and title. But these members of the Order had thrown those promises into the gutter; and now, Security as a whole was under threat of a complete overhaul, let alone the promise of compensation.
Isaac had halted Central’s inquisition on the agents. Instead of resisting, they now needed to triumph over the failures of the past—starting with following Isaac’s orders down to the letter.
“Port City’s wealth will be enough to pay for the damages caused by this incident. And there are other places I should poke into too.”
Lanburton flinched, cold sweat dripping from his forehead. Isaac was most likely talking about the Directorate of Surveillance. After bout after bout of frustration, Cordnell accepted that it was much easier when one gave up and left the meeting room with a new outlook. Isaac gulped down the alcohol in his glass and spoke.
“Now that the issues with the city are dealt with, we should take care of Central business. How did tracking the Expeditionary Forces go?”
Lanburton steeled himself, realising that the time had come. He repeatedly cursed the idiots in Surveillance in his mind as he replied to Isaac, tense with nervousness.
“They… failed to track them down.”
“Failed? I guess that can happen since most of the forces were focused on other things. It’s a shame, but they will definitely crawl back in. We’ll just wait for another time. How did tracking the demonic presence go?”
“… We failed to track that down as well.”
Lanburton replied, his neck shrivelling back in between his shoulders. Isaac paused, glaring at Lanburton as he smoked away. He extinguished the cigarette and spoke.
“I’m really disappointed in Surveillance.”
Lanburton audibly groaned out of frustration. This was Surveillance’s greatest failure to date. Even though they were aware of the existence of the Order of the Empire, they failed to discover the alliance between the Order and Expeditionary Forces, allowed them to infiltrate New Port City—which had been bustling with elves and North Bears—and failed to track them down after they blew up the mines.
Even if all these failures could be blamed on bad luck, their failure to track down the demonic presence—despite being fully prepared for it—truly had no excuse, nor did it deserve clemency. Realising that he was standing at the edge of a plank, Lanburton finally figured out the Queen’s intentions. Goosebumps crawled up his arms.
When you came down to it, Isaac was in line with the Queen. But seeing as to how he’d been trying to establish friendly terms with the Director of Surveillance, it was evident that he was friendly to non-humans. But with this incident, the trust between Isaac and Surveillance had been cracked.
This guaranteed complications in the Director of Surveillance’s plans to cooperate with Isaac in the future. No matter how hard Surveillance would insist on the truth, there would always be a nagging doubt in Isaac’s mind that Surveillance had a hand to play in all of this. The Queen wouldn’t just let that be.
Lanburton was doubly sure now. As the Director of Surveillance predicted, Isaac had something that only he could use, and Queen needed it desperately. But the Queen, Lanburton knew, would never throw away her cards and sow such chaos just to get what she wanted.
But that was a separate matter. What mattered now was that Lanburton was at the mercy of Isaac’s grim glare. The Queen had tampered with Surveillance’s communication network, creating a hole in their perimeter. The demonic presence took full advantage of it and leisurely escaped through it.
Not a trace of evidence was left behind at the scene. Surveillance had made no error in tracking down its presence across their communication network. But it was their communication network that betrayed the Surveillance agents.
And since Surveillance had dedicated all of their agents to tracking down the demonic presence, there wasn’t any personnel available to chase down the Expeditionary Forces, who had destroyed the mines. They could only twiddle their thumbs helplessly, and even now, they were desperately trying to clean up the mess.
It was plain as day that the Queen was behind all of this. However, only a select few individuals within Surveillance knew that she had an independent force outside Central’s oversight furthering her own interests.
The Director of Surveillance fought the lonely battle against the Queen. Since she had no idea how far the Queen’s influence had spread within Central, it was impossible to recruit assistance from Strategy and Analysis. But it was clearly evident Queen thought nothing of it, brushing aside the Director of Surveillance’s efforts to cause such chaos so effortlessly.
What annoyed Lanburton most was that he had retired long ago. Nearing the end of his lifespan, he only joined because of some interesting rumors. But now, he was taking the blame in place of the Directorate of Surveillance.
Lanburton swore to himself that the sooner Reisha was back acting as his shield, the more at peace his mind would be.
“Central has called an emergency meeting.”
“Did they wait until the situation calmed down for me? That’s one good thing they’ve done.”
“Central has always regarded the field commander’s decisions as top priority.”
True. To their credit, they had refrained from taking up his time with meetings while the situation was still unfolding. Even if they had, Isaac himself would have laughed and ignored their indignant demands, but an ordinary agent would not have been able to say the same.
“That aside, where is Anton now?”
“Anton? He’s being transported to Central Headquarters. He’s scheduled for an intense interrogation last I heard.”
“Already? I swear They’re really quick with things like that. Connect me in.”
“With Anton? But it won’t be possible to contact him during his transport.”
“Why? Agents transporting him should have Communicators on them too.”
“He’s an important witness, and traitors still hiding within Central might attempt to kill him beforehand. They’re operating under complete radio silence while on the move.”
Isaac clucked his tongue in disappointment.
“Tsk! I wanted to ask him something. Well. I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m going to see Rizzly.”
Isaac left his seat, and Lanburton spoke out in confusion.
“What? But everyone has gathered…”
“Tell them to wait. I still have the most important matter at hand.”
“The most important?”
“I need to know who shot Kalden in the back of his head.”
“Wasn’t it Delkrew who did it?”
Lanburton asked, to which Rivelia shook her head.
“Delkrew was present in the ceremony. After the warehouses exploded, he volunteered to carry out Lord Isaac’s orders of tracking down Rodney and Niske. Given this alibi, he’s innocent regarding murder of Mr. Kalden.”
“That means there are still traitors out there!”
“That’s why I’m going to ask Rizzly.”
“You seem fine. Can you move?”
Isaac visited Rizzly in the hospital. Rizzly smiled and swung his arm in circles as a show of his health.
“I can see your lips quivering. Stop acting like a clown.”
Isaac criticised Rizzly, who groaned immediately and massaged his shoulder.
“It aches, but I can still bear it.”
“And your eye?”
Isaac looked at Rizzly’s bandaged left eye. Rizzly sighed deeply.
“Limbs can be reattached and rehabilitated, but the eyes are a delicate area. I’ll need to take care of it for a long time before it heals.”
“So at the end of the day, it’ll heal?”
“Only thing is that it’ll cost a lot.”
“I’m sure Cordnell will be happy to pay for it all.”
Rizzly remembered how Cordnell visited him just before, crying and demanding that he stay put and focus on recovering. Forget the costs, he said. Rizzly smirked.
Cordnell might have always acted like he was always desperate for money with his constant nagging. But he had a good reputation among the North Bears and elves for his friendly and welcoming nature and how fun it was to tease him over expenses.
Isaac sighed, looking at Rizzly’s reattached arm, which was clean and with no scars in sight. It really demonstrated why the Expeditionary Forces were so desperate to take over this world.
Central developed this regenerative technology to counter the mounting casualties from their battles against the Expeditionary Forces, as their tactics shifted from quantity to quality.
Because of magic’s existence, there was a treasure trove of knowledge to reap—forget drooling over just regenerative powers and mana crystals.Raw resources, technology, the wonder of non-human biology—they were just a small proportion of the things Earth’s population would go crazy for. It was no wonder the non-humans were putting their all in halting the Expeditionary Forces’ advancement.
“How’s the brat doing?”
Isaac spoke, looking at her. Next to Rizzly, she was unconscious and still gasping for air.
On her feverish, red forehead was a small cold towel that Rizzly replaced regularly.
Realising the towel had gone lukewarm, Rizzly changed it as he replied.
“Demonic power itself is dangerously corrosive. She was exposed to demonic power when her immune system was already weakened. She survived being held captive because I shared my mana with her, but it would have been almost fatal if she was captive any longer.”
“So did we get past the most difficult part?”
“Yes. The elves took turns to give her mana showers. But we don’t know what effect the demonic energy will have on her mind as she grows up, even if it seems like she fully recovers. In fact, there was a successor to a county who was exposed to demonic power in the past. He was treated and cleansed all the demonic power that could be seen, but once he grew up and succeeded his father, his personality began to change. He committed many atrocities, the least of which were massacring his entire family and attempting to summon a demon.”
Isaac frowned listening to the story. This could affect Laila’s mind permanently.
- 1A third cousin fourth-removed is essentially the seventh generation of your great grand uncle’s/aunt’s family line. This chart only goes up to your third cousin twice-removed, but you can just extend it downward to visualize the severity of the punishment.