The broadcast was impactful, to say the least. Mazelan announced the discovery of new cases, the locations of the quarantine zones, how he’d manage the situation, and a plea that all citizens remain inside until the situation calmed down. The already-vacant roads were now completely devoid of anything.
Shops closed down, and clothes of varying colours hung from the windows.
“It’ll be difficult to manage everything with just us alone.”
Colins said as he watched clothes cover the buildings. There were only 400 Invaders available to mobilise in a city full of 1 million people. They were severely lacking in manpower.
“Selling Central’s name makes things so much easier in times like this.”
“There’ll certainly be a backlash later.”
“But it’s not me who’ll get it. It’ll be Central.”
Authority and fear were the most efficient ways for a few to control the many. Central embodied both. Central was undeniably superior in terms of power. Though most ordinary citizens would scarcely see a single agent in their lifetime, they were all more than familiar with the frightening rumours regarding Central. . Making an example of a few who resisted would make controlling the citizens a simple matter.
“But won’t we need some kind of escort? We don’t know what the demon and angel will do together.”
Everyone except Rivelia’s group, Colins, and Isaac were scattered across the city. All of the cases that newly developed across the city must have been the demon’s doing, and they were most likely already prepared for Central’s attack. Colins expressed his worries, afraid that they were walking into what was clearly a trap.
“Why don’t you be honest. Are you scared?”
“Ahaha. I don’t know what you’re on about.”
Colins feigned innocence as cold sweat dripped down his back at Isaac’s jab. Unlike before when the Invaders were all around them Colins was the only Invader here. Though there was little chance it’d happen, Colins will have to give up his life if Rivelia’s group decided to escape now.
“You guys can vent your frustrations out on him if you want.”
Isaac spoke, and everyone looked to Colins eagerly like starved predators. Feeling the voracious stares, Colins hastened his steps.
“We’re here! This is the gate to Milros County’s inner keep.”
Colins smiled brightly, all his nervousness evaporating. Reisha and Rizzly dashed their lips disappointingly.
Isaac mumbled as he looked at the firmly shut gates. The keep’s separate inner and outer walls, an architectural practice of a bygone era, loomed over him as a testament to the Milros Country’s deep history. But the Milros Family that boasted of its honour and tradition was now finished.
“Oh yeah. Do you need this? I had a feeling you weren’t supplied since you came in a hurry, so I got some for you.”
“Well, thank you.”
Isaac smirked as Colins handed him an ammo box with twelve shotgun shells. Isaac immediately loaded two shells into his gun and stuffed the rest in his pocket. Kunette approached Isaac and pulled at his pants.
“… Isaac, it’s a different world there.”
Isaac didn’t quite understand what she meant and looked about. Reisha grumbled with absolute disdain on her face.
“Wow. How could we not notice the demonic power’s obvious presence?”
“It seems that the news that the angel and demon joined forces is true. The angel’s power is camouflaging the demon’s.”
“So we came to the right place. Let’s go. I suspect we’ll need to beat this plague’s cure out of that demon. So let’s cooperate on this, okay?”
Rivelia frowned at Isaac, but without a choice, she stepped forward.
She took a deep breath, preparing to shatter the gates. She lowered her stance, then cocked her head, and stood back up straight.
“What? Is something wrong?”
Rivelia silently approached the gate and pushed it. With a creak, the gates opened ajar.
A dull, somewhat disappointing mood set in. Isaac smirked and got a new cigarette for himself.
“It’d be rude for us to not enter when they’re welcoming us so eagerly.”
Isaac boldly stepped forward, and the others followed hesitantly.
“It’s too quiet.”
“Yeah. And not a single corpse in sight.”
Absolute silence. There was not a single noise from a bird nor insect. One could hear their own breathing in this frightening calm.
“The demonic corruption will take a toll the longer we stay here. We have to terminate the demon quickly.”
Reisha spoke as she quivered. As an elf, she was the most vulnerable to demonic corruption. Everyone hastened their steps.
“Where do you think they’re holed up?”
“Final bosses tend to stay in their throne rooms waiting for the heroes to arrive.”
“Except he isn’t the final boss. Nor are we heroes.”
Isaac joked with Colins, yet they still headed for the throne room. The throne room, typically reserved for the succession ceremony and other important festivals, was situated in the centre of the keep.
After trudging through the hallways in an uncomfortable silence, the group found a crowd gathered in front of the throne room’s doors.
Colins whistled at the number of people gathered here. As residents of the inner keep, they were likely higher class citizens. Yet their clothes were covered in filth, their hair sticky, and their faces covered in masks. All of them held a weapon in their hands—be it a club, a kitchen knife, or a stick. And they all glared at Isaac’s group.
There were nearly a thousand looking at them with hostility. Despite knowing there was nothing to fear, the mood was akin to a horror movie.
“Is this just to buy time, or do they have nowhere to go now?”
Isaac asked, and Rivelia clenched her teeth as she drew her sword.
“Now that they’ve been found, they won’t ever be able to escape Surveillance.”
“That’s back in the old days when you guys did a proper job. These days, I’m not so sure…”
“No! We do a good job!”
Kunette furiously kicked Isaac’s leg. Although it didn’t hurt, Isaac wondered why she was so sensitive about his comment. Reisha panicked and picked up Kunette.
“She’s just sensitive because of the Invaders. Please understand, sunbaenim.”
Reisha pulled to the back with Kunette on her. Colins smirked and pulled out a pistol, pulling the slide.1PRN: A pistol slide is used to move the bullet into the barrel and ejects the casing when it’s fired. Here’s an image of it in action.
“But aren’t we somewhat outnumbered?”
“What’s there to worry when we have a Swordmaster?”
It was a sword master with a defensive coat. The problem wasn’t the number of enemies, but how long it’d take.
“Hm. Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts here too?”
Isaac asked, and Rivelia shouted as she charged at the crowd.
“There is only death to those who cooperate with the Angel!”
Bang! Bang bang bang!
Rivelia jumped into the crowd like a lion into a flock of sheep. Rizzly followed behind her in his bear form. Colins fired his pistol at any who approached him and Isaac. Isaac simply stood idly as he watched the situation.
“Um… how about some help?”
Colins asked as he reloaded his pistol, somewhat shaken up by the soldiers, who charged on without regard for the storm of death around then. Isaac, in the meantime, watched them die as he smoked away.
“It’s different from what I’d heard.”
Reisha, who walked up next to Isaac, asked as she loosed her arrow. Isaac blew out his smoke and spoke.
“Look over there. Those people are frightened, knowing that they are no match. Isn’t that difficult to see in fanatics?”
“You have a point.”
As Rivelia cut through the combat knights in a single strike and Rizzly massacred the soldiers, the crowd shifted away like a plank drifting at sea. The children and elderly shook in terror as they watched the tragedy, yet they maintained their place in front of the doors.
“Oi. Give me one.”
Isaac asked and Colins handed him a reserve pistol. Isaac pulled the slide and walked to the door.
“Huh, huh? You’re going straight for it? Wait!”
Colins tried to follow Isaac, but his pistol jammed at the worst time. In this opening, Colins was swept up by the crowd.
“Hm. I’m sure he’s fine since he has the coat.”
Isaac continued to make his way, firing one bullet at a time at those who tried to stop him while Colins was swept up by the crowd. Soon enough, Rivelia and Rizzly came up next to Isaac, protecting him.
Isaac threw away the empty pistol and picked up Kunette, who came to him. Reisha threw her hidden knives at the enemy as Rivelia and Rizzly opened a path.
Like an unstoppable force, they cut down all that stood in front of them. But when they finally reached the door, both Rivelia and Rizzly hesitated.
“I, I can’t…”
A gentle-looking old man tried his best to control his shaking, but was kicked away by Isaac.
Isaac’s cold tone split the crowd. Isaac passed through the crowd and climbed up the stairs. A rock flew at Isaac, but was intercepted by Rizzly.
A child looked at Isaac fiercely. A woman who seemed to be his mother wrapped her arms around him protectively.
“Ha. Fanatics you say?”
Isaac watched the scene for a moment and smirked. He continued to make his way up the stairs. For just a moment, Rivelia and the non-humans paused their advance, but they quickly followed when Isaac was far away.
With a creak, the throne room’s doors opened. Isaac entered, and on the throne was a man, holding on a woman’s body.
“Since the Blue Rose was the angel, you must be the demon.”
The man raised his head in response.
“And you must be Isaac.”
“Let’s make it easy on ourselves. You have a lot to explain. First, give us the cure for this plague.”
“Kukuku. And why are you asking me?”
The man snickered. Isaac sighed and pulled out his shotgun before switching to his customised crossbow.
“Yeah, yeah. Like always, you need some violence to make things run smoothly. Why don’t we think after we exchange blows.”
Just when Isaac was about to shoot his crossbow, Reisha held Isaac back.
“… Sunbaenim, he isn’t a demon.”
“I don’t feel any demonic power from him. In fact, it’s been strange since a while ago. I could feel such powerful corruption at the gates, but there isn’t any demonic power in here.”
“Maybe he used all his power?”
“Then he wouldn’t be alive.”
“If you’re not a demon, who are you?”
Isaac asked, and Rivelia answered instead.
“He’s the grand prince of Milros County.”
“Then where’s the demon? Did it run already?”
“Huhuhu. You played us for a fool and feign innocence now?”
“… Now that’s funny. Who played who for a fool again?”
Isaac put down his crossbow and asked. The grand prince wept as he held the blue rose closely.
“Elenia loved me. And she grew to love humans too. That’s why she smiled despite the excruciating pain. And how did you treat Elenia? It was you! You Central bastards. You approached Elenia and threatened her! I did everything you asked! Money and supplies! Even manpower! I gave you everything you wanted, and you even took Elenia’s power! All I wanted was Elenia! So why did you do this! Casting some strange magic to isolate the keep and spread a plague! Are we not citizens of the Empire too?! Elenia used all of her powers to heal us! And her weakened body couldn’t handle the stress. I curse you. I’ll curse you even in death.”
The grand prince’s frenzied cries echoed throughout the throne room.
“It wasn’t the demon who spread the plague?”
Just when the grand prince was about to reply, a gunshot rang out. With a bang, the grand prince collapsed onto Elenia’s body.
“Ah, you really have a talent for complicating things.”
Colins entered, and behind him were a group of Invaders, surrounding Isaac’s group. Rivelia, Reisha, and Rizzly formed a perimeter around Isaac, guarding against the Invaders.
“It’s the one thing I can boast about.”
Isaac lit a new cigarette.
“I see you still misunderstand things in a positive way.”
“Have those guys arrived after receiving your call for reinforcements, or have they been following me from the start?”
Isaac asked, and Colins shrugged.
“We can’t let our guard down while protecting VIPs.”
“You sure know what to say. What did you do outside?”
“We aren’t merciless killers, you know. There’s no need to deal with the runners. Central will take care of them anyway.”
“You really do know how to mince your words.”
- 1PRN: A pistol slide is used to move the bullet into the barrel and ejects the casing when it’s fired. Here’s an image of it in action.