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A useful fact about fanatics was that from the most unclear of orders, they could twist reason and improvise in such a way that suited them. In truth, Isaac was slightly concerned when the mercenaries and Security agents drew their blades in unison.
Expecting the fanatics to feign allegiance until the very end with such resourcefulness was not the scenario Isaac’s mind had first jumped to. In fact, it would have been completely within reason for the fanatics to have refused Security’s offer, resulting in their ma.s.sacre.
So Isaac bided his time, watching Flander. And when Isaac saw Flander nod ever so slightly as he stood behind Kainen, Isaac confirmed he was correct.
“Ha! So you’re telling me they are the failures that the angel left behind?”
“Perfect for someone like me who has nothing.”
The Queen frowned and glared at Isaac. She then smirked.
“I guess I have no choice. I’ll promise you a quiet life, as you wished. It’s not like I’m short on time anyway. I can wait that much.”
“Don’t you think you’re a bit too eager to return to the negotiating table?”
“… I’m giving you a chance.”
The Queen warned Isaac, to which he shook his head in disappointment.
“And I gave you a chance too. I was planning to stick myself into a remote corner and live a quiet life whether this world was destroyed or not, so long as you didn’t plan to kill me after opening the Gate.”
“I’ve already died once. I wanted to lay low because I don’t think anyone who’s died once should involve themselves in the world again.”
Everyone scowled in disgust at Isaac’s explanation. He quickly added.
“I know I’ve done many things despite what I’ve said, but what can I do? That’s just who I am. I at least tried to live a quiet life. That’s why I watched all my former comrades die, and I didn’t have any intention of stopping you despite figuring out what your plan was. I’ve already died once, but Queen—no, Yoo-rah—your war hasn’t ended yet.”
“I’d appreciate it if you died quietly in your second life.”
The Queen commented. Isaac shrugged.
“I caused such a ruckus on my first death. You think my second will be any different?”
“Ha. Are you putting that much faith in those mercenaries of yours? Sure, the Security agents may have succ.u.mbed to their ambush, but however few they are, my guards aren’t such easy foes.”
The Queen’s guards immediately transformed into their beast form after she finished her sentence. They were all ferocious animals—a tiger, wolf, lion and such. Although they weren’t wearing defensive coats, their combat capabilities were equal to that of Central’s combat agents.
“Hm? What was that?”
Isaac asked the Queen. Flander had politely handed Isaac some rolls of choyu leaves. Isaac immediately pulled one out and smoked it, much to the Queen’s visible disdain.
Although the defensive coat was no longer functioning, Isaac could still use its mana crystals to summon monsters. The Queen wasn’t afraid of the monsters, but throwing those into the mix further would further delay her guards in eliminating Isaac.
“Che. So they figured it out.”
The Queen clicked her tongue when she saw a group of people running at them from the horizon. Isaac turned to see who was calling out his name. He c.o.c.ked his head, curious about Soland’s appearance.
“What’s Smarta.s.s doing here?”
“We’ve come to save you… but what happened here?”
Soland, arriving with such energy at first, looked in complete disbelief at the corpses of all the Security agents. He was deeply confused—if anyone was dying here, it should have been the mercenaries, not Security agents.
The Queen sighed deeply and shook her head.
“Sigh. Mr. Isaac, I’ve planned this project for hundreds of years. Do you think it’ll crumble from a single setback like this? In truth, I don’t need the key. I’ve already opened the Gate anyway.”
“All I’ll have to do is close it then.”
Isaac responded rudely. The Queen smiled cryptically and answered.
“Will that be possible, I wonder?”
Isaac grumbled, quite fed up with the Queen’s mysterious mask.
“Ah, so what scheme did you plot this time?”
“You said this before, Mr. Isaac. That you’ll live as a monster, but die as a human.”
“I will live as a monster, and die as one.”
“No! We must stop her!”
Soland shouted desperately, but the Queen quickly threw herself into the Gate. Her guards growled ferociously at Isaac then followed behind the Queen, disappearing into the Gate.
Soland stomped the ground in frustration. Watching Soland, he scanned the group he brought with him. Looking at their appearance and att.i.tude, they weren’t some back alley thugs.
“What are they?”
“They are the Dark Royale.”
“Hm. Now that’s unexpected.”
Isaac muttered, curious as to why they were involved, when Soland spoke desperately.
“We should move now. Dark Royale is doing their best to buy time, but the tribesmen of the radical faction will barge in at any moment.”
Isaac ignored Soland’s advice, pondering as he watched the Gate glitter like an emerald pool.
The Queen’s reveal of the trade deal intricately linked the entirety of two worlds; surely, the date of the Gate’s opening would be a public affair. The media would no doubt be present, along with the onlookers and even the army, prepared for an emergency.
The entire world would be enraptured by the Queen’s arrival with living, breathing beastmen behind her. Isaac’s stomach curled in anger from just knowing it was all taking place in his home country. He was ready to shut Gate from emotion alone.
The Queen was resourceful, so she’d eventually return to this world whatever the method. But this bought them time, since she wouldn’t be able to deliver on her promises to the other world. In her absence, Isaac might be able to prepare something. But Isaac was concerned about her cryptic smile. And something caught his mind, seeing Soland and Dark Royale so desperate to capture the Queen.
“What shall we do?”
Flander asked carefully. Isaac turned his body without hesitation and answered.
“Run away. What else?”
Isaac watched Laila and Cordnell arrive at the scene just as Isaac’s personal airs.h.i.+p was lifting off, leaving them on the ground. Soland was with them, sighing, as a confused Laila and a Cordnell frozen in shock looked up. Isaac walked away from the observatory and threw himself onto the sofa.
He thought about saying his farewell, but gave up. He’d never see them again anyway. Isaac smirked, thinking that at least he got to see their faces one last time. Just because the Queen gave up didn’t mean that the Grand Council, who have absolute command over Central, would relent in their pursuit for Isaac
The Queen most likely convinced the Grand Council to spare Isaac by promising to kill him once Isaac opened the Gate with his key. The Queen’s failed attempt meant that the Grand Council’s demands for retribution on Isaac for killing the Three-eyed remained unmet.
The Gate being at the centre of New Port City meant that a fountain of gold was sitting unclaimed, now that Isaac was a fugitive. Hyenas looking to stake a claim would try to torpedo Laila and Cordnell’s efforts in order to negotiate a bigger share of the pie, but Rivelia alone should have been enough to repel them all. Isaac took out a cigarette and lit it in his mouth, when Flander entered and greeted politely.
“You’ve done well up to this point.”
“No Lord! It’s an honour that I have been of use to you!”
Flander carefully sat opposite to Isaac. Isaac got up and walked to the minibar. He returned with a bottle of wine and two gla.s.ses, handing one to Flander.
Flander took the gla.s.s with both hands in awe, as if the Emperor himself had handed it to him. Isaac poured him a gla.s.s of wine.
In truth, Isaac regretted having to use the fanatic mercenaries—his hidden ace up his sleeve—for this, even though it did throw a wrench in the Queen’s plan.
“You are aware there’s only one thing I can use you guys for, right?”
Isaac raised his own gla.s.s this time, and Flander carefully poured the wine. These mercenaries were like Arc Royale, completely obsessed with Isaac alone. But they were back alley thugs who grew up in New Port City, so considering them as a proper military force was an overstatement.
Those Security idiots only died because they had never dreamed of the possibility that the mercenaries would betray them. If they fought face-to-face on equal ground, a single agent could have wiped out the entire mercenary band. The disparity in power meant that Isaac only had one way to use these mercenaries.
“This life of mine would have died long ago if not for you. If it can be of use to you, what greater honour could there be?”
Isaac smiled, watching Flander speak with such fire in his eyes. This is why fanatics were terrifying. But they continued to be made, since no better tools exist.
Soon after taking flight, Isaac switched airs.h.i.+ps midair multiple times to avoid followers. Once he landed, Isaac saw tens of carriages carrying people disguised as himself leaving at the same time. Cunning precaution after precaution, Isaac finally arrived.
The Dark Royale agents who came to New Port City rode in one of these fake carriages, and Isaac was led through a dark forest in the middle of nowhere by a single Dark Royale agent. In the middle of this lightless jungle was a single mansion. Isaac left the carriage and looked around.
This seemed to be Dark Royale’s headquarters, seeing how its agents were guarding it so alertly. But strangely, they all seemed injured. Their wounds were freshly bandaged, their movements slow and heavy from an almost nonexistent morale.
Now that Isaac thought about it, the Dark Royale agents were extremely on guard throughout their trip here.
“Cough! It’s been a while.”
Isaac was led into the mansion by an agent who was limping. In the second floor bedroom, Isaac was greeted by Ismael. Isaac frowned.
Ismael was in tatters. He looked like he could drop dead at this very moment. Neither leg was attached to his hips. His left shoulder was a bandaged stump. The bandages wrapped around his torso were soaked wet with blood.
His face, which Isaac thought was quite handsome, was shredded as if the right of his face was grinded onto concrete. Ismael was smoking choyu leaves with his somewhat fine left side, greeting Isaac with a sinister smile. Isaac lit a cigarette and asked.
“I’ll ask this out of courtesy. What happened to you?”
Ismael snickered, only to cough vigorously and hack up a pool of blood. He looked much more refreshed afterwards, and his voice was much more steady.
“I got caught up in the Queen’s purge of the Invaders.”
“What a shame.”
Ismael laughed at Isaac’s emotionless words of empathy.
“Despite what you see, my senses are still quite sharp. I managed to escape without losing too much.”
“Without losing too much?”
Isaac questioned Ismael back. Ismael took a breath of his cigarette before speaking.
“I’m only like this because I tried to break out the Director of Surveillance by force. Those radicals. Ah, the radicals are…”
“I know. I’ve been told.”
“Really? That makes it easy. Anyway, I fell for a trap those radicals set up, which is why I’m like this.”
“Why did the Dark Royale go so far to rescue her when the Directorate of Surveillance Boys would be doing it anyway? You didn’t seem to be Kunette’s friends in the first place.”
“Kuk! So you know Kunette is the Director of Surveillance too? The reason why I wanted to rescue her was to confirm something.”
Isaac replied. Ismael, with his shallow breath, looked at Isaac and asked.
“Whose side are you on?”