Isaac

Chue Mong Gak

Chapter 24

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“There’s Isaac!”

Just that lone shout was enough to gather all the attention of the girls in the cafeteria. Like a swarm of locusts, they came to Isaac and that overwhelming sight was enough to cause Reisha and Kunette to disappear from his sides.

“What is going on?!”

“This is too much!”

“I haven’t had proper makeup for the past week!”

“Ha! You think that face of yours would change with just makeup?”

“What!”

“Did I say anything wrong?!”

“You b.i.t.c.h!”

“How dare you call me a b.i.t.c.h!”

All h.e.l.l broke loose in front of Isaac. There wasn’t any physical violence but the verbal abuse and the menacing sneers were more than enough to match its intensity. The girls were competing with each other to get their list of orders through first.

‘This is why I didn’t want to come.’

Isaac was generally treated as a shopkeeper by the students of the Campus. Because of that, he would sometimes receive outrageous claims or requests. But when it came to dealing with people like Reisha or Rivelia who were well beyond an average student, their unreasonable att.i.tudes changed quite dramatically.

Once enough students had gathered, Isaac coughed and began to speak.

“Now! I will start the auction at this moment.”

“Auction?”

Confusion was abounding from what Isaac had said.

“I will limit the number of partic.i.p.ants to four people. Since it’s annoying to sell the tickets individually, I will give them all to the highest bidder and that person can share with the others. You can partic.i.p.ate alone or form a team. But! Those who have partic.i.p.ated once cannot partic.i.p.ate again for the next two months. This is to allow others to have a chance because of the high demand, so please understand.”

“Wait. Doing an auction all of a sudden is one thing, but what is the product you are auctioning? Is it really something that’s worth our time?”

Isaac confidently nodded at the girl’s question.

“That’s right! I am planning to start this in ten days’ time, but the auction will happen once a week in bulk because it’d be too difficult to do this every day.”

“So what are you selling?”

“It’s a ticket for a tea party.”

“Haa?”

Many of the girls looked at Isaac as if he was insane. Who would buy a ticket to a tea party when they are struggling to even have time for such an event? What little tea parties that existed were just gatherings for friends and people whom they wish to familiarise with, and even then it usually consisted of a brief session of complaints about their lectures and lecturers and end with words of encouragement to each other.

But there were a few students who realised the opportunity in front of them and quickly made their bids.

“30 Giga!”

“70 Giga!”

“100 Giga!”

The 3 shouts came out at near identical times, and Isaac pointed at the girl who made the highest bid and congratulated her.

“Sold for 100 Giga! The next auction will happen in a fortnight considering the ten-day delay until the first tea party. To those who wish to partic.i.p.ate next time, do make the preparations!”

The losers of the auction clicked their tongue in disappointment as the girl who won was hopping about in joy. Many of the students failed to understand why the girl was so happy until the girl’s words finally brought them to speed.

“Kyaa! I can drink tea with Lady Rivelia!”

The girls finally remembered why they couldn’t make their orders. It was because of the unapproachable Rivelia, who would be accompanied by Reisha and Kunette for a makeshift tea party. A few students who were somewhat confident of their birth and status tried to challenge her, but their attempts crumbled like a piece of paper in front of Rivelia’s eyes.

Challenging her was out of option now. But what if you could officially join her in a social gathering, even if it cost money? Considering the time and money spent to help make connections with Rivelia, it wasn’t much of a loss at the end of the day.

“Ah! I’ve also heard that there is a daughter from the Lublé province. Are you here by any chance?”

A girl timidly raised her hand, despite the skepticism inside her head. Lublé province was famous for their potteries, and their craftsmen was widely accepted as the greatest in the entire Empire. Their goods were so well-known that they sold to commoners and donated to the Royal Family.

“I am Chainy von Lublé. Why are you asking?”

“Lady Chainy, Lady Rivelia had been complaining about some problem with the cups in the Campus as of late, and would like to use the Lublanc Sky for her tea party.”

“R, really!”

Chainy’s eyes sparkled. It’s true that they are officially the best, but that also meant there were many who challenged them for that t.i.tle. Being proud of their status as the best is understandable, but letting the pride take over and being satisfied with the current status was the quickest way to fall from the grace. Only through continuous improvement would allow one to keep the status as the best. Having one’s family’s craft favoured by Rivelia herself is sure to make a great promotion for their fame and fortune.

“If you are willing to donate the Lublanc Sky to her, I will make a special exception and allow you to join the tea party whenever you want for free.”

“I’ll do it! I’ll contact my family right away!”

No matter how few are made every year, there are always reserves kept by the family for their own use. Even if there aren’t any, forming a connection with Rivelia was more than enough to justify the cancellation and refund of one of the orders for the Lublanc Sky.

“Ah, I’m just saying this out of worry, but Lady Rivelia had been complaining that the tea in the Campus isn’t easy to get fond of. I’m sure she’ll be very glad if you can bring in more suitable tea leaves for the tea party. No matter how expensive the auction will be, I will deduct the price and transport fee of the tea leaves from the highest bidder. Of course, if the tea leaves were more expensive than the auction, it will be free. How about it?”

“…”

There wasn’t much to think about at this point. Having Rivelia even remember their names would more than make up the drop on their grades.

“Come again tomorrow! No, tonight! I will contact my family and order the tea leaves right away!”

“My family is from the province of Effrin, one of the three leading provinces when it comes to black tea! I can prepare the tea leaves of the highest quality in an instant!”

“Has she said anything about any other tea sets? My family also boasts of products that never pale in comparison to any others.”

“You can’t forget snacks to go along with the tea! My uncle is a chef who used to serve desserts for the Royal Family!”

The students began forming groups and debating about which snacks would suit which tea best. Isaac just watched it unfold in silence.

‘I can’t tell if she’s just innocent or simple…’

Isaac muttered to himself as he thought of Rivelia. He never thought of buying those goods with his money in the first place. Rivelia may have ordered those goods to put Isaac in a corner, but this was the Campus. There was bound to be at least one or two people from those famous provinces who are attending this place.

It was clearly obvious that they would bring crates of their family’s specialties to gain Rivelia’s attention, and even if they weren’t able to produce one, they would use their own money to procure any goods that could help gain Rivelia’s attention. All Isaac had to do was do what he usually did and just hand over the goods when they arrived from Gonzales’ ship.

“I see the money rolling straight into my lap already. I swear, she must be the goose that lays golden eggs.”

Rivelia stood alone in the duel arena of the College. Her sword cut the air as she performed her techniques. They had been repeated tens of thousands of times already, and her body now reacted accordingly without a thought.

The sword is honest – unlike the spineless and greedy, who would praise her beauty and her family, who would as if they would sacrifice everything for her. None of it mattered at this moment. She liked the sword which only answered to her efforts, and she liked this time because she could empty her mind and focus on the sword alone.

But this time, rather than joy, there was a wave of unspeakable, unimaginable anger boiling inside her, waiting to be released.

Isaac that b.a.s.t.a.r.d!

Just thinking of him enraged her further.

He brought a group of students all of a sudden. The tea party somehow became official amongst the students and she had no way to deny this fact. It was beyond her control. If she were to deny it now, it was now her duty to deal with the disappointment and the insults that would arise from that decision.

Her grip tightened when she imagined Isaac snickering as he counted all the money he made from the auctions. At the same time, she remembered what the girls spoke during the tea party.

“You don’t know how much of an honour it is for me to join you here.”

‘Ha! You are just like the others. People who approach me because of the power my family holds.’

“Did you know you’ve changed significantly since you’ve been fighting against Isaac?”

‘Changed? Me?’

“When we first saw you, you had this look that made it impossible for us to even think of speaking to you. Back then, we had to build our courage to even look in your direction.”

‘That’s right. Because that’s what I intended.’

“Lady Rivelia, you were… very difficult to approach. We respected you but didn’t want to know you as a person. You seemed to live in a different world to us.”

‘I am the sole heir to the t.i.tle of Duke Pendleton. I must act in a way that matches my status. If it’s for the honour of my family, I can gladly throw away friends and acquaintances.’

“But you are now… how to say, still difficult to approach, but you aren’t as scary as before.”

‘Don’t make me laugh. You still want me for one reason. To use my family’s power for your own profit.’

“In truth, I was planning on dropping out from the Campus. But watching you change helped me gain the courage that I can change as well.”

‘Don’t lie! I’m sick and tired of those empty praises!’

‘Man, can’t you just accept those praises with a smile? What are you embarra.s.sed about?’

‘No!’

Rivelia strongly denied what Isaac’s image had said.

Isaac! What she wouldn’t do to punch that face of his!

Swish!

The mana that was released from Rivelia’s sword cut through the arena. The spectral mana danced in all directions as it cut grooves onto the floor of the arena.

‘You really make things difficult for yourself.’

‘That’s not something you have the right to say!’

As Isaac’s image looked pathetically at her with pitying eyes, Rivelia shouted within her mind.

‘What do you know?! How dare you look over all I’ve been through? I have cast away the safety and luxuries that my family provided, and proved my worth with the sword!’

‘Is it fun to live like that?’

‘It may seem stupid to a lazy man like you. Don’t make me laugh! I care not about the look that others give me! I am Rivelia el Pendleton! I will walk my own path!’

Rivelia put all her strength as she swung down at the image of Isaac with her sword.

Slash!

Isaac’s image was cut in half, but Rivelia used the momentum to spin around for another strike.

Clang!

Rivelia’s sword stopped as it hit something, and Isaac’s image shattered like gla.s.s. In his place was someone she didn’t expect to see.

“M, master?”

“Calm yourself, and look around you.”

Rivelia followed her master’s words and looked around to realise what had happened around her. The arena looked like it had just been through an intense battle. Students of the College gathered at the edges, watching in astonishment and disbelief at what Rivelia had done.

“To surpa.s.s the wall and reach the rank of Master at your age. Huhu, you are indeed the Queen of the Sword.”

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“…Master? Me?”

“Yes! That’s exactly what I’m trying to say!”

“Ha, if they have a brain, they would pity him rather than be angry like this.”

“Pity?”

“Just graduating the Campus is an honour too great for Isaac. But the College? Who do you think will actually accept him as a graduate of the College? Do you truly think those who graduated from the College are successful because they have their names recorded in our roll book?”

“…”

“The College is just a beginning. Why don’t you ask any one of our graduates, whether they had it easy back in College or now? Those who graduate from the College may be at a better starting line, but it also means that they receive just as much hara.s.sment from others. Those who came from other inst.i.tutions outside the Campus and College have suffered much because of the fame we hold, how they are underappreciated because of us. They consider surpa.s.sing those who graduated from the College to be their most glorious moment. Do you think they will leave Isaac alone?”

“He had been repeating to everyone that he will be an administrator of a village.”

“Even better. He will be forgotten to everyone as he rots away. Except things won’t turn out so easy for him.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“Kainen, who graduated last year, is now working in the Empire’s Personnel Office.”

“…”

Kainen, Isaac’s half-brother and the ideal heir of the Rondart Family, was ranked as a 1st cla.s.s knight because he couldn’t receive the t.i.tle of the Baron. The Jobs offered to knights and n.o.bles are vastly different. By removing Isaac, who had been a thorn to his side, he could instantly propel himself to even greater t.i.tles by starting out as the Baron himself.

“The graduates of the Campus are free to choose their own jobs, but you know that the graduates of the College must work for the Empire for 10 years once they graduate right?”

“Even if Kainen is in the Personnel Office, he wouldn’t have the power to choose where a graduate of the College will be transferred to.”

“You forget that Kainen’s mother is the daughter of Count Milros.”

There are many factions within the Empire, and the Milros Family was one of the most powerful factions within the Empire. They had risen to power by using their influence to control the majority of the Personnel Office of the Empire. Most of the higher ranking individuals in the Personnel Office were either related to the Milros Family or were greatly influenced by them. That was why Kainen was working there in the first place.

Kainen and Count Milros would do whatever it takes to send Isaac into a death trap rather than a peaceful rural village.

“Isn’t that too harsh of a treatment?”

She wouldn’t have felt so bad if Isaac had any sort of talent for himself. Even she was starting to worry about Isaac’s life despite all she had been through because of him. Perhaps even those bad times have become fond memories for her.

“Even if it’s not Kainen who starts it, Isaac will never get the job in the rural village as he wanted.”

“Huh? Why? Wouldn’t it be much better if he was forgotten by everyone just like you’ve said?”

“Later. You will know even if you don’t want to. You should just try your best to convince the students and lessen their anger as best as you can.”

“Why should I?!”

“Consider it your last work as the President of the Student Council. If you include my explanation for your speech, they may complain but won’t rise up against it. They will be happy to know that Isaac will be taking over a job everyone had been avoiding.

If everyone was avoiding the job, that would mean that it is always understaffed. Being forced to transfer to such locations were considered to be an indirect way of demoting someone. The worst case being is that there was no way a College graduate can escape from such a place because of the policy they must follow.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Isaac’s graduation is a secret to the Campus.”

“You want to minimise the chaos as much as possible.”

“I wouldn’t like things to get noisy.”

“Then I’ll take my leave.”

“Wait. I will give this for you to make up for the troubles of convincing the students. You may consider it your graduation gift as well.”

“What is it?”

Corduroy took out a doc.u.ment from his broken desk and handed it to Rivelia. After skimming through the doc.u.ment, Rivelia’s eyes went wide with astonishment.

Once Rivelia left the room, one of the bookshelves on the walls slid to the side and a middle-aged man entered the room. Corduroy looked at the paper he was holding and spoke.

“Is that the last report?”

“Yes. This is the final report on Surveillance target 728 within the Campus.”

Corduroy read through the doc.u.ment expressionlessly.

Final report on Surveillance Target 728

Surveillance Level 4

After monitoring the target within the Campus, he is likely to be not a Type 3 but a Type 4 invader. If he is a Type 4, he may have great uses as a personnel or a resource. In order to confirm this conclusion, it had been decided that he must be monitored further in extreme circ.u.mstances to observe his retaliation. Also, as he is leaving the Campus, requesting to raise the Surveillance Level to 2.

“Type 4… I guess advertis.e.m.e.nts and using mascots weren’t business techniques that were going to develop so naturally so soon. I can see why they made such a decision.”

“Do you have a problem with the report?”

“No. You can go ahead with this. But only raise the Surveillance Level by one. Even if we managed to solve our manpower issue, they are still a group of recruits without a shred of experience.”

“But we must have a close observer to follow Level 3 targets.”

“You don’t need to worry about that.”

“Yes, sir.”

The middle-aged man disappeared back into the bookshelves, and Corduroy looked out the window. He could see Rivelia giving out her speech as the students gathered around her. After watching the students nod in agreement with her while any who rebelled were quickly intimidated by Rivelia’s personal charisma, he muttered to himself bitterly.

“The honour and prestige that comes with the College is something you can only enjoy if you’re alive….”

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