Isaac

Chue Mong Gak

Chapter 41 - Volume 3

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The Role-play Experience was an idea Isaac had put out as he proceeded with the Escort Service, and even Isaac himself was surprised by how successful it became. This world allowed women the freedom to pursuit their own careers with little to no discrimination, but the range of entertainment available for women were very limited. Poetry, literary clubs, embroidery clubs and such were what they had. In a good light, they were the hobbies of elegance, but you could also describe them as very pa.s.sive and stagnant.

There’s a saying that no matter their age, their hearts remain maiden. It meant that all women have their romantic fantasy of their own which they dream of, and Isaac’s Role-play Experience allowed these women to bring these fantasies into real life, albeit for a brief moment. This naturally led to some of the women taking the initiative and creating a script of their own to play in on top of the rough drafts Isaac had come up with. The rumours of the service spread like wildfire in parties and such, gaining popularity within not just the n.o.ble circles but among the middle cla.s.s as well.

And as they say, practice makes perfect.

The once-nervous and awkward actors began to grow more natural as they performed in many more scenes. Soon, they performed flawlessly despite the large crowd, and even the audience willingly joined in on the play if they were given the opportunity.

The Role-play Experience naturally became a tourist attraction, and New Port City quickly advertised the service as one of the many attractions all guests could partake in by performing as extras for free if they wished to. The number of guests entering New Port City rose dramatically thanks to this effect.

Port City hastily tried to create a similar attraction multiple times, but they only came back empty-handed, realising that a play performed by the whole city was impossible unless it was New Port City.

And with the addition of famous authors and scriptwriters who called the service as new branch of art and culture joining the crew itself, the scenarios grew more cunning and meticulous, adding to the popularity of New Port City.

“Dear me, it looks to me like a group of NPCs in an RPG are role-playing.”

Isaac muttered to himself when he received a report from Cordnell saying that the service was booked full. Isaac started to worry when he saw the women partic.i.p.ating in these plays with more enthusiasm than the actors. He was worried that they were mistaking this fiction to be reality, but it seemed the guests were wise enough to realise that it was all fiction for now.

“Eh… The Role-play Service is fully booked up for the next six months.”

It had already been six months since New Port City opened. The people who were present at the City Hall’s roof for this meeting were those in charge of administration. They applauded and cheered when they heard those words from Cordnell’s mouth. Their morale had been at an all-time low when Port City opened its casino at the same time as they did and news spread of Port City’s casino having its golden age while the casinos in New Port City remained empty.

Many were skeptical about the possibility of success in Isaac’s brilliant idea. But it did succeed, and it drew a large crowd into the city. Lanburton, perhaps the largest contributor to this success, smiled with satisfaction. Acting was a common experience in elven society, but this was their first time acting in such a large and open stage.

“I’ve told this before, but the Role-play Experience is just a special event. Don’t focus on it too much.”

Cordnell silently accepted those words from Isaac. Usually, Cordnell would have spoken back against anything Isaac would say. But the success of Isaac’s idea had solidified Goldman’s once-precarious situation and rewarded the Rivolden Merchant Guild with significantly increased influence among the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds thanks to the investments they’d made.

But what Isaac said was true. The success of Role-play Experience was very temporary, and future profit from this event seemed minimal. Instead, it was the other service run by the elves that was even more adored by their customers.

“The Escort Service is going very smoothly. The lack of elves that we’ve been worried about has been solved with more volunteers from the Reservation.”

Lanburton laughed when he heard Cordnell’s words.

“I am glad that they have been of help.”

All the male humans in the room including Cordnell were both happy at their success and sad that when it came down to it, women preferred handsome men.

“Make sure the elves don’t get too into the Escort Service. It’ll be a headache when things get complicated.”

What Isaac was worried about was the possibility of some women who had been seduced so heavily that they would give up their lives for it instead of enjoying it as just a ‘service.’

The elves were in a league of their own when it came to beauty. And Isaac taught these elves all the skills used by gigolos and playboys to seduce the target women and sent them into the scene.

No woman failed to be conquered by the elves when they used their faces as their main weapon and sending the right elf to match the preference of each woman. But if the situation devolved into a woman crying and begging at the elves to stay with him, the escort service as a whole could be thrown into jeopardy.

Port City has been constantly looking for an opportunity to tarnish New Port City’s successful reputation, and jealousy from human men was bound to create ill rumours. Any incident that were to happen was most definitely going to blow out of scale quickly and all precautions must be taken to avoid it.

Thankfully, knowledge that most elves didn’t consider humans as opposite s.e.x was widely known, and such incident had yet to happen. But you never know when and where someone with the mindset of ‘love conquers all boundaries’ would arise.

Business using affection was a high-risk, high-return gambit.

Isaac once again emphasized these warnings to Lanburton and Cordnell. Once his warnings finished, Kalden raised his hand to speak.

“I will give you a report on the City’s current financial status. Just by calculating the profit made from the entrance ticket alone has shown that the total number of guests that have visited New Port City in the past 6 months has risen past a hundred thousand.”

Everyone applauded and let out a cheer. It was well above the previous expectation that they’d get a hundred guests a month at best.

“Of course, this isn’t accurate since we did the calculation through how much Megas we have received. But the number of guests that will come to New Port City will increase over time.”

Once again, the hands of the employees applauded their success. Kalden waited for the applause to end, and then spoke on a different subject.

“I agree that we should be happy about the increasing number of guests that are coming to New Port City, but if we were to maintain the current situation of our financial state, we will go bankrupt.”

“Huh? Why would we go bankrupt?”

As the number of guests increased, it naturally meant the number of men who came to the city increased, which also meant more girls were sought by these men. Milena, who was in charge of the women working in the brothels, never had a better time for her business than now.

Brothels were the only choice women of New Port City could work in other than working as servants. Before Isaac took over the city, the women had to risk their lives working in the brothels. Many times the customers failed to pay for their service, and even if they did pay, most of the profit was given to the pimps as commission fees. And if through bad luck they happened to contract STDs or become pregnant, they were kicked out of the brothels immediately. The shoddy medical facilities meant that they would receive poor treatment for these STDs.

But the situation has changed now. Pimps as a whole had disappeared, and everything they earned was theirs alone. This was enough for them to feed their families and have hope for their future. Milena’s school was the gateway all women must go through before working in the Ceta District, so Milena was enjoying her time ruling over all women as the G.o.dmother.

This was why she reacted first before anyone else when Kalden spoke of bankruptcy. The women were the first to lose everything if the city returned to its previous state.

“First of all, the tax we are collecting from the city is minimal.”

“Impossible! We have been paying our taxes diligently!”

Milena shouted out against Kalden, but Cordnell nodded in agreement with Kalden as he took over.

“What Kalden said is true. We may have reached the peak in terms of profit with our Role-play Experience and Escort Service, but there are just too many expenses.”

The employees from the merchant guilds were the first to nod. As merchants, they were very sensitive when it came to money.

“The profits we are making from those two services are minimal once we consider the expenses of running it. And most of the activities female guests partic.i.p.ate in are shopping and restaurants. The merchants are satisfied that their business is booming, but the taxes we are collecting from these merchants are too little.”

But the problem was that they couldn’t even increase the tax even if they wanted to, since most of these shops were related to the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds. Lower the tax and the more profit these guilds will have. As the employees sent from these guilds, increasing the city’s tax on their shops was unacceptable.

But they couldn’t just watch the city to fall in on itself since doing so would bring ruin to them as well. So they had to limit expenditures in other areas. It seemed the employees and Isaac’s hubaes had already come to an agreement, and they began to state their arguments in unison.

“First. We must lower the expenditures on the City’s welfare costs. There are too many citizens abusing not just our free meals, but free medical care from hospitals as well.”

“Our employment rate and their pay is also a problem. There are too many employees that are currently idling about. Unless we reduced their pay or reduce the number of employees, we will continue to be in the red.”

“We can’t settle with just collecting taxes in Ceta District. We must consider collecting taxes from other districts since they are part of New Port City.”

The faces of Soland, Axlon, Milena and Dinozo turned redder each time the employees gave a new argument. They glared at the employees and the hubaes, and there was even slight discomfort on Isaac’s face.

The syndicate bosses wanted to scream and threaten them to silence. That was the personality that won them their seats after all. But in this room, they had minimal influence. Isaac’s policy to abandon all districts other than Ceta was one of them. But the bigger part was that they were vastly inferior to the employees of Seven Grand Merchant Guilds and the graduates of Campus in terms of strength, economic power, and capabilities as individuals.

Lanburton and Rizzly remained quiet. In their eyes, they were outsiders. They were ‘non-humans’ and had little input in developing the city at the start.

“The free meals and medical care are the sole hope of the citizens of New Port City. Are you talking about extinguishing that hope completely?”

Cordnell shook his head to Milena’s words.

“We aren’t talking of abolishing it completely. Since the current financial state of our city is in jeopardy, we can reduce the total expenditures by reducing the number of employees and policies until our businesses flourish. We can always increase our funding in those departments in the long run once our financial status goes back into the green.”

“How much are you even going to save by firing the idling employees? They are only receiving slightly more than minimum wage for most cases.”

Kalden flatly reb.u.t.ted Soland’s question.

“Most of those employees aren’t doing anything. Even if they are being paid minimum wage, paying for unnecessary employees is still unnecessary spending.”

“Do you know what that means?! That’s most of our employees if you exclude those who are working in the Escort Service and Role-playing Experience!”

“Not all of them. There are those that work in maintenance and run the infrastructure of the city.”

“That’s still just a fraction of them!”

“I don’t understand why you’re arguing against this decision. We’ve told you before that we will increase our expenditures back to what it is now once we start making money. I would have thought that you lot wouldn’t even care.”

Kalden spoke to the syndicate bosses with a hint of disgust in his eyes. He found the once-criminals who leeched of the innocents in this city acting like defenders of the people to be very hypocritical.

“… Their livelihoods are at stake.”

The employees and the hubaes snorted. Just who do they think they are to think of someone else?

“And it’s my life that’s also at stake.”

Just one sentence from Isaac forced the syndicate bosses to drop their heads in silence. These syndicate bosses may have much control over the cities, but their words held very little weight because of their not-so-secretive position of being moles for both Port and New Port City. Everyone was already aware of their actions during the construction of the casinos.

Not to mention that Isaac had demonstrated many times in his actions that he was using them out of necessity, not because he wanted to. They had no right to meddle in any business within Ceta District, making them p.r.o.ne to being sidelined in meetings like this.

Isaac, who had been quietly watching the clash between these two factions, thought that this was very similar to a fight in the old world between major corporations and unions and smirked.

Now that he mentioned it, he noticed that there was a fine boundary in their seating arrangements. The syndicate bosses, merchant employees, Isaac’s hubaes and the non-humans stayed neutral in it all. Isaac could only click his tongue considering that factional infighting for the sake of profit was already happening.

“Kukuku. What a bad joke this is. I guess you lot have mistaken your position after we’ve been treating you like actual bosses. What? Their livelihoods are at stake? Since when could you make arrogant claims like that?”

The four looked to the floor at Isaac’s cold words.

“The only reason you’re saying it isn’t because of the impact it will have on their lives but the loss of profit through tax. Don’t use the innocent citizens as your excuse. I hate people who try to seek profit by using others as their excuse the most.”

The merchant employees and hubaes snickered and laughed at the four, triumphant as their heads seemed to shrivel into their bodies.

Isaac lit his cigarette and looked to the hubaes instead.

“Don’t start laughing, you r.e.t.a.r.ds.”

The meeting hall came to a halt at Isaac’s words. Isaac looked to them for a moment, then spoke to the hubaes.

“I am disappointed, my hubaes.”

“…”

“I guess you guys are born lucky, considering that you happened to be born with immense talent that allowed you to enroll into Campus and secure yourself a great future. But let me ask this. Didn’t you guys apply to work under me despite the crippling damage it had on your pride, purely because I offered to pay you guys double anyone else?”

“…”

“You speak of reducing the funds for free meals when you’ve suffered through starvation yourself? You’ve suffered the impoverished living standards, and yet you speak of reducing the employment of the citizens in the slums? Are you trying to deny your birth as people of the slums because of what the Campus has provided until now? Or are you trying to forget it? You guys should have been the last ones arguing for the reduction of funds for meals and medical treatments, even if it was me who suggested it.”

“…”

“No! I thought wrong. As expected of talents from the Campus. How very efficient. I’m impressed. You have the talent to find opportunities for promotions even in dire times like this. Of course! This is what you must do for promotions. I’m sure you’ll all land n.o.bility t.i.tles if you continue working like that. Seeing people as not people but a number on a doc.u.ment is mandatory to become a successful individual. What are you all doing? Let us applaud at my fine hubaes.”

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Isaac’s sarcastic claps echoed in the silent meeting room.

The hubaes turned silent, their faces blue.

All they’ve done was doing as they have been taught. But what Isaac said made them realise the reality that every doc.u.ment they processed has the potential to change the lives of other individuals, and that reality hit them hard on their backs. The memories of pain and starvation as part of their poverty provoked guilt in their minds, which stabbed deeply at their chests. Of course, there were a few hubaes who still looked to challenge Isaac’s words, unable to accept his statements.

“Cordnell.”

Cordnell shouted out nervously, knowing the harsh words that Isaac had been speaking are now aimed at him.

“Yes!”

“You say we’re in the red?”

“T-that’s right.”

“The reason why we’re in the red is because we are spending more than we are earning right?”

“That is correct…”

“And one of the expenditures is repaying the investment right?”

“That’s obviously to reduce the liabilities it has on…”

“Stop. Don’t try to play games with me.”

It was now the merchant employees whose spines shrivelled.

“I understand that you are trying to get back the investments made by your guilds at the cost of my earnings, to the point of me going in the red. But I told you this before right? Do it at an acceptable rate. Trying to pay back our original investment using our financial downfall as an excuse is downright greed, especially when we’ve already paid back the second chunk of their investment.”

It had been a long time since the second million-Giga investment acquired through blackmail had been paid off by giving tax exemptions and land to the guilds. There was a contract regarding the original million Giga investment, but there was no interest or a due date as to when the money needed to be repaid.

So trying to get back the investment at the cost of the city going in the red was purely greed on the employees’ part in that they wanted to achieve as much success for their own guild as possible. But if Isaac cut down on these unnecessary expenditures, the employees could pay back the investment without having the city go into the red, amplifying their success. New Port City’s financial administration was so full of holes that if any other administrator saw it, they would despair.

Isaac sat on his chair, locking his fingers together. In his eyes were the immature hubaes who still couldn’t get out of shock and the merchant employees who were desperately trying to read the situation. The syndicate bosses had a sinister smile on them, feeling great after what the other two groups went through while Lanburton and Rizzly yawned out of boredom, just waiting for this meeting to finish.

Since Isaac didn’t have anyone he could boldly claim is working for him alone, it’s natural that the city management was getting well out of hand. It’s what he expected, which is why he ignored all of it and only made orders regarding the general situation. Getting nit-picky and managing every little detail was also annoying. But he couldn’t let his men’s management get to a point where it would lay ruin to his plan.

“The employees are to drop their interest on our financial status and continue running our businesses. The hubaes are to only focus on administration of this city and ignore the circ.u.mstances regarding our funds. There will be no change in our policies.”

The hubaes finally got out of the shock as if Isaac’s words were like a shower of cold water. The employees held their heads in pain, aware of the ensuing headache that would result from the decisions he had made.

“Even if we were to delay on repayment of the investment, we will continue to be in the red despite the increase in number of the guests that come here if we continue the policies!”

Isaac smirked at Cordnell.

“I think you are mistaken. New Port City’s main source of income is the casinos. The brothels, Escorts and Role-play Services are just bait to bring in more guests.”

“Our casino built for commoners may be used widely, but we are only barely managing to stay out of red because of its lenient rules. And the profits of our casino for n.o.bles pale in comparison to what Port City is making! One of our greatest expenditures in the last six months was the casinos!”

“Tsk. Why are you so pessimistic? You’ll find it hard to live in this world if you continue to be so negative.”

Cordnell grabbed the back of his own neck as his blood pressure began to rise while the hubaes looked dumbfounded at Isaac. Isaac had been famous for his extreme pessimistic view of the world. He had no right to call anyone else pessimistic.

“Don’t try to meddle with everything like a nosy person and just focus on what you are told. The same goes for you, my hubaes. Just focus on administration since everything regarding finance is up to me to solve.”

“But it’s not like we have that much work to deal with regarding administration.”

The administrative work for them only concerned the Ceta District, not the entirety of New Port City. So no matter how big the work got, the capable graduates from Campus couldn’t help but have plenty of time in their hands.

“If you’re bored, then enjoy the Role-play Experience again.”

Everyone’s eyes fell on Selia when Isaac spoke those words. Isaac forced her into the Role-play Experience, telling her to fix that introverted personality of hers. Selia had become famous within New Port City since then, earning the t.i.tle of the ‘Red Rose of New Port City.’

Selia’s face went rose red with embarra.s.sment when everyone began staring at her, and she profusely refused to oblige them. For someone so introverted like Selia, who found it difficult to even talk in front of many people, the Role-play Experience was like torture.

“I’ve already thought of a method to revitalise the casinos. Smarta.s.s, how did the project go?”

Soland stood up at Isaac’s question.

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“I’ve already found a suitable candidate.”

Isaac made an interested expression.

“I see you’re quite sharp.”

There is a significant difference in pressure one feels between someone who would lose everything, and someone who has some form of insurance even if they lose. By providing them with a small safety net, these men who would become desperate after their losses would begin ease up and end up losing more money than they would have. Even if the money was given back, nine out of ten people would go back to the casinos to spend it again.

Basically, this refund system wasn’t to help the men who lost their money, but to entrance them deeper into gambling.

“I’m sure you’ll start getting compet.i.tion once the word spreads that you can make money without doing anything. I like compet.i.tion. Because without compet.i.tion, there is no progress.”

“…”

Bluff quickly shut his mouth, hopeful that Isaac would finish speaking and let him go.

Lanburton, who had been quietly drinking tea as he was overhearing the conversation, muttered to himself.

“Is the meaning of compet.i.tion different to humans?”

The employees and hubaes remained quiet, making a bitter smile.

“Well, being first is always important, so I’ll give you some help to make you succeed. Give them membership.”

“A membership?”

“That’s right. Let’s say you can only manage ten people. Then those ten men can also have ten members below them. The condition is the same. 30% of their member’s spending is theirs. But there’s a rank. You will be Rank 1 since you’re first. A Rank 1 can have ten Rank 2s. A Rank 2 can have ten Rank 3s and so on. Let’s say that the ranks reach 5 levels at this point. Then 30% of the spending by members managed by Rank 5s will be solely their profit right?”

“Yes…”

“And the 30% of the profit Rank 5 members make will be the Rank 4s’ profit. The same applies to the level above, and Rank 4 must give 30% of the total profit from Rank 4s and Rank 5s. You keep on climbing that way and you, the Rank 1, get to take all of it.”

Bluff’s jaws dropped at Isaac’s explanation. All he could think of was success.

“I would love to do it! Just give me the word and I’ll do everything I can! No, I’ll make sure to bring in guests for you.”

Isaac spectated Bluff’s spineless att.i.tude at its finest: grovelling at his feet for the job. Isaac put out his cigarette on an ashtray as he spoke.

“Go speak with Cordnell over there and sort out the money problem with him. Make sure it doesn’t cause trouble later.”

Bluff’s eyes turned to Cordnell, and Cordnell sighed, knowing that his workload just got bigger. Cordnell fired off a barrage of words, intending to include as much people in this scheme as possible.

Isaac, however, kicked them all out from the meeting room with a wave of his hand, telling them to sort out the problem elsewhere.

With the roof finally silent after the ma.s.s exit of the employees, Soland quietly entered the roof again.

“That’s a rather special form of management.”

There was a degree of admiration in his words. It was a business that could be started with no fund – just connections. Since what their guests spend would become their profit, they would do whatever it takes to keep the guests under them, which would mean an improvement in the quality of their service.

New Port City now had the benefit of gaining more guests and increase their spending without any expenses. It was like catching two birds with one stone.

Isaac watched the smoke from his cigarette disappear into the air. Soland may have thought of this as some revolutionary method, but in truth, this was just the infamous pyramid scheme.

He was well aware of the damages the pyramid scheme could cause, but he wasn’t one to care about what methods he took. He would do whatever is necessary, and if the damages begin to cause a problem, Isaac was sure that the Empire will place some sanctions against it. Isaac was going to make sure he made the best of it until such sanctions were in place.

Isaac smirked at Soland, who was making a disappointed face.

“What, do you want to do it too?”

Soland quickly fixed his posture and expression and crossed his head.

“No. I personally know very few people so I wouldn’t be able to even if I wanted to.”

“But would you like to if you did have connections?”

“Hehe, if I can get the opportunity…”

Isaac smiled at Soland, whose voice faltered as he tried to laugh it off.

“You can forget about that nonsense and gather some funds right now. I’m not planning on giving out loans since I have reputations to maintain and such.”

“Huh? What do you mean by that?”

“How gambling addiction ends is always the same. All that’s different is when. They aren’t people who would stop gambling just because they’ve run out of money. They’ll try to borrow it from somewhere. Join forces with the other syndicate bosses and scrounge up some funds. Make sure you doc.u.ment the paperwork regarding the amount they owe and proper terms and conditions with a third-party witness so we have solid evidence.”

“I’m happy if you’re willing to leave the financing to us, but it’ll be difficult since we’re targeting n.o.bles…”

This was a business with such potential profit that it would make loan shark business in the slums of New Port City pale in comparison. But the problem was that they couldn’t just visit the n.o.ble’s house to threaten them to pay back their money unlike how they’d been treating the people of New Port City.

They weren’t a proper financing business. No sane n.o.ble would simply pay back the money when it’s in the name of some criminal syndicate in New Port City. In fact, they’d be glad if they simply got out of the visit unscathed.

“Don’t worry and approve as many loans as you can. I’ll buy out all of their loans. It’s better to have as much doc.u.mentation as possible.”

A n.o.ble house falling from grace because of their foolish son is a very cliché story. These n.o.ble families will have no choice but to take side with Isaac if they were to try save their stupid sons out of their problem. Just one or two credits will have little impact, but gathered enough it will become an excellent card to use against Count Milros when things came to shove.

“And how goes the preparation?”

“I’ve already made up a team of the greatest professionals in their field.”

Isaac spoke words of warning when he saw Soland smirk as if he’d figured out what was happening.

“It’s nice that you’re sharp, but you must also be tight-lipped if you want to live a long life.”

“I’m not a fool who would be tempted by pitiful pay at the cost of kicking away the chance to earn a fortune.”

“Good. I was planning to kill you first if this got leaked.”

Soland tried to act as calm as possible, suppressing the chill crawling up his spine.

“I am glad you trusted me with this project.”

Emergency Order

Sender: The Grand Council

Recipient: All agents

Level: Code Red

Order: ‘Demonic’ turncoat escaped after stealing the ‘Queen’s’ artifact.

The ‘Queen’ refuses to reveal information regarding the artifact because of the turncoat.

Unable to confirm artifact’s purpose.

Unable to confirm artifact’s shape.

All agents are to terminate their current mission. Find the turncoat.

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