༺ The Empire’s Future (5) ༻
The founding emperor of the empire, Emperor Philion, left this saying after ending the age of chaos following the collapse of the 3rd Empire:
“The capital must always be in a place that has mountains at its back and faces water.”
At the time, the emperor’s subjects did not understand the meaning of his words, but in any case, according to Philion’s strong insistence, the location of the capital was determined to be the best of the best, with the Uros Mountains to the north and the Tethys River flowing to the south.
South of Shangria, where the Tethys River flows.
District 20 of the capital, the port district.
In the middle of a very dark night when even the moonlight couldn’t shine due to the cloudy sky, among the warehouses lined up along the coast, only one old warehouse building, with its paint peeling off and rusted iron, emitted a faint light.
In the warehouse, where it was unusually lively despite the late hour, several men were drinking cheap alcohol and playing card games to pass the time amidst the heavy smell of sweat and rotten water.
Among them, ‘Flat-nosed’ Jack, who once worked as a dock worker but lost his job after injuring his shoulder and now works at the bottom of the organization, also played card games and exchanged idle jokes with his colleagues.
“What do you think I just heard?”
“What is it?”
Jack chuckled as he exchanged cards on the wooden table.
“While kidnapping a dwarf earlier today, that guy screamed like a pig. No! Don’t do this! … His voice was so soft that I thought he was a woman.”
A bald man with bulging muscles, ‘Iron-jawed’ Walter, spoke while tilting his beer glass.
“Are you sure he wasn’t a woman when you undressed him? I can’t tell the difference between male and female bugs.”
Another man sneered and laughed with a contemptuous tone.
“Those filthy immigrants should be grateful just for being alive.”
At those words, all the men gathered in the warehouse chuckled and agreed.
Listening to their conversation, one might think they were a deeply rooted racist group, but in fact, Jack had no particular ill feelings towards other races before joining the organization.
He simply lost his job and lived like garbage day by day, until he overheard someone in a bar drunkenly ranting about how other races were stealing jobs, and that’s when his heart wavered.
After that, he found himself meeting with like-minded people in this warehouse.
Most people like to blame their misfortune on others. It’s comforting to think it’s not my incompetence, but the fault of other races.
Most of the people gathered here were for that reason.
Rather than genuinely hating and despising other races, they were a gathering of low-lives who needed an outlet for their hardships in life and found a plausible excuse to hate other races.
As they exchanged their idle, low-quality jokes and the night deepened, a single bird flew in through a slightly open window. Jack, who recognized it as a juggler, spat on the floor and said.
“What? Did the letter arrive already?”
“I thought they said we’d be quiet for a while.”
Jack, who was sitting closest to the juggler, checked what the juggler had in its mouth.
Usually, what the juggler brought was a letter, but strangely enough, this time what it was holding was not a letter.
It was an empty envelope with nothing inside.
Jack felt a chill down his spine when he saw the empty envelope.
However, Jack’s drunken brain couldn’t immediately understand what it meant, and he just stared blankly at the white envelope for a moment.
Bang-!! The wall of the warehouse exploded.
“Damn it! What’s going on!!”
With the sudden explosion, the wall crumbled, and dust and debris filled the warehouse. Amidst the swirling dust, the men inside the warehouse coughed roughly.
In the meantime, a man slowly rose from the dust within the warehouse.
Jack doubted his eyes at the man’s movement, which seemed to slowly stand up as if landing.
Could it be that this man had broken the wall and entered with pure physical strength, without magic or gunpowder?
The man looked around the warehouse with an emotionless face and calmly opened his mouth.
“I’ve finally found it.”
Walter, who was coughing a lot, shouted with a distorted face at the man’s tone as if he had been looking for this place.
“This kid! Are you the imperial police?!”
The cold gaze of the man looking around the organization members froze the surrounding air.
Jack also felt the back of his neck getting much colder than before.
“More than that.”
“What are you doing! Everybody, get him!”
‘Ironjaw’ Walter excitedly raised his arm as thick as a log and swung his fist. The other members of the organization also screamed and ran towards the man with their weapons.
In response, the man also threw his fist. There was no special technique or skill. It was just a quick and powerful blow, and its linear trajectory moved so fast that it couldn’t be followed by the eye.
Seeing the bear-like Walter fly away with a single blow, Jack opened his mouth in astonishment.
During the commotion, a carriage stopped quickly in the port district.
Captain Herman, who got off the carriage, clicked his tongue as if it was ridiculous at the noisy commotion coming from inside the warehouse.
“Oh dear, it’s already started.”
To trace back the Juggler scroll received from Leonard, a capable wizard was needed.
However, in the urgent situation, it was cumbersome to find a wizard, so Eon chose a simple solution instead of a complicated method. It was to summon the Juggler and chase it.
Captain Herman doubted his eyes at the sight of Eon, who quickly crossed the road faster than a horse, jumping from roof to roof.
Anyway, thanks to the tracking magic that Eon cast on himself, Captain Herman was able to bring a few reliable subordinates, but even with a carriage, he couldn’t keep up with Eon’s speed.
Fortunately or unfortunately, ‘The Empire’s Future’ didn’t go straight to the base due to the nature of the dot organization. One guy was kicked, another guy was kicked, and another guy was kicked, and they finally found a place that could be called the base.
Thanks to that, Captain Herman was able to arrive at the port district without delay.
“You guys! Do it properly! If you don’t, my neck will fly off!”
In the Shangria system, the system’s imperial police manage security, and other armed organizations are strictly prohibited from interfering with security, but there were a few exceptions, and that was the Philion Academy Security Force.
There was only one reason the security force could move. Only in cases related to the safety of students could they exercise official authority.
However, now it’s not a formal meeting and discussion on the whole academy level, but moving arbitrarily according to the instructions of a single instructor and the security captain, so there was a lot of potential for problems later.
However, Captain Herman of the Security Force was in a situation where he couldn’t discriminate between fire and water. If he didn’t do anything, he would even cover up the rebellion of his subordinates, so in any case, he had to do something to open up a way to survive.
Then a shabbily dressed man ran out from inside the warehouse screaming in fear. He looked as if he was desperately running away from something inside.
“Mon, Monster! Help! Save me!”
“Eh? This guy? Go back in! Go back in! You won’t go back in?!”
Captain Herman struck the man’s head hard with the scabbard of his sword. Nevertheless, as a security captain, he had some skills, so he could easily subdue one or two thugs.
Meanwhile, the man who was hit in the head seemed relieved as if he thought it was rather fortunate to be caught by the security team than the monster inside the warehouse, and he collapsed.
Captain Herman became very curious about the situation inside the warehouse after seeing this, but he firmly held his ground, thinking that he had to catch all of these guys to save his own life.
“Ah! Save me!”
It wasn’t that he didn’t dare to enter the warehouse because of the horrible screams coming from inside.
I looked around after knocking down all the gang members inside the warehouse.
Until now, the Juggler had only led me to places with one or two gang members, and I had to move to new places several times because they didn’t know anything.
It was the warehouse building that I finally found after repeating this process. It had a vibe that something was hidden at first glance, but it wasn’t much different from an ordinary warehouse except for the larger space and the larger number of members.
Was it just a place where a few gang members gathered? That couldn’t be the case.
I lightly lifted my foot and kicked the ground hard.
I controlled my strength so that the sound and vibrations would spread widely without damaging the floor, and then I sensed that there was an empty space beneath the building.
There was a basement. But I couldn’t see any entrance.
I grabbed the collar of a gang member with a particularly flat nose. He let out a groan of pain, but he was still conscious.
“Where is the entrance to the basement?”
“Th-that… over there…”
As the guy rolled on the floor, he pointed to the ground with his trembling finger, making a deflated sound as if he had broken a few teeth.
When I removed the carpet on the ground where he pointed, there was indeed an iron door leading to the basement. But, of course, the door was locked.
Compared to the old warehouse building, this iron door looked particularly neat and new. It was as if the warehouse was just a decoration, and this interior was the real deal.
Naturally, it wouldn’t open by ordinary means.
“How do you open it?”
“I-I don’t know… Only the boss… Only the boss knows…”
I figured as much…
I gently put down the flat-nosed guy and stood in front of the basement entrance.
I couldn’t tell if the door was locked with magic or if a key was needed, but it didn’t matter.
I slammed my fist hard into the ground.
Breaking the door was all I needed to do.
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