Overlord Light Novel Volume 1 – Chapter 3

Overlord Light Novel Volume 1 – Chapter 3

Overlord Light Novel Volume 1 – Chapter 3

Battle of Carne Village


Part 1

The dressing room adjoining Momonga’s suite was a chaotic mess of items, with hardly any place to put one’s feet. There were items like capes, with which Momonga could equip himself, and suits of full plate armor, which he could not use at all. In addition to armor and other protectives, there were weapons ranging from magic staves to greatswords. This was truly an assortment of gear.


Players could produce a nearly infinite variety of original magic items in YGGDRASIL. Defeated monsters dropped data crystals, which formed a magic item when they were set into an item skin.

Therefore, people would immediately buy item skins that they liked.

That was the reason for this room’s state.

Momonga picked out a greatsword from the weapons in the room. Freed from its sheath, the silvery blade sparkled in the light. The runes carved into the blade’s body sparkled as well, etching themselves into any onlookers’ eyes.

Momonga swung the greatsword around. It was as light as a feather.

Of course, this was not because the blade was light, but because Momonga was very strong.

Momonga was a mage and his spellcasting stats were very high, but his physical stats were lower in comparison. Still, the strength he had gained from reaching level one hundred was not an inconsiderable figure. If he encountered weak monsters, he could easily pulverize them with his staff.

Momonga slowly took a fighting stance, and then a loud sound of metallic clanging ran through the room. The sword he had been holding a moment ago was now on the ground.

The maid standing by in the room immediately picked up the greatsword and handed it to Momonga. However, Momonga did not pick it up, but looked at his empty hands.

That was it.

That was what confused Momonga.

Although the realistic NPCs made him think he was no longer in a game, the annoying sensation that bound his body made him feel otherwise.

In YGGDRASIL, Momonga had no levels in warrior classes, and so he should not have been able to use a greatsword. However, if this new world was reality, it only made sense that he should have been able to wield it.

Momonga shook his head and decided not to think about it. After all, he would not be able to find the answer no matter how much he pondered.

“Tidy this up.”

After Momonga directed the maid to clean up, he turned to look at the mirror that almost covered the entire wall. What he saw was a clothed skeleton.

He should have been afraid after seeing what his body had become, but Momonga was unmoved. Indeed, it even felt natural to be that way.

There was another reason for this, besides being used to this look from his time in YGGDRASIL.

That reason was that his mind had been changed, along with his body.

The first sign of that was the fact that whenever he felt an intense surge in his emotions, he would immediately calm down, as though something was suppressing it. Another thing was that he could not feel thirst, hunger, or fatigue. There might have been something resembling lust, but he had felt no excitement even when he was caressing Albedo’s soft breasts.

A terrible sense of loss filled Momonga, and he instinctively glanced down to his waist.

“Could it be… it vanished because I never used it?”

However, his small voice and the sense of loss vanished as he spoke.

Therefore, Momonga concluded that these changes, in particular the mental changes, were part of the undead immunity to mind-affecting effects.

Right now, he possessed an undead body and mind, but there were some remnants of his humanity left. Therefore, even when he experienced emotions, if they surged to a peak, they would be immediately suppressed. If he continued on like this, he might end up losing all his emotions in the future.

Of course, even if that happened, it would hardly be a big deal, because no matter how this world turned out or what happened to his body, his will was still his own.

In addition, the NPCs like Shalltear and so on would be by his side. Perhaps worrying about becoming undead was premature.

“「Create Greater Item」!”

Once Momonga cast the spell, his body was sheathed in a suit of engraved full plate armor. It glowed darkly, and its surface was covered in gold and silver patterns. It looked very expensive.

He moved around in it to see how it felt. Although it was somewhat restrictive, he was not immobilized. In addition, the armor fit his body very well, which was quite unexpected considering the gaps between his bare-boned body and the armor.

It would seem that he could use magic-generated items, just like in YGGDRASIL.

As Momonga silently applauded the wonders of magic, he peeked at himself in the mirror from between the gaps of his closed helm. A dashing warrior looked back at him, nothing at all like a magician. Momonga nodded in satisfaction, and gulped in his nonexistent throat. Right now, he understood how a child felt when he angered his parents.

“I will be stepping out for a while.”

“The guards are ready for you,” the maid reflexively replied. However—

The truth was, he disliked them.

On the first day when the guards followed him around, he felt pressurized; on the second he was used to it, and then he felt like showing them off. And on the third day—

Momonga suppressed the urge to sigh.

It was all too stiff and formal for him. The guards followed him everywhere he went, and whenever he met someone, they bowed to him.

Maybe, if he could have walked around nonchalantly with his guards in tow, it would have been tolerable. But he could not do that, because he had to maintain the gravitas of the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick at all times. He could not allow a moment of laxity to ruin his image, so his nerves were constantly on edge. This caused a lot of stress to the formerly human Momonga.

Even though his strong emotions were promptly suppressed, his mind felt like it was sizzling in a low flame all the time.

And then there were the unbelievably beautiful women who plastered themselves to his side at all times, taking care of him in all ways. As a man, he was delighted by the attention, but the invasion of his personal space and his life was wearing him out as well.

That stress was another relic of his humanity.

In any case, it was not a good sign that he, the master of Nazarick, was being subjected to this emotional distress amidst these strange circumstances. It might lead to him making a poor decision in times of emergency.

He needed to refresh himself.

Momonga’s eyes went wide as he came to that decision. His expression did not change, of course, but the lights in his eyes burned brighter.

“No… there is no need for the guards to accompany me. I simply wish to walk by myself.”

“Pl-Please wait and reconsider, if something happens to Momonga-sama, we must become your shields. We cannot allow any harm to come to your person.”

The maids and the other vassals wanted nothing more than to protect their master even at the cost of their own lives. In that sense, Momonga’s request to go walking by himself — which completely disregarded their feelings — was a cruel one.

However, it had been over three days since this abnormality occurred, roughly seventy three hours. In this time, Momonga had been desperately trying to maintain the stern facade of the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, but now he needed a rest.

Therefore, even though he felt bad for them, Momonga thought of an excuse and said:

“…I have to do something in secret, and I will not allow anyone to follow me.”

A brief silence followed.

Just as Momonga was starting to feel that it was dragging on, the maid finally replied:

“Understood. Then, please be safe, Momonga-sama.”

Momonga’s heart ached briefly as the maid ate it up hook, line, and sinker, but he brushed it aside.

There should not be anything wrong with taking a short break and going outside to check out the surrounding scenery. Indeed, it was very important that he saw for himself whether they had indeed been transported to another world.

The excuses were welling up because Momonga was starting to feel that he had been too selfish.

Momonga waved away the guilt in his heart, and activated the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown.

♦ ♦ ♦

His destination was a large hall. There were rows of narrow mortuary slabs on both sides of him, but there were no corpses on them now. The floor was polished limestone. Behind Momonga was a flight of stairs leading down, and at their end was a set of double doors, through which one could access the First Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. The sconces in the walls had no torches; the only light came from the bluish-white moonlight streaming in from the outside.

This was the closest location to the surface that the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown could take him, the central mausoleum on the surface of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.

All he needed to do was take a few steps to reach the outside world. But despite the vast space before him, Momonga could not take those steps. 

That was because of the thoroughly unexpected encounter before him.

The silhouettes of heteromorphic beings loomed before him. There were three monsters in total.

One of them looked like a fearsome demon. Fangs protruded from its mouth and its body was covered in scales. It had stout arms and sharp claws, as well as flaming wings and a snake-like tail.

Another was a feminine-looking monster with a crow’s head, dressed in a tight-fitting bondage outfit.

The final one wore full plate armor that was open at the chest, proudly revealing its abdominal muscles. If not for the black bat wings and the two horns protruding from its temples, it might have been mistaken for a beautiful young man. However, its eyes held a desire that knew no limit.

They were the Evil Lords of Wrath, Jealousy(Lust), and Greed, respectively.

All the Evil Lords turned their attention to Momonga, but they did not move, only watching with their unwavering gazes. The grim atmosphere weighed down on everyone present.

They were all monsters around level eighty or so, and they should have been assigned to sentry duty around the Infernal Shrine where Demiurge lived, near the gate to the Eighth Floor. Shalltear’s undead minions should have been stationed in the upper floors to stand guard. So what were Demiurge’s subordinates, his elite guards, doing in here?

Behind them was one more figure. Momonga had not noticed him until now, but it had been watching Momonga from the beginning. Once he revealed himself, everything became clear.

“Demiurge…”

A surprised look appeared on the demon who had been addressed by name (Demiurge). That look seemed to be saying “why would his master be here,” or “why would there be a mysterious monster here.”

Momonga decided to place his bet on a slim possibility, and advanced. If he stopped now, it would be a miracle if his true identity was not uncovered. In any event, his plan was to slowly move forward while staying near the wall, ignoring the monsters and walking past them.

He was fully aware that their eyes were on him. However, Momonga suppressed his feelings of weakness with sheer willpower, held his chest high, and continued moving forward.

Once they had gotten close enough to each other, all the demons simultaneously genuflected, bowing their heads to him. The one at their head was, of course, Demiurge. His neat movements were slick and elegant, as though he were a nobleman.

“Momonga-sama. May I ask why you have come here, without your escort, and dressed like this?”

The cat was out of the bag.

Demiurge could be said to be the wisest being in The Great Tomb of Nazarick, so being seen through was inevitable. However, Momonga felt that the reason he had been seen through was because of the teleportation.

Only one person in Nazarick possessed the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown that permitted its bearer to teleport freely through its halls — Momonga.

“Ah… it’s complicated. Demiurge, you should know why I am wearing this.”

Demiurge’s elegant face twisted in consternation. He took several breaths before answering:

“My deepest apologies for being unable to divine your fathomless intentions, Momonga-sama—”

“Call me Dark Warrior.”

“Pardon me, Dark Warrior-sama…?”

Demiurge seemed to have something to say, but Momonga tried his best to ignore it. Although it was a pretty embarrassing name, it made sense when one considered the names of other monsters in the game.

The reason behind having Demiurge address him by a different name was quite simple. Although only Demiurge and his vassals were here at the moment, this place was an exit, and many underlings would be passing through here. Momonga simply did not want them to call him “Momonga-sama, Momonga-sama,” wherever he went.

How much did Demiurge understand without knowing Momonga’s thoughts? Just then, a look of enlightenment filled Demiurge’s face.

“I see… so that’s what’s going.”

Eh? What’s going on?

Momonga stopped himself from speaking the words in his heart.

As a mortal man, Momonga had no idea what conclusion that Demiurge, intelligent and cunning beyond measure, had come to after his ruminations. All he could do was hope that Demiurge realised his true intentions as his head was covered in nonexistent cold sweat under his helmet.

“I believe I have some grasp on your profound schemes, Mo… no, Dark Warrior-sama. Truly, they are considerations that only the ruler of this domain would have taken into account. However, I cannot allow your noble self to proceed unaccompanied. I am aware that it may inconvenience you, but I hope that in your boundless mercy, you will permit one of us to escort you.”

“…It can’t be helped. Very well, I will allow one person to travel with me.”

Demiurge smiled elegantly.

“My deepest thanks for humoring my selfish request, Dark Warrior-sama.”

“…Just call me Dark Warrior, you can dispense with the honorifics.”

“How could I!? To do so would be unforgivable. Of course, I can obey such an order while acting as a spy or performing special missions, but within the Great Tomb of Nazarick, how could anyone not show the respect due to yourself, Momonga-sama… no, Dark Warrior-sama!”

Demiurge’s passionate monologue moved Momonga a little, and he could not help but nod in approval. He mused that being called Dark Warrior would lead people to mock him for having such a lame name, and he lamented picking that alias so casually.

“Forgive me for wasting your valuable time, Mo-Dark Warrior-sama. Then, you lot will wait here for orders, and explain to the others that I am on the move.”

“Understood, Demiurge-sama.”

“Well, it seems your subordinates approve as well. Then, Demiurge, let us be off.”

Momonga walked past the bowing Demiurge, who raised his head and followed his master.

♦ ♦ ♦

“Why was Mo… cough, why was Dark Warrior-sama dressed like that?”

“I don’t know, but there should be some reason for it.”

The remaining Evil Lords muttered to each other in confusion.

After all, they had not seen through Momonga’s disguise because he teleported here.

Momonga had no idea of knowing this, but the denizens of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, or rather, all of Ainz Ooal Gown’s servants radiated a certain aura that the servants could sense in order to determine whether a stranger was friend or foe. Within the guild, the aura of the Forty One Supreme Beings that ruled Nazarick — now reduced to Momonga alone — was enough to tell them that the one before them was their absolute ruler. They could sense his mighty presence from a distance and they could not have mistaken Momonga for anyone else, even through his full plate armor. They would have seen through Momonga’s disguise immediately, regardless of how he arrived.

It was easy to differentiate his aura from the others in Nazarick.

The doors to the first floor swung wide, and someone climbed the stairs.

Judging by the aura that came from the stairs, the newcomer was a Guardian.

The Evil Lords saw the beautiful face of the Guardian Overseer, Albedo, rising from the steps. They went to one knee as they realised that they were in the presence of someone who was the equal of their master, Demiurge.

To Albedo, the vassals kneeling before her was merely natural, and she paid them no heed as she looked around.

Only after Albedo failed to find the person she was looking for did she turn back to the Evil Lords. She spoke without addressing anyone in particular:

“…I don’t see Demiurge around. Where is he?”

“He… a Dark Warrior-sama passed through just now, so Demiurge-sama decided to accompany him outside.”

“Dark Warrior…sama? I don’t recall a name like that among the servants… Which servant did Demiurge accompany? A Floor Guardian following a lowly servant? How strange…”

The Evil Lords did not know how to respond, and looked at each other.

Albedo smiled gently to the Evil Lords:

“Could it be that mere servants like you dare to deceive me?”

Her tender, final warning made the Evil Lords shiver, and they realized that they could not keep hiding things from her.

“When Dark Warrior-sama came here, Demiurge-sama concluded that he was a person worthy of our respect.”

“…Momonga-sama came here!”

Albedo’s voice seemed to crack a little, and so the Evil Lords calmly replied:

“…His name was Dark Warrior-sama.”

“…And his guards? Did Demiurge receive some notification from Momonga-sama? But I already arranged to meet him, so does this mean Demiurge did not know Momonga-sama was coming? Ah, forget it, I need to change and bathe!”

Albedo touched her clothing.

Her clothes were dirty from her work. Her hair was tangled at the ends, as were her wings.

However, such petty imperfections could not begin to diminish the appeal of a world-class beauty like Albedo. It was insignificant, like the loss of a point or two out of a hundred million. However, to Albedo, even the slightest blemish on her appearance was a mark of failure. She could not show this filthy self of hers to the man she loved so dearly.

“The nearest bath… the one at Shalltear’s place? …But then she might get suspicious… although I’ll just have to bear with it. You lot, go to my room and get my clothes! Quickly!”

Just then, one of the Evil Lords called out to Albedo, who was pacing around. She was the Demon General of Jealousy.

“…Albedo-sama, though this might be rude, would your present attire not be better?”

“…What do you mean?” Albedo angrily retorted as she stopped in her tracks. She thought the other woman wanted Momonga to see her in this unkempt state.

“…No, I simply meant that a beautiful woman like yourself would be best served by showing the signs of your hard work. In the end, you will still benefit, will you not, Albedo-sama?”

The other Evil Lords added their suggestions, “By the time you could bathe and prepare herself to meet Momonga-sama… Dark Warrior-sama, much time would have been wasted. It would be a shame to miss a good opportunity because of that.”

“I see—” Albedo mused.

They had a point.

“That makes sense… it seems I panicked because I have not seen Momonga-sama for such a long time. I can only meet Momonga-sama after eighteen hours, don’t you think eighteen hours is too long?”

“Yes, it is.”

“If only I could finish laying out the administrative framework and return to Momonga-sama’s side… then I’d better not waste time griping and find Momonga-sama. Where is Momonga-sama now?”

“He just stepped out.”

“I see.”

Although Albedo’s reply seemed curt, there was a distant smile on her face as she imagined being with Momonga, and she flapped her wings in an adorable way. She walked past the Evil Lords with hurried steps.

The footsteps suddenly halted, and Albedo asked the Evil Lords again:

“For the last time, do you really think Momonga-sama will approve of seeing me dirtied like this?”

♦ ♦ ♦

After leaving the mausoleum, Momonga was greeted by a beautiful sight. The surface area of the Great Tomb of Nazarick was two hundred meters square, protected by six meter thick walls, with an entrance and an exit at the front and back.

The Tomb’s grass was trimmed short and felt refreshing. On the other hand, the Tomb’s trees had leafy branches that shrouded much of the grounds in shade, and the extensive shadows gave the place a gloomy air. There were also alabaster tombstones scattered about.

The juxtaposition of the neat grass and the messy tombstones was quite incongruous. In addition, there were exquisite carvings of angels and goddesses all over the place, each of which was easily a work of art, but the chaotic tomb design was frustrating, to say the least.

Apart from the large central mausoleum, there were four smaller mausoleums in the north, south, east, and west, each defended by statues of armored warriors, each six meters tall.

The central mausoleum was the gateway to the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and it was from this place that Momonga had emerged into the outside world.

Momonga stood at the top of the stairs and quietly surveyed the landscape before him.

The Great Tomb of Nazarick had originally been located in the icy world of Helheim, which was perpetually shrouded in darkness. The atmosphere was grim and dark, and the sky was constantly overcast. Yet, what he saw now was vastly different from that.

He was looking at a beautiful night sky.

Momonga looked to the heavens and he could not help but sigh. He shook his head, as though unable to believe his eyes.

“Amazing… to think they could include such detail in a virtual world… the air here is so fresh that it must never have been polluted. People born in this world wouldn’t need artificial lungs to breathe…”

He had never seen such a clear night sky in his life.

Momonga wanted to cast a spell, but he was hampered by his armor. There was a certain mage class that allowed for the casting of spells in armor, but Momonga did not have that class. As a result, his full plate armor kept him from using magic. Even armor created by magic would not allow its wearer to cast spells while wearing it. Currently, there were only five spells he could use in his armored state, but sadly, the flight magic Momonga wanted to use was not part of them.

Momonga reached his hand into his pocket dimension and withdrew an item. It was a necklace with a pendant shaped like a bird’s wing.

He put on the necklace and focused on it. The power buried within the necklace took effect.

“「Fly」.”
 
Freed from the shackles of gravity, Momonga floated lightly into the sky. He rose upward in a straight line, gaining speed as he did.

Although Demiurge was frantically trying to catch up, Momonga paid him no heed and ascended steadily. Before he knew it, he was several hundred meters in the air.

Only then did Momonga’s body slow down. He forcefully cast aside his helmet, and said nothing — no, as he looked down at this world, he could not say anything.

The blue-white light of the moon and stars chased away the darkness of the land. The grasslands, ruffled by a gentle wind, seemed to be glowing. The countless stars and the moon gave off their own radiance as well, shining brilliantly against the light coming from the earth.

Momonga could not help but sigh:

“This is beautiful… no, beautiful would not begin to describe this… what would Blue Planet-san say if he were here?”

What would he do if he saw this world whose air, land, and water had not been polluted?

Momonga recalled his comrade from the past, the man who had showed up for the guild’s offline meetings, whose stony face had broken into a delicate smile when he was praised as a romantic — that gentle man who loved the night sky.

No, he loved nature, which had been polluted and almost completely destroyed. He played YGGDRASIL because he appreciated those scenes which no longer existed in reality. He had built the Sixth Floor with his sweat, blood, and tears. Its night sky was his personal design, and it was a reproduction of the idealized world in his heart.

That man who loved nature was always particularly excited when the topic came up. Some might even call it an obsession.

How excited would he be if he could see this world? How passionately would he declaim its glories in his baritone voice?

Momonga suddenly realized that he missed his old friend very dearly. Hoping to hear him expounding his wide knowledge again, he looked to the side.

There was nobody there. There could not be anybody there.

The somewhat hurt Momonga heard the flapping of wings, and the transformed Demiurge appeared before him.

This was Demiurge’s half-demon form, with a pair of large black leathery wings growing from his back and the face of a frog.

Certain heteromorphic creatures had multiple forms. In Nazarick, Sebas and Albedo had other forms as well.

Although it was troublesome to train up levels in heteromorphic racial classes, they were very popular because they had different forms like final bosses in a game. In particular, people were fond of how these heteromorphic beings were weaker in their human and demihuman forms, but more powerful in their fully monstrous forms.

Momonga turned away from Demiurge, who was partially transformed into a demon, and looked to the sparkling stars in the sky once more. He spoke softly, as though to his absent friends:

“…To think one could see so far just by the light of the moon and the stars… it’s hard to believe that this world is real. Blue Planet-san… this world is like a chest of jewels.”

“Perhaps it is. I believe the beauty of this world exists to adorn you, Mo— Dark Warrior-san,” Demiurge said in a reverent voice.

The sudden statement sounded like it was finding fault with his memories of his comrades, and it upset Momonga. However, the anger faded as he gazed upon the beautiful sight before him.

In addition, the act of overlooking this world, which seemed so tiny before him, made him feel that perhaps it was not a bad idea to play the role of an evil overlord.

“Indeed, it is beautiful. You say these stars exist to adorn me… perhaps that is so. Perhaps the reason that I have come here is to claim this chest of jewels which belongs to nobody else.”

Momonga clenched his fist before him, and it looked as though he was taking the stars into his grasp. Of course, that was simply because his hand was covering the stars up. He shrugged at his childish behavior and said to Demiurge:

“…No, this is not something I can claim for myself. Perhaps these jewels are meant to adorn the Great Tomb of Nazarick; myself, and my friends from Ainz Ooal Gown.”

“…What a moving statement. If is your wish, then by your command, I shall lead Nazarick’s forces to claim this chest of jewels. I, Demiurge would like nothing more than to present this chest of jewels to my lord and master, Momonga-sama.”

Those cheesy lines made Momonga chuckle. He wondered if Demiurge had been intoxicated by the atmosphere as well.

“As long as we do not know anything about the beings which live in this world, I can only say that your idea is foolish. For all we know, we might be minuscule weaklings in this world. However, conquering this world might be quite interesting.”

Conquering the world was something that only the villains in children’s shows would say.

The fact was that conquering the world was not easy. And then there was the matter of ruling the world after conquering it, preventing insurgency and maintaining public order, as well as all the other problems that came with ruling a host of nations. When one thought about these things, one would realise that there was hardly any point in conquering the world.

Momonga knew all of this, but he still spoke of conquering this world, because seeing its beauty awoke that juvenile desire within him. In addition, as he was getting into the mindset of being the leader of the dreaded guild Ainz Ooal Gown, those words accidentally fell from his mouth.

And there was one more reason.

“…Ulbert-san, Luci★Fer-san, Variable Talisman-san, Bellriver-san…”

It was because he remembered what his former guildmates had once said, “Let’s conquer one of the worlds in YGGDRASIL.”

He knew that Demiurge, the wisest mind in Nazarick, would understand that taking over the world was just a child’s joke.

If Momonga had seen the smile that had spread across Demiurge’s frog face, he would surely not have left matters at that.

But Momonga did not look at Demiurge, instead turning his gaze to the horizon, where the infinite expanse of the earth and sky met.

“…This is an unknown world. But am I the only one who made it here? Did the other members of the guild come here too?”

Although one could not play multiple characters in YGGDRASIL, his comrades who left might have made new characters on the last day of the game. Also, given that he had been online so close to the forced logoff time, Herohero-san might have come here too.

The fact was, Momonga’s presence here was an anomaly. The unknown circumstances that had brought him here might have brought his comrades who no longer played the game here with him.

He could not contact them with a 「Message」, but there might be many reasons for that. They might be on a different continent, or something had changed in the spell’s effect, and so on.

“…I see… then as long as the whole world knows the name of Ainz Ooal Gown…”

If his comrades were here, then the name of the guild would reach their ears. Once they found out, they would come over. Momonga was that confident in the strength of their friendship.

Deep in thought, Momonga looked over to Nazarick, and saw a curious sight.

A wave over a hundred meters across was moving along the land as though it were the sea. Little ripples rose from the surface of the plains, slowly heading in the same direction as they fused together, finally becoming small hillocks as they approached Nazarick.

The gigantic pile of dirt shattered against the sturdy walls of Nazarick, like waves crashing against the shore.

“…「Earth Surge」. He used his skills to enlarge the effective area, as well as his other class skills…” Momonga muttered in respect.

In all of Nazarick, only one person could use this magic.

“That’s Mare for you. It seems camouflaging the walls is an easy task for him.”

“Indeed. Mare has also recruited several golems and undead — who are tireless — to help. However, their progress is slow and hardly ideal. In addition, some gaps will be left after moving the earth, which will need to be filled with plants. That will only increase his workload further.”

“…Concealing the walls of Nazarick was a time-consuming task to begin with. The only question is whether he will be discovered as he works. How is our perimeter security?”

“Our early-warning net has already been constructed. We will know of the intrusion of any intelligent beings within five kilometers, and we will be able to observe them without their knowledge.”

“Well done. However… this net is manned by the underlings, right?”

Demiurge replied in the positive, and Momonga suggested it might be good to erect another security net, just in case.

“…I have a plan for the security net. Put it into motion.”

“Understood. I will discuss this with Albedo and then combine her suggestions with your orders. Also, Dark Warrior-sama—”

“—It’s fine, Demiurge. You can call me Momonga.”

“Understood… may I ask about what you plan to do next, Momonga-sama?”

“Since Mare has carried out his task splendidly, I intend to check in on him. I also plan to give him a suitable reward in person…”

A smile appeared on Demiurge’s face. It was a gentle look that seemed completely out of place on a devil’s face.

“I believe your thanks will be the finest reward he can receive, Momonga-sama… my deepest apologies, I suddenly remembered something I have to do. As for Mare…”

“It’s fine. Go, Demiurge.”

“Thank you very much, Momonga-sama.”

As Demiurge spread his wings to fly off, Momonga aimed for a point on the ground and landed, donning his helmet along the way. The Dark Elf near Momonga’s destination seemed to notice his descent and looked up, surprise written all over his face as he saw Momonga.

Mare ran over with a tatata sound as Momonga landed upon the ground. The hem of Mare’s skirt fluttered around his thighs as his legs pumped up and down.

For a moment, something peeked out from below, then vanished again… no, Momonga was not interested in looking under Mare’s skirt. He was just curious about what he wore underneath it.

“Mo-Momonga-sama, w-welcome .”

“Mm… Mare, there is no need to be nervous. Take your time and go slowly. If you’re not used to it, you can also dispense with the polite language… though only when we’re in private, of course.”

“I, I can’t do that, how could I not speak respectfully to a Supreme Being… actually, Nee-chan shouldn’t be doing that too. It, it’s terribly rude…”

Although he disliked children being so formal around him, Momonga said:

“I see, Mare. Well, if you insist, then I am fine with it. However, I want you to know that I will not force you to do so.”

“Y-Yes! …Al-Although, may I ask why you came here, Momonga-sama? Did I make a mistake…?”

“Of course not, Mare. In fact, I came here to praise you.”

The expression on Mare’s face went from fear that he might be scolded to surprise.

“Mare, your work is very important. Even with our security net in place, the inhabitants of this world may be over level one hundred. If we are faced with opponents like that, concealing the Great Tomb of Nazarick will be our top priority..”

Mare nodded furiously in agreement.

“Which is why, Mare, I wanted to let you know how satisfied I am that you have carried out your task. In addition, I want to tell you how relieved I am that you were the one handling this matter.”

One of the ironclad rules of society that Momonga believed in was that a good boss should compliment the good work of his subordinates.

The Guardians thought highly of him; conversely, in order to have them continue to be loyal to him, Momonga had to act in a way that was worthy of their praise.

Allowing these NPCs that his guild members had made together to feel disappointment or betrayal because of his actions would shatter his golden record as a guild master. It would be like a mark of failure branded on Momonga. Because of that, Momonga had to be careful to maintain the air of authority befitting a ruler when he spoke to the NPCs.

“…You understand what I’m thinking, don’t you, Mare?”

“Yes! Momonga-sama!”

Mare might have been dressed like a girl, but the fact that he was a boy was evident from his panicked face.

“Very good. Then, for your hard work, I shall give you a reward.”

“How, how could I accept such a thing? I was simply doing my duty!”

“…You deserve a reward for your good performance. It’s only natural.”

“It, it’s not like that! We exist to give our all for the Supreme Beings, so working hard is only to be expected!”

This back and forth went on for a while, and the two of them could not meet in the middle. Momonga decided to cut this sequence of events short.

“Then, how about this. In exchange for this reward, continue your loyal service to me. That should do it.”

“Is, is that really all right?”

To cut him short, Momonga produced the reward in question — a ring.

“Mo-Momonga-sama… you’ve taken the wrong thing out!”

“No I—”

“—It can’t be right! That’s the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown, a treasure which only the Supreme Beings possess! I can’t accept a reward like that.”

Momonga was shocked at how the unexpected reward was making Mare tremble.

He was correct in that this ring was intended for the guild members. Only one hundred of them had been made, so that meant that there were only fifty nine rings without owners — no, fifty eight. As a result, they were quite precious, but the reason for this gift was not just as a reward, but the hope that it would be put to good use.

In order to put Mare’s rampant imagination at ease, Momonga sternly said, “Calm down, Mare.”

“I, I can’t! How could I accept a valuable ring that only the Supreme Beings should possess—”

“—Calm down, Mare. Teleportation is blocked in the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and that generates all kinds of inconveniences.”

After hearing this, Mare slowly regained his composure.

“My hope is that during an enemy attack, the Guardians will command their respective Floor’s forces. At the same time it would be quite sad if a Guardian was unable to move around freely  due to the teleportation block. Therefore, I give this ring to you.”

Momonga raised the ring on his finger high. It glittered brilliantly in the moonlight.

“Mare, I am pleased with your loyalty. At the same time, I understand your reluctance as an NPC to accept this ring which symbolizes us. However, if you truly understand my intentions, you will accept my orders and this ring with them.”

“But, but, why me… shouldn’t everyone else have gotten one too…?”

“I had intended to give the others these rings; however you are the first. This is because I am pleased with your work. If I gave this to someone who did no work, then this ring would have no meaning. Or do you intend to devalue this ring?”

“No, no, of course not!”

“Then take it, Mare. After accepting this ring, continue working hard for Nazarick and myself.”

Mare nervously reached out his hand and slowly accepted the ring.

Momonga felt somewhat guilty as he watched Mare. The truth was that he had an ulterior motive for giving him the ring.

That was because once Mare had the ring, it would be more difficult for people to tell that Momonga was teleporting around.

As Mare put on the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown, it immediately changed its dimensions to fit Mare’s slender fingers. He could not help but stare at the ring on his finger, sighing in relief. Then he turned to Momonga and bowed deeply.

“Momonga-sama, th-thank you for this great gift… I promise that from today onward I will work harder so I do not disappoint you!”

“Then, I’ll trust you with it, Mare.”

“Yes!”

A determined look appeared on Mare’s face as he gave his immediate answer.

Why had Bukubukuchagama-san, who had designed Mare, dressed him like this?

Was it to dress him differently from Aura, or was there another reason?

Just as Momonga was pondering this question, Mare asked a question of his own.

“Ah, excuse me, Momonga-sama… but why are you dressed like that?”

“…Ah, about that…”

Because I wanted to get away — obviously he could not say that.

Mare’s eyes sparkled as he looked up to the troubled Momonga. How should he bluff his way through this? If he failed here, all the acting he had done to appear like a commanding superior would have gone to waste. No subordinate would respect a superior who was trying to flee.

Momonga desperately tried to calm himself down, and then help came from an unexpected source.

“That’s simple, Mare.”

Momonga looked back, and his eyes were instantly drawn to the person he was looking at.

A woman who seemed to be the embodiment of all feminine beauty stood beneath the moonlight. The bluish-white radiance played across her body, which sparkled in response. It was as though a goddess had descended from the heavens to grace the earth. Her black wings flapped, creating a gust of wind.

It was Albedo.

Although Demiurge was behind her, such was Albedo’s beauty that Momonga’s eyes did not even register Demiurge’s form.

“Momonga-sama wore this armor and concealed his identity because he did not wish to disturb the others at work.”

“When Momonga-sama approaches, it is only natural for everyone to stop whatever they are doing and bow to him. However, Momonga-sama did not wish to interrupt anyone. Thus he disguised himself as Dark Warrior-sama so the others would not cease in their labors to pay him his due respect. Am I correct, Momonga-sama?”

After hearing Albedo’s question, Momonga nodded repeatedly.

“As, as expected of you Albedo, you understood my true intentions.”

“It is only natural, as the Guardian Overseer. No, even if I were not the Guardian Overseer, I am confident that I could read your heart, Momonga-sama.”

As Albedo smiled and bowed deeply, there was a bizarre expression of Demiurge’s face as he stood behind her.

Although it weighed on his mind, he could not object to the people assisting him.

“So, so that’s why…” Mare said, with a look of realization on his face.

As he looked toward Mare, Momonga saw a sight he could hardly believe was real. Albedo’s eyes had suddenly gone wide open, to the point where it seemed like her eyeballs might fall out. She was pointing at Mare in a strange way.

Just as Momonga was thinking about this, Albedo’s face returned to its usual beautiful state, so quickly that Momonga thought it had all been an illusion.

“…What’s wrong?”

“Ah, no, nothing… all right, Mare, sorry for disturbing you. Take a break, and continue the camouflage work afterwards.”

“Y-Yes! Then, Momonga-sama, I’ll be on my way.”

As Momonga nodded to him, Mare rubbed the ring on his finger and left.

“Speaking of which, why did you come here, Albedo?”

“I heard Demiurge say you would be here, so I wished to greet you, Momonga-sama. However, I apologize for making you see me in this filthy state.”

Momonga looked at Albedo again as he heard the words “filthy.” However, he did not feel that the words were fitting. Granted, there was dust on her clothes, but it did not lessen her beauty at all.

“Certainly not, Albedo. Your radiance could never be diminished by something as insignificant as dirt. That said, I feel a little uncomfortable about making a beautiful maiden like yourself run around. However, since this is an emergency, I must ask you to continue working for Nazarick for the time being. I apologize for that.”

“I can endure any hardship as long as it’s for your sake, Momonga-sama!”

“I am grateful for your loyalty. Ah, yes… Albedo, I have something to give you.”

“…What might that something be?”

As Albedo lowered her head and calmly replied, Momonga brought out a ring. Naturally, it was a Ring of Ainz of Ooal Gown.

“You will need this item in your position as the Guardian Overseer.”

“…Thank you very much.”

Her reaction was so different from Mare’s that Momonga was somewhat disappointed. However, he immediately realised that he was mistaken.

The corner of Albedo’s mouth was twitching and she was desperately trying not to let her expression change. Her wings were shuddering because she was trying her best not to spread them. The hand which took the ring had clenched up (when had she done that?) and then it opened up, trembling mightily. Even an idiot could see her excitement.

“Continue your loyal service, As for Demiurge… some other time.”

“I understand, Momonga-sama. I shall continue working hard in future to prove myself worthy of such a mighty ring.”

“Is that so? Then, I have abandoned the tasks that I must take care of. I’d best return to the Ninth Floor before I get scolded.”

After seeing Albedo and Demiurge lower their heads in response, Momonga activated the teleportation effect of the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown.

In the instant before the scenery changed, Momonga thought he heard a woman shouting “ALL RIGHT!” However, he felt he must have been mistaken, because there was no way Albedo could have made such a crude sound.

Part 2

They were close to the outskirts of the village.

Enri heard the sound of clanking metal from behind her as she ran. It was a rhythmic sound.

She looked behind with a prayer in her heart — as expected, it was the worst-case scenario. A knight was chasing the Emmot sisters.

Just a little further.

Enri took a deep breath and forced herself to soldier on. She had no energy to waste on anything else.

Her breathing was rapid, her heart beating hard enough that she felt it would burst, and her legs were shaking mightily. Soon enough, she would be completely exhausted, and she would collapse and not get up.

If she were alone, perhaps she might have lost the strength to run and given up.

However, she was holding her little sister’s hand. It gave her the energy to run away.

The truth was that the powerful desire to save her sister had kept Enri going until now.

As she ran, she glanced behind again.

The distance between herself and her pursuer had not changed. Even in armor, the man’s speed had not decreased. This was the difference between a trained warrior and a village girl.

Sweat ran down Enri’s back as her body went cold. If this kept up… she would not be able to escape with her sister.

—Let her go.

Those words echoed through her head.

—Perhaps you could escape by yourself.

—Do you want to die here?

—It might be safer if you split up.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!”

Enri shouted at herself for those thoughts through her clenched teeth.

She was the worst sister imaginable.

Why was her little sister holding her tears back?

It was because she believed in her big sister. She believed her big sister would save her.

As she gripped the hand of her little sister — that hand which gave her the strength to flee and fight on — Enri steeled herself and hardened her resolve.

She would never abandon her sister.

“Ah!”

Enri’s younger sister was as tired as Enri herself. Therefore, she suddenly stumbled, yelped, and almost fell.

The reason why the two of them had not fallen was because they were holding tightly onto each other’s hands. However, Nemu’s near-fall caused Enri to falter herself.

“Faster!”

“Ah, yes!”

Although she wanted to run on, her little sister was starting to cramp up, and she could not move fast. Enri wanted to pick up Nemu and run, but the sounds of metal drawing up beside her filled Enri with fear.

The knight beside her held a bloodstained sword. In addition, his armor and helm were covered in traces of spattered blood.

Enri pushed Nemu behind herself and glared angrily at the knight.

“It’s pointless to struggle.”

There was no compassion in those words. Instead, there was only mockery. Those words implied that running would only end in death anyway.

The anger in Enri’s heart boiled over, and she thought, What was he saying?

The knight raised his sword to Enri, who had stopped moving. However, just before he could swing it down on them—

“Don’t look down on me!”

“Guwaargh!”

—Enri forcefully punched the knight’s metal helmet. That strike carried the anger that filled her and the desire to protect her little sister. She did not care that she was striking metal with her bare hand. She hit him with every ounce of her strength.

There was the sound of something like bones cracking, and soon pain spread throughout Enri’s body. The knight wobbled under the force of the mighty blow.

“Hurry!”

“Yes!”

Enri bit back the pain and made to flee again — and suddenly a line of scorching heat bloomed on her back.

“—Ggk!”

“Damn you!”

The village girl punching the knight in the face had shamed him, hence his anger.

He was swinging his sword wildly, having lost his cool. As a result, his first blow did not cause a mortal wound. However, that was the end of her luck. Enri was hurt, and the knight was filled with rage. The next blow would certainly take her life.

Enri looked at the longsword raised high before her.

Panic was written all over her face as she watched the malevolent gleaming of the terrible swift sword, and she realized two things.

The first was that her life would be over in a few seconds. The second was that an ordinary village girl like herself had no way of fighting that fate.

The tip of the sword was stained with some of her blood. As her heart beat faster, the pain spread through her body, along with the scorching heat of her wound.

The pain she had never felt before filled her with fear and made her want to throw up.

Perhaps vomiting would clear the feeling of nausea that filled her.

However, Enri was looking for a way to live, so she had no time to throw up.

Although she wanted to abandon her struggle, there was a reason why Enri had not given up until now. That was the warmth pressed against her chest — her younger sister.

She had to let her sister live.

That sole thought kept Enri from giving in.

In contrast, the armored knight in front of her seemed to be mocking Enri’s resolve.

The raised sword swung down.

Perhaps it was because all her energies were concentrated here, or because her brain was working overtime because she was on the verge of life and death, but Enri felt that time was passing very slowly, and she desperately tried to think of some way to save her little sister.

However, she could not think of anything. All she could do was use her own body as a shield, letting the blade cleave deeply into herself, in the hope of buying time for her little sister to escape.

As long as she had the strength, she would hang on tightly to the knight or the sword he stuck in her, holding on tight and not letting go until the flame of her life guttered out.

If she could do that. she would gladly accept her fate.

Enri smiled, as though she were a martyr.

As a big sister, this was all she could do for Nemu. The thought made Enri smile.

Could Nemu escape the hell that was Carne Village by herself?

Even if she fled into the forest, she might run into patrols of soldiers. However, as long as she could survive, there was a possibility of escape. In order to give her little sister the chance to survive, Enri would bet her life — no, she would bet everything.

That said, the idea of being hurt again frightened her, so she closed her eyes. In this world of darkness, she prepared herself for the pain that would come—

Part 3

Momonga sat on a chair and looked at the mirror before him. The roughly one meter wide mirror did not reflect Momonga’s face, but a patch of grass. The mirror was like a television set, showing images of a distant plain.

The grass of the plains swayed in the wind, proving it was not a still image.

As time passed, the sun slowly rose, its light banishing the darkness that covered the plains. This pastoral scene, almost poetic in its beauty, was a stark difference from the former location of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, the desolate world of Helheim.

Momonga reached out to the mirror and swiped his hand right. The mirror’s image changed.

This was a Mirror of Remote Viewing.

This was a magic item used to display an image of a specific region. It was a very useful item for player-killers, or player-killer-killers. However, there were low level spells which occluded information-gathering spells that could hide people from the mirror’s eyes. In addition, it was easy for users to be counterattacked by offensive barriers, so it was an average item at best.

However, for the present circumstances, an item which could show the outside world was a very useful item indeed.

Momonga enjoyed the movie-like quality of the grass within the mirror as the image changed.

“It would seem that I can move the image with a wave of the hand. That way, I won’t have to keep looking at the same spot.”

The scenery and the angles with which it was viewed changed within the floating mirror. Although he had made several mistakes so far, Momonga kept changing his gestures to alter the landscape within the mirror, hoping that he would find someone. However, up till now, he had not found any intelligent beings — for instance, humans.

He repeated the same simple gestures over and over again, but all the images he got were the same: plains. Momonga was starting to get bored, so he looked at the other person in the room.

“What’s wrong, Momonga-sama? I stand ready to heed your every command.”

“No, there’s nothing, Sebas.”

Sebas was the other person in the room. He might have been smiling, but his words seemed to hold some kind of subtext. Although Sebas was absolutely loyal to him, he had objected to Momonga’s excursion to the surface without bringing his followers along.

Indeed, just after Momonga returned from the surface, Sebas had accosted and lectured him.

Momonga said what was on his heart.

“What will I do with him…”

Being with Sebas made Momonga think of his guildmate Touch Me. After all, Touch Me-san was the one who had designed Sebas.

Still, he didn’t have to make him so similar to himself. Even the way Sebas gets angry reminds me of him.

After grumbling in his heart, Momonga looked back to the mirror.

Momonga’s plan was to teach Demiurge the hard-learned lessons of how to control the magic mirror. This was what Momonga had meant when he spoke to Demiurge about another security net.

Although it would have been simpler to leave this task to his subordinates, Momonga wanted to handle this task personally. The truth was that he wanted to use his can-do working attitude to inspire and gain the respect of his subordinates. Therefore he could not be seen to give up halfway. Still, why can’t I switch to a higher vantage point? If only there were a manual… With these thoughts in mind, Momonga went about the painstaking work of figuring the mirror’s controls out by boring, repetitive trial and error.

He did not know how long it had been.

It might have only been a while, but so far his work had not borne fruit, and he could not help but feel like this was all a waste of time.

Momonga casually waved his hand with a vacant expression, and his field of vision suddenly expanded.

“Oh!”

Surprise, delight, pride, Momonga’s exclamation was filled with all of these. At his wit’s end, he made a random gesture and the screen suddenly did as he wanted. This was a cry of joy one would expect out of a programmer who had pulled eight hour’s worth of overtime.

Cheering and clapping answered him. The source of these two sounds was Sebas.

“Congratulations, Momonga-sama. Your servant Sebas stands in awe of your prowess.”

Granted, this was the fruit of extensive trial and error, so you don’t need to go that far. Momonga thought that, but when he saw that Sebas looked quite happy, he decided to humbly accept the butler’s praise.

“Thank you, Sebas. Although I apologize for making you accompany me for so long.”

“What are you saying? Staying by your side and obeying your orders is the reason for a butler’s existence, Momonga-sama. There is no need to thank or apologize to me… although, it is true that this process took quite some time. Momonga-sama, would you like to take a break?”

“No, there is no need for that. Undead like myself are not affected by negative statuses like fatigue. If you’re tired, you may go and rest.”

“Thank you for your kindness, but it would be unthinkable for a butler to rest while his master worked. With the aid of magic items, I am not affected by fatigue either. Please allow me to stay by your side until the end, Momonga-sama.”

Momonga realised one thing from his conversations with the NPCs; namely, they casually used game terms in their speech. For instance, skills, job classes, items, levels, negative statuses, and so on. If he could use game terms with them in an unironic way, it might be easier to give them orders.

After agreeing to Sebas’s request, he continued studying the ways to control the mirror. Finally he discovered a method to adjust the height of his viewpoint.

Momonga smiled in satisfaction, and began looking for a populated area.

Finally, an image of something like a village appeared on the mirror.

It was located roughly ten kilometers south of Nazarick. There was a forest nearby, and wheat fields surrounded a settlement. It appeared to be a rustic farming village. By the looks of things, the village itself was not very developed.

As Momonga zoomed in on the village, he felt that something was amiss.

“…Are they holding a festival?”

People were running in and out of their houses this early in the morning. They looked panicked.

“No, that is not a festival.”

That steely voice came from Sebas, who was watching the display with a keen look in his eye as he stood beside Momonga.

There was an undercurrent of disgust in Sebas’s stern words. As Momonga enlarged the image, he too furrowed his nonexistent brows.

Fully armored knights were swinging their longswords at the villagers, who were dressed in rough clothes.

It was a massacre.

A villager fell with every swing of a knight’s sword. The villagers could not resist them, and could only run away. The knights pursued and killed the fleeing villagers. There were horses eating the grain in the field. Those horses must have belonged to the knights.

“Cheh!”

Momonga scoffed, intending to change the image. This village had no value to him. If he could extract more information from it, perhaps he might have a reason to save them. But as things stood, there was no reason to save this village.

He should abandon them.

Momonga was taken aback by how he could make such a heartless decision. A cruel slaughter was occurring before his eyes, but the only thing he could think of was the good of Nazarick. There was nothing like pity, anger, or worry, basic human emotions anyone should have.

It felt like he was watching a TV show about animals and insects, where the strong ate the weak.

Could it be that as one of the undead, he no longer considered himself part of humanity?

No, how could that be?

Momonga struggled to find an excuse to justify his thinking.

He was not an agent of justice.

He was level one hundred, but like he had told Mare, this world’s commoners might well be level one hundred as well. Therefore, he could not tread blindly into this unknown world. Although it looked like the knights were conducting a one-sided slaughter of the villagers, there might be other reasons at work here which he did not know about. Reasons like “illness, judgement, setting an example,” and others like them kept appearing in his mind. And if he stepped in and defeated the knights, he might earn the ire of the country they belonged to.

Momonga stretched out his bony hand and rubbed his skull as he thought. Could it be that after becoming an undead being who was immune to mind-affecting effects, he had become inured to scenes like this? Definitely not.

He waved his hand again, showing a scene from another part of the village.

It seemed like two knights were trying to pull a violently struggling villager off another knight. The man was pulled away, his arms were held, and he was rendered motionless where he stood. Before Momonga’s eyes, the man was stabbed with a sword. The blade entered his body and exited from the other side of him. It should have been a fatal blow, but the longsword did not stop. One, two, three strikes — the knight seemed to be taking out his anger on the villager as he hacked at the man’s body.

In the end, the knight kicked away the villager, who collapsed to the ground while spurting his blood into the air.

—The villager looked straight at Momonga. No, this might have just been a coincidence.

It was definitely a coincidence.

There was no way for anyone to detect the mirror’s surveillance apart from anti-divination spells.

Frothy blood leaked from the villager’s mouth as he tried to open his mouth. His eyes were unfocused, and Momonga could not tell where he was looking. Even so, with what may have been his dying breaths, he gasped his last words:

—Please save my daughter—

“What do you intend to do?”

Sebas seemed to have been waiting for this moment to speak.

There could only be one answer. Momonga replied coldly:

“Nothing. There is no reason, value or benefit in rescuing them.”

“—Understood.”

Momonga nonchalantly looked at Sebas — at the phantom image of his past guildmate.

“This… Touch Me-san…”

Just then, Momonga remembered something.

—Saving someone in trouble is common sense.

When Momonga had just started out in YGGDRASIL, hunting down characters of heteromorphic races was a common practice, and Momonga, who had chosen such a race, had been PKed countless times. Just when he was about to leave YGGDRASIL, those words, spoken by that man, had saved him.

If not for those words, Momonga would not be here.

Momonga sighed softly, and then he smiled. Now that he had recalled that memory, he had no choice but to go save them.

“I will repay that debt… besides, sooner or later, I’ll have to test my fighting strength in this world.”

After saying that to his absent friend, Momonga enlarged the view of the village until he saw everything. After that, he tried to pick out the surviving villagers.

“Sebas, put Nazarick on maximum alert. I will go first, and you will tell Albedo, who is standing by next door, to follow me after fully equipping herself. However, I forbid her to bring Ginnungagap. After that, prepare support units. Something might happen which results in my inability to retreat. Therefore the units sent to the village should be adept at stealth or have the ability to go invisible.”

“I understand, but I wish to request the task of defending your body to be given to me.”

“Then who will relay my orders? These knights are currently sacking the village, which means there might be knights near Nazarick who might attack us. Therefore, you must stay.”

The image changed, and now it showed a girl sending a knight flying with a punch. The girl was leading an even younger girl as they ran away. They were probably sisters. Momonga immediately opened his inventory and withdrew the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown.

Just as the girl planned to flee, she was slashed in the back. Since time was tight, Momonga swiftly incanted the spell.

“「Gate」.”

It had no limits on distance and a 0% chance of teleport mishaps.

The spell Momonga used was the most accurate and potent of such spells in YGGDRASIL.

The scene before him changed in an instant.

The fact that the opposition had not used teleport-blocking filled Momonga with relief. If he was denied the chance to rescue them, and was ambushed instead, it would have been bad.

The scene before the eyes was the same of what he had seen earlier.

Two terrified girls were in front of him.

The one who looked like the elder sister had a braid of straw-blonde hair that reached down to her breasts. Her skin, healthily tanned from working in the sun, was now deathly pale from fear, and her dark eyes were wet with tears.

The little sister — the younger girl — buried her face in her sister’s waist, trembling in fright.

Momonga gazed coldly at the knight standing before the two girls.

Perhaps he was shocked by Momonga’s sudden appearance, but the knight simply stared at Momonga, having apparently forgotten to swing the sword he was holding.

Momonga had grown up without knowing the touch of violence on his life. He did not think that the world in which he currently resided was a simulation, but the real thing, Even so, he did not feel the slightest bit of fear at the knight before him who held a sword.

This calmness allowed him to make a cold, cruel decision.

Momonga reached out an empty hand and cast his spell.

“「Grasp Heart」.”
 
This spell was one that crushed a foe’s heart, and among the ten tiers of spells, it was an instant death spell of the Ninth Tier. Many of the necromantic spells which Momonga was adept with possessed instant death properties, and this was one of them.

Momonga had chosen to open with this spell because even if it was resisted, the spell would still temporarily stun his opponent.

If the spell had been resisted, his plan was to take the two girls and jump back into the still open 「Gate」. He had already planned his route of retreat since he was not sure what his opponents could do.

However, it would seem those preparations would not be necessary.

A feeling of something soft crushing beneath Momonga’s fingers travelled up his arm, and the knight collapsed silently to the ground

Momonga looked down upon the fallen knight.

It would seem that even killing someone did not stir any emotions within him.

There was no guilt, fear, or confusion in his heart, which was like the surface of a calm lake. Why was it like this?

“I see… so it’s not just my body, but my mind that’s no longer human.”

Momonga took a step forward.

The elder sister squeaked in confusion as Momonga walked past her, probably in fear at the knight’s demise.

Momonga had clearly come to rescue her. However, the girl was seemingly confused by Momonga’s sudden appearance and actions. What was she thinking?

Although he had his doubts, Momonga did not have time to worry about them. After verifying the wounds on the elder sister’s back through her tatty old clothes, Momonga put the girls behind him, and glared at a knight who had just emerged from a nearby house.

The knight saw Momonga as well, and took a step back in fear.

“…So, you dare to chase girls, but not someone who can fight back?”

As Momonga stared down the quivering knight, he considered what spell to use next.

Momonga’s opening spell was one that he particularly favored, 「Grasp Heart」. This sort of magic was Momonga’s specialty. Momonga had used his innate skills to increase the chances of instant death, and his necromancy-enhancing abilities improved the effectiveness of 「Grasp Heart」 even further. However, it meant that he could not gauge the strength of that knight.

Therefore, he should use another spell against this knight, something that did not instantly kill him. This way, he could measure the strength of this world and verify his own power.

“—Since I’ve come all this way, I might as well run a few experiments. You shall be a test subject.”

Momonga’s necromancy spells were augmented, but the simple attack spells he used were not very destructive. In addition, since metal armor was weak against electrical effects in YGGDRASIL, most people enchanted their plate armor with electricity resistance. Therefore, Momonga deliberately chose to attack his foe with an electrical spell to see how much damage it would do.

Because his aim was not to kill his opposition, there was no need to enhance its effects with skills.

“「Dragon Lightning」.”

A dragon-shaped bolt of white electricity crackled around Momonga’s arms and shoulders. The bolt flared brightly as it instantly surged out at the knight Momonga was pointing at.

There was no way to avoid it or defend against it.

The knight who had been electrocuted by the dragon-shaped lightning bolt shone brilliantly for an instant. Miserable as his death was, it was still a beautiful sight.

The light in his eyes faded, and the knight collapsed to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut. The body beneath the armor was charred black and gave off a vile stench.

Momonga had been planning to follow up with another spell, but he felt silly as he noted the weakness of the knights.

“Pathetic… he died so easily…”

To Momonga, the fifth tier 「Dragon Lightning」 was a weak spell. When hunting level one hundred players, Momonga would usually cast spells of the eighth tier and higher. Magic of the fifth tier and below would almost never see use.
 
Now that he knew the knights were weak enough to be finished off by fifth tier magic, Momonga’s tension vanished in an instant. Of course, it could be that these two knights were especially weak among their kind, but still, it was a great relief. Still, the plan to retreat with magic had not changed.

These knights might be focused on offense. In YGGDRASIL, a blow to the neck counted as a critical hit and dealt extra damage, but in the real world, it might well be fatal.

Instead of relaxing, Momonga raised his guard. It would be too foolish to die because he was careless. Next, he ought to continue testing his powers.

Momonga activated one of his skills.

“—「Create Mid Tier Undead, Death Knight」.”

This was one of Momonga’s skills, which could create various undead. The Death Knight in question was Momonga’s favorite undead monster, which he used as a meat shield.

It was roughly level thirty five, but although its attack power was only comparable to a level twenty five monster, its defensive power was very good, equivalent to a level forty monster. That said, monsters of that level were useless to Momonga for the most part.

However, the Death Knight had two very important skills.

One of them was the ability to draw away enemy attacks. The other was that just once, they could survive any attack with one HP. Momonga liked using Death Knights as shields because of these two skills.

This time round, he was also looking forward to using the Death Knight in a similar way.

In YGGDRASIL, when he used his skills to create undead, they would appear out of the sky in their summoner’s vicinity. However, things seemed different in this world.

A cloud of black fog appeared. The cloud headed straight for the body of the knight whose heart had been crushed and then enveloped it.

The mist slowly expanded, and melded with the knight’s body. After that, the knight wobbled before slowly rising to its feet like a zombie.

“Eeeeek!”

Momonga heard the shrieks from the sisters, but he had no time to worry about them. After all, he was quite surprised at the sight before his eyes.

With a wet, dripping sound, several rills of black ichor oozed out from between the gaps in the knight’s helmet. It must have come from the knight’s mouth.

The black fluid flowed out without end, until it covered the knight’s entire body. It looked like a human being that had been swallowed by a slime. Completely surrounded by the black liquid, the knight’s body began to twist and change.

After several seconds, the black liquid fell off the body of what was now a Death Knight.

It was now two point three meters tall, and its body was correspondingly bulkier. It no longer resembled a human being, but a wild beast.

In its left hand it held a large shield that covered three-quarters of its body — a tower shield — and in its right hand it held a wavy-bladed flamberge. This one hundred thirty centimeter long weapon was intended to be held with both hands, but the massive Death Knight could easily wield it with one hand. A dreadful red-black aura covered the flamberge’s blade, which pulsed like a heart.

Its massive body was sheathed in a suit of full plate armor made from some black armor, and it was covered in red tracery that resembled blood vessels. The armor was also covered in spikes as far as anyone could see, and it looked like a man-shaped incarnation of brutality. Demonic horns sprang from its head, and one could see its rotted face underneath them. Twin points of hateful, murderous light shone in the eye sockets of its ghastly visage.

Its tattered black cape blowing in the wind, the Death Knight awaited Momonga’s orders. The way it carried itself was truly deserving of the name “Death Knight”.

Much like he had with the Primal Fire Elemental and Moonlight Wolves he had summoned, Momonga used the mental bond with his summoned monster and pointed to the corpse of the knight who had been slain by the 「Dragon Lightning」.

“Exterminate all the knights who are attacking this village.”

“OOOOOOOAAAAHHHHHHH!” it roared.

So mighty was its cry that it shook the air, and it was so filled with bloodlust that everyone who heard it broke out in goosebumps.

The Death Knight ran, fast as lightning. The way it charged forward without hesitation was like a hunting hound that had scented its quarry. The undead creature’s hatred for the living made it sensitive to the prey that it would soon slaughter.

As the Death Knight’s silhouette shrank into the distance, Momonga was keenly aware of a difference between this new world and YGGDRASIL.

That was “independence”.

Originally, the Death Knight should have stayed by its summoner’s side to await his orders and attack any enemies which approached. Yet, it had disregarded that order and launched an attack of its own accord. This difference might be a fatal vulnerability in an unknown situation like this one.

At a loss for words, Momonga scratched his head and sighed.

“It ran off… to think a shield would abandon the person it was supposed to protect. Then again, I did tell it to do so.”

Momonga reproached himself for his miscalculation.

Although he could make quite a few more Death Knights, it was best to conserve limited-use abilities while he was not sure of the enemy and the situation. Still, Momonga was a back-line mage. Without a front-liner to run interference for him, he was effectively naked.

Therefore, he would need to create another defender. This time, he would try making one without a corpse.

Just as Momonga was thinking about that, a humanoid shape came through the still-open Gate. At the same time, the Gate’s duration ended, and it slowly disappeared.

A person clad in a suit of full-body black plate armor stood before Momonga.

That suit of armor looked like a demon. It was covered in spikes and did not expose the slightest bit of flesh. Its clawed gauntlets grasped a black kite shield in one hand and a bardiche that radiated a sickly green glow in the other. A blood-red cape blew in the wind, while the doublet beneath was also the carmine of fresh blood.

“The preparations took some time. I apologize for my late arrival,” Albedo’s melodic voice spoke from beneath the horned helmet.

Albedo’s levels were in the defense focused Dark Knight class. As a result, among the three level one hundred warriors of Nazarick — Sebas, Cocytus, and Albedo — Albedo possessed the greatest defensive ability.

In other words, she was the strongest shield in Nazarick.

“No, it’s fine. You came just in time.”

“Thank you. Then… how shall we dispose of these inferior lifeforms? If you do not wish to stain his hands with their blood, I will gladly eliminate them on your behalf, Momonga-sama.”

“…What exactly did Sebas tell you?”

Albedo did not respond.

“I see, you didn’t pay attention… my intention is to save this village. Our enemies are the knights in armor, like that corpse over there.”

Momonga saw that Albedo nodded in understanding, and turned his eyes elsewhere.

“Then…”

The two girls shrank under Momonga’s unyielding gaze, and tried their best to make themselves as small as possible. Perhaps it was because of the Death Knight, or because they heard its roar, or because they had heard Albedo’s words, which made them tremble uncontrollably.

Perhaps it was all of them.

Momonga felt that he should show his intention to help and reached his hand out to the elder sister, but the two girls seemed to have gotten the wrong impression.

The elder sister wet herself, followed by the younger sister.

“…”

The stench of ammonia filled the surrounding air. Fatigue washed over Momonga like a tide. He had no idea what to do, and Albedo was no help, so Momonga decided to continue trying to express his good intentions.

“…You seem to be hurt.”

As a working man, Momonga had long since trained up his ability to ignore things.

Momonga, who pretended not to notice, opened his inventory and withdrew a backpack from it. Although it was called an Infinite Backpack, it could only hold up to five hundred kilos of items.

YGGDRASIL players commonly put their immediate-use items into this bag, because the items within the bag could be assigned to hotkeys in the game interface.

After digging through several of these Backpacks, he found a small phial containing a red potion.

It was a Minor Healing Potion.

This potion could restore fifty HP, and beginners in YGGDRASIL frequently used it. However, Momonga as he was now had no need for this item at all. This was because this potion healed through positive energy. To an undead being like Momonga, this potion was like a damaging poison. However, not every member in the guild was undead, so Momonga kept some of these items just in case.

“Drink it.”

“Momonga offered the red potion. The elder sister’s face was pale with fright as she replied:

“I, I’ll drink it! Just, please, spare my little sister—”

“Nee-chan!”

He watched the little sister weeping as she tried to stop her elder sister, while the elder sister apologized to her little sister while taking the potion. Their reactions confused Momonga.

After all, he had saved them in a tight spot, and had even offered them a potion. Why were they acting like this in front of him? What was going on here?

They don’t trust me at all. Even though I wanted to leave them to their fate at first, I ended up being their saviour in the end. They should be crying and hugging me in gratitude. Isn’t this sort of thing common in manga and movies? But the exact opposite is happening now.

Where did I go wrong? Could it be that being instantly accepted is a privilege of the beautiful?

Just as a baffled expression dawned on Momonga’s fleshless face, a dulcet voice said:

“…Momonga-sama offered you a healing potion out of the kindness of his heart, but to think you would actually dare to refuse it… you inferior lifeforms deserve ten thousand deaths for that.”

Albedo raised her bardiche in a natural way, preparing to behead them on the spot.

Considering they had treated him like this despite how he had risked himself to save them, Momonga could understand Albedo’s feelings. However, if he let her go ahead and slay them, then there would be no point to this rescue.

“Wait, wait, don’t be so hasty. There’s a time and place for this, so lower your weapon.”

“…Understood, Momonga-sama,” Albedo replied gently as she withdrew her bardiche.

However, she was still radiating murderous intent, to the point where the two girls were gritting their teeth in fear. In response, Momonga’s nonexistent stomach began cramping up.

In any case, he had to leave this place as soon as possible.

If he remained here, who knew what other tragedies might occur?

Momonga offered the potion again.

“This is a healing potion. It is harmless. Hurry up and drink it.”

Momonga’s words were gentle, but backed with an adamant will. There was also the implied threat that if she did not drink, she would be slain.

The elder sister’s eyes went wide and she gulped the potion down. After that, a look of surprise filled her face.

“No way…”

She touched her back, then wiggled her body in disbelief and patted her back.

“The pain is gone?”

“Y-Yes, it is…”

The elder sister nodded stiffly, to indicate that it did not hurt.

It would seem that the minor wounds on her were easily remedied by a low tier healing potion.

Now that he had their trust, Momonga continued by asking a question. There was no way around that question, and depending on the answer, it would affect his future movements.

“Do you know of magic?”

“Yes, yes I do. The alchemist who comes by our village… my friend, knows how to use magic.”

“…Is that so. Well, that makes things easy to explain. I am a magic caster.”

Momonga then cast his spells:

“「Anti-Life Cocoon」.”  

“「Wall of Protection From Arrows」.”  

A dome of light, roughly three meters in radius, surrounded the sisters. The second spell was not visible to the naked eye, but there was a subtle change in the air. He had originally planned to use an anti-magic spell as well, but he did not know what sort of magic existed in this world, so he did not do so for the time being. If the enemy had magic casters, then that was just their bad luck.

“I have cast a defensive spell that keeps living creatures from coming near you, as well as a spell that weakens the effectiveness of shooting attacks. As long as you stay here, you should be safe. Ah, just in case, I will give you these as well.”

After calmly explaining the effects of the magic to the two dumbfounded sisters, Momonga withdrew a pair of unremarkable-looking horns. Apparently, the magic did not obstruct them, since they sailed straight through the forcefield as Momonga tossed them to the sisters’ side.

“These are called the Horns of the Goblin General. If you blow them, Goblins — in other words, small monsters — will appear. Order them to protect you.”

In YGGDRASIL, electronic data crystals dropped from monsters could be slotted into almost any sort of item (apart from certain expendable items), in order to create just about any item a player could think of. In addition there were certain artifacts which could not be created by players and had fixed stats. These horns were examples of them.

Momonga had used the horn before, and at that time it managed to summon a Goblin Troop, twelve or so Goblins with some measure of ability. There were two Goblin Archers, one Goblin Mage, a Goblin Cleric, two Goblin Riders and their wolf mounts, as well as one Goblin Leader.

Although it was called a Goblin Troop, their numbers were few and they were very weak.

This was a trash item for Momonga. The surprise was why he had not disposed of it yet. Still, Momonga felt quite smart for being able to put this trash item to good use.

Another good point about this item was that the summoned Goblins would linger until they were killed instead of vanishing after a while. That could at least buy the girls some time.

As Momonga finished, he turned to leave, bringing Albedo with him as he headed to the village. However, after a few steps, a couple of voices called out to him.

“Ah… th-thank you for saving us!”

“Thank you!”

Those words stopped Momonga in his tracks, and when he turned around, he saw the two girls, their eyes brimming with tears as they thanked him. He simply replied:

“…Think nothing of it.”

“And, and this may be thick-skinned of us, but, but you are the only one we can count on. Please! Please save our parents!”

“All right. If they’re still alive, I will rescue them.”

The sisters’ eyes went wide as they heard Momonga’s words. Their faces reflected the disbelief in their hearts, but soon they came to their senses and lowered their heads in thanks.

“Th-Thank you! Thank you very much! And, and, may we know…”

The girl’s voice trailed off, and then she asked in a mumble:

“May we know your name…?”

Momonga almost responded by reflex, but in the end he did not state his name.

The name “Momonga” was that of the guild master of the former Ainz Ooal Gown. Then what should he call himself now? What was the name of the last man who remained in the Great Tomb of Nazarick?

—Ah, that’s it.

“…Remember my name well. I am Ainz Ooal Gown.”

Part 4

“OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

The mighty roar shattered the air.

It was the signal for a slaughter to become a massacre of a different sort.

In the blink of an eye, the hunters had become the hunted.

Londes Di Gelanpo had probably cursed his gods more times in the past ten seconds than he had in the rest of his life. If the gods really did exist, then they should defeat that evil being right now. Londes was a faithful man — why had the gods abandoned him?

The gods did not exist.

In the past, he had looked down on those people who did not believe in the gods as fools. After all, if the gods did not exist, how could the priests work their magic? And now, he realised that he was the foolish one.

The monster before him — a Death Knight, for want of a better word — drew closer.

He took two steps back in response, trying to get away from it.

A shrill creaking noise came from his armor, and the sword he clutched in both hands was trembling uncontrollably. He was not the only one; the other eighteen knights surrounding the Death Knight were all acting the same way.

Although they were filled with fear, none of them ran. This was not courage — the grinding of their teeth could attest to that. If they could, they would run as fast and as far as they could.

It was because they knew there was no escape.

Londes’s eyes shifted, pleading for help.

This square was at the center of the village, where Londes and his men had gathered sixty or so villagers. They looked fearfully at Londes and his men, while a group of children were hiding behind a wooden watchtower.

Some of the children held sticks, but none of them was in a fighting stance. It was all they could do not to drop their sticks.

During Londes’s attack on the village, they had chased the villagers to the central square. They searched the houses, and then, in order to root out anyone who was hiding in the cellars, they poured in alchemical oils and set them on fire.

There were four knights standing guard around the village with bows, and their job was to shoot down anyone who tried to escape the village. They had done this several times now, and it could be said that they were old hands at this sort of thing.

The massacre had taken a fair bit of time, but it had been successful, and they had gathered the surviving villagers into one place. After that, they would release some of the prisoners as bait.

It should have been like that, but—

Londes still remembered that moment.

The sight of Erion flying through the air, after the last few villagers fled into the square.

It should have been impossible. Nobody knew what was going on. How could they understand the reason why a trained, grown man in full plate armor — which still had some weight even if it was lightened by magic — could fly through the air like a ball?

After soaring about seven meters through the air, he fell to the earth with a thunderous crash and lay still.

A bone-chilling monster stood where Erion had been. The hair-raising undead being called a Death Knight lowered the tower shield that had bashed Erion and stood before them.

This was when their despair began.

“Aiiiiieee!”

Their panicked squeals echoed through the air. One of the men huddled together with his comrades could not bear the oppressive terror and fled with a scream.

Under these extreme circumstances, it was only natural that — when stretched to the breaking point — people would snap. However, among all of the fleeing man’s comrades, not one of them joined him. The reason was that would soon be evident.

A black gale whirled past the field of Londes’s vision.

The Death Knight’s body was larger than a normal human’s, but its nimble grace was far beyond anyone’s expectations.

The fleeing man only managed to take three steps.

Just as he was about to take his fourth step, an arc of silver brilliance cleaved his body in two. The bisected left and right halves of his body collapsed in opposite directions. A sour stench filled the air as his pink internal organs spilled out.

“GUWOOOOOOOOOOHHH!” the blood-covered Death Knight roared as it swung its sword.

It was a roar of joy.

The look of delight was unmistakeable, even on its rotted face. As an overwhelmingly superior slaughterer, it savored the despair and terror of the pitiful humans who could not even survive a single one of its blows.

Nobody dared attack, though they had swords in hand.

At first, they had tried an attack, though they were afraid. But even those blades which had made it past their foe’s defense could not strike a telling blow through the Death Knight’s armor.

In contrast, the Death Knight did not use its sword, but sent Londes flying with a shield bash, and it did so without using enough force to kill.

It was clearly toying with them, given the way it did not use its full strength. It was plain to see that the Death Knight wanted to enjoy the dying struggles of these humans.

The Death Knight only dealt fatal blows in earnest when the knights tried to escape.

The first knight to run was Ririk. He was a nice guy but a bad drunk. His limbs were chopped off, followed by his head.

After seeing the two deaths, the other knights knew the score, so they did not dare to flee.

Their attacks were ineffective, and they would be killed if they tried to run.

The only thing they could do was wait their turn to be tortured to death.

Although there was no way to see their faces below the full helms they wore, everyone present was keenly aware of their fate. The wails of grown men reduced to children echoed throughout the village. These men who had always oppressed the weak had not thought that one day, they would be on the receiving end of that treatment.

“Oh god, please save me…”

“Oh god…”

After hearing these cries for salvation, the strength left Londes’s legs and he almost fell to his knees. He loudly cursed the gods — or was it a prayer to them?

“You, you lot, go hold that monster back!” a desperate knight shouted. He knew that his fate was sealed. His words sounded like an off-key psalm.

The man who spoke was standing next to the Death Knight. The way he was stumbling back on his tiptoes to back away from the corpse of his comrade was quite comical.

Londes frowned as he looked on that man in his pathetic state. It was hard to tell who had spoken those words because their closed helmets covered their faces and their voices were distorted by fear. Still, he knew that only one man would speak like that.

…Captain Belius.

Londes’s frown deepened.

Overcome by his lewd desires, he had tried to rape a village girl and then sought help from others after he got into a fight with her father. After he was pulled off the other man, he vented his anger by stabbing the father with his sword. That was the kind of man he was. However, his family was quite wealthy in their country, and he had joined this unit because of his family’s riches.

Everything had gone wrong because he had been made their leader.

“I’m not someone who should die here! All of you, hurry up and protect me! Be my shields!”

Nobody moved. He might have been appointed their leader, but he was not popular at all. Nobody would throw their lives away for a man like this.

However, the Death Knight responded to his shouting, and it slowly turned to face Belius.

“Aiiiiiieeeeee—!”

The only thing praiseworthy about him was that he could make so much noise while standing in front of the Death Knight.

Just as Londes began to respect this odd quality of Belius’s, he heard the man shriek in terror:
“Money, I’ll give you money! Two hundred gold pieces!! No, five hundred gold pieces!!!”

Those were considerable amounts he was talking about. However, right now, it was like telling them that he would pay them to jump off a five hundred meter cliff.

Although nobody responded, one person — no, half a person moved as though in reply to him.

“Uboooooarrr…”

The right half of the bisected corpse gripped Belius’s ankles firmly. The bloody gargling from its mouth hardly sounded like words.

“—Ogyaaaaaahhhhh!!!!” Belius screamed in an unnaturally high-pitched voice. The onlooking knights and villagers were frozen in fear, their skin covered in goosebumps.

Squire Zombies.

In YGGDRASIL, creatures killed by the Death Knight would become undead of comparable power, haunting the place where they were killed. According to the game’s rules, those damned souls who fell to the Death Knight’s blade would become its slaves for all eternity.

Belius stopped screaming, and fell like a puppet whose strings had been cut, facing the sky. He must have passed out. The Death Knight drew closer to the defenseless man and stabbed its wavy-blade flamberge down.

Belius’s body twitched, and—

“Gu-Guwaaaaaaargh!”

Woken by the incredible pain, Belius screamed, “Leh, leh me guh!!!!! Ah beggehg yeh!!!!!! Ah duh anythuh!!!!!!!”

Using both hands, Belius desperately grabbed the flamberge that had already penetrated his body, but the Death Knight paid his futile struggles no heed and worked the flamberge like a saw. His flesh and armor were cruelly torn open, and fresh blood flew everywhere.

“—Aah—eeeh—ah gib ya munni, leh, leh meh guh—”

Belius’s body shuddered, and then he breathed his last. Only then was the Death Knight satisfied, and it stepped away from Belius’s corpse.

“No… no… please, no…”

“Oh god!”

Their screams came from seeing the ghastly sight before them. If they ran, they would die swiftly, but if they stayed, they would die horribly. They knew that perfectly well, but still, they could not bring themselves to move.

“—Get a grip!”

Londes’s shout tore through their wailing. The world was filled with silence, as though time was standing still.
“—Fall back! Sound the horn for the horsemen and archers to come here! The rest of you, do your best to buy some time for the hornblower! I’d rather not die like that, if you don’t mind! Now move!”

Everyone moved in an instant.

There was no sign of their earlier panic. Everyone moved in silent unison, like a raging waterfall.

Their mechanical obedience to their orders without thinking created a miracle. There was no way they could move so immaculately again.

The knights each did what they were supposed to do. They had to protect the knight who would blow the horn and signal the others.

One of the soldiers who had taken several steps back lowered his sword and withdrew his horn from his bag.

“OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

The Death Knight charged, as though reacting to the horn being taken out. Everyone was shocked. Could it be that the Death Knight wanted to destroy their means of escape so he could kill them to the last man?

The flood of darkness drew closer and closer, and everyone knew that stepping forward to try and stop it was certain death. However, the knights still climbed over each other to block the Death Knight one after the other. Their fear was wiped away by an even greater fear and they surged forward to become obstacles.

Every time its shield moved, a knight was smashed through the air.

Every time its blade flashed, a knight was cut in two.

“Dezun! Morett! Behead the fallen! Hurry, before they come back as monsters!”

The named knights hurriedly ran toward their murdered comrades.

The shield swung, and a knight was thrown into the air. His body was bisected by the flamberge.

Four men had lost their lives in the blink of an eye. Though Londes was still gripped with fear, he readied his sword against the coming of the jet-black storm, like a martyr preparing to give his life for his faith.

“Ohhhh!”

It might have been a meaningless gesture, but Londes did not intend to wait for death. Giving voice to a battlecry, he swung his sword with all his strength at the oncoming Death Knight.

Perhaps it was because of his circumstances, but Londes’s muscles broke their limit and surprised him. It might have been the best blow Londes had ever struck in his life.

The Death Knight swung its flamberge as well.

In an instant, the world before Londes spun—

And he saw his decapitated corpse collapse to the ground, as his sword swung through thin air.

Just then, at that moment, the horn rang out—

♦ ♦ ♦

Momonga — Ainz raised his head as the sound of the horn reached him from the direction of the village.

The area around him was covered with the corpses of the knights who had been standing guard here. The stink of blood hung heavy in the air, but Ainz paid it no heed as he ran his experiments. Just then, he chided himself for getting his priorities wrong.

Ainz cast down the sword in his hand. The sword which had originally belonged to a knight fell to the ground, its gleaming, razor-sharp edge now stained with dirt.

“…Well, I’ve said it before, but this physical damage reduction is quite something.”

“Ainz Ooal Gown-sama.”

“…Ainz will do, Albedo.”

Ainz’s request to be called by a truncated version of his name threw Albedo into confusion.

“Ku, kufu! Am, am I really allowed to do that? Would it not be disrespectful to shorten the name of the leader of the Forty One Supreme Beings, especially if it is also the name of Nazarick’s rulers!?”

Ainz did not think that it was a big deal. However, her words meant that she respected the name of Ainz Ooal Gown, which pleased Ainz. Therefore, his reply was phrased in a gentle tone:

“It’s fine, Albedo. Until my former comrades arrive, that is my name. I permit you to shorten it.”

“I understand… no, but please let me address you with the appropriate respect. Then, then… my master, Ai-Ainz-sama… kukuku… yes, that’s right…”

Albedo twisted her body shyly.

However, since she was in full body armor, Ainz could not see her beautiful face. To him, she was just acting strangely.

“Could, could it be… kukuku… could it be that I’m the only one who’s allowed to address you in such a way?”

“No. Having someone address me by such a long name all the time would be annoying, so I would like to have everyone do the same thing.”

“…Is that so… ah, that’s right. Yes, that’s what I thought—”

Albedo’s mood turned gloomy all of a sudden. In an uneasy voice, Ainz asked:

“…Albedo, what do you think of the name I chose?”

“I think that name suits you very well. It fits my beloved — cough, cough — it fits you, in your capacity as the one who united the Supreme Beings.”

“…This name was intended to represent the forty one of us, and this includes your maker, Tabula Smaragdina-san. However, I ignored the feelings of your master and the others, and took that name for myself on a whim. How do you think they would feel about that?”

“…Although I fear to anger you… I pray you will allow me to speak. If my words displease you, then I will gladly take my own life if you command it. I feel that some of the Supreme Beings who abandoned us might object to that name being used by the one who stayed with us until now, Momonga-sama. However, they are not here, so if you wish to use that name, all I feel is happiness, Momonga-sama .”

Albedo lowered her head after she finished speaking, and Ainz remained silent.

The phrase “abandoned us” swirled in his mind like a vortex.

His past companions had left him for their own reasons. YGGDRASIL was just a game, and they could not abandon their real lives for a game. Momonga felt the same way too. Yet could it really be said that he — who had been fixated on Ainz Ooal Gown and the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick — had not been suppressing his anger toward his former comrades?

They abandoned me.

“…That might be so, but it might not be. Human emotions are a complicated matter, and there is no right answer. Raise your head, Albedo. I understand your feelings. All right, it’s decided… this shall be my name. Until my comrades object, I shall be Ainz Ooal Gown.”

“Understood. The thought that our most exalted master… and the man I love most would bear this glorious name fills me with joy.”

The man I love most… ah.

The uneasy Ainz decided not to worry about this for now.

“…Is that so? I’m glad to hear that.”

“Then, Ainz-sama, would you like to spend some time here? Although I would be happy to stand by Ainz-sama’s side, I… right, a stroll through the woods would be fine too.”

He could not do that. Ainz had come to save this village.

The parents that his sisters had asked him to save were already dead.

As he thought of their corpses, he scratched his head.

The sight of their bodies reminded him of a dead insect by the roadside. There was no pity, no sadness, no anger.

“Hm, well, a stroll might be all right. After all, there is nothing of importance to do. The Death Knight seems quite happy to do his job.”

“As expected of an undead being that Ainz-sama made. His marvellous execution of his duties is truly praiseworthy.”

The undead made by Ainz’s magic and his skills were stronger than ordinary monsters of their kind due to Ainz’s class skills. Naturally the same applied to the Death Knight he had just created. However, it was only a level thirty five monster, and it was nothing in comparison to the monsters which required XP to create, like Overlord Wiseman and Grim Reaper Thanatos.

The fact that it was still fighting until now meant that the enemies were weak.

In other words, there was no danger.

He wanted to jump for joy when he thought about it, but he had to okay the role of the dignified master, so Ainz quashed that thought. However, he clenched his fists tightly, under his robe.

“The enemies who attacked the village were too weak. Then, let us go check on the survivors.”

Before Momonga set out, he realised that he had some things to do first.

To begin with, he deactivated the special effects of the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown. The malevolent aura which wreathed it vanished like a candle flame in the wind.

Next, he withdrew a full-face mask from his inventory. It was gaudily decorated, and its expression was hard to describe, being somewhere between crying and anger. It resembled a Balinese barong mask.

The mask looked creepy, but it had no special powers. It was a simple cosmetic item which did not contain a trace of data.

Only those who were logged onto YGGDRASIL for more than two hours, between seven pm and ten pm on Christmas Eve, would possess this mask — no, as long as they were in the game during that period of time, they would automatically receive it. It could be called a cursed item.

This mask was known as the Mask of the Jealous, or the Jealous Mask.

Once, when he wore this mask, he was flooded by messages. “Has the company gone mad? We’ve been waiting for this. Nobody in our guild has it, can I PK him? I’m done with being a human being~” and other such things in a certain large message board.

Then, he took out a pair of gloves. Their rough exterior betrayed the fact that they were crudely made and had no special properties.

These gloves were called Jarngreipr, and they were an armor item made by one of Ainz Ooal Gown’s members for fun. Their only ability was to increase the wearer’s strength.

He used these items to hide his skeletal appearance.

Naturally, there was a reason for this emergency camouflage. It was because Ainz realised he had made a fatal mistake.

Ainz was used to YGGDRASIL, and looking like a skeleton did not frighten him. However, to the people of this world, Ainz’s appearance was synonymous with terror. Both the sisters who had nearly lost their lives and the fully armored knights were afraid of him.

For the time being, he would use magic items to change his appearance from a “dreadful monster” to “menacing magic caster.” That ought to reduce how frightening he appeared. Then he thought about the Staff. In the end, he decided to keep it with him. Besides, it was not a problem for him.

“Rather than beg your god for aid, you should not have massacred these people in the first place.”

With that line which only an atheist could come up with, Ainz looked away from the corpse, whose fingers were folded into a gesture of prayer, and cast a spell.

“「Fly」.”

Ainz floated lightly into the sky, Albedo soon followed him shortly afterwards.
“『Death Knight, if there are any surviving knights, leave them alive. They are useful to me.』”

The Death Knight sent its acknowledgement of Ainz’s will back through the mental link they shared. It was difficult to put the distant Death Knight’s thoughts into words.

Ainz flew toward the place from whence the horn blast had come, as quickly as he could. The wind lashed at his body, because he had never flown this fast before in YGGDRASIL. The robe plastered to his body felt a little uncomfortable, but that passed swiftly.

He soon reached the sky above the village, and Ainz looked down on the landscape beneath him.

Ainz discovered that part of the village square was darkened, as though it had absorbed water. There were many corpses and a few trembling knights, as well as the Death Knight.

Ainz counted the panting knights, who were too tired even to move. There were four of them in total. Though there were more than he expected, a few extra would not be a problem.

“Death Knight. That will be all for now.”

His words seemed strangely incongruous with the surroundings, like he were buying something at a store. But to Ainz, this situation was as casual as going shopping.

He slowly descended to the ground, accompanied by Albedo.

The false knights stared at Ainz with mouths agape. They had been hoping for a rescue, but what had come was the man responsible for everything, and his arrival shattered their hopes.

“Greetings, gentlemen. My name is Ainz Ooal Gown.”

Nobody answered.

“If you throw down your arms, I can guarantee your lives. Of course, if you would rather fight—”

One sword was cast to the ground. It was shortly followed by the other swords being thrown down until there were four blades on the ground.

Nobody spoke during this time.

“…You seem quite tired. Although, don’t you think your heads are held a bit too high before the master of the Death Knight?”

The knights immediately prostrated themselves before him without a single sound.

They did not look like vassals before their lord so much as convicts awaiting execution.

“…I will permit you to leave with your lives. In exchange, tell your master — your owner — this.”

Ainz used the effects of the 「Fly」 spell to move near one of the knights, and then he removed his helmet with the hand that was not holding the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown. He noted the man’s exhausted eyes, and their gazes met through the mask.

“Do not make trouble around here. If you make a disturbance here, I will slay you with the rest of your country.”

The trembling knight nodded as hard as he could. His frantic gesture looked quite comical.

“Get lost. And make sure to relay this to your master.”

He jerked his chin, and the knights fled like rabbits.

“…Ah, this act is tiring,” Momonga quietly grumbled as he watched the knights run away.

If there were no villagers around, he might even have stretched his shoulders. Although he was doing the same thing in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, playing the role of a dignified person was very tiring for an average salaryman like Ainz. Yet, until the curtains closed on this act of his, he had to wear yet another mask.

Ainz resisted the urge to sigh and walked toward the villagers. Albedo followed behind him, her every step accompanied by the clanking of metal.

“『—Clear up your zombie slaves』,” Ainz ordered the Death Knight.

As Ainz drew closer to them, he could more clearly see the confusion and unease on the villagers’ faces.

It was not that they were not happy at being rescued from the knights, but frightened by the person before them.

Ainz finally realised this. He was powerful, much more so than those knights, so he did not consider this situation from a weak person’s point of view.

He decided to reflect on this, and pondered it quietly.

If he went too close to them, the outcome would be the opposite of what he was hoping for. Therefore, Ainz decided to stop at a distance from them, and spoke in a kindly tone.

“You have been saved. Be at ease.”

“You, you are…”

One of the villagers was saying that, but even in the middle of speaking to Ainz, his eyes never left the Death Knight.

“I saw someone attacking this village, so I came here to help.”

“Ohh…”

As the noises spilled out, looks of relief dawned on the faces of the villagers. Even so, they could not be completely at ease.

What a pain. Should I try a different approach?

Ainz decided to handle this in a way he did not like much.

“…That said, this was not for free. I expect a reward commensurate with the number of villagers whom I saved.”

The villagers looked at each other. It would seem that they were worried about money. However, their doubtful looks faded away. This crass demand for money in exchange for salvation seemed to have allayed their suspicions somewhat.

“With, with the village in its present state…”

Ainz raised his hand to silence the other man before continuing.

“We’ll discuss that later. I rescued a pair of sisters before I came here. I will go bring them over now. Can you wait here for me?”

He had to make sure those sisters did not talk and give away his true identity.

Without waiting for them to reply, Ainz slowly headed off. At the same time, he thought about using magic to alter memories.

Overlord Light Novel Volume 1 – Chapter 2

Overlord Light Novel Volume 1 – Chapter 2

Overlord Light Novel(LN) Volume 1 – Chapter 2

Floor Guardians


Part 1

“To me, Demons of the Lemegeton!”





The golems which heeded Momonga’s command were made of rare metals. They moved before him with an agility that belied their heavy bodies, then took the ready stance they had assumed earlier.

Now that Momonga had decided to go with his theory that virtual reality had become reality, his first concern was to guarantee his own safety. Although the NPCs he had met so far had readily obeyed him, there was no guarantee that the others he met would react in the same way. Also, even if they were all friendly, he did not know when danger would next appear.

Momonga’s life and death hinged on whether or not he could use such things as Nazarick’s facilities, the golems, his items, his magic, and so on.

“Well, that’s one problem solved,” Momonga muttered to himself in relief as he looked at the golems. He then ordered them only to listen to him. That way, even in the worst-case scenario — if one or more NPCs revolted — he would have an ace in the hole.

Momonga, satisfied with the mighty-looking golems, looked down at his bony hands.

He wore nine rings on his ten fingers, and only his left ring finger was bare.

Usually in YGGDRASIL, one could only wear two rings, one on each hand. However, Momonga had used permanent cash items (which were very expensive) to let him wear a full ten rings, one on each finger, and use all their powers at once.

This was not unique to Momonga; most players who valued power would spend that money too.

One of the nine rings Momonga wore had an emblem on it which resembled the symbol embroidered upon the large red banner behind the throne.

That ring was called the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown.

Every member of Ainz Ooal Gown possessed the magic ring that Momonga wore on his right ring finger.

Although he could use the power of ten rings at once with the aid of cash items, when he applied the cash item, he had to decide which ring he wanted to assign to which finger, and that decision was irrevocable. Even so, Momonga had removed the ring on his left ring finger and sent it to the Treasury. The reason why Momonga had assigned that somewhat weaker ring to that finger was because it would be very useful under certain circumstances, but he rarely wore it because it had a constant effect.

The power of the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown was unlimited teleportation between named rooms of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, and it would even allow one to teleport into the Tomb from the outside. Since Nazarick was warded to block teleportation into or within itself (except for a few specific areas), this ring was very handy.

The only places where this ring could not teleport its wearer was to the Throne Room and the various guild members’ personal rooms. This ring was also required to enter the Treasury, which was why he could not do without it.

Momonga sighed deeply.

After this, he would be using the ring’s power. He was not sure if the ring could still do everything he expected of it, but he had no choice except to test it out.

As he unleashed the ring’s power — the world before him instantly turned black.

Right after that, the scenery in front of him changed, and his surroundings were now a dark tunnel. At the end of the tunnel he could see what looked like a giant lowered portcullis. Within the tunnel were artificial lights.

“It worked…”

Momonga muttered to himself, relieved at the successful teleport.

He walked down the wide and high passage, toward the portcullis ahead of him.

The stone floor amplified the sound of Momonga’s footsteps, and at times he could hear echoes.

The torches that lined the tunnel flickered constantly, and as a result, the shadows they made seemed to dance. Bathed in the light of several torches, he cast several shadows at once, and it seemed as though there were multiple Momongas.

What passed for his nose should have been little more than an empty hole in his skull, yet still he smelled something as he drew near the portcullis. Momonga stopped and took a deep breath. It was a strong scent of earth and grass — the smell of the jungle.

Much like his encounter with Albedo just now, the intensely realistic scent, in a world that should not have possessed such things, only convinced Momonga of the reality of the world he was in.

But how did his body breathe, without lungs or a windpipe?

Momonga felt that thinking too much about such things was foolish, and put it aside.

As though it sensed Momonga approaching, the portcullis swiftly raised itself into the ceiling at just the right moment to let him through. Past the barrier, what Momonga saw was a circular arena, surrounded on all sides by many tiers of audience seats.

The colosseum was an oval in shape, one hundred eighty meters on its long axis and one hundred fifty meters on the short axis. It was forty meters tall and modelled after the arenas of the Roman Empire.

There were「Continual Light」 spells cast everywhere, illuminating the grounds in white light, so one could observe the entire Colosseum like it was day.

The audience was composed of many clay dolls — golems, in other words — which showed no sign of activity.

In this Colosseum, the intruders would be the stars of the show, while the ones watching from the VIP box would be members of Ainz Ooal Gown. The main event, of course, would be a brutal melee. Apart from the fifteen-hundred-man invasion, every single invader had met their end here.

Momonga walked into the center of the arena, and looked into the heavens. Before him stretched a black expanse of night sky. Perhaps he might have been able to see the stars if there were no light around him.

However, this place was the Sixth Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, so the sky here was merely a virtual imitation.

Even that imitation required a massive amount of data, but as a result the sky here could change with the time of day, even showing an actual sun with appropriate daylight effects.

Momonga could relax himself in this virtual landscape because Momonga’s heart was still human, as opposed to his skeletal appearance. It was also because he felt a sense of appreciation for his comrades’ hard work in building this place.

Part of him wanted to just wait and space out here, but the present situation denied him that luxury.

Momonga looked around — nobody was there. The twins should have been taking care of this place…

He noticed something.

“Toooooooh!”

After the shout, a figure leapt from the VIP box.

The figure jumped down from a height of about six storeys, somersaulted in mid-air, and landed as though it were a butterfly descending on a flower. There was no magic involved, only pure physical prowess.

It negated the force of the impact with a simple flexing of the knees, and it smiled broadly.

“V!”
  
It made a V-sign of victory.

A child of about eleven had descended from above. Her face bore a smile that was as bright as the sun. She was adorable, with the androgynous appeal of both a boy and a girl.

Her hair resembled threads of spun gold, and it grazed her shoulders. The light reflected off the strands of hair resembled an angel’s halo. Her mismatched eyes, one blue, one red, seemed as eager and sparkly as a puppy’s.

Her ears were long, and his skin was dark. She was a Dark Elf, a species related to Forest Elves.

She wore a shirt of light leather armor, reinforced with red dragon’s scales. The emblem of Ainz Ooal Gown was proudly displayed on her vest, stitched in gold onto a white background. Below that, she wore a pair of white pants, matching her vest. A necklace with a glittering golden acorn pendant hung from her neck, and she wore a pair of gloves reinforced with plates of enchanted metal.

A whip coiled across her waist and right shoulder, and there was a longbow on her back. The bowstave and grip seemed to be covered in strange decorations.

“Aura, is it?”

Momonga spoke the name of the Dark Elf child.

He was addressing the Guardian of the Sixth Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, Aura Bella Fiora. She was a skirmisher who was also able to summon and tame beasts.

Aura jogged over to Momonga. Well, to her, it was a jogging pace, but she was travelling as fast as one of her beasts at full speed, rapidly closing the distance between them.

Aura screeched to a halt.

Her running shoes had hihiirokane metal plates on the soles, and they threw up clouds of dust as they ground against the floor of the arena. The clouds did not touch Momonga’s body; if she had planned that, then his skills must have been impressive indeed.

“Huu~”

Aura was not sweating, but yet she wiped her forehead theatrically. Then, with a puppy-like smile, she greeted Momonga.

“Welcome, Momonga-sama. Welcome to the level I guard!”

The greeting was filled with the same respect that Albedo, Sebas, and the maids had for him, but for some reason it felt more intimate. To Momonga, this intimacy allowed him to loosen up. Being too uptight and scary was quite troublesome for Momonga, who was not experienced with this sort of thing.

He could not detect any hostility on Aura’s face, and his 「Enemy Scan」 revealed nothing.

Momonga’s line of sight left the band on his right wrist and he loosened his grip on the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown.

He had planned to strike hard and fade away if an emergency occurred, but it seemed as though there would be no need for that.

“…Mm. I’ll be intruding for a while.”

“What’re you saying, You are the master of Nazarick, the Supreme Overlord, right, Momonga-sama? There’s no place you’d be intruding if you visited!”

“I see… speaking of which, if you’re here, Mare…”

Upon hearing Momonga’s question, Aura blinked in surprise, as though she had realised some great truth and turned around, shouting loudly upward:

“Momonga-sama has graced us with his presence! How rude are you going to be by not showing your face to him?”

There was movement in the shadows of the VIP box.

“Was Mare there too?”

“Yes, that’s right, Momonga-sama. He’s really timid… Oi, jump down here now!”

An almost inaudible reply came from the VIP box. Judging by the distance between there and here, it was a miracle the other party could even hear Aura. However, that miracle was the result of the magic on Aura’s necklace.

“I, I can’t, Onee-chan…”

Aura took a deep breath and grabbed her head.

“He… he… Momonga-sama, he’s just scared, he’s definitely not trying to insult you.”

As a member of society, one had to know when to speak one’s heart and when to say things that were appropriate for the occasion. Momonga nodded and answered in a gentle way to put Aura at ease.

“Of course, Aura. I have never doubted your loyalty.”

Aura sighed in relief, and then she became serious again before shouting angrily at the VIP box.

“The Supreme Being Ainz-sama has come to visit us, but you as a Floor Guardian aren’t even here to meet him! You should know how disrespectful that is! If you’re too scared to jump down, maybe a quick kick will substitute for courage!”
“Uuu… I’ll take the stairs down…”

“How long do you want Ainz-sama to wait!? Get over here now!”

“I, I got it… e-eiii!”

Mare had gathered up his courage, but his voice still seemed unsteady. After that, a figure jumped out of the VIP box.

As expected, it was a Dark Elf. This Dark Elf was particularly wobbly on his feet, completely different from how Aura had handled her landing. However, he did not seem to be hurt. He must have skillfully dissipated the force of landing with some athletic trick.

After that, he immediately began running over as quickly as he could. However, his top speed was still much slower than Aura. She must have thought so too, because she frowned and shouted:

“Hurry up!”

“Y-Yes!”
  
The child who finally arrived in front of Ainz looked almost identical to Aura. They had to be twins, given the way they shared the same hair, the same eyes, and the same features. However, if Aura was the sun, then Mare was the moon.

He looked nervous, as though he was afraid of being scolded. Momonga was surprised by the stark difference between the two. However, from what Momonga knew, Mare should not have been like this. Even if one wrote a long character description for their NPCs, it would not be reflected in their personalities.

Yet, these two Dark Elf children were displaying animated emotions in front of Momonga.

“—They must be the Aura and Mare that Bukubukuchagama-san wanted to see.”

Bukubukuchagama was the guild member who had designed these two Dark Elf characters.

If only she could have been here for this…

“I, I’m sorry I kept you waiting, Momonga-sama…”

He nervously raised his eyes to peek at Momonga. He wore a vest of blue dragon scales, and a small cape that was as green as jungle leaves.

His clothes had the same basic white color as Aura, but a short section of flesh peeked out below his short skirt. It was short because the rest of his legs were covered in white silk stockings. He had an acorn-shaped pendant on a necklace like Aura, but his was made of silver.

Mare was much more lightly armed than Aura, with a pair of lustrous white gloves on his dainty little hands, and a gnarled black staff in his hands.

Mare Bello Fiore.

Like Aura, he was a Guardian of the Sixth Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.

Momonga squinted — though his eyes were merely empty sockets — and looked at them. Aura thrust her chest forward proudly, while Mare simply cowered under Momonga’s gaze.

He nodded several times, musing that the two of them were indeed the incarnation of his comrade’s hard work.

“I’m glad to see that the two of you are in good spirits.”

“I’m positively overflowing with energy… although it’s been a bit boring recently. It would be nice if we had an intruder or two.”

“I, I would rather not have to meet intruders… they, they’re scary…”

After hearing Mare’s words, Aura’s expression changed:

“…Haa. Momonga-sama, please excuse me for a while. Mare, come with me.”

“O-Oww… Nee-chan, that hurts…”

After seeing Momonga nod slightly, Aura pinched Mare by the tip of one of his ears and dragged him away from Momonga. Then, she began whispering into Mare’s ear. Even from a distance, one could tell that she was scolding him.

“…Intruders, huh. Well, much like you, I don’t want to meet them either, Mare…”

At least, I’d rather meet them after having the chance to make all the preparations I need, Momonga thought as he watched the twin Guardians from afar.

After he snapped back to reality, Momonga realised that Mare was on his knees in front of Aura, who was hurling a torrent of abuse at him.
Momonga smiled, as the scene reminded him of the brother and sister who were his friends:

“Good grief, Mare was clearly not made by Peroroncino-san. Or is this because Bukubukuchagama-san believed that “Little brothers should listen to their big sisters”… Though come to think about it, Aura and Mare should have died once. How should I address that?”

The invasion of fifteen-hundred people had made it down to the Eighth Floor. Which was to say, Aura and Mare should have died then. Did they remember anything about it?

What meaning did the concept of “death” have for those two, anyway?

According to YGGDRASIL’s rules, death would cost a character five levels and force him to drop one of his equipped items. In other words, characters below level five would immediately disappear. Players were specially exempt from this and would not vanish, but they would be reduced to the minimum level of one. Therefore, it must be an issue with the game rules.

Using spells like 「Resurrection」 or 「Raise Dead」 would mitigate this level loss. In addition, with the use of cash items, one would only lose a bit of experience.

It was simpler for NPCs. As long as the guild paid the requisite fees to resurrect them, they would be recalled to life without any ill effects.

Therefore, players who wanted to respec their characters often favored using death to lower one’s levels.

While the loss of even a single level was a harsh punishment in a game where each level required a lot of experience points, losing levels was not such a frightening prospect in YGGDRASIL. This was because the game company wanted its players to explore previously undiscovered regions and find new things, instead of hunkering down in familiar territory because they were afraid of losing levels.

With all this in mind, were the two people who perished in the wake of the fifteen-hundred-man invasion the same after their resurrection?

Momonga wanted to verify this, but at the same time, he did not want to disturb them unduly. For all he knew, that large invasion might have been a traumatic experience for Aura. Momonga felt it would be unwise to question her in that manner when she had showed no overt signs of hostility. The important thing was that they were lovingly crafted NPCs of his friends in Ainz Ooal Gown.

Perhaps after settling all the accumulated problems, he would ask her about it.

In addition, the concept of death in-game might be different from outside it. Of course, if one died in reality, that was the end of everything, However, that might not be the case right now. He wanted to perform an experiments on this, but first he needed to collect information and establish his priorities. Thus, putting this matter aside would be a wise decision.

After all, Momonga still had many doubts about how the YGGDRASIL he knew had changed.

Aura was still scolding Mare as Momonga stood in contemplation. Momonga pitied Mare a little. After all, he had not said anything that warranted such wrathful castigation.

In the past, when brother and sister argued, all Momonga could do was watch. But now, things were different.

“That should be enough, don’t you think?”

“Momonga-sama! But, but as a Guardian, Mare—”

“It’s fine. Aura, I understand how you feel. It is only natural that you would feel unhappy if Mare, as a Floor Guardian, said such a cowardly thing, especially if it were in my presence. However, I believe that if anyone invaded the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, you and Mare would fearlessly step forward to engage them. There is no need for scoldings as long as one does what is required of them when the time comes.”

Momonga walked up to between the two of them and helped Mare up.

“And Mare, you should be grateful to your kind sister. Even if I were angry, I could not remain so after seeing how your sister scolded you.”

Mare looked in surprise at his sister. At this moment, Aura hurriedly said:

“Eh? No, no, it’s not like that. I wasn’t scolding him to show off in front of you, Momonga-sama!”

“Aura, it’s fine. It doesn’t matter what you had in mind. I understand your kind intentions. However, I must tell you that I am not dissatisfied with Mare’s performance as a Guardian.”

“Um, ah, yes, yes! Thank you, Momonga-sama!”

“Th-Thank you very much…”

Momonga felt uncomfortable as he watched the two of them bow to him. He felt particularly ill at ease as he saw them look at him with their shining eyes. In order to camouflage the embarrassment he felt at being looked at that way, Momonga coughed.

“Hm, that’s right. Aura, I think you said something about being bored because there were no intruders?”

“—Ah, no, that, about that…”

After seeing Aura’s fearful reaction, Momonga felt bad about asking his question.

“I do not intend to reproach you for your answer, so feel free to speak your mind.”

“…Yes, a little. There’s nobody around here who can spar with me for more than five minutes.”

Aura touched her index fingers together before looking up hopefully to Momonga.

As a Guardian, Aura was level one hundred. There were precious few opponents in this dungeon which could rival her. There were nine such NPCs, including Aura and Mare, as well as one other.

“What if Mare was your opponent?”

Mare’s body trembled as he shrank away. He shook his head with moist eyes, and he looked very afraid. Aura sighed as she saw the way he looked.

As Aura sighed, a sweet scent filled the surrounding air. Unlike the fragrance Albedo radiated, this scent seemed somewhat persistent. As he remembered Aura’s ability, Momonga took a step away from the scent.

“Ah, sorry, Momonga-sama!”

As Aura noticed Momonga’s strange reaction, she hurriedly dispersed the scent with her hand.

Among Aura’s skills as a Beast Tamer, there were certain passive skills that had buffing and debuffing effects. These abilities acted through her breath and had a radius of several meters, some even up to ten meters. With the effect of certain skills, that radius could be enlarged to unbelievable proportions.

In YGGDRASIL, icons representing buffs and debuffs appeared in one’s field of vision, so one could see if they were under the effect of an ability. However, no indication of these changes appeared before him, which made things quite troublesome.

“Ah, it should be fine now, I cancelled it!”

“Is that so…”

“…Although you’re undead, so mind-affecting effects shouldn’t work on you, right, Momonga-sama?”

That was true in YGGDRASIL. The undead were immune to mind-affecting effects, whether positive or negative.

“…Was I within the effective radius?”

“Mm.”

Aura lowered her head in fear, and so did Mare beside her.

“…I”m not angry, Aura,” Momonga said in as gentle a voice as he could manage. “Aura… You don’t have to be so afraid. Do you think such a simple skill would inconvenience me? I was simply asking if I was within the effective range of your skill.”

“Yes! Just now, you were within range of my skill.”

After hearing Aura’s energetic answer as relief flooded back into her, Momonga realized that his very presence filled Aura with fear.

Once he noticed this, he felt a clenching pain in his nonexistent stomach. What if he became weaker from this? Every time he thought about that, he tried desperately to put it out of mind.

“And what was its effect?”

“Ah, the effect just now… should have been fear.”

“Umu…”

He did not feel afraid. In YGGDRASIL, one would not be affected by attacks from the guild or party to which one belonged. Although, there was a very real chance this rule no longer applies, so it would be best to verify that now.

“Aura, I was just thinking that your skill should not have an effect on people from the same guild… the same group.”

“Eh?”

Aura’s eyes went wide, much like Mare’s did from the side. Judging from their reactions, Momonga realised that they did not agree with him.

“Am I mistaken?”

“Yes… Could it be you mixed it up with the ability to freely change the range of one’s skills?”

So it seemed the rule disabling friendly fire was no longer in effect. Mare was not affected while being near Aura, but that might be because he had equipped an item which negated mind-affecting effects on himself.

In contrast, the undead Momonga’s divine class items did not have any data which protected against mind-affecting effects. But in that case, why did Momonga not feel fear?

There were two possibilities.

He might have resisted it with his base stats, or resisted it with his immunities from being an undead creature.

Because he was not sure which hypothesis was correct, Momonga decided to conduct an experiment:

“Can you try using other effects?”

Aura tilted her head and made a strange noise of bafflement. Momonga was reminded of a puppy, and he reached out to stroke Aura’s head.

Her hair and scalp felt smooth as silk, and caressing her was very comfortable. Because Aura did not seem to mind, Momonga wanted to keep going on. However, Mare looked a little frightened as he stared at them from the side, so he paused.

What was Mare thinking, anyway?

After thinking for a short while, Momonga released his staff and ruffled Mare’s hair with his other hand.

The quality of Mare’s hair felt better, but Momonga hardly paid it any heed as he rubbed their heads until he was satisfied. Then, he remembered what he was here to do:

“Then I have something to ask of you. I plan to conduct certain experiments… I’ll need your help for them.”

At first, the two of them did not know how to respond to that. However, when Momonga’s hand left their heads, the two of them had embarrassed yet happy looks on their faces.

Aura cheerfully replied, “Yes, I understand! Momonga-sama, leave it to me!”

Momonga reached out a hand to quell Aura.

“Before that—”

Momonga gripped the floating staff in his hand.

Just like before, when he used the power of the ring, he focused on the staff. Among the many powers it possessed, Momonga concentrated on one of the gems which decorated the staff.

It was a divine class item called the Gem of the Moon, and the ability Momonga chose—

—called forth Moonlight Wolves.

As the summoning magic took effect, three beasts appeared out of thin air.

The special effects of the summoning were the same as in YGGDRASIL, so Momonga was not surprised by them.

Moonlight Wolves looked very similar to Siberian Wolves, but they radiated a silver glow. Momonga could feel a mysterious connection between himself and the Moonlight Wolves. It clearly showed who was the master and the servant between them.

“Are those Moonlight Wolves?”

Aura’s tone showed she did not understand. After all, she had no idea why Momonga would summon such weak monsters.

Moonlight Wolves were highly agile and they were useful for ambushes, but they were only level twenty or so. They were very weak monsters compared to Aura and Momonga. However, monsters of this level were enough for their purposes this time round.

In fact, the weaker they were, the better.

“Yes, they are. Now, include me in the radius of your skill.”

“Eh? Really?”

“It’s fine.”

Momonga’s insistence was so great that even the dubious Aura went ahead with it.

Given that they were no longer in the game, there was a possibility he could not ignore, which was that Aura’s skill might not have activated properly. In order to rule that out, he had to expose himself to the skill with a third party, which was why he had summoned the Moonlight Wolves.

After that, Aura exhaled several times, but Momonga did not feel affected in any way. He tried relaxing or turning around in the middle of the skill, but he felt nothing strange. However, the Moonlight Wolf behind him was affected. Thus, he concluded that Aura’s skill had taken effect.

From this experiment, Momonga learned that mind-affecting effects did not work on him. This meant—

In the game, demihuman and heteromorphic races unlocked racial skills when they reached certain levels. An Overlord like Momonga had the following skills:

Create High Tier Undead four times per day, Create Mid Tier Undead twelve times per day, Create Low Tier Undead twenty times per day, Negative Energy Touch, Despair Aura V (instant death), Negative Protection, Dark Soul, Black Halo, Undead Blessing, Unholy Protection, Wisdom of Darkness, Speak Evil Tongues, Ability Damage IV, Piercing Damage Resistance V, Slashing Damage Resistance V, Turn Resistance III, High Tier Physical Immunity III, High Tier Magic Immunity III, Cold, Acid, and Electrical Immunity, as well as Arcane Vision/See Invisibility.

And then there were the abilities from his class levels — Instant Death Magic Enhancement, Rite of Darkness, Undead Aura, Undead Creation, Undead Control, Undead Strengthening, and so on.

Then there were the basic special qualities which all undead possessed:

Immunity to critical hits, mind-affecting, poison, disease, sleep, paralysis, death, and energy drain effects. Resistance to necromancy and biological penalties. Undead did not need to breathe, eat, or drink. They were healed by negative energy and had darkvision.

Of course, they had weaknesses too, like Good, Light, and Holy Vulnerability IV, Bludgeoning Vulnerability V, Vulnerability to Holy and Good Consecrated Areas II, double damage from fire, and so on.

—This meant that Momonga could be sure that he still possessed the basic abilities of an undead being and his special skills gained through levelling up.

“I see. Well, this was an informative experiment… thank you, Aura. Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Is that so… return.”

The three Moonlight Wolves vanished as though time itself had turned backward for them.

“…Momonga-sama, did you come to our floor in order to perform those experiments just now?”

Mare was nodding beside her.

“Eh? Ah, no. In truth, I came here for training.”

“Training? Eh? For you, Momonga-sama?”

Aura and Mare’s eyes were so wide it seemed like they might fall out of their sockets. Their surprise was only natural; after all, who would expect to hear such a thing from Momonga, a  powerful magic caster, the Supreme Ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, as well as the one who stood above all?

Momonga, who had anticipated this reaction, swiftly replied:

“Indeed.”

After seeing Momonga’s swift reply and hearing the light impact of his staff on the ground, realization dawned on Aura’s face. Momonga was quite pleased with himself, as this reaction had fallen within his scope of prediction.

“Is, is that the legendary weapon of the highest order which only you may wield, Momonga-sama?”

Legendary weapon? What did he mean by that?

Momonga had his doubts, but after seeing Mare’s shining eyes, he knew the question had not been asked with ill intentions.

“Indeed, this is the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown, which I made with my guild members.”

Momonga raised the Staff, and it immediately radiated a beautiful glow which lit up its surroundings. The glow was as blinding as the Staff itself. However, the surroundings were filled with inauspicious flickering shadows, which emitted an aura of menace.

Momonga’s voice was more animated and proud when he spoke:

“The seven gems in the Staff’s snake mouths are all divine class artifacts. Since they all belong to a set, having them together unlocks even greater power beyond their base abilities. Gathering them all required an incalculable amount of time and effort, and many of our members stated that they wanted to quit during the process. I can’t remember how many monsters we farmed for their drops… anyway, in addition, the Staff’s power is beyond that of a divine class item. In fact, it almost approaches that of a World Class Item. Its most potent feature is its automatic engagement system… cough, cough.”

…It would seem he had gotten carried away.

He had built it with his comrades in the past, but because he had never taken it out before, there had been no chance for it to shine. Now that he had the chance to show it off, his praise surged forth like a rising tide. Momonga forcibly quelled his desire to flaunt the Staff.

How embarrassing…

“Mm, something like that.”

“That, that’s amazing…”

“That’s totally awesome, Momonga-sama!”

Momonga almost laughed as he saw their eyes. He tried his best to suppress the delighted expression on his face — although skeletons had no expressions — and continued:

“Which was why I wanted to run some experiments with this Staff. I hope you can help me.”

“Yes! Understood! We’ll go prepare right away! Then… could we see the power of the Staff?”

“Mm, that’s fine. Then, I shall show you a fraction of the power of this mighty Staff, which only I can wield.”

“Awesome~” Aura exclaimed as she jumped up and down adorably.

Mare was hard-pressed to hide his delight, as could be seen from the twitching tips of his ears.

Ah, this is bad, I can’t let my stern facade slip because of this. Momonga tried to regain his dignity as he reminded himself thusly.

“…And there is one more thing, Aura. I have already ordered the other Guardians here. They will arrive within the hour.”

“Eh? Then, then we need to get ready for—”

“No, there is no need. All you need to do is stay here and wait for them.”

“Is that so? Hm… all the Guardians — that means Shalltear’s coming too?”

All the Guardians.”

“…Haa.”

Aura’s long ears suddenly drooped.

However, Mare’s reaction was not as exaggerated as Aura’s. According to her backstory, Aura was designed to have a poor relationship with Shalltear, but that was probably not the case for Mare.

What would happen next? Momonga sighed quietly.

Part 2

The company of fifty men galloped across the grassy plains on their horses.
Every man in the company was athletically built. One of them was particularly eye-catching.

There was no better word to describe him than “fit.” His muscles were prominent even though he was wearing a breastplate.

He was around thirty years old, and his face was tanned from long days of sun and covered in wrinkles. His black hair was neat and trimmed, and his dark eyes had a sharp look about them.

The man riding by his side said:

“Warrior-Captain, we’re almost at the first village on our patrol route.”

“Ah, yes, Vice-Captain.”

Gazef Stronoff, the renowned Warrior-Captain of the Re-Estize Kingdom, did not see any villages.

He calmed his racing heart and maintained his mount’s speed. Although he had kept the horse’s pace at one which should not be overly fatiguing, they had hustled all the way here from the Royal Capital, and fatigue was beginning to accumulate within Gazef’s body. It must have been at least as bad for his horse, which was why he tried not to overburden it.

“I hope they’re all right,” the Vice-Captain said. There was a current of unease running beneath those words, and Gazef felt the same way.

The King had ordered Gazef and his men, “Imperial knights have been spotted at the border. If these reports are true, eliminate them immediately.”

The city of E-Rantel was closer, and under normal circumstances, it would be faster to send troops from there. However, the Imperial knights were powerful and well-equipped, and there was an insurmountable gap between them and average conscripts. The only people in the Kingdom which could match up to the Imperial knights were Gazef and his troops. However, handing the entire task to Gazef and his men alone was the height of foolishness.

Before Gazef reached their objective, other troops could have been mobilized, in order to protect the villages. Though they could not win, they could at least hold them off. There were many other methods they could have employed. However, they had not used any of them — no, they could not.

Gazef, who knew the reason why, was filled with agitation. He tightly gripped the reins and tried not to tug on them. Even so, it was difficult to suppress the thoughts burning in his heart.

“Warrior-Captain, just having us do the searching is pointless. Couldn’t we bring everyone from the warrior band and have them help us? We could also hire adventurers from E-Rantel to help us out. Why are you doing this?”

“…Enough, Vice-Captain. Things might go poorly if someone heard that Imperial knights were running loose in the Kingdom’s territory.”

“Warrior-Captain, there’s nobody here. You don’t have to stand on ceremony, but I hope you can tell me the truth,” the Vice-Captain said with a smile. Then, he continued, “Was it those nobles?”

Gazef did not reply to those disdainful words, because that was exactly the case.

“Those damned nobles, treating human lives like pieces in their power struggles! And on top of that, since this is the King’s domain, they can use any problems here to take shots at the King.”

“…Not all nobles think that way.”

“And maybe you’re right, Warrior-Captain, and there are some nobles who think of the people. For example, the Golden Princess. But apart from her, there’s practically no one else… if only the Kingdom was ruled by a dictator, couldn’t we ignore those damn nobles and work for the good of the people?”

“If you interfere too strongly, it might lead to a civil war that would tear the Kingdom apart. Given that we’re facing the threat of the Empire’s expanding ambitions, a war like that would be a disaster for the common folk.”

“I know that, but…”



“Just leave this matter aside for…”

Gazef’s voice cut off halfway, as his eyes looked intently forward.

Thick, black smoke rose up from behind the small hill ahead of them, and it was not just one or two plumes.

Everyone present knew what that meant.

Gazef could not help but click his tongue, and he squeezed his legs around his horse’s flanks.

The scene which the rapidly galloping Gazef and company saw did not deviate from their expectations. Before them spread an expanse of blackened ground, the scorched remains of a village. The corpses of several of the burned houses remained standing, like tombstones.

Gazef gave an order in with a voice of steel, “Everyone, we’re moving. Quickly now!”

♦ ♦ ♦

The village had been put to the torch, and only the burned skeletons of the destroyed homes gave any clue as to what it had been like before.

The smell of blood blended with the stench of burning as one walked between them.

Gazef’s face was calm, with no hint of any emotions on it. However, no expression could convey his feelings more clearly than this. The same applied to Vice-Captain who walked by Gazef’s side.

Over a hundred villagers had lived here. Six had survived. Everyone else had been mercilessly slain, whether they were women, children, or infants.

“Vice-Captain, have some of our people return the survivors to E-Rantel.”

“But wait, this is…”

“You’re right, it’s a big risk. Even so, we can’t just abandon them like this.”

E-Rantel was directly administered by the King, and protecting its surrounding villages was the King’s duty. Abandoning the survivors here would cause a lot of problems for him. One could imagine how the Noble Faction, which opposed the King, would seize on that opportunity to make trouble for him. More importantly—

“Please reconsider. A lot of the survivors witnessed Imperial knights. We can consider that as having fulfilled the first part of the King’s orders. I feel we should fall back for now and make sufficient preparations in E-Rantel before carrying out the next part.”

“No.”

“Warrior-Captain! You should know by now that this is a trap. The timing of the attack came too close to our arrival at E-Rantel to be anything but a coincidence. Their ruthless actions were only committed after we arrived, and the reason why they did not kill everyone was in order to use them as bait for a trap.”

The survivors had not evaded the knights. Rather, the enemy had not finished them off. It might be a plot to divide Gazef’s strength by having him split off his men to protect the survivors.

“Warrior-Captain, do you intend to keep at it, knowing well that there’s a trap?”

“…Indeed.”

“Warrior Captain, are you serious about that!? Indeed, you are strong, and you could easily defeat a hundred knights. However, the Empire has that old man. Even you would be in great danger against him. There’s also a chance that you might lose against the Empire’s renowned Four Knights, under-equipped as you are. Therefore, I beg you to fall back. To the King, losing a few villages is nothing compared to losing you!”

Gazef could only listen quietly as his Vice-Captain got more and more nervous.

“If we won’t fall back… then we should leave the survivors behind and launch a pursuit with all of us.”

“That would be the wisest option…. But at the same time, it would mean that we would be leaving them to their deaths. Do you think they can survive by themselves?”

The Vice-Captain could not reply, because he knew the survivors’ chances by themselves were practically nonexistent.

Without someone to protect and escort them to a safe area, they would be dead in days.

Even so, the Vice-Captain spoke — no, he had to speak.

“…Warrior-Captain. Yours is the most valuable life here.The villagers’ lives are nothing in comparison.”

Gazef was well aware of the painful decision the Vice-Captain had made, and he was angry at himself for having forced him to say such a thing.

Even so, he could not comply with the Vice-Captain’s request.

“I was born a commoner, and so were you.”

“Indeed, and I enlisted in admiration of you, Warrior-Captain.”

“I recall you were born in a village as well?”

“Yes, which is why…”

“Life in a village is difficult, and death is a constant companion. It’s not uncommon for a village to be attacked by a monster and many lives lost as a result, am I wrong?”

“…No, you are not.”

“When a monster shows up, the rank and file soldiers are hard pressed to deal with it. If a village does not have the money to hire adventurers to deal with monsters, all they can do is hunker down and wait for the monster to leave.”

“…That’s right.”

“Then, can you say you did not look forward to something like this? Can you say you did not hope for the nobles or someone strong to come and save you?”

“…It would be a lie to say that I didn’t. But the fact is that nobody ever came forward to help. At least, the lord of the land where my village was did not pay for adventurers to help us.”

“Since that is the case… why don’t we prove that we’re not like him? Come, let us save these people.”

The Vice-Captain thought of his own experiences, and could not say anything in response.

“Vice-Captain, let’s show the villagers what heroes who willingly plunge into danger to save others look like. Let’s show them how the strong will save the weak.”

Gazef’s eyes met the Vice-Captain’s, and countless emotions passed in between them.

His voice somewhat tired but grateful, the Vice-Captain replied:

“…Then allow me to lead the men. There are many who can replace me, but none who can take the place of you, Warrior-Captain.”

“Don’t be foolish. My chances of survival are higher. Remember, we’re not going to die, but to save the people of the Kingdom.”

The Vice-Captain opened his mouth several times, as though to speak, but in the end, he chose to remain silent.

“Then, pick the soldiers who will follow you in escorting the villagers to E-Rantel.”

♦ ♦ ♦

The crimson light of the setting sun shone on a group of men upon the plains.

There were forty five of them.

They must have had excellent camouflage techniques given the way they had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Magic was most likely involved.

It was obvious at a glance that they were not simple mercenaries, travellers, or adventurers.

They were all dressed the same way, in armor made of special metals, which emphasised defensive power and mobility. After enchantment, they were more protective than full plate armor.

The bags on their backs were small, hardly the kind one would expect a traveller to carry. Those bags were enchanted as well. Their belts were special, designed to carry potions, and the capes on their backs also radiated an aura of magic.

Gathering this many sets of magic items would be a daunting task, be it in terms of time, money, or effort required. The fact that these people were outfitted in this sort of equipment was a clear sign that they had the backing of a nation, or the equivalent.

However, there were no markings or badges on them which might reveal their allegiance. In other words, they were hiding the fact that they were a black ops unit.

They looked at the ruins of the village with emotionless eyes. Although the stink of blood and fire hung heavy in the air, their merciless gazes seemed to say that this was only to be expected.

“…They fled.”

The words were spoken with a hint of disappointment.

“…Well, that’s only to be expected. We will continue attacking villages to draw him out. The beast must be lured into the trap.”

The man who spoke cast a razor-sharp look in the direction where Gazef’s company was riding.

“Show me the village which we will next be using as bait.”

Part 3

Momonga pointed his finger, preparing to cast a spell on the strawman in the corner of the arena.

Momonga did not know many pure damage spells. Instead, he focused on instant death spells with additional effects. As a result, he was less effective against non-living entities. He should have selected a simple damaging spell against a target like the one before him, but Momonga’s levels were largely in necromancy-type classes, which strengthened his necromantic spells. However, the effectiveness of these spells was several notches below a character whose class levels enhanced combat spells.

He glanced curiously at the children to the side, whose eyes were glittering in anticipation. He felt uneasy as he wondered whether he could live up to their expectations.

Then, Momonga peeked at the two huge monsters.

Their massive bodies were three meters tall, and resembled inverted triangles.

Their skeletal structure was a mix of humans and dragons and covered in corded, sinewy muscles, which were in turn sheathed by a layer of scales that were harder than steel.

Their faces resembled those of dragons, while their tails were as thick as tree trunks. They were wingless and bipedal, like a dragon standing on its hind legs. Their arms were wider around than a man’s torso, and each was about half the length of its body. They bore weapons that resembled both a shield and a sword.

These monsters were called Dragonkin, and under the control of Aura’s beast tamer skills, they rearranged the Colosseum to her liking.

Although they were level fifty five monsters with no special abilities of note, their powerful arms and prodigious stamina were a match for higher-levelled monsters.

Momonga sighed softly, and then looked back at the strawmen.

It was quite troubling to have people look at him with expectation in their eyes. His objective this time was to verify that he could use magic.

The reason for allowing Aura and Mare to witness this experiment was to impress his power upon them before the other Guardians arrived. In this way, they would learn that opposing Momonga was a foolish course of action.

The two kids did not seem like they would betray him, nor did he feel that they would betray him. However, if he lost the ability to use his magic, Momonga was not confident that they would stay loyal to him.

Aura treated Momonga like an old friend, but to Momonga, it was the first time they had met. He could tell that the twins were the lovingly crafted embodiment of his guild members’ hard work.

However, there was no guarantee that their design and programming was perfect. In the face of countless situations and stimuli, a discrepancy or weakness might appear somewhere.

They were intelligent beings who could think on their own, so flaws in their reasoning must exist somewhere. If they were not programmed to be loyal to weaklings, what would that mean for him? In all likelihood, they were not written to be slavishly loyal. That would mean that whether or not they obeyed the order would depend on who the giver was. And it would be bad enough if they did not listen to him, but what if they betrayed their guild leader after finding out that he was powerless…?

It was not good to have too many doubts, but blind trust was not a wise move either.

He would cross that bridge when he came to it. Momonga turned his mind to the present.

Another reason for coming here was that if he found that he could not use magic, he could discuss the situation with Aura and Mare.

The twins thought he had come to test the power of the Staff, so now that its power had been proven, he could cover up any ineffectiveness of his own magic.

It was a pretty good plan.

Momonga could not help but congratulate himself. Had he ever been so cool and calculating in the past? However, there was nobody here who could answer Momonga’s question.

He cast aside the doubts in his mind, and focused on using the magic of YGGDRASIL.

There were over six thousand spells in the game, from Tier One to Tier Ten, as well as Super Tier magic. These spells were divided among various types and schools, and Momonga could use seven hundred eighteen of them. A normal level one hundred player would only be able to use three hundred of them, so Momonga was an exceptional case.

Momonga had memorized almost all of these spells, and he considered which one to use now.

To begin with, because the restriction on friendly fire had been lifted, he needed to know how the effective radius of a spell would show itself.

Therefore, he decided against a single target spell, but picked an area effect spell. Next, considering his target was a strawman, he should—

In YGGDRASIL, he could cast a spell by tapping its respective icon. However, there were no icons for him to touch. Therefore, there had to be some other way.

He was not sure, but he had a faint idea of how to use his magic.

It was a power hidden within him. Just like how he had deactivated his negative touch, Momonga focused within himself. An icon appeared, as though floating in mid-air—

And Ainz smiled in delight.

He was fully aware of information like the spell’s effective radius, its recast delay, and so on. Knowing this information, being sure of his power filled him with a surging excitement and warm satisfaction. Unlike in YGGDRASIL, he felt that the magic was part of him. This was a satisfaction he could never have experienced in YGGDRASIL.

He channelled the jubilation in his heart — although his mood calmed quickly, he could still feel joy and excitement — into his fingertip, and spoke the words:

“「Fireball」.”

An expanding globe of flame shot out from the finger pointing at the strawman.

The fireball struck the strawman unerringly, as he had predicted. It burst, releasing a wave of scorching flame that blew the strawman away. The inner part of the fireball exploded, turning the strawman and the surrounding area into a sea of fire.

All this happened in an instant. Then, besides the blackened strawman, there was nothing left.

“Fufufufu…”

Aura and Mare watched Momonga snicker, clueless as to what was going on.

“—Aura, set up another strawman.”

“Ah, yes, at once! Hurry up and do it!”

One of the Dragonkin picked up another strawman, and placed it beside the burned one.

Momonga paced around the strawman, before casting a spell on it:

“「Napalm」.”

A column of flame appeared beside the strawman, engulfing it in fire. Momonga paused a beat, then cast another spell on the remnants of the strawman:

“「Fireball」.”

The fireball struck the remains of the strawman, scattering its ashes in a puff of smoke.

The recast time between spells was the same as in YGGDRASIL. The actual process of casting was faster than in YGGDRASIL. Previously, in order to cast an area effect spell, he would need to choose the spell, then move the area effect cursor over the desired area. The process now was quicker than that.

“Perfect,” Momonga said, his voice filled with the same satisfaction he felt in his heart.

“Momonga-sama, should I prepare more strawmen?”

Aura still did not understand. She was already aware that Momonga was a mighty magic caster, so she did not feel the show before her was anything special.

However, that was the impression Momonga wanted to give them, and from the look on the twin’s faces, it would seem he had succeeded.

“…No, there is no need. I wish to try something else.”

After rejecting Aura’s suggestion, Momonga began his next experiment.

“「Message」.”

The first party he tried to contact was a GM. In YGGDRASIL, when one used the 「Message」 spell, as long as the other party was within the game, one would hear a call tone. Otherwise, there would be no sound, and the spell would immediately terminate.

What happened now was somewhere between both of those. It felt like something was constantly reaching out, as though looking for something to connect to. This was the first time Momonga had experienced something like this and it was difficult to describe.

This feeling continued for a while, and in the end, after failing to connect, the 「Message」 spell ended.

A profound sense of disappointment flooded through him.

Momonga tried casting the same spell again. This time, he did not choose a GM.

This time, he picked one of his comrades from the past — a member of Ainz Ooal Gown.

He cast the spell, though his heart was filled with one part of hope and ninety nine parts of resignation. As expected, there was no response. He tried to contact the forty, no, forty one members of the Guild with a 「Message」, but after receiving no reply, Momonga gently shook his head.

In truth, he had expected this outcome and had resigned himself to it, but actually being confronted by that fact filled him with an incomparable feeling of despair.

In the end, Momonga decided to contact Sebas.

—It got through.

This proved that the 「Message」 spell was working, and that most likely, it could only contact people within this new world.

“Momonga-sama.”

A voice of deepest respect echoed through his mind. Momonga considered that Sebas might have been bowing to him on the other side of the 「Message」, like in real-life companies.

Just then, Sebas spoke again, as Momonga fell silent from thinking about these ridiculous things.

“…May I ask if something is wrong?”

“Ah, ahhh, forgive me. I spaced out there. That’s right, how are the surroundings like?”

“Yes. We are surrounded by plains, with no intelligent creatures in sight.”

“A plain… not a swamp?”

The Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick should have been bordered by a swamp that was inhabited by frog-like demihumans called Tuvegs. The swamp was shrouded in mist, and it was poisonous.

“Yes. There are only plains around us.”

Momonga could not help but smile.

All this was too much…

“In other words, the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick has been wholly transported to a different place? …Sebas, is there anything floating in the sky, or did anything like a message appear?”

“No, there is nothing like that. The heavens are as boundless as the Sixth Floor’s night sky.”

“What!? Did you say night sky?… Is there anything suspicious around you?”

“No… I have not seen anything unusual. Besides the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, there are no other man-made structures in sight.”

“Is that so… is that so…”

What should he say? All Momonga could do was grab his head and try to think. But in his heart, he knew that this was most likely the case.

Sebas’s silence was a subtle hint that he was awaiting orders. Momonga glanced at the strap on his left wrist. In another twenty minutes, the other Guardians would arrive. If that was the case, there was only one order he could give.

“Return in twenty minutes. When you come back to Nazarick, head to the Colosseum. All the Guardians will be coming, so when you arrive, I hope you will tell them about what you saw.

“Understood.”

“Then, gather as much information as you can before you return.”

After hearing Sebas’s acknowledgement, Momonga terminated the 「Message」 spell.

Just as Momonga was about to sigh in relief that everything was over, he remembered the expectant looks on the twin’s faces.

He had already told them he was going to verify the Staff’s power, so he had to let them see it. Momonga grasped the Staff, and pondered which fraction of its might he should reveal.

The numberless powers within the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown seemed to be begging Momonga to unleash them.

Right now, he needed a flashy spell.

“「Summon Primal Fire Elemental」.”

In accordance with Momonga’s will, the Orb of Fire grasped within one of the Staff’s snake mouths pulsed with puissance. Momonga could feel the movement of a mighty, invisible power and thrust the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown forth. A vast ball of light bloomed from the tip of the Staff, and a vortex of roaring flame spilled forth from that globe of radiance.

The fires spun faster and faster, until the tornado of flame reached a width of four meters and a height of six meters.

The crimson inferno threw off gusts of scorching air in all directions.

From the corner of his eye, he could see the Dragonkin protecting Aura and Mare with their vast bodies. The searing winds made his cape flap violently. So intense was the heat that it would not have been unusual for a normal person to be burned by them, but Momonga had acquired a complete immunity to fire damage in order to negate one of the weaknesses of the undead, so it had no effect on him at all.

Soon, the vast cyclone of fire, swallowing the surrounding air as it burned hot enough to melt metal, began to flicker and shudder as it took a humanoid form.

Primal Fire Elementals could be said to be among the highest ranking among all elemental monsters. They were over level eighty five. Just like he had with the Moonlight Wolves, Momonga felt a mysterious connection to the Primal Fire Elemental.

“Uwah…”

Aura was watching it intently as she made noises of surprise.

As she looked upon the top tier elemental, something that even her summoning powers would not be able to bring forth, Aura’s face bore a look of excited admiration, like a child who had just received a dearly beloved present.

“…Do you want to fight it?”

“Eh?”

“Ehhhhh?”

After a moment of hesitation, Aura grinned innocently. Compared to a normal child’s smile, hers was a little — no — the truth was that it was quite scary. In contrast, Mare’s smile from the side seemed more like that of a child.

“Can I?”

“Don’t worry. It’ll be fine even if you defeat it.”

Momonga shrugged to indicate that it was all right. The Staff could summon one Primal Fire Elemental a day. In other words, the Staff could summon another such being after one day had passed. As such, defeating it would not be a great loss.

“Ah, I suddenly remembered that I had something urgent to do…”

“Mare.”

A hand reached out and firmly grasped Mare’s arm, not allowing him to escape. His sister had no intention of fleeing. Aura’s smile stopped Mare in his tracks. Perhaps to Momonga it might have been a cute girl’s smile, but to the other person present, who looked almost the same as Aura, it was anything but cute, and Mare’s face froze solid as he looked on it.

She dragged Mare in front of the Primal Fire Elemental. Mare’s eyes looked around, and he looked desperately to Momonga for help.

In response to his hopeful smile that blossomed delicately on his face, Momonga simply clapped.

The flower of hope promptly wilted.

“All right, try your best, you two. Don’t blame me if you get hurt.”

“Kay~”

Aura responded energetically, in contrast with Mare’s nearly inaudible and despondent reply. Momonga felt that as long as Mare was around, neither of them would get hurt. Thus, by the power of the connection between himself and his summoned creature, he ordered the Primal Fire Elemental to attack the twins.

As the conflagration that was the Primal Fire Elemental approached them, the twins met its attack with Aura as the frontliner while Mare was the rear guard.

Aura slashed at the Primal Fire Elemental, holding her whip in both her hands, while Mare used magic to deal damage.

“Well, it seems it’ll be an easy fight.”

Momonga’s eyes left the one-sided battle taking place before him and began to ponder the other things he needed to investigate.

He had already finished verifying that he could use and activate his spells and equipped magic items. Thus, the next things he had to check on were his other items. Scrolls, wands, and rods were particularly important. All of them were magic items that could produce a spell-like effect. Scrolls were one-use expendables, while rods and wands had charges, which they consumed to produce their effects.

Momonga possessed many magic items. He was a hoarder by nature and did not like using expendable items because he felt it was a waste, to the point where he did not even feel like using high-end recovery items when he encountered a boss. This went beyond mere prudence to miserliness, which was why his stock of items was so great.

In YGGDRASIL, all of these were stored in his personal inventory. Then, in this world, where had his inventory and all its contents gone?

Momonga recalled how he had opened his inventory in the past, and reached his hand into the air as though searching for something. It felt as though he was reaching his hand past the surface of a lake, and an observer would think that Momonga’s hand and part of his arm had vanished into nothingness.

Then, like he was opening a window, Momonga swept his hand to one side. A hole appeared out of nowhere, and within it were many beautifully-crafted magic staves. It was exactly like the inventory in YGGDRASIL.

He moved his hand in a scrolling motion. In the space revealed, one could see all manner of scrolls, wands, weapons, armor, cosmetic items, gems, potions, other consumables… the sheer number of magic items in there was awe-inspiring.

Thus relieved, Momonga could not help but laugh.

If this were the case, Momonga felt that he could guarantee his own safety even if everyone in the Tomb set themselves against him.

As he absently watched Aura and Mare’s intense battle, Momonga considered the things he had learned so far.

Were the NPCs he met programs?

No, their sapience was such that they were indistinguishable from human beings. Programs could not show such complex emotions. He could assume that for some mysterious reason, they had ended up like human beings.

And what was this world?

He had no idea. Since he could use YGGDRASIL’s magic here, it made sense to think of this place as being in YGGDRASIL, but after observing various discrepancies, it did not seem like he was in a game. Was he in a game, or a new world? The answer was probably one of those.

How should I deal with future events?

Momonga had already verified that he could use his abilities from YGGDRASIL. That being the case, if the data for the monsters and NPCs of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick had carried over as well, he could be reasonably sure that they were not his enemies.

The thing was, if they were not data programs, but some other kind of being, then he would have to treat them differently. For the time being, it would be best to display the attitude of a superior being and put on an act of stern majesty — provided he could pull it off.

In what direction should I proceed in the future?

He should search hard for clues. Although he was not sure what was going on with this world, for the time being, Momonga was simply a clueless wayfarer. He had to take small steps and carefully gather information.

If this is another world, should I try to return to the real world?

There were doubts in his heart. If he had friends in the real world, then he should go back to it. If his parents were still alive, he would desperately find a way back to them. If he had family members to care for, or a girlfriend…

But he did not have anyone like that.

His life was an endless cycle of going to the office to work and returning home to log onto YGGDRASIL, where he would prepare for his comrades to come back. But now, none of that waited for him. Then, was there any point at all in going back?

But if he could go back, then he should think of a way to get back. It was better to have more options, because the world outside might be a hellish one.

“What should I do…”

Momonga’s quiet mumbling carried softly through the air.

Part 4

The gigantic Primal Fire Elemental vanished slowly, as though melting away into nothing. The blazing heat that it left in its wake began to cool off. As the Fire Elemental disappeared, Momonga could feel the link he had to it fading away, like smoke on the wind.

The Primal Fire Elemental possessed extraordinary attack power and stamina, but to Aura, who could ignore the damage of its area effect flames and could nimbly evade its blows, it was little more than a giant target.

Although Aura would still lose HP if she were attacked, Mare the druid would not permit that to occur. In fact, he had cast all sorts of buffs and debuffs to great effect during the battle.

The two of them played their roles as frontliner and rear guard perfectly, with flawless teamwork. At the same time, Momonga could feel the reality of this battle, completely unlike those he had fought in the game.

“Spectacular… the two of you put on a good show.”

The twins smiled happily as they heard Momonga’s sincere praise.

“Thank you, Momonga-sama! It’s been some time since we had to work so hard!”

The two of them tried to wipe off their sweat, but right after they did, more of it beaded on their skin, rolling down their dark skin.

Momonga silently opened his inventory, and withdrew a magic item — a Pitcher of Endless Water.

In YGGDRASIL, there were statuses like hunger and thirst, but neither of those applied to the undead Momonga, so he had no use for items like those. At most, he used them on his mounts.

The glass pitcher was filled with water. Droplets of condensation immediately formed on the surface of the glass; probably because the water inside was very cold.

Momonga then took out a pair of beautiful glasses, filled them with water from the Pitcher, and gave them to the twins.

“Aura, Mare, have a drink.”

“Eh? But that’s not good, right, Momonga-sama…”

“Y-Yes, I can make water with my magic too…”

Momonga smiled bitterly as he saw Aura waving her hand and Mare shaking his head.

“Think nothing of it. The two of you have always done well. Think of this as my thanks to you.”

“Fuwa~”

“Fuee~”

Aura and Mare’s ears turned red, and they shyly, nervously reached out to take the glasses.

“Th-Thank you, Momonga-sama!”

“To, to think you would pour water for us, Momonga-sama!”

Was this so delightful?

Aura, who had ceased her protests, took the glass in both hands and downed it in one gulp. Droplets of water escaped the corner of her mouth, down the smooth curves of her pulsing throat and into the jerkin covering her chest. Mare held his cup with both hands and slowly sipped from it. The differences between them were obvious even in the way they drank water.

Momonga touched his throat as he saw the two of them. It felt like there was a thin layer of skin around his neck bones.

To date, this body of his had not felt thirst, so it did not bother him. Although he was well aware that the dead would not feel this way, he could not help but think this was all a joke once he realized that he was no longer human.

Momonga continued touching himself. He had no skin, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, or internal organs. His body was nothing but bones. He vaguely understood it in his heart, but it felt so unreal that he could not help exploring his body with his fingers.

His sense of touch seemed duller from when he was a human being, as though there was a thin layer of cloth between his fingers and whatever he was touching. In contrast, his vision, hearing and other senses were sharper than before.

One might expect a body composed solely of bones to be easily broken, but each bone felt stronger than steel when he touched them.

At the same time, he felt a strange sense of completion and satisfaction, that this was his real body, despite it being completely different from his old one. Perhaps it was because of this feeling that he was not afraid, despite his transfiguration into a set of white bones.

“Do you want more?”

Momonga raised the Pitcher as he asked the twins, who had finished their water.

“Er, thanks! I’ve drunk enough!”

“Is that so? Then, Mare, do you want some more?”

“Eep! Er, er, I, I’ve also had enough. I, I don’t feel thirsty any more.”

Momonga nodded as he took back the glasses, before returning them all into his pocket space.

Aura suddenly whispered, “I thought Momonga-sama would be scarier than this.”

“Oh? Really? Well, if you feel that way…”

“Now is good! It’s the best!”

“Then we’ll leave it at that.”

Momonga was taken somewhat aback by Aura’s passionate answer.

“Mo-Momonga-sama, are we the only ones that you’re nice to…?”

Momonga was unsure how to answer Aura’s muttered question. Instead, he patted her lightly on the head.

“Ehehehe.”

Aura looked like a puppy that had just seen something she liked, while Mare had a jealous look on his face. Just then, a voice rang out:

“Oya, am I the first to arrive?”

The tone was archaic and formal, but the voice itself sounded like it belonged to a young person. A shadow formed over the ground, and then the shadow turned into what looked like a door, from which a person emerged.

She wore a black ball gown which looked soft to the touch. Her skirt was puffed up into a voluminous bell shape. On top of that was a bolero edged with frills, lace, and ribbons, as well as a pair of long silk gloves. Together, they covered up most of her skin.

Her skin was as pale as wax, and her looks could only be described as stunningly beautiful. Her long silver hair was tied up into a ponytail that descended from one side of her head, exposing her face. Her deep red pupils were filled with a seductive look of delight.

She looked to be fourteen years old, or younger, and her innocent, youthful appearance combined the qualities of cuteness and beauty into a single whole. However, her breasts bulged proudly forward in a decidedly unchildlike manner.

“…Weren’t you told not to frivolously use 「Gate」 in Nazarick? We are warded against teleportation, after all. You should be able to walk here, so shouldn’t you have come on foot, Shalltear?”

The annoyed voice came from beside Momonga. There was no trace of its previous puppy-like obedience in those cold words, only a burning hostility.

Mare was trembling by the side, and he slowly edged himself away from his sister. In truth, the speed at which the leopard called Aura had changed its spots startled Momonga as well.

The girl who had come here via the highest tier of teleportation magic was called Shalltear. She did not even bother looking at Aura, who was scowling at her. Instead, she swiftly advanced before Momonga.

The bewitching scent of some kind of perfume hung around her.

“…Something stinks,” Aura spat. Then, she followed up with, “Don’t tell me you started rotting because you’re undead?”

Perhaps she saw Momonga reflexively raising his hand to sniff himself, but Shalltear furrowed her brows unhappily and replied:

“…Is that not quite distasteful? Momonga-sama is undead as well.”

“Hah? What nonsense are you talking, Shalltear? Momonga-sama is no mere undead being. He’s more like a super undead, or a godly undead.”

Momonga was somewhat baffled as he heard Shalltear and Mare going “Ah,” and “Mm,” respectively. The fact was that in YGGDRASIL, he considered himself to be an ordinary undead creature… which was what Momonga thought as he rounded his shoulders.

In any case, there were no such things as super or godly undead.

“But, but Nee-chan, maybe you shouldn’t have said that…”

“Is, is that so? All right, then, ah, take two, then. Ahem… Don’t tell me you started rotting because you’re a walking corpse.”

“That… er, well, that seems okay, sort of.”

After agreeing with Aura’s take two, Shalltear placed her slender hands on the sides of Momonga’s head, as though to embrace it.

“Ah, my master, my beloved master, the only one whom I cannot rule over…”

Her carmine lips parted, revealing a moist, slick tongue. The tongue moved like a living creature as Shalltear lovingly licked her lips. Her fragrant breath wafted out from her open mouth.

Although she was perfectly suited for the role of an alluring seductress in all other ways, she was far too young for it. The discrepancy between her expectations and reality was laughable. In addition, she was far too short. When she reached her hands out to hug Momonga, it looked like she wanted to hang from his neck instead.

However, this was too much affection for Momonga, who was not used to girls. He wanted to take a step back, but in the end he decided to stand his ground.

Is that how she really is? That thought echoed endlessly in his head. However, when Momonga thought about the fact that she had been designed by his comrade Peroroncino, he mused that she might have been designed with such a personality. After all, Peroroncino loved H-games and proudly declared that they were his life.

Shalltear Bloodfallen was made by such a rotten individual.

She was a “True Vampire”, the Guardian of the First to Third Floors of the Great Tomb of  Nazarick.

At the same time, she was a girl created by an H-game aficionado and her character design was filled with nods to various H-games.

“…That’s enough out of you…”

Shalltear reacted to the low growl for the first time. In a mocking tone, she told Aura, “Ara, are you still here, shorty? I couldn’t see you, so I thought you were gone.”

Momonga did not wish to add to what Shalltear had just said.

Aura’s face was twitching uncontrollably, and then Shalltear ignored her and said to Mare, “It must be pretty tough for you, having to deal with a weirdo sister like that. You’d best leave her soon, lest you become a weirdo like her.”

Mare’s face blanched instantly, because he knew Shalltear wanted to use him to start a fight.

However, Aura simply smiled. And then—

“Shut up, fake tits.”

— She dropped a bombshell.

“…What the hell are you talking about—!?”

Ah, her character’s broken down, Momonga muttered under his breath.

Now that Shalltear’s true nature had been revealed, she dropped the cultured act.

“Hmph, it’s so obvious — damn, that is one weird chest, how many pads did you stuff in there?”

“Uwah—uwah—”

Shalltear was waving her hands in panic, as though she could disperse Aura’s words with them, while she had a suitably childish expression on her face. On the other hand, Aura grinned evilly.

“You packed so much in there… I bet it shifts when you run, right?”

“Kuhii!”

Shalltear made a strange noise as an extended finger poked her.

“I was right, wasn’t I? Kukuku! Where have they gone—!? So that’s why you didn’t run, even though you were worried, and instead you used a 「Gate」—”

“Shut up, shorty! It’s not like you have anything of your own! At least I… no, I’ve got a lot more to show off!”

Aura simply grinned in the face of Shalltear’s desperate counterattack. A shocked Shalltear stumbled back, and reflexively covered up her chest. It was a sorry sight.

“…I’m only seventy six, and I’ve got lots more time to grow, unlike an undead with no future like you. Ah, how sad — you will never grow again~”

Shalltear moaned in frustration and took another step back. There was a desperate, harried look on her face, which only made Aura smile in a frightening manner.

“To think you’re actually happy with that bust of yours — hmph!”

Momonga imagined he could hear Shalltear snapping.

“You shitty brat—! It’s too late to regret your words now—!”

Roiling black mist boiled off Shalltear’s hands. Aura readied her whip in anticipation. Momonga and Mare, watching from the side, were at a loss for words.

The scene before Momonga’s eyes was vaguely familiar, and he wondered if he should stop them.

Peroroncino-san, who designed Shalltear, and Bukubukuchagama-san, who designed Aura and Mare, were younger brother and elder sister, and at times they would argue in a friendly manner, like what was happening now.

Momonga recalled the forms of his former comrades as he stood behind the quarrelling pair.

“What. A. Ruckus.”

The inhuman voice came just as Momonga was reminiscing about the past. The strange, monotonous voice finally silenced the two of them.

As he turned to look at the voice’s origin, he saw a heteromorphic being shrouded in chilled air.

It stood two and a half meters tall, and resembled a bipedal insect. It looked like some fiend had melded a praying mantis and an ant together. It had a tail that was twice as long as its body, and it was covered in sharp spikes which resembled icicles. Its powerful-looking mandibles looked like they could sever a man’s arm in a single bite.

It grasped a platinum halberd in two of its hands, and in its other two hands were a masterfully-made mace wreathed in a black aura, and a gnarled-looking broadsword which did not look like it could be sheathed.

It was surrounded by a frightening aura of cold. Its exoskeleton was a dull blue color and sparkled like diamond dust. Protrusions which looked like icebergs bulged up from its back and shoulders.

He was the Guardian of the Fifth Floor, the “Ruler of Glaciers”, Cocytus.

The hilt of his halberd slammed into the arena floor, and the ground around it began to freeze.

“You. Stand. Before. A. Supreme. Being. Contain. Yourself.”

“This brat started it!”

“Actually—”

“Awawawa…”

Shalltear and Aura locked gazes, while Mare panicked from the side. Momonga could not hold it in any longer, and curtly addressed the two of them.

“…Shalltear, Aura. Playtime is over.”

The two of them shuddered in shock, then lowered their heads simultaneously.

“My sincerest apologies!” they said in unison.

Momonga magnanimously accepted their apologies with a nod. Then, he turned and said, “Cocytus, you’ve come.”

“I. Came. Immediately. Upon. Receiving. Your. Summons. Momonga-sama.”

The water in the air froze with a crackling sound as it made contact with the white vapor puffing out of Cocytus’s mouth as he spoke. This cold was every bit as frigid as the Primal Fire Elemental was hot. Anyone standing near him would suffer the effects of the lowered temperature, and they might even sustain frostbite. However, Momonga did not feel anything. The fact was that everyone here was resistant to fire, cold, and acid attacks, or had some way to deal with them.

“You must have been very free with no intruders around, no?”

“Indeed.”

The clacking from his lower mandibles sounded like the threatening noises of a wasp. However, Momonga had the feeling that he was laughing.

“Even. So. There. Are. Still. Things. Which. Must. Be. Done. So. I. Was. Not. Free. At. All.”

“Oh? Things that had to be done? What things were these, may I ask?”

“Training. In. Order. To. Be. Ready. To. Deploy. At. Any. Time.”

Although it was not too obvious from his appearance, Cocytus was designed to be the quintessential warrior, be it in personality or body. Therefore, from the perspective of a weapon user, his attacks were the strongest in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.

“You’ve done all this for me. You’ve worked hard. My thanks.”

“After. Hearing. Your. Praise. The. Task. Is. Not. As. Tiring. I. See. Demiurge. And. Albedo. Have. Arrived.”

Momonga turned in the direction Cocytus was looking, at the entrance of the Colosseum, where he saw two figures enter. The one in front was Albedo, while a man followed behind her like a lackey. Once she got close enough, Albedo smiled to Momonga and bowed deeply.

The man bowed and said, “Forgive me for keeping everyone waiting.”

He was about one hundred eighty centimeters tall, and his skin was darkened from the sun. His facial features looked to be Oriental, while his jet-black hair was neatly combed back. The eyes under his pince-nez glasses could not even be said to be narrowed. It was doubtful whether they were actually open at all.

He was dressed in a Western suit, with a matching tie. He gave the impression of being a professional businessman, or a skilled lawyer.

However, his gentlemanly appearance was hard-pressed to hide the evil air about him. A tail sheathed in silvery metal extended behind him, tipped by six sharp spikes. He was limned by flickering black flames.

This man was the “Creator of Blazing Inferno”, Demiurge.

He was the Guardian of the Seventh Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. This demon was designed to be the defense commander of the NPCs.

“It seems everyone is here.”

“—Momonga-sama, there are two more people who have not yet arrived,” said a resonant voice that seemed to pour into one’s heart.

Demiurge’s words were empowered by a passive skill. This skill was called 「Command Mantra」, and it could instantly turn the weak-minded into puppets dancing on Demiurge’s strings.

However, this skill had no effect on the people present. It was only useful on people below level forty, so to everyone here, it simply sounded good.

“No. Those two Guardians are only to be moved under special circumstances. Therefore, there is no need to call them over at the moment.”

“I see.”

“…My. Allies. Have. Not. Arrived. Yet.”

Aura and Shalltear froze as they heard those words, and the smile froze on Albedo’s face.

“…That, that fellow is just an Area Guardian in one of the floors which I… which we are in charge of.”

“Y-Yes…”

Shalltear and Aura smiled stiffly, while Albedo nodded vigorously in agreement.

“…Kyouhukou, is it. Indeed, it would be good to inform the various Area Guardians. Then, let the Area Guardians like Guren and Grant know about it as well. I will leave that task to the various Floor Guardians.”

There were two kinds of Guardians in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.

Floor Guardians, like the ones before Momonga at the moment, were responsible for one or more floors. Area Guardians were responsible for an individual area within a floor. Simply put, the Floor Guardians were in charge of the Area Guardians, who were in turn in charge of a specific domain. Since there were many of them, they were individually not very important. In Nazarick, the term Guardian usually referred to a Floor Guardian.

After the various Floor Guardians showed that they understood Momonga’s orders, Albedo commanded:

“Then, everyone, let us pledge our loyalty to the Supreme One.”

All the Guardians nodded as one, and before Momonga could interrupt, they had lined up before him. Albedo stood at their head, while the other Guardians formed a line behind her. All the Guardians had solemn, respectful expressions. They showed no sign of playing around.

Shalltear, who stood on one end of the line, stepped forward:

“Shalltear Bloodfallen, Guardian of the First, Second and Third Floors, presents herself to the Master.”

She went to one knee, one hand pressed against her chest, and bowed deeply. After that, Cocytus stepped forward and said:

“Cocytus. Guardian. Of. The. Fifth. Floor. Presents. Himself. To. The. Master.”

Much like Shalltear had, he knelt before Momonga like a vassal before a lord. Then, it was the twin dark elves’ turn:

“The Guardian of the Sixth Floor, Aura Bella Fiora, presents herself to the Master.”

“Al-Also a Guardian of the Sixth Floor, Mare Bello Fiore, presents himself to the Master.”

They knelt respectfully and lowered their heads to Momonga. Shalltear, Cocytus, Aura, and Mare all had different bodies and thus they should have each taken their steps forward differently. Yet, the way with which they knelt was identical, and they lined up neatly.

After that, Demiurge advanced in a dignified manner.

“The Guardian of the Seventh Floor, Demiurge, presents himself to the Master.”

Following his crisp words, Demiurge went to one knee in a graceful descent, as though expressing his heart through his actions. Finally, Albedo stepped forward as well.

“The Guardian Overseer Albedo presents herself to the Master.”

She smiled to Momonga, and knelt like the other Guardians. However, Albedo continued speaking in a high and clear voice as she delivered her report to Momonga.

“With the exception of the Fourth Floor Guardian Gargantua and the Eighth Floor Guardian Victim, all the Floor Guardians are gathered before you. Thus do we offer up our utmost loyalty to the Master.”

Momonga could not speak as he looked at the six lowered heads before him. A strange pressure veiled the entire area, and perhaps only Momonga could bear the painful, crushing air.

—He did not know how to proceed.

He had never seen anything like this before in his life. In his confusion, Momonga accidentally activated a skill. A dreadful aura roiled out over the surroundings, and a halo of black radiance formed behind him.

Momonga had no time to cancel the skill as he frantically racked his brains to recall a scene from movies or television which would tell him how to respond appropriately here.

“Raise your heads.”

With a sha, everyone raised their heads. Their coordination was so immaculate that Momonga wondered if they had practiced that movement together.

“Then… first, I thank all of you for coming here.”

“There is no need for thanks. We are all Momonga-sama’s loyal subordinates. To us, Momonga-sama is our Supreme Overlord.”

None of the Guardians opposed her statement. As expected of the Guardian Overseer.

Momonga looked on the Guardians with a stern face, and he felt a choking sensation in his nonexistent throat. It was the weight of being a leader bearing down on him.

In addition, any orders he gave now would affect his relationship with them in the future. He could not help but hesitate as he contemplated the possibilities.

Would he lead the Great Tomb of Nazarick to destruction because of his decisions — the unease generated by that thought flooded his heart and mind.

“…Momonga-sama, it is only natural that you should have doubts about us. After all, our abilities must be miniscule in your reckoning.”

Albedo removed the smile from her face, and continue in a respectful tone that was laced with a stern strength.

“However, if Momonga-sama gives the order, we — all the Guardians will accomplish any task set to us, no matter how difficult or arduous, with every fiber of our beings. We hereby swear that we will never allow the Forty One Supreme Beings of Ainz Ooal Gown, our creators, to be disgraced by our actions.”

“This we swear!”

The Floor Guardians chimed in right after Albedo. Their voices were filled with power, and that adamant loyalty and determination would not be diminished by any number of foes. It was as though they were mocking Momonga’s previous worries that the NPCs might betray him.

The darkness in his heart vanished like shadows in the morning sun. Momonga was moved to the bottom of his heart that the NPCs designed by the members of Ainz Ooal Gown were possessed by such excellence.

The golden radiance of the past still remained.

The embodiment of everyone’s hard work, their cunningly crafted creations, were still here. It filled him with joy.

Momonga smiled, although his skeletal face could not display any emotions. The points of crimson light in his eye sockets seemed to shine exceptionally bright. His prior unease had was no longer existent, and he simply spoke the words expected of a guildmaster.

“Excellent. Guardians, I know that you will understand my aims and successfully carry out my commands. There may be some things which are difficult to understand, but I hope you will pay attention and listen. I believe the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick has been caught up in some kind of unknown situation.”

The Guardians’ faces were still stern, and there was no trace of surprise on them.

“Although I do not know what has caused this incident, the Great Tomb of Nazarick has been transported from its place in the swamps to a vast plain. Did anyone foresee the occurrence of this strange event?”

Albedo looked back at the Guardians, and after seeing the reply written on their face, she said:

“Regretfully, none of us have any idea of what is going on.”

“Then, I have a question for the Floor Guardians. Have any of you discovered anything strange in your floors?”

After hearing this, each Floor Guardian responded:

“There are no abnormalities in the Seventh Floor.”

“Same with the Sixth Floor.”

“I-It’s as Nee-chan says.”

“The. Fifth. Floor. Is. The. Same.”

“Nothing strange has been sighted in the First to Third Floors.”

“—Momonga-sama, I shall investigate the Fourth and Eighth Floors right away.”

“Then I will leave that matter to Albedo. However, you must be careful on the Eighth Floor. If an emergency situation occurs there, a situation may emerge that you cannot deal with.”

Albedo bowed her head deeply to indicate she understood, and then Shalltear said:

“Then, I shall handle matters on the surface.”

“There is no need. Sebas is currently reconnoitering the surface.”

Surprise flashed across the faces of Albedo and the other Guardians.

In the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, there were four NPCs who were exponents of melee combat. Cocytus had the strongest attack power when using a weapon, Albedo had an impregnable defense when in her heavy armor, while Sebas in his true form was stronger than either of them in melee combat. And then was one more, who was superior to all of them.

There could be no other reason for the Guardians’ surprise. Sebas, who could sweep away anyone before him in hand-to-hand combat, had been assigned to the simple task of reconnaissance. They could tell how seriously Momonga was taking this strange occurrence, and everyone was on their guard as a result.

“It’s about time for him to return.”

Just then, Momonga saw Sebas jogging over to them, until he reached the Guardians genuflecting before Momonga and went to one knee as well.

“Momonga-sama, forgive my lateness.”

“It’s fine. Then, your report on the surrounding conditions.”

Sebas raised his head and looked around at the Guardians kneeling beside him.

“…The situation is critical, so obviously the Floor Guardians need to know as well.”

“Yes. To begin with, the terrain surrounding us for a kilometer in each direction is a plain. There are no signs of man-made structures. I spotted some small animals, but there were no humanoid or large creatures.”

“Were those small animals monsters?”

“No, they were life forms which had no combat power.”

“…I see. Then, were the plains you spoke of covered in frozen grass which would cut you as you passed them?”

“No, it was simple grass. There was nothing special about it.”

“And you did not see any sky castles or similar buildings?”

“No, I did not. There was no sign of man-made illumination in the sky or on the land.”

“I see, so there was only a starry sky… Thank you for your hard work, Sebas.”

As he praised Sebas for his efforts, Momonga was somewhat disappointed because he had not obtained any useful information.

However, he was slowly realizing that he was no longer in the game world of YGGDRASIL, although he did not understand why he could use YGGDRASIL’s equipment and use its spells.

He did not know why they had come here, but it would be wise to heighten Nazarick’s combat readiness just in case. For all he knew, this might be someone else’s territory, and he might be censured for having come here without permission. No, he would be lucky if that was all that happened.

“Guardians, increase the readiness of each floor by one level. We are unsure of what has happened, so do not act incautiously. If you encounter an intruder, do not slay them, but capture them alive at all costs. When you capture them, do as little harm to them as possible. I apologise for imposing such demands on all of you at a time like this.”

The Guardians voiced their acknowledgement and nodded in unison.

“Next, I would like to understand the administrative operations of the Tomb. Albedo, how is the exchange of security information between the Guardians of the various floors?”

In YGGDRASIL, the Guardians were simple NPCs, and they could only act according to their programs. There was no way the floors would exchange security information and monsters.

“Each Floor is administered by its respective Floor Guardian, but Demiurge is the overall defense commander, and everyone can share information with him.”

Momonga was a bit surprised, but then he nodded in satisfaction.

“Excellent. Nazarick’s defense commander, Demiurge. Guardian Overseer, Albedo. The two of you will be in charge of drawing up a more comprehensive administrative system for Nazarick.”

“Understood. Will the plans for the management system include the Eighth, Ninth  and Tenth floors?”

“The Eighth Floor is managed by Victim, so it’ll be fine. No, entry to the Eighth Floor is forbidden. I rescind the order I just gave to Albedo as well. In short, entry to the Eighth Floor will only be effected with my permission. I will undo the seal and permit direct access from the Seventh Floor to the Ninth Floor. After that, plan for the Ninth and Tenth Floor as one whole.”

“Is, is that your will?”

Albedo seemed quite surprised. Behind her, Demiurge’s eyes went wide, revealing his thoughts on the matter.

“Will the underlings be allowed to tramp through the domain of the Supreme Beings? Must they be given that much freedom?”

The underlings in question were not the NPCs and monsters designed by the members of Ainz Ooal Gown, but the automatically spawned (pop) monsters from the dungeon. The fact was that the Ninth and Tenth Floor lacked such monsters, barring very rare exceptions.

Momonga muttered to himself.

Albedo seemed to regard that place as a holy sanctuary, but that was not the case.

The reason why there were no pop monsters on the Ninth Floor was simply because if any intruders could overcome the NPC defenders of the Eighth Floor, the most powerful beings in the Tomb, then Ainz Ooal Gown’s chances of victory would be slim. Thus, it would be better to play the role of a villain to the hilt, and meet the invaders in the throne room for a final showdown.

“…It will be fine. Because it’s an emergency, we need extra hands for security.”

“Understood. I shall select only the finest and most potent troops for this duty.”

Momonga nodded, and looked toward the twins.

“Aura and Mare… can you conceal the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick? Simple illusions don’t seem very reliable, and thinking about the cost of illusions gives me a headache.”

Aura and Mare looked at each other and began thinking. After a while, Mare spoke up:

“U-Using magic might be tricky. If we had to hide everything along with the surface… although, we could cover the walls in mud, and then add plants as camouflage.”

“Do you intend to soil the glorious walls of Nazarick with base dirt?”

Albedo said that with her back turned to Mare. Although her voice was sweet and velvet, the tone it carried was anything but.

Mare’s shoulders trembled, and although the surrounding Guardians remained silent, their attitudes suggested that they shared Albedo’s opinion.

In contrast, Momonga felt Albedo was being too much of a busybody. The situation was hardly serious enough to warrant such a reaction.

“Albedo… don’t speak out of turn. I am addressing Mare.”

His voice was so deep that it surprised Momonga himself.

“Ah, my deepest apologies, Momonga-sama!”

Albedo’s head was as low as it could go, and her face was frozen in fear. The Guardians and Sebas stiffened up as well. Perhaps they thought that scolding was directed at them as well.

A twinge of remorse struck Momonga as he observed the quick change in the Guardians’ attitude, but he continued speaking to Mare:

“Can you conceal the walls by heaping dirt onto them?”

“Yes, yes I can, if you allow it, Momonga-sama … However…”

“Yes, an observer from a distance would think the ground was bulging up unnaturally. Sebas, are there any nearby hills or the like?”

“There are none. Regretfully, we are surrounded by flatlands. However, since there are nights here, we should be able to perform some sort of eye-deceiving camouflage while the sun is down.”

“Is that so… if all we intend to do is hide the walls, Mare’s idea will be enough. Then, what if we piled up the dirt from the nearby land to make dummy hills as camouflage?”

“Then we would blend in.”

“Very well. I shall assign Aura and Mare to carry out this task together. While doing so, you may draw the necessary supplies from each Floor. Since we cannot camouflage the view from the air, we shall use illusions after finishing the earthworks, so nobody will be able to detect Nazarick from the outside.”

“Y-Yes. U-Understood.”

That was all he could think of at the moment. There were probably a lot of holes left in the plan, but that could be dealt with slowly, later on. After all, it had only been a few hours since all this had happened.

“Then, you are dismissed for today. Everyone, take a break before beginning your duties. There are many things we do not know, so do not push yourselves too hard.”

The Guardians nodded as one to show that they understood.

“Finally, I have a question for the Guardians. To begin with, Shalltear — what kind of person am I to you?”

“An incarnation of beauty. You are the most beautiful person in the world. Even jewels pale in comparison to your snow-white body.”

Shalltear did not pause to think about her answer before she gave it. From the lack of delay in her reply, she must have been speaking from the heart.

“—Cocytus.”

“One. Who. Is. Mightier. Than. All. The. Guardians. And. Deserving. Of. The. Title. Of. The. Supreme. Overlord. Of. The. Great. Underground. Tomb. Of. Nazarick.”

“—Aura.”

“A merciful leader with great foresight.”

“—Mare.”

“A, a very gentle person.”

“—Demiurge.”

“A wise leader who makes decisions and acts on them quickly. Truly, a man worthy of the title ‘inscrutable.’”

“—Sebas.”

“The one responsible for assembling all the Supreme Beings. In addition, the merciful leader who did not abandon us, but stayed by our side until the very end.”

“And finally, Albedo.”

“The man who rules over the Supreme Beings, and our highest, most exalted master. In addition, the man I love most deeply.”

“…I see. I have heard and understand your opinions. Then, I shall hand the tasks that were once performed by my former comrades to you. Carry them out faithfully.”

After seeing the Guardians genuflect once more, Momonga teleported away.

The scenery before his eyes changed in an instant, from the Colosseum to the chamber of the Golems of Lemegeton. After looking around to make sure nobody was looking, Momonga sighed deeply.

“I’m so tired…”

Although his body did not feel tired, the mental fatigue was weighing down on his shoulders.

“…Those guys… why do they think so highly of me?”

They were describing someone else entirely. After hearing the Guardians take turns to share their opinions of him, he wanted to laugh and mock them, but from the looks on their faces, it did not sound like they were joking at all.

In other words, their words were sincere.

If he did not act in a manner which fit their views of him, it might disappoint them. As he thought about that, the pressure on him grew and grew. And in addition to that, there was another problem, which made Momonga frown.

Of course, his skeletal face could not show expressions, yet it seemed as though it did.

“…What should I do about Albedo… if this keeps up, how will I face Tabula-san…”

Intermission


The pressure crushing their heads to the ground suddenly vanished.

Even after the departure of the master of their revered creators, nobody raised their heads. After a while, someone sighed in relief. The tense atmosphere was gone now.

The first to get up was Albedo. Her white dress was stained where her knee had touched the ground, but she did not mind at all. She flapped her wings to swipe off the dirt on her feathers.

After seeing Albedo rise, the others followed suit, though nobody dared to speak.

“That, that was scary, Nee-chan.”

“Yeah, I thought I’d be squashed flat.”

“As expected of Momonga-sama, to think his presence would have such a great effect on us Floor Guardians…”

“As. A. Supreme. Being. His. Might. Overmatches. Ours. But. I. Did. Not. Expect. Him. To. Be. This. Powerful.”

Thus the Guardians shared their impressions of Momonga.

The aura that Momonga emitted was the source of the power that had crushed the Guardians to the ground .

「Despair Aura」.

Besides inflicting a fear effect, it could reduce the stats of its victims. Normally, it would not have an effect on the level one hundred NPCs, but on this occasion, its effects had been strengthened by the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown.

“Momonga-sama must have unleashed the air of authority that represents his right to rule.”

“Indeed. Before we stated our positions, Momonga-sama did not exert his might. However, once we showed ourselves in the role of Floor Guardians, he must have revealed a fraction of his awesome power to us.”

“In. Other. Words. Momonga-sama. Revealed. His. True. Ability. As. A. Ruler. In. Response. To. Our. Pledges. Of. Loyalty.”

“That does seem like the case.”

“He didn’t radiate that aura when he was with us. Momonga-sama was kind, and gave us something to drink when we were thirsty.”

Aura’s words caused the other Guardians to emit an air of tension. It was condensed jealousy that was almost visible to the naked eye. The worst-off was Albedo. Her clenched fists shuddered and her nails threatened to rip through the fabric of her gloves.

Mare’s shoulders trembled, and then his eyes went wide.

“That, that must have been the true power of Momonga-sama, the ruler of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. It was amazing!”

That changed the mood instantly.

“Exactly! He showed us his ability as an absolute ruler in response to our feelings… as expected of our creator. The zenith of the Forty One Supreme Beings, and the kind master who remained here with us until the very end.”

Albedo’s words put a blissful look on all the Guardians’ faces, although the expression on Mare’s face was better described as “relaxed.”

There was nothing which could delight them more than the master who created them, the master to whom they owed their utmost loyalty, revealing his true face to them.

The Guardians, no, every entity created by the Supreme Beings wanted nothing more than to aid their creators in some way. The next best thing would be to receive their trust and to be treated as useful servants.

This was a simple, natural truth.

This was the greatest joy in life for these characters who were created to aid the Supreme Beings. Then, as though to wipe away this jubilant atmosphere, Sebas said from the side:

“Then, I shall take my leave first. I do not know where Momonga-sama has gone, but I should stay by his side.”

Jealousy was written all over Albedo’s face, but she quashed her feelings and replied:

“I understand. Then, Sebas, serve Momonga-sama well and do not disgrace him. Report to me if anything happens. In particular, if Momonga-sama summons me, you must let me know immediately. Everything else is of secondary importance to that!”

A pained expression crossed Demiurge’s face as he listened quietly from the side.

“But if he desires me in his bedchamber, you must inform Momonga-sama that I might be a while, in order to bathe and cleanse myself for him. Of course, if he wants me to proceed to him immediately, that is fine as well. After all, I do my best to keep clean for him, and my clothes have already been selected so I can heed his call whenever it comes. In any case, Momonga-sama’s wishes will always come first—”

“—I understand, Albedo. If I waste too much time here, I will not have enough to properly serve Momonga-sama, which would be disrespectful. Therefore, forgive my abrupt departure, but I must take my leave. Floor Guardians, I bid you all a good day.”

After saying his farewells to the wide-eyed and open-mouthed Guardians, Sebas immediately jogged away, as though to leave Albedo (who was preparing for a long monologue) behind.

“Speaking of which… it is fairly quiet around here. Shalltear, is something the matter?”

After Demiurge’s question, everyone’s eyes went to Shalltear. She was still on her knees.

“What. Is. Wrong. Shalltear?”

She lifted her head after she was called on again. The dazed look on her face would make people think that she had just been woken up.

“…What. Happened?”

“Ah, after being exposed to Momonga-sama’s awesome presence, I could not help but get excited… I fear my underwear has gone through a bit of a crisis…”

Silence.

Everyone looked at each other, unsure of what to say. The Guardians mused that Shalltear had, by far, the most fetishes among them, and that one of said fetishes was necrophilia. They facepalmed as they thought about this, although Mare didn’t quite get it and was thoroughly confused. No, one of the Guardians was not content to simply shake her head and sigh.

That was Albedo.

The jealousy surging in her made Albedo come out and say:

“You slut.”

Shalltear sensed Albedo’s hostility as she heard those scornful words. Her lips curled in hostility, and she responded with a bewitching smile.

“What? Having Momonga-sama, the most beautiful of the Supreme Beings, bless us with his energy is a reward! Anyone who doesn’t get wet from that must have something wrong in their head! Or could it be that you don’t just look pure, but you don’t have any fleshly desires at all, you big-mouthed gorilla!?”

“…You lamprey!”

The two of them glared at each other. The Guardians did not know if they would fight as a result of this, but the way they were looking at each other was very unsettling.

“My appearance was created by the Supreme Beings; are you unhappy with it?”

“Shouldn’t that be my line?”

Shalltear slowly stood back up, and the two of them approached each other. Even so, their eyes remained locked. Eventually, the two of them came so close that they collided into each other.

“Don’t think you’ve won just because you’re the Guardian Overseer and can stay next to Momonga-sama. If you really think that way, I’ll laugh my ass off.”

“Hmph. That’s correct. While you’re stationed in a faraway place, I’ll swoop in and achieve a complete victory.”

“…What do you mean by ‘a complete victory?’ Teach me, Guardian Overseer-sama.”

“As a slut, you should be fully aware of what that means.”

Throughout their trade of verbal barbs, neither of them had turned their gaze from each other. They simply looked into each other’s eyes with a blank expression on their faces.

With a pacha, Albedo unfurled her wings in a threat display. Black mist wreathed Shalltear as she responded in kind, unwilling to admit weakness.

“Ah — Aura, matters between women should be settled by a fellow woman. If anything happens I’ll come to help, let me know when the time comes, all right?”

“Hey, wait, Demiurge! Are you planning to dump all of this on me?”

Demiurge simply waved lazily as he walked away from the feuding pair. Cocytus and Mare took a step back as well. Nobody wanted to get caught between them.

“Really, do they have to argue over this sort of thing?”

“Personally, I would be quite interested in the result.”

“What do you mean by ‘the result,’ Demiurge?”

“I refer to the increase in our fighting power, the future of Nazarick, and so on.”

“D-Demiurge, what do you mean?”

“Hmm…”

Demiurge pondered how he should answer Mare’s question. For a moment, an evil impulse swept through Demiurge’s head and he thought of infusing the simple Mare with adult knowledge, but he promptly discarded that line of thinking.

Demiurge was a devil, and he was cruel and ruthless, but that only applied to people outside Nazarick. To Demiurge, the characters made by the Forty One Supreme Beings were his comrades.

“Any great leader requires a successor, no? Momonga-sama may have stayed with us until the end, but if he loses interest in us one day, he may leave for another place like the rest of the Supreme Beings. Thus, there is a need for a successor to whom we can pledge our loyalty.”

“I see. Then, which of us will be Momonga-sama’s successor?”

“How. Disrespectful. As. Guardians. We. Are. To. Serve. Momonga-sama. Faithfully. So. He. May. Stay. That. Is. What. We. Were. Made. For.”

Demiurge turned to the interrupting Cocytus.

“Of course I understand that, Cocytus. But do you not wish to pledge your loyalty to Momonga-sama’s heir?”

“Hmm… Of. Course. I. Would. Like. To. Swear. My. Allegiance. To. Momonga-sama’s. Heir…”

Cocytus began imagining himself running around with said heir on his shoulders.

Then he began to imagine himself teaching him swordsmanship, drawing his blade to defend the Young Master, and even hearing the full-grown Young Master giving him orders.

“…Oh. How. Wonderful. What. A Glorious. Sight… Uncle… Uncle…”

Somewhat unable to bear it, Demiurge averted his eyes from Cocytus, who was fully into imagining himself as a cool old uncle, faithfully serving Momonga’s heir.

“Well, that aside, I’m quite interested in knowing what our children can do for the strengthening of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. How about it, Mare, do you want to make a child?”

“Er, eh?”

“Still, you don’t have a partner… if you discover any Humans, Dark Elves, Wood Elves, or similar species, would you kindly capture them for me?”

“Eh? Ehhhhh?”

After thinking for a bit, Mare nodded and said, “If, if it helps Momonga-sama… I’m willing to contribute. But how will I have children?”

“Well, I’ll teach you about that when the time comes. But if you decide to try some breeding experiments on your own, Momonga-sama might scold you. After all, the operations of Nazarick are perfectly balanced.”

“That, that’s true. I’ve heard that all the underlings were created after careful calculation by one of the Supreme Beings… if we carelessly increase our numbers, we’ll be scolded. I, I don’t want to be scolded by Momonga-sama…”

“Of course, I don’t want to be rebuked by the Supreme Beings either… if only I could set up a farm outside Nazarick…”

As Demiurge thought of this, he decided to mention the one thing nobody had teased him about:

“Ah yes, Mare, why are you dressed as a girl?”

Mare grabbed at his miniskirt to hide his legs after Demiurge asked his question.

“This was Bukubukuchagama-sama’s decision. She said this was called a ‘trap,’ so it should have nothing to do with my gender.”

“Oh, so this was Bukubukuchagama-sama’s decision. Well then, those clothes should be fine on you… although, should all boys dress in that way?”

“I, I don’t know about that.”

The Forty One Supreme Beings were no longer around, but even so, the mention of their names still compelled obedience. Or rather, in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, Mare was dressed as he should be, and nobody apart from another Supreme Being could change his wardrobe.

“…I wonder if I should talk to Momonga-sama about this. Perhaps all boys should be dressed like that. I say… Cocytus, it’s time to wake up.”

After hearing his colleague’s words, Cocytus shook his head several times, a deeply satisfied smile on his face.

“Ah. What. A. Beautiful. Sight… Truly. it. Was. Everything. I. Have. Ever. Dreamed. Of.”

“Is that so… well then, that’s good…. Are Albedo and Shalltear still fighting?”

The feuding pair’s eyes were slightly averted. However, the one that answered Demiurge was the tired-looking Aura, standing by the side.

“They’re… done. Right now, they’re arguing about…”

“The problem of who should be the first wife.”

“It would be strange for the ruler of the Great Tomb of Nazarick to only have one wife. The question now is who is worthy of being Momonga-sama’s first wife…”

“…While that is quite an interesting question, we should probably discuss that later. All right, Albedo, won’t you give us our orders? There will be many things to do later on.”

“Indeed, you’re right. I need to issue orders soon. Shalltear, I’ll discuss this matter with you at length soon enough. We’ll need to spend some time on it.”

“I have no objections, Albedo. No other matter is more worthy of our time.”

“Very well. Then, let us move on to our plans for the future.”

After seeing Albedo recover her dignity as the Guardian Overseer, all the Floor Guardians lowered their heads in respect. However, they did not genuflect.

Of course, they had to show their respect to the Guardian Overseer Albedo, but she was not their master. While the Forty One Supreme Beings had set her over all the other characters that they had created, but even the position of Guardian Overseer was merely one set down by the Forty One Supreme Beings, and as such the other Guardians needed only to pay her the respect due to her station. Thus, they lowered their heads to her. On her part, Albedo was not angry at this, because she knew that was the most correct course of action.

“Firstly—”