Overlord Light Novel Volume 12 Chapter 3 Part 12
Overlord Light Novel Volume 12 Chapter 3 Part 12
Both retaking the city and freeing its citizens were trivial before the power of the Sorcerer King.
The attacking paladins and conscripts were virtually unhurt, and while some of the imprisoned residents lost their lives in the chaos, it was a shockingly small amount.
This outcome was only possible due to the Sorcerer King’s presence, to the point where some people thought, if only we had handed everything to him from the start, we might not have needed to lose anyone.
Whether they were rejoicing over being freed or shedding tears over a bowl of hot soup, everyone was smiling as Neia and the Sorcerer King walked down the street.
Although they had been told that their freedom was thanks to the Sorcerer King’s aid, once they saw the Sorcerer King moving around in person, the residents’ eyes were filled with shock, confusion and dread, but that could not be helped either.
Of course, whether Neia could accept this state of affairs was a different matter entirely. While she wanted to do something in case the Sorcerer King was displeased, it would seem the man himself did not seem to mind. That being the case, it would be very rude of Neia to do something on her own.
Neia addressed the back of the Sorcerer King, who was walking in front of her.
“Your Majesty, where are you going now?”
The Sorcerer King was looking at his palms, and he did not look back at Neia.
“Umu. I’m heading for this big building in the center of town. If that’s an enemy base, I’ll need to investigate it as soon as possible. The paladins are all tied up with tasks like freeing the captured residents, distributing food, treating the wounded, imprisoning the captured demihumans, and other things.”
Neia nodded slightly.
“That building is quite large. If the paladins judged it to be a base, shouldn’t they have already investigated it?”
While the Sorcerer King was the one who had conquered the city, the many assorted tasks after that were given over to the citizen-soldiers and the paladins to complete. In that case, surely they would have inspected the building that was the Sorcerer King’s objective.
The Sorcerer King stopped walking for a moment and then looked intently at Neia. Then he shrugged and continued walking.
“Ah, mm. Actually, I posted my subordinates outside to make sure the paladins did not draw near. So I doubt they’ve checked it yet.”
“Eh? Then what you said earlier–”
“–Baraja-san. I have told you many things until now, but from time to time it would be best if you considered matters on your own. For instance, the reason why we are the ones who are going to investigate the building.”
“Ah! Yes, Your Majesty!”
The Sorcerer King looked at his palm again. Within it was an item once worn by that demihuman — the late Buser. The Sorcerer King was evaluating the item as he walked, using the power of magic to carefully examine it.
From what the Sorcerer King said, the sword was called Sand Shooter, the armor was known as Turtle Shell, the shield was named Lancer’s Merit, the horn coverings were called Charge Without Hesitation, the rings were Ring of Second Eye and Ring of Running, while the cape was called the Mantle of Protection.
根据从魔导王那里听来的，剑是沙之射手[Sand Shooter]，铠甲是龟之甲壳[TurtleShell]，盾是兰萨的功勋[Lanza’s Merit]，镶在角上的外壳叫毫不犹豫的突击[Charge of Without Hesitation]，戒指是第二只眼的戒指[Ringof Second Eye]和疾奔之戒[Ring of Run]，披风则是防护披风[Mantle of Protection]的样子。
There also seemed to be other magic items like the necklace and the like. Although he said none of them possessed any impressive enchantments, the Sorcerer King still seemed quite happy about them.
Neia shifted her eyes from the Sorcerer King’s back to the ground, and then she did as the Sorcerer King said, which was to ponder the reason why the Sorcerer King had to personally investigate that building. However, she did not reach any answer which made her think, “that’s it!”
However, if she asked the Sorcerer King for the answer because of that, surely he would be speechless. The thought of the Sorcerer King she so respected thinking of her as useless and casting her aside was far too frightening.
While she desperately tried to find the answer, the aforementioned building had already appeared before her eyes.
Two undead beings — High Wraiths — stood at the entrance to the building.
As the Sorcerer King approached, they stepped aside to allow the Sorcerer King and Neia to pass.
“This… seems to be the residence of the city’s former lord.”
Neia was not too sure which noble had ruled this city. However, given the size of the city, he must have been more than a baron, but less than a count.
“Yes. Not even the undead have entered this place. Be careful. There might be more demihumans who have not yet been subdued.”
“Eh!? Your Majesty! Then–”
She hesitated over whether she should say “You should stop”, but the other Neia in her quietly said that it ought to be fine if it were the Sorcerer King.
“I have to be here. This is the enemy headquarters, and it might be the lair of the demihumans’ leader. While the only reason for that conclusion is because this building is very large — there might be a powerful being on par with Buser ahead of us. I want to tie off all the loose ends in this city.”
After learning the answer to the question from just now, Neia suddenly pressed her head in realization. At the same time, gratitude flowed forth in her heart for the Sorcerer King’s compassion.
He didn’t let the paladins get close because there might be powerful foes within! Unlike what he said just now, could it be that he wasn’t willing to tell me about this because he felt embarrassed about fighting as someone else’s shield?”
While Neia knew that thinking this way about the Sorcerer King was very rude, for some reason she felt the Sorcerer King was a little cute.
“…Well? Do you understand?”
The Sorcerer King looked at Neia’s face as he asked that question. Neia nodded, and the Sorcerer King seemed happy as he replied, “Ah, that’s good.”
He’s actually happy that I can understand him… what a gentle and kind person he is.
“Your servant understands why Your Majesty does not wish to draw attention from others!”
“…Hm? Ah… exactly. Then… you understand, right? I don’t wish to stand out too much.”
The Sorcerer King looked like he was pondering something. For some reason that also looked very adorable.
“…Ah– let’s go then.”
As a squire, she felt it was wrong to let the Sorcerer King walk out in front, but the Sorcerer King did not allow Neia to walk ahead of him. Neia looked with admiration at the back of the generous and magnanimous person before her. Watching a king lead from the front was truly a sight to make her heart swell up.
After passing through the wide entrance, Neia asked a question.
“Where shall we start looking from? There doesn’t seem to be any sign of others around…”
“Mm… your eyesight and hearing are both quite keen, Baraja-san, but how about your sense of smell?”
“Frankly speaking, I’m not too confident in my sense of smell. However, I think I’m better than most in that field. As for taste, I think mine is just average. However, I’ve never tasted poison before, so I can’t be a poison-taster or anything…”
“Really now. Then, can you detect the smell of death and hatred?”
As he said “death and hatred”, his kingly aura of dominion coiled up around him.
“Death and hatred?”
The Sorcerer King set off. There was no trace of hesitation in his footsteps. He walked as though he was familiar with this place and what lay ahead of him.
Death and hatred… these things should not have a smell… or could it be that His Majesty, who is undead, can make out such smells? That means whoever’s making that smell is waiting here!
Neia clutched the bow she had borrowed from the Sorcerer King. Depending on the circumstances, she would have to serve as the Sorcerer King’s shield and step forward to fire her bow. Yet she had not been able to do anything during the battle with Buser. If she did not make herself more useful, there would be no reason for her to be here.
They did not encounter any demihumans along the way, and before long, they came to a door that was about the same size as the one they had passed through earlier. It was made of steel, and iron, and thus looked very sturdy.
There was what looked like a prison door in the middle of a regular noble’s residence. This juxtaposition filled Neia with a powerful sense of foreboding. It felt like she had been thrown into an unfamiliar and spine-chilling place.
“This is the place… you can stay outside if you want, you know?”
That choice did not even exist for Neia. After seeing Neia shake her head, the Sorcerer King shrugged and opened the door.
The Sorcerer King’s strength opened the iron door with ease. However, it was surprisingly thick, so it must have been specially made.
The Sorcerer King entered the room.
Oh no! I can’t believe I actually let His Majesty walk into this unknown place first! I’m an idiot!
Neia hurriedly entered the room as well.
While the heavy door had given her some inkling of what to expect, the interior of the room felt strange. It gave her the impression of being a torture chamber — although she had only heard descriptions of those.
For starters, there were no windows.
There were sticks set into the wall which glowed with a faint red light. This was not a natural occurrence, but a magical creation.
There was a table made of wood and two wooden chairs. Further inside was another door, also made of iron.
The Sorcerer King stood in the center of the room, carefully surveying every corner of it. This was when Neia noticed something on the table.
“…Your Majesty. This looks like a piece of paper, but what’s that written on it?”
The piece of paper Neia picked up was covered in illegible characters. They were certainly not written in Holy Kingdom script.
“Mmm… they seem to be written in words from the demonic language.”
The Sorcerer King took out a monocle from a pocket. Perhaps he had noticed the surprised look on Neia’s face, but he then proceeded to explain it.
“This is a magic item that can decipher written languages. Because it drains a vast amount of mana — Baraja-san, do you know of any humans who can decipher these characters?”
“The ability to comprehend languages?”
“Indeed. Or at least, someone who knows what these letters are. Also… any humans who have a talent which lets them decipher languages.”
“My deepest apologies, I don’t know about…”
Neia was simply a squire for the paladin order. She had not had the chance to come into contact with news about people like those.
Granted, she had heard some rumors from her squire friends. For instance, “My friend has a talent that lets him know exactly how hot water is. Of course, nobody knows the exact temperature,” or “My relative’s a boat pilot who can walk five steps on water, but more than that and he’ll sink,” and so on. Most of them were abilities which would make people sigh and fall silent. There was no information about people who possessed abilities which the Sorcerer King wanted to know about.
“Really now. What a shame. Do you think Captain Custodio would know?”
Surely the Captain of the paladin order would have come into contact with all sorts of intelligence. However, Neia did not know what to think of Remedios. Would the Captain really allocate her headspace to information?
“…I am not sure about that either. However, I feel it would be better to ask the Vice-Captain.”
‘Well, that’s true. If I ask him…”
The Sorcerer King was probably stumbling over his words for the same reason Neia had.
“However, what do you intend to do if such a person does not exist?’
“Hm? Ah, I did not intend anything. But if there was someone who could decipher the intelligence Jaldabaoth left behind, our future plans would change, no?”
This was an obvious question she could have understood if she had just thought a little, yet she had needed the Sorcerer King to explain it to her. Neia was almost unbearably ashamed about asking such a foolish question because she had not even given it any thought.
“If there’s nobody who can translate this, then I’ll just have to expend mana to decipher it. However, doing so would lead to a disadvantageous state where I would have to be more wary of Jaldabaoth. If I encountered Jaldabaoth after expending a great deal of mana, my only option would be to flee… although, this makes me quite curious. If it’s just one piece of paper, then I shall read it.”
“Will it be alright?”
“Yes. I just need to pay more attention to my mana reserves.”
The Sorcerer King put on his monocle and looked at the paper. Although there were no visible signs of activation, it ought to have taken effect. The Sorcerer King looked like he was deciphering it now. That said, the Sorcerer King had no eyes, so it simply looked like he was reading it.
“It was quite a bit of mana after all.”
Neia had seen priests wobble around shakily after using a great deal of mana, but she saw no signs of that in the Sorcerer King. However, comparing the Sorcerer King to an average magic caster was the height of rudeness. Yes, it must have been because he had enormous stores of mana.
As Neia contemplated this, the Sorcerer King approached the door further within and gently slid open the vision slit.
Neia heard many weak breathing sounds from inside, and her nose picked up the scent of blood.
She gripped her bow tightly, thinking to squeeze between the Sorcerer King and the door, but the Sorcerer King stopped her with his hand.
In other words, don’t come here.
“Mm… Baraja-san. The people using this room were not demihumans, but demons. The reason why I say that is because this paper contains details on the experiments the demons were performing.”
“…The demons’ experiments?”
Even without further explanation, she was sure that these experiments were not decent or proper by any means.
“Yes. They seemed to have done things like chopping arms off and then reattaching them to other creatures, or cutting open the subjects abdomens and exchanging the internal organs within. They started with blood relatives as a control group, and they branched out to combinations of humans and other lifeforms — not just demihumans, but animals too — and then they healed them with magic to see what changes occurred.”
“What frightening experiments! Especially that blood relatives and body swapping stuff, how could any sane person think of such things?”
“…Alright. After conducting these experiments, it’s natural that they’d want their test subjects to live. In particular, they want to keep them alive as long as possible until they find out why they die.”
Saying so, the Sorcerer King turned around, his back to the door. Then, he indicated the door behind him over his shoulder with his thumb. For some reason, Neia knew what was coming next.
“Some of those test subjects are in there. They’re still alive despite having their bellies cut open.”
She had anticipated this, but the cruel reality still dyed Neia’s mind stark white for an instant. After that, she burned with hatred for the demons who had conducted such inhumane experiments.
“Baraja-san! Get the priests right away! Fetch Captain Custodio too! Hurry!”
There was no need to question the reason why they had to be called over. Neia ran with all her might.
In the corner of her mind, she heard a voice ask, “is it really alright to leave His Majesty here by himself,” but this was an order from a powerful man who was both trustworthy and wise. There was no need to worry. He would not be wrong. The voice vanished in an instant.
♦ ♦ ♦
The priests opened the door and entered the room. The way their shoulders trembled for an instant illustrated the hideous conditions inside the cells better than words ever could.
In front of her, the Sorcerer King showed the paper to Remedios and Gustav.
“Have a look at this. This paper contains the names of the people in there and what happened to them. In addition, there are other papers with similar things written on them, or perhaps other things — Jaldabaoth’s plans, for instance. I’m not too sure about that. Can you understand what’s written on this paper?”
Remedios looked at the paper and wrinkled her brows, then immediately handed it to Gustav.
Gustav shook his head too.
“I have no idea. But Your Majesty understands it, right?”
“Ah, yes, by using the power of this magic item. However, that item drains a tremendous amount of mana. That mana must be conserved for the sake of doing battle with Jaldabaoth. And what I want to know is, do any of you know anyone who can read these characters? Anyone who might have the chance of understanding it will do.”
“No, I have no leads at all. While I feel there might be someone like them among the southern nobles… I think the possibility of that is very low.”
“I see… then how shall we handle this? To me, I would hope you would put more effort into trying to decipher their script.”
“Can we not borrow Your Majesty’s magic item?”
“I refuse. This is a treasure of my nation. It is just as how you would not easily loan out the holy sword at your waist. And to magic casters like myself, magic items like these are more valuable than swords.”
Remedios and Gustav looked at each other once more.
“I understand. Then let us work hard together. Also — we have a new problem. It would seem there are Orc captives. How shall they be dealt with?”
It would seem the Orcs had not attacked the Holy Kingdom out of their own will, but they were brought over by Jaldabaoth. They did not yield any useful information when questioned, and the paladin order was at a loss as to how to deal with them.
“Mm… I understand. Can you tell me where they are? Can you leave them to me?”
“Yes. Thank you for your trouble.”
Gustav supplied a rough location. Since the city was not very big they would probably not get lost.
After sketching a rough map in her mind, the cell door opened and an utterly exhausted-looking priest showed up.
“Ohhh! What happened!? What about the condition of the people inside?”
“We started by using healing magic on the survivors. Since this is the first time we’ve tried to heal the subjects of such inhumane experiments, so we’ll stay here and observe them. If they’re fine, we’ll move them outside. At least, that’s what I think.”
“Understood. Then, we’ll send some paladins and militiamen over to help you move these people out.”
“Understood, Captain Custodio. Then, I’ll take my leave, Your Majesty.”
The priest opened the door again and went back into the cell.
After watching the priest leave and concluding that there was nothing left to do, the four of them each went to their respective destinations.
Naturally, the Sorcerer King and Neia parted ways with the other two and headed for the location of the Orcs.
“That said, since there are demons around, it would be good if we had someone who could see the original forms of shapeshifters,” the Sorcerer King said as he walked.
While they could not verify the presence of demons in this city, the piece of paper with demonic characters on it suggested the possibility that there might be demons about, or that there might have been demons here recently.
“Can demons transform themselves?”
“Ahh, demons like that do exist. They can shapeshift into men, women, or even animals.”
“I see… Someone with the talent to see through shapeshifting… My deepest apologies. I have not heard of anyone with these abilities. Ah, no, I’ve heard legends about such things. I remember reading about them in a book. However, if you asked me if there were any of them around now…”
“… It seems I would be best served discussing this matter again with Captain Custodio, then.”
“Is shapeshifting a form of illusion? I’m more familiar with petty tricks like illusions.”
“For starters, shapeshifting is vastly different from illusions, but explaining that will take a long time so I’ll skip it for now. However, looking down on illusions is very dangerous, you know? Illusions are a type of spell that become scarier the more skilled the caster is. Also, there are those illusionists who aren’t satisfied with a surface understanding and choose to specialize along that path.”
“So it’s when they specialize?”
“Ahh, yes. For example, there are spells like 「Perfect Illusion」 which can defy all five senses. And beyond that, there are those who have refined their illusions to the utmost limit, who can use a certain skill once every few days to deceive the world itself.”
An illusion that could deceive a world was beyond her capacity to imagine.
“Ah, how exactly does that worldly illusion work?”
“From what I know, it’s a spell that lets you rewrite any aspect of the world, I think. Well, simply put, using an illusion like that could even bring the dead back to life?”
“Eh!? You’re talking about an illusion, right?”
“Oh yes. The worldly illusion — the ultimate secret of illusion. By deceiving the world itself, an illusion can be made real.”
All she could think was wahhh~ Even if one said that the pinnacle of illusion could do such a thing, it was so incredible that she did not quite understand what he was saying.
“So, does nobody manage the inborn talents of this country?”
“No, I’ve never heard of it before. Does the Sorcerous Kingdom do such things?”
“My country does not have that practice either. I plan to do so in the future, but that will require considerable effort… it might end up being a matter of ten or more years in the future.”
The Sorcerer King had already envisioned the events of the next ten years in his mind. This was the difference between a king and a commoner.
In other words, a tremendous difference.
♦ ♦ ♦
The Orcs were held in a building whose windows were boarded up from the outside. This was quite a big structure, probably the second or third largest in this city.
There were many paladins gathered at the entrance. It would seem they were on guard against what was inside.
After seeing the Sorcerer King approach, the paladins genuflected before him to express their respect.
“I’ve heard from Captain Custodio that the Orcs are in this building. May I enter?”
“Yes! Of course you may, Your Majesty!”
“Then you should go from this place and return to what you should be doing.”
The paladins looked up.
“But the Captain ordered us to be stationed here. We may not leave our posts.”
“…Did she now. Then I take back my previous words.”
Saying so, the Sorcerer King passed between the paladins and pushed open the door. Naturally, Neia was following him.
There was a sour odor in the air which seared Neia’s nose. This was not poison gas, but the smell reminded Neia of when she had once followed a paladin to a jail. In addition, there were other smells mixed into it — smells that made her want to throw up.
When she heard the captain mention it earlier, she had thought about why the Orcs had been specially brought along.
Neia knew that she was about to learn the truth, but at the same time she deployed the wings of her imagination. If this was not just a problem that the Orcs faced, if there was a grand alliance against Jaldabaoth, would the demihumans who wanted to fight back against him rally to their banner?
As Neia thought all this, the Sorcerer King kept pushing doors open as he advanced. One could say that letting the Sorcerer King go first was a matter of fact now.
They crossed rooms and passed through corridors.
Just by walking, she realized that this place was filthier than a jail.
The place was filthy with blood, vomit and other detritus. The conditions here were so terrible that there was no way to imagine what had happened here.
Orcs were demihumans around the height of a man, with porcine facial features. They were said to be a species that loved cleanliness. They would not be happy to live in such a place.
(TL Note: The pigman depiction of orcs apparently derives from Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, where they had piggish features. Other depictions include the original corrupted-elf Uruks by Tolkien and the Warhammer greenskins. It seems Maruyama has decided to make them full-on pig beastmen. No, this is not a translation of the CN TL note below.)
【译注:当托尔金所写的《魔戒》出版之后，Orc成了奇幻文学和角色扮演游戏中必然会出现的种族。在这些小说以及游戏当下，Orc和Goblin常常被想像成是哥布林类的远方种族。他们常常会被描述成有着猪鼻子外表的生物，即使在托尔金的作品里并没有这样子的描述。而这可能是因为在爱尔兰，Orc这个字有着“猪”的意思的关系。对于Orc “猪鼻子”的描述可见于Ludovico Ariosto的史诗Orlando Furioso】
Neia watched the hem of the Sorcerer King’s cloak. While she was worried about how his magnificent garments might be stained, she could not tell him to wait outside either. After all, nobody could possibly speak for the wise Sorcerer King.
Soon, Neia’s keen senses picked up traces of many creatures breathing and moving ahead of them.There was also what sounded like crying children and mothers trying to comfort them.
Orcs…? Not humans?
Neia was confused. She had never considered the possibility that Orcs might have families and raised children. The Orcs who came to the Holy Kingdom were invaders. They were hated enemies. Therefore, she had stopped thinking about them in any other sense.
As Neia sank into confusion, the Sorcerer King opened the door.
The vile odor intensified, and there were several screams.
“It’s a Skeleton! Why!?”
“Those bastard humans! They sold us to the undead!”
“They’re actually using the undead! Those filthy humans!”
“Mama–! Save me–!”
The Sorcerer King stopped at the entrance. Surely even the Sorcerer King would be puzzled by this.
“Ah — ahem! Silence!”
After the Sorcerer King bellowed his order, the noisy room fell silent. Of course, that was only for a moment. It immediately filled back up with a racket that was several times louder than before. They were wailing about roughly the same things. No, there seemed to be more voices bemoaning their fate and begging for mercy for their children, regardless of what happened to themselves.
The Sorcerer King sighed, as though he were tired. After that — he slammed on the door. His bony white hands possessed incredible power, and the door bounced away, swinging out until it struck the wall with an incredible sound. The demihumans fell silent immediately.
“Shut up. The next one of you who speaks without permission had better be ready to die.”
The Sorcerer King took a step into a room that seemed to have been frozen in silence — with some parents trying desperately to cover their children’s mouths — and the demihumans all retreated from him.
“I did not come here to kill you. On the contrary, I am here to save you.”
Usually, Neia the human would have a lot of difficulty trying to read the face of a demihuman such as an Orc. However, just this one, Neia was absolutely confident in herself.
Every single one of them was going no wai~
“Explaining to everyone at once is troublesome. Send out a representative.”
A moment later, an Orc looked like he was about to rise, but the Orc beside him stopped him. However, he still took a step forward.
He might have been a skinny Orc, but he had clearly possessed a strong body once.
“…May I assume that you are the representative?”
The Orc said nothing and simply nodded.
“…What’s wrong? Why do you not speak?”
“Ah, perhaps it is because Your Majesty ordered them to shut up just now?”
“While I felt that I had given my permission, it would seem nobody understood it that way. You Orc who has stepped forward, I permit you to speak. Begin by stating your name.”
“I am DYEL of the Gan Zu tribe — Dyel Gan Zu.”
“Dyel, then. Here is my first question. Are there people here you do not know, or whose personalities have changed drastically?”
“No, no, there’s nobody like that.”
“Next, tell me why you were imprisoned here.”
“…You know that demon called Jaldabaoth, right?”
“Of course I do. He is my enemy. Rather, you could say I came here — to the Holy Kingdom — in order to kill him.”
Their faces still said no wai, as expected. Indeed, Neia might have thought the same way before she had come to understand the Sorcerer King. However, Neia was different now.
Neia looked at the Sorcerer King’s profile, and then she spoke.
“It is as His Majesty says. I am a person of this country. In that case, you should be able to understand, right? Jaldabaoth led an allied army of demihumans to invade the Holy Kingdom.”
Dyel’s face changed slightly.
“Wait, a human — probably, female.”
What did they mean by that, she thought, but to Neia, judging the sex of an Orc would be very difficult. It would probably be the same way for them as well.
“We did not attack this country. Nobody from the Orc tribes should have helped Jaldabaoth. Because of that, he brought we — who defied him — along to this place.”
“Mm… and what did Jaldabaoth do after he brought you here?”
The Sorcerer King’s question seemed to elicit a powerful reaction from Dyel and the other Orcs. The Orcs who looked like mothers clutched their children tightly. After that, there were sounds of moaning and vomiting.”
“…What did he do here, seriously?” the Sorcerer King could not help but say.
“Ah, it seems I’ve asked a question I shouldn’t have asked. Shall I bring some water? Or do you want something else?”
The Sorcerer King’s attitude seemed to have changed. For some reason, he seemed very nervous. Perhaps he felt guilty about asking the Orcs about a question that had dredged up bad memories. While it might be somewhat rude to think of him that way, the Sorcerer King looked like a parent trying to comfort another child which their own offspring had driven to tears.
This is something only a king who counted both humans and demihumans as his citizens would do…
To the people of the Holy Kingdom, demihumans were the enemy. Therefore, under identical circumstances, they would not say anything kind or comforting.
“We do not want anything else. But we beg you not to ask us what happened. It would displease you to hear it, and it was like hell to us. If you order us to speak of it we will do so, but I pray you will do it away from others. Please.”
After hearing the sobs and weeping of the female Orcs, Neia began to feel a little afraid of what had happened to them.
“…How vexing,” The Sorcerer King muttered to himself, but so much had happened that Neia did not know what he was referring to.
“Ah, erm, well. Since you seem to be enemies of Jaldabaoth, why not discuss the matter of joining forces with us, since we have a common foe?”
Dyel shifted his gaze downwards.
“We had thought of fighting once, but now we no longer think of such things. We`ve been broken by the fiendish things which happened here. We no longer have the will to fight.”
“Then if I free you, what will you do?”
“If possible, we would like to return to our villages. If there are still people who are safe there, we would like to take them and run far, far away, until we find a place where Jaldabaoth cannot reach us.”
The Sorcerer King nodded.
“Then, come to the domain which I rule–”
“–Please allow me to refuse! I am keenly aware that this will upset you, but even if we agree here, we will surely flee once we reach a place where we can escape. However, betrayal is a low and vile act. Then, we should refuse here, since what awaits us is a death that will not be so agonizing.”
The Sorcerer King was probably a little baffled by this staunch refusal. However, Neia keenly understood what Dyel was thinking. That was because until she had met the Sorcerer King, Neia had felt that the undead were the enemy of all that lived.
“…No, but my domain is not a fearsome place, you see? There’s many demihumans who live there, you know?”
“You’re lying! It sounds like a lie! We, we won’t be tricked! You’re talking about demihuman undead, aren’t you?”
Dyel seemed to have gone mad, but he was just like how she had been in the past. Then, as one who had some experience in these matters, she ought to tell him about the true face of the Sorcerous Kingdom.
“His Majesty is telling the truth. He is a great man who, while being undead, also possesses a heart filled with compassion for all living things. He loves children, he rules demihumans fairly, and he receives the respect of his subordinates. As proof of that, they have even built enormous statues of him which astound all who see them–”
“–Baraja-san! Really, that, that’s enough…”
“But, Your Majesty!”
“Please… say no more…”
Since he had said “please”, she had no choice but to keep quiet.
“Human, have you been brainwashed!?”
“I have not. I have seen His Majesty’s kingdom with my own eyes. The first demihuman I saw was a Naga.”
The demihumans looked at each other amidst a hubbub. There were voices asking, “what’s a Naga?” but they were ignored.
“Also, I saw a rabbit-like demihuman. I am not a citizen of the Sorcerous Kingdom. Therefore, my time there was short. Even so, it was enough for me to understand what was going on. The people living there did not have pained and frightened looks on their faces like you do. And of course, none of them were covered in cuts and bruises like you.”
The demihumans looked down at their stick-thin bodies. Their muscles had shrivelled up, and they were little more than skin and bone.
“It is as she — as Baraja-san says. However, even if I say that, you will probably not believe me. However, once you become my vassals, I will never allow you to suffer such cruelty again. I can swear that to you upon my name, Ainz Ooal Gown. The reason for that is because all that I rule belongs to me. Should it be damaged, it is the same as damaging my property. And you may be at ease. If you do not wish to accept my rule, I will not force you to do so. Live as you please. In any case, I shall prepare to send you back to your homes.”
“…Why are you being so kind to us?”
This was the first time Dyel had cast aside his preconceived notions. Neia could feel him looking at the Sorcerer King himself.
“Kuku… I wish to defeat Jaldabaoth. Therefore, the demihumans under him are quite troublesome. Having you go back to your villages is also a way of eroding his power.”
“What do you mean?”
“Unlike Jaldabaoth, I am a merciful king. If you spread the word for me, that will surely spread unrest throughout his forces, and there might even be those who decide to turn coat and support us, don’t you think?”
“I see, so that’s how it is.”
It was difficult for people to put their faith in benefits offered to them with no strings attached, but a mutually beneficial transaction was more trustworthy. It would seem the same logic applied to demihumans.
“However, don’t you think that’ll be difficult? Many of Jaldabaoth’s vassals are bloodthirsty maniacs. Even if we spread the word in our villages, it would not have much effect.”
“That’s fine too. I intend to use everything I can use. And if Jaldabaoth carries out a reign of terror, there might be demihumans who will betray him too. Mm, speaking of which, will you not help me fight Jaldabaoth?”
“…We can’t. We’ve told you before, right? We don’t have the will for that now.”
“Huh. What a shame. And you still do not wish to come to the Sorcerous Kingdom?”
“Indeed, it would be a good thing to live under the protection of a mighty being like yourself. However, this is not a decision I can make alone. Depending on the result of my discussion with others, we might end up relying on you.”
“Donbass. I know what you want to say. However, with the appearance of Jaldabaoth, a fiend against whom we are helpless, we cannot protect our villages by ourselves. In the end, this is what will become of us.”
The Orc called Donbass bit his lip and looked down. He understood that point as well.
“Is that so. Then, if you come to my country, then I, the Sorcerer King will offer you my full support. Many species live upon my land. At that time, I hope you will work together with them — live with them as people of my country.”
The Sorcerer King’s tone softened.
Demihumans were viewed as the enemy in the Holy Kingdom, yet in the Sorcerous Kingdom they were seen as beings with whom one could coexist. From where did this enormous difference spring? As Neia thought about it, she immediately found the answer.
It’s because of His Majesty, huh… Because His Majesty possesses such incredible power. As I thought… power is what’s important, huh.
“Alright, then after this, I will provide the rations you will need until you return to your villages. In addition, I will supply soldiers to defend you. Returning home safely with those bodies of yours will require much time and effort.”
“You would go this far for us?”
“Of course I would. Do weep and wail at great length about the generosity and magnanimity of the Sorcerous Kingdom and spread my name. After this, Baraja-san, could I trouble you to leave the room? I am about to use a national secret of the Sorcerous Kingdom which I do not wish to allow anyone from another country to see.”
Neia stepped out of the room after answering, and she felt a little lonely. The Sorcerer King’s words made perfect sense, and while she could understand them, she could not accept them.
As she stood outside the broken door, the breathing sounds of Orcs from within the room began to dwindle. It was as though they were vanishing from the room, but in truth that was probably the case.
The Sorcerer King had once said that as long as he remembered a location, he could teleport to it. He must have used such a spell on them.
Soon, the room was silent. A moment later, the sound of footsteps approached Neia. As her mind registered that fact, she saw that the only person on the other side of the door was the Sorcerer King.
“Forgive the long wait.”
“No, it was not long at all.”
The room was empty. He must have used magic potent beyond the ability of Neia to imagine to teleport all the Orcs away. Or perhaps he had used some other means — he had teleported them with an item.
“Then, let’s meet with Captain Custodio and hear about our future plans from her.”
“Yes! Your servant understands!”
♦ ♦ ♦
After exiting the Orc internment camp, the two of them asked a paladin they met along the way about Remedios’ location. There was no sign of her at the building they were directed to, but Gustav was there.
“Ohhhh! Your Majesty! We were just about to invite you over!”
Gustav seemed completely different from when they had met him. He was lively, as though the light of hope was spilling out from him, and his voice had perked up too. Had something appeared which had changed the currently-dire situation? Perhaps the Sorcerer King had the same question in his heart, and so he asked:
“What happened? Did you receive some good news?”
“Yes! There’s a very important person you must see. Come, this way.”
If they wanted to show him somebody, he must be a powerful noble, or someone related to the royal family.
The Sorcerer King — trailed by Neia for some reason — was guided to a certain room by Gustav.
It contained several simple wooden chairs. Remedios was seated there, as was a skinny man.
The two of them turned to look at the Sorcerer King as he entered, and they both rose in welcome.
“This is the royal brother in whose veins flows the blood of our Holy King, Caspond-sama.”
Indeed, his face resembled the profile of the second Holy King which adorned the Holy Kingdom’s gold coins. Neia blinked at the fact that someone like this had actually been imprisoned here.
“Caspond-sama. This is the king of the Sorcerous Kingdom of Ainz Ooal Gown, His Majesty Ainz Ooal Gown, who has come to aid our nation.”
“Ohhh! Words cannot express my gratitude, Your Majesty. I am honored to meet you. As others have said, I am the brother who was eclipsed by my outstanding little sister.”
As the royal brother said something that was very difficult to respond to, Remedios had a put-upon look on her face which seemed to say, are you making fun of her? Still, he was the next successor for the late Holy Queen’s position, so she could not put on the same attitude she had held all this time. Thus, Remedios simply cast her eyes downward.
“Ahhh, is that so. An honor to meet you, Royal Brother-dono.”
Then, their eyes met again.
Neia watched and wondered what they were doing, and a moment later the Sorcerer King extended his hand, which Caspond took.
Shaking hands was a practice that arose among those of higher status.
When one compared a man who was simply in the line of succession to the throne to someone who ruled a country of his own, however small it was, the latter would be of higher status. The fact that the latter was also aiding the country of the former only served to heighten his importance. The fact that the Sorcerer King had not immediately extended his hand was probably a sign of respect to the other side.
Truly, he is a thoughtful and generous man.
That convinced Neia. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Caspond was also nodding and making noises of approval.
“Your Majesty, I apologize for greeting you in this shabby attire. It would have been well if I could have changed before your arrival, but…”
“There is nothing to be ashamed about. Mere clothes cannot degrade a man of class. You must be exhausted from your long imprisonment. Will you not take a seat before speaking?”
“I am grateful for your kindness. Then please allow me to avail myself of your goodwill.”
The Sorcerer King was the first to release their handshake, and Caspond sat down after he did.
“I am glad to see Your Highness is safe and sound. Still, how did you come to be imprisoned here?”
“That was because I happened to flee here. Baron Bagnen took very good care of me. –How is he? Captain Custodio. I believe you took him away after he spoke to me.”
“Baron Bagnen’s wounds are not severe, and his life is not in danger. However, due to his poor physical condition and great exhaustion, he is still sound asleep.”
“Can the priests not use their magic to aid him? Now would be the time to draw on his intellect, no?”
“The priests have exhausted their remaining mana on healing the wounded, and they are currently resting. I sincerely apologize, but if the situation is not critical, I feel it is better to let them conserve their mana.”
“If that’s the case, then it can’t be helped, Captain. However, he was the one who brought me here and fought desperately to protect me. If possible, please– you understand what I’m saying, right?”
It was not Remedios, but Gustav who nodded deeply.
“Alright, then there is one thing I must verify first. Is there anyone in this country who can see through shapeshifting or illusions?”
“Why do you ask, Your Majesty?”
“That is because I am wary of demons using magic to hide themselves among the imprisoned people.”
Caspond looked at Remedios.
“Captain, can you answer His Majesty’s question?”
“Ah, my apologies. Please answer on my behalf, Vice-Captain. I do not recall anyone like that.”
The Sorcerer King went “Mm–” and sank into contemplation. Caspond then asked Remedios another question.
“If it troubles the Sorcerer King so, that clearly indicates that this must be a vital question. I shall ask you again. Can you swear to the gods that you do not know?”
The two paladins nodded, and then Caspond’s gaze turned to Neia. Surely he would not know a squire like herself, right? As Neia thought that, she hurriedly nodded as well.
“So even Squire Baraja does not know… what’s wrong? You look puzzled. I’ve heard your name from the Captain. I’m very grateful that you can serve by His Majesty’s side.”
“My deepest thanks!”
Neia hurriedly bowed to Caspond.
“Just so. She is exceptional. I would like a follower like that.”
“What, surely, you must jest…”
Neia’s voice was trembling. As he saw her in that state, the Sorcerer King and Caspond laughed happily. Then, they resumed their — although the Sorcerer King had no facial expressions, of course — serious looks.
“While it shames me to admit my ignorance, do demons possess the power to transform into other people?”
“Demons can take human form to make people fall, but that does not mean they can transform into others. It is simply that they can take human form, not that they can imitate anyone’s looks. Therefore… if the people imprisoned are all unfamiliar… there will be a need to be careful.”
“In that case, we will need to have the people who were captured vouch for each other…”
“Now, illusions are more troublesome. With illusions, one can take the faces of others. For instance…”
The Sorcerer King cast a spell, and his skeletal face transformed into that of Caspond.
“This is an illusion. However, low-level illusions like this one might be able to change one’s attire, but not one’s voice. Also, they cannot imitate memories and thoughts, naturally enough. Therefore, they will be immediately exposed if someone close to the subject speaks to them.”
The Sorcerer King’s face resumed its skeletal form.
“There are many ways to disguise one’s clothes and voice. Therefore, the best way is to speak to them and check for a sense of wrongness.”
His questions to the Orcs must have been intended to guard against that, Neia mused.
As expected of His Majesty. His considerations are surprisingly thorough.
“I see… well, you heard that, no? Go check it out immediately.”
“A moment please. You should also consider the possibility of a demon running amok once it is exposed. Do you not think that letting a powerful person like Captain Custodio stay by your side to protect you would be better?”
“I see. I understand. I will perform investigations with the Captain as a witness.”
Caspond bowed his head.
“Royal Brother-dono. That is all I wished to verify. If you have more to say, then by all means.”
“Then — Your Majesty. As for our future plans, I feel it is necessary for us to head south, link up with the local forces and then launch a full-scale attack. That is because there were several nobles imprisoned with me, and I wish to ask them to see who can lend their strength to us. That is the plan I intend to adopt.”
“Mm. I do not understand this country’s nobles, so if you feel that is best, then by all means… Will you not attack the other prison camps and rescue the prisoners there?”
“It is not yet time for that. Leading many people to areas controlled by Jaldabaoth is very eye-catching, and our rate of advance will become very slow. I wish to avoid an outcome where we lose more than we gain by helping others.”
“…Then why not let the civilians flee south while we alone attack the prison camps?”
“Captain Custodio. You were allowed to be present, but I did not seek your opinion.”
Caspond spoke in a tone that was completely different from how he addressed the Sorcerer King.
Remedios clenched her teeth as that comment got her blood up, banking the flames of her anger.
“I also approve of Royal Brother — no, Gaspond-dono’s opinion. However, you have already taken two prison camps, including this place. I imagine you can continue to skilfully apply the experience gained here, do you not?”
“We shall do nothing,” Caspond shrugged. “I do not feel we can take this land back without deaths or wounded. The number of casualties will grow from the tens, to the hundreds, to the thousands. There is something else which is more important than this.”
As they heard his words, which cast the people aside, Neia saw looks of shock cross Remedios’ and Gustav’s faces. As for Neia herself, all she thought was that this was how ordinary royals were.
“Caspond-sama, you’ve changed. In the past, you were a great man who was as kind to the masses as Her Majesty.”
“What’s this, Captain Custodio? Are you disappointed? Hmph!”
Caspond’s face twisted. His lips curled, baring his teeth. His razor-sharp gaze was full of mockery.
“Your heart would be as twisted as mine if you had tasted the same hell I did. I can’t spout empty platitudes any more, huh. How disgusting… what did they do to us… I guess you haven’t heard yet. Then go find someone and ask them. That way, you’ll know exactly how evil and blasphemous demons are.”
He was like a completely different person, Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the inky black substance under his forcibly-repaired personality had emerged again.
“If possible, I’d like to kill all those demihumans…”
He glanced at the Sorcerer King, who shrugged and answered:
“You may do as you please after you’ve questioned them. I’ve already liberated the Orcs.”
“That can’t be helped, then. What a shame. Well, the Orcs tasted misery alongside me… although, could you hand them over to me in exchange for the holy sword?”
“I am a magic caster. What would I do with a sword even if you gave it to me?”
Caspond chuckled at the Sorcerer King’s playful reply.
On the other hand, Remedios’ blank face stood as a contrast to Gustav’s pale features.
It sounded like a joke, but Caspond was probably serious.
Neia’s body trembled. To think he hated those imprisoned demihumans enough that he was willing to hand over a national treasure just to get them back in his hands… what on earth had happened to him?
“So you will abandon this city?”
“I would like to if I could. But before that, I want to interview some of the prisoners and send messengers to the south. I think that will take a week at the earliest. When we take this land back, I shall offer you a gratuity corresponding to your kindness in addition to what Captain Custodio has already arranged.”
“I do look forward to that.”
♦ ♦ ♦
The Sorcerer King left with Neia a minute later. Caspond went, “Alright. Since the Sorcerer King is already gone, let’s get to the main event.”
“Yes. Protecting this many people at once will be very difficult. If possible, I believe we will need to borrow reinforcements from the south, or perhaps obtain some sort of transport like horses and carriages.”
Caspond smiled coldly as he heard Gustav’s suggestion.
“What nonsense are you spouting? Who said we’re talking about that?”
“Were we not supposed to consider how to move ourselves south?”
“Let me speak plainly. We will not flee south right away. We will do battle with Jaldabaoth’s army here.”
“That’s far too rash!”
As she heard Gustav’s words, Remedios continued speaking.
“While we have city walls, we’ll be finished once we’re surrounded and the food runs out. A siege would be foolish without reinforcements to count on.”
While Remedios might not be good at thinking, she was very reliable when it came to battle. Gustav nodded as he heard his captain’s confident words.
“Even so, we must fight here.”
As the two of them turned questioning gazes on him, Caspond smiled coldly and explained himself.
“You heard it too, right? The Sorcerer King is conserving his mana for the battle with Jaldabaoth…”
After seeing Gustav nod, Caspond continued.
“That would be troublesome. After he defeats Jaldabaoth and takes the maid demons, the Sorcerer King will return to the Sorcerous Kingdom. Before that, we need to have him decrease the amount of demihumans who have invaded this nation. Therefore, we must place ourselves in dire straits.”
“But our agreement with the Sorcerer King…”
“Everytime the Sorcerer King slays several demihumans with his magic, fewer people of the Holy Kingdom will be lost, no? Which will you choose? Your pact with the undead, or the lives of the Holy Kingdom’s innocent civilians?”
Gustav had a bitter look on his face, while the blank-faced Remedios promptly answered:
“The innocents of the Holy Kingdom, of course.”
“That’s how it is, Captain. Therefore, you must make the Sorcerer King fight. Since we have made an agreement, there must be a good reason to break it.”
“And so we must fight Jaldabaoth’s army for that?”
“Correct. Or rather — we began our work to flee to the south, but since we took more time than we expected, we were surrounded by Jaldabaoth’s army. With no options left, we had no choice but to seek the Sorcerer King’s strength. What do you think?”
He’s right, Remedios and Gustav’s eyes seemed to say to each other. However–
“I have a question. What if the mana that the Sorcerer King expends becomes a disadvantage during the battle with Jaldabaoth?”
“I hear mana can be recovered quickly, no?”
“My sister said so too.”
Remedios’ little sister was a priestess. If she said, “I heard it from her”, nobody could refute it.
“We’ll release a few demihumans on purpose and lure Jaldabaoth’s army here. We need to do it before we run out of rations, remember.”
“…But how many of Jaldabaoth’s men will come?”
The three of them had already shared what they knew. After a series of battles, Jaldabaoth’s army was less than one hundred thousand strong.
The army was formed of twelve species, as well as six other species who were not numerous enough to qualify as armies in their own right, for a total of eighteen species.
The twelve races were:
Snakemen — serpent-headed demihumans, considered close relatives of Lizardmen.
Armatts — a bipedal rat-like species with iron-like fur. They were considered close relatives of the Quagoa.
Cabens — they resembled apes that were slightly larger than human beings, whose eyes had atrophied.
Zerns — a slimy species with whose upper bodies were like eels with arms and whose slimy lower bodies were like blue-colored maggots. Some people wondered “are you sure they aren’t heteromorphs?” but they were affected by spells that worked on demihumans, so they were classed as demihumans.
Bladers — an insectile species whose fingernails sprouted knife-like blades and whose bodies were protected by an armor-like exoskeleton. Much like the Zerns, they were also affected by spells that worked on demihumans, so they were classed as demihumans
Horuners — demihumans with horse-like legs who were adept at sprinting. They could run for long periods without rest and possessed shocking mobility.
Spidans — Spider-like demihumans with four long and slender arms and legs who resembled spiders. They could spit all sorts of silk from their mouths and make all manner of clothes and items with that silk. The silk clothing they made in this way were as hard as steel.
Stone Eaters — armed with crude weapons, their most frightening feature was their ability to spit the rocks they ate. The stone fragments they could easily spit in excess of one hundred meters could put dents in metal armor with ease. However, they could only do so a limited number of times, so if one could endure through it, there was nothing to be afraid of.
Orthrous — they were a version of Centaurs whose lower bodies were replaced by those of carnivorous beasts. They had better fighting power than Centaurs, but conversely they were less mobile.
Magilos — born with the ability to use spells of up to the fourth tier. The spells they could use apparently appeared on their bodies like tattoos. Their more powerful members were covered in tattoos. Sometimes there were individuals who could develop skills as magic casters, and those were rumored to be able to cast spells of up to the fifth tier. They might be Lord-level entities.
Pteropos — a species which lived on cliffsides, who were very adept at long distance gliding. While they could fly, it seemed to require a lot of strength, so they could only fly for a while every day, and after that they could not even glide. If they did not fly, they could rend armor with the wind, so defending against it was very difficult. They were a species which was strong when they could not fly.
And then, there were the Bafolk.
The remaining six races were not particularly numerous, but each of them was quite powerful.
Buri Uns — an Ogre-like race with the power to control the earth that could be considered a superior species. They possessed special abilities associated with the earth.
Vah Uns — Similar to Buri Uns, they were water-controlling beings. They had water-linked special abilities.
Nagarajas — they looked like snakes with scaly bodies and arms. They were a completely different species from the similarly-named Nagas, and they did not get along well with the latter. They were born with the ability to cast many spells, and sometimes they would even equip themselves with swords and armor.
Spriggans — a species that could freely change their size from small to large. They were fundamentally a good species and evil Spriggans were very rare. That said, both good and bad Spriggans were unmanageable when they went berserk.
Zoastia — carnivores with the upper bodies of beastmen. They were relatives of Centaurs and Orthrous. They wore plate armor and carried round shields. They had no special abilities, but they were heavy cavalry with the savagery and strength of wild beasts. Just one of them was very powerful, and the Orthrous often relied on them. It was apparently a relationship like the one between Goblins and Hobgoblins. However, due to their lack of special abilities, they were not very strong foes against adventurers who could cast the 「Fly」spell. Still, in a head to head clash, even orichalcum-ranked adventurers would have a hard time.
♦ ♦ ♦
“According to the Sorcerer King, your base might be under surveillance, right? Then if they know how many troops we have, they might not send too many troops over. That works to our advantage. However, there’s a problem.”
“Yes. While the priests can make food, they can only make very little even after exhausting their mana. They also can’t feed like demihumans.”
Remedios and Gustav had looks of distaste on their faces. All three of them knew that demihumans preyed on humans.
Therefore, even if they tried to starve the invading demihumans, they all knew they would lose in the end. That was because the demihumans’ prison camps could be considered larders for them.
“Go check how long our food can hold–”
“We’re checking already. We’re also looking for any blacksmiths who might be able to modify the demihuman gear for use by humans.”
“I expected nothing less of you, Captain.”
The three of them continued discussing their preparations for the siege. After another hour, they reached a conclusion which all of them could accept, and the three of them smiled.
“Alright, then let’s prepare for the siege.”
♦ ♦ ♦
One week later, as their food supplies dwindled and it was about time for them to move, the demihuman army appeared from over the horizon.
However, it was a massive army whose scale far exceeded their expectations.
Ainz looked out over the city, which was in a panic over the appearance of the demihuman army, and he slowly collapsed.
This was not a figure of speech.
Ainz’s heart and soul were stretched to their limits by fatigue, and despite his undead nature, he fell to his knees from spiritual exhaustion and grabbed his face.
What should I do… what should I do after this…
Fundamentally, Ainz had been following Demiurge’s script.
Of course, not every word and action was scripted, so he had improvised a fair bit, but even so, Ainz was planning to follow the developments of Demiurge’s plan.
Or rather, the problem was that he had improvised too much.
Frankly speaking, the operational directives he had gotten from Demiurge basically said: “Please adapt to the situation” and other things like that.
This was too much. That was what Ainz had thought when he first looked at the instructions.
If Ainz was an excellent person, perhaps he could follow those directions and play the role of a perfect Sorcerer King. However, much to his regret, Ainz’s abilities were perfectly normal, or perhaps even worse than that.
He recalled things going like this: Ainz had pleaded, “I don’t understand, write in more detail”, whereupon Demiurge had humbly replied with “How could I possibly do something that rude to the sagacious Ainz-sama”, and this had led to an intense back and forth. He had roped Albedo into this battle halfway, and Ainz — who had begun at a great disadvantage — ended it at a complete loss.
And so, the operational directives granting him complete discretion ended up in Ainz’s hands.
If this was a prank on Demiurge’s part, he might be able to deal with it in some other way, but this was the fruit of his subordinate’s trust and respect.
In particular, that was made very clear by such pronouncements as “You will surely be able to reach a better conclusion, Ainz-sama — how could one as insignificant as myself bind you with my words and deeds?”
If you went by common sense, why would the king of another country come over alone… what an unreasonable argument… still, I’ve come all this way. Although I stirred up some problems along the way and got careless a few times, I still came all this way…
He did not believe in the gods, but he wanted to pray to them with all his heart.
Couldn’t Demiurge and Albedo consider my abilities before dumping missions onto me…
Being asked to do the impossible made his motivation shrivel up.
…Alright, pull it together, me. It’ll be easier after I get through this.
Ainz poured his strength into his legs, and then he stood up.
The plan had come to the vital middle stages, but that was also a bad thing.
According to Demiurge, if they formed a defensive line at this city, they would attack until there were 85% casualties.
Ainz had no idea what he was talking about.
Since Demiurge felt it ought to be this way, then it should be a better answer than anything Ainz came up with. If all those deaths brought benefits to Nazarick, then let them die. Rather, Ainz would think about whether killing more would bring even more benefits to Nazarick and such things.
However, the problem lay in the fact that Demiurge had asked Ainz for humans here which could not be killed.
Frankly speaking if that was all, then he would randomly select a few and be done with it, but there was one more thing to note.
That was humans who were devoted to Ainz, or who might be persuaded to join Ainz’s side.
『I feel that there must be several humans who are as devoted to you as those Dwarves, so please tell me their names, and when I make my move, I will take care not to kill them off.』
When he received that message from Demiurge, he had even thought, “Are you kidding me?” as he doubted Demiurge’s thinking.
“…There’s nobody like that.”
Those despondent words escaped Ainz.
There were no humans here who were devoted to AInz.
Rather, he had keenly experienced how much the undead were hated in the Holy Kingdom.
Under these dire circumstances, how many people would be devoted to his undead self?
Thus, he had told Demiurge that there were none.
Demiurge sincerely believed that Ainz could fascinate several humans. So what would happen if he told Demiurge that he had not managed to do so with anyone?
My stomach hurts…
The Dwarf Demiurge was speaking of must have been Gondo Firebeard, but that had simply been lucky. He had scored a critical hit on a weakness in his heart by pure chance, and such luck would not repeat itself.
And it was precisely because he had the font of information which was Gondo that he had managed to strike a chord in the hearts of the runesmiths. However, there was nobody like that in the Holy Kingdom.
There was one person with whom he had formed a friendly relationship, Neia Baraja, but that was all.
Besides, he had given her a magic item to improve their relationship as well as for another reason, but how effective it had been was still unclear.
She kept looking at him with murderous eyes, so he probably should not expect anything good to come of it.
What would Demiurge think if I told him there was only one person, Ainz asked himself.
Would the image of Ainz which Demiurge held in his heart not crumble completely?
And then, what would happen in the future?
In the Dwarven Kingdom, I told Demiurge that I wasn’t that smart, but at that time it didn’t seem like he believed me completely… this is bad. How great a person am I in his eyes? Or rather, it seems I’m getting greater and greater; am I imagining things? Normally, wouldn’t it be the other way around?
The wait hurt. It was not weighty; it just hurt.
In the past, he had pondered how heavy and painful the word “duty” could be. In particular, the part where his subordinates viewed Ainz as a great being was the most painful of all.
I guess I should take this opportunity to tell Demiurge that I’m not really that amazing, but what would happen if I did? What should I do if it caused the plan that Demiurge labored for so long over to end in failure? If I spent several years courting a big client, only to have it fall through because of a word from a bastard boss who didn’t care about all that…
Ahhh, Ainz said as he scratched his hairless head.
What should he do?
What was the best answer he could give?
No matter how he tried to simulate it, it all ended in Demiurge looking at him in disappointment. He could not reach a conclusion that he could accept.
He’s expecting too much of me — the higher the climb, the longer the fall. That’s why I said i”m nobody amazing…
And then, Ainz’s own plan had been quite the failure.
Ainz reached into his pocket space and drew a sword.
It was an ordinary sword inscribed with runes.
However, it contained power comparable to the bow he had lent to Neia.
Of course, these were not Dwarven runes. The runes carved on it had no power at all. This was a piece of equipment made with YGGDRASIL techniques.
Ainz sighed. He had several weapons like this. The original plan was to lend these weapons to the Holy Kingdom.
The people of the Holy Kingdom would be awed by the overwhelming power of the sword and think, “so this is the power of runic weaponry” which would in turn improve the reputation of the Sorcerous Kingdom’s rune weapons.
This was the other reason why he had lent Neia the weapon.
He felt that the people of the Holy Kingdom would see that weapon and secretly borrow them from Ainz.
Ainz grabbed his head.
Why didn’t anyone borrow them? I even thought people would talk about it because it was so flashy… I guess I should have forced her onto the frontlines and made her fight, huh…
Just then, there was a tok tok tok as someone knocked on the door.
He quickly checked his robe and other messy places before putting the sword back into his pocket dimension. Then he put his hands behind his back, looked at the door like a sovereign, and spoke loudly:
“Who is it?”
“Your Majesty, may your servant enter?”
There was no way to tell if it was a male or female voice through the door. Normally, he should have asked the visitor’s name, but Demiurge had already told him that someone was coming, and so Ainz granted his permission without any hesitation.
“Ahh, it’s fine. Come in.”
The person who entered AInz’s room closed the door behind himself, and his body changed as well.
It had an egg-shaped head with a mouth and two eyes that looked like sunken holes. Its three-fingered hands were as slender as stick insects.
It was a Doppelganger.
It was a Doppelganger he had lent Demiurge at his request.
SInce it was a monster Doppelganger, it was not very strong.
Even when transformed, it could only copy level forty abilities, and it was even weaker without transformation. It’s more potent abilities was how it could freely make use of karma-restricted gear. That said, it could not use magic items above relic-class.
Its vacuous hole-like eyes turned to Ainz, and then it bowed deeply.
“Your servant sincerely apologizes for the many offenses he has caused you during the course of his duties. He prays you will forgive him.”
“Don’t worry about it. You were just doing your job. I have nothing to say about that.”
“Your servant is grateful for your generous words.”
Ainz looked at the room’s door.
“Aren’t you busy now? There ought to be many things you need to direct, no? And is there anyone outside? If there’s anyone, we’ll be in trouble if we don’t keep our voices down.”
“It is fine. Nobody will object to your servant going alone to see you, Ainz-sama.”
“Is that so…”
Oh yes, the Doppelganger replied. However, it was still important to be careful.
“Then, Ainz-sama, please inform your servant of your decision.”
“Inform you of what?”
That said, Ainz knew very well why the Doppelganger had come here.
Or rather, it was time to tell this Doppelganger.
Yes, the question of who he had enthralled.
“Forgive me. This one speaks of the matter from earlier — the matter of those humans who are devoted to you and whose lives must be spared, Ainz-sama.”
Ainz nodded forcefully, and began to walk.
Of course, he could not leave the room. Ultimately, he could only pace around inside this room. There was no telling where the Doppelganger’s eyes were looking, but Ainz was certain that they were following his movements, Ainz was certain. In truth, it would be quite scary if they did not look his way.
Time was running out. As Ainz thought with all his might, he suddenly stopped in place.
–He could not find the right answer. Naturally, he did not have any ideas to allow himself to continue covering things up any more.
Surely a human heart would be pounding by now, but his body lacked any organs which could move in that way..
A powerful emotion welled up, causing his emotion override to take effect, and as the small ripples bounced around inside his heart, Ainz told the Doppelganger the answer.
“Umu. I’ll be frank. There are no human beings who need to be saved. Leave a few alive as needed.”