Everyone looked forward to the coming of spring. This was more so on the part of the peasants, who could feel the earth coming back to life under their feet. However, city residents welcomed spring as well. Granted, they did so because they would not need to spend extra on heating their homes.
The first day of spring in E-Rantel was silent, however.
The main streets were empty, as though everyone on them had all died. Still,one could sense people from the houses that faced the streets through the small gaps in the shutters and doors. Those people were people were holding their breath and peeking at the world outside.
Today was the day when E-Rantel would be officially ceded to Ainz Ooal Gown and become a city in the Sorcerous Kingdom of Nazarick.
The first city gate opened, and bells of welcome pealed forth.
After much time had passed, the second gate opened, and the bells echoed through the city once more.
Between the second and the third doors was the residential zone of the city.
The residents of E-Rantel were afraid, but they had not fled was because they knew that even if they ran, all that awaited them was a life of despair.
Even if they were masters or expert tradesmen in E-Rantel, in other cities, they would have to start over as apprentices.
Cities with long histories had a seniority system. Outsiders who were new to the city would naturally need to start from the lowest, most junior positions. That was to say, even if they fled to another city, most of them would not be able to find a proper job, and they would live and die as paupers in the slums.
Without anywhere to run to, most of the residents remained in E-Rantel.
However, if their lives were in danger, they would choose to flee. That was only to be expected. After all, the gossip about the new ruler, no, their new king, was that he was a fearsome being.
They said he was a magic caster who massacred the Royal Army.
They said he was a cold-blooded being who looked like one of the undead.
They said he was a monster that enjoyed bathing in the fresh blood of children.
The rumors circulating were all of this nature, with hardly a single positive word about him.
And so, everyone hid behind their doors, planning to spy on Ainz Ooal Gown from between the gaps in their windows.
Eventually, Ainz Ooal Gown’s procession arrived on the main street.
All who saw him lost the power of speech.
He was a being who matched the rumors circulating about him.
The first person they saw could still be considered alright. At the head of the contingent was a beautiful woman who was as radiant as the full moon.
She wore a figure-hugging white dress, with silky black hair and alabaster skin. Her body, adorned with a constellation of jewelry, could not inspire lust or envy. However, the fact that she sprouted horns from her head and long black wings from her waist, in addition to her supernatural beauty, were all signs that she was not human.
Behind this beautiful goddess were the warriors. As they looked at them, the residents shuddered uncontrollably.
The warriors were divided into two groups, differentiated by the styles of armor they wore.
The first group could be called “a corps of death knights.”
In their left hands they carried tower shields which covered three quarters of their bodies, and in their right they carried flamberges.
Their tattered black capes shrouded massive frames that were over two meters tall. Their black metal, full plate armor was covered in wavy crimson patterns, reminiscent of blood vessels. It was also covered in sharp spikes. They looked like physical incarnations of brutality.
Their demonically-horned helmets exposed their rotted faces. Their empty eye-sockets blazed with a crimson fire, filled with hatred for the living and a longing for slaughter.
The second group could best be described as “a band of death warriors.”
They carried long-bladed swords, while various weapons hung on their waists; hand axes, maces, crossbows, whips, shortspears, and many other weapons. All of them bore countless dents and scratches — proof that they had been heavily used.
They were roughly two meters tall, and the armor they wore was comparatively light. Their bodies were clad in leather armor made from the hide of some unknown beast. Their tattered armor, both arms, and parts of their faces were covered in spell-strips — strips of cloth covered in arcane runes.
Below those strips were visages similar to those of the previous group; ruined faces that could not possibly belong to human beings.
Everyone could feel an overwhelming power radiating from these groups, but as the palanquin carried by several of these beings came into view, the shock they had already experienced was blown away by an even greater one.
An undead being sat on the palanquin. An overwhelming aura of death floated around him, a black mist that roiled like a maelstrom. Obsidian radiance shone from behind his back.
Everyone’s instincts immediately told them who this was.
It was Ainz Ooal Gown.
We cannot possibly survive under the rule of this monster; dangerous does not even begin to describe how our lives will be. Just as everyone started to think this, the sound of a door opening carried through the air.
The citizens of E-Rantel pressed their eyes to their gaps and slits to peek outside in order to see what was going on. What they saw was the form of a running child. He held something in his hand and he was sprinting towards Ainz Ooal Gown’s parade of inhuman beings. Behind him, his pale-faced mother was chasing him.
“Give me back my daddy!”
The boy’s young voice echoed through the streets.
“Give me back my daddy! You monster!”
The boy threw something. It was a rock.
The rock flew toward the parade — its target was probably Ainz Ooal Gown.
Perhaps it was due to nervousness, but the rock fell short of its mark and rolled across the cobbled road.
Behind him, his mother looked like her soul had left her body. She knew what would happen to them now.
The mother embraced her son from behind as her body shuddered. She desperately tried to protect and conceal his body in her arms.
“He, he’s just a boy! Please, I beg you! I beg you to forgive him!”
The beautiful woman smiled in response to the mother’s frantic plea.
They were saved. That was a warm, motherly smile that would put anyone’s heart at ease.
“—Rudeness to Ainz-sama deserves nothing short of death.”
The beautiful woman produced a gigantic bardiche out of nowhere. The fact that she could wield it so easily spoke of her inhuman arm strength.
The residents could easily imagine the uses for that axe, and their guesses were most likely on the mark.
“I must say, this is quite a low grade of livestock you’ve raised. Don’t you think it’s shameful when the price per kilogram of their flesh goes down?.”
As she watched the slowly-approaching woman, the mother realised what was going to happen to them, and hugged her child tightly.
“Please! Spare my son, even if it’s just my son! Take my life, do anything you want to me! Please!”
“What are you saying? There is no reason to kill you, is there? Ainz-sama does not enjoy meaningless slaughter. The innocent will not be killed. Please rest at ease and await the mincemeat that will be made for you in your arms… although if it were up to me, I would prefer to turn him into a croquette.”
The boy in his mother’s arms did not seem to realize that he would soon be slain. However, anyone watching knew that the child’s short life would end in a scant few seconds. Yet, nobody was willing to step forward to save him.
Although they wanted to turn from the impending tragedy, nobody could pull their eyes away.
Both mother and child were transfixed by the murderous aura that the beauty emitted.
“Regret your crime of rudeness against the most exalted one as you die.”
In the moment that the woman swung down her massive weapon, the earth shuddered as the sound of metal clashing against metal rang out. The source of that sound was a thrown greatsword protruding from the ground, separating mother and son from the beautiful woman.
That sword — and its wielder — was known to every person on the street.
He was a living legend.
He was an invincible warrior.
He was a gentle hero.
As they beheld the entrance of the only being who could save the pitiful pair, the people cried the name of the swordsman in their hearts.
—The name of the Dark Warrior, Momon.
A man clad in jet-black armor slowly emerged from one end of the alley, and wrenched out the greatsword stuck into the ground. With a mighty flick of his wrist, he shook the dirt off of it. His other hand was already holding a sword, and the battle-ready Momon faced the beautiful woman down.
“Is there a need to use so much force on a boy throwing a stone? Nobody’ll want to marry you.”
“Even if you lecture me, I won’t be hap… ahem! The sin of rudeness against Ainz-sama knows no age! All who commit it must perish!”
“And what happens if I don’t allow it?”
“Then you will be a traitor to the lord of the land, and will be exterminated!”
“Is that so? Well, that’s not a bad thing. However, don’t think you can take this head so easily, hm? If you want it, you’d better be prepared to risk yours as well.”
Momon deftly spun the swords in his hands and took a fighting stance. That bold and dominating posture was surely the stuff heroes were made of.
“You lot, protect Ainz-sama.”
After giving an order to the black-armored warriors behind her, the beauty readied her bardiche in turn.
The spectators originally believed that the winner of this confrontation would be Momon. But the battle aura radiating from the two of them denied it. They could feel that the beautiful woman was a warrior who was Momon’s equal.
The two of them closed the distance to each other in terms of millimeters. The one who disrupted the impending conflict between the two was Ainz Ooal Gown himself. By the power of magic, he soundlessly flew up from the palanquin and landed upon the earth, before putting a hand on the beauty’s shoulder.
He leaned in and placed his mouth to the beauty’s ear before whispering into it. Her face lit up with a bewitching, gentle smile.
“I understand, Ainz-sama. It shall be as you say.”
She bowed to Ainz, and then pointed her bardiche at Momon. However, her murderous intent from just now was absent.
“…I have not yet heard your name. Speak it.”
“I am Momon.”
“I see. Momon. Then, I ask you. Do you think you can defeat us?”
“…No, I cannot. Even if I fought to the death, I could only defeat either you, or the one beside you.”
Despair filled the hearts of all who heard these words. It was because they knew that even the great hero could only kill one of those monsters.
“And besides… if I fought with all my strength, many innocents would be caught up in our battle. I cannot do such a thing.”
“How foolish. Despite your impressive skills, you would go so far for these weaklings — I’ve spoken too much. Ainz-sama has a proposal for you. Listen to it with gratitude. Surrender and swear fealty to us as a warrior of Nazarick.”
“—Are you kidding me?”
“How rude. Ainz-sama does not wish to rule this city with despair and bloodshed. Besides, slaying humans does not hold any merits to Ainz-sama. But even if we said this, the people here would not believe it. So we will have you work at Ainz-sama’s side.”
“…What sort of work is that?”
“In the future, there may be more fools who would throw stones at Ainz-sama. At that point, we will have you remove their heads. In exchange, you may see how Ainz-sama does not mistreat the innocents of this city.”
“…I see. So, I will be a watchman who will stand by his side?”
“Not quite. As I said, you will be responsible for eliminating traitors. Thus, you will be a representative of the people cum enforcer.”
“I have no intention of swearing myself to the service of evil.”
“Neither do we have any plans of perpetrating that sort of evil. Then, what will you do? If you will not pledge your sword to Ainz-sama, then you shall be slain here and now as a dangerous individual, no matter how many people we have to kill to get to you.”
Momon looked around.
“I intend to travel, and I had no intention of being anyone’s subordinate…”
“That is also an acceptable answer. Then, shall we begin the collateral damage to the surrounding people now?”
“Wait! Don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t made my decision yet. I have a partner. What will happen to her?”
“Then she must pledge herself to Ainz-sama as well. There can be no other answer.”
“The old me might have put travelling as a higher priority… but it seems I’ve gotten attached to this city. Will it be alright if I don’t kneel?”
Ainz once more whispered into the ear of the beauty.
“That is permissible, and so it is decided. Momon, work hard for Ainz-sama.”
“…I understand. But remember that if you harm the people of the city for no reason, this sword will be aimed at you and your master.”
“…In that case, when the people of this city rise up in revolt against Ainz-sama, I hope that sword will also be pointed at those who rebel. It doesn’t matter if they are children or not. I look forward to the time when this city will rise up against us, and to your agonized face as you execute its people. Then, we shall be going ahead first. Do join up with us afterwards.”
Ainz Ooal Gown’s entourage continued steadily forward. After the monstrous procession finally faded out of sight, the people streamed out of their homes. It was amazing how so many people had managed to keep themselves so well hidden.
Everyone was praising Momon.
Just as Momon started started to shyly wave away the tide of adoration, a crisp sound rang out clearly over the crowd. It was the sound of the mother slapping her son.
“Why did you do that?!”
Again and again, she slapped her son.
Both mother and child were crying, but even so, she did not stop hitting him.
Momon grasped the mother’s hand.
“Don’t you think that’s enough for now? There’s something I’d like to ask him.”
“This boy has caused so much trouble for you, Momon-sama! We sincerely apologize from the bottoms of our hearts!”
“No, please, pay it no heed. There’s no need to apologize, Ah, there’s no need to cry either. I have some questions for you.”
As Momon tried to hush the boy‘s crying, he asked the boy why he had done it.
Everyone thought the boy must have wanted to avenge his father, but the boy said that after a strange man lectured him, he felt that throwing the rock was the right thing to do.
“I see… ma’am, there’s no need to punish your child. This was probably the result of magical control. In all likelihood, it’s a plot by the Theocracy, trying to force me into a confrontation with Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“…No, the Theocracy wouldn’t do that. Wasn’t this Ainz Ooal Gown’s plot to make you into his vassal, Momon-sama?”
Momon nodded deeply to the shopkeeper who spoke. He had opened his shop here just a couple of years ago.
“That is certainly a possibility. But on the other hand, it is also a good opportunity. Since I have an excuse to be by his side, I can monitor his movements. If he plans to harm you, I will take his head. But in exchange, you must not revolt against Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“Why shouldn’t we?! As you’re around, Momon-sama—”
“—Please do not continue that line of conversation. They’re waiting for someone to speak those words. If you rebel, he will order me to kill you for his amusement.”
Momon spread his arms, and continued speaking to everyone openly.
“I cannot be the one who breaks the agreement made just now. Because of that, I hope everyone will cooperate with them so long as they do not make any unreasonable demands. However, if you feel you have not been treated fairly, then please come to me.”
The faces of the people took on pained looks as they realized that they were hostages for Momon.
Momon smiled gently to them.
“However, I hope you will not worry too much. To begin with, that fellow might end up being an unexpectedly good ruler. Let’s wait and see. Also, if the Theocracy makes a move, they might try to incite you to revolt. I hope you will all keep your eyes open.”
Nobody could accept this.
But at the same time, nobody could oppose it.
Ainz Ooal Gown was undead. Nobody could trust a dangerous being like that which bore a hatred for the living. However, everybody trusted Momon. In fact, Momon had even given up on his goals for the sake of the city folk. It was only natural that they would give their allegiance to Momon in turn.
Everyone present agreed with Momon’s proposal, and after promising to spread these words to the people around them, they dispersed.
As a result, the rule of E-Rantel was a peaceful one without any bloodshed, something which the surrounding nations could hardly believe.