Five Years of Preparation
Night Liches were beings who had absorbed a great deal of mana, and by doing so transcended the
state of Elder Liches. Such occurrences were rare even throughout history, for which the living were
This was because Night Liches were very powerful.
They were well-versed in using incredibly high-tier spells beyond the realm of humanity — the so-
called sixth tier. They were on par with even aged Dragons in a fight. In addition, they also
possessed many special abilities, hordes of undead followers, a great degree of intelligence, and
resided in many-layered impregnable bastions.
They were capable of ruling nations, as undead kings.
In truth, there were three known Night Liches—
The Dragon Night Lich, Guphandera=Argoros.
The Titan Night Lich, Siyern.
The nameless Night Lich, a lord of the shadows known as Fear.
They ruled a domain that was the size of a small country, and the surrounding nations knew them as
figures of dread.
For that reason, the name “Night Lich” was only ever spoken in hushed, frightened tones. One could
say that they were mythical mythological beings comparable to natural disasters.
And right now, in front of one of those terrifying Night Liches, the one who secluded himself from the
world and remained laired in darkness — Kunivela — a pair of figures suddenly appeared, as though
from out of nowhere.
One of them was in a robe. The other was also in a robe, but their statures were very different from
each other, as though they were an adult and child.
Even the undead Kunivela was briefly confused when this mysterious duo suddenly appeared in
front of him without any forewarning.
His research had been fruitful, he possessed vast magical knowledge, and he was quite famous in
his field. He understood that there was probably a ninth tier of spells in the world — a fact that many
people in the world probably did not even know. Yet even he had no idea what had happened.
Kunivela made his lair in a house in a destroyed city, in a cellar he had dug out below it.
Nobody, not even the organization, should have known about this place. And he had undead
minions deployed throughout the city. How had they evaded their eyes and passed all his magical
traps to reach this place? After all, Kunivela had also used divination magic to ward himself.
Still, Kunivela had not sensed anything before they suddenly appeared before him.
However, his confusion swiftly receded. What replaced it was fear.
In this world, Night Liches were some of the mightiest beings in existence. Just as superior beings
looked down on others, it would be impossible for them to be afraid of others. This was particularly
true for those people who understood his overwhelming power.
Assuming, of course, that this had happened a year ago.
A single thought appeared in Kunivela’s mind.
—It was, “They’re trying to kill me.”
He had no intention of speaking with the two people who had suddenly appeared. Kunivela
immediately cast a spell. He did not choose an offensive or defensive spell, but 「Teleportation」.
He abandoned this city and teleported to a distant base that he thought was safe — he had thought
this place was safe too — without any hesitation.
Fighting was not an option. That was the only choice he could not take. Actually doing so would
have been utter foolishness..
It was true that neither of them emitted an aura of might. He could not even sense any mana from
But that was why they were so fearsome.
Under normal circumstances, he would have greeted them with an attack spell to teach them the
foolishness of standing in front of him.
However, these two people had broken through the Night Lich Kunivela’s surveillance network. For
that reason, it was only sensible to assume the two of them were so far beyond Kunivela that he
could not even sense them.
Surely the undead of the organization would have mocked Kunivela if they heard that the Night Lich
Kunivela had abandoned everything and immediately chosen to flee. However, he would only have
drawn that reaction a year ago.
Right now, the organization’s members would unanimously back Kunivela’s choice and would have
vouched for the rightness of his decision.
There was an organization called “Corpus of the Abyss.”
It was a group composed of undead magic casters. Originally, it had been formed to work for their
mutual benefit and avoid conflicts.
The reason for that was because when the undead — as beings with unlimited lifespans — studied
magic together, friction tended to develop.
Without the three great drives — for food, rest, and sex — undead invariably developed other,
powerful desires, and in the case of undead magic casters, they generally tended to thirst for
knowledge. For that reason, once a conflict over knowledge began, it would tend to escalate. Neither
party would stop until it became a battle of extermination which would end with one side being
If the three great drives of the living were concentrated into a single urge, surely that single desire
would become uncontrollable. It was very common for the undead to be destroyed in this way, to the
point where the living could destroy both parties while they were absorbed in their feud.
For that reason, undead eventually emerged who understood that it was wiser to make trades and to
cooperate within reason, rather than fight to mutual extinction over knowledge and magic items. In
the end, a list of names was made.
It was an unenchanted stone tablet that was inscribed with the participants’ names through some
unknown magic, which would later be known as the “Granisle Inscription.”
At that time, it only contained the names of four Night Liches and three Elder Liches. There were few
rules and rulebreakers would be ganged up on by the others. Such was the looseness of their
But 200 years after that, it gradually became a complete organization.
Thanks to an increasing number of undead members, the seven grew by 48, becoming a large
organization with 55 members, with the original seven each being difficulty rating 150 undead
However, very few people knew of this organization.
Its members could be roughly divided into two types.
One kind cultivated their influence among the living and used them to achieve their aims. The other
had nothing to do with the living, working quietly for their own aims in the world.
Very few people thought like the former, so most of their members fell into the latter category. As a
result, they did not cause many ripples in living society.
As for those who planned to build their influence among the living, along with it came an increase in
the number of enemies. In particular, since the undead were the enemy of everything that lived,
there were times where the living would form international alliances to exterminate them. Because of
this, there were even fewer members of the former groups. Of course, there were also those who
had put down roots in the darkness of the world of the living, but such skilled undead were few and
In the end, “Corpus of the Abyss” became a group that existed only in rumors. The reason why they
did not try to compel the aforementioned three Night Liches to join them was to avoid them gaining
attention when they did so.
That was why it took so long for the problem to be discovered.
The first to notice that problem was one of the oldest members of the inner circle. He was one of the
founders of the organization, Benjeli Ansis, also known as “Abyss”.”
He was a six-armed, two-headed Night Lich, who was proficient with sixth tier arcane spells and
sixth tier spells from other traditions, and a fearsome being that humanity could not overcome. If he
had been willing to emerge into the spotlight, the aforementioned three Night Liches would have
become four instead.
That day, he had been heading for the stronghold of Granz Locke, a fellow member of the inner
circle and a practitioner of the eighth tier.
After paying various prices, he had intended to learn how Granz had reached the eighth tier. But
Granz had not appeared that day. Therefore, Benjeli went to Granz’s stronghold.
It was not unusual for the undead, who had no maximum lifespan, to lose themselves in research.
Granz must have been that way, Benjeli had thought as he reached his destination. However, as
Benjeli dismounted from his Undead Dragon, his bodyguard cum mount, he froze in place because
of the strange mood in the air at Granz’s stronghold.
Granz had dozens of Elder Liches on guard duty and drove them hard as his servants. Usually, one
of them would have immediately appeared to show Benjeli the way after he showed up, But nobody
came even after he waited for a while.
Benjeli summoned his own minions and cautiously entered the stronghold, where he immediately
realised what had happened.
Everything had been taken. His research and his wealth was gone without a trace.
The undead were the enemies of the living, so it was not unusual for the undead to be destroyed.
Even such powerful undead beings were occasionally killed off by even more powerful living beings.
But the strange thing was that there were no signs of battle. It seemed as though he had suddenly
Granz was a Night Lich. In other words, he was of the highest order of undead. Could someone like
that have been destroyed without any room for resistance?
With a strange unease in his heart, Benjeli checked the status of all of the organization’s members.
And then — the organization trembled.
Of its 55 members, 21 of them were completely uncontactable. This was not just limited to members
of the outer circle, but even founding members of the inner circle.
Before anyone had realized it, roughly 40% of the group’s membership had been destroyed. This
chilled the spines of the undead, which should not have known the meaning of fear; the idea that
their members — who could destroy nations — had not even left any messages or information
behind meant that they had been unilaterally obliterated.
As powerful individuals, they could each take down a nation by themselves. Everyone was
possessed of such arrogance, which was why they rarely worked with each other and “Corpus of the
Abyss” had never worked together as a group. However, they no longer had the luxury to do so.
Everyone shared their information, looked out for each other, and joined their forces. Once, this
organization had many absentees in their meetings that were spaced years apart, but now they all
met on a monthly basis.
Even so, their numbers continued to dwindle.
Some unknown being was slowly, gradually hunting down the organization’s members.
These beings, who were more than a century old, knew fear for the first time.
At this point, they no longer cared about face or reputation.
They had started meeting on a monthly basis at first, but as their numbers fell, they were now
meeting once every two days. Seeing everyone present at those meetings reassured them, but if
someone was missing, they would worry that they would be next, and thus they would live each day
in fear. Some of them had even started staying together.
Even though they tried their hardest to gather information, all they found were mysteries.
They did not know why they were being attacked. Was it because of hatred or revenge or some
other emotion? Or was it for the fruits of their research, or material goods like money and the like?
But the most important question was—
—Who was doing this?
Their aims were irrelevant now. The new conclusion for their current course of action was an
unconditional surrender followed by begging for their unlives. While some people had suggested
fighting at first, they had all lost the will to fight at this point.
The organization of Night Liches known as “Corpus of the Abyss” was now in the grip of an unknown
It was under these circumstances that Kunivela had decided to cast 「Teleportation」.
He had not chosen to surrender because he thought he could flee. Rather, it was because he
needed to organize his thoughts enough to converse with them. In addition, he did not want to speak
with them by himself. It would be better to withdraw first and then surrender as a group, Kunivela
However, a moment after the 「Teleportation」 took effect, Kunivela froze.
He was still in front of these two mysterious people. The 「Teleportation」 had not taken effect.
Perhaps some spell had negated it.
Kunivela, as one of the undead, had already witnessed many things he had never seen before just
today. The fear rose inside him once again, and his eyes went wide as he studied the pair before
The taller robed figure extended a hand.
It was a skeletal hand.
The names of many skeletal magic casters flashed through his mind, but they were all oddballs.
None of them could have defeated Kunivela the Night Lich. So what was this being — as his
thoughts reached that point, they froze.
He had been dominated.
He could not even resist it.
Kunivela the Night Lich had actually been dominated like a Zombie or a Skeleton. His mind and soul
had already acknowledged the being before him as his controller — his Master. What should have
been an object of fear had become a Master to whom he owed his loyalty.
He could tell that this was a skill to dominate the undead, one which he possessed as well. However,
that skill was only effective on undead weaker than himself — which meant that his Master was
significantly more powerful than Kunivela. Once under his dominion, Kunivela would have no chance
to shake it off so long as the other party did not want to relinquish control. All that was left now was
to beg him — his Master — to show mercy.
Master pulled back his face-concealing hood.
It revealed a bony skull. Based on the skeletal hand he had just extended, it was not a mask, but his
There must have been some meaning behind not killing Kunivela but choosing to control him. It
would be best if it was because he felt that it would be a shame to kill him — that it would be better
to keep him alive, the dominated Kunivela thought.
“Now then, start by — handing over all your research notes and your treasure.”
“Hand it over!”
The smaller figure to the side removed its hood too.
It had blonde hair and red eyes.
She looked like a human child, but she was apparently undead. Given her intelligence and
appearance, he concluded that she was a Vampire that had been spawned from a human. As she
was a companion of his Master, he could not bring himself to harbor any hostility towards her.
“I hear and obey. Now I shall begin with my treasure.”
Kunivela used a key to unlock the treasury in his room and took out all the sacks within.
There were 15 of them in total. Each of them contained a thousand gold coins, for a total of 15,000
coins — weighing 150 kilograms in all. While the undead did not directly need money, there were
times where some of the living were willing to deal with them, typically people from the dark side of
society. Completing their requests would reward them with gold, and gold was also a valuable item
when dealing with them, so he had naturally saved up a lot of it.
There was also a bag of gemstones in addition to those. The table also had spell scrolls, enchanted
wands, and other magic items.
“I also have three other bases in addition to this one. The other half of my assets are located there.”
Since he was being dominated, he truthfully revealed the location of all his hidden treasure in order
to maximize the gain for his Master.
“Hoho, that’s quite a lot.”
“It really is!”
“…Home Invader No. 2… don’t you think you should show a little restraint? You really let yourself go,
didn’t you? While I’ve been thinking it all this time… I have to say it today. Shouldn’t you behave
more like a princess? You were when I first met you.”
“—Number One. We’ve been travelling together for five years, you know? After going through so
much, even the undead will change to some extent.”
“Umu. I have my doubts about that. Logically speaking, the undead should not be changing on a
mental level — does that also mean they’ll never grow? So does that mean this is the way your
personality’s always been, Number Two?”
“It doesn’t seem that way to me… and when you get down to it, it’s all because of you, Number One.
What with all that impossible magic, magic items that are each worth an entire kingdom, and
summoning monsters that look like they could level an entire country by themselves…”
Master ignored the chattering girl and opened a sack, then took several gold coins out of it.
“…So they’re all trading currency, then? That helps me out a lot. After all, exchanging a large sum of
money is quite troublesome.”
Calculating the gold content of each country’s gold coins was very troublesome, and so in order to
facilitate easy trades, Kunivela only used these coins.
“Was that why you’ve been using recast YGGDRASIL coins all this while then, Number One?”
“You’ve seen them before, haven’t you? That’s exactly it, Number Two. Now then, on to the heart of
the matter. My first question is, what are the movements of your organization? How cautious are
they of me?”
“We are wary of you, of course, but everyone is basically prepared to surrender unconditionally at
this point. It seems some of them have also fled the group.”
Kunivela recited a list of former members who had run away. There were half a dozen in total.
“What do you think, Number Two?”
The girl consulted the piece of paper in her hand and nodded.
“It seems two of them got away. What should we do, Number One?”
“Hunt them down and kill them. If we don’t rip them out by the roots, we’ll never be able to get a good night’s sleep.”
“—That’s wonderful, Number One! You’ve gotten better at telling jokes! See, the undead can grow
too! Next we’ll have to work on your naming sense!”
“…I was not joking.”
Master did not speak. The girl bit her lip and peeked at Master.
Rudeness to the Master was intolerable, but Kunivela had not been permitted to attack.
Were the two who escaped lucky or unlucky? Given the conversation from just now, they don’t
sound like they’re going to spare them…
“Are the names I pick really in such bad taste?”
“…Frankly speaking, they are. Ah, but Heteromorphic Zoo was pretty good. It was funny.”
“Still, Blondie was terrible!” The girl planted her hands on her hips. “Those guards were giving me
weird looks back then and it was so embarrassing!”
“But they didn’t say anything…”
“That’s because names have different meanings among different races, and being killed for making
fun of someone’s name isn’t anything new. People are more sensitive to that problem in cities with
mixed populations. But they couldn’t hide what they were thinking…”
“But we didn’t go there again after that—”
“—Excuse me, Master?” Kunivela asked nervously. Both their eyes — Kunivela only cared about his
Master’s gazes turned to him. “All the undead magic casters who belong to ‘Corpus of the Abyss’ are
willing to surrender to you, Master. Does it please you?”
“Oh, yes, let’s settle things on this end first. While it’s bad form to answer a question with another
question, I still have to ask: why do I have to accept it?”
Kunivela gulped at his Master’s doubt.
“You lot might say that, but you’ll definitely harbor resentment in your hearts. Why should I spare
you? Only by tearing you out by the roots will I eliminate future problems.”
“We would never do such a thing. We could not even think of defying—”
“—Ah, I’ve heard enough of that. Then what would happen if you learned our weakness?”
He could not hide anything from Master’s demands.
“If it benefited us to destroy our foe once we seized his weakness, we would do so.”
“Only with respect to elements that Master deems harmful by taking us as vassals we will surely be
of use. For instance, I can guarantee that we can outperform any other think-tank as long as we
work together and of course we can serve as troops against your enemies. Master while your power
is matchless surely numbers can serve as an advantage—”
Kunivela desperately struggled to demonstrate his worth.
“Hm, that is true. I do have something that needs researching. But according to your colleagues
which I eliminated earlier, nobody can do it. Is that true?”
Everyone had a rough idea of who was studying what within the group. They shared their
information to avoid feuding over resources due to duplicating each others’ efforts. However, there
was no guarantee that each person was telling the truth about the contents of their research.
Kunivela himself was conducting secret research of his own.
Perhaps this hidden material could be used as bargaining material. If he said, “everyone has their
own secret topics,” then Master would need to go and question everyone, which would mean he
might step up his attacks against the organization. Perhaps the others had considered that too,
which was why they had chosen to be killed without saying a word. That might have been why
Master had not brought the topic up.
“—Then, what if we offered up a fixed sum to you every year? With a great deal of money, you could
hire more of the living to help carry out research—”
“I have no need for money.”
The girl beside him nodded,
“Then, then why did you have me hand over my treasures first?”
Was that not very strange? In response to Kunivela’s question, Master shrugged nonchalantly.
“I was just looking for any rare items you had among it. Ah, and I also wanted to savor the
adventurer’s spirit of gaining treasure after beating a dungeon.”
Kunivela could not help but wonder what he meant by “adventurer’s spirit.”
Was he going to wipe all of them out just for that?
Surely he would have fought back with all his might if he had not been dominated. Of course, that
was nothing more than a pointless fantasy.
“I have more questions for you. Since you are under my control, will the other members of your
organization come to save you, or will this stronghold self-destruct after a while — that is to say, is
there any demerit to us in staying here?”
It was hard to explain what those demerits were.
If Kunivela vanished, the others would assume that something had happened to him. But who on
earth would risk themselves like this? Perhaps all of them might come, but probably not to rescue
Kunivela or to attack Master. It was more likely that they would offer surrender or ask to negotiate.
In any event, there was nothing which would be immediately unfavorable to Master. However, one
could not overlook any disadvantageous developments which might emerge after this.
“There are none. However, that is only for the next day or so. If several days pass — the more time
passes, the more likely someone will think something is off. In addition, there are still dominated
undead in this base. What about them? If they are still around, they might launch an attack.”
Kunivela might have been dominated, but that was just him. The undead he had created were a
different matter. They would probably carry out their orders to kill all intruders the moment they saw
On the other hand, now that Kunivela was dominated, the undead that were under Kunivela’s
domination would be freed of it. Those undead were probably trying to flee right now and would not
attempt to begin hostilities.
“Ah, if it’s just the undead here, then I can deal with all of them easily even if they attack me all at
once. There’s no need to worry about that.”
Kunivela bowed his head.
He understood this already, but hearing Master actually talk about his superiority left him
“Now then, explain your findings to Number Two; Be quick about it.”
For the members of “Corpus of the Abyss,” the fundamental aim of their research was to achieve
great magical might. While he did not think the girl would understand, he told her anyway.
During this time, Master stored all the treasure into a magically-created pocket dimension.
“…And that is it.”
“Alright, thank you for your hard work. Now, for the next question: Tell me everything about all the
members of your organization. Their abilities, their locations, points of note, and so on.”
So that was it. He had used this power to dominate the others, then made them tell him everything
before destroying them one by one.
In the past, they had all acted individually, but now that they were all informing each other of their
status, it was as though everyone was joined by invisible strings. Rather than reap the harvest when
he sensed his prey approach, all Master had to do was pull on that string and draw them over.
He did not want to talk, but Kunivela told him everything he knew. Thanks to the effects of the
undead domination, he could not hide or lie about anything.
The girl would throw pointed questions his way from time to time. It was probably to ensure that it
matched up with what they had learned from the already-destroyed members.
“Thank you.” Although Master had thanked Kunivela for coming clean, he probably meant none of it.
“Now then, this is the last question—”
The words “last question” made Kunivela panic. He had not yet shown his usefulness, and if this
kept up, it would be for the worst.
“—Enough, Number One.”
The girl interrupted in a tone that suggested fatigue, or an empty vitality.
“That’s enough, Number One. After all, I’ve done a lot of research on my own, and I understand
now… you know what I said about not deluding myself anymore two years ago?”
“…Is this about the Divine Maiden of the Sun? But this isn’t just for you, Number Two. I’ve told you
several times, but this is also for my own personal interest. It’s not for you, but for me.”
The expression on the girl’s face was strange; it seemed lonely and happy at the same time.
Kunivela could not understand it.
“I’ll ask, then. Do you know anything about how the country of Inveria was destroyed by all its people
He searched his memory after hearing the word Inveria, but all he knew about it was that it was
some faraway country.
“No, I know nothing.”
“Is that so… Then, do you know of anyway to revert a person who has been turned into a Zombie
back to normal — that is to say, back into a living being? It doesn’t matter if it’s very unlikely.”
While he felt that this was a good time to demonstrate his worth, Kunivela knew nothing about the
topic. If he had not been dominated, he would probably have tried to make something up to save his
life, or lied that he was just about to begin research into that topic.
“No, I do not. But they say legendary beings like the Dragon Lords should know something about it.”
“That name comes up often. The vast being that floats in the sky, as well as the Brightness Dragon
“In addition, there are—”
He listed the names of all the Dragon Lords he knew of. But he added that he was not sure where
they were or if they actually existed.
Kunivela felt that this was his chance and desperately tried to sell himself.
“If you give me time, I will find the locations of these Dragon Lords immediately.”
“A good suggestion, but I will still be destroying you.”
The reply came back immediately.
“But, but why? Am I not useful to you?”
“Because allowing others to know about us would have many demerits for us. It is because you did
not know about us that you could not find the right way to deal with us.”
“But it would be impossible to betray you if you used your ability to dominate everyone.”
“Indeed, that is so. But as you know, there is a limit to undead domination, both in upper limits and
total numbers. There are far too many drawbacks for me to afford the luxury of dominating you, as
long as there is no way to absolutely guarantee that you will never betray me.”
“We would never betray—”
“I explained it to you just now, didn’t I?”
Kunivela swallowed his words.
There was nothing he could show the undead being before him that could change his mind.
“Now then, let’s put an end to this.”
Suzuki Satoru and Keno rode their covered wagon onward.
This was not the covered wagon they had “bought” from Keno’s homeland of Inveria, but something
that they had purchased around a year ago. Incidentally, this was the fourth such carriage; the first
had been destroyed, the second had been burned in an attack, and the third had been abandoned.
The two people on the driver’s seat — Suzuki Satoru with reins in hand, and Keno beside him with a
magical tome on her lap — chatted about nothing in particular as usual while they made their way
over the quiet plains.
Keno’s hair, which descended to her slender, porcelain neck, swayed in the wind.
While she had asked Suzuki Satoru to cut it for her, he felt that it would be better for her to wear a
hood. That was because he was unsure if the smell of dirt and dust in the air would infuse itself into
However, he would not actually say that out loud.
Keno was at a difficult age now.
If Suzuki Satoru had brought it up, she would go “Hmph~” and puff up her cheeks. Keno’s mood
improved when he did not treat her like a child, so Satoru too had tried not to talk like that.
She had been alone for 40 years, and the two of them had been together for five more. Her mindset
should have grown more during the latter part of that. However, she did not seem to have grown at
He worked the reins, which slapped against the horse’s rump.
There was no meaning to that action. The horse pulling the wagon was the same Golem that had
pulled their wagon back then. But it was all part of the act. The two of them had done a lot of acting
during their journey.
It was true that both of them were undead and they had a Golem Horse. None of them needed to
sleep and they could all see in the dark. However, they still set up tents at night to avoid suspicion.
Of course, they did not need to sleep, so the two of them typically talked in their tents until daybreak.
While Keno’s actual age exceeded Suzuki Satoru’s, she did not have much life experience since she
had never left the city. She was a ten year-old heiress who had never left her hometown.
This meant that she rapidly ran out of things to talk about and could only fall back to her knowledge
of what she had learned.
On the other hand, Suzuki Satoru’s stories were very well-received by Keno. Not his stories of the
real world where Suzuki Satoru lived — a world shrouded in a thick layer of clouds — but tales of
To a girl who lived in a world of swords and sorcery, Suzuki Satoru’s adventures in YGGDRASIL
were what made her eyes glow in excitement.
At first, there were quite a few things which made Keno frown. They seemed too far-fetched and
ridiculous for her. But Suzuki Satoru had proof. While it was not a complete record, Suzuki Satoru’s
photo albums contained pictures of the things he spoke about.
Keno, who did not know what photos were, seemed to regard them as exquisite portraits. But after
seeing a photo — of Satoru and herself — she accepted that they were faithful depictions of the
Things were simple after that.
They proved that the adventures which filled Keno with dread were events which Suzuki Satoru had
experienced. In other words, the adventures of the great magic caster Suzuki Satoru were true.
The admiration in Keno’s eyes soon turned into shining respect, which Suzuki Satoru saw. It greatly
improved his mood and he began to speak effusively. Before long, Keno knew the adventures of
Ainz Ooal Gown like the back of her hand.
That was how they had spent their five years.
And today, the same story ended as the wagon swayed.
“And so everyone from Ainz Ooal Gown gave rise to another legend. You’re amazing, Satoru.”
“Fufu, it’s nothing that great, Keno. With members like that, accomplishing that much was child’s
play. Here’s a photo of that time.”
Suzuki Satoru let go of the reins and gave verbal orders to the Golem Horse.
He used his empty hands to take out his photo album and flipped through it, muttering, “Where is it?”
as he did. He found a picture of them after they had defeated the Fire Giant Lord Surtr and showed it
“Wow!” Keno exclaimed in delight. “You’re amazing… I can’t believe you managed to defeat such a
mighty giant… Mm, no. It was possible because of everyone in Ainz Ooal Gown. After all, who else
could defeat a Giant Lord who wielded such a powerful flaming staff?”
“Yes… that might be true.”
After taking back and putting the picture away, he recalled the many times they had beaten Surtr.
It had not been terribly difficult because his elemental resistances were supremely monofocused, but
Suzuki Satoru did not want to say so and shatter the girl’s dreams, thus disappointing her. Therefore,
Suzuki Satoru simply smiled.
“Precisely! You and your friends were amazing, Satoru!” His spirits raised, Suzuki Satoru went along
with Keno’s excitement.
“Really now! I guess so! The way everyone managed to avoid death and hang on after he threw
away his sword and took out Laevatein was very well done.”
“Yup! Everyone was amazing! They won because of you, Satoru!”
“You think so? Hahaha!”
Suzuki Satoru laughed, in a very good mood.
“DId you and your friends really repeat all those amazing adventures, Satoru?”
“Indeed we did. And then we’re going on a great adventure on ourselves too, aren’t we?” Keno
“Really? But it doesn’t feel like a fancy adventure or anything.”
“Doesn’t it all depend on how you look at it? It’s been five years since we set out from your country.
Haven’t we been to many countries and seen many mysteries? Fighting isn’t everything, you know.”
Enjoying the unknown.
Heading out on a trip and using your own eyes to see the world — was that not the true adventure
YGGDRASIL sought? Now, he could kind of understand how the World Searchers felt.
Of course, there was nothing wrong with fighting beside your friends and playing the game. But
Suzuki Satoru was confident in saying that his journey with Keno was the journey the two of them
ought to have gone on.
“I — suppose. That Seven-Scorched Plain and Clear Lake were both pretty amazing.”
“Personally, the Seven-Scorched Plain was kind of gross for me, but the Clear Lake was very
beautiful. It looked just like glass.”
“Yup. It’s amazing!”
The two of them continued reminiscing about that beautiful sight as they continued onward.
“If only I could see those sights again.”
“We can go again if we’ve got nothing on. After all, our lifespans are unlimited.”
”That’s true,” Keno replied.
“And also… you’ve become stronger than before, Keno. Want to try taking on a powerful enemy?”
Travel and battle were inextricably linked. It was not a matter of security; when one went to less
populated regions, monsters that regarded one as prey would show up, and there was the chance of
meeting strong foes when visiting scenic spots. That said, Suzuki Satoru had only encountered one
opponent that he would consider strong. However, there were countless foes who would have killed
Keno instantly had she been alone.
Suzuki Satoru was in charge of violence while Keno would handle the brainwork, but it was still
important for Keno to be tough enough to take a hit from a powerful being.
“Just, just count me out… ah! I know you’re thinking about me, Satoru, and I’m glad! And you’ve also
lent me several amazing items! But what do you call it? Ah, grinding, that doesn’t seem to work,
does it? I mean, I don’t really like taking a stick and beating a dying Dragon with all its limbs chopped
off over and over again… I’m not talking about your plan, but more like how you kept ignoring its
pleas for mercy, er, yeah, that’s kind of heart-wrenching — no, it’s not like that. Of course I know you
don’t like that sort of thing either, and you’re only doing it because of me. And I don’t want to get the
pretty clothes you lent me dirty. I’m just thinking that maybe there could be another way next time.”
Keno managed to squeeze all those words out with unnecessary haste.
It would seem she did not like the incident where she was training on the Dragon. Well, having a girl
do that sort of thing was a little inhumane, Suzuki Satoru regretted. Maybe I should find an opponent
she won’t mind abusing next time. Thieves and others who were unworthy of mercy should probably
be left for a later date because they could speak. Maybe some creature who could not speak or an
object might be better. Suzuki Satoru then began to consider various monsters. Personally speaking,
giant insects and the like seemed like good candidates.
“I’ve got it, Keno. Next time I’ll plan it out better when we go grinding.”
He smiled and gave her a thumbs up. Keno responded with an expression that was hard to describe
in words. It was a precious look that he could only see once a year. No, when they had first set out,
he felt like he had seen it more often than that, but he was not so sure about the events of five years
“Umu. That said, I don’t know how your karma value’s changed. However, since mine is negative,
I’m hoping that yours will become positive to compensate. That being the case, it would be best to
slaughter opponents with negative karma values.”
“Ah, eh? No, that, er… Satoru, let’s talk about that later. Look, you can see the city already. It really
does stand out.”
“Ahhh, so it does.”
Suzuki Satoru could see a city ahead of him. He had heard about it through rumors, but it was quite
a large walled city. “Large” in this case did not refer to its scale, but in a literal sense; the physical
buildings and city walls were very large. Of particular note was the massive rocks to either side of
the gates. They were roughly 150 meters tall or so. The rocks that were placed on either side of it
had become part of the city wall.
The city walls had not been built because they had been located next to those rocks. Rather, the
Giants who lived nearby had delivered them from their homes as a sign of friendship. After that,
thanks to the friendly relations with those giants, every part of the city — like say, the buildings, the
urban layout, and so on — were sized so that the giants would not have to undergo discomfort, or at
least that was what Suzuki Satoru had heard.
How many Giants had it taken to ship it over, and how had they done it?
As Suzuki Satoru considered the matter with growing interest, he indicated to the hooded Keno that
she should change the rings she was wearing.
As a Vampire, Keno suffered a penalty to all actions under sunlight. However, she had managed to
negate that by wearing an anti-sunlight ring. The indication was for her to change it to something
else. Even wearing a hood would not negate the penalty and she would still feel tired, but things
would be troublesome if she could not endure just that tiny bit.
He had lent four rings to Keno: a “ring of reducing sunlight exposure penalties,” a “ring of proof
against undead control and banishment” so even Suzuki Satoru could not dominate her, a “ring of
proof against divination magic,” and a “ring of immunity to bindings and other movement
impediments.” He would give her others depending on the circumstances.
This time around, she would be putting on the “ring of proof against undead control and
banishment,” and the “ring of proof against divination magic,” both of which were very important
when entering cities.
In contrast, Suzuki Satoru made no attempt to hide his bony visage. After all, one could say that he
had been training to enter cities with his face exposed during his five years of travelling. Also, he had
been told that it would be better to show his true face when trying to enter cities. If he was forthright
and did not try to hide himself, it would be easier to bluff his way through.
He had tried using illusions to camouflage himself before, but after an unhappy accident he no
longer relied on them.
“Speaking of which, Satoru.”
“Why are we coming back this way?”
Keno’s homeland was only a little further beyond this place. Satoru had not brought her here during
the past five years.
“Hm? We’ve been all over the world, but we haven’t come here, have we? Wouldn’t it be good to
climb those mountains we can barely make out in the distance?”
It would seem that Keno did not quite believe that explanation, given her tone. Suzuki Satoru could
tell given that they had spent five years travelling together. However, he had no intention of telling
Keno the reason for coming to this city.
The Golem Horse-drawn wagon carried the two of them to the main gate without slowing down.
Perhaps they had good timing, but there was nobody there except Suzuki Satoru and company.
The gate guards were assembled, and there was danger in the air. Everyone had their spears ready.
He glanced to the walls and saw the archers assembled there. Needless to say, they were all wary
of Suzuki Satoru.
A stern voice called out to them. It seemed to belong to some sort of guard captain. Suzuki Satoru
nonchalantly ignored it and replied in a bright, cheerful tone.
“Yo, nice weather we’re having.”
Confusion immediately spread throughout the guards, but they soon resumed their stern demeanor.
“What are you doing here, undead!?”
“The undead? Where?”
Suzuki Satoru looked around, as though on purpose.
“What nonsense are you—”
“—Could it be that you’ve mistaken me for one of the undead!?”
He interrupted the soldiers’ cries and shouted back at them.
“I’m not undead! I’m Satoru the Oldbone!”
The soldiers looked at each other and then they shook their heads. He could hear them asking each
other, “Have you heard of them before?” “As if, this is the first time I’ve heard this.”
“Don’t you think it’s very rude to mistake one of the glorious Oldbones for an undead creature? It is a
grave insult to our nation!”
The gate guards looked at each other again. The Captain — that would be his name for now —
replied in a very confused tone. However, he showed no sign of lowering his weapon. Still, that was
only to be expected.
“You mean, you’re not undead?”
“I told you, didn’t I? I’m Satoru, of the glorious Oldbones!”
“No, ah, my apologies. Forgive my ignorance, but I’ve never heard of the name Oldbone before.”
“What!? You don’t even know of the great and mighty Oldbones? What kind of hick town is this
The proud gate guards naturally took offense to being dismissed as hicks. While they were unhappy
with this, it would seem they had eased off greatly in their caution.
There were many races in this world. Humanoids aside, there were also many demihumans and
heteromorphs with bizarre appearances. Discriminating against members of those races might incur
the ire of their nations. If that led to a war, it might result in the extinction of one party. In fact, several
countries had been destroyed that way.
For that reason, gate guards had been asked to respond appropriately to the situation. The more
species that a nation made contact with, the more intensively that nation’s guards would be trained.
In other words, they would not act rashly if they thought he was not undead but part of the Oldbone
After that, taking advantage of their confusion and seizing control of the situation would be key.
“It seems I need to let you ignorant hicks know of the greatness of us Oldbones. Like I said before, I
am Satoru, hailing from Greatokyo, the great capital of the Oldbones. I have come here… to find
something of value, although I don’t think there’s anything great here which will catch my eye.”
“….Are you a trader?”
“Indeed I am. That said, I won’t buy anything if nothing catches my eye.”
“We need to check your luggage first, but before that, we really need to, uh… what’s that… ah…
check you out. You understand, right? If you do, then… please wait there. I’ll go get the priest.”
The Captain’s tone gradually segued into one giving in to Suzuki Satoru.
“I understand. While I was wondering exactly what kind of primitives you were to mistake the
Oldbones for the undead, we are very magnanimous.”
“And that girl over there is?”
“She is my companion, and also an Oldbone.”
The Captain looked at Keno in shock, and then began comparing her to Satoru. He could be heard
muttering questions like, “He says she’s an Oldbone?” and, “They’re completely different, right?”
“Very similar, no?”
The Captain was looking down in what seemed to be embarrassment.
Soon, Suzuki Satoru could see a soldier bringing a priest over. He was a fat man who looked like
just running a little bit would put him out of breath.
After he arrived, the priest wiped his sweat away with a handkerchief and panted heavily, like he was
struggling for breath.
The Captain said, “Excuse me,” and went over to the priest.
“Priest-dono, thank you for taking the trouble to come all the way out here.”
“What are you saying, Captain-dono? This is our duty. That said, I hope you won’t rush me so much
next time. I don’t want to be dragged before the throne of the gods before I arrive here.”
The priest’s breaths were like sobs as he replied.
The two of them had done their best to quiet themselves, and they were some distance away, but
Suzuki Satoru could still hear them.
“Still, aren’t there horses at the temple?”
“What are you saying Captain-dono? Wouldn’t you feel sorry for any horse I rode?”
“Priest-dono… it might be better for you to learn to ride.”
“It’ll hurt my butt and thighs, so I’ll pass, if you don’t mind!” the priest said as he ignored the
Captain’s reply of, “But you have healing magic,” and stared at Suzuki Satoru. “Very well, I shall do
what I was called here to do. Turn unde—”
“No, those people claim to be Oldbones. They don’t seem to be undead.”
“Hah? Oldbones? …But they look like undead to me.”
“Are they? However, things will get really troublesome if they really aren’t undead…”
“Hm — alright. After all, it would be bad if I chased away people who might donate to our temple,
and who knows how the higher-ups will censure me. If I ended up becoming a village priest then —
“No, that’s not the problem, Priest-dono.”
“No, that is the problem, Captain-dono. This place lies within the Marquis’ domain. Even if he’s given
us some degree of autonomy, we will still suffer if we act on our own, without regard for the nation’s
interests. Moreover, the incident will blow up if we offend someone who happens to be a high-
ranking member of another race. Captain-dono, I trust you don’t want your name to go down in
history as the fool who started a war that led to the destruction of the nation, do you? I, of course,
will pass on that. In addition, should such a thing come to pass, it would also cause all sorts of
trouble for everyone else too!”
“…So you do get it. Therefore, could I trouble you to check whether or not they actually are undead?”
“It’s very troublesome, so can’t you just let them go? Have some soldier keep an eye on them while
pretending to be an escort or something.”
The two of them exchanged looks, and in the end, the priest rounded his shoulders in defeat.
“Fine, fine, I get it.”
As the priest grumbled about having to cast a spell for free, he walked up to Suzuki Satoru and then
greeted him with a cheery smile.
“Greetings, honored Oldbone guests. I am a servant of the temple in this city. While I believe your
words, I need to cast a spell in order to allay the doubts of others. I pray you do not resist it.”
The fact that he had not even stated his name showed exactly how desperate he was to avoid
trouble. One could say it was exactly as Suzuki Satoru had planned.
“I understand. Please proceed, priest-dono.”
“「Detect Undead」 — I see. Indeed, he is not undead, Captain-dono, being that there was no
reaction to it. Also — yeeart!”
The priest raised his hand. Suzuki felt a strange force pushing on him. It was probably some kind of
undead-destroying ability. However, it was completely ineffective on Suzuki Satoru and Keno. While
the difference in their levels was part of it, the main reason was thanks to their magic items.
“As I thought, there was no reaction. This man is not an undead creature.”
“I told you, didn’t I? I am Satoru of the Oldbones. Treating me as undead is quite frustrating.”
He saw the guards around him lower their spears. They still surrounded him, but there was no longer
any tension in the air.
“This means I’ve discharged my duty, right? Ahh, where would you find such a calm and friendly
undead being? I was already thinking that he couldn’t possibly be undead before coming here,” the
priest said as he glanced at all the guards. “And yet you still called me here. I can only think of this
as you trying to abuse me!”
The priest ended in a joking tone. The Captain looked at his men and replied in a similarly light-
“Well done on making the Priest-dono run down here! I’ve always felt that there was a problem with
his size. Continue taking the chance to make him run like this in the future!”
The Captain and the priest had a good laugh. It was the kind of laugh that sounded like they were
grinding their teeth, like they were actually thinking of something else.
The two of them stopped, as though they had both had enough of laughing. The priest turned his
back on Suzuki Satoru and headed to the town, while the Captain stood before Suzuki Satoru once
“Forgive me, Satoru-dono, Oldbone merchant. Now then — please allow us to inspect your
“By all means. However, I have almost none, as I came to make purchases.”
Suzuki Satoru and Keno dismounted, and in turn a group of people who looked slightly different from
the gate guards but who were all business got onto the wagon. They were assessors, in charge of
checking luggage and levying tolls.
90% of the wagon’s contents was grain — though it made up 90% by volume, it was only a tenth of
the wagon’s loaded weight. Even if one went by volume, the tax on this quantity of grain would be
Suzuki Satoru and Keno underwent a brief body search, to ensure they were not carrying
contraband. Just then, the employees who were searching the wagon came back. One of them was
holding a small chest.
“Could you open the lock on this treasure chest?”
Suzuki Satoru opened it and the gleaming of gold spilled forth. The box contained 500 pieces of gold
trade currency. There was also a leather bag inside with quite a number of gemstones. This was a
large sum of money, but it was an unremarkable amount for something in the possession of a trader
The employee rolled up his sleeve and reached his arm in to check the chest’s interior.
“—There’s nothing inside. And there are no hidden compartments in the wagon. The only thing is
that the horse is not a living creature.”
“It is a Golem Horse.”
“…Can the Oldbones really control such things?”
“Of course. They are Golem Horses who do not need to eat, drink, or excrete. They do not quail
before frightening monsters. Does that not make them perfect for transportation? …The fact that you
don’t have these is why you’re hicks.”
Suzuki Satoru went on to make digs at them, as though he wanted people to tell him to give it a rest.
This too was part of the act, and he internally apologized to them.
After the employees heard this, they gathered around for a discussion. They were probably talking
about how much to tax the Golem Horse, since there was no precedent for it. After a brief talk, they
decided to tax it the same as any other horse and discuss the rest with the Marquis later.
After paying the toll for Suzuki Satoru, Keno, a horse, and the grain, they received a permit to enter
The Captain addressed Suzuki Satoru as he took up the reins and prepared to urge his horse on.
“Er, yes. I have to say this. Trader of the Oldbones… I’ll get to it. It would be better not to reveal your
face in this town.”
“And why would that be… Ahh, is it because you think people will mistake me for the undead? That
they will confuse me with the—”
“Ahhh, I get it, I get it.”
The Captain waved off Suzuki Satoru as the latter was raising his voice, in an extremely annoyed
“…A case of mistaken identity would be very bad. That said… while it’s very natural for us to hate the
undead, it seems your reaction is a little excessive, did something happen?”
“Ahhh, indeed it did. However, that was over 20 years ago. A great deal of undead once invaded this
nation, and it was known as the Undead Disaster. That incident caused a great deal of damage, and
while this city was not directly affected by it, we still have people who lost family and friends here. —
Do you understand?”
“The Undead Disaster, you say?”
It seemed to be related to the incident in Keno’s country that had turned its people into Zombies.
That incident had not just taken place in Keno’s country. The Zombification had affected everything
within 250 kilometers. The conclusion that Suzuki Satoru had drawn over years of investigation was
that it had led to the downfalls of four nations.
However, this country was far away from there, and there was another country in between them.
Also, the Zombies of that city were simply wandering around. Why had they overflowed to this
Perhaps it was too early to jump to conclusions.
“And that’s not all. If you head northwest from here and to the next country over, you’ll be able to see
the same or more undead. It seems there were too many of them to deal with.”
It was in the opposite direction where Suzuki Satoru and Keno had come from, in the direction of
“Hm—” Suzuki Satoru asked a roundabout question. “I feel there must be some reason why all those
undead beings appeared. Was there some kind of great war? It’s common for corpses left on the
battlefield to start moving.”
The Captain shook his head.
“I’m not sure about that. All I know is that the undead suddenly appeared. There are rumors saying
that it was caused by some spell going out of control… although they’re just rumors. I hear the
neighboring countries have deployed their troops along the border to defend against undead
Suzuki Satoru did not think as he replied. This country’s leadership was still fairly intelligent, in that
they had not taken this opportunity to invade their neighbors who were holding off the undead for
them. No, the undead were their common enemy, so it was likely that they would have sent their own
forces to back them up.
“In any case, that’s why we’re so cautious of the undead. So I hope you won’t do anything to make
others misunderstand you.”
“Very well… ah, my apologies,” Suzuki Satoru coughed lightly. “I understand what you mean. Then, I
shall cover up my face with a mask… but could you do me a favor?”
“What is it?”
“If there is a high-end inn that you would recommend, could I trouble you to send a man over to help
me run an errand? Tell them that a trader of the Oldbones will be coming over to lodge with them.
That will save a lot of problems. After all, most inns don’t take suspicious guests in masks.”
The Captain’s face knotted briefly. He probably did not want to have gate guards serve as runners
for a mere merchant.
“If you help me out, it’ll improve the opinion of us Oldbones about this city, you know.”
“…Ah, very well then. It can’t be helped. I’ll give it as an apology for mistaking you for one of the
undead. Oi!” he shouted to a nearby guard. “You, go over to the Canopy Inn.”
Upon receiving his orders, the soldier ran out.
After hearing the Captain tell him how to go to the inn, Suzuki Satoru produced a leather pouch and
handed a gold coin to the Captain.
“I am very grateful. Go buy some drinks for your boys.”
“I see. You Oldbones sure are different from the undead. Take care, little mi — I mean, Madame.”
Keno — who had been silent all this while — nodded to him, and the wagon passed through the city
The inn was huge.
This did not refer to its architectural footprint, but the overall size of the entire building; each door
was at least four meters tall. However, it still would not be able to accommodate large races like
Giants, and so to put it bluntly, their attempts to appeal to everyone failed to win over anyone.
Suzuki Satoru pushed open the weighty doors.
Contrary to how they appeared, the doors swung open easily. He had not used much force — even
a child should have been able to push them open.
This was probably an inn cum restaurant, given that there were people sitting around and drinking in
the middle of the day. They looked surprised to see Suzuki Satoru’s mask.
He ignored their reaction and then he noticed the bartender. “I see, no wonder the inn was built so
large,” Suzuki Satoru mused.
The bartender was a massive man standing over two and a half meters, and he had a massive horn
protruding from his forehead which pointed to the sky.
He was massively muscled, and his well-developed pectorals bulged out his white uniform. He did
not look like the owner so much as a bouncer, and truth to be told he might have been just that.
Before him, Suzuki Satoru was like a child again. He walked straight towards the man and got up
onto one of the stools beside the bar with some effort.
“I’d like a room for two, for one night. Will that be a problem?”
“Not at all — and I have to apologize, little man, our chairs here aren’t too suitable for smaller folk.”
Is he mocking me, Suzuki Satoru thought. However, his face implied that he was not doing so, which
meant that he was being sincere.
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
“Given the size of your little buddy, I could recommend you a few other good inns, but those wouldn’t
fit you too well, little man. There are also inns suitable for big guys for you… but they’re of a lower
standard. If you don’t mind, I can tell you about them.”
“I have no intention of lowering the standards of my accommodations.”
While there were many ways to entertain oneself during a journey, living in luxury was essential for
the pair, since they could not enjoy good food, Therefore, they always lodged in the highest-end inns
whenever they went to a city.
“Is that so? Then, how about the room? Even the bed in a single room would be enough for the two
of you, which would also be cheaper.”
“There’s no need for that. I am not short of money. Give me a double room.”
The innkeeper whistled.
“I wish I could do whatever I wanted, just like you. Go ahead and throw your money at me then. Let’s
see…” The innkeeper bent down, and when he came up again he had a key in his hand. “Take this.
Oh yes, may I ask how you two honored guests arrived here?”
“We took a covered wagon. The soldier who came by earlier is taking care of it. Our goods are only
a few bags of grain.”
“Oh, then how about the beast pulling your wagon? Feed will be extra, and so is having a groom
take care of it.”
“It is a Golem Horse. It doesn’t need care or feeding.”
“Huh!” The innkeeper suddenly exclaimed. “So there were things like that. I guess I’m not up to date
on these things. Well done.”
Suzuki Satoru could sense that the patrons who had been quietly drinking at first were now all
focused on him. Had the topic of a Golem caught their interest, or had they unconsciously looked
over in response to the innkeeper raising his voice?
They haven’t looked away after a while, so it should be the former, Suzuki Satoru thought.
If it were the latter, they would have lost interest quickly. Since they had not looked away, it would
seem they knew something about Golems.
Is it because there are Golems working in the city, or have all travellers heard of such things?
“Acquiring this Golem Horse cost me a pretty penny. Oh, how much are the room fees? Ah yes,
could you omit the cost for meals? We’re planning to head outside to sample the local delicacies.”
The innkeeper was briefly suspicious, but then he accepted Suzuki Satoru’s explanation
immediately. Perhaps he had remembered the guards’ description of Suzuki Satoru.
“Ah, so that’s how it’s going to be, little man. Er — yeah, that might be for the best. You might be
able to hold it in, but I think your little buddy won’t be able to take it.”
“Won’t be able to take it?”
“Well, our portions are enough to fill our bellies. A big helping’s around two kilos. Can you finish that
The innkeeper laughed a loud “Wahaha,” as he heard Suzuki Satoru’s prompt reply. After that he
stated the price, which was fairly low compared to all the others they had encountered during the
course of their journey.
Now, whether that price was fair remained to be seen. After all, the prices of things varied from city
to city, and that would also be affected by the room they were given. Matters became even more
complicated once one considered that this was a major city on the Marquis’ domain. However, top-
end inns in national capitals typically had very few free rooms, and the expenses of staying in one
for a night would be five to ten times as much as this place.
After asking why the price was so low, the answer he received was, “This is without the cost of food.”
It would seem this inn not only provided a large amount of food, but they were also very confident in
the quality of their cuisine. Suzuki Satoru suddenly felt a pang of regret over his inability to eat. No,
to be precise, he felt the same way every time he went to a new country, a new market, or a new
That one word was more than enough for Keno to understand Suzuki Satoru’s intentions. She
produced a pouch and handed over the amount that the innkeeper had asked for. Needless to say, it
was just a deposit.
The innkeeper handed over a massive key and then briefly told Suzuki Satoru about the room’s
location. After that, Suzuki Satoru and Keno climbed the stairs leading to their room on the second
Each individual step was very high, and Keno had a harder time climbing them than Suzuki Satoru.
However, both of them were undead, and climbing a flight of stairs was not enough to tire them out.
Their room was very spacious, and the first thing they noticed was that the ceiling was very high.
Then, they noticed the two enormous — a size beyond king-size — beds that were planted smack in
the middle of the room, and then they noticed the exceptionally large cabinet and benches.
Keno exclaimed in delight and threw herself onto the bed, and then — the look on her face defied
description. She had probably expected to be bounced back up after jumping onto the bed, but there
were no springs inside, and what she felt instead was a stiff sensation.
That said, the clean white sheets alone more than merited a passing grade.
“So, when will we be going to the market, Satoru?”
It had become a tradition for the two of them to visit the markets whenever they came to a new city.
Not only did it fulfill the requirement of buying items necessary for their travels, it also allowed them
to investigate the market.
“Well, about that… it’s fun to go strolling down the city streets, and we need to find a market and get
a feel for the situation while the grains haven’t rotted. Still, I was hoping to learn more about the
surrounding countries. After all, your knowledge is out of date, Keno.”
Upon hearing that, Keno narrowed her eyes slightly.
Me and my big mouth, Suzuki Satoru lamented as he saw her reaction. However, apologizing now
would probably only make it worse, so it was probably better to pretend he had not noticed.
“—In that case wouldn’t a bard be better than a trader?”
“That’s true. A bard would be more appropriate.”
It would seem she was not particularly mad. After hearing Keno’s prompt answer, a weight lifted off
Suzuki Satoru’s heart.
A travelling merchant or a bard or some other related tradesman would probably know the
surroundings best. A mercenary might pay attention to the situation in the nearby country, but a
trader would have heard rumors of what happened in more distant lands, while bards might have
come from even further.
Between the two of them, traders were better for accurate information, but in terms of general topics
bards came out on top.
Since biased information could result in huge losses, traders typically spent a lot of effort to ensure
their news was reliable. In turn, bards sought stories from further afield, but they were not too
concerned with accuracy. Being interesting was good enough. However, there were cases where
some stories which seemed fake — interesting tidbits from distant lands — had actually happened.
In short, since Suzuki Satoru and Keno wanted to know more things, it was obvious that they would
pick a bard.
Even if the news they gained was fake or just rumors, it would simply be a matter of sighing in regret
and going, “Ahhh, what a shame, it looks like I came all this way for nothing. Where shall I go next?”
That was because they were undead — being possessed of infinite lifespans, they could afford to be
One could also say that they could savor the joy of the situation because they were undead.
—The joy of fruitless effort.
In addition, there was another reason for choosing a bard.
Bards considered storytelling to be a job. They would eagerly do so if paid.
On the other hand, traders were the sort of people whose information concerned their interests.
Sometimes, it would be hard to get anything out of them, and they might not share what they knew
honestly with Suzuki Satoru and Keno, being that they were strangers. If they tried for an
introduction through a trader’s guild, one problem was that there were as many guilds as there were
trade goods, and another was that members of the guild were typically curt to outsiders, citing
reasons such as secrecy agreements and guild rules and the like. It typically ended up being very
While bards had their guilds too, their management was not nearly as strict as those of traders’
guilds. Of course, some of them had strict rules, but experienced wanderers from faraway lands —
in other words, higher-level bards — typically had an easier time in the guilds. However, Suzuki
Satoru and Keno were not concerned with such details.
“We’ll hire a bard, then. Besides, we got a whole bunch of treasure from that previous lot, enough for
several lifetimes of spending, so we’ll just be more generous with the payouts.”
Suzuki Satoru smirked to himself and it seemed Keno had not seen it. However, she wrinkled her
brow and smiled bitterly for some other reason.
Suzuki Satoru sensed that there was some other meaning behind her expression, and decided to let
her give him a score for that undead joke just now.
“About thirty-ish points?”
“Really… Are you sure you aren’t low-balling it?”
“I thought it was appropriate. It wasn’t particularly funny or memorable.”
While he had not expected it to be a gut-buster of a joke, it was still disappointing to get such a low
score. If this were a performance assessment or some kind of department goal, Suzuki Satoru would
have probably started bargaining with his boss.
“Alright, let’s go change our mood and find a bard. We’ll go ask the innkeep about it first.”
After paying the introduction fee to the innkeeper, the man brought over the bard that he had
recommended in short order. Said bard was dressed in clothing that was just as fancy as this inn,
and he was a member of the Four-Eyes humanoid race that hailed from a land somewhat distant
from this one. A brief conversation with him revealed that he was quite a well-travelled bard — in
other words, a fairly high-level one. That said, his level was nowhere near Suzuki Satoru’s.
Of course, he had only encountered one being of comparable power to himself during his travels.
That would be the entity who resided upon the peak that men called the highest on the continent, a
mighty foe who commanded the great power known as Wild Magic — the Brightness Dragon Lord,
whose confrontation with Suzuki Satoru had ended in a draw.
Suzuki Satoru and Keno listened to the bard’s tales.
While they had no idea why it was so, foreign spoken languages in this world were automatically
translated into a recognizable form. Specific nouns retained their original pronunciation, but other
meaningful vocabulary was translated. The question of who had done this and how they had done it
was a riddle that remained unsolved. The logic behind the translation of song lyrics was murkier; an
unskilled singer’s words would sound like meaningless, broken nonsense. The performer’s skill was
not the only criteria either; the audience also needed a certain degree of culture and understanding.
According to Keno, being able to accurately understand a song was a mark of social status in the
upper crust, and there were actually specialized classes for such things.
In any case, a philistine like Suzuki Satoru who not only had no taste but was uncultured to boot
would only be able to think “What the hell is this guy singing?” no matter how skilled the singer was.
Of course, he would be able to understand the words if they were not automatically translated; which
is to say, if someone sang them in Japanese. However, in all his years of running around outdoors,
he had never heard anyone speaking Japanese.
However, concluding that nobody here had ever used the languages of Suzuki Satoru’s world would
be jumping to conclusions.
Fragments of them had been passed down through history, and Suzuki Satoru had also personally
seen items that proved they existed.
Being that Suzuki Satoru’s mind was focused on such matters, the bard’s song went in one ear and
out the other, but it was a different matter for Keno, who had received a royal education. She was
lost in the beautiful music, and so Suzuki Satoru also pretended that he was listening to the song.
While he had no idea what the bard was singing, he clapped along with Keno at the end of each
song. Though he found it incredibly boring, it was basic etiquette for a salaryman to keep it from
showing on his face.
After several songs, it was finally time for the conversation segment that Suzuki Satoru had been
looking forward to for so long.
Suzuki Satoru wasted no time and began asking him about rumors from the surrounding countries
and what he had seen on the way here.
After about three hours, Suzuki Satoru felt that he had learned enough from the bard, and so he
briefly left his place. When he returned, he placed a leather pouch on the table.
“Good heavens! Is all this money for me?”
The bard made no attempt to hide his surprise as he took the gold coins out of the pouch.
“Did you get the amount wrong?” In response to the bard’s question, Suzuki Satoru’s attitude shifted
to one of forthright generosity.
“Personally, I think it’s not enough for that wonderful voice of yours…”
Keno nodded and made noises of approval. If Suzuki Satoru had only paid him a paltry sum, she
would probably have taken out her own purse to reward him — Suzuki Satoru had long since
discerned her desire to reward him.
The contents of Suzuki Satoru’s own wallet went without saying, but Keno was also loaded. They
had split the funds from the various members of “Corpus of the Abyss,” evenly between them. Keno
had originally refused, but since they were travelling together, it meant that they were equal
Still, Suzuki Satoru was in charge of the stolen cash for the most part, while he had given the
gemstones and the like to Keno. There was a certain reason for this arrangement, and Keno did not
seem unhappy with it.
“You, you’re too kind, I didn’t think my performance would be that well received. Thank you!”
The bard was grinning so widely that he could not shut his mouth.
While the amount he had paid the bard just now was more than the usual rate given the
circumstances, it probably would not arouse suspicion if he said it was because he appreciated the
skills of this bard
In exchange for Suzuki Satoru’s appreciation, the other party had developed great goodwill for him.
This was an example of how an appropriate gift of money could endear one to others, a lesson that
they had learned during their journey.
Naturally, ten gold coins was pocket change to Suzuki Satoru. If he were of a mind to do so, even
paying several hundred times that amount would not even begin to raise a wrinkle on his brow.
However, that was not how things were done. Overpaying, especially far above market price, tended
to draw the attention of wicked and calculative people and all the trouble they brought in their wake.
“She thought highly of your singing, while I was impressed by your knowledge. We will be staying
here for the next few days. During this time, I hope you will continue gathering information; if it
pleases me, I will continue paying you.”
The bard’s eyes lit up as he heard this.
Suzuki Satoru felt that it would be better to save the energy of hunting down various people to learn
about the situation and instead hand that task to the bard. In the case of merchants, bards would be
less likely to arouse their suspicion than they would, and the bard would also be a better judge of
whether or not their information was reliable.
In other words, Suzuki Satoru had paid that large sum just now in order to get the bard on his side
and ensure that he threw himself wholeheartedly into his task of gathering information.
“I understand. Then I shall take my leave for today.”
“Very well. Ah, yes, given that your size is similar to ours, may I ask where you are lodging?”
“I see! Well, it’s true that most of the guests this city entertains tend to be on the large side. I reside
in an inn operated by the guild.”
“Then it seems we won’t be able to go there. I understand. In that case, can we invite you here again
in three days’ time?”
“Certainly! Leave it to me!”
The bard left the inn in a cheerful mood. People with deep pockets lightened his footsteps
After closing the room door, Keno looked excitedly at Suzuki Satoru.
“Look how confident he was! He was really good!”
“Yes, he was.”
It was most likely correct since Keno had said so.
…I’m not sure if it’s because I became undead, but I don’t feel moved by works of art.
The similarly-undead Keno had been swayed by the song however, so that was probably not the
reason. Still, Suzuki Satoru could not help thinking along those lines. Keno continued talking without
having noticed what Suzuki Satoru was thinking. Perhaps the normal Keno might have sensed what
was on her companion’s mind, but now she was too excited to care about such things.
“While I look forward to three days later — I don’t think he’ll reach that standard just now if he writes
a new song.”
“Hmm, I guess.”
He might have been voicing agreement, but Suzuki Satoru did not understand those songs at all.
Keno narrowed her eyes and looked at him.
“Forget it, I’ll let you off this time. So, will we be strolling through streets afterwards?”
“That was the original plan, but—” Suzuki Satoru looked out the window, which was glazed with thick
glass that did not let much light through. “The sun’s already gone down. We spent quite a while
listening to him.”
“I’m sorry. It’s all because I—”
“Nonono! Don’t get me wrong, Keno, I’m not complaining about you. Being able to lose yourself in
such wonderful music is a pleasure one rarely gets to enjoy. All I was saying was that it would be
better if we could keep better track of time. And besides, even if it’s late, it just means you can’t go
Keno puffed up her cheeks and pouted.
“Isn’t that because I’m not grown up?! …I’ve got it, what about lying that I’m from a race that’s
already of age?”
It was not impossible in theory. After all, much like the large races who frequented this inn, there
were also small races. While it was impossible to tell that Keno was a child based on her height, it
would be impossible to successfully bluff with her delicate, petite features. Surely her plan would
cause a lot of trouble. The gate guards probably would not pursue the matter due to feeling guilty
about confusing the Oldbones with the undead, but if they did not show them the appropriate
appreciation to them, they would probably get suspicious again.
Also, one could tell if someone was of age by looking at their faces, even if they were small.
However, it was usually only those races who were similar to each other that could tell the difference
by their looks. For instance, a demihuman’s smile might be taken as intimidation by a humanoid.
In any case, if they insisted that Keno was an adult, the demihumans might not be able to tell, but
most of the humanoids probably would not buy it.
“There’s a lot of humanoids in this city, so it won’t work.”
“Then what about wearing a mask?”
“How suspicious do you want to make them, anyway?”
Wearing a mask out on the street would invite suspicious looks from passers-by, unless they were
conducting some kind of religious festival. In fact, Suzuki Satoru’s visage had already drawn many
eyes, and if not for that one time where he had tried and failed to use illusions to conceal his
features, he would not have wanted to go around exposing his face either.
“We can try it the next time we go to a place with few or no humanoids. I guess it counts as an
experiment in seeing if people buy that excuse.”
Keno looked like she had just blossomed.
“But not this time.”
Keno’s face tensed up again.
“Uuu… ah, Satoru…”
“I’m not falling for that. Besides, how would people look at me if I brought a kid around with me on
the main road at night?
The fact was, Suzuki Satoru’s words would not be completely accurate if he were walking around in
the pauper’s district, where stray children could be seen everywhere. Going around there in beat-up
clothes would earn a glance at most.
But given that Keno was dressed in clean clothes, it would draw a lot of attention. Even if the
security on the main streets was good, it would be a different matter entirely at night.
In addition, it would also be very problematic if Keno was in rags. If some child in tatters was walking
around with a normally dressed adult, the latter would probably be taken for some degenerate
pervert who had bought himself a child prostitute.
Naturally, Suzuki Satoru did not want to be thought of as such a person. Definitely not!
But in that case, how could he let Keno walk around naturally on the night streets?
The answer was that Suzuki Satoru and Keno would both have to dress shabbily.
That way, the people in the paupers’ district probably would not mind them.
However, they had arranged to meet someone tonight, so that route was out too. Therefore, he
could not go out with Keno tonight.
Still, given the circumstances, all Suzuki Satoru and Keno needed to do was to move separately.
As long as she dressed up in rags, Keno could walk down the streets at night without drawing
attention. And while Keno was small of frame, she was still a Vampire. Her physical attributes far
exceeded those of an average adult. Combined with the improvement in her magical abilities over
the past five years, she ought to be able to handle anything that came up. On top of that, she had
the magic items Suzuki Satoru had lent her, so she would still be able to flee even if Keno came up
against someone stronger than her.
However, neither of them wanted to go out and be a magnet for trouble.
The undead were the enemies of the living; if a problem came up, nobody would listen to them.
“I understand how you feel and I know you must be unhappy about this. But I must still insist that you
stay here tonight until the sun comes up again.”
Suzuki Satoru knew what Keno was thinking. Boring nights were hard to pass for the undead, who
did not need to sleep or rest. In addition, the city at night looked quite interesting; one could see
many scenes that were dramatically different from the daytime. While it was sometimes more
dangerous, that just made it more exciting — especially when said dangers were utterly
inconsequential to the two of them, and experiencing those thrills was still very fun.
“Keno, haven’t I been telling you this all this time? Whenever we first come to a town, we have to
stay put at night before we figure out the situation.”
Besides, Keno might have enough fighting power to defend herself, but an encounter with a hero-
level enemy was still very dangerous.
All this time, he had always made her stay put until he was sure that there was nothing in the city
that she could not handle.
“Then you should stay and talk to me, Satoru.”
In the past five years, they had passed the nights when the sun was absent from the sky by talking.
Not needing to rest meant that they had more time together — in terms of human relationships, it
was as though they had travelled with each other for ten-odd years.
That was also why he had adopted such a plan.
Perhaps on normal days he might have given in and acceded to her, but today, Suzuki Satoru stood
firm and shook his head.
“That’s a good idea too, but I’ll be doing what I always do, gathering information from the streets at
Keno looked at him with a baffled expression on her face.
“Huh? Don’t you usually learn about the situation in the day?”
“Yes, normally I would, but I’m very bored today.”
“That’s why I need you to stay at home and mind the house, Little Miss Keno. Do you understand?”
“…Fine, I get it. I’ll go read some of the research notes we swiped. If I have to do any experiments,
you have to help me, okay?”
“But of course.”
The research notes they had recovered from the members of “Corpus of the Abyss” were all along
the lines of enhancing their skills to dominate more powerful undead, learning how to cast spells of
higher tiers, enhancing the attributes of the undead and so on. Therefore, Keno had thrown herself
into the role of backing up Suzuki Satoru, in the hope that completing one of those topics might end
up strengthening Suzuki Satoru.
Sadly, none of their attempts had succeeded.
However, that was in Suzuki Satoru’s case.
Keno herself had benefited from them. It seemed like she had gotten a little stronger. In fact, she —
who originally lacked the ability to dominate the undead — now possessed such an ability. From the
perspective of YGGDRASIL’s racial and job class systems, that should have been impossible.
In that case, why had it not worked on Suzuki Satoru?
There were two possibilities.
One was that Suzuki Satoru could no longer learn new abilities — in other words, he was complete.
The other was that more in-depth research was required to strengthen someone at Suzuki Satoru’s
In any case, this research could not be done by Suzuki Satoru himself, and so Keno found
enjoyment in diving headlong into that work.
Suzuki Satoru left Keno with a “Do your best” — it seemed to make her very unhappy — and left
Along the way, Suzuki Satoru — who had no choice but to hide his face with an illusion and change
his clothes — opened the indicated door leading to a store, and he was mildly surprised.
This was a bar.
However, this did not look like the restaurant at night from the inn, and neither did it look like a
hostess bar, but rather a place where customers could sample fine wines in peace — in other words,
a high-class establishment.
It was an extremely classy place, and the atmosphere was something else entirely.
I see. Suzuki Satoru understood why they had to meet here.
He had never entered such a place during their journey. As one of the undead who could not eat or
drink, Suzuki Satoru would naturally not need to go there, to say nothing of bringing along Keno,
who looked like a child. Even in his previous world, he had only been to places like these twice, in
order to entertain clients.
In other words, Suzuki Satoru had no idea how to behave here. However, the show had to go on. It
would be bad if he embarrassed himself here. Just as Suzuki Satoru was at a loss, an attendant in a
stylish outfit walked up to him.
The attendant bowed.
Before the man had approached him, Suzuki Satoru sensed that he had been sizing up his outfit. If
he had not made the grade for entering the bar, he would probably have been politely asked to
leave. In other words, he had made it through the door.
As a precaution, he had changed his clothes after hearing about the atmosphere inside this place. It
would seem that had been the right thing to do.
Still, he should not mention that he had changed in the middle of the street under the cover of
He looked inside the darkened bar — doing so was no problem for Suzuki Satoru, who was undead
— and saw a man sitting on a sofa waving to him.
He was a man with a keen gaze, and his clothes clearly showed off his muscular body. He had a
crystalline horn on his head. He was one of the humanoids known as the Sharp Horns.
Suzuki Satoru pretended that he had not spotted the man right away and continued looking around
for a while before walking over.
He sat on the sofa opposite the man.
“Sorry for the wait.”
He had chosen to adopt a haughty attitude as a show of strength, the man did not seem to
disapprove, but that was only to be expected. The employer — or rather, money — was boss;
that much was the same no matter which world one was in.
“No, no, you were on time. I was simply too early.”
There were no cups on the table in front of the man, but it was clear that he had had a few drinks
already, given the scent of alcohol hanging around him. The man had come early because this was
such a high-end establishment and Suzuki Satoru was footing the bill. Of course, that was not all.
He was the leader of a skilled band of mercenary pathfinders. There had to be some other reason
for choosing this place besides drinking.
These pathfinders were not like mercenary companies who numbered in the dozens or hundreds.
For starters, there were less than ten of them, all elite, in their group. They took work without being
bound by national loyalties. The missions they accepted involved wars between nations,
investigating ruins said to be monster lairs, clearing out monsters, and various other tasks related to
violence. If one was being nice, they could be called elite mercenaries. If not, they were a band of
Over a month ago, in a nearby city, Suzuki Satoru had hired them to carry out an investigation. He
had come here today to learn the results of their work.
“Tell me, then.”
“Oi oi. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but don’t you drink? I’ll feel bad if I drink alone, you
know. Drinking helps simplify negotiations too.”
The man seemed to be using some kind of proverb, but Suzuki Satoru had never heard of it before.
Of course, Suzuki Satoru knew that he was lacking in knowledge, so that might just have been a
normal way of speaking. The man beckoned and a waiter quietly walked over.
“Give this old — ah, my apologies. Give my generous employer something to drink.”
“No need for that,” Suzuki Satoru refused coldly.
It was an act, just like before. In order to avoid having to keep refusing various offers, it was easier
for him to act like this. From an adult’s perspective, if one kept refusing invitations to go out drinking,
then eventually people would stop inviting you out.
“Ah, don’t mind me, just go ahead and drink.”
“Like I was saying just now…” The man’s words trailed off as he scratched his head. “Ahhh, in that
case, I’ll have a Clare.”
“Very well. Which year?”
“The eighth. Give it to me straight.”
Suzuki Satoru watched the waiter leave, and the man lowered his voice to speak.
“Now then — I’ll report our findings. The city we were told to investigate was taken over by Zombies.
There’s no telling if there’s anyone living there.”
“Is that so?”
That was the outcome he had expected, and so Suzuki Satoru’s voice was calm. Perhaps the man
was unhappy with that, because he changed his tone. However, he might have faked it. He was the
sort of person who would not let his true feelings show even when drunk. Therefore, he was
probably trying to emphasize how he felt.
“This is the third Zombie-infested city you’ve had us check, you know? …Don’t you think it’s about
time you told us why? Why won’t you let us go into the cities and investigate in detail? What do you
While there was no need to answer that question, it would be bad if they had decided to barge in of
their own accord. It would be best if he could answer in a way that did not reveal his intentions and
removed their interest in the matter.
“Then I will answer your question with a question. I laid down the ironclad rule that ‘You are not to
enter the city.’ Did you do so?”
“And why should I believe you?”
“We obey the instructions given to us by our employer. I guarantee it. After all, you’re paying us so
He could not place any trust in that. The amount that Suzuki Satoru had agreed to pay out would
look like peanuts if they had entered the city and plundered its treasures.
It was not yet time to learn the truth with mind control spells. Those were not a good choice; there
would be trouble once the spell ended. He could seize him and use 「Alter Memory」 on him, but
he was not confident in his ability to adjust memories with magic.
Getting good at these alterations would take a very long time, and his practice would involve turning
a person into a vegetable. Given that he did not possess a proper base of operations, it was an
unrealistic course of action.
Should he silence him or place his trust in him?
Suzuki Satoru wanted to silence him.
If they killed the Zombies and looted the city’s treasures, it might pose a threat to Keno’s country.
This was especially true for private groups, whose actions were very hard to control.
It would seem the countries around Inveria had not sent out their armies to quell these cities.
However, these countries should have known about their neighbors’ citizens all becoming Zombies.
Some of those countries might have had the same thing happen to their people. Whether or not
those countries had chosen to take military action or were preparing to do so remained to be seen.
Unfortunately, there was no way to verify this. A traveller like Suzuki Satoru would not be able to
learn such state secrets no matter how much he paid. Still, he could think of a few reasons why the
surrounding countries had not taken action yet.
Since the undead were enemies of all living beings, there was no direct benefit to eliminating them.
Even if they exterminated the Zombies and liberated a city, all they would gain was land without a
workforce. Such land would be useless to them.
Perhaps it might be useful if they had excess mouths and ample manpower. But if they did not have
that much population, then taking and holding unnecessary territory would only become a burden,
since one needed bigger garrison forces as one’s territory grew.
But if they left the undead alone, it might lead to the appearance of more powerful undead, so they
would have to send their armies in eventually. However, negotiations would be needed in order not
to agitate their neighbors when moving their forces, and then the nobles would push the
responsibility for taking part in exterminations and so on to each other. Such matters would take a
very long time.
And another thing was that as long as the cause for the situation was unknown, sending their troops
in might lead to them turning into undead. Anyone with a brain could tell that.
Therefore, these masterless men who were driven by the desires were the more threatening
Thus, he would need to disabuse them of that notion with a preventative measure, even if it meant
lying to them.
“I see… that’s good,” Suzuki Satoru said as he deliberately lowered his voice. “I say, why do you
think the people in the city turned undead?”
“You mean it wasn’t because a monster showed up? You know, like a Soul Eater? I heard that a lot
of people died when that monster showed up in a certain country.”
Well yes, a lot of people would die if it walked around on the street with its skill active, Suzuki Satoru
smiled bitterly in his heart. Granted, such undead beings were nothing special to him, but it would
seem that they were very powerful in this world.
I remember there was a magic warrior riding a Soul Eater among the members of Corpus of the
Abyss, but he was incredibly weak. Oh well…
“I don’t think so. We believe that there might be some kind of plague or curse at work here.” The
man’s expression did not change upon hearing “we.” Suzuki Satoru ignored him and continued
speaking. “It’s probably not poison. If there were a toxic cloud that could cover an entire city — of
course, a cloud that turned creatures undead would be something else — but I’ve never heard of
anything like that before.”
“So it can’t be a plague, then?”
“No, it’s more likely than a poison. After all, there are plagues which are unique to the undead.
Perhaps this Zombie plague is something like that — highly infectious, spread by an airborne vector,
and which can’t be treated by 「Cure Disease」… A cursed disease.”
“Ah, ah — I see. Like Demon Fever, then. That’s why you didn’t want us to go in.”
It would seem he had taken the bait.
“I’m glad you understand. Normally, the infectious organisms should have died after so long, but it
seems things are not normally. This special disease is different from the others and might be lurking
in the bodies of the Zombies. Also, they might not be ordinary Zombies, but a new, infectious strain
The man listened in silence, and Suzuki Satoru continued spinning his tale.
“While we don’t know the cause for it, it’s possible that one of you might have gotten infected too. It
would be bad enough if you had turned into Zombies on the spot over there, but the worst case
scenario is if it has a fixed incubation period. That would be troublesome. The infection might spread
to this city and the surrounding villages.”
“Oi oi oi oi, boss. You should have told us about this danger beforehand, right?”
“And if I told you, who would have taken the job? Also, a death would have proven whether or not
the city was safe. In any case, I’m not going to lose a moment of sleep if you end up dying because
you couldn’t follow instructions.”
The man’s gaze grew keen.
“So we’re canaries, then…”
Suzuki Satoru smiled coldly, but did not reply.
“Then let me ask you again. Did you go in?”
“We didn’t. I’m a man of my word… and I swear that I’ll continue keeping my word in future.”
The man’s reply came instantly. After seeing his lack of hesitation of unease, Suzuki Satoru was
certain that he was not lying.
“Well, what a shame — ah, I meant that you missed out on a chance to make a big sum — that is,
the chance to gather an entire city’s wealth.”
The man furrowed his brows, as though on purpose.
“You pay well — but you’re a terrible boss.”
“Am I? If I really were a terribly boss, wouldn’t I have urged you to enter the city? I’d have baited you
with the lure of some rare item, no?”
The man appeared to have accepted that reasoning.
Just then, the waiter brought the wine over.
The man took a mouthful of it and then loudly exhaled a breath of alcohol-laden air.
“Well, thanks for the job. We’ll take the payment as arranged, then.”
Suzuki Satoru dumped a small pouch on the table. Then, he placed a large bag on the table, which
The man opened the smaller pouch, checked that there were four large gemstones inside, and then
closed it back up.
Since gold coins were too heavy, big transactions were typically made with gemstones and the like.
Some countries used gemstones to make a type of extremely high-value currency called gem coins,
or they made coins of mithril or adamantite, or “gold plaques” which had value beyond their weight,
but this country did not use those.
“And… this is?”
The man had already opened up the bag and checked the gold coins inside. It was a large sum.
“The two bags together are the payment for the job. Take it.”
“Then you could have just used gems for both bags. It’s hard to carry this stuff home when you’re
“Sorry about that, but please make do. This money isn’t quite enough for a gemstone.” Suzuki
Satoru then muttered to himself, “Finances are pretty tight on my end too…”
Perhaps there was no point in such a fabrication, but it was worth trying. It would be fine as long as it
could delay the man just a little.
“Then we’ll go to the appraiser’s together. The gems’ value—”
“—Ah, you don’t need to do that. Don’t be mistaken, but I trust you, you know? After all, it’s the third
time you’ve hired us, and you’ve never once welched on the payment or tried to haggle the price too
much. If I doubted you even then, it’d be pretty shameless of me.”
“No, it doesn’t matter even if you don’t believe me. We need to make sure there are no problems
between us in order to avoid trouble.”
After Suzuki Satoru said so, the man exploded into laughter.
He laughed for a while, and then the man addressed Satoru, the afterglow of his mirth still on his
“You’re the one who doesn’t trust us, right? Well, it can’t be helped. Haha! Then let me come clean. I
didn’t want to go with you earlier because this is a classy place and I don’t get the chance to come
here often, so I wanted you to buy me a few more drinks.”
I see… in other words, he wanted me to foot the bill. Well, that’s fine…
“Well, that’s it, then. I’ll be heading back first.”
Suzuki Satoru rose from his seat. The man raised his glass and watched him leave.
“Please continue taking care of us.”
But will there be a next time? With that thought in mind, Suzuki Satoru smiled in a very meaningful
Employing the same pathfinders might arouse suspicion, so he was no longer willing to hire this
man’s team again. That was why he had paid him in gold.
Paying in gems would have been simple enough, but he had not done this because he wanted to
take the gold that he had stolen from “Corpus of the Abyss” to him.
He remembered that certain divination spells could determine the location of marked items. The
higher the tier of the spell, the more accurately they could track that position. However, he could not
place such a mark after entering this world, unless they were distinctly different from other mass-
For instance, if he wanted to trace an ingot, it would need to be clearly distinct from other ingots —
so little things like leaving an obvious scratch or some other mark on it would be important.
However, if the spell used was not of such a high tier, then once it was placed in a sealed container
or some other place — like his inventory, for instance — it would be unfindable. Even high-tier spells
would not be able to detect it through the appropriate magical defenses.
That said, after considering the danger of retaining anything which carried even the faint possibility
of allowing others to track his position, Suzuki Satoru had decided to distribute these coins all over.
He had kept this a secret from Keno.
Naturally, while he had dominated the members of “Corpus of the Abyss,” he had asked them
several times if items could be used as trackers. However, none of them had heard of anyone doing
such a thing. That said, if even Suzuki Satoru could think of a trap like that, who was to say that the
undead members of “Corpus of the Abyss” could not do the same?
What I can do, others can do too… who knows, there might be a being out there who can control me
with undead domination.
Both he and Keno were equipped with gear that improved their resistance to undead domination, but
that was by no means a guarantee of protection. Even Suzuki Satoru, who was a supremely
specialized necromancer, could not claim that. Moreover, Suzuki Satoru’s knowledge was rooted in
It was true that most of his YGGDRASIL knowledge had been proven correct over the last five years,
which had also been a great help to Suzuki Satoru. But it was also true that certain things — like
how 「Wish Upon A Star」 functioned — had been changed. In that case, it might be possible that
there was a way out there to dominate a level 100 undead being.
Carelessness was the province of fools.
Suzuki Satoru would not be bothered even if “Corpus of the Abyss” captured that man for
That man did not know Suzuki Satoru’s true face and most of the things he had told him were lies.
Anything they could learn from him would only end up protecting Suzuki Satoru instead.
Even learning what Suzuki Satoru had employed him for would not be a problem. If the members of
“Corpus of the Abyss” tried to use that in their schemes, it would play into Suzuki Satoru’s hands
instead. After all, he might end up learning more from them when he attacked them as a result of
…But nothing’s happened to them until now. I paid them twice already… ah well, I won’t lose
anything even if my efforts were in vain. But the situation I’m in now… is it money-laundering?
As he thought absentmindedly about all this, Suzuki Satoru paid the barkeep three times the value of
what the man had drunk so far.
There was no telling how much more he would drink, but since he had already given him so much,
he could pay for the rest out of his own pocket if it still was not enough. With that thought in mind,
Suzuki Satoru left the bar.
The man — Bez Ku Broven (Bez, son of Broven, of the Ku tribe) had drunk quite a lot, and he could
feel the alcohol circulating inside him. Still, it was not enough to make him unsteady on his feet. It
was still alright if it only slowed this thinking. Being a mercenary who had made his fair share of
enemies, Bez would not show anyone any weaknesses.
While there were times when he had actually gotten drunk to bait the enemy out, he had friends with
him then. And today, there were no friends with him.
While I wanted to have them follow the client… actually doing that would be stupid.
His mercenary’s instinct told him that doing so would be treading on a Dragon’s tail.
Bez waved the waiter over.
He had a pouch in an inside pocket and bag that was so full that it was hard to walk around with it.
Compared to what his client had given him, his expenses here were nothing much.
“No, there’s no need for that.”
As he heard what the waiter said after walking over, Bez laughed merrily.
“Oh, sorry about that.”
He had just been kidding back then, but it would seem his client was not in any financial trouble,
judging from the way he could pay for Bez without even buying himself a drink.
While he would very much like to have toasted the client in thanks, the glass before him was empty
and he was not in the mood to ask for more.
Then let’s go, he thought. It was only when he got to his feet that he realised the waiter had not yet
moved away from in front of him.
For some reason, a dangerous look began creeping into his eyes just as the waiter began speaking.
“Dear customer. May I know who that guest just now was?”
Bez’s brows knotted in displeasure. To think he was actually asking for personal information about a
customer — how the hell was this place training its people?
Perhaps he would not have minded the question if this was some hole-in-the-wall city tavern. But
this place was different. There ought to have been a respect for their customer’s privacy which
matched the amounts changing hands here. There must be a guild of some strength backing this
place up, probably. One needed a certain degree of power to chase away the riffraff. Perhaps they
might have ties to illegal organizations, in order to easily deal with rude customers.
“I’m terribly sorry. That customer was dressed in exquisite clothing, so I was wondering what manner
of person he must be. I was very interested in it.”
The waiter had said all that despite Bez not saying anything. In other words they were saying, “We’ll
give you information too, so please reveal something to us.”
“Ah, his clothes, ah—”
“The tailoring, the needlework, the material, it’s all excellent. He would probably be one of the best-
dressed customers we’ve had here so far — the very best, in fact. In truth, I have no idea what those
clothes are even made of.”
If even the employees of this establishment did not know, then it must be something amazing.
While this was the first time Bez had come here, he had heard that this place was patronized by the
highest circle of citizens. Perhaps tribal chiefs — on the level of kings — might come here.
Oi oi oi, what kind of amazing outfit was that… but honestly, where did that guy come from?
So he’s more amazing than a tribal chief? He wanted to ask that, but that might be taken for
agreeing to a trade of information. Bez had no intention of going any further, and so he shrugged.
“I heard he’s a trader.” That sounds incredibly fake, Bez thought, but he had said it anyway. “So I
guess it’s made of fabric from a distant land. Who knows, it might just be ordinary stuff over there.”
“Surely you jest. If it really was cheap stuff, as you say, then he must have traded with very
advanced nations… definitely not a country in the region.”
“Doesn’t that mean he must have come from a really faraway place, then?”
Though he said that, it was true that Bez was very interested in his client.
Bez felt that saying he was a trader was not too far from the truth. That was because he could not
sense a hint of violence from his client — he felt like an ordinary person.
When he had hired them for the first time, one of Bez’s friends, a beast warrior, had snorted and
concluded that he was an easily beatable opponent. But the second round, he had started having his
For starters, the contents of this mission were quite strange, when one sat down and thought about
it. It was like he was sending them in because he knew there would be something to find. Moreover,
what would their client gain from learning about this?
It was as though he had been deliberately leaking information just now.
It felt like he was taking precautions to keep Bez from looking further into the matter, but also like he
was deceiving him. If it was the former, it would allay the suspicions in his heart, but the dread in his
heart would not go away if it were the latter.
“I’m sorry. A client like that who pays without grumbling and who even foots the bill for my drinks is
the best client I can hope for. There’s nothing I can tell you.”
—There was no need to go treading on the Dragon’s tail.
The wealth of a city — no, three cities — was enough to make him drool. But if that man was backed
by a country, then it would be bad if he bore a grudge.
Taking the treasure and fleeing to another country would be one thing, but the matter was not as
simple as that. Sometimes, hatred could draw out unimaginable power. Bez did not want to spend
the rest of his life being hunted by elite assassins hired by some country.
As long as the other guy did not betray him, Bez would not betray him either. That was Bez’s secret
“Is that so? Then I apologize.”
The waiter brought out a bag filled with money. What is this? Bez asked with his eyes, and then the
waiter replied, “The drinks are on the house, so I am returning the payment to you. Please come
again, and please thank your client on our behalf.”
This was probably an apology from the bar for prying about a customer, or was this hush money?
For a moment, Bez wanted to refuse it. But he decided that it would be a bad move, and it would
sow the seeds of ill-will between him and this bar.
While he did not think it would be immediately life-threatening, that would depend on how the bar
thought of that client. If he wanted to maintain ties with that client, then something might happen to
Bez before he could tell the client unnecessary things.
In order to prevent himself from being silenced, he ought to take it.
In that case, I’d better not ask about the matter.
Bez snatched the purse away, somewhat annoyed.
“I’ll be back.”
It did not hurt to be polite.
“We’ll be waiting.”
After hearing the waiter speak from behind him, Bez stepped outside.
Along the way, he opened the pouch the store attendant had given him and saw a valuable-looking
gem among the gold coins. His employer had probably not given this to the store to pay for the
drinks, so it would seem best to treat it as hush money.
Bez did not have the keen senses of a ranger or a thief, but he had senses of his own that had been
honed after many battles. He deployed those senses fully and took a roundabout route back to his
own inn to check if he was being followed.
Part of the inn’s first floor was a cafeteria, and his friends were drinking in a corner.
He knew from a glance at the label of the wine bottle that this was better than the usual stuff — it
was the best stuff that the inn had. Of course, it was nothing compared to the bar where Bez had just
“Welcome back — looks like things ended uneventfully. You look happy, you smell of liquor, and
you’re back late.”
The man who said this was around 120 centimeters tall. He was not a child, but a proper adult. He
belonged to the humanoid race known as Hill Dwarves. While they were relatives of the Dwarves,
they had an affinity for the ranger profession and keen senses of direction.
“After all, you’d have come back sooner if something had happened.”
The speaker was a man whose spear was leaning against the wall. He had the head of a serpent
and his entire body was covered in scales. He was a Snakeman, a demihuman race.
“Ahhh, he paid up the amount he promised. That said, he didn’t pay extra.”
“Hah, sounds like even if you did, you would have drunk it away. I don’t touch alcohol, so don’t take it
out of the party funds.”
“But you ate a whole pile of fresh meat, didn’t you? You don’t mind me taking that out of the party
funds, do you?”
The person saying so was a humanoid make whose race was a relative of the Orcs. His muscular
body made him seem twice the size of Bez. While one could call his race relatives of the Orcs, they
were more like superior specimens of the same, much like the way Hobgoblins and Goblins were
The weapon on his waist was over two meters long, known as an odachi. He could skillfully employ it
as a ronin.
In addition to those three, the two others who were not present made up Bez’s companions.
“Right right, let’s appraise it. Bez. take out the gems.”
Bez handed the pouch with the gems to the Hill Dwarf. The Hill Dwarf upended its contents onto the
table and began evaluating them by lamplight. He took a minute for each one before he was done.
By that time, his friends had already finished counting the gold coins and informed him of the
“Right. The sum’s what we agreed on. The gems might sell for more or less depending on the buyer,
but that’s not our client’s fault.”
The Snakeman twisted his head at an angle that humans could not manage and looked at Bez.
Even though he was used to looking at those eyes which betrayed no emotion, it still made Bez
“Now then, why would he pay so much for such a simple job? Did you learn anything after a few
drinks with him?”
That was why they had chosen to meet in that incredibly high-end establishment.
Considering the job was just to check out a city — even if it was infested with the undead, but only
on the level of Zombies — this was a ridiculously generous sum. That was what had bothered Bez
about their client’s true intentions.
“Not at all.”
Bez shrugged. That was because he had concluded that it would be safer not to pry too deeply into
“Oi oi… isn’t it possible that we might be visited by retrievers soon?”
“Beats me.” Retrievers here referred to assassins and the like. “We did our job well. Don’t you think
he’d rather make use of us rather than kill us off?”
“Well, another job would put me somewhat at ease.”
“What a shame. I did my best to put on a show, but the client didn’t have a new job for us right away.
He might be talking to his boss.”
After verifying the earnest look in his friends’ eyes, Bez began telling them about their conversation
in the bar and his own postulations.
“Ah~ in that case, I think your conclusion is on the mark, Bez. Or rather, I can’t think of anything
“Yup. He must be from some country. Ah~ is looting the treasure of three cities just a dream~”
The Hill Dwarf agreed with the Ork’s words. Bez’s mercenary band was a group of experts, and they
were confident that they would not lose out to the troops in the region. But much like Bez, they did
not want to spend their lives on the run.
“So what should we do next? We’ve taken a lot of jobs here. Resentment’s starting to build up.”
“That’s true. Maybe we should head over to Soba. I heard the Tsar of the eastern countries is
recruiting talented mercenaries. Might be a good idea to head there. In any case, we should prepare
to move out.”
After hearing his companions voice their approval, Bez nodded.
Suzuki Satoru walked a short distance after leaving the bar and then took a turn into a small alley.
After ensuring that there was nobody in there, he cast 「Perfect Unknowable.」
He waited there for almost a minute, but nobody entered that little alley.
It would seem he could be sure that he was not being followed. According to his experiences, Suzuki
Satoru knew well that there were precious few entities in this world who were powerful enough to
see through spells of this tier.
Suzuki Satoru cast 「Fly」 and 「Greater Teleportation」 in that order.
His destination was a point one kilometer above the city.
The clamor of the night could not reach that high. It was a place lit only by the gentle light of the
Suzuki Satoru deftly folded his legs in mid-air and produced a map from his inventory, which he placed on his legs.
Now then… this place was converted to the undead as well. Which means…
He took out a pen and marked the cities which the mercenaries had visited.
Keno’s eyes would have gone wide if she had seen this. The map was exquisitely drawn and
depicted the countries near Keno’s homeland. It had been made by spending a great deal of the
gold coins stolen from “Corpus of the Abyss.” If the intelligence personnel of the neighboring
countries had seen this, they would have gladly spent money like water to obtain it.
During the five years since they had set off on their journey, Suzuki Satoru had spent a great deal of
time conducting investigations, and he discovered that the Zombification had affected a very large
area. While he was not sure exactly when each Zombification had taken place, analysis of the
information he had collected suggested the time gap between each instance had not been very
The question of who had done this and their aims remained unclear, but it looked like it was not
targeted at Keno, and it was very unlikely that “Corpus of the Abyss” had done this. If “Corpus of the
Abyss” had a magic caster who could trigger a phenomenon like this over such a wide area, then
they would not have been picked off one by one so easily.
The likelihood that this had not been accomplished through the personal power of the members of
“Corpus of the Abyss,” but by some item obtained from somewhere was similarly very low.
Therefore, it would probably best not to tell Keno that hunting “Corpus of the Abyss” had been done
to procure funds and to steal the research that those undead beings had spent so much time
He had kept all these things from Keno because she was simply too soft-hearted.
Nobody else mattered to Suzuki Satoru besides himself and Keno. He simply acted with his interests
as a priority. However, she would not have thought about things so simply. Therefore, doing so was
also to avoid burdening her with excess guilt.
In that case — which place is the most suspicious? After analyzing the information I’ve collected, the
Zombification seems to be limited to this region.
Suzuki Satoru’s finger pointed to the safe cities, which had not been marked.
Suzuki Satoru’s line of sight shifted, and then stopped at a corner of the map.
The Zombification phenomenon radiated from a certain point in the mountain range there.
There was a legend surrounding those mountains.
There was a fountain of wisdom somewhere in the mountains, and soaking in it would grant one
wisdom. But many trials stood in the way of getting there, and it was said that nobody could come
back from it alive.
However, that mountain range was also a lair for Wyverns and other powerful monsters, so it was
very likely that those monsters would make any venture in there a one-way trip even before one
could throw one’s life away in those trials.
It might be fun to verify this legend if he had the time, but there was something he had to do before
Suzuki Satoru quietly said the name of the highest peak in that mountain range.
He had no proof that it was the source of the phenomenon. He had simply remembered the
Brightness Dragon Lord, who resided on the highest peak of the continent.
After all, there was a very large margin of error when considering the scale of the map, even if he
was looking for the center of a radiating spread.
If it really was there, the source of the phenomenon was a magic item, and it had triggered the
Zombification during transportation, then there would truly be no hope. The difficulty of finding it
would be like trying to find a pearl in the desert.
And even if it had been caused by someone, they probably would have run far away and hidden by
In that case, there was no way the sages of the nearby nations could not have thought of something
that even Suzuki Satoru would have noticed.
But it was still possible.
Yes, it really was possible.
It was possible that nobody had sent out investigation parties.
Suzuki Satoru had used 「Greater Teleportation」 to travel between the surrounding countries,
spent a great deal of resources, and even hired people to conduct investigation despite the lack of
If anyone else had done what Suzuki Satoru had, they would have been able to reach the same
conclusion. However, there was probably nobody who had done so to date. Even if there were
people who wanted to take action in order to verify their information, it would have taken them longer
than Suzuki Satoru to obtain information of the same standard that he possessed.
That would mean Suzuki Satoru was probably the closest to unravelling this mystery.
In that case, he might be able to find something left behind there that might work as a clue.
However, going there would also be very troublesome. That was because he could not teleport to a
place he had never been to before. He could only teleport to a city he could reach and then go on
foot from there. Naturally, that would waste a lot of time, and so he would have to explain various
things to Keno. He had barely managed to bluff his way through until now, and Suzuki Satoru’s head
ached when he thought about it.
Keno had not mentioned her homeland since two years ago.
Before that, she had been searching for a way to cure the Zombification and help her people. But
ever since that say — no, several days before that, she had not brought it up again. After that, she
seemed content to carry on in their adventures together.
Had she really let go of it, or had she simply buried it deep in her psyche? Suzuki Satoru could not
tell which was the case. Or perhaps Keno had hidden it very well, or perhaps Suzuki Satoru was
very bad at reading the hearts of others. Digging too deep into the hearts of others was not good
either, which was how they had made it this far.
…I guess asking would have been fine. Even so, I didn’t do anything. Was it because I didn’t want to
feel the helplessness of not being able to ease the suffering of a fellow travelling companion?
For Suzuki Satoru, the only people who had accompanied him on adventures for so long were the
members of Ainz Ooal Gown, and by sheer length of time, Keno had surpassed even them.
Therefore he had chosen not to poke at the matter in order to let his feelings remain in a comfortable
I’m really useless… but what will I do from now on?
Collecting this information had simply been a matter of interest on his part. At the same time, it was
also to find a way to ease Keno’s pain, even if just a little. However, after gathering so much
information and pinpointing a suspicious location, he had started waffling instead.
He did not know if there were any merits to doing this. Quite a few demerits came to mind, however.
If there was someone there who had triggered this phenomenon — a wide-ranging event which had
indiscriminately brought tragedy to people — then there was no way they could be normal. If he
actually encountered that person, then surely battle would be unavoidable.
Was there any gain at all in opposing someone who could affect an area which even YGGDRASIL
magic could not hope to reach?
It was not as though the Zombification would recur, and even if it happened again, it was very
unlikely that it would affect Suzuki Satoru and Keno.
And if that change could even convert Overlords and Vampires into Zombies, then it would be safest
to avoid dangerous people like that.
If it was merely due to the unusual functioning of an item, then recovering it might be a good idea… I
definitely want to lay my hands on an unknown World-Class Item. However, if someone had
deliberately done so, what would be the aim of triggering such a phenomenon?
Perhaps he would be able to formulate a response if he knew the opposition’s aim, but right now he
simply did not know enough.
Suzuki Satoru touched the World-Class Item in his belly.
Which is more dangerous, leaving it alone or investigating it?
If someone really was scheming in the shadows, then it would be a bad idea to give them time.
If they were on the level of the Brightness Dragon Lord and he sat back to watch them grow
stronger, then all he could do was run and hide.
It seems the Dragon Lords are hostile to YGGDRASIL players… if someone like that keeps getting
stronger, I won’t be able to handle them by myself, right? I came out even with the Brightness
Dragon Lord — no, it was only a draw because I ran away… well, if that’s his limit, I’ll be able to beat
him next time.
He was not being a sore loser or being stubborn.
Both hiding his trump cards and enduring a one-sided offensive from his opponent was all in
preparation for the next battle.
Suzuki Satoru had always done this when PVPing in YGGDRASIL. Due to the rule of victory going to
the one who won two matches out of three, losing the first battle was not a problem. That did not
change, even in his first life-or-death struggle in this world.
The advantage of this fighting style remained, even when fighting under extreme circumstances like
not knowing if he could resurrect after death.
The strategy for certain victory that his former friend had taught him had not changed, even now.
It was precisely because he was battling under such a dire situation that he should place even more
faith in his old friends.
That said, Suzuki Satoru did not want to fight an enemy of that level again. It was best to avoid
The smart way of doing things was to only fight battles he was confident of winning and choosing to
flee if he would lose.
Suzuki Satoru looked at the world.
Brilliant points of light remained, even as the world at night was cloaked in silence.
Perhaps his old friends might have said, “I want to protect this beautiful world!” or something like
that. However, no such feeling overflowed in Suzuki Satoru’s heart.
“This really pisses me off,” he muttered to himself.
Right now, Suzuki Satoru was well and truly pissed off.