Its hinges were regularly oiled and it should have swung open smoothly, but for some reason, the motion of the doors seemed unusually sluggish and ponderous, as though the door was fighting a pressure differential between the air on the inside and the outside of the room. It was as though their speed was matching the way Sebas felt..
If the door had truly read his heart, then Sebas would have much rather it had not opened at all. However, it did open, revealing the interior of the guest room to Sebas’ eyes.
The room was the same as always, but unlike how it usually was, there were now four heteromorphic beings waiting inside.
One was a light blue warrior. He emitted a freezing aura and held a platinum halberd, but was otherwise motionless.
One was a demon. There was no telling what schemes hid within his mocking features.
Then, there was an angel in the shape of a fetus, held in the arms of the demon.
“Please forgive my lateness. I am deeply sorry to keep you waiting.”
By sheer force of will, Sebas quashed the trembling in his voice. Then he bowed respectfully to the sole seated being in the room, as though in worship.
Sebas was the butler and the head of the manservants, and he occupied a position close to the top of Nazarick’s hierarchy. Only one person could make Sebas bow before him in fear and awe. There could be no other.
That entity was one of the 41 Supreme Beings, who commanded fealty that could not be contested.
—Ainz Ooal Gown.
This almighty fighting force was also the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. The Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown emanated a black aura from its place within his hand.
Dim red pinpoints of light played lazily within the hollow orbits of his eye sockets. Even from his bowed position, Sebas could sense those lights sizing him up from head to toe.
The movements of the air told him that Ainz had waved expansively, in a leisurely manner.
“…It is fine. Think nothing of it, Sebas. The fault lies with me, being that I did not communicate my arrival in a timely manner. But let us dispense with these pleasantries. How can you speak from over there with your head bowed? I bid you enter.”
Sebas’s head was still lowered as he responded to the solemn voice. He looked up, and then slowly stepped forward — while a trail of frost ran down his spine.
That was because his keen senses told him of carefully concealed hostility and killing intent.
He slowly shifted his gaze. The two Guardians before him did not seem to be paying much attention to Sebas. However, that was from a normal person’s point of view.
Sebas was abundantly aware of it.
There was no trace of friendliness in the tense atmosphere. The opposite was true, in fact. Their vigilance was not the reaction one would have to an ally.
Sebas could understand why they felt that way. He felt a weighty pressure upon him and he was afraid that everyone would hear the thunderous beating of his heart.
“I think you should stop there.”
Demiurge’s relaxed voice rang through the air and halted Sebas in his tracks.
Sebas was some distance away from his master. It did not make speaking difficult, and when one considered the dimensions of the room and the fact that he was meeting with a superior, it was quite an appropriate distance. However, under normal circumstances, Ainz would consider Sebas to be too far away and ask him to approach. This time, Ainz had not said so. This sense of separation crushed Sebas until he could no longer breathe.
At the same time, this distance was the ideal range for Cocytus the warrior to launch an attack. That too was another source of strain for him.
Incidentally, Solution had entered the room with Sebas, but she was standing by the door, awaiting orders.
“Then—” Ainz snapped his bony fingers, though how he had done so was not apparent. “A question for you, Sebas. Need I explain why I am here?”
There could only be one reason for that. The current situation made that very clear.
“…No, there is no need for that.”
“Then, I have a question which I would like you to answer in your own words, Sebas. While I did not receive a report from you concerning this matter, is it true that you picked up an adorable little pet recently?”
—It was as he thought.
Sebas’ back felt like it had been impaled by several icicles. Then, he realized that he had not answered his master’s question. He hurriedly replied:
“…A little slow on the reply, Sebas. Let me ask you again — is it true that you picked up an adorable pet recently and decided to take care of it?”
“Yes! I did take in a pet!”
“Very good. Then, could you explain why you did not report the matter to me?”
Sebas’ shoulders shuddered and he stared at the ground. What could he say to avoid the situation developing in the worst possible way?
Ainz leaned back into his throne as he watched the silent Sebas. The creaking of the chair as he did so sounded exceptionally loud in the confines of the room.
“What’s the matter, Sebas? You seem to be sweating heavily. Shall I lend you a handkerchief?”
With a grand flourish, Ainz produced a pure white handkerchief from nowhere. He grasped it between his index and middle fingers and tossed it towards Sebas. The handkerchief unfolded and spread in mid-air, landing gently upon the ground.
“You are permitted to use it.”
“Yes! Thank you, my Master!”
Sebas took a step towards Ainz and picked up the handkerchief. Then, he froze.
“…That handkerchief is not stained with your pet’s blood. I simply felt that it was unsightly to have you covered in sweat.”
“Yes… Please forgive my shameful display, Ainz-sama.”
Sebas spread the handkerchief and wiped at the cold sweat which beaded his brow. The handkerchief absorbed such an incredible quantity of moisture that its color changed.
“Then, let us return to the topic, Sebas. When I sent you to the Royal Capital, I believe I ordered you to record any occurrence, great or small, in exacting detail and send it to Nazarick. After all, it is difficult for one person to determine the value of information collected. Frankly speaking, I doubt you omitted a single detail when submitting your reports. Am I correct?”
“Yes. It is as you say.”
“Then, Demiurge, allow me to address a question to you as confirmation. After all, you have read Sebas’ reports as well. Did those reports mention this adorable little pet?”
“No, Ainz-sama. I read them several times, but I saw nothing related to that subject.”
“Very good. Then, let us use that point as a premise for my next question, Sebas. Why did you not submit a report on that matter? …I wish to ask why you disregarded an order from me. Is the word of Ainz Ooal Gown not enough to bind your actions?”
Those words shook the air in the room.
Sebas hurriedly answered:
“Certainly not! I simply believed that there was no need to trouble you with a report concerning such a small matter, Ainz-sama.”
Silence filled the air.
Sebas was bathed in murderous intent from four sources. They came from Cocytus, Demiurge, the angel which Demiurge held, and Solution. All four of them would immediately fall on Sebas if their master so ordered.
Sebas did not fear death. It would be his utmost joy to die for Nazarick. Yet, the thought of being executed as a traitor terrified even the stoic Sebas.
That was because there was no greater shame for those created by the 41 Supreme Beings than to be counted as a turncoat and subsequently eliminated.
After some time, and after much sweat had beaded on Sebas’ forehead, Ainz spoke.
“…In other words, all this was an exercise of your foolish judgement… Is that correct?”
“Yes. It is as you say, Ainz-sama. Please forgive my foolish mistake!”
“…Hm. I see… I believe I understand now.”
As Sebas lowered his head in apology, Ainz’s emotionless voice filtered into his ears. The fact that Ainz had not ordered a summary execution slightly eased the tension in the room.
However, Sebas could not relax. Before he could do so, Ainz said something that made Sebas’ heart lurch within his chest.
“Solution. Fetch Sebas’ pet.”
The door quietly closed behind Solution as she moved to carry out her orders. Sebas’ keen senses informed him that Solution was heading away from the door.
There was an audible gurgle as Sebas gulped.
Ainz, Cocytus, Demiurge and that strange angel were here, for a total of four heteromorphic beings. While Demiurge looked vaguely human, the same could not be said of the other three.
Since none of them seemed to be taking care to hide their forms, did that mean they did not care if someone else saw them?
The denizens of Nazarick had only one method to keep secrets from spreading — by killing everyone who knew them.
If he had known this would happen, he would have let her go earlier.
Sebas mentally shook his head. It was too late to think of that now.
Soon, Sebas sensed two people approaching. They were approaching this room from the distance.
—What should I do?
Sebas’ eyes shifted and he focused on the air.
Once she arrived here, Sebas would have to make a choice. And there could only be one answer he could give.
Sebas’ gaze moved to Demiurge, who was observing him. Then to Ainz. And then, he looked powerlessly at the ground.
There was knocking, and then the door opened. As expected., there were two women there.
They were Solution and Tsuare.
“I have brought her.”
Sebas had his back to Tsuare, but he could hear her gasp from the entrance. Was she shocked to see Demiurge, a demon in the flesh? Was she shaken by seeing Cocytus, the gigantic blue insectoid? Was she frightened by the sight of that fearsome fetus-like angel? Was she terrified by Ainz, the avatar of Death itself? Or was it all of the above?
The Guardians’ displeasure intensified as Tsuare made her appearance. That was because to some extent, Tsuare was the physical incarnation of Sebas’ sins. It would seem she was trembling from the hostility directed at her.
The hostility of the Guardians, who were easily the most powerful beings in this world, could instil a primal terror in the hearts of the weak. It was surprising that Tsuare had not broken down in tears by now.
Sebas did not look back, but he could clearly feel Tsuare’s gaze boring into him from behind. Her reservoirs of courage were derived from Sebas himself.
“Demiurge, Cocytus, restrain yourselves. Learn from Victim’s good example.”
As Ainz’s quiet voice echoed through the room, there was a change in the room’s mood. No, it would be better to say that the hostility direct at Tsuare had vanished. After reprimanding the two Guardians, Ainz slowly extended his left hand to Tsuare. Then he turned his palm to the ceiling, and beckoned her over.
“Enter, oh pet human that Sebas has picked up — Tsuare.”
As though controlled by those words, Tsuare took step after step forward on trembling legs.
“That you did not choose to flee shows courage. Or did Solution tell you something? Did she say that Sebas’ fate lay within your hands?”
Tsuare was shuddering all over and did not answer. Sebas felt the gaze directed at his back grow stronger. Said gaze made Tsuare’s will abundantly clear, more than any number of words could explain.
After entering the room, Tsuare walked up to Sebas’ side with no hesitation whatsoever. Cocytus shifted position to stand behind Tsuare, awaiting orders.
Tsuare grabbed the corner of Sebas’ coat. Sebas suddenly recalled how she had clung to his clothing in that alley. At the same time, he was filled with regret. If he had handled things better, the situation would not have come to this.
Demiurge glared coldly at Tsuare—
—And the sound of snapping fingers rang forth.
Demiurge understood the meaning behind his master’s gesture, and said no more.
“—It is fine. Pay it no heed, Demiurge. As praise for the courage to face me without fleeing, I will forgive the rudeness she has shown to myself, the ruler of Nazarick.”
“My sincerest apologies.”
Ainz nodded magnanimously at Demiurge’s apology.
Ainz leaned back into the chair, making it creak.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ainz Ooal Gown, the master of Sebas over there.”
Ainz Ooal Gown — one of the 41 Supreme Beings — was the great entity who controlled every aspect of Sebas’ existence, including his life and death.
Being addressed by the master to whom he owed absolute loyalty was his greatest delight. Yet, for some reason, Sebas’ joy was less than he had imagined. It merely made his spine tingle. It was not because of Tsuare, because upon being addressed by his master, Sebas had almost forgotten she had existed. There was another reason for that—
As Sebas was pondering this matter, both sides were still conversing.
“Ah… I, I am…”
“It is fine, Tsuare. I know a little about you, and I have no interest in learning more. Stand there and remain silent. Soon you will know why you have been summoned.”
The points of red light in Ainz’s eye sockets shifted.
“…Sebas, I have a question for you. I told you not to attract attention with your actions, did I not?”
“And despite my clear instructions to you, you got yourself into trouble because of this meaningless little woman — am I wrong?”
“No, you are not.”
The word “meaningless” made Tsuare shudder, but Sebas only answered the question and made no other response.
“At that time… did you not think you were ignoring the orders I had given?”
“Yes. My thoughtlessness has displeased you, Ainz-sama. I shall reflect upon my sins, be more careful in the future, and I shall not make the same mistake ag—”
“—It is fine.”
“I said, it is fine.”
Ainz shifted, and the chair creaked once more.
“People are not perfect, and mistakes are to be expected. Sebas. I shall forgive this trifling mistake of yours.”
“—Thank you, Ainz-sama.”
“However, mistakes must be rectified — by death.”
The air in the room suddenly grew tense, and the temperature felt as though it had fallen by several degrees. No, that was not it. Only Sebas felt that way. The others — the denizens of Nazarick — remained serene and still.
What did his master mean by “death”? No, that went without saying. The thoughts “As I expected” and “I hope not” weighed heavily on Sebas, but still, he asked:
“…What… do you mean…”
“Hm… what I mean is that I expect you to eliminate the source of your mistake in order to wipe the slate clean. How can you be the representative of everyone else when you leave the origin of your error untouched? You are the butler of Nazarick, and one who stands at the head of the manservants. If you do not handle the matter appropriately…”
Sebas exhaled. Then he took in another breath.
Even when faced with a mighty foe, Sebas’ breathing remained calm and regular. Yet, it was now frantic, like a small animal that had run into a predator.
“Sebas. Are you a loyal hound who obeys the orders of my exalted self — of the 41 Supreme Beings? Or are you a man who believes that your will alone is righteous?”
“—I do not need your answer. Show me your conclusion.”
Sebas closed his eyes, and then opened them again.
He hesitated for only a moment. No, it would be better to say that he had spent an entire moment hesitating. This time he had spent in indecision was enough to earn the palpable ire of Cocytus, Demiurge and Solution, people whose loyalty to the Supreme One was beyond reproach.
After that long, interminable moment, Sebas finally made his decision.
♦ ♦ ♦
Sebas was the butler of Nazarick.
He was nothing else beyond that.
His foolish hesitation had brought about these consequences. If he had pleaded with his master earlier, the outcome might have been different.
All this was his fault.
♦ ♦ ♦
A hard lustre filled Sebas’ eyes. They gleamed like polished steel. Then, he turned to Tsuare.
The hand clinging to him let go. Its fingers clutched briefly at empty air, wavering for a moment before falling powerlessly.
Tsuare looked at Sebas’ face. She had probably guessed his decision by now.
She smiled, and closed her eyes.
That was not a look of despair, or fear. She had accepted what would happen next, had accepted her impending fate with all the grace of a martyr.
Sebas’ movements did not waver. His heart had long since descended into the abyss. In his place stood a steely servant who had pledged his utmost fealty to Nazarick. That being the case, there was no reason not to obey the absolute order handed down by his master.
He had cut through his confusion. Only loyalty remained.
Sebas’ hand formed into a fist, and then he struck at Tsuare’s head, seeking to grant her the mercy of an instant death.
♦ ♦ ♦
—Something hard intercepted his fist.
“—What are you doing? Why are you interfering with me?”
Something had blocked the fist which should have obliterated Tsuare’s skull.
Cocytus had reached out a hand from behind Tsuare — whose eyes were still tightly shut — and stopped Sebas’ fist.
Was Cocytus a traitor, given that he had blocked a strike which the Supreme One had ordered?
And then, the doubts in Sebas’ heart were immediately answered.
“Stand down, Sebas.”
Sebas was anxious and doubtful, but he was still halfway through another punch when he heard Ainz’s order. The strength he had channelled into his hand dissipated in an instant.
His master had not censured Cocytus, but had instead told Sebas to stop. That indicated that he had also arranged for Cocytus’ interdiction of Sebas’ strike.
Indeed, all this had had been planned ahead of time. The fact was that his master wished to verify Sebas’ intentions.
Tsuare timidly opened her eyes, and saw that the headman’s axe which awaited her was long gone. Now that her life was no longer in danger, her wound-up emotions snapped inside her. Tsuare’s body convulsed with shudders as the tears streamed from her eyes. She very nearly collapsed from the shaking of her legs, but Sebas did not reach out to support her. No, he could not.
What else could he do, now that things had come to this? What right did he have, given that he had left her to her fate?
Ainz paid no heed to Tsuare’s fear and began addressing Cocytus.
“Cocytus. Was that blow intended to take that woman’s life?”
“There. Is. No. Doubt. That. It. Would. Have. Been. Instantly. Fatal.”
“Then I declare that Sebas’ loyalty is no longer in question. Thank you, Sebas.”
“I would not dare!”
Sebas bowed, his face stiff.
“—Demiurge, any objections?”
“I have none.”
“Derif er’uoy. (I have none.)”
“Very well. Then, let us move on to the next item.”
Ainz snapped his fingers and rose to his feet. He swept his hand grandly through the air, causing his cape to flutter.
“Thanks to the efforts of Sebas and the others, I feel we have gathered sufficient information. There is no reason to linger in this place. We shall vacate this property immediately and return to Nazarick. Sebas, I will leave the disposal of this woman to you. Since I have already verified your loyalty, I will not object to whatever you wish to do — or at least, I would like to say that, but some considerations must be made before releasing her. Allowing her to go free and speak of Nazarick would be troublesome, do you not agree, Demiurge?”
“It is as you say. While there are still unknown enemies at large, we would be best served by not allowing information about ourselves to spread.”
“Then, what should we do?”
“…Should we not make sure of things first?.”
“Indeed… Sebas, we will decide Tsuare’s fate later. I would prefer not to kill her, but I cannot guarantee that. Please keep that in mind.”
Sebas was hard-pressed to hide his surprise that Ainz — the highest authority in all Nazarick — could not instantly resolve the matter of Tsuare’s disposal.
“Ainz-sama. Are we retreating from this house — from the Royal Capital — because of my mistake?
“…Perhaps. Perhaps not. Like I said just now, I feel we have learned everything we can from this area. There would be no gain in continuing to stay here. This is a safer course of action, according to my calculations. Demiurge, I will bring Victim back. Give him to me.”
After taking the fetal angel — Victim — from Demiurge, Ainz cast a spell.
Ainz flourished his cape in a theatrical fashion as he cast the spell, as though he were an actor. Then he was engulfed by a sphere of blackness which then vanished inward, taking his body with it.
For a moment, Sebas stared dumbly at that overacted exit (which he had never seen before) but then he suddenly came to his senses.
“That’s right, she looks a little tired. I would like to take her back to her room to rest. I trust there will be no problems if I take her there, Demiurge?”
“…Indeed. You have the right of it, Sebas.”
A thin, fiendish smile appeared on Demiurge’s face, and he gracefully gestured to the door, as though to say, “Please, carry on.”
“However, it is possible that Ainz-sama might summon you once more, given the circumstances. I hope you will be ready for that. While I feel that there is no need to worry about that, I do not wish to go on a foxhunt in the Royal Capital.”
“Please come with me.”
“…Yes,” Tsuare replied hoarsely as she followed shakily behind Sebas.
After leaving the room, the hallway echoed with their footsteps. The two of them walked in silence, and soon they reached the door to Tsuare’s room. It was nearby, but the journey there seemed to have taken a very long time.
When they reached the door, Sebas finally made up his mind and quietly said:
“I will not apologize.”
Sebas sensed Tsuare tremble from where she was following behind him.
“However, the fact that my master ordered me to dispose of you was my fault. If I had dealt with the matter in a better way, it would not have come to this.”
“I am a loyal servant of Ainz-sama — of the 41 Supreme Beings. Even if the same thing happens again, I will respond in the same way… so I hope you will stay in the human world and find happiness there. I will try to seek Ainz-sama’s approval… given that Ainz-sama can modify memories. Let Ainz-sama erase your unpleasant memories and then live well.”
“…How about my memories of you, Sebas-sama?”
“…I will ask Ainz-sama to erase your memories of me as well. After all, remembering me will do you no good.”
“And what is good for me?”
Sebas sensed a fierce determination in Tsuare’s voice, and turned around.
The woman before Sebas stared defiantly at him, and although her eyes were brimming with tears, they had an unshakeable look in them. Sebas felt his heart waver, and he thought about how to persuade her.
It was true that Nazarick was a wonderful place, and one could say it was a land blessed by the gods. But the only ones who thought that way were Sebas and the other people who had been created by the 41 Supreme Beings, as well as the vassals of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.
Sebas did not think that human beings, who lacked talent and power, could find happiness in that land. Neither did he think that domain would welcome low-value lifeforms like humans. Indeed, she would not be able to live there without the protection of his supreme master. Therefore, Sebas told her:
“…I want you to find happiness in the human world.”
“I have already found happiness. It is by your side, Sebas-sama. So please, take me with you.”
Sebas felt that Tsuare was quite pitiable as he heard her ironclad statement.
“…You seem to have found happiness in a small thing, but it was merely the living hell before that which numbed your soul.”
She had seen the worst the world could offer, so she had taken joy in even a slightly less wretched environment. That was all. However, Tsuare laughed at his observation.
“…I do not feel that this place is hell. I can eat my fill here and I have a decent job… I grew up in a small village, and life was hard there.”
For a moment, Tsuare glanced into the distance. Then she recovered, and looked straight at Sebas.
“Our stomachs cried out in hunger, and no matter how hard we worked the fields, our lord took almost everything and left us with precious little to eat. In addition, we were nothing more than toys to our lord. No matter how much I cried and screamed, he kept laughing as he raped me. He laughed at me. He—”
Tsuare’s smile was twitching as Sebas pulled her over, enfolding her within his embrace before gently putting an arm over her trembling shoulders. Just like before, Sebas could feel Tsuare’s tears soak his clothes as she broke down.
What she had seen and lived through was not all of the world. Yet, to Tsuare, that was the sum total of the human experience.
Sebas fell into thought.
What should he do? No matter how he thought about it, there was only one answer. But that answer would anger his master. It might even make him order Tsuare’s death.
“You might die.”
“If I must die by the hand of Sebas-sama, by the hand of the one who showed me kindness when I should have died in that place…”
Tsuare looked up to him. The look on her face helped Sebas make up his mind as well.
“I understand, Tsuare. I will plead with Ainz-sama to let me take you to Nazarick.”
“It is too early to thank me. If I plead for you, Ainz-sama may order me to kill you—”
“—I am already prepared for that.”
“Is that… so.”
Sebas let the strength fade from the arm on his shoulder, but Tsuare refused to leave. She clung tightly to Sebas’ clothes, looking up to him with dewy eyes.
There seemed to be a look of expectation in those eyes. That was what Sebas’ instincts told him, but he did not know what she was hoping for. Still, he remembered that he had to confirm one thing first.
“Allow me to make sure this. You have no attachment to the human world? Do you not wish to return to your home?”
Even being taken to Nazarick did not entail being completely separated from human society. That was because he was not taking Tsuare there to be a prisoner. However that possibility could not be entirely ruled out.
“…I… I would like to see my little sister again. But more than that, I don’t want to remember all the things in the past…”
“I understand. Then, go to your room. I will go and meet Ainz-sama once more.”
Tsuare let go of Sebas’ clothes, and then she wrapped her arms around Sebas’ neck.
Tsuare paid no attention to the outwardly expressionless, yet inwardly conflicted Sebas, and stood on the tips of her toes.
And then, Tsuare’s lips met those of Sebas.
The moment of intimacy was exceedingly brief. Tsuare’s lips soon left his.
“It was a little prickly,” Tsuare said as she stepped back, touching her lips with the fingers of both hands. “It was the first time I was so happy to be kissed.”
Sebas had nothing to say. However, Tsuare looked intently at Sebas, and then smiled sweetly.
“Then, I shall wait here. Thank you for your concern, Sebas-sama.”
“Er, oh… I, I understand. Please wait here for a while.”
♦ ♦ ♦
“Is something the matter? It would appear your face is red, no?”
That was the first thing Sebas heard when he returned to the room. Upon hearing someone comment on the redness of his face, Sebas calmed his breathing back to a deep and even rhythm. If he allowed his consternation from just now to show on his face, what right would he have to receive his master as his servant? Sebas resisted the impulse to touch his lips, instead putting on the expression of the perfect servant.
“It is nothing, Demiurge-sama.”
“There is no need to address me in such a formal manner, Sebas. Just as you did in front of Ainz-sama — in front of our master of incomparable worth — you may address me by my name alone. How about you, Cocytus?”
“I. Do. Not. Mind.”
After hearing from the two Guardians, Sebas indicated that he understood.
About five minutes later, space distorted.
By the time the distortion had faded, someone stood in its place. Naturally, that person was Ainz. The Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown he had been carrying just now was nowhere to be seen, and neither was Victim.
Sebas, Cocytus, Demiurge and Solution knelt as one and bowed to him.
“Thank you for the warm welcome.”
Ainz circled behind the desk and took a seat.
“You may rise.”
The four of them straightened up at once, all looking at Ainz. He seemed to be in a very good mood.
“Let’s get down to business. Demiurge, this just goes to show you were worrying too much. I didn’t believe for a moment that Sebas had betrayed us. You are all too cautious. Besides, I verified it myself in the Throne Room.”
“My deepest apologies. And I am grateful that you would accept my pointless suggestion, which contradicted your own judgement.”
“That’s fine. I also make mistakes from time to time. However, I can relax when I know you are paying attention and checking, Demiurge. Besides, you made that suggestion because you were worried about me. I am not so petty as to censure you for that.”
Ainz shifted his gaze from Demiurge — who was bowing deeply — and towards another direction.
“Now then, Sebas. It is time to discuss how to deal with that human girl.”
Sebas’ body went stiff from nervousness. He forced out a “Yes”, and then after inspecting Ainz’s countenance, he made up his mind and asked: “How shall we we deal with Tsuare?”
The silence continued, and then Ainz spoke, in what sounded like a suggestion.
“Hm. I recall that letting that girl go would result in news about Nazarick getting out, am I correct?”
Demiurge nodded under Ainz’s gaze.
“Indeed, that is so. Ainz-sama, how shall we handle this matter?”
“We shall alter her memories. Then… give her some money, and dump her somewhere.”
“Ainz-sama, I feel that killing her outright would be more convenient. There would also be fewer things to worry about.”
Solution nodded at Demiurge’s suggestion. After seeing their reactions, Ainz sank into contemplation. Since the two of them felt the same way, he should probably do it… perhaps.
Sebas began to panic.
Once his master made a decision, asking him to change it would not be easy. While Ainz had forgiven Sebas, Demiurge, Cocytus and Solution would surely think very poorly of him now. Carelessly voicing his opposition would definitely incur their ire.
However, he had to make his proposal right now.
Sebas opened his mouth, preparing to speak in opposition to Demiurge’s opinion. However, he ended up not doing so, because Ainz spoke first.
“…That’s enough, Demiurge. I am not fond of killing when it doesn’t benefit me. Or rather, once you kill the weak, you cannot use them any longer. You must consider that they might still be of use as long as they still live.”
Sebas swallowed a sigh of relief. Tsuare had not yet been condemned to death. That said, it was still a possibility.
“I understand… Then how about having her work at the ranch managed by my subordinates?”
“Oh, I recall you were breeding Chimerae. That’s right, have you considered mincing them and using them as rations? We need to improve the quality of Nazarick’s provisions.”
Demiurge’s eyes left Ainz, who was muttering about “Chimera steaks, then… no, hamburgersmight be better…” and looked into the distance. Then he turned back.
“…Unfortunately, the quality of their meat is poor, and they are not up to standard. Using them in glorious Nazarick would be a little…”
Demiurge smiled, indicating that he did not approve.
“Still, we can chop up the dead beasts and feed them to the others. Of course, they will not eat the meat if you feed it to them directly, so we have to mince it up first.”
“Oh… so they will eat their own kind? Animals are ultimately animals, after all.”
“You are correct, Ainz-sama. Still, that is what makes them foolish, cute and suitable as toys. The thing is that they are omnivorous, so they will also eat grains and the like. Therefore, may I trouble you to grant me some grain if there is any left over? Given the current situation, our plundered supplies are somewhat insufficient.”
“They are the source of parchment, a critical resource. I do not wish to let them starve either. How about this… Sebas, purchase large quantities of grain before we leave and direct them to Demiurge.”
“Understood. Given the quantities required, I wish to rent a small warehouse and store the grains there. How shall we transport the grain to Nazarick?”
“About that… Bring Shalltear over and have her use [Gate] to send it over. Demiurge will take over from there. Will that be alright?”
“Yes. We will handle the transportation from there.”
“Very well. Ah, yes. Demiurge, You are arguably the hardest worker in Nazarick, and I am very grateful to you for that.”
“Thank you very much for your kind words, Ainz-sama! They serve as immeasurable encouragement to your humble servant!”
“…Hm, ah, calm down. Therefore, I had something to ask you. Are you not suffering greatly under your many labors? I call you back whenever there are problems, and you must manage the breeding ranch to maintain the supply of parchment, and then there are the preparations for creating the Demon King… I fear you are displeased with the many weighty tasks you have been given.”
Demiurge was all smiles. Sebas had never seen that expression on him before — it was a smile that lacked any malice whatsoever and endeared him to all who looked upon it.
“I am deeply grateful that you would be so concerned for your humble servant. However, please be at ease. All these tasks are meaningful and they do not constitute a burden to me thus far. If I feel there is the need for it, I shall surely request assistance. At that time, I shall have to trouble you for succour and aid.”
“I see, I see.”
Sebas frowned mentally as he heard his master’s voice of delight and thought about the truth of the conditions at Demiurge’s ranch.
Sebas and Demiurge were both servants of the Supreme Beings, and Sebas knew Demiurge’s personality well. Someone like Demiurge would never run an ordinary ranch. The same would apply even if he were raising creatures like Chimerae—
A brilliant flash of light raced through Sebas’ mind.
This was because he had guessed what sort of creatures Demiurge was raising.
Could he send Tsuare to such a place? Indeed, Demiurge would probably guarantee the safety of her life. However, the same could not be said of her mental state.
Just then, there was a lull in the conversation between Ainz and Demiurge. This was the only time for Sebas to cut in. After deciding on that, Sebas addressed his master:
“Hm? What is it, Sebas?”
“If I may—”
He held his breath. This was a gamble — an extremely risky gamble. Yet, it was one he had to make.
“I would like to have Tsuare work for us in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.”
Silence descended upon the room, and all eyes converged on a single point in the room. Ainz calmly asked Sebas:
“I asked Cocytus the same question before… but Sebas, what merits are there in doing so?”
“To begin with, Tsuare can cook. In all of Nazarick, only the head chef and the sous-chef can prepare food, excepting Yuri and the others. After considering the future needs of Nazarick, I feel that it would be better if we had more people who could cook. I also feel that it would be very beneficial to test the ability of humans to work in Nazarick. It would set an excellent precedent to show that even inferior lifeforms like humans can render service unto Nazarick. In addition—”
“—I get it. I understand, Sebas.”
Ainz raised his hand to interrupt Sebas’ non-stop rambling about the many uses of Tsuare.
“I know, Sebas. I am fully aware of what you’re trying to say. Indeed, I have thought in the past that we have too few people who are able to cook. It is a problem worth pondering.”
“But Ainz-sama, can she really prepare food which is worthy of Nazarick?”
Sebas glared resentfully at Demiurge for a moment. In response, Demiurge merely smiled.
You bastard — Sebas swallowed the curse before he could speak it.
Even if Ainz had forgiven Sebas, Demiurge had not. Therefore, he was striving to be as contrary as possible to Sebas’ wishes while they decided the disposition of Tsuare. That must be it.
“He does have a point. What do you think, Sebas?”
“…Tsuare mainly prepares basic dishes. As for whether they are suitable for Nazarick… that is a little difficult to answer.”
“Basic dishes. I doubt Nazarick will require steamed potatoes or the like.”
“I am compelled to point out the shallowness of Demiurge’s thinking. Since she can already make basic dishes, that implies she can learn other cooking techniques from the head chef if she but asks. We cannot simply look at the present, but must consider the future.”
“Then I would love to have her help prepare food in my ranch. Making mincemeat is hardly a trivial task.”
The two of them bickered back and forth. Ainz watched their conversation.
At the same time, he looked beyond them. He saw the phantom images of their creators, ghosts of a glorious golden past—
♦ ♦ ♦
“So, where are we going today?”
“The Fire Giants—”
“The Ice Dragons—”
“…Hm. Ulbert-san, I believe we agreed to farm the Fire Giant boss Surtr for his rare drops. Did you forget?”
“I’d like to ask if you forgot, Touch-san. There are people who need to hunt Ice Dragons in order to meet their job change prerequisites, aren’t there?”
“…Indeed, that is so. But Yamaiko-san needs the drops to get stronger.”
“Ah, I’m okay with—”
“Are you referring to the Primordial Fire? Then the Primordial Ice is just as essential, no? That being the case, we should hunt the Dragons—”
“…We can raise drop rates with a cash item. Surtr has a lower drop rate than the Dragons, so don’t you think we ought to beat him first?”
“So you’re telling me to shell out for a cash item, then?”
“…Well, about, about, about that…”
“…How about fighting lewd monsters like Succubi in the Abyss?”
“Shut up, little bro.”
“Well, if we’re going after demon-types, we ought to fight the Seven Lords of Sin. Granted, we might need to make a lot of preparations.”
“…Touch-san, I don’t think you should be so selfish. Don’t you think we’d be more efficient fighting the Ice Dragons, given the members who showed up?”
“You’re the selfish one, Ulbert-san. Besides, games aren’t all about efficiency.”
“Would the strongest mage and the strongest warrior please stop fighting…”
“They’ve always been like that. Ever since they recruited me.”
“Touch-san must have been a really great guy to chat up a pink penis.”
“…Chagama-san, Peroroncino-san, could you please put your weapons down? I’m invoking my Guildmaster’s privileges.”
“Didn’t some other guild beat the Seven Lords of Sin already?”
“Someone took out Pride. There was a post online.”
“Apparently you’re guaranteed a World-Class Item once you beat all the Seven Sins — after all, they are World-Class Enemies.”
“Speaking of World-Class Items, let’s use the [Caloric Stone] to make a super-powerful golem.”
“Nuubou-san. I feel it would be better to socket it into a weapon instead of making a golem.”
“I think a suit of armor would be pretty good too.”
“Ah, we do have to think about that. After all, it’s an item that allows us to make requests to the devs, so we’d be better served by thinking carefully about it.”
“That’s right, Momonga-san.”
“We already know how to farm [Caloric Stones], but that method depletes a lot of the metal from the hidden prismatic ore mine.”
“Ahhhh, we can’t get it unless we have sole control over the mine. What a pain.”
“Yeah. As long as it’s divided up among other guilds, we can’t replace it once it’s used up. Why not just take turns using it… how about selling the information to Trinity? That ought to make people greedy and trigger infighting among them, and we can swoop in to pick up the pieces.”
“So we sell it to the Alliance and let them kill each other? That’s our strategist Punitto Moe-san for you.”
“Speaking of the Alliance , they seem to be reaching out to others.”
“Eh? Why’s that?”
“I heard they obtained some kind of World-Class Item, so they changed their stance towards other guilds.”
“Achya — still, it’ll be hard for them to form a high-tier coalition like last time.”
“—How about letting Momonga-san decide?”
“Sounds good to me. Guildmaster, what do you think we should do?”
“…Eh? Wha? I wasn’t paying attention at all… eh? Oh, are you asking me now? …Honestly… We’ll go with majority vote as usual. That way nobody will have any complaints.”
“Fine with me.”
“Alright, then, the new coin will represent Ulbert-san while the old one represents Touch-san. Good — everyone, take your coins. We’re going to listen to the two of them speak now—”
♦ ♦ ♦
“—Are. You. Quite. Done. With. This. Squabbling? You. Stand. Before. Ainz-sama!”
Cocytus’ words were like a bucket of cold water dumped onto the ever-escalating quarrel between Sebas and Demiurge.
Both of them turned to look at Ainz, who was staring at them, and their faces blanched in unison. There was no way to tell what expression lurked within the dancing points of light within Ainz’s empty eye sockets, but there was no doubt that there was great power in his gaze.
The two of them sensed their master was about to castigate them at any time, and they both responded simultaneously.
“Forgive your servant’s rudeness in your presence, Ainz-sama!”
“Your servant deeply regrets forcing you to witness his foolish behavior!”
The two of them bowed in apology, but neither of them could understand Ainz’s reaction.
The room suddenly rang with loud and relaxed laughter.
They did not recall Ainz ever laughing with such mirth. Cocytus, Demiurge, Sebas and Solution stared dumbly at this unbelievable sight.
“It’s fine. I permit this! I permit you to argue! Yes! That’s how it should be, going back and forth without end. Ahahaha.”
They had no idea what had moved Ainz’s heart, but Sebas quietly sighed in relief, sensing that the situation seemed to have changed.
“Ahahah… tch, the override kicked in.”
Suddenly their master’s mood calmed down, as though something had snapped inside him. Still, Sebas was sure that he seemed to be in good spirits. Ainz then addressed Sebas in a relaxed tone:
“I already know what Sebas wants to say. Unfortunately, it is not a good idea to bring humans into the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. That said, I wish to see that Tsuare girl. Bring her to me.”
“Eh? Ah — yes! Your servant understands!”
Sebas was puzzled by Ainz’s strange pronouncement, but he immediately left the room and fetched Tsuare.
“Ainz-sama, I have brought her here.”
“Mm, bring her over—”
Ainz leaned forward from his chair. He stared at Tsuare in a very strange way.
Has something about her displeased the Master? Sebas glanced at Tsuare from the corner of his eye, but he had no idea why his master would act like that.
“…Looks similar,” he murmured. He had probably not meant to say that out loud.
“…Welcome, Tsuare. Let me begin by making things clear. I do not warn people twice, because I wish to respect the choices that others make. That applies even if said choice results in disaster for the other party. WIth that out of the way, I wish to ask you something. If you lie, the matter will be over. The same applies if I do not receive the answer I wish to hear.”
Sebas could hear Tsuare swallow from where he was standing by the side. He did not fault her for that. She was probably feeling very uneasy about her impending fate after that threatening display.
“Then, my question is: Tell me your full name.”
Sebas did not understand the meaning of that question. Why had he asked it?
He glanced at her again, and saw that Tsuare’s eyes were roving all around the room. Her attitude explained everything.
Please answer honestly, Sebas prayed.
The fact that she had not even told Sebas her real name suggested that it might be very problematic. That said, lying to his master would probably be the worst-case scenario for her.
The silence continued, and after a nerve-wracking period of time had passed, Tsuare finally responded in a voice as faint as a mosquito’s buzzing:
“And your surname?”
“I see… I see… then, I shall ask you this, Tsuareninya. Your wish is to travel to the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick — that is to say, my domain — and live there, am I correct? …The Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick is not a world where humans can live. No, I do not mean that humans cannot survive there, but that it does not contain members of the race known as humanity. Therefore, I do not know if it is a suitable place for you to live… You may also choose to accept the fortune I will give you, and live the rest of your days in a distant human domain.”
His terms were so generous that it made people question why Ainz was going this far for her. However, Tsuare did not hesitate and replied immediately:
“I, I wish to live with… Sebas-sama.”
Ainz nodded slowly. The crimson light in his empty eye sockets seemed strangely gentle.
“Good. Listen well, my servants!”
Everyone immediately snapped to attention. Tsuare hurriedly made to imitate them.
“I guarantee the safety of Tsuareninya in the name of Ainz Ooal Gown. I can treat you as a guest of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, but what would you prefer?”
“Thank… thank you, m’lord. But, but, I would prefer to work with Sebas-sama.”
“—If that is what you wish. Then, for the time being, Tsuare shall be a temporary maid who is directly subordinate to Sebas. Sebas, give her appropriate work. At the same time, the Pleiades will change from the Six Stars to the Seven Sisters, with the appropriate change in the team’s leader. However, we will not move her from that place. Yuri Alpha will take charge instead.”
Solution bowed deeply.
“Also, tell everyone in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick that Tsuareninya is under the protection of Ainz Ooal Gown. At the same time, she will be working alongside you.”
Everyone except Tsuare and Ainz bowed as one.
“Demiurge, do you have any objections to my decision?”
“None at all. Your word is law in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. However, I feel many will not understand why we have welcomed a human being to this blessed land of ours. How shall I explain this to them?”
“…When I think about it, Yamaiko-san’s sister Akemi-san was a Wood Elf, but we frequently invited her to Nazarick. There is no ban on the entry of humans or humanoids. Otherwise—”
Ainz looked at Solution, who was waiting for orders within the room, and said:
“—We would have to chase out your little sister as well.”
“However, it remains to be seen if an immortal can still be considered human.”
“Indeed, Solution. Then, Demiurge. Tell them that I have decreed this. If anyone feels otherwise, they are free to look for me. I will explain it to them.”
“Your servant understands. I have no further questions.”
“Then let us confirm our course of action. First, we will immediately vacate this property. All the sentries stationed here will return to Nazarick. Solution and Sebas will complete their final task in the Royal Capital — which is to purchase grain for Demiurge — and then they will transport it to the storehouse. Once sufficient quantities have been accumulated, we will have Shalltear use [Gate] to transport the grain. Am I correct.”
Everyone bowed in silence. Tsuare looked around and hurriedly bowed as well.
“Then, there’s Tsuare… How should we handle Tsuare? Will she go back with us? Or should she go back with Sebas?”
“Your servant submits that going back with me would save a lot of trouble.”
“Is that so, Sebas. I understand. Then, Sebas, Solution, bring the sentry vassals here. I will take them all back with my magic.”
♦ ♦ ♦
After watching the three of them leave, Demiurge asked Ainz:
“May I ask if you are you familiar with that girl?”
Ainz did not answer that question, but slowly rose from his seat. Then he turned to face a blank wall. The way he did so was as though there were someone standing there.
After a short while had passed, Ainz spoke.
“Demiurge, I am a person who believes in returning good unto good and evil unto evil. At the same time, I feel that debts owed must be repaid.”
Ainz produced a book from thin air. This leather-bound book was bound with string, and it was of rough workmanship.
“The Head Librarian has already translated it, but this is is the original. It was the diary of a girl who burned with anger because her… elder sister was taken away by a nobleman.”
Once, in a certain village, there lived a pair of sisters who were very close. Their parents had passed away when they were young and they were poor, but they helped each other through life.
However, the elder sister was taken away by the lord of the land — a man with a terrible reputation — to serve as his concubine. Perhaps the younger sister might have been able to wish her well with tears in her eyes if her elder sister had been able to live well. However, the rumors her little sister heard made her guess that her elder sister would be used as a toy and then disposed of as garbage once her captors tired of her.
When her guess was proven accurate, the furious little sister left her village, because nobody was willing to help her.
Soon, she discovered that she had a talent for magic, and so she steadily built her strength in order to save her elder sister with her abilities. However, she had met her end before meeting her aim.
The diary was mainly filled with brief, simple sentences. On the last page, she had written words of praise for a pair of adventurers who had gone to gather herbs with her: Momon and Nabe.
“I learned some things about how the world worked from from this diary. So I am in your debt. Let me pay it to your elder sister instead.”
Ainz stroked the leather cover, which was discolored from age, and then returned it to his pocket dimension.
“Ainz-sama, your servant seeks your permission for a matter.”
“What is it, Demiurge?”
“I saw the reports which Sebas submitted, and something caught my interest. Might I have some of your time?”
“Is there a problem?”
“Yes. There is a place I wish to investigate. I will attempt to return before you must go back, Ainz-sama, but it may take a while because I have to search for the place in question… having you wait for me is terribly disrespectful, but if you could spare me a bit of your precious time…”
As Ainz saw Demiurge’s grave face, Ainz decided to speak in a light tone to put him at ease.
“It is fine, Demiurge. You are doing so for the benefit of Nazarick, are you not? Waiting for that purpose is not a hardship. Go, Demiurge.”
“Thank you very much!”
Lower Fire Month (9th Month) 4th Day 15:01
Dawn came, and with it, Sebas and Solution’s busy day began.
They could have left without a word, but they had built their identities as traders and it would be a shame to simply discard it like that, so they decided to put on a show and pretend they were returning to the Empire.
He brought Solution with him — she had only met them once before this, when they had just arrived — and announced their return to their homeland to all the traders and to the Guild.
Of course, they could not simply leave after saying they were going back. They had to spend time on small talk, that being an indispensable part of improving relationships.The fact was that no man was unwilling to speak with Solution, which meant they had to spend more time on interaction.
In the end, they spent upwards of half an hour at every location they visited, and after they had finished reporting to everyone, it was already very late.
“Well, we spent a lot of time on this, but we’ve already arranged for the temporary storehouse and the grain transportation. That should take care of everything and we can return to Nazarick now.”
There were hints of delight in Solution’s voice. Sebas could tell that this was because she was pleased; both because she would be able to return to the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, and also because she had fulfilled the orders her master had handed down to her. Since intelligence-gathering had primarily been Sebas’ job, she had probably not had much chance to experience the sense of accomplishment which came from serving her master and producing results.
Solution’s job now was to play the role of the mistress in preparation for their return to Nazarick. Surely that would have filled her with great satisfaction. She seemed about to hum to herself.
The fact was that her good-spirited conversation with the merchants had led to various negotiations going in their favor. For instance, they had received a huge discount on the rent for the warehouse, on top of the deductions for buying a large quantity of grain.
Being pretty makes you really popular.
That was what Sebas thought as he stopped the coach in the yard of the house and led Solution to the main door.of the house.
He took out the key for the front door and inserted it into the keyhole.
Then he turned it, as he always did, but he did not hear the clicking that should have followed, nor did he feel like he had opened a lock.
Sebas wrinkled his brow in confusion, and then his eyes met Solution’s.
—Was the door open?
He pushed, and the door opened slightly.
Tsuare was the only one left in the house. There was no way she would have gone outside on her own.
“There are fresh scratches around the keyhole. Someone probably picked—”
Sebas rammed the door open without waiting for Solution to finish. He did not consider the possibility of there being a trap in place. Even if there was a trap, he would crush it underfoot.
Now that they had finished the work of pulling out from the house, it felt cold and empty. Upon setting foot into the house Sebas immediately deployed his full suite of detection abilities to pick up the breathing of living creatures — in other words, traces of Tsuare.
However, he could not sense any humans around.
“Tsuare! Tsuare, are you there?!” he shouted loudly as he searched around the house.
Sebas went through every nook and cranny but could not find her. Not only had he not found her, but there were no traces of her either. It was as though she had vanished into thin air.
No, somebody must have broken in. There’s no smell of blood, so she was probably abducted. That being the case, the kidnappers’ demands will be…
Sebas clenched his fists.
As he thought, he should not have left Tsuare behind while he was saying his farewells. He burned with frustration at his failure.
In fact, he should never have left Tsuare alone in the house. Having clashed with a criminal syndicate, he felt that it was inevitable that danger would come his way sooner or later.
That said, he had still let Tsuare stay home alone. This was because her mental traumas had not yet healed and she was still afraid of the outside world and its people. The reason why she had not succumbed to panic during the meeting with Sebas’ master was because all of them did not look remotely human. Back then, she had not acted like a traumatized person, but an average person who had seen a monster.
Even leaving her on the coach might have caused problems as well. It was those worries which made Sebas decide to leave her in the house.
He had also believed that in the wake of his wrecking of the brothel, the opposition would take some time to reorganize themselves or plan an attack.
All he could say now was that he had been too naive.
As Sebas paced quickly through the corridors, a voice called out to him amidst his anxiety. The voice came from the guest lounge.
“Sebas-sama, over here.”
“Solution, where is she?”
How could she be there? Sebas had checked the guest lounge just now. Still, he clung to a sliver of faint hope.
He entered the room and saw Solution there, holding a piece of parchment.
“There seems to be something written on—”
“Give it to me.”
Sebas did not wait for Solution to reply before practically snatching it from her hands. Then he activated his magic item and read through the contents, whereupon he crushed the paper in anger.
“She was kidnapped. Therefore, I shall go and rescue her.”
Solution’s reply was calm and emotionless.
“Your servant feels that you should do so as well.”
This did not sound like something Solution would say, and it made Sebas’ eyes go wide.
“However, Ainz-sama ordered us to retreat to the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. Should we not prioritize that order?”
“If we go back, we must do so with Tsuare.”
“Sebas-sama… your servant feels that acting independently here will incur a great risk. Firstly, where will you go to rescue her?”
“The note specified a time and place in exacting detail. Our opposition seems to be people involved with the brothel that I destroyed.”
“I see. However, it would be best to report to Ainz-sama before heading there. After all, had you not destroyed the brothel, things would not have ended up like this, Sebas-sama. Was that not a violation of Ainz-sama’s request that we keep a low profile. In addition, acting on your own again would mean defying Ainz-sama’s will once more, Sebas-sama… and also, have you forgotten what Ainz-sama said back then, Sebas-sama?”
Those words flashed through Sebas’ mind like a stroke of lightning. In whose name had Ainz sworn to protect Tsuare?
“Report to Ainz-sama. Tell him that Tsuare has been kidnapped, and ask him for advice on how to proceed.”
Lower Fire Month (9th Month) 4th Day 15:15
“Hm hm hm~”
Albedo happily hummed a self-made tune to herself as she pushed a needle through a piece of wool, pulled the thread tight, then pushed the needle back in again, and then tightened it again. After several repetitions of this, she had sewn a piece of black cloth to a ball of white wool. After that, she stuffed the cloth into the white ball to make it even rounder.
She closely inspected the nearly spherical wool doll, and then a gentle smile formed on Albedo’s face. Her expression exuded a gentle kindness, like that of a goddess.
“Alright! I’ve finished Ainz-sama’s head!”
She clenched her fist in satisfaction, and then she caressed the woolen skull.
The skull’s mouth and eyes were patches of sewn-on cloth and they looked adorable. Ainz would surely be embarrassed if he saw this.
“Alright, now for the body…”
She set the fabric skull down with infinite kindness, then rose from her chair and took up a ball of white wool.
This was Albedo’s personal room.
Speaking of personal rooms, Albedo had originally been assigned to the Throne Room as its defender, so she had never had a room to begin with.
However, Ainz had decided that such a state of affairs might be problematic for the Guardian Overseer, and so he had ordered that she be assigned one of the rooms prepared for the 41 Supreme Beings.
Much like Ainz’s own room, Albedo’s quarters were very spacious. Frankly speaking, it was too large for Albedo, who did not have many personal possessions to begin with.
However after living here for about two months, the situation was different.
The first reason was the changing room which Albedo was about to open.
It was filled with Ainzs.
Of course, they were all fake copies of Ainz. There were several dakimakuras of Ainz in various poses, and countless SD plush dolls of Ainz.
This was one of Albedo’s secret rooms. Not even the maids who came in to clean the room were allowed in here. It was an inviolable sanctuary, or in other words, a harem chamber.
With that strange sound, Albedo leapt into the air. She flapped the wings at her waist to slow her charge at the dakimakuras. It looked like a slow-motion rugby tackle.
Albedo embraced the dakimakura tightly and then rolled around the floor. There were many different Ainzs on the floor as well, which ensured that her landing was well-cushioned.
She laughed strangely as she buried herself in three different Ainz dakimakuras.
“Kuhuhuhu, this latest dakimakura was made from Ainz-sama’s bedsheet… which means I’m sleeping with Ainz-sama. Kuhuhuhuhu~”
Albedo buried her face into the dakimakura and inhaled deeply.
“There’s no scent… huh.”
The disappointment was clearly evident in her tone. It would surely induce guilt in any listeners.
Ainz was undead, so he did not need to sleep or use the bedroom. In addition, his body was skeletal, so he had no scent. He would bathe to rid himself of dirt or dust, but by itself, his body did exude any odours.
“Hmm? Is this… could this be… Ainz-sama’s…”
However, a girl in love could even scent the faint odour that Ainz produced… although her nose might have just been playing tricks on her.
She buried her face into the dakimakura and gulped down great lungfuls of air. This behavior was less fitting of the Guardian Overseer than a pervert.
“Ahhhh~ I’m so happy.”
As the Guardian Overseer of Nazarick, Albedo had many tasks. She had to handle troop assignations within Nazarick and station sentries to man the early warning perimeter. She also had to maintain the defensive posture of Nazarick and wait at the Throne Room to verify everyone’s status and so on. It was a set of tasks that would make anyone’s eyes ache.
Therefore, coming into this room to recharge herself was a critical matter.
“Ah~ I want to see Ainz-sama. I want to see him. Ah~ I want to see him.”
She hugged the pillow tightly, as though to vent her anger at Narberal, who was travelling with Ainz. Just then—
Her body quivered in fear.
Albedo broke out in a cold sweat and her face twitched as she looked around, until she was sure that the voice had been generated by magic.
“Ai-Ainz-sama — do you have any orders for me?”
『Just now, Sebas — no, Solution sent a [Message] to me. It seems that Tsuare, the woman which Sebas picked up, has been kidnapped. Therefore, I’d like you to put together a set of reinforcements for Sebas.』
Albedo immediately recalled who Tsuare was when Ainz mentioned her.
Ainz had set out for E-Rantel in the guise of Momon right after returning to Nazarick, but she had heard the rough details from Demiurge, who had stayed behind.
“Please forgive my foolish questioning of your decision, Ainz-sama. But is there a need to draft a team in order to save an inferior life form like a human being? If she were connected to the mastermind of the Shalltear incident, I could understand…”
『No. This situation has nothing to deal with Shalltear being mind-controlled. This matter seems to be the doing of the criminal organization hiding within the Kingdom.』
“That being the case, there’s even…”
『Albedo. I swore on the name of Ainz Ooal Gown to help Tsuareninya. Do you understand?』
His tone had changed completely.
Albedo could feel the searing flames of his anger. Her throat seemed to have glued into a solid mass.
『Do you understand? Do you understand?! I used that name to guarantee her my protection! But someone dared kidnap her in spite of that! In other words, they are insulting the name that we all chose! They may not know the facts, but I will not forgive this!』
At this point, it felt as though his hatred had suddenly diminished.
In all likelihood his emotions had reached a certain threshold and had been forcibly suppressed.
『…Forgive me. Those damn kidnappers seem to have angered me. I beg your pardon, Albedo.』
It was only after she heard her master’s calm voice that Albedo’s own heart could return to peace and she could finally speak.
While she knew that her insuperable master was not angry at her, even Albedo could not help but feel pressured by it.
“There, there’s no need for you to apologize, Ainz-sama.”
She bowed deeply, even though he was not before her.
『…Then, I order you to safely rescue Tsuareninya, Albedo.』
“Understood! I shall severely punish the humans who dared anger you at the same time that I mount the rescue!”
『Very good. I’ll leave that to you. Also, is Demiurge still in Nazarick to handle the grain transportation? Let him take responsibility for this.』
“I could take action directly—”
『No, Albedo. I need you to defend Nazarick. Send Demiurge over. And remember to be careful. Do not allow your true identities to be exposed. In that case, I will turn the matter of the Royal Capital over to you and Demiurge. Carry on.』
The [Message] spell terminated and silence returned to the room. Albedo slowly rose and carefully stowed away the dakimakuras.
“…Still, I really don’t understand.”
There was a hard glint in Albedo’s eyes as she muttered to herself. She turned to regard the room once more.
None of the maids were allowed into this room. This was both because Albedo wanted to monopolize the Ainz dolls and also because of a particular corner of the room.
That corner contained the flag emblazoned with the symbol of Ainz Ooal Gown.
It should have been proudly displayed near the entrance, but it had instead been thrown into the corner where it was now gathering dust. There was no trace of respect or admiration for it, only disdain, anger and scorn.
“Ainz Ooal Gown, huh… how meaningless.”
Albedo thought of the flag that had replaced the flag of Ainz Ooal Gown. It was too large, and so it drooped like a theatre backdrop.
“The Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick belongs to you and you alone. I, Albedo, wish only to serve you. Ahhhh… How I wish I could hear your wondrous name again someday—”