Overlord Light Novel Volume 8 Side 2 (1/2)
Overlord Light Novel Volume 8 Side 2 (1/2)
A day in Nazarick
Editing: Skythewood, Namorax, TaintedDreams, Nigel, Ferro, NoirX, Zack Tan, SifaV6
Special thanks to Anon
5:14 Nazarick Time
A droplet of water gathered at the end of the golden faucet, and it slowly swelled, until at last it was pulled down by gravity and splashed onto the floor of the bathroom.
There were several bathing facilities within the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, and this was one of them.
Someone soaked within a stone bathtub that was large enough to accommodate several people at once.
Blue water dripped off a slippery white body. This blue color was not a literary allusion, but an actual blue color, as though it had been produced through a deliberate application of dye.
A blue-colored liquid licked at the porcelain-like body, starting from its feet. Its slippery body defied the force of gravity and crawled upwards, unlike the water which flowed in all directions.
The bathroom was very echo-friendly, and the thus words which had unconsciously slipped out were unexpectedly loud within its confines
Perhaps it was ashamed by its own voice, but a slender hand suddenly emerged from the blue liquid. The expected sound of water droplets and ripples in the water’s surface were nowhere to be found. That was because this liquid was abnormally viscous.
The upraised hand caressed a face which many had praised for its beauty.
The person in question sighed softly, then let itself fall backwards into the liquid. However, that person’s body did not sink into the water. Rather, the blue liquid slowly caught that person’s slender frame. The softness resembled a waterbed.
The liquid was clearly sapient.
That point was promptly proven in the next moment.
The blue liquid began to writhe, extruding several tentacles that were the thickness of one or two fingers each. These tentacles began to move, as though to embrace that person. Naturally, the same thing was happening within the blue liquid as well.
It touched the face, the chest, the belly, the arms, the legs ─ as well as the loins.
After seizing its prey, the liquid began squirming, as though satisfied. In truth, it was a Sapphire Slime, a high-level slime variant.
The Sapphire Slime began moving the long, thin tentacles which wrapped the body.
The tentacles infiltrated the tiny crevices of the groin.
The cry rang out once more. While it was louder than before, that person did not think about lowering their voice this time, simply focused on the sensations of the slime working around and writhing within their body.
The sound of someone talking to themselves echoed through the bathroom.
“─Ah, this feels great. It’s too good for words.”
The person within the bathtub ─ Ainz ─ muttered to himself as he took a slime bath.
He scooped up a handful of slime and poured it onto his head. The slime which had been hard at work cleaning out the crevices of his pelvis seemed to sense where its master wanted it to clean next. Ainz felt the slime crawling around on his head.
“Huu, this is paradise.”
Ainz’s undead body was composed entirely of bones.
He had no metabolism, so his body would not stink or become dirty from bodily wastes. However, this did not mean he did not need to bathe. After all, dust and soot still accumulated on him, and sometimes he would be splashed by his enemies’ blood. In the end, he would still get dirty.
Besides, as a Japanese person, he felt very uncomfortable about not bathing.
“I could only take steam baths over there (in my original world). So once I knew I could bathe here, I wanted to soak my entire body into the tub… perhaps bathing is a deeply-ingrained practice for Japanese people.”
He went through the motions of exhaling while he sank further into the slime. The slippery sensation received and accepted his body.
It would not feel strange if he treated it as a viscous liquid.
Normal bathing is very troublesome.
Ainz lowered his head to look at the most troublesome part of his body.
The rows of his ribs came into view.
Cleaning each rib one by one was very troublesome. Ainz recalled his struggle from when he had done it before, and sighed ─ despite the fact that he did not need to breathe.
That was not the only troublesome thing.
His spine was the same way. The protrusions snagged his towel, and he could not clean them off easily in one quick go. He had to slowly clean each individual vertebra.
At the beginning, Ainz had taken great care in bathing himself. However, Ainz soon began to find it tiresome, despite his supposed mental resilience. It took at least half an hour to bathe, and he could not help but think “Are you kidding me?”
After that, he decided to soak into soapy water and turn around inside it like a washing machine. That was a pretty good idea. The problem was that he did not feel clean. If he did not scrub himself, it did not feel like he had gotten all the dirt off him.
Following that, he used a handled brush to scrub himself. That was quite effective.
Granted, the soap and foam went everywhere, but it was not as though Ainz was the one cleaning it anyway. Cleaning was the maids’ job, and they were delighted at the chance to show their stuff. It was truly a win-win situation.
However, even this good idea was flawed.
That flaw was not knowing if he had really scrubbed himself clean.
It was just like getting a cavity despite carefully brushing one’s teeth; though he thought he had scrubbed himself from head to toe, he was still worried that he had missed scrubbing some part of himself.
In the end, Ainz hit on this solution, which was to let a slime engulf him.
“This technique… as I thought, it’s truly revolutionary and unique, a perfect technique that can’t be faulted,” he muttered to himself as he looked at the blue slime crawling all over himself.
Ainz nodded happily, satisfied by the method he had invented for easy bathing. For all he knew, this might have been the best thing he had thought up since he came to this world.
“Well done, me!”
As Ainz praised himself once more, he looked to the slime which industriously oozed all over him.
Monsters like these were extremely vicious; they could dissolve their enemies with acid and they were strong enough to bend iron bars with ease. Yet to Ainz, they were his bathhouse attendants, who helped get him clean. To some extent, they felt like pets.
Still, while slime baths are good… I’d like to take a regular bath sometime.
There were all sorts of facilities on the 9th Floor of Nazarick. One of them was a large bath. It was a complex of various bathing sub-facilities themed after a spa resort.
“Maybe I’ll go bathe there and see what it’s like…”
That said, bathing by himself was too boring. That being the case─
“Alright! I’ll get the Guardians to go with me. It’d be good if there’s a time when everyone’s free.”
Ainz smiled at his good idea.
7:14 Nazarick Time
There were two types of maids in Nazarick.
One group was the combat maids, as represented by Yuri Alpha, and the other was the regular maids who had no combat abilities. The latter were homunculi, with a combined racial and job level of 1, and they were responsible for various jobs in the 10th and 9th floor of Nazarick. In particular, cleaning the various Supreme Beings’ rooms was a task of utmost importance to them.
One of these regular maids, known as Sixth, moved rapidly along the corridor, for she was in a rush. This was a simple maid technique ─ not a special skill or anything ─ and it carried her to the cafeteria.
There was only one reason to go to the cafeteria at this time.
When she arrived, almost all her colleagues had already gathered for breakfast and started eating.
The cafeteria was predominantly white in color, with sparse decoration. The echo of the girls’ cheerful chatter echoed off the walls like ripples in water. It would not have been much of a problem if there was only one person, but since there were many people speaking, their voices blended into one incomprehensible noise. On top of that, the sound of clinking tableware added to the din.
The maids in the cafeteria could be separated into four main groups.
The first three groups were sorted according to their creators. There were 41 regular maids in total, but it was not because each Supreme Being had created their own maid. Rather, the regular maids were created by the trirumvirate of Whitebrim, Herohero, and Coup De Grâce.
Strictly speaking, the last group was not a proper group by itself. It was composed of those maids who had detached themselves from the first three groups in order to eat in silence, to eat while reading or to talk to maids who had been made by other Supreme Beings.
Sixth, who had arrived late at the cafeteria, belonged to the last group.
She waved to the maids made by the same Supreme Being as herself —they were her sisters, in a sense— and then headed to her usual place.
“Good morning… have you eaten?”
“Good morning. And yes, we’ve already eaten. Breakfast was so good~ so creamy and fluffy and tasty~”
The person delivering that deadpan reply was called Foire. She was bad at lying, but lied anyway. She had short hair and her maid skirt was similarly shortened to match her energetic appearance.
Contrasting her was Lumiere, who had a neat look about her. There was a mysterious gleam in her blonde hair, which sparkled like there were stars in it.
“Good morning. ─Foire, since you shouldn’t need seconds, you can wait here for us. I haven’t had breakfast yet, so I’m going to get some. Come, Sixth, let’s go.”
Lumiere stood, trailed closely by Foire, who was frantically saying, “I was just kidding, really~”
After concluding their usual dialogue, the three of them went over to the self-service buffet counter. Naturally, they had the maid called Increment, who was quietly reading a book beside them, watch over their seats.
The first thing Sixth took at the buffet bar was a serving of crispy bacon. As a member of the faction which believed that “soft bacon is the devil”, she always went for that first. Next, she helped herself to some soup. Of the three flavours today —soup of the day, corn and onion— she selected the last. After that were sausages, french fries and danishes. Her other plate was piled high with onion salad, almost to the point of spilling. Finally, Sixth placed an order with a masked manservant.
“Um, I’ll have triple cheese, double onions, and extra mushrooms.”
The manservant nodded, and began making the omelette.
Sixth returned to her seat to put down her dishes, and then poured herself a glass of milk before returning to where the manservant was waiting with her freshly-prepared omelette.
“Thank you very much.”
The flawless omelette was perfectly prepared, without a single singe mark on it, and she returned to her place just as her friends did.
“Then, let’s eat!”
The three of them had their breakfast in silence. Slowly but steadily, they transferred the mountains of food — far in excess of what a normal girl would consume — from their plates into their bellies. It was because they all possessed increased appetites, as a racial penalty.
Because of that, even though they were among friends, they never talked while eating.
Foire chewed while her cheeks were bulging with food, Lumiere ate elegantly, but her fork moved at a ferocious speed, and Sixth ate at a rate in between the two.
Soon, their plates had emptied with startling swiftness, and the three of them downed their glasses after that.
The three of them exhaled, the scent of milk heavy on their breath, and then looked at each other.
“Sounds good, but let’s take a break first.”
“I approve~ Feeling kinda stuffed now, anyway. Say, Sixth, isn’t it your turn to serve Ainz-sama today? You seem more determined than usual today.”
Foire smiled mischievously, and so did Sixth.
“Lucky you, how much longer will it be until it’s my turn?”
Lumiere counted off the days on her fingers.
The rooms of Nazarick’s supreme rulers were massive in scale, so much so that one person would need half a day or more to clean one of them carefully. While the maids had the raw numbers to clean them all on a daily basis, even with Albedo’s spare room factored in, that would require a lot of people to work all day without any rest.
However, this was not a problem to the maids. They had been created by the rulers of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, the guild Ainz Ooal Gown; it was only fitting that they should work their fingers to the bone for them, because it was an act of venerating their gods.
And then, these fanatical workers had been told to stop by the god-like being, Ainz Ooal Gown.
Ainz knew the hardships of working under unethical companies, and he could not bear to let these girls, who were like his friends’ daughters, suffer like that.
He had told them, “Don’t clean the unused rooms so frequently”, and then “You will work and rest ion shifts.”
Thus, the regular maids of Nazarick were organized into two shifts; the day shift and the night shift. The former had 30 people and the latter had 10, while the one remaining person got the day off. After calculating the working days for the maids, the announcement that they would have a break every 41 days was met with complaints.
It was not that there were too few days off, but the opposite. They requested that the day off be cancelled.
Ultimately, working for the Supreme Beings was the reason for their existence. Telling them that they did not have to work damaged their sense of self-worth and made them feel like they were no longer needed.
As such, the maids decided to discuss the matter with Ainz. They said, “Please don’t take our jobs”, “We want to do it all day and night”, and so on.
Ainz shot the suggestion down on the spot. The concept of fatigue existed in YGGDRASIL and while it could be easily remedied with magic, there was no guarantee that fatigue would be healed as easily in this world. Even with magic, he was worried that it would steadily degrade their ability to function, like a cogwheel losing its teeth.
Yet, the maids adamantly refused to back down. Faced with their tears, Ainz gave in and proposed a new type of work for them.
They would have to personally serve Ainz.
That task entailed staying by Ainz’s side to attend to his every need and whim, and the maids would take turns filling that role.
This offer was as tempting as sugar sprinkled with honey to the maids, whose greatest joy in life was to serve the Supreme Beings. They accepted the suggestion without a second thought, along with the order that “you need to take care of yourselves and rest well the day before, so you can serve with all your strength when it’s your turn.”
“We need our nutrients so we can work hard, you know. Plus, depending on the circumstances, you might need to skip a meal too.”
“Of course, when you serve Ainz-sama, your brain needs all the nutrients it can get.”
“I want something sweet~”
The three girls nodded in unison. Incidentally, all the maids carried several meals’ worth of candy and other such treats on them. They would snack on them whenever they had free time while serving Ainz. However, be it fortunate or not, they simply could not find that free time. As such, the morning meal was very important to them.
“Have you heard? They say they’re going to cook using ingredients from the outside world and have a food tasting.”
The other two gasped at Sixth’s statement.
I expected as much, Sixth thought.
Few of the maids thought well of the outside world — the world that lay beyond Nazarick. Some of them felt that the outside world was inferior to Nazarick, but most of them were afraid of it, because the floor right above their home, the 8th floor, had once been invaded by people from the outside.
“Will all the maids be attending the tasting? Or will only a few of us be allowed to go?”
Just as Sixth was about to answer Foire’s question, the atmosphere in the cafeteria changed. The air itself seemed to heat up.
As the newcomer came into the maids’ sight, they squealed in delight.
The person who had just entered the cafeteria was one of the Pleiades, CZ.
The battle maids were like idols to the regular maids, and CZ was the most popular of them all. There were frequent struggles to sit next to her.
“Ah, the penguin’s here too.”
CZ held a penguin under her arm, and a worried-looking manservant was trailing behind her. It was the Assistant Butler, Eclair. He flapped his wings with all his strength, but there was no way he could escape with the strength of a level 1 Birdman. His desperate struggles quickly lost their vigor as the maids looked on.
In the end, the penguin ran out of strength and went limp, like a real stuffed doll.
““Shizu-chan! Over here, over here! Come eat with us!”
“No, come over here! Shizu-chaaaan~”
“Just throw that butler away! Over there would be fine!”
“Send that useless bird to the head chef, at least he’ll contribute to Nazarick that way!”
There was a marked difference in the reception that the Assistant Butler and CZ received from the maids, but that could not be helped. He was disliked because he loudly proclaimed that he wanted to take over Nazarick, despite being a mere assistant butler. Even if he had been created that way by the Supreme Beings, his frequent announcements of those wild words made him quite unbearable.
CZ peered through the commotion around her, as though she was searching for someone. The adorable way in which she did so, like she were a child who did not know where to sit, made many of the maids’ hearts beat faster.
“Even that bird looks cute when Shizu-chan holds him, how strange.”
“I want a Shizu-chan hug pillow. Albedo-sama seems to know how to make those, I wonder if she’ll teach me?”
“Albedo-sama is very kind, I’m sure she’ll agree. Why don’t you try asking her next time?”
The sound of a book closing with an audible thud came from the next table over, and when Sixth turned to look, her eyes met Increment’s.
“This place is getting noisy, so I’m going back. Since you’re attending to Ainz-sama today, you should probably finish breakfast quickly and head over to him. Any mistakes you make will reflect on all of us.”
Having said her piece, Increment turned and left without waiting for a reply. As she watched her fellow maid leave, Sixth took out her pocket watch. Fortunately, she still had some time. After freshening up, she should be just in time.
“All right, I’ll go grab some more stuff to eat while everyone’s focused on Shizu-chan!”
Foire and Lumiere nodded at Sixth’s idea.
“Oh~ that’s a nice idea~su”
The sudden answer from the side made the three maids gasp.
With hands clasped over her lurching heart, Sixth turned to face the source of the voice. There had been nobody there just a moment ago, but Lupusregina had appeared out of nowhere while everyone was distracted by Shizu and looking away. She sat sideways on a chair with her legs up on the table and even had a share of her own food.
“Please don’t scare us like that, honestly~”
Foire was still clinging tightly to Lumiere, her eyebrows pressed into a / \ shape.
“My heart almost jumped out of my mouth~”
Lumiere barely paid any attention to Foire, who was clinging to her. She spoke quietly, like she had been scared out of her wits.
The three of them directed reproachful voices at Lupusregina, yet they were actually just a little happy inside. That was because Lupusregina was the only one of the battle maids who treated them like friends, although her actions were hard to predict. She spent her time moving between the different maid groups, so being approached by her was a sign of good fortune. The best proof was how some of the others were looking at Sixth and her group with envious eyes.
“Nishishi, seems my experiments in the village didn’t go to waste, you three gave me some pretty amusing reactions~”
The way Lupusregina supported her face with her arm on the table, while having an evil grin on her face, made her look a little like a cat out of the storybooks. Although her smile was nothing but mischievous, it was still surprisingly charming. Sixth watched the battle maid smile for a while, utterly fascinated by her.
The other two seemed to feel the same way, but the first to recover was Foire.
Foire tilted her head, which made her short bob hair brush against Lumiere’s face.
Lumiere resisted the urge to sneeze and shoved Foire away, and then she rearranged herself so she was looking Lupusregina straight in the face.
“Lupusregina-san, you work outside, right?”
“Yup, in the human village ~su.”
“Humans, huh… it must be tough.”
Lumiere looked at Lupusregina with sympathetic eyes.
“Nah, it’s nothing like that! Since Ainz-sama ordered it, it’s worth doing! …Although, I have to say, it’s kind of boring. How should I put this… it would be so much more fun to squish them beneath my feet.”
Sixth had no particular opinion about that statement. Humans and their villages and whatnot were unimportant to her. Whether they prospered or were destroyed, the only thing that mattered was if they were useful to Nazarick.
“Come to think of it, Ainz-sama said that village was very valuable, but I don’t see it~su”
“Given Ainz-sama’s personality, he must have said so because he pitied the miserable little humans there..”
“No, no, Ainz-sama’s like a hurricane of death. I’m sure he’s just waiting for the right moment to kill them all, right?”
“What are you saying? Don’t you know Ainz-sama is a genius? All this must be part of his plan.”
“Ara, I can’t pretend I didn’t hear that. Isn’t Ainz-sama’s power the best part of him ~su?”
The four beautiful girls stared at each other, none of them willing to back down.
“Ainz-sama is a beautiful, compassionate person.”
“Ainz-sama is Death, come for this world.”
“Ainz-sama is an incomparable hero.”
“Oh, looks like everyone has a different impression of Ainz-sama. Then, let’s have a competition. We’ll see who can pick out the most suitable title for Ainz-sama.”
In an instant, everyone went silent. Lupusregina was wearing her usual smile, but she had a certain understanding of her liege’s qualities and was unwilling to admit defeat. However, Sixth and her two friends felt the same way.
The regular maids were weak beings, but their respect and adoration of their master was no less than that of anyone else’s.
“Then, the three of you may start off ~su.”
“In that case… “
Lumiere was the first to speak.
“Then, as I said earlier, I wish to praise Ainz-sama’s beauty. So how about ‘A figure of beautiful porcelain, shining and flawless, the gentle lord of mercy.’”
Next was Foire.
“Well, if we’re going to praise Ainz-sama, then we should praise his awesome power, right! As a ruler of death, what could be more fitting than ‘Memento Mori’?”
The third was Sixth.
“Ainz-sama was the one who coordinated the Supreme Beings, so his management skills would be excellent. So he is a ‘wise king’.”
Although everyone’s names fitted their master well, in the end they all thought that their own choices was the best.
Lupusregina coughed gently as Sixth, Foire and Lumiere looked at her. With a proud look on her face, she said,
“In the end, we shiuld call him the absolutely strongest and most—”
“…There you are.”
The source of the calm voice was CZ. The assistant butler Eclair she had been holding under her arm had vanished to parts unknown.
“…Stop using invisibility all the time.”
“Soz~ it’s a habit ~su”
“…And you started eating.”
A sun-hot anger burned under CZ’s emotionless face. Sixth had the feeling that she should not be here any longer.
“…Ah, I-I have to go to Ainz-sama!”
“Then, I’ll go too.”
“I’ll send you along~”
Sixth and the others quietly vacated their seats, though they did feel a little bad ignoring Lupusregina’s pleading looks toward them.
In the end, they did not manage to get seconds. It was a bit of a shame, but she had to pull herself together now.
Sixth paid no heed to the danger in the air behind them. Instead, she lightly slapped her cheeks to focus herself. Her face had the stern, brave expression of a soldier heading off to a war, but her footsteps were light and fast.
9:20 Nazarick Time
This was the 6th Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.
The undead which roamed the tomb were nowhere in sight, but magical beasts ─ such as the controlled by Aura ─ defended this location in place of POP monsters. This area ─ known as the most expansive in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick ─ was largely covered by dense forest, to the point where it could be described as a sea of trees.
That said, the past members of the guild Ainz Ooal Gown were very meticulous about details They certainly would not paint this area green and be done with it.
There was a Colosseum here, a giant tree, traces of a village which had been swallowed up by the jungle, a lake, a venomous cave, a twisted grove, a mangrove forest and a bottomless swamp, all of which added variety to the Sea of Trees. Recently, they had even built a small village to receive new residents.
In the center of this sea of trees was a big lake ─ that said, it was still smaller than the underground lake area on the 4th Floor ─ which was surrounded not by forest, but by grassland. While the grassland and lake were fairly small when compared to the entirety of the 6th Floor, it was still large enough for their purposes.
Their ─ the first of “them” was the Floor Guardian Aura. She rode easily atop a gigantic wolf with jet-black fur, and just a glance was enough to tell that she was an old hand at this.
However, that was only to be expected. After all, when she patrolled this large area, she preferred to do so while riding the magical beasts under her dominion, although running would have been easy enough, given her preternatural physical abilities.
There were two other people.
One of them was the Guardian Overseer, Albedo. She was not wearing her usual, beautiful white dress, but the black full plate armor which she donned for combat. However, she was not carrying her weapon or shield.
The other was Shalltear. She looked the same as always, and her eyes had a strange look which was less of interest than enjoyment.
“Then, let’s begin ─ come, my mount.”
The skill Albedo used was called [Summon Mount].
A magical beast slowly emerged out of nowhere, as black as the armor she wore.
This beast had a white mane and tail, and it resembled a horse. It was clad in a suit of full-plate barding, and it was fitted with reins and a saddle.
It was slightly smaller than a horse. However, its presence was far more oppressive than that of an ordinary horse. The most defining difference could be found on its head. There, one would find two horns that protruded straight outwards.
The first response to the magical beast which had suddenly appeared came from Aura, who knew the most about such creatures.
“Oh! It’s not like an ordinary Bicorn! Its horns are strong and it looks really beefy too.”
“Fufu,” Albedo laughed. “That’s right. This Bicorn has been strengthened by my abilities into a War Bicorn Lord… well, it’s actually a level 100 Bicorn.”
“Can it fly?”
“No, it can’t. It’s fundamentally the same as a regular Bicorn; it doesn’t have any special abilities, just improved stamina, strength and dexterity.”
“Looks like you can’t really strengthen your mount without rider-type skills ─ in that case, since its special abilities are too weak, it might get in the way if it took part in our level 100 battles”
“Indeed. However, I can make up for that by using my skills to protect this boy, so it can fight for longer periods.”
“But doesn’t that mean you’ll be wasting your resources on it? It’ll be a big hassle in combat, right? Why not power it up by changing its gear? I hear mount-type monsters can be equipped with barding and horseshoes and so on.”
“Indeed. You can change the equipment of mounts summoned through skills. It’s related to the question asked just now, Aura; for instance, I could equip it with horseshoes that grant flight, and it would be able to fly. However, I’ve already given it magic items to boost its speed… it really is a tough decision.”
Albedo lightly patted the flank of the magical beast. Perhaps she had used too much force, but the Bicorn shuddered.
There was no way a magical beast she had summoned would be thrown off balance by just that much. Just as Albedo frowned while wondering if it was making a fool of her, Aura asked a question.
“Say, does it have a name?”
“It’s a Bicorn, right? Didn’t you just say so yourself?”
“No, I don’t mean the name of its species, I mean its name as an individual.”
“Does it need one?”
She looked to Shalltear for her reaction. The Vampire said nothing, simply shrugged.
“Surely it needs one, right? Isn’t it your pet, Albedo?”
“Well, it’s not really a pet… besides, do I really summon the same one each time?”
As she heard Albedo’s question, Shalltear came up with a great idea, which she decided to share.
“How about asking Kyouhukou? He excels at summoning his comrades, so he ought to know a lot about this sort of thing.”
“…Give me a break. He’s a fellow member of Nazarick, and I shouldn’t hate him, but…”
“Ah ─ indeed. They don’t mean ill, but they crawl into your clothes all the same. However, Entoma seems to visit him from time to time.”
“That’s gross~ stop talking about things that make me feel all itchy… that place really is a house of horrors. I might be in charge of that Floor, but I honestly do not wish to go in there.”
“…Shalltear, did you know? Entoma calls that place the snack room.”
“Ugeeeh─! Seriously? Seriously? Uwah ─ I don’t want to go near Entoma ever again.”
Albedo felt the same way. She did not wish to approach anyone who could call that sort of thing a snack. Just as the mood started to turn queer, Aura decided to raise her voice and clear the air:
“Anyway, why don’t you name it?”
“Indeed. If you think naming it is better, then I shall.”
Albedo muttered to herself as she fell into contemplation. Since she was going to name her mount, then obviously she had to give it a name that would not embarrass her. She thought of various words and phrases, and then a flash of inspiration struck her as a song played in her head.
“What are you mumbling about?”
“Ah, my apologies,” Albedo said, as though she had just woken from a dream. “Well. If Ainz-sama permits, I would like to give it a name that represents how I feel; ‘Top of the World’.”
“Hmm ─ that’s a good name. By Top of the World, you mean Ainz-sama, right?”
Albedo smiled, but did not answer.
Shalltear’s eyebrows quirked up at a dangerous angle.
As the tension built in the air, it was Aura who had to break them up, as usual.
“Well, it’s not like anything will happen. Anyway, since you’ve called out your Bicorn, let’s perform the next experiment!”
“Mm, I understand.”
Having been treated as a child throwing a tantrum, Shalltear narrowed her eyes and glared at Albedo as she turned to the bicorn and put a greaved foot on the stirrups. Albedo mounted up on it with a grace that did not seem like it had come from someone wearing armor. The moment she touched the saddle, she could feel the Bicorn’s body quivering through the point of contact.
Albedo could not help exclaiming. She could not think of any reason why this level 100 Bicorn would be unsteady on its feet. Suddenly, she recalled what had happened when she had patted the Bicorn.Could it be that some problem had occurred then? If that were the case, then what was the cause?
“Aura! Shalltear! Something strange is going on with my Bicorn. Could you help me take a look?”
Just then, the Bicorn began to wobble. It looked like it could no longer stand up. The two of them looked at it and realized that there was something abnormal going on here.
“In… in any case, you should get off first, Albedo!”
After hearing Aura say so, Albedo finally responded by jumping off the creature.
The wobbling Bicorn promptly collapsed. It was panting heavily and its coat was covered in a fine sheen of sweat.
“…Albedo, did you get fat?”
Shalltear was not saying that to make fun of her. Any observer would have thought the same thing.
“How rude! I’m always watching my weight because I’ve got more muscle than most!”
“Then, could it be that its muscles wasted away because you haven’t been riding it regularly? By the way, I raise all my kids free-range, and I often take them patrolling around the 6th Floor.”
“Eh? How could that be… speaking of which, [Summon Mount] ─ isn’t it just like a normal summoned monster? There’s no way it could get weaker.”
“Would you like me to ride it?”
“I’m sorry, but it won’t work. This is my mount, and nobody else can ride it. If anyone tries, it’ll automatically unsummon itself.”
“Then how about asking the mount itself? Hey, Bicorn, what’s wrong?”
Aura asked it a question. It was not that Aura could speak with horses, but magical beasts like Bicorns ought to have pretty high intelligence, so Aura hoped that it would understand human speech. Of course, the Bicorn could not speak, so all it could do was neigh like a horse.
“It can’t speak… don’t tell me it can’t write either?”
The Bicorn whinnied in the affirmative.
The three of them looked at each other.
“Aura, can you use your skills to do something amazing?”
“I can’t. Besides, what do you mean by amazing? Didn’t you ask me what abilities I had when we had our one-on-one chat a long time ago? Don’t tell me you forgot that too, Guardian Overseer-dono!”
“Ara… how do you usually communicate with Fenrir, then?”
“I just tell him to do this and that.”
“So you speak to him, right? So if you try, you should be able to communicate with this Bicorn, am I correct?”
“Just because I can communicate with the beasts I control doesn’t mean I can speak to all beasts. And besides, I already tried. The Lizardmen have a pet called Rororo, right? I don’t know why, but I just can’t get through to him.”
The three of them looked at each other once more.
“…If we’re stuck, the only one we can turn to is Demiurge, after all.”
“Unfortunately, Demiurge is now working abroad on Ainz-sama’s orders. He hasn’t spent much time in Nazarick recently. I can contact him, but frankly speaking, I don’t really want to consult to him if it’s not related to work.”
A look of jealousy appeared in Shalltear and Aura’s eyes. Demiurge ─ who ran around working for their master ─ was the object of the Guardians’ envy.
“Ah~ I really do envy him. I know that the defense of Nazarick is an important job, but if nobody invades, then we won’t have a chance to show our stuff, and it makes me wonder if I’m actually useful. I want to go outside and accomplish something so I can work hard for Ainz-sama.”
“All I’ve done recently is make mistakes…”
“Don’t worry, Shalltear. I think that you’ll have the chance to work for Ainz-sama soon ─ no, I’m sure you’ll have the chance to do so. But you need to be a bit smarter, otherwise that might be a bit tricky.”
“Don’t you think that’s… a little harsh?”
“Ahhh, the fact is, you did mess up. You need to produce results worthy of a Guardian.”
Shalltear grit her teeth, and then suddenly her face brightened up, as though a light bulb had just switched itself on above her head.
“Ku, ku, ku, now why are you all talking bad about me? What I wanted to say was that if Demiurge wasn’t around and we couldn’t ask him, then I would lend you a helping hand instead. Well, since it can’t be helped, I’ll look it up for you!”
Shalltear took out a book. It appeared thick and heavy, like it had a thousand pages at the very least. However, to Shalltear ─ who looked like a girl on the outside but who was anything but on the inside ─ its weight was nothing much.
“Ohhh─! Don’t tell me, don’t tell me that’s…!”
“Hnnng, a treasure bestowed upon you by Ainz-sama!”
It was not just Aura; even Albedo looked upon Shalltear with jealousy in her eyes.
“Indeed! This is the Encyclopedia Peroroncino-sama! It’s my reward for completing Ainz-sama’s orders!”
While this was more of a consolation prize cum appreciation award, to Shalltear it was instead the best form of praise, and she smiled in satisfaction. No, that was only natural. An item from her creator was more valuable than any form of encouragement.
This book was called the Encyclopedia. It was an item every player received after starting the game, and it could not be stolen or lost unless its owner chose to dispose of it. In addition, it was unique.
YGGDRASIL was a game of enjoying the unknown, and this item could be said to be a physical expression of the developers’ desire for players to transform the unknown into the known.
This was because the Encyclopedia recorded the visual data of all the monsters a player had ever encountered. However, it did not display statistics ─ the monsters’ ability scores ─ but only its typical appearance and name. If it was a monster from mythology, it would also display the relevant contents from the myth in question and other relevant information.
In order to make effective use of this book-shaped item, one would need to personally enter the information which one had gathered into the book. Such information included a monster’s special abilities or its weaknesses and so on.
The Encyclopedia that Shalltear possessed had once belonged to the man called Peroroncino, and he was the one who entered the data within that book. Ainz remembered that he had left this item in the Treasury when he had quit the game, and so he handed it to Shalltear.
However, a lot of the content which Peroroncino added had been erased. It was as though Peroroncino were afraid of leaving it behind and deleted it.
As a result, the item was not very useful, but Shalltear did not mind. This was an item that her creator had once used. That was the important thing.
“B ─ Bi ─ Bicorn,” Shalltear muttered as she flipped through the pages.
Aura and Albedo leaned in to take a look, but Shalltear used her body to cover up the book and then backed up, before fixing the two of them in place with a sharp glare.
“Hmph ─ that’s fine. I too have a bracelet gifted to me by Ainz-sama.”
Aura gently caressed her silver wristband. Similarly, Albedo stroked the ring on her left index finger. However, she had not been the only one to receive that ring.
I want a special reward for me and me alone. I want a special item from Ainz-sama─
Just as Albedo began caressing her abdomen, Shalltear exclaimed. It would seem she had found the page she was looking for.
“Bicorn! Got it, let me see…”
Shalltear suddenly froze and looked up in shock, then stared at Albedo.
“Wh-what is it? Is something wrong?”
Albedo nervously questioned Shalltear as she looked at the book again and read the entry.
“…a mutant species of Unicorn. Just as Unicorns are supposed to be associated with purity, Bicorns are associated with impurity. Unicorns will only allow pure maidens to ride them, but conversely, Bicorns will never allow pure maidenss to ride them… haaah?!”
As Shalltear read that part, Aura’s eyes went so wide it seemed as though they would fall out of their sockets.
“No way… don’t tell me Albedo’s a…?”
“What do you mean ‘no way’? What do you take me for?”
“Eh, but aren’t you a Succubus, Albedo?”
“S ─ Su ─ Succ ─ Succubus…”
Shalltear seemed to be confused and she began searching for the Succubus entry.
“That’s right, I’m a Succubus! But I don’t have any experience with men, sorry about that! But what can I do about it? I’m the Guardian Overseer, so I’m always stuck in the Throne Room! I hardly ever get to meet anyone else! Besides, Ainz-sama has never called me to his bed… and I don’t want to do anything like that with men who aren’t Ainz-sama…”
Albedo hung her head, and then she suddenly jerked it up again.
“Since you put it that way…”
Albedo glanced at Aura, then shook her head. If Aura was not like that, there would be a huge problem.
“How about you, Shalltear?”
“…I don’t have any experience with men. Now, women are a different matter…”
Aura did not understand for a moment and tilted her head. Then, she seemed to get it, because she wrinkled her brow and went “Uwah~” as her face seized up and wordlessly said “no, thank you”.
“Ahhh! It’s because there aren’t any good men around! I like the dead, but rotting corpses are just… right? Right?”
“Don’t look to me for approval, Shalltear. Your fetishes are just too weird and I can’t understand them.”
The three of them looked at each other, then simultaneously averted their eyes. They had silently agreed to end this topic here.
“…Alright, so at least we know why I can’t ride a Bicorn now… I can’t believe that was the reason.”
Albedo’s face twisted in unhappiness. The Bicorn thought it had been scolded and curled up into a ball.
“Hm ─ this is like sealing off part of Albedo’s strength.”
“Still, it’s not like you’re really good at mounted combat anyway. It’s just one ability you can’t use, right? If you can’t ride your Bicorn, then how about one of Aura’s beasts? Maybe a Unicorn might be good.”
“Hm ─ I don’t have a Unicorn. Though I want one.”
“Isn’t there a better way? It’ll be fine if Ainz-sama helps me ride the Bicorn, right?”
Albedo’s smile seemed to tell the other two that there was no better way than that.
“Hmph!” Albedo hmphed at Shalltear. “How rude, Shalltear. This is necessary in order for me to make full use of my powers as Guardian Overseer of Nazarick for Ainz-sama.”
“Fufufu. Hmph! So you can’t get Ainz-sama’s love without using your official duties as an excuse… That’s just too sad for a woman. It means you can’t win it with your charm alone.”
“Haaaah?” Both of them glared at each other. Aura could not bear them any more and said:
“I say, you two seem to have wandered off into a weird topic; would you mind leaving it at that? Stop talking about these pointless things. Besides, it’s not like it’s going to cause a problem right away. Can’t you summon other mounts?”
“I have a magic item which can summon me a steed.”
“Then isn’t that enough? There’s no problem at all.”
“Using a magic item to summon a mount needs me to change my gear or take out the item, so it’s more effort than just summoning a mount with a skill. And this Bicorn has much better fighting power…”
“Then have the Bicorn take your enemy’s attacks and use the opening to summon a mount! That’s a basic tactic for a beast tamer.”
“It seems that’s the only way it can be used.”
“That would mean you’ve become weaker, Albedo.”
“Could you not speak like you’re laughing at others’ misfortune?”
“Don’t you delight in my suffering too, Albedo?”
“Do not.” “Do too.” Both sides went back and forth.
“Honestly, I’ve had it with the two of you… eh, stop glaring at each other already. How about going elsewhere? Ainz-sama granted us time off, after all.”
“That’s right.” Albedo went with that, and Shalltear ─ who had been arguing with her ─ nodded as well. However ─
“…He asked us to take time off, but what should we do? We were made to protect the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick and work for the various Supreme Beings. Working is our life…”
“Even so, when Ainz-sama wants us to rest, we have to rest.”
The three of them had gathered here because their master had told them, “You all work hard every day. Since free time like this is hard to come by, you female Guardians should arrange to go out and have fun together.”
“We’ve had fun, so does this mean we’re going to disperse? Does this really count as fun?”
“I have my doubts about that. Granted, we had some fun, but I still have my doubts. That’s right, what do you usually do?”
“I patrol between the 1st to the 3rd Floor. Then I collect feedback from the Area Guardians, or I check on the readiness of the entire floor. If I have time, I take a bath, or get a facial…?”
“I’m surprised that you’re so hardworking.”
“What do you mean by surprised?”
“Bathing… how about you, Aura?”
“Hm~ When Mare stays in the Colosseum, I patrol the forest. A bunch of newcomers arrived recently, after all. Then I go home and sleep… that’s all, I guess.”
Aura and Shalltear’s faces were filled with surprise.
“That’s it, that’s it. The newcomers you mentioned ought to be the residents of the village which was just built on this Floor, right? I haven’t been there yet. Let’s go together.”
“Eh? Really? Shalltear, you’ve been there before, right?”
“Really?” As she saw the puzzled look on Albedo’s face, Aura explained:
“Actually, the other guardians have all been here too. First was Cocytus, for the Lizardmen. Demiurge came round too, to check on the situation. The others also drop by from time to time. Hm ─ then let’s go take a look. Besides, it’s not all that far away.
9:38 Nazarick Time
The village built in the 6th Floor of Nazarick was little more than a row of ten-odd log houses. It barely qualified as a settlement. There was a crop field on the right side of the village, and on the left was an orchard that was several times larger than the crop field.
Naturally, it was surrounded by forest, and when one looked down from above, it might resemble a hole in the forest; or a Green Hole. The trees here had been felled and then dug up by the roots, so by right the ground ought to have been uneven. However, the ground in the village was unnaturally level. That was the effect of Mare’s magic.
Many people could be seen working hard in the orchard.
The first person they saw was a human-looking female, whose skin was as lustrous as tree bark. Beside her was a creature which could only be described as a walking tree.
The former was a Dryad, while the latter was a monster known as a Treant.
The Treant placed the Dryad on its branch-like hands and raised her to the upper reaches of a fruit tree.
“There’s also ten or so Lizardmen living here. Sometimes they go to the north ─ to the lake where we just visited ─ to have fun. It’s not like they live in the water anyway. How strange.”
“The village is bigger than the last time I came. There seem to be more residents too.”
“That’s right. That’s because we found a few species who were allowed to enter Nazarick after we conquered the Great Forest of Tob.”
“Species who were allowed to enter Nazarick… I recall the conditions were: they have to be heteromorphs, they must not need food, and they have to be good-natured, right?”
“Mm, that’s what Ainz-sama told us. Although, the ‘must not need food’ condition is more of ‘must be self-sufficient’… the Dryads and Treants absorb nutrients from the earth, so they don’t need to eat in particular. Although, it’ll be bad if the earth’s nutrients run out, or if it doesn’t rain.”
“Ohh ─ does Mare make rain with magic? Or is it an item?”
“That’s basically Mare’s job. Same with restoring the earth’s nutrients. Some spells allow for big harvests, and I heard those spells can fully restore the earth’s nutrients. The Dryads and Treants all say it’s so delicious that they’ll get fat… but I don’t know about the taste.”
As Shalltear chatted with Aura, Albedo slowly surveyed the village with a cold, clinical gaze reserved for examining experimental test subjects. Then, a hint of emotion crept into her eyes for the first time.
“Ara? That ought to be Sous-Chef in the fields, right? What’s he doing?”
They looked along her line of sight, and there, within a patch of fenced-off land ─ seemingly hiding behind a large stalk with red fruits growing all over it ─ was a mushroom-like monster squirming around. At a closer look, he was wearing clothes which he did not mind getting dirty as he picked the red fruits.
“It’s just like what you saw. They sometimes come here to gather ingredients, and they grow their own plants. Let’s go take a look.”
Albedo and Shalltear looked at each other. After verifying that neither of them were against it, and that it would be fine as long as they did not interfere with their colleagues’ work, they went over to take a look.
“Hi~ Working up a sweat as always, I see!”
As he heard Aura’s cheerful voice, Sous-Chef raised its head to look at the three of them.
“Well, my body doesn’t really sweat.”
Sous-Chef grunted like an old man as he stood up and straightened his back. Although he was hunched over in a posture of working the fields, the fact that he had no waist ─ his body was the same thickness from top to bottom, so there was no part of him that was quickly identifiable as a waist ─ meant that they could not tell if his back really ached or if he had done so to change his mood.
After that, Sous-Chef rotated his neck, like someone with shoulder aches. His head was like a toadstool’s cap, coated with some kind of purplish-red liquid which looked like it might drip off at any time, but the fact was that it was as solid and mysteriously stretchy as dried glue, so there was no way it would drip off or splash around.
“Say, are those tomatoes?”
Albedo seemed interested in what Sous-Chef was holding, and so she asked him. He brought the fruits before his eyes, then wiggled his head in bafflement.
“Indeed, they are tomatoes. They are tomatoes as everyone knows them. They are not the type which explode after absorbing sunlight, attack people, or radiate golden light when you cut them open; they are ordinary tomatoes.”
“In other words, they’re edible, commonly available and ordinary tomatoes, right?”
“Indeed. I do not have the special skills needed to grow vegetables that can produce special effects. Given your interest in these tomatoes, does that mean you are interested in tomato dishes? Unfortunately, I can only make drinks.”
“No, I was simply asking out of curiosity. I believe Shalltear’s the one who wants to eat tomato dishes.”
“…Why does everyone think Vampires like tomato juice? Even if the undead eat something, they won’t gain any buffs from it.”
“A lot of people in Nazarick don’t need to eat.”
Thanks to certain items, most of the NPCs no longer needed to eat or drink.
“There’s nothing to be done about it. Food and drink only add to the expenses of sustaining Nazarick. We’d have to spend a lot of money if everyone ate as much as your magical beasts.”
“Ah, wouldn’t it be better for me to go outside to make some money?”
“There’s no need for that. That’s because Ainz-sama and the other Supreme Beings made careful calculations when building this tomb in order to balance income and spending.”
“Oh, so that’s why he decreed that only self-sufficient species could enter here. That way, no matter how many came in, the income balance would remain intact.”
“Indeed… eh, didn’t you know about this?” Albedo looked to each of the three others present.
“How vexing. Not understanding the very place you were protect is a very big problem. I’ll make some time in future and explain everything to you in detail.”
Albedo sighed, then casually regarded the fields. It was then that she noticed that she had seen the leaves of a row of certain plants before.
“Those are carrots… no, are they magic carrots?”
“No, they are not. Have you not heard of them before, Overseer-dono?”
“What do you mean?”
Sous-Chef’s eyes turned to Aura.
“Ah, she did not… I see, she did not tell you about them. Then, what shall we do, Aura-sama? Will you call them, Aura-sama? Surely you must have trained them by now?”
“I already filed a report on it─” Aura smiled wickedly. Then, she took a deep breath, then bellowed “─Long live Ainz Ooal Gown!”
Suddenly, the row of leaves reacted to her words and began moving. They wiggled vigorously from side to side, then pulled themselves out of the earth, and their carrot-like roots popped up onto the surface.
They resembled Asian ginsengs, but they were distinctly different from those. They had four discrete limbs, and they moved deliberately and not through reflex. The uppermost parts of the roots ─ near the stem ─ bore cavities and shadows which resembled eyes and mouths.
Shalltear’s eyes went wide and she spoke the name of these monsters.
“Could those be Mandrakes? We shouldn’t have anything like that in Nazarick…”
“Ah! That’s it! I saw the report, but this is the first time I’ve personally seen one.”
The Mandrakes chorused “Long live Ainz Ooal Gown”, “Long Live Ainz Ooal Gown” as they formed up into ranks.
“They aren’t too smart really. Their relatives such as the Galgenmännlein, Alrunas and Alraunes ought to be smarter… but I didn’t find any of those when I did a quick search of that forest. However, the forest is big, so maybe I just haven’t found them yet. Also, there’s a huge underground cave that leads into the mountains. There seems to be a Myconid settlement there, but I haven’t made a move on them yet.”
“Still, teaching them to speak like that must have been difficult. I’m very impressed,” Sous-Chef explained as he picked up one of the Mandrakes who were lined up in a row.
The Mandrake struggled; apparently having its stem grabbed was painful.
“Long live Ainz Ooal Gown!”
“Long live Ainz Ooal Gown!”
The Mandrakes broke their ranks to encircle Sous-Chef, as though to protest the mistreatment of their friend. During this time, they said the same thing as before.
“Forgive my rudeness. Aura-sama, can you ask them to return?”
“Okay~ Right! Go back!”
Sous-Chef gently placed the Mandrake back on the ground, and the others followed it as they crawled back into the holes they had occupied just now. In just a few seconds, the Mandrakes were back underground, as though they were hibernating for winter.
“I see, it’s like an animal’s call.”
“You could say that. They simply cry it out like a parrot imitating speech; they don’t really know what they’re saying. Apparently, there’s a minimum level of intelligence, below which you can’t understand speech. However, that’s still under investigation.”
“Although, all that is from Demiurge-sama; I am simply repeating what I have heard,” Sous-Chef said.
“Hm ─ that’s right, Albedo, can I ask you a question? As the Guardian Overseer, isn’t it bad that you don’t know about the newcomers? What if a spy came in with them?”
Before Albedo could answer, somebody else voiced an objection.
“Ahahaha, that’s funny, Shalltear. It’s true that the 6th Floor is very large, so it’s only natural that you might think that capturing and slaughtering intruders would be difficult. Certainly, it would be troublesome if they managed to escape from the Colosseum and ran around like little spiders.”
Her laughter was hollow, and her eyes were as cold as ice.
“But don’t you think you’re looking down on me? This place is my hunting ground. Even if they dispersed, I could swiftly hunt down and kill every last one of them. Honestly, even if those people somehow managed to escape the 6th Floor and tried to harm Ainz-sama, they would have to pass through the blazing world of the 7th Floor, and then there’s the inviolable 8th Floor to worry about. Even if they wanted to escape, they would have to pass through the frozen hell of the 5th Floor, the dark waters of the 4th Floor, and then your levels… do you think that’s possible?”
Shalltear shook her head.
“Not at all.”
“And that’s how it is. Therefore, there’s no need to worry no matter how many newcomers there are on this Floor.”
“Aura took the words out of my mouth. Mm, in any case, there’s a plan going on now to gather all kinds of creatures here.”
“Huh? isn’t it just plant-type monsters?”
As she heard Aura’s surprised question, Albedo smiled and answered:
“That was the plan in the beginning, but after some observation, we found that no problems came up thanks to Aura and Mare’s hard work, so the plan was amended and expanded. That said, this is only at a draft stage, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll be put into practice. Therefore, even a Floor Guardian like yourself has not been informed yet.”
Albedo told them to keep it a secret, and then she described the plan:
“The name of the plan is ‘Project Utopia’. It is a large-scale project beginning with the secret base that Aura built, and its end stage is to gather monsters who can get along with humanity and have them live here.”
“Why is getting along with humanity in particular a condition?”
Albedo smiled, as though implying “I knew you’d say”. That smile looked terribly evil.
“That is the key to the entire plan, the focus of Project Utopia.”
“Permit me to be blunt, but I find it hard to understand. This Nazarick is a haven for the Supreme Beings, and we labor for its sake. Why has it been named that way?”
“This is in order to let the outside world believe that we can coexist with other races.”
“I see… so that was the aim.”
“No way, Shalltear actually understood it…”
Shalltear’s face filled with an expression that could shatter a million year-old love, and she glared angrily at Aura.
“Do you take me for a retard?!”
“…Wait… hang on, Shalltear. Might I trouble you to reflect on what you usually say and do before asking me that? Please, just think about it for just a bit.”
And indeed, for just a moment, Shalltear thought back on everything she had said and done until now, and her pupils widened like that of a dead creature. After that, her eyes roved all over, like they were being tossed in stormy waves.
After seeing her utterly pathetic state, Albedo graciously steered the conversation back on track.
“Er, in any case, Ainz-sama came up with this plan. When we discussed the 6th Floor, Ainz-sama once mentioned that he would like to collect various monsters. Surely someone with a limited understanding of the world would never have been able to come up with an idea like that. In the past, I discussed Ainz-sama’s wisdom with Demiurge, and the conclusion we reached was that Ainz-sama is a true genius.”
“Anyone would know that Ainz-sama is a genius, though I hear great men tend to speak little.”
“Did Demiurge say that? Honestly… Ainz-sama never simply states his thoughts, and sometimes he does mysterious things. Still, as the saying goes, ‘true courage seems cowardly, while great wisdom appears foolish’. That’s the sort of person Ainz-sama is.”
Albedo’s eyes were moist, and she shook her head.
“I did not even expect Ainz-sama to create the persona of the adventurer Momon. Truly, he is an awesome man… I did not expect everything that took place until now to be in the palm of Ainz-sama’s hand…”
“Momon is Ainz-sama posing as an adventurer, right? What’s it for?”
“Soon you will understand… the Momon persona will become the bedrock of Ainz-sama’s rule. Ainz-sama is far too amazing… perhaps it was his hidden hand at work behind Demiurge’s suggestion─”
“What are you mumbling about over there? It’s kind of scary.”
Shalltear’s voice called Albedo back to her senses, and after coughing lightly, she regarded the faces of the other three.
“Er, where was I? Right right right! Everything Ainz-sama says and does contains great meaning. Therefore, even if you can’t reach his level, you need to try your best to Ainz-sama’s true intentions from his words.”
“That’ll be hard. Ainz-sama’s just too smart ─ ah, it’s a Spear Needle.”
Two balls of white fluff, each over two meters tall, appeared from inside the village and slowly made their way to Aura’s side. They were magical beasts who looked like Angora rabbits.
Shalltear stroked one of the furballs standing beside Aura.
“They’re so soft, I want to raise one.”
“They feel comfortable, don’t they? However, when they encounter enemies, they become as sharp as needles, you know?”
Spear Needles were level 67 monsters.
Once they entered combat mode, they would become a ball of extremely dense spines. If the Spear Needles were killed in this state, their fur would not return to their original soft state. Therefore, when hunting them, one would have to take them unawares and instantly kill them. That was why the players who hunted them were often much higher level than they were.
“Ehh? Really? That’s scary…”
Shalltear might have said that, but she was still caressing them nonstop.
“However, if I don’t give the order, they won’t go into a combat state. Now, if there were enemies nearby it would be a different matter, but no hostile invaders would be able to make it all the way in here. At the very least, the other Floors would send a report.”
“That’s true. It’s only to be expected. The top three floors are filled with vassals that have excellent detection abilities. It would be very difficult for someone to sneak in here without being noticed by them.”
Just then, Aura froze, and she turned to the Colosseum.
“What’s wrong, Aura-san?”
“The teleport gate to the 7th Floor just activated.”
“From below? Demiurge ought to be outside now, so… could it be one of your subordinates? Is it alright to not take a look?”
“Hm ─ Mare’s around, so there’s no need to worry. If anything happens, he’ll contact me.”
Aura tapped the earring around her neck.
“Besides, it’s hardly a rare thing. You need to take teleport gates at specific locations and go up level by level if you want to go from a lower Floor to an upper Floor. Oh yeah, didn’t somebody use magic because they didn’t want to run─”
“Ahem! Nazarick is an impregnable fortress.”
“Indeed. Not even that super-tier spell [Sword of Damocles] or my World-Class Item could destroy an entire Floor at once. That’s why we must not let the Ring which allows for at-will teleportation to be taken.”
All eyes went to the ring on Albedo’s left ring finger.
“Mare apparently hands the ring to someone else for safekeeping when he heads out. From that, you can tell how important the rings are ─ ah, Mare contacted me.”
Aura moved away from the others and grabbed at her earring, and then she began a conversation with the absent Mare. The three of them looked at Aura, whose face was slowly turning serious, and by the time they had finished talking, she looked very unhappy.
“I’m sorry. Mare apparently needs to head out for something, so just in case, I’ll be going back.”
“I see. Then… why don’t we head back ourselves, Shalltear?”
“I don’t mind.”
“I’d like to do something in the fields first before I go. Also, I’d like to chat with the Dryads and the Treants.”
“Then we’ll each go our own ways. Thank you for coming, everyone. Thanks to you, I know how to spend my vacation time. If we’re free some other day… yes, next time, we should all bathe together.”
9:28 Nazarick Time
Mare looked up from the book he was reading, slowly shifting his eyes to peek at the teleport gate which led to the 7th Floor.
Sensing a faint wave of power, he put his bookmark between the open pages and quietly laid it on the chair beside him. He then picked up the staff beside him, the divine-class item known as “Shadow of YGGDRASIL.”
Mare brought his empty hand to the magical item dangling before his chest, but then it stopped halfway.
There was no need to contact his sister. He had not received any reports of an intrusion, so the person who came must have been a friend.
He moved his legs and jogged over to the teleport gate directly below him.
His big sister enjoyed jumping down directly from the spectator seats, but Mare did not like to do that. He felt that since there were stairs installed in the arena, he ought to take them on the way down. That was how one showed their faithfulness to the Supreme Beings. The stairs were meant to be used, after all.
But I don’t dare tell onee-chan that… she’ll look at me in a scary way…
Mare decided that at the very least, he would not waste the Supreme Beings’ efforts, and so he ran down the steps, and then he ran past the resting area. It was then that he saw someone standing before a huge round mirror that flashed with all the colors of the rainbow.
“For… forgive me for keeping you waiting.”
“Oh! If it isn’t the Floor Guardian, Mare-sama! Thank you for coming all the way here. I am utterly delighted.”
The clown before him was dressed in pure white and wore a mask that resembled a crow’s beak. He bowed, and Mare nodded in response.
“Hello, Pulcinella. What happened today?”
“Oh yes, as you know, Mare-sama, I am currently working under Demiurge-sama, and today I have come as an envoy from Demiurge-sama. Please, take this.”
The clown swiftly handed over the folder he was carrying.
“If Demiurge-san wants me to have this, does this mean it’s a circular?”
“Precisely. Ah, I’m so glad it was you who came, Mare-sama. How fortunate. If Aura-sama had come, I would have to ask her to fetch you.”
“Why? Is… is that so?”
The circular notice system had been invented by the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, Ainz Ooal Gown. While it was little more than writing down non-urgent news and other miscellaneous matters on a piece of paper and letting the various Floor Guardians circulate and read it among themselves, something like this had never been practically used before.
Therefore, Mare stared in bafflement at the folder he had just received, muttering “So this is…” to himself.
“H-huh? W-why can’t you give it to onee-chan?”
Aura and Mare were both Floor Guardians, so there was no reason not to give it to her. In addition, she was actually quite careful about these things, and she would not simply toss the circular away.
“I am unclear about that myself. All I know is that Demiurge-sama instructed me to hand it directly to you, Mare-sama, and not to Aura-sama.”
“Is that so… ah… then, how about Demiurge-san?”
It was a somewhat vague question, but Pulcinella seemed to understand what he was asking.
“…Well, I do not quite understand his intentions. But I feel the answer or reason may lie within that folder.”
“I see… er, then, yes, that’s right, Demiurge-san, what… what is he doing now?”
“Conducting breeding experiments. Humanoids can breed among themselves, but demihumans cannot breed with humanoids; what a tragic state of affairs. A loving couple is denied the chance to bear the fruition of their love just because of the differences in their race. Demiurge-sama is working hard in order to save these poor souls. He will create possibilities between humanoids and demihumans!”
The clown practically sang his reply, spreading his arms and looking up to the sky. Pulcinella’s sudden change in mood made Mare roll his eyes.
“Ah, how rude of me. I could not help but be excited by Demiurge-sama’s kindness as he works to make people smile. Please forgive me.”
“Er, okay, I don’t mind.”
“Demiurge-sama has even said that he would allow himself and the others ─ the demons ─ to be sacrifices so as not to make others hate themselves. What a noble spirit of self-sacrifice! I, Pulcinella, am moved to tears by it.”
Pulcinella rubbed at his eyes through its mask. Of course, he was not crying. Even his voice sounded the same as always. He did not sound sad at all.
“…Why do people hate him?”
“I do not understand either. Why would the kind Demiurge-sama incur the hatred of others? But Demiurge-sama said so himself. Yes, yes, please listen to this, of how kind Demiurge-sama really is. Last time, Demiurge-sama said that it would be a shame to let the livestock starve, and so he roasted up the children of both sides whole, and served them up to each other. Surely a cruel and merciless person would not have swapped them first, but served them up directly, no?”
“But of course. And in order to allow the parents of both sides to bid their children farewell, Demiurge-sama even invited them to the dinner table… Demiurge-sama specially allowed them to say goodbye with a smile… I am sure that nobody other than the Supreme Beings could be as compassionate a person as he is.”
As he watched Pulcinella prattle on, Mare went “oh” in an uninterested tone.
Those people were not entities of Nazarick, so it did not matter what happened to them. His feelings about Demiurge’s livestock vanished from his heart after a couple of seconds.
“And when one is hungry, the gut may be unable to digest food even when the brain desires it. Demiurge-sama even considered that point as he warned them to eat well. His kindness is truly beyond compare~”
Mare felt that this was go on forever, and so he hurriedly cut in:
“─Ah, then, how… how about Guren-san? I thought he would be the one sending it, but what’s he doing now?”
“…Is it him, or perhaps her? I believe Guren-sama has no gender, but when I saw him a couple of days ago, he was waiting in ambush near the 7th Floor’s teleport gate while Demiurge-sama was gone.”
“I… I see.”
Mare thought of Guren’s appearance.
Guren ─ an Area Guardian who hid his massive body within flowing lava and dragged careless foes into a battlefield where he had the advantage and fought them. Though he was only level 90, he was optimized for combat, and so by sheer fighting prowess alone, he was among the top few combatants of Nazarick, and could even hold his own against some of the Floor Guardians. Thus, there was no better guardian for the 7th Floor in Demiurge’s absence.
“Ah, I seem to have spoken too much. Now that I have delivered the circular to your hands, Mare-sama, I must now go spread more smiles to others.”
“Thank… thank you.”
Mare bowed, and Pulcinella gently replied:
“There is no need for thanks. I am satisfied by being able to see your smile, Mare-sama.”
The clown shrugged in a joking manner. “Well then, till we meet again.” He waved, and then vanished into the teleport gate which led to the 7th Floor.
After Mare watched him leave, he opened the circular. The fact that it was meant for his eyes and not those of his sister filled him with a mix of emotions ─ superiority and guilt ─ and after he quickly scanned the contents, he blinked a few times.
This… isn’t so much a circular as a message Ainz-sama wanted to send to the Guardians.
It read, “To all male Guardians” and contained appreciation and praise for their daily work. In summary, this was an invitation to “bathe together and relieve fatigue”.
There was a list of participants, reading Ainz, Demiurge, Mare and Cocytus from top to bottom, each with a Going/Not Going option beside them. The top two entries already had “Going” circled. Sebas’ name should have been in there too, but he was currently under orders to gather information with Solution in a human city.
Er, the date is…
The circular stated that the date was not fixed, and that it would be held when it was most convenient for the participants, which was why he could circle “Going” without any hesitation. While the circular stated that he could refuse, there was no way Mare could refuse the invitation of his generous and compassionate master. No, nobody in Nazarick would do so.
He picked up the pencil in the folder and circled the “Going” beside his name.
“…Ehehehe,” he giggled as he looked at the circled “Going”. However, before long, clouds shrouded his heart.
“Ah, but… how am I going to get this to Cocytus?”
The circular repeatedly emphasised not to inform the female Guardians about this, so it was clear that his master wanted to keep this a secret between men. In that case, the best way was to bring it over himself.
It’s not good to keep things from onee-chan… right? Because while I’m receiving his… er, should I call it affection, I’ll need onee-chan to guard the Floor by herself.
It was one thing to leave when under orders, but when they had to visit the other Guardians for fun or do other things, Mare and Aura would always tell each other where they were headed. That was because Aura and Mare were assigned to guard this Floor by order of the Supreme Beings, so doing that much was only to be expected.
Mare grabbed the magic item hanging around his neck.
“O-oneechan? Can you hear me?”
He received an immediate reply.
『I can hear you. What’s up, Mare?』
“Ah, that’s great. Er, um, it’s like this. Ah, I need to visit Cocytus for a while. I’ll be back soon.”
“Mm, I need to get there in a hurry.”
Mare’s shoulders quivered in fright. He almost squeaked instead of speaking, and he barely managed to squeeze out a normal voice.
“N-nothing? It’s nothing, just… I feel I have to go there.”
Aura clearly sounded suspicious, and Mare’s palms grew clammy with sweat as he heard it.
But, um, it can’t be helped. Ainz-sama ordered it.
Other than the words of Aura and Mare’s creator Bukubukuchagama, Ainz’s words were the most highly placed of all the Supreme Beings. It was only natural to place what he said as his topmost priority.
『Well, I guess that’s fine. Go, then. However, the 5th Floor is very cold, so don’t forget to protect yourself against the cold… oh yeah, you should be fine there, Mare.』
“Mm, um. I can handle it with magic. Don’t worry. I’ll go there and come right back.”
If he continued talking, he might end up saying something strange. Therefore, Mare hurriedly released the magic item. It would seem his sister wanted to say something else right at the end, but whether it was good or ill fortune, he did not hear it.
“All… all right! I need to move quickly!”
Mare activated the power of the Ring which his master had given him.
After teleporting, chunks of a white substance flew right at Mare and stuck to his face.This was snow, carried by the wind.
The cloud of white breath that Mare exhaled instantly flowed behind him. That was because of the supercooled wind shear.
The snow driven by the blizzard went in all directions, obscuring all vision and covering up footprints. This was to waylay any intruders, but under normal circumstances the weather on the 5th Floor was not so bad. The clouds which covered the sky would only dispense scattered snowflakes, and while the mood was gloomy, visibility was excellent.
Mare looked around. Since he had teleported via the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown, he must be close to his destination.
Once he found the place where he had to go, Mare advanced with light steps. He left no footprints on the snow where he had trod. His feet did not sink into the snow, as though he were walking on solid ground.
In this lonely world of white, the sound of falling snow seemed to carry directly into Mare’s ears. Of course, Mare ‘s always-on extrasensory perception spell let him know that this place was not truly deserted. The ambushers knew he was the 6th Floor’s Guardian, and so they did not show themselves.
Mare arrived at his destination in silence.
Before him was a large white sphere, which looked like an inverted hornet’s nest.
Six gigantic crystals surrounded the white sphere, their sharp tips pointing to the heavens. The crystals were transparent, and there were people visible inside.
Mare took a step, and a distasteful sound which made him uneasy issued from beneath his feet. Looking down, he saw that the ground below was different from the snowdrift just now; it was a shiny layer of ice. It looked thick enough, but there was nothing but inky blackness beneath the ice layer. It was clearly a big hole.
Mare stepped onto the ice. He walked without any hesitation, as though he was certain that the ice below him would not crack. He trod on the ice, which made a trembling, creaking noise, and arrived at the vicinity of the white sphere.
“Ah… um, is Cocytus-san in?”
Mare was not addressing the huge white sphere, but the crystals around it.
Monsters which resembled human females emerged from the crystals in response to his voice. There were as many monsters as there were crystals, and they were dressed all in white. Their skin was pale, and their long hair was black.
They were Frost Virgins ─ level 82 ice-type monsters, responsible for defending Snowball Earth, which was Cocytus’ home. They were something like a bodyguard team.
“Welcome, Mare-sama. We are pleased that you came to visit in person.”
“Ah… um, where is Cocytus-san?”
“Cocytus-sama is currently outside the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. He is visiting the Lizardman village.
“Is… is that so?”
The Frost Virgin bowed her head as an affirmative.
“May I take a message for you?”
Since he had come all this way, he could probably leave the circular in Cocytus’ room and then let the Frost Virgins inform him. However, after thinking about the contents of the circular, handing it directly to him might be the best way to carry out his master’s intentions.
But how could he go outside to find Cocytus?
There was no rule preventing them from leaving Nazarick. However, there was a requirement that had to be met in order to step outside. This was because their master had strictly forbidden anyone from moving around alone outside Nazarick.
After analyzing the data they had collected so far, the level 100 Guardians of Nazarick were unimaginably powerful compared to the outside world, comparable to walking disasters. Thus, as one of those walking disasters, Mare would not be in danger when moving around alone outside. On the other hand, it was the world that ought to be afraid of him. However, anyone with such a reckless mindset must surely have forgotten something.
That was the fact that Shalltear had been brainwashed by an enemy who ─ in all likelihood ─ possessed a World-Class Item. And there were also traces of players’ existence throughout the world.
They did not know how powerful and how broad in reach these people were,so they had to be extra careful.
“Er… hm ─ what should I do…”
Anyone going outside had to be escorted by five vassals of level 75 and above, as a bare minimum. Mare had two Dragons who were directly assigned to him as vassals, but bringing them around with him would be too conspicuous. The fastest way would be to ask his sister, but when he thought about what had happened when he came here, he could not muster up the courage to do so.
Just then, a revelation flashed across his mind. Their numbers and levels were just right.
“Ah, could I ask you to come and look for him with me?”
“I… I am very sorry. Cocytus-sama has ordered us to defend this place. Unless Ainz-sama himself orders it, we cannot disobey Cocytus-sama’s orders… we beg your forgiveness!”
“Ah, no, not at all. It’s fine.”
That could not be helped; or rather, he would have realized it if he had thought of it. After that, he hit on a second good idea, which was to borrow the Evil Lords from the 7th Floor. However, if he simply asked them normally, his request would probably be denied like this. Still, he could only count on Demiurge for aid.
That was because he wanted to do his best to avoid asking Guardians whose names were not written on the circular for help. In addition, most of the vassals who were above level 80 were the direct subordinates of a Guardian, and very few were independent.
Due to these two reasons, he would need to contact Demiurge in order to borrow his Evil Lords.
But how will I contact him?
In order to reach Demiurge, who was outside, he would need to dispatch a vassal or use magic.
Mare thought of the book he had just read.
He has subordinates of level 75 and above too, right? But he’s not a Guardian… hm ─ well, he’s male, so it should be alright. I’ll just have to swear him to secrecy…
“Ah… ah, thank you all. Er, I think I’ll figure something out myself.”
Mare activated the power of the ring. His destination was the massive library on the 10th Floor of Nazarick ─ Ashurbanipal.
9:54 Nazarick Time
After teleporting, the scenery before Mare’s eyes changed from a snowfield to an expansive room. The basic color of the room’s furnishings was an ebony brown, and it appeared quite dignified as it was illuminated by warm lighting. The ceiling was a gentle dome and there were a pair of double doors opposite him.
These massive doors were big enough to rival the ones which opened to the Throne Room, and they were flanked by a pair of Golems which were each almost three meters tall. Both Golems resembled warriors and had been built from rare metals by a Supreme Being, so they were more powerful than regular Golems.
“Ah, please help me open the door.”
In response to Mare’s words, the golem on each side placed their hands on the door and slowly pushed it open. There was a weighty sound as the the doors opened to the point where several people could walk through them side by side, and Mare stepped through them.
The scene which unfolded before him did not resemble a library so much as a view from a similar institute ─ yes, it looked like an art gallery. The floor and bookshelves were elaborately decorated, and the neat rows of books on them looked like ornaments as well.
The shining, spotless floor was an intricately-patterned parquet mosaic.
Above was a towering ceiling, and there was a mezzanine balcony on the second floor. Beyond that was a room girdled by countless bookshelves. Every inch of the hemispherical ceiling was covered in magnificent frescoes.
There were glass showcases scattered throughout the room, each displaying several books.
While there were countless light sources, they did not produce strong illumination. A human being would surely frown in resentment at the dimness of the room..
One could not take the entire room in with a single look. The bookshelves blocked one’s view.
The doors slowly closed behind Mare amidst this library-appropriate silence.Without the light from the outside, the room’s interior seemed even darker. That, combined with the profound silence, filled the room with a creepy atmosphere.
Of course, Mare could see in the dark like it was broad daylight, and so he did not feel creeped out at all.
Mare walked inside, somewhat quickening his pace.
He was currently in the Hall of Reason. This library was divided into the Hall of Knowledge, the Hall of Reason, the Hall of Magic, and various other smaller rooms with their own specific purposes ─ such as the individual rooms for each of the staff. With that in mind, his destination seemed quite a ways off.
Countless books filled the neat rows of bookshelves which lined the passage on either side.
There were roughly five kinds of books in YGGDRASIL.
The first kind was monster data, which could be used to summon mercenary monsters.
There were three types of monsters in Nazarick: the first were the NPCs, who were made just like the players were; the second were the automatically spawning monsters of level 30 and below, and the last ones were the summoned monsters who could serve as mercenaries. These mercenary monsters had to be summoned via a ritual which used a book and then expending an appropriate amount of currency according to their level. Therefore, one could not summon them without a book.
The second kind were magic items.
Certain data crystals could only be imbued into book-type items. For the most part, book-type items were one-use magic items. The difference between them and scrolls were that one needed to be of a spellcasting job class to use a scroll, while book-type items could be used by anybody.
The third kind were event items. It was not uncommon for the items required for changing to a specific job class to take the form of books. When Ainz had gone from a Skeleton Mage to an Elder Lich, he had needed the item known as the Book of the Dead. There were also things like the Martial Arts Monograph and the Tales of the Four Great Elementals. Apart from these job-change items, there were also items which allowed one to learn new spells when used.
The fourth kind was visual data.
In other words, they were books which contained visual data for swords, shields, armor and the like. Anyone with specific blacksmithing skills could use these books with the required raw materials to produce an item skin.
The fifth kind were novels distributed in book form. The most commonly seen examples were pieces of classic literature whose copyright had expired, followed by background material from the development team, and then original stories created by YGGDRASIL’s players. There were also a few secondary creations set in YGGDRASIL’s universe, or diary-style walkthroughs for the game.
Within the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, the vast majority of the books within its library belonged to the first kind ─ books gathered in order to summon mercenary monsters. Of course, there was no need to collect that many books.
In truth, even if one dumped the guild’s coffers into the task, one could not summon even a tenth of the monsters from the books which filled this place. Then why did they have so many books? That was because the summoning books were not particularly expensive, so the guild members decided to mess around and made a huge stack of copies. This also served the purpose of hiding important items.
Mare looked at the books on either side as he walked.
Suddenly, a ghostly form appeared from between the bookshelves, as though to block his path.
The ghost wore a black robe, and it seemed to meld into the darkness of the library. There was a jewelled wand on its waist, and several jewels tied to its belt.
There was a waxy, corpse-like face beneath the robe’s hood. Its hands were skin and bones. Every time it moved, the faint darkness surrounding it shifted as well.
It was an especially famous monster among the undead magic casters known as Elder Liches.
In YGGDRASIL, they were nicknamed White Counterfeiters. Monsters like these were level 30 and were ranked second among the Elder Lich family. There were other, palette-swapped monsters like these in YGGDRASIL, colloquially known as the Red Counterfeiters and the Black Counterfeiters.
However, he differed from the average Elder Lich in that he had an armband on his left arm.
The armband read “Librarian J”.
The Elder Lich spoke in a hoarse, garbled voice, then bowed in deference, slowly but deeply, with one hand clasped to its chest in a prim and proper movement.
“Ah… ah, I came to look for the Head Librarian. Er, is he in?”
The Elder Lich struck a thinker’s pose, and then replied:
“The Head Librarian is currently making scrolls, so he is in the workroom.”
“Allow me to show you the way. Please, follow me.”
“How could I impose on you like that? I can’t keep you from your work.”
“Think nothing of it. Aiding users of the library is my duty.”
Since he had already said as much, continuing to refuse would be rude.
“I understand, then I’ll have to trouble you.”
A smile appeared on the Elder Lich’s ghastly face, and then it led the way forward.
As Mare followed him, he glanced at the other Elder Liches and caster-type undead they passed along the way.
“Oh yes, would you like me to put that book back for you?”
“Ah, please do.:
The Elder Lich took the book from Mare and looked at the title.
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, hm. Did you enjoy it?”
“Mm, it was very interesting! I’m thinking about what I should read next.”
“Then allow me to recommend you a book. This one is very funny, it concerns a murder ─ ah, we have arrived.”
“Thank you very much.”
Mare opened the door which the Elder Lich had guided him to.
What was supposed to have been a spacious room felt oppressive and cramped, thanks to the large shelves on all sides.
The shelves were filled with countless reagents ─ ores, precious metals, element-imbued rocks, various powders, organs from several animals ─ all arranged in neat rows. There was also several stacks of parchment ─ some were rolled up, while some were simply laid there.
All these were the materials needed to make scrolls.
Of course these were not all the resources which the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick possessed. There were several hundred times this amount stored within the Treasury.
Only those supplies which would be promptly used were stored in this room.
There was an extra-large drawing table in the center of the room, with a piece of parchment opened upon it.
Before the table stood a skeleton which looked like a fusion of human and animal bones.
It was not very tall. It was around 150 cm in height.
Two demonic-looking horns protruded from its head, and it had four-fingered hands. Below its ankles were cloven feet.
This bizarre creature was wrapped in a saffron himation. Apart from that, a hood of similar material lightly shrouded its head without being pierced by the horns, and there was another piece of cloth around its waist.
(TL Note: A himation is an ancient Greek garment worn over the shoulder)
In addition, it wore a silver bracelet with a multi-colored jewel set into it, while there was a golden ankh around its neck, and it had several complex-looking and strange rings on its bony fingers, which looked like they were twined around the digits. There were jewels attached to the himation which took the place of a sash. Each of them was a fairly potent magic item.
It wore several scrolls at its belt, like they were swords.
While it had a unique outfit, it was actually a Skeleton Mage. It was one of the basic undead species, and the stage before the Elder Lich.
However, this Skeleton Mage was the Head Librarian of this massive library ─ Titus Annaeus Secundus.
This being had not been created by the Supreme Beings to focus on combat power, but production ability. In fact, its total level was higher than that of the Elder Lich just now.
“You have come just in time, Guardian Mare. I bid you welcome.”
“Ah, nice to meet you, Titus-san. I came to ask a favor of you.”
“I see. Then tell me what business you have here.”
“Ah… yes. Um. I’d like to borrow your vassals here who are above level 75.”
“I understand. You intend an excursion, I believe?”
“Eh? Y-yes, that’s right. How did you know?”
“…I have never forgotten the words of my ruler, Ainz-sama. After that, I considered your situation and I guessed it immediately ─ very well.”
He spent only a moment in contemplation.
“I shall lend you the Overlords within this library ─ Cocceius, Ulpius, Aelius, Fulvius and Aurelius.”
(TL Note: These are all the second names of various Roman Emperors)
“But of course. In all honesty, their battle potential is somewhat excessive for the library. Rather than have them do dusting all day, far better to have them be your escorts. I am sure it would make them very happy.”
“Ah… ah, er, thank you very much!”
“That said, some recompense is due. I would have you assist me with a task, the creation of scrolls.”
“Ah, certainly! What should I do?”
“Fret not. Once I say ‘now’, kindly cast a 4th tier spell upon this scroll. That is all.
“What… what sort of spell should I cast?”
“The choice is yours.”
Mare looked puzzled. Being told to decide for himself was quite difficult. He did not know if he should just use an ordinary spell.
There was a small desk beside the drawing table with the parchment. Titus reached a bony hand out at the desk and touched a pile of glittering gold ─ YGGDRASIL gold coins.
Suddenly, the gold YGGDRASIL coins melted below his bony palm, and they flowed along the parchment like they were sentient.
The golden serpent crawled along the parchment, and then dispersed, as though it had already decided where to go.
In the time between breaths, a golden magic circle covered the parchment. The mystic tracery was both complex and delicate.
Mare ─ who was nervously awaiting his cue ─ cast his spell like he had been startled.
Mare felt his spell being sucked up by the magic circle.
Normally, that would have completed the scroll. That was what Mare had thought.
Until that moment ─
There was a bright red blaze.
Something impossible happened upon the drawing table.
Mare looked in shock as the parchment burned like it had been soaked in alcohol, but within a couple of moments, the fire had gone out.
The events just now felt like an illusion. There was no trace of a fire within the room. Not even the smell of burning lingered.
However, there was evidence on the table which proved what had just happened was no illusion.
That was the remains of the parchment ─ its ashes.
Titus seemed to have anticipated this, and he calmly picked up the ashes to examine them.
“So you can’t imbue them with 4th-tier spells. I seem to have confirmed that it has nothing to do with the caster’s power.”
Titus muttered, “ten years old was a failure” and made notes.
“Er, what… what just happened? What did I do wrong?”
“Pay it no heed. I attempted to use the materials of this world to make scrolls in order to save on parchment costs, but their quality is simply atrocious.”
The tier of a spell limited the materials that could be used to make a scroll which contained it.
For example, scrolls made from average parchment could hold a 2nd tier spell at the very most, but not spells of a higher tier. If one used the highest grade of parchment ─ that made of dragonhide ─ one could scribe a 10th-tier spell into it.
Naturally, dragonhide was a special material, which required one to slay a Dragon.
For that reason, the guild Ainz Ooal Gown’s members had banded together to farm Dragons, but that was from the YGGDRASIL days. Until they could verify that this world contained Dragons ─ as well as other beasts ─ Ainz had sensibly imposed a restriction on the use of dragonhide.
He could not do something foolish like expend a non-renewable resource. After all, there was no telling when he might need to use it.
“You can’t use my Dragons!”
“But of course. I will not do such a thing. Beginning with your Dragons, all these specially-summoned beings are the will of the Supreme Beings made manifest. Harming them is strictly forbidden.”
Mare breathed a sigh of relief. Titus looked at him with interest in his eyes, then swept the ashes into a bin.
“Er, then, does that mean this world’s parchment isn’t suitable for making scrolls?”
Mare’s eyes looked toward the remains.
“That is quite possible. No, I do not know yet. It might be that my manufacturing methods are unorthodox in this world. For instance, they seem to produce potions in a markedly different way.”
“But… is that really so? If it’s just one failure, couldn’t it be the parchment’s fault?”
“Just one, you say? I have already used the parchment from the outside for various experiments, but whenever I attempt to imbue a spell above the 3rd tier into them, I receive the same result each time ─ destruction. It is quite likely that the parchment burns because the magical power cannot be infused into it.”
“…But the magic casters in this world all use that sort of parchment, right?”
“No, what I just disposed of is probably not a typical piece of parchment used by the magic casters of this world. Of course, after considering that there are various nations in this world, I cannot guarantee that nobody has used a parchment like this one. When I used the parchments of the nations near Nazarick─”
Titus produced a stack of parchment which seemed different from the piece just now.
“─The experimental results were even worse; they were limited to 1st-tier spells.”
“So that means the humans know how to make good use of poorer materials?”
“No. I believe it might be a technological difference. While it pains me to admit it, their technique is, to some extent, more refined than ours. I would love to acquire this new technology and improve my skills.”
Mare felt nothing but respect for the Head Librarian’s spirit of self-improvement.
“All this is for the Supreme One’s sake. Then, Guardian Mare, as we agreed, I shall lend you the Overlords. Come with me.”
10:28 Nazarick Time
He handed his ring to someone else along the way and then reached the surface. There, Mare and company performed a mass teleport and arrived in the middle of a room within a stone structure in the Lizardman village.
This building was constructed of sturdy, heavy stone. Iit could only be built in a place with sufficiently firm ground, thus requiring construction techniques the Lizardmen did not possess. Needless to say, the people who had built this place were a third party ─ a group from the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.
The reason to have people come all the way from Nazarick to build this structure stood behind Mare’s back. The object which stood within the depths of this building explained everything.
Mare bowed deeply to the object in question. The Overlords travelling with him bowed as well.
A stone statue made in the image of Ainz Ooal Gown, ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, stood upon an elevated platform. It was so lifelike that it seemed as though the original had been turned to stone. The way it raised its staff radiated the dignity and gravitas of a ruler.
All manner of offerings adorned the altar before the statue. Naturally, those offerings were worthless in Mare’s eyes, meager tributes of flowers and fish and the like.
However, Mare was not displeased.
That was because the ones who had made those offerings were filled with genuine respect and reverence. For instance, fresh flowers did not grow in the swampland, but in the forests which were very dangerous to the Lizardmen ─ they must have risked their lives to pick them. The fish were the Lizardmen’s staple diet, but the offerings were much bigger than the average fish. Mare understood that they had only chosen the most impressive specimens to offer up.
“Mm,” Mare nodded in satisfaction.
Seeing common riffraff express their respect for his great master made him very happy.
He spoke to reassure the Lizardmen who were peeking fearfully at him.
They were the personnel responsible for cleaning this sanctuary. They possessed druidic abilities, which were rare among the Lizardmen, and they wore badges with the guild emblem of Ainz Ooal Gown around their neck.
There was a vast difference between their stations and that of Mare, between that of the conquered and their conquerors, so there was no need to thank them for their hard work. However, for the reasons mentioned earlier, Mare had been so satisfied with their labors that he had decided to thank them for it.
Mare left the Lizardmen bowing nonstop behind him, and led the five Overlords out of the sanctuary.
Before him was a patch of swamp, the Lizardman settlement. It seemed more developed than before.
Indeed, they had lost many people during that war. However, the five tribes were now one, and in the end they had formed a stronger, larger village.
The boundary fence encompassed a wide area. At some point, watchtowers had been built in the muddy swamp, and upon each of them stood a skeleton ─ probably a Nazarick Old Guarder ─ scanning the surroundings with an arrow nocked to its bow. Several Nazarick Old Guarders could be seen walking around in the swamp; presumably, they were conducting reconnaissance in case of enemy attack.
“Ah, where’s Cocytus-san?”
Cocytus stood out in many ways. If he were in the village, then he ought to be instantly visible from here; if he were inside a building, there ought to be vassals like the ones Mare brought along waiting outside. With that in mind, he looked around the entire village, but could not find him.
“Could one of you please ask where Cocytus-san is?”
“Certainly. A moment, please.”
One of the Overlords ─ Aurelius ─ headed back into the sanctuary.
Mare looked out at the swamp ─ at the Lizardmen’s peaceful and quiet village. Nobody here was wary of the Nazarick Old Guarders. Even the Lizardman children were the same way. Both sides seemed to be coexisting like it was the natural thing to do.
Though they were attacked and conquered by the undead, they don’t seem to bear any resentment for them. Was this because of Cocytus-san’ policy of friendliness? Or is this the nature of the Lizardmen?
As he idly pondered the matter, Aurelius soon returned.
“Forgive the delay, Mare-sama. The people in the sanctuary do not know the whereabouts of Cocytus-sama. However, they say that Shasuryu Shasha ─ the leader of the tribal alliance ─ might know.”
“Ah, then, um, let’s go visit him and take a look.”
Mare’s entourage proceeded under Aurelius’ leadership. They did not cross over the swamp to go to the Lizardman village, but followed the edge of the lake, walking a short distance through the forest. The forms of Nazarick Old Guarders could be seen in the distance.
Once the group exited the forest, they saw a large-scale construction project under way on the other side of the swamp.
The flow of water here had been dammed, and roughly ten Stone Golems were excavating the soil. The sand and mud they dug up were carried away by Lizardmen with pushcarts on the shore.
As Mare watched what they were doing, a strapping Lizardman ran over in a hurry.
This Lizardman was covered in old wounds. His physique was imposing and he was distinctly different from the average Lizardman. The medal around his neck swung wildly due to his haste in running over.
The medal was a symbol of loyalty, and also a mark of protection. It was not magical in itself, but by wearing it, they could prove that they were Ainz’s property. Therefore, nobody from the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick who revered the Supreme Beings as gods could harm the Lizardmen intentionally. Of course, it would be a different matter if they deserved death, but fortunately, the Lizardmen were not that stupid. They knew their place and acknowledged the strong as their masters.
“I welcome you, Mare-sama. My name is ─”
“You’re Shasuryu Shasha-san, right?”
“Indeed, I am. I am honored that you know my name.”
“Ah, I… I heard it from Cocytus-san… ah, do you know where Cocytus-san is now?”
Shasuryu waxed thoughtful for a bit.
“I recall Cocytus-sama brought several of his subordinates and several dozen trainee Lizardmen on his expedition to subjugate the Toadmen.”
“They are the demihumans who live in the northeastern reaches of the lake. They look like frogs, and we do not get along too well with them. They possess the ability to control large monsters and magical beasts, so they are very tricky opponents for us. I hear that there was a war once during my grandfather’s time. We were soundly defeated and one of our tribes was dissolved as a result.”
“As… as expected of the northern species, they’re quite strong.”
This lake was shaped like two smaller lakes joined together, or an inverted gourd. The smaller lake on the south where the Lizardmen dwelled was half swamp and half lake, and due to the shallow water there were few large monsters there. In comparison, the water in the larger northern lake was deeper, so many large monsters lived there, and they were stronger than the monsters of the south. Of course, it made little difference to Mare.
“That’s right, when you mentioned Toadmen, were you talking about a species called the Tuvegs?”
Mare was referring to the monsters who lived in the poison swamp around Nazarick in the past. He knew his sister had several of those monsters as servitors.
“Well, I am not too sure about that. Perhaps you could ask Cocytus-sama after he comes back? He will probably return soon.”
“I understand. Then, I’ll ask about something else, about… about that. You seem to be building something big here, but what is it? It’s quite a distance from the village, but it doesn’t look like a fence or some other kind of defense…”
“Yes. In truth, we are building our fourth fish preserve here.”
As he heard Shasuryu’s words, enlightenment dawned on Mare.
It was good that the Lizardman tribes could be united. But once their population grew, food shortages would naturally result. While many people had died during the war, they could not hunt or trap enough to feed their people. Of course, they could solve that problem by returning to their former villages to fish, but Cocytus, the new ruler of the Lizardmen, did not agree.
It was one thing for the entire village to move as one to another part of the swamp, but if only a few people moved by themselves, there was a high chance they would be attacked by monsters. The Lizardmen’s numbers were already greatly decreased. Cocytus did not want to lose more of them.
In order to ensure the prosperity of the Lizardmen, Cocytus took action to solve this problem ─ the food problem.
First, he imported rations from Nazarick ─ with Ainz’s permission, naturally ─ and distributed it to the Lizardmen. After that, he began studying methods to ensure a sustainable food supply. It went without saying that the solution he had discovered was the fish farms built by Zaryusu. After that, he discussed the matter with Demiurge, and began to build superior fish farms.
They had worked at a fever pitch and built three gigantic fish farms, and this was the fourth one.
“But the fries haven’t been raised yet, am I right?”
“Yes. What we… no, what my brother learned was not raising them from fries, but breeding already-grown fish. However, thanks to Demiurge-sama’s guidance, we have made preparations to farm fish fries. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to support twice the present population of Lizardmen through the produce of the fish farms. “
“I… I see. In a few years’ time, you won’t need to take fish from Nazarick. Ah, of course, if an emergency crops up, I imagine you are always welcome to take fish.”
“Every member of our tribe is deeply grateful to Ainz-sama’s merciful kindness in giving us so much fish… although, the fish Ainz-sama gave us lack internal organs, so how do they live? Are they like certain monsters who do not need to eat? No, they do not even have bones; what sort of lifeforms are they?”
“They are the food which was made by the power of Ainz-sama and the other Supreme Beings.”
The food Cocytus had given them was made with a magic item called Dagda’s Cauldron.
“What!? Ainz-sama could actually make enough fish to feed us all!?”
Shasuryu shook his head.
“When Zaryusu and the others visited the fortress of the Supreme Ones and came back with tales of what they had seen, it sounded like they were dreaming. They said the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick contained many smaller worlds within it, a true land of the gods. Is Ainz Ooal Gown-sama truly a god…?”
“But of course.”
Why was this Lizardman stating the obvious? Mare could not understand him and tilted his head in confusion.
Ainz Ooal Gown was the greatest of the gods. He was their creator.
“I see. So all this was bestowed upon us by Ainz-sama. My thanks to Ainz-sama.”
“Mm. I’ll let Ainz-sama know that.”