Overlord Light Novel Volume 14 Chapter 2 Part 3

Overlord Light Novel Volume 14 Chapter 2 Part 3

 

In a room on the ninth floor of Nazarick, approximately a month after the war was declared.

In one of the rooms that was reserved for potential new guild members were Ainz and the Floor Guardians. They sat around a C-shaped desk, reading through the documents prepared for this meeting.

As a side note, it wasn’t just the Floor Guardians who were there, behind each of them stood an equal number of Ordinary Maids and behind Ainz stood Pestonia. They were there to take care of the occasional odd job and thus stood silently behind them all.

Ainz could not grasp the reasoning behind why they were silent, apparently it was to symbolize that they were tools, ready to be used. For that reason, Ainz paid them no attention at all to satisfy their wishes.

“Umu…”

Ainz read the documents in earnest but felt as though his focus was being sapped away by Pestonia’s presence behind him. Still, he tried to focus his attention on the task as best as he could.

Since they had to exchange their opinions on the subject matter later on, it was natural for Ainz to have anxious thoughts such as, how embarrassing it would be if I were to say something crazy later on.

In any case, this was different from the documents that Albedo usually sent from Nazarick regarding topics such as politics, economics, and law; this was something that even someone like Ainz could understand.

Even with the utmost amount of kindness, Ainz’s intelligence could only be judged as average at best. To ask someone to find the qualities within him that would qualify him to rule over a country would be to impose unto them the impossible. That was not to say that he was lazy, in fact he was the diligent type to try his best at everything that was thrown at him. This was further exacerbated by the misunderstandings held by the NPCs of Nazarick, whose intelligence was incomparably higher than his. In order to meet their expectations, Ainz could not afford to be lazy.

At first, he was doing so out of his desire to keep the NPCs loyal, but now it was more out of his desire as a father figure to not disappoint his children.

It had come to a point where he was reading books on self-development and business. He had also been trying his best to improve himself in combat tactics, one of the only subjects he could claim expertise in.

Though it was safe to leave everything up to Albedo and the rest, there were still a lot of things that they found to be necessary to consult with Ainz. If he were to say anything stupid when that time comes and they were to respond with, “As Ainz-sama wills, it shall be done,” and take immediate action, it could cause serious collateral damage. To avoid that outcome, Ainz’s personal growth was imperative.

Because of this, Ainz had taken a particular interest in this document and was even more focused on it than he would have usually been.

Ainz, upon finishing most of it and confirming that the appointed time had come, said,

“Now then. Has everybody finished reading?”

“Yes, Ainz-sama.”

As their representative, Albedo took a glance at everybody and replied.

“Excellent. Now — wait, before that. Though it has been a month since we declared war against the Kingdom, they have not noticed our invasion at all. They must still think that our forces are still holed up in E-Rantel. Demiurge, good job. Your ability to deftly manage everything so that not a single piece of intel was leaked was seriously impressive.”

“I’m grateful to receive my master’s compliments.”

“On the same note, to have threatened a portion of the Kingdom’s nobility into rebelling was also a splendid accomplishment, Albedo.”

“Thank you very much, Ainz-sama.”

Albedo, like Demiurge, lowered her head.

“—Umu. This current matter is of greater importance, so report to me in detail about what you have done after this.”

Ainz knocked on one of the pages in the document with the back of his finger and confirmed that the both of them had understood what he had meant. He nodded in a fashion that suited his status as overlord and scanned the guardians before him. Though the maids who were within his sightline were looking towards him with serious eyes, he resisted the urge to pay attention to them.

“Very well then, let us exchange our opinions on this matter. First of all, the fact that we were able to conquer cities even when this tactic was employed pleases me greatly. Cocytus, you’ve done well.”

“I. Am. Grateful. For. My. Master’s. Praise. But. This. Was. Only. Possible. Because. Of. The. Undead. Army. Ainz. Sama. Had. Lent. Me.
That. Is. To. Say. That. This. Was. Ainz. Sama’s. Accomplishment.
It. Would. Not. Be. Incorrect. To. Say. That. I. Did. Nothing.”

“It is just as Cocytus has said—”

Ainz extended out his hand to stop Albedo before she could finish her sentence.

“—there is no need to flatter me. Cocytus, just candidly accept my appreciation. I have said as much, you’ve done a great job this time.”

“Yes! Thank. You. Very. Much!”

“Excellent. Now then, we have been able to subjugate the Kingdom’s cities without any trouble at all.”

At the onset of the war between the Sorcerous Kingdom of Ainz Ooal Gown and the Kingdom, they had adopted the tactic to attack the eastern part first and then march towards the north. The western side of the Kingdom — where the capital resides — was not marched upon at all.

The main purpose of this tactic was to prevent reinforcements from other nations from interfering with the war, and to encircle the Kingdom by gaining control over the border with the Council State and others.

This was Cocytus’ strategy, a move that Ainz himself also considered to be exceptional.

“I have found this result to be more than satisfactory — Now then, Demiurge and Albedo, regarding the information lockdown, the report indicates that it is highly likely that that plan will succeed. My question is, under what condition will it fail? Demiurge, answer me as their representative.”

“Yes! We have fully established surveillance on every street, we have also sent shadow demons to scout out the neighbouring cities. But, if there are hermits or druids, people who live outside of civilization, we would not be able to keep an eye out for them. If information were to leak, it would be from them.”

“Then discuss the matter with Albedo, strengthen the surveillance net until those you have mentioned can also be found.”

“Yes!”

“Now then, next is—” Ainz switched documents and continued flipping, “umu…a few cities have perished already, huh?”

Within these pages were exhaustive documentations on who used what strategy to completely destroy which city. The most recent entry was about a city that was destroyed by Cocytus.

“…To fearlessly attack a city with a small force, flawlessly destroy the city, and butcher all of its inhabitants. Just like Cocytus had done, the rest of you have also thought up various kinds of ways to conquer city after city and village after village. I am truly impressed.”

The Sorcerous Kingdom had initiated a brutal war in which their policy was to completely destroy every city and village in their way and massacre all of its inhabitants. All that was left behind after the Sorcerous Kingdom army’s unanticipated attack was lifeless piles of ash and rubble.

Speaking of which, Ainz had suddenly become more conscious of someone’s gaze, which should have been fixated on him.

He wasn’t doing these horrendous and ruthless acts because he wanted to, there was a purpose behind them. Hopefully she could come to understand it, Ainz thought to himself.

“Thank you very much, Ainz-sama.” Albedo lowered her head, prompting the other Floor Guardians to follow suit. “To meet Ainz-sama’s expectations from this day forward, we will devote ourselves wholeheartedly to making improvements.”

“—Ah, umu. I gratefully accept every Floor Guardians’ determination and loyalty. Next is—”

That’s about it, right?

Ainz faked a cough and continued,

“—but, I am concerned that none of you have failed.”

Before the guardians could react with their baffled expressions, Ainz added,

“Cocytus, you tasted defeat during the battle with the lizardmen. I assume that you learnt a lot from that experience?”

“It. Is. Just. As. Ainz. Sama. Has. Surmised.
I. Learnt. A. Lot. From. That. Experience.”

“That was what I was talking about, you learn more from your failures. No, I’d argue that there are some lessons that could only be learnt from failures.”

This was true back in Yggdrasil, one would only think of how they could improve if they were to lose.

Job resets, different equipment, and new tactics. If one were to always win, they would become complacent, numb and careless. They would have lost their drive to self-improve.

Though there were exceptions to this rule like Touch Me-san.

He had not experienced defeat all that often yet continually strived to become stronger. A man who sought out the best job synergies to min-max his performance to the point of obsession, should be considered an outlier when thinking of the average player.

Putting those exceptions aside, Ainz believed that there existed some things that you could only learn through defeat.

That was why he was hoping for some failures in their city-conquering efforts.

This was a part of the plan where failures would not have mattered much, they could retry as many times as they wanted. They had to be prepared for a future battle that was bound to happen, one in which if they were to lose, it would amount to a complete defeat. They had to fail now to build up enough experience in order to avoid failing when that time comes.

Since they were incurring a massive loss of life, it had to result in Nazarick gaining some form of a benefit. That’s right, the lives lost should be used in the most beneficial way possible.

There was one other thing — Ainz decided that he should make preparations for this after he had heard the wishes of those two.

Let’s go, this next thing will determine whether I’ve won or lost.

“Those who are wise—” He couldn’t think of what to say after that, he had forgotten the script he had prepared. “Forget about that. Those who are stupid, learn through their experiences. Now I’m not saying that you all are stupid, but I am pointing out the fact that even idiots could understand the necessity of collecting experiences.”

Ainz was disappointed in himself.

Why did he forget what he wanted to say during this crucial moment? Why was he this useless?

——–
Mini-FAQ:
Q: Where are we at?
A: As of this part: page 196/568

I made a mistake in the last part but since it was a single phrase I didn’t really feel like re-doing the paste. Brain’s interpretation of what the silent swordsman mumbled should be “I’ll be under your care” instead of “please take good care of him”.

Burnt out from the amount of work I had this week, next week should be a bit better. Tomorrow’s update will be usual length

Overlord Light Novel Volume 14 Chapter 2 Part 2

Overlord Light Novel Volumr 14 Chapter 2 Part 2

 

The throne room used for audiences with envoys (there were multiple throne rooms each for separate purposes) wasn’t too large, but to prepare it so that it was adequate enough for dignitaries was still a sizable time commitment. However, since the guide they had sent was quite slow — this wasn’t a deliberate move by them to buy them more time — they had just enough time to prepare the room and gather the courtiers who were now clothed in ceremonious attire before the Prime Minister of the Sorcerous Kingdom, Albedo, arrived.

The smell of the freshly cut flowers began to permeate the room.

To Zanac, it all just smelled grassy, but Renner would probably put it as, “Onii-sama probably just has a stuffy nose.” or something similar.

He felt that fresh flowers were unnecessary given that everybody was wearing some sort of perfume, but he understood that there was a certain beauty to the sight of blooming flowers. If that was the case though, why couldn’t they just use fake flowers? Well, since there was no precedent for that, the use of fake flowers could give envoys the wrong impression that they weren’t welcomed there, that would be troublesome.

Every race had comparable acts of etiquette, yet the same action could be interpreted differently by different races. So how did the Council State, which was home to various non-human races, manage this issue?

The reason why this thought came across his mind out of nowhere was because of the horns and wings on the Prime Minister of the Sorcerous Kingdom, Albedo, who had just walked in.

As the Prime Minister of the Sorcerous Kingdom, the seductive beauty had a dark air of allure about her, unchanged from the last time he had seen her. Her beauty was such that it could almost make them forget that she was a high ranking official of the despicable Sorcerous Kingdom. He wasn’t sure if she had been spoken for, but she was bewitching enough that countries would go to war over her.

That was the Prime Minister of the Sorcerous Kingdom, Albedo.

The sound of men who had become instantly love-stricken could be heard throughout the room, the sound they made as they sighed, “ooooh.” The nobles who had made those sounds were also obvious in their enraptured ogles.

The beauty who was able to instantly hold them captive gradually let out a smile that was like that of a loving mother’s. Perhaps no one else in this world could produce such a charming smile.

Though Zanac’s sister was also considered a beauty, he thought Albedo’s beauty could even outshine hers.

The only odd aspect about her was her gown.

If they were at a ball, nothing would be more appropriate than that light-peach coloured gown, but given their current situation, it wasn’t proper at all.

She couldn’t have worn it by mistake. It had to be on purpose. What is the hidden meaning behind all of this?

Zanac had no ideas regarding the implications of the different types of gowns worn by women. Perhaps his sister would be able to figure it out, but she wasn’t exactly normal compared to the other women of the aristocracy. With that said, her decision to not spend too much on herself out of disinterest in sprucing herself up had earned Zanac’s respect.

Zanac stole a glance at his sister.

She wasn’t wearing her usual gown, but the one she had worn for ceremonies. She couldn’t be wearing the same clothes as she had the last time they welcomed Albedo, right?

Though he wanted to tell Renner not to wear that outfit as people would look down on her, her gown wasn’t too out of the ordinary compared to what Albedo wore.

A few of the courtiers had also noticed that Renner was wearing the same gown she had the last time and had on them bothered expressions, but those expressions only surfaced for a mere moment before subsiding.

“Long time no see, Albedo-kakka.”

Upon hearing Rampossa’s voice, the nobles who had been enthralled by Albedo’s beauty finally snapped back to reality.

“Not at all, it’s my fault for not visiting Your Majesty in such a long time.”

Albedo replied with a strikingly appealing voice that matched her appearance. Her back remained straight and the vertical position of her head remained unchanged, just like she had done the last time around. This was in direct contrast to her gentle demeanour, it made clear her belief that humans were too insignificant for her to bow down to.

“You do not appear to have changed much, that is a relief.”

“The same to you, Your majesty.”

The way the two smiled and looked at each other could lead one to believe that it was just a warm gathering of friends, and nothing more.

“You appear to be busy, so I will be direct, why have you come here today?”

“Indeed. I’m here regarding our previous affair — that being how my country’s grain caravan, which was intended to be humanitarian aid to the Holy Kingdom, had been robbed by one of your own.”

Though this was no laughing matter, Albedo’s smile remained steadfast from before.

In contrast, his father had stood up from his throne to say,

“I see, you are here for that. Then allow me to firstly, apologize for my citizen’s actions.”

His father lowered his head and bowed deeply. The king of a kingdom was accepting the words of the other party at face value. In diplomacy, that was something that should not have been done for any reason. In the world of diplomacy, where not even the shrewd were safe from deceit (TL’s note: 生き馬の目を抜く), to confirm the faults of one’s country was a major blunder.

Nevermind the fact that it was unwise for the head of state to directly apologize for something, because that would be akin to the entire country admitting guilt.

To have done so would be to damn their country to the Sorcerous Kingdom’s every whim and fancy. No—

Considering that we are trying to avoid an all-out war, this might not have been the worst idea. But if the Sorcerous Kingdom was to demand the head of that noble now, aren’t they bound to do so?

He couldn’t imagine that things would turn out this way given what his father had said earlier. If he intended to refuse the Sorcerous Kingdom’s demands at this point, the one to have apologized should have been someone like Zanac instead of him. After all, the difference in the weight of a head of state’s words and his son’s was worlds apart.

But just as Zanac’s train of thought reached that point, his father’s subsequent words put him at a loss for words.

“Now then…would the offering of my own head allow for the Kingdom to receive forgiveness from the Sorcerous Kingdom?”

The moment those words came out of his father’s mouth, it felt as though the entire room had frozen over.

After his shock had waned, Zanac couldn’t help but feel ashamed of himself from the bottom of his heart.

This was undoubtedly, his father’s trump card.

Though the scale of an incident would affect the response, if the gift of repentance was the head of the head of state, the other party had to accept it no matter who they were, right? No, if they were to make further requests beyond what was offered, their lack of magnanimity would surely draw condemnations from everyone.

His father did not consider himself unfortunate to have to offer up his life, not because he wanted to die, but because to sacrifice oneself for one’s own Kingdom was for a king to insist on.

His father was a true king.

Though it was a fact that his father’s weakness was in how he had dealt with matters, it appears as though Zanac had been underestimating his father for a long time.

“Of course, the Kingdom will take responsibility for the Sorcerous Kingdom’s grain loss, we could even reimburse twice the amount of grain should you desire it. That is in addition to the offer of my head. What is your opinion on this offer? Albedo-kakka.”

“Hmph…”

Albedo’s facial expression grew heavy. Though she was still a smiling beauty, it was oddly terrifying.

“…Hehehe, looks like you’ve made a slightly wrong prediction, Rampossa the third?”

Albedo shifted her gaze, apparently to his sister.

“Was it because you lost that man? Or was it because of something else? Did you find out about the brilliance—” Albedo then looked at Zanac, “—of your child, and so decided to have a change of heart?”

“I do not believe that I have had a change of heart…”

“Oh, but you did. If this was the past you, you would not have made that decision…perhaps it was a combination of a multitude of factors that had influenced you, but your basis as a person had not changed much? Whatever, that doesn’t matter. In any case, we will not change our policies towards this matter.”

Due to how sudden and peculiar Albedo’s shift in aura had occurred, no one noticed it at first. She had completely forgone the etiquette expected of an envoy during an audience with a head of state. Even if she was a foreigner, this was not an acceptable attitude to display towards a king who was actively leading his nation. Surprisingly, this attitude of hers felt more natural to Zanac, perhaps because the difference in power between the Kingdom’s King and the Sorcerous Kingdom’s Prime Minister was warped to begin with.

Human and fiend.

From that perspective, her attitude felt the most natural.

Perhaps that was why. There was an invisible pressure emanating from Albedo that stopped everyone from voicing their displeasure.

That was only temporary, as the fiend quickly put back on her sheep’s clothing, the Sorcerous Kingdom’s envoy.

Albedo surveyed the courtiers who were standing on opposite sides of the aisle and proclaimed loudly,

“This is a formal declaration of war from the Sorcerous Kingdom. We will deploy our troops a month from this day at noon! However, if you were to march troops towards E-Rantel — to cross into the Sorcerous Kingdom’s borders, then we will no longer follow that timeline.”

“Please wait!”

“I have no intention of tarrying any longer. Alright, with that my work here is done. The last thing I was meant to convey from His Majesty was—”

“—You planned for things to turn out this way all along, didn’t you?!”

Said a rage-filled courtier. Albedo squinted her eyes at him. The message conveyed through those eyes was probably menace.

“You dare interrupt His Majesty the Sorcerer King’s message—human. Can you not wait to die a month from now?”

The colors instantly drained from the courtier who had spoken out even though Albedo hadn’t raised her voice by much and hadn’t done anything unusual. Still, the expressions of the courtier, who had been threatened by some feudal lord with soldiers before, changed dramatically due to a stare from a beauty.

“…Hmph. Now then, allow me to convey His Majesty the Sorcerer King’s message. ‘I have no intention of using grand magic as I had last time, let us enjoy the process. That’s all.’” After saying so, Albedo had a confused expression on her for the first time ever. “Even if you say that this was a scheme that we had planned out, to be completely honest, what had occurred was completely out of our expectations. We also wanted to find out how things had turned out this way.”

Albedo appeared to be telling the truth judging from her expression and voice, one wouldn’t believe that she was lying. Of course, the possibility that this was all an act was also incredibly high.

“If you wish to treat this incident as our nation’s scheme, that is fine by me. History is written by the victors. All of your false accusations will soon be erased.”

Zanac understood the stance the Sorcerous Kingdom had adopted for this incident.

The idea that they could avoid a war was futile.

The Sorcerous Kingdom had not been seeking to expand its territories through conquest, but rather the complete destruction of the Kingdom. It was safe to say that war was inevitable. In a month, the Sorcerous Kingdom’s undead will surely be marching into the Kingdom’s borders.

“There’s no need to escort me, I do not wish to take up any more of your precious, limited time.”

After Albedo exhibited the attitude that told them that she had said all that she had wanted to, she turned her back on the rest of them and walked out the door.

Was it truly advantageous for the Kingdom to let her go without laying their hands on her at all?

If they killed this woman who held the office of a Prime Minister, would it plunge the politics of the Sorcerous Kingdom into chaos temporarily and make them unable to start a war?

However, one look upon the back of her dignified figure made him hesitate.

As Zanac pondered the possibilities, no one dared to stop Albedo from leaving the room.

The giant doors were shut just as Albedo’s silhouette disappeared over the side of the doorframe. Zanac said to his father,

“What should we do? If we chase her…”

“Do not do anything of that sort. If we were to do something like kill the envoy of another nation, the blame for this entire situation will fall on our shoulders. Then no other nations would ever come to our aid.”

His father replied with a feeble voice as he placed his hand onto his forehead, as if he’s having a headache. Zanac felt as though his father had just rapidly aged somewhat compared to just a few moments ago.

“Your Majesty. Your servant wishes to spread the news that you had offered your head as a gift of repentance to every nation.”

“…Yea, I will leave that to you, Minister of Foreign Affairs. If you did that…in the worst-case scenario…”

“Please, do not speak of the worst-case scenario. Will we not be fine as long as we manage to defeat the Sorcerer King’s army?”

“Yea, yea. You are correct.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs’ words restored some color to his father’s face, but the smile he had was still one filled with grief.

“Zanac, Renner. I have something to tell you. Could you come to my room later? Now then, I do apologize to everyone gathered here, but we will have to convene in another hour to discuss what will happen in a month.”

The courtiers all lowered their heads and bowed.

After the chief of the guards escorted his father out of the room, Zanac and Renner left together.

Though Climb and Brain waited outside the room as Renner’s guards, Renner told them to wait in her room so they just watched as Zanac and Renner left.

The two walked shoulder to shoulder through the corridors.

“So, sister. Do you know why father has summoned us?”

“Yes, I believe it’s for the same reason as the one onii-sama has in mind right now.”

“Is that so? Is father about to show us the delicious desserts that Albedo-kakka had brought over?”

“Yes! As expected of onii-sama, I believe that to be the case too!”

Zanac stared at Renner with his eyes wide open for a second, to which Renner responded with a smile as if nothing had just happened. This woman’s such a pain to deal with.

“What do you plan to do?”

“Um—”

Renner placed her index finger below her chin and tilted her head towards the side. Zanac saw what she was doing and intentionally sighed heavily.

“What do you get out of acting cute in front of your own brother? Go act for Climb instead, he’s the one who’s gullible.”

“Onii-sama, that was really rude of you. I’ll try this with Climb next — though I did not plan to do so. Isn’t onii-sama’s the one who should be asked about what he’s planning to do?”

“Me, I want to run away. But, that wouldn’t be possible. The Sorcerous Kingdom would surely hunt us down.”

“I was thinking the same thing you know?”

For a woman who wished to marry a man whose social status was far from hers and had intentionally partnered up with Zanac, that reply was too straight. Zanac had thought that Renner would be the type to value her survival more and would have planned to leave the palace by tomorrow or something. Perhaps she too understood how impossible it was for them to escape from the grasps of the Sorcerous Kingdom, and thus snuffed her desires to do so.

Zanac stole a glance at Renner but could not tell her feelings on that matter through her expressions alone.

After the both of them had entered the room, the first words from their father’s mouth was just as he had expected.

“Zanac, Renner. Leave this place at once. You are only just the prince and princess of this country, there is no need for the two of you to die alongside it.”

The two of them looked at each other and answered in unison that—

They did not intend to do so.

The expression on their father’s face was bittersweet.

“Is that so…but, there is still time. If you two change your minds, tell me immediately.”

Though he did not believe that his intentions would change, a man’s mind was most prone to falter.

Zanac gently nodded his head towards his father.

Renner, who was beside him, did the same.

2

The children, upon seeing that Brain had returned, ran towards him.

“Os-san, you’re back!”

“Os-san, os-san!”

(TL’s note: an informal form of oji-san, a weird middle ground between ‘old man’, ‘sir’, ‘uncle’, etc. so there is no direct English analogue)

The ten children surrounded Brain, nine boys and a girl. They were all orphans. Brain had taken those who he had believed to have some sort of potential, allowed them to live with him, and were training them in the art of swordsmanship.

Because they grew up in a rough environment, they fully understood the importance of violent force and were able to keep up with his harsh training regimen. Having said that, they were still just children so Brain was still unsure if they could meet his expectations. Surely if they continued to train like this, they would be able to, at the very least, reach Climb’s level.

The children stunk of sweat but it wasn’t offensive to Brain. After all, he would be the same after training, this was proof that the children had been working hard.

“Oy oy, you guys. Are you done with practice?”

“Break—”

“I’ve practiced so much—”

“My hand—”

Because they all responded at once, it was hard to fully understand what they were trying to say, but they had completed their practice, that much he did understand.

“Now then, go take a break. Remember, I told you guys that breaks are part of training too, right?”

The children agreed in a cacophony of noises.

“I’ll practice with you guys after a while, do not tell me that you’re too tired to practice by then, do you understand?”

The children, once again, agreed in a cacophony of noises.

“Good! Remember to also fill up on water. Also, don’t forget to fill up on salt just because you have been sweating so much!”

A few of the children said “We get it already” or “Os-san’s so naggy” but the majority of them replied that they understood.

“Good, now go. Oh, right. Before you go, where are those two?”

The oldest of the bunch, their representative, told him, “in the backyard.”

Brain responded with an “oh”, bid goodbye to the children, and walked towards the backyard.

The children returned to the house to dine on the food and drinks they had received from the elderly couple who had been expecting them and to probably take a nap afterwards.

Good exercise, good diet, and good sleep. That was how excellent muscles were built.

Brain nodded his head in satisfaction.

“You made me wait for so long.”

A woman’s voice called out as Brain entered the backyard.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I had to prepare in advance to accompany Her Highness the Princess on her meetings with the nobility, merchants, and so on, so I was a bit late.”

There was a man and a woman there, who had been instructing the children before he arrived.

The woman who was speaking to Brain curled up her hair into the shape of a bun, apparently a hairstyle that was called ‘Magay’ in the South.

(TL’s note: incomplete pronunciation of ‘Marumage’)

Her appearance, rather than being what one would usually consider beautiful, gave off the impression that she was icy and acute. She wasn’t too tall, perhaps a bit shorter than most women her age.

The other person there, the man, remained silent.

Though he had an indifferent attitude which could make one think that he was unhappy, that was not the case. He raised a hand as his form of greeting to Brain.

He was just not apt at expressing himself. Brain had actually heard him talk quite a few times in the past, but his voice was as quiet as an ant’s.

The man wasn’t too tall either. He had short legs but was otherwise physically fit, but if a rumour was to spread that he had dwarven heritage, he wouldn’t have much in the way of a proof against it.

The two were both counted in the Six Great Disciples of the dojo of the swordsman known as Vesture Croff di Leoghain.

Brain had his reservations on how they taught, in his mind, his practical swordsmanship training was more useful than their performative swordsmanship practice.

Compared to waving air around for a few hundred times, training with a real sword — even if it was a mock sword — was much more effective. Brain believed that his method would allow one to gain more muscle memory than simply exercising one’s body.

However, this was a good way to allow them to learn the techniques first and build up a foundation solid enough that they would be less likely to die in actual combat.

It was hard to say definitively which side was right or wrong.

Though they all had gained strength, they had completely different ways of living.

It would be troublesome for Brain if the children die in combat before they even had the chance to fully realise their talents. That was why he opted to have the children train with the two, while passing down his own experiences; as a result, the children’s training regimen had become harsher.

“Were their accommodations finalized?”

“Yup, they were finally finalized. They’re scheduled to travel northwest — with a group of merchants operating in a city close to Council State.”

The woman frowned a little.

“It’s been two weeks since the Sorcerous Kingdom declared war on us, but there hasn’t been news of either country’s armies mobilizing. According to some rumours I’ve heard, the Sorcerous Kingdom only wants to force the Kingdom to back down in some negotiation and does not actually want to fight a full-on war? If that was true, wouldn’t that render Mr. Unglaus’ efforts in vain?”

“Would that Sorcerer King really do such a thing?”

If Brain had not met the Sorcerer King in person, he would have believed that this was just a negotiation tactic too. But as a witness to that tragic battle, it was hard for him not to doubt that the Sorcerer King was plotting something. Perhaps he was preparing to cast that spell again.

Had Brain’s uneasiness spread to her? The woman spoke in a hushed tone,

“…Mr. Unglaus had met with that Sorcerer King?”

“Not only have I met him, I bore witness to his duel with Gazef…hmmm, I still don’t know what happened to Gazef till this day.”

Her gaze shifted towards Brain’s waist.

Sheathed by his side was one of the treasures of the Kingdom, the Razor Edge.

This was something that was granted to him when the war was declared, even though he had turned it down on numerous occasions. To Brain, this sword was too heavy of a burden for him to bear so he treated it as something that was entrusted to him for safekeeping only. He did not intend to unsheathe the sword.

Though this sword was like a hot potato that he would rather pass on to someone else, if that person could not match Gazef Stronoff’s abilities, he did not intend to just give it away so easily.

“A duel with Mr. Stronoff? I…”

She stopped herself before she could complete that sentence.

Perhaps she wanted to say something along the lines of, “I wish I was there to witness it too.” Brain did not think too much of it, after all she was a warrior too. To wish to bear witness to Gazef’s duel was natural for them.

No, it was more appropriate to say that he wanted her to witness it too. He had just said that he still could not figure out what had happened during that duel, so if someone else could explain it to him that would be best.

“I think the Sorcerer King is plotting something, but I’m not sure what exactly he is plotting, I don’t have a basis for that thought after all. My instincts are blaring alarms right now, and I tend to trust my instincts without question.”

“If it’s the warrior instincts of someone like Mr. Unglaus, then it just might be true…”

“I’m not too sure on the specifics…anyways, we have to get these brats out of this place as soon as possible. Even if I die, they could still make a living for themselves with the swordsmanship I’ve taught them — even if it’s not that significant of a skill.”

“…actually, our sensei had told us the same thing as Mr. Unglaus, that the Sorcerous Kingdom is plotting something in the dark. So when the children are to be sent away—” the woman looked towards the silent man next to her, “—could you request that he go along with them?”

“What? Would he do that?”

He glanced at the man who gave him a silent nod. He appeared to be annoyed, but that was probably not the case.

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that this man was patient with children.

Though all of the Six Great Disciples had been here at some point, the one the children liked the most out of them all was him.

“Yes, sensei appeared to have given it some consideration already. As long as he lives, our swordsmanship could continue being passed down through the generations.”

In other words, they had the same thought as Brain.

If that was the case, he had no reason to reject their request.

“I do not mind as long as your end is fine with it. Having said that, I am grateful for you all. I’ll go speak to the merchants who will be taking them away.”

Brain heard the man say something in his tiny voice, probably something like, “please take good care of him” or something.

Brain raised his hand as a response, to which the man responded in kind by deeply nodding his head.

“Now then, after the brats have rested up it’ll be my turn to train them. Sorry to have troubled the both of you to train them while I was away.”

Gratitude was the only thing that flowed out of his mouth. Even though he hadn’t paid them much, they still took the time to teach the children.

Their sensei Vesture had probably considered the fact that Brain was one who wielded outstanding swordsmanship and so wanted to introduce his Six Great Disciples to him, perhaps making Brain owe him a favour in the process, so Brain’s gratitude was not that great. The Six Great Disciples were different on the other hand, perhaps they had their interests piqued at the prospect of being able to train children that someone who could beat them handily, Brain, had judged had potential, or perhaps they were just interested in passing down skills to the children that they could use to survive? In any case, they were motivated to help the children without any ulterior motives from the start.

Because he had been acting as the personal bodyguard of the princess, he had to come into contact with those annoying nobles. This was why people as straightforward as the Six Great Disciples shone even brighter in his eyes.

“…I do have to say that I was quite impressed by how magnanimous Mr. Unglaus really was. To have adopted these children and teach them skills so that they could survive…”

Brain’s expression darkened.

He hadn’t done any charity that was worthy of such praise.

“Stop flattering me. I’m not that nice of a guy. While it’s true that I picked these children up from the slums, it was for a purpose. There were ones that were on the verge of death yet I still walked past them without lifting a finger to help. If you want to praise someone for their charity, do it to someone who actually deserves it — like the princess for example.”

He could see that the woman had a perplexed expression, but he wasn’t sure what had caused it.

“Are you talking about Princess Renner-sama? About how she had funded her orphanage? It’s true that the princess had done something extraordinary, but I believe that Mr. Brain had also accomplished what no other person could. Aren’t you both equally worthy of praise?”

“Doesn’t look like I could get through to you. Think whatever you want to, but don’t do it in front of me. I’d have heartaches from the guilt alone.”

“Then I do apologize.”

“…No, don’t think too much about it, it was a joke. I’m not innocent enough to feel guilt from something so small.”

Brain shifted his gaze away from the shocked expression on her face and looked towards Gazef Stronoff’s, now Brain’s, residence.

His thoughts were of the children who had just had their fill and were probably sleeping right now.

——–

Mini-FAQ:
Q: “Schadenfreude”?
A: It was the most succinct word for that concept, the direct English analogue “Epicaricacy” has questionable etymological roots. I’ll probably switch out that word for its literal meaning in the final product.
Q: What’s with these new characters’ names?
A: Treat them all as placeholders until I find the rhyme and reason behind Maruyama’s naming scheme, which appears to be non-existent for the time being.
Q: Tripcode?
A: Yes, by popular demand, there you go. Though I will say that I don’t really trust them having witnessed a few of them being breached in the past. At least this will stop clop anon, though I do have to admit that it was quite funny the first few times around.
Q: Where are we at?
A: As of this part: page 189/568