“I shall excuse myself then, woof.”
He heard an unfamiliar voice by his side followed by the sound of doors being shut. It woke him right up, like a trigger being activated.
Something should have happened, but everything felt like it had withered away. He felt something akin to the feeling of forgetting a dream in the morning.
Climb felt like his muscles and bones had melted as he could not summon any strength at all. Even the simple act of twisting his neck was a struggle.
He tried his best to survey his surroundings.
The most luxurious room Climb had seen so far in his life had been Renner’s, but this far surpassed hers in opulence. He had something of a photographic memory, yet he could not recall ever seeing this room in the palace.
What had happened to him?
Why…was he still alive?
Also — what happened to his master?
Although he could not move his body well, he could feel the presence of someone else in the room.
He tried to call out to them, but the sounds that came out of him could not constitute speech. Still, the person in the room had understood him as they hurriedly rushed over.
“Climb! You woke up!”
He still could not vocalize, but that was to be expected. His entire body was without strength, so not even his vocal cords could move. Yet that was not the reason why he did not speak, it was because of the flurry of emotions that occupied his mind.
His eyes were filled with tears.
That’s right, this was all a nightmare.
The Kingdom being attacked by the Sorcerous Kingdom and how Renner had been forced to make her resolve to die had all just been a nightmare.
“Uhmm, yes. I am Renner. Climb.”
The same smile as usual.
No, she was at the edge of his sightline yet he could still tell clearly, this was different from her usual smile.
Did something happen?
Climb moved his eyes to discover something bizarre on her back.
Like that of a bat’s.
It flapped around, making “whap whap” noises as it went along.
Even if it was manmade, it was way too realistic. In any case, he should stop making up lies to comfort himself.
Perhaps she had realized the source of his confusion. Renner’s expression became neutral.
“This thing…I was changed by the Sorcerer King’s power. I am no longer a human — but a demon.”
Climb’s eyes widened.
“What a tragedy, for me to have been the only one to have survived.”
He wanted to tell her that what she said wasn’t true, but he could not muster the strength to speak. He could only groan with “aa—” and “oo—” sounds.
Droplets of tears began to fall.
Renner gently wiped his tears away.
Climb trembled with emotions as he groaned. No matter how much she had changed on the outside, she was still Renner on the inside.
“So…you must be curious about why you are still alive, correct? Before I answer that question…Climb…are you willing to listen to something selfish that I have to say? I have been turned into a demon, so I will remain in this world forever. Living alone would be a terribly painful thing to do.”
Renner looked towards him.
“Climb, are you willing to turn into a demon as well?”
He did not hesitate, he had decided long ago to give his all for Renner. Climb struggled against his immobile body to nod his head.
“Thank you…then allow me to answer your question. The truth is, I have already sworn fealty to His Majesty the Sorcerer King. That was the cost of your resurrection.”
Climb widened his eyes once more.
“Do not let it weigh on your heart. I did not believe that this was a bad deal. After all, I would not have to live on my own…Climb, are you willing to swear fealty to His Majesty the Sorcerer King too?”
While he was still a bit confused, if Renner was willing to swear fealty for his sake, he should choose to serve too. No, it was more accurate to say that this was the only option he had.
“Thank you, Climb. After you swear fealty to His Majesty the Sorcerer King, he would most definitely force some tasks onto you to test your loyalty. It will probably be painful for you, and that saddens me a lot…”
“That, won’t, be, the, case. ”
“…thank you…Climb, that is all I have to say for now. Take a rest, I will take good care of you.”
She maintained her smile and disappeared from his view. From the direction where she went, he could hear the sound of doors opening followed by doors closing.
Immediately afterwards, his desire to sleep took hold of him.
Climb, whose face was covered in tears, lost his consciousness as though he had just sunk into mud. The emotions behind those tears were too complicated for himself to explain. Not even Climb himself knew why he cried.
Renner left the bedroom and walked towards the neighbouring room. Upon noticing the person on the sofa, she knelt down in panic.
“Albedo-sama,” Renner took a deep bow, “I could not thank our master in time, so I am terribly sorry for that. The preparation of the poison and the theatrics in the throne room, to have even troubled His Majesty the Sorcerer King to personally go there to help, I am deeply grateful for that.”
“Fufu. That is enough. There is no need to worry over these things. If it was for outstanding individuals, such trivialities are well worth the time.”
“Thank you very much, Albedo-sama.”
The “if” part of that sentence was somewhat stressed more than the others, causing Renner to shudder. She did not know if they had seen through her even in this aspect. Albedo did not continue, but she felt her gaze on the back of her head.
“…Fufu. There is no need to be this tense around me. Demiurge and I have a full grasp on your capabilities through this event with the Kingdom.”
Back then, from the moment she had met with the demon Demiurge to the destruction of the Kingdom, around 90% of the plan had been suggested by Renner herself. She had expertly manipulated all sides through their conceit. The only thing she was wary of, was when the plan had changed to the slaughter of almost all citizens of the Kingdom. She was worried about whether or not she would be thrown away afterwards. Other than that, things had gone mostly according to her plans.
“Such exceptional abilities must be put to their full use in Nazarick — under my command.”
“Ainz-sama had high praise for you. I will not allow you to disappoint him.”
Minor, she could only detect a minor difference, but Albedo’s tone had changed somewhat.
Renner continued to act subserviently. In this situation, this was probably the smartest choice she could make.
“The reward for your service from now on, for the next millennia, will be given to you in advance.”
The sound of something being placed on the table could be heard.
“The Fallen Seed I gave you before, this is another one of them. The next step would be to prepare the sacrifice. You may start after he recovers. While magic could speed up the recovery, based on your specifications we will not do such a thing.”
“Thank you very much, Albedo-sama. Please do convey my thanks to His Majesty the Sorcerer King as well.”
“Renner. I will reiterate…do not disappoint me. This was not given to you because you have inherent value as a hostage, but something you had earned through your actions and the trust that had been built up between us. Do you understand?”
Upon hearing her gentle yet frigid voice, Renner bowed her head even lower than before.
“…Yes, Albedo-sama. To repay your generosity, your servant I will maintain, no, I will strive to serve you better than I have.”
Her superior left behind a soft laugh as she stood up and left.
Renner kept her head down until she heard the sound of the door being closed. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. Mixed in her breath were lingering sensations of fear.
She had overcome the final hurdle.
The other party was a ruthless demon after all, it would not have been strange for her to have said that all of this was to raise her hopes up only to dash it at the last moment. Yet nothing of that sort happened. The weight on her shoulders was finally lifted, but she could not allow herself to believe for a single moment that her position was absolutely safe and secure.
For her to have gained their trust — was impossible. The best-case scenario was that they believed her to be valuable as a pawn, one worthy of their favour. That was why Renner had to contribute as much as she could. If she could not prove herself worthy of their grace, things would go south fast.
This was the home of those monsters after all, they knew full well that she was absolutely powerless here no matter how hard she tried. Yet, not even that was enough for them.
For that reason, Renner had to expose her weaknesses to them, the more the better. She had essentially handed over the other end of the leash to them to tell them that she was a loyal pet and that they were her masters. She had to make the superior-inferior relationship between them as clear-cut as possible. If she had not done so, they would probably not even bother to feign trust in her.
That was why they had put on such a show in the throne room.
Climb was Renner’s biggest weakness — to show how important he was to her, she had spoken of him in the first conversation she had with Albedo — only when this truth was presented in front of these monsters, would she have truly put on the collar.
Climb’s value as their hostage had to be realized, but she had a separate reason for it too. However, it appeared as though she had been seen through, but since things had turned out better than she had expected, it wasn’t much of an issue.
There was something else that not even Renner could foresee.
She did not imagine that the Sorcerer King would act out that character himself.
What a terrifying Supreme Being.
Every time Renner thought about the being named Ainz Ooal Gown, she could not help but shudder all over.
It would have been more than enough for the Prime Minister Albedo to have acted that scene out, but the Sorcerer King would deign to essentially act the role of jester himself. This must have meant that he held quite a high opinion of her. “That is to say, the sovereign of a nation had gone out of his way to cooperate with your boring play. Surely you understand what that means?” was probably what Albedo was implying through her statements.
Albedo must have been against that decision.
If someone she admired had to stoop to act upon a stage, it would displease her too. Which meant that her goodwill for Renner, the person responsible for him being on that stage, had probably dried up.
If His Majesty the Sorcerer King had intentionally gone against Albedo-sama to act out that scene, that would make things even worse for me. If they were to believe even for a split second that I was no longer of use to them, I would surely be disposed of…
She had planned to only demonstrate a portion of her abilities and hide her true capabilities for now, but now that the Sorcerer King had personally come to cooperate with her, she had been forced into a corner.
…His Majesty the Sorcerer King had probably already foreseen all of this. It appears that an exceptional superior would not necessarily be good news for their subordinates.
Despite all of that, Renner still smiled.
Her dream of the past was minuscule. It only grew to how wondrous it was now because she had met them.
How lucky was she that she could realise such a dream through the simple betrayal and sacrifice of the Kingdom?
She wanted to dance.
She wanted to sing.
The joy in her heart was overflowing.
She was truly, truly overjoyed. Her brain felt like it could break from all of this happiness.
Demons were immortal. Being locked up in here meant that she had just found shelter in the safest place in the world.
If that was the case — Renner looked towards the door behind her. No, towards the young man sleeping on the bed inside.
“Climb. Stay here with me forever~ Let us exchange our first times today.”
Renner almost melted as she spoke.
“Or should I treasure it more — and stop myself short of that today? This is the first time I have been met with such a dilemma — aaaah, such bliss.”
Q: Where are we at?
A: As of this part: page 542/568