Battle of Carne Village
The dressing room which adjoined Momonga’s suite was a chaotic mess of items, with hardly any place to put one’s feet. There were items like capes, with which Momonga could equip himself, and suits of full plate armor, which he could not use at all. In addition to armor and other protectives, there were weapons ranging from magic staves to greatswords. This was truly an assortment of gear.
Players could produce a nearly infinite variety of original magic items in YGGDRASIL. Defeated monsters dropped data crystals, which formed a magic item when they were set into an item skin.
Therefore, people would immediately buy item skins that they liked.
That was the reason for this room’s state.
Momonga picked out a greatsword from the weapons in the room. Freed from its sheath, the silvery blade sparkled in the light. The runes carved into the blade’s body sparkled as well, etching themselves into any onlookers’ eyes.
Momonga swung the greatsword around. It was as light as a feather.
Of course, this was not because the blade was light, but because Momonga was very strong.
Momonga was a mage and his spellcasting stats were very high, but his physical stats were lower in comparison. Still, the strength he had gained from reaching level 100 was not an inconsiderable figure. If he encountered weak monsters, he could easily pulverize them with his staff.
Momonga slowly took a fighting stance, and then a loud sound of metallic clanging ran through the room. The sword he had been holding a moment ago was now on the ground
The maid standing by in the room immediately picked up the greatsword and handed it to Momonga. However, Momonga did not pick it up, but looked at his empty hands.
That was it.
That was what confused Momonga.
Although the realistic NPCs made him think he was no longer in a game, the annoying sensation that bound his body made him feel otherwise.
In YGGDRASIL, Momonga had no levels in warrior classes, and so he should not have been able to use a greatsword. However, if this new world was reality, it only made sense that he should have been able to wield it.
Momonga shook his head and decided not to think about it. After all, he would not be able to find the answer no matter how much he pondered.
“Tidy this up.”
After Momonga directed the maid to clean up, he turned to look at the mirror that almost covered the entire wall. What he saw was a clothed skeleton.
He should have been afraid after seeing what his body had become, but Momonga was unmoved. Indeed, it even felt natural to be that way.
There was another reason for this, besides being used to this look from his time in YGGDRASIL.
That reason was that his mind had been changed, along with his body.
The first sign of that was the fact that whenever he felt an intense surge in his emotions, he would immediately calm down, as though something was suppressing it. Another thing was that he could not feel thirst, hunger or fatigue. There might have been something resembling lust, but he had felt no excitement even when he was caressing Albedo’s soft breasts.
A terrible sense of loss filled Momonga, and he instinctively glanced down to his waist.
“Could it be… it vanished because I never used it?”
However, his small voice and the sense of loss vanished as he spoke.
Therefore, Momonga concluded that these changes, in particular the mental changes, were part of the undead immunity to mind-affecting effects.
Right now, he possessed an undead body and mind, but there were some remnants of his humanity left. Therefore, even when he experienced emotions, if they surged to a peak, they would be immediately suppressed. If he continued on like this, he might end up losing all his emotions in the future.
Of course, even if that happened, it would hardly be a big deal, because no matter how this world turned out or what happened to his body, his will was still his own.
In addition, the NPCs like Shalltear and so on would be by his side. Perhaps worrying about becoming undead was premature.
“[Create Greater Item]!”
Once Momonga cast the spell, his body was sheathed in a suit of engraved full plate armor. It glowed darkly, and its surface was covered in gold and silver patterns. It looked very expensive.
He moved around in it to see how it felt. Although it was somewhat restrictive, he was not immobilized. In addition, the armor fit his body very well, which was quite unexpected considering the gaps between his bare-boned body and the armor.
It would seem that he could use magic-generated items, just like in YGGDRASIL.
As Momonga silently applauded the wonders of magic, he peeked at himself in the mirror from between the gaps of his closed helm. A dashing warrior looked back at him, nothing at all like a magician. Momonga nodded in satisfaction, and gulped in his nonexistent throat. Right now, he understood how a child felt when he angered his parents.
“I will be stepping out for a while.”
“The guards are ready for you,” the maid reflexively replied. However—
The truth was, he disliked them.
On the first day when the guards followed him around, he felt pressurized; on the second he was used to it, and then he felt like showing them off. And on the third day—-
Momonga suppressed the urge to sigh.
It was all too stiff and formal for him. The guards followed him everywhere he went, and whenever he met someone, they bowed to him.
Maybe, if he could have walked around nonchalantly with his guards in tow, it would have been tolerable. But he could not do that, because he had to maintain the gravitas of the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick at all times. He could not allow a moment of laxity to ruin his image, so his nerves were constantly on edge. This caused a lot of stress to the formerly-human Momonga.
Even though strong emotions were promptly suppressed, his mind felt like it was being boiled by a low flame all the time.
And then there were the unbelievably beautiful women who plastered themselves to his side at all times, taking care of him in all ways. As a man, he was delighted by the attention, but the invasion of his personal space and his life was wearing him out as well.
That stress was another relic of his humanity.
In any case, it was not a good sign that he, the master of Nazarick, was being subjected to this emotional distress amidst these strange circumstances. It might lead to him making a poor decision in times of emergency.
He needed to refresh himself.
Momonga’s eyes went wide as he came to that decision. His expression did not change, of course, but the lights in his eyes burned brighter.
“No... there is no need for the guards to accompany me. I simply wish to walk by myself.”
“Pl-please wait and reconsider, if something happens to Momonga-sama, we must become your shields. We cannot allow any harm to come to your person.”
The maids and the other vassals wanted nothing more than to protect their master even at the cost of their own lives. In that sense, Momonga’s request to go walking by himself -- which completely disregarded their feelings -- was a cruel one.
However, it had been over three days since this abnormality occurred, roughly 73 hours. In this time, Momonga had been desperately trying to maintain the stern facade of the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, but now he needed a rest.
Therefore, even though he felt bad for them, Momonga thought of an excuse and said:
“...I have to do something in secret, and I will not allow anyone to follow me.”
A brief silence followed.
Just as Momonga was starting to feel that it was dragging on, the maid finally replied:
“Understood. Then, please be safe, Momonga-sama.”
Momonga’s heart ached briefly as the maid ate it up hook, line and sinker, but he brushed it aside.
There should not be anything wrong with taking a short break and going outside to check out the surrounding scenery. Indeed, it was very important that he saw for himself whether they had indeed been transported to another world.
The excuses were welling up because Momonga was starting to feel that he had been too selfish.
Momonga waved away the guilt in his heart, and activated the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown.
♦ ♦ ♦
His destination was a large hall. There were rows of narrow mortuary slabs on both sides of him, but there were no corpses on them now. The floor was polished limestone. Behind Momonga was a flight of stairs leading down, and at their end was a set of double doors, through which one could access the 1st Floor of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. The sconces in the walls had no torches; the only light came from the bluish-white moonlight streaming in from the outside.
This was the closest location to the surface that the RIng of Ainz Ooal Gown could take him, the central mausoleum on the surface of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.
All he needed to do was take a few steps to reach the outside world. But despite the vast space before him, Momonga could not take those steps.
That was because of the thoroughly unexpected encounter before him.
The silhouettes of heteromorphic beings loomed before him. There were three monsters in total.
One of them looked like a fearsome demon. Fangs protruded from its mouth and its body was covered in scales. It had stout arms and sharp claws, as well as flaming wings and a snake-like tail.
Another was a feminine-looking monster with a crow’s head, dressed in a tight-fitting bondage outfit.
The final one wore full plate armor that was open at the chest, proudly revealing its abdominal muscles. If not for the black bat wings and the two horns protruding from its temples, it might have been mistaken for a beautiful young man. However, its eyes held a desire that knew no limit.
They were the Evil Lords of Wrath, Jealousy(Lust) and Greed, respectively.
All the Evil Lords turned their attention to Momonga, but they did not move, only watching with their unwavering gazes. The grim atmosphere weighed down on everyone present.
They were all monsters around Level 80 or so, and they should have been assigned to sentry duty around the Infernal Shrine where Demiurge lived, near the Gate to the 8th Floor. Shalltear’s undead minions should have been stationed in the upper floors to stand guard. So what were Demiurge’s subordinates, his elite guards, doing in here?
Behind them was one more figure. Momonga had not noticed him until now, but it had been watching Momonga from the beginning. Once he revealed himself, everything became clear.
A surprised look appeared on the demon who had been addressed by name (Demiurge). That look seemed to be saying “why would his master be here”, or “why would there be a mysterious monster here”.
Momonga decided to place his bet on a slim possibility, and advanced. If he stopped now, it would be a miracle if his true identity was not uncovered. In any event, his plan was to slowly move forward while staying near the wall, ignoring the monsters and walking past them.
He was fully aware that their eyes were on him. However, Momonga suppressed his feelings of weakness with sheer willpower, held his chest high, and continued moving forward.
Once they had gotten close enough to each other, all the demons simultaneously genuflected, bowing their heads to him. The one at their head was, of course, Demiurge. His neat movements were slick and elegant, as though he were a nobleman.
“Momonga-sama. May I ask why you have come here, without your escort, and dressed like this?”
The cat was out of the bag.
Demiurge could be said to be the wisest being in The Great Tomb of Nazarick, so being seen through was inevitable. However, Momonga felt that the reason he had been seen through was because of the teleportation.
Only one person in Nazarick possessed the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown that permitted its bearer to teleport freely through its halls — Momonga.
“Ah… it’s complicated. Demiurge, you should know why I am wearing this.”
Demiurge’s elegant face twisted in consternation. He took several breaths before answering:
“My deepest apologies for being unable to divine your fathomless intentions, Momonga-sama—”
“Call me Dark Warrior.”
“Pardon me, Dark Warrior-sama…?”
Demiurge seemed to have something to say, but Momonga tried his best to ignore it. Although it was a pretty embarrassing name, it made sense when one considered the names of other monsters in the game.
The reason behind having Demiurge address him by a different name was quite simple. Although only Demiurge and his vassals were here at the moment, this place was an exit, and many underlings would be passing through here. Momonga simply did not want them to call him “Momonga-sama, Momonga-sama” wherever he went.
How much did Demiurge understand without knowing Momonga’s thoughts? Just then, a look of enlightenment filled Demiurge’s face.
“I see… so that’s what’s going.”
Eh? What’s going on?
Momonga stopped himself from speaking the words in his heart.
As a mortal man, Momonga had no idea what conclusion that Demiurge, intelligent and cunning beyond measure, had come to after his ruminations. All he could do was hope that Demiurge realised his true intentions as his head was covered in nonexistent cold sweat under his helmet.
“I believe I have some grasp on your profound schemes, Mo… no, Dark Warrior-sama. Truly, they are considerations that only the ruler of this domain would have taken into account. However, I cannot allow your noble self to proceed unaccompanied. I am aware that it may inconvenience you, but I hope that in your boundless mercy, you will permit one of us to escort you.”
“...It can’t be helped. Very well, I will allow one person to travel with me.”
Demiurge smiled elegantly.
“My deepest thanks for humoring my selfish request, Dark Warrior-sama.”
“...Just call me Dark Warrior, you can dispense with the honorifics.”
“How could I! To do so would be unforgivable. Of course, I can obey such an order while acting as a spy or performing special missions, but within the Great Tomb of Nazarick, how could anyone not show the due respect to you, Momonga-sama… no, Dark Warrior-sama!”
Demiurge’s passionate monologue moved Momonga a little, and he could not help but nod in approval. He mused that being called Dark Warrior would lead people to mock him for having such a lame name, and he lamented picking that alias so casually.
“Forgive me for wasting your valuable time, Mo-Dark Warrior-sama. Then, you lot will wait here for orders, and explain to the others that I am on the move.”
“Well, it seems your subordinates approve as well. Then, Demiurge, let us be off.”
Momonga walked past the bowing Demiurge, who raised his head and followed his master.
♦ ♦ ♦
“Why was Mo… cough, why was Dark Warrior-sama dressed like that?”
“I don’t know, but there should be some reason for it.”
The remaining Evil Lords muttered to each other in confusion.
After all, they had not seen through Momonga’s disguise because he teleported here.
Momonga had no idea of knowing this, but the denizens of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, or rather, all of Ainz Ooal Gown’s servants radiated a certain aura that the servants could sense in order to determine whether a stranger was friend or foe. Within the guild, the aura of the 41 Supreme Beings that ruled Nazarick — now reduced to Momonga alone — was enough to tell them that the one before them was their absolute ruler. They could sense his mighty presence from a distance and they could not have mistaken Momonga for anyone else, even through his full plate armor. They would have seen through Momonga’s disguise immediately, regardless of how he arrived.
It was easy to differentiate his aura from the others in Nazarick.
The doors to the first floor swung wide, and someone climbed the stairs.
Judging by the aura that came from the stairs, the newcomer was a Guardian.
The Evil Lords saw the beautiful face of the Guardian Overseer, Albedo, rising from the steps. They went to one knee as they realised that they were in the presence of someone who was the equal of their master, Demiurge.
To Albedo, the vassals kneeling before her was merely natural, and she paid them no heed as she looked around.
Only after Albedo failed to find the person she was looking for did she turn back to the Evil Lords. She spoke without addressing anyone in particular:
“...I don’t see Demiurge around. Where is he?”
“He… a Dark Warrior-sama passed through just now, so Demiurge-sama decided to accompany him outside.”
“Dark Warrior...sama? I don’t recall a name like that among the servants… Which servant did Demiurge accompany? A Floor Guardian following a lowly servant? How strange…”
The Evil Lords did not know how to respond, and looked at each other.
Albedo smiled gently to the Evil Lords:
“Could it be that mere servants like you dare to deceive me?”
Her tender, final warning made the Evil Lords shiver, and they realized that they could not keep hiding things from her.
“When Dark Warrior-sama came here, Demiurge-sama concluded that he was a person worthy of our respect.”
“...Momonga-sama came here!”
Albedo’s voice seemed to crack a little, and so the Evil Lords calmly replied:
“...His name was Dark Warrior-sama.”
“...And his guards? Did Demiurge receive some notification from Momonga-sama? But I already arranged to meet him, so does this mean Demiurge did not know Momonga-sama was coming? Ah, forget it, I need to change and bathe!”
Albedo touched her clothing.
Her clothes were dirty from her work. Her hair was tangled at the ends, as were her wings.
However, such petty imperfections could not begin to diminish the appeal of a world-class beauty like Albedo. It was insignificant, like the loss of a point or two out of a hundred million. However, to Albedo, even the slightest blemish on her appearance was a failure. She could not show this filthy self of hers to the man she loved so dearly.
“The nearest bath… the one at Shalltear’s place?... But then she might get suspicious… although I’ll just have to bear with it. You lot, go to my room and get my clothes! Quickly!”
Just then, one of the Evil Lords called out to Albedo, who was pacing around. She was the Demon General of Jealousy.
“...Albedo-sama, though this might be rude, would your present attire not be better?”
“...What do you mean?” Albedo angrily retorted as she stopped in her tracks. She thought the other woman wanted her to see Momonga in her unkempt state.
“...No, I simply meant that a beautiful woman like yourself would be best served by showing the signs of your hard work. In the end, you will still benefit, will you not, Albedo-sama?”
The other Evil Lords added their suggestions: “By the time you could bathe and prepare herself to meet Momonga-sama… Dark Warrior-sama, much time would have been wasted. It would be a shame to miss a good opportunity because of that.”
“I see—” Albedo mused. They had a point.
“That makes sense… it seems I panicked because I have not seen Momonga-sama for such a long time. I can only meet Momonga-sama after 18 hours, don’t you think 18 hours is too long?”
“Yes, it is.”
“If only I could finish laying out the administrative framework and return to Momonga-sama’s side… then I’d better not waste time griping and find Momonga-sama. Where is Momonga-sama now?”
“He just stepped out.”
Although Albedo’s reply seemed curt, there was a distant smile on her face as she imagined being with Momonga, and she flapped her wings in an adorable way. She walked past the Evil Lords with hurried steps.
The footsteps suddenly halted, and Albedo asked the Evil Lords again:
“For the last time, do you really think Momonga-sama will approve of seeing me dirtied like this?”
♦ ♦ ♦
After leaving the mausoleum, Momonga was greeted by a beautiful sight. The surface area of the Great Tomb of Nazarick was 200 meters square, protected by six-meter thick walls, with an entrance and an exit at the front and back.
The Tomb’s grass was trimmed short and felt refreshing. On the other hand, the Tomb’s trees had leafy branches that shrouded much of the grounds in shade, and the extensive shadows gave the place a gloomy air. There were also alabaster tombstones scattered about.
The juxtaposition of the neat grass and the messy tombstones was quite incongruous. In addition, there were exquisite carvings of angels and goddesses all over the place, each of which was easily a work of art, but the chaotic tomb design was frustrating, to say the least.
Apart from the large central mausoleum, there were four smaller mausoleums in the north, south, east and west, each defended by statues of armored warriors, each six meters tall.
The central mausoleum was the gateway to the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and it was from this place that Momonga had emerged into the outside world.
Momonga stood at the top of the stairs and quietly surveyed the landscape before him.
The Great Tomb of Nazarick had originally been located in the icy world of Helheim, which was perpetually shrouded in darkness. The atmosphere was grim and dark, and the sky was constantly overcast. Yet, what he saw now was vastly different from that.
He was looking at a beautiful night sky.
Momonga looked to the heavens and he could not help but sigh. He shook his head, as though unable to believe his eyes.
“Amazing… to think they could include such detail in a virtual world… the air here is so fresh that it must never have been polluted. People born in this world wouldn’t need artificial lungs to breathe…”
He had never seen such a clear night sky in his life.
Momonga wanted to cast a spell, but he was hampered by his armor. There was a certain mage class that allowed for the casting of spells in armor, but Momonga did not have that class. As a result, his full plate armor kept him from using magic. Even armor created by magic would not allow its wearer to cast spells while wearing it. Currently, there were only five spells he could use in his armored state, but sadly, the flight magic Momonga wanted to use was not part of them.
Momonga reached his hand into his pocket dimension and withdrew an item. It was a necklace with a pendant shaped like a bird’s wing.
He put on the necklace and focused on it. The power buried within the necklace took effect.
Freed from the shackles of gravity, Momonga floated lightly into the sky. He rose upward in a straight line, gaining speed as he did.
Although Demiurge was frantically trying to catch up, Momonga paid him no heed and ascended steadily. Before he knew it, he was several hundred meters in the air.
Only then did Momonga’s body slow down. He forcefully cast aside his helmet, and said nothing — no, as he looked down at this world, he could not say anything.
The blue-white light of the moon and stars chased away the darkness of the land. The grasslands, ruffled by a gentle wind, seemed to be glowing. The countless stars and the moon gave off their own radiance as well, shining brilliantly against the light coming from the earth.
Momonga could not help but sigh:
“This is beautiful… no, beautiful would not begin to describe this… what would Blue Planet-san say if he were here?”
What would he do if he saw this world whose air, land and water had not been polluted?
Momonga recalled his comrade from the past, the man who had showed up for the guild’s offline meetings, whose stony face had broken out into a delicate smile when he was praised as a romantic — that gentle man who loved the night sky.
No, he loved nature, which had been polluted and almost completely destroyed. He played YGGDRASIL because he appreciated those scenes which no longer existed in reality. He had built the 6th Floor with his sweat, blood and tears. Its night sky was his personal design, and it was a reproduction of the idealized world in his heart.
That man who loved nature was always particularly excited when the topic came up. Some might even call it an obsession.
How excited would he be if he could see this world? How passionately would he declaim its glories in his baritone voice?
Momonga suddenly realized that he missed his old friend very dearly. Hoping to hear him expounding his wide knowledge again, he looked to the side.
There was nobody there. There could not be anybody there.
The somewhat hurt Momonga heard the flapping of wings, and the transformed Demiurge appeared before him.
This was Demiurge’s half-demon form, with a pair of large black leathery wings growing from his back and the face of a frog.
Certain heteromorphic creatures had multiple forms. In Nazarick, Sebas and Albedo had other forms as well.
Although it was troublesome to train up levels in heteromorphic racial classes, they were very popular because they had different forms like final bosses in a game. In particular, people were fond of how these heteromorphic beings were weaker in their human and demihuman forms, but more powerful in their fully monstrous forms.
Momonga turned away from Demiurge, who was partially transformed into a demon, and looked to the sparkling stars in the sky once more. He spoke softly, as though to his absent friends:
“...To think one could see so far just by the light of the moon and the stars… it’s hard to believe that this world is real. Blue Planet-san... this world is like a chest of jewels.”
“Perhaps it is. I believe the beauty of this world exists to adorn you, Mo— Dark Warrior-san,” Demiurge said in a reverent voice.
The sudden statement sounded like it was finding fault with his memories of his comrades, and it upset Momonga. However, the anger faded as he gazed upon the beautiful sight before him.
In addition, the act of overlooking this world, which seemed so tiny before him, made him feel that perhaps it was not a bad idea to play the role of an evil overlord.
“Indeed, it is beautiful. You say these stars exist to adorn me… perhaps that is so. Perhaps the reason that I have come here is to claim this chest of jewels which belongs to nobody else.”
Momonga clenched his fist before him, and it looked as though he was taking the stars into his grasp. Of course, that was simply because his hand was covering the stars up. He shrugged at his childish behavior and said to Demiurge:
“...No, this is not something I can claim for myself. Perhaps these jewels are meant to adorn the Great Tomb of Nazarick; myself and my friends from Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“...What a moving statement. If is your wish, then by your command, I shall lead Nazarick’s forces to claim this chest of jewels. I, Demiurge would like nothing more than to present this chest of jewels to my lord and master, Momonga-sama.”
Those cheesy lines made Momonga chuckle. He wondered if Demiurge had been intoxicated by the atmosphere as well.
“As long as we do not know anything about the beings which live in this world, I can only say that your idea is foolish. For all we know, we might be miniscule weaklings in this world. However, conquering this world might be quite interesting.”
Conquering the world was something that only the villains in children’s shows would say.
The fact was that conquering the world was not easy. And then there was the matter of ruling the world after conquering it, preventing insurgency and maintaining public order, as well as all the other problems that came with ruling a host of nations. When one thought about these things, one would realise that there was hardly any point in conquering the world.
Momonga knew all of this, but he still spoke of conquering this world, because seeing its beauty awoke that juvenile desire within him. In addition, as he was getting into the mindset of being the leader of the dreaded guild Ainz Ooal Gown, those words accidentally fell from his mouth.
And there was one more reason.
“...Ulbert-san, Luci★Fer-san, Variable Talisman-san, Bellriver-san…”
It was because he remembered what his former guildmates had once said, “Let’s conquer one of the worlds in YGGDRASIL.”
He knew that Demiurge, the wisest mind in Nazarick, would understand that taking over the world was just a child’s joke.
If Momonga had seen the smile that had spread across Demiurge’s frog-face, he would surely not have left matters at that.
But Momonga did not look at Demiurge, instead turning his gaze to the horizon where the infinite expanse of the earth and sky met.
“...This is an unknown world. But am I the only one who made it here? Did the other members of the guild come here too?”
Although one could not play multiple characters in YGGDRASIL, his comrades who left might have made new characters on the last day of the game. Also, given that he had been online so close to the forced logoff time, Herohero-san might have come here too.
The fact was, Momonga’s presence here was an anomaly. The unknown circumstances that had brought him here might have brought his comrades who no longer played the game here with him.
He could not contact them with a [Message], but there might be many reasons for that. They might be on a different continent, or something had changed in the spell’s effect, and so on.
“...I see… then as long as the whole world knows the name of Ainz Ooal Gown…”
If his comrades were here, then the name of the guild would reach their ears. Once they found out, they would come over. Momonga was that confident in the strength of their friendship.
Deep in thought, Momonga looked over to Nazarick, and saw a curious sight.
A wave over a hundred meters across was moving along the land as though it were the sea. Little ripples rose from the surface of the plains, slowly heading in the same direction as they fused together, finally becoming small hillocks as they approached Nazarick.
The gigantic pile of dirt shattered against the sturdy walls of Nazarick, like waves crashing against the shore.
“...[Earth Surge]. He used his skills to enlarge the effective area, as well as his other class skills…” Momonga muttered in respect.
In all of Nazarick, only one person could use this magic.
“That’s Mare for you. It seems camouflaging the walls is an easy task for him.”
“Indeed. Mare has also recruited several golems and undead -- who are tireless -- to help. However, their progress is slow and hardly ideal. In addition, some gaps will be left after moving the earth, which will need to be filled with plants. That will only increase his workload further.”
“...Concealing the walls of Nazarick was a time-consuming task to begin with. The only question is whether he will be discovered as he works. How is our perimeter security?”
“Our early-warning net has already been constructed. We will know of the intrusion of any intelligent beings within five kilometers, and we will be able to observe them without their knowledge.”
“Well done. However… this net is manned by the underlings, right?”
Demiurge replied in the positive, and Momonga suggested it might be good to erect another security net, just in case.
“...I have a plan for the security net. Put it into motion.”
“Understood. I will discuss this with Albedo and then combine her suggestions with your orders. Also, Dark Warrior-sama—”
“—It’s fine, Demiurge. You can call me Momonga.”
“Understood… may I ask about what you plan to do next, Momonga-sama?”
“Since Mare has carried out his task splendidly, I intend to check in on him. I also plan to give him a suitable reward in person…”
A smile appeared on Demiurge’s face. It was a gentle look that seemed completely out of place on a devil’s face.
“I believe your thanks will be the finest reward he can receive, Momonga-sama… my deepest apologies, I suddenly remembered something I have to do. As for Mare…”
“It’s fine. Go, Demiurge.”
“Thank you very much, Momonga-sama.”
As Demiurge spread his wings to fly off, Momonga aimed for a point on the ground and landed, donning his helmet along the way. The Dark Elf near Momonga’s destination seemed to notice his descent and looked up, surprise written all over his face as he saw Momonga.
Mare ran over with a tatata sound as Momonga landed upon the ground. The hem of Mare’s skirt fluttered around his thighs as his legs pumped up and down.
For a moment, something peeked out from below, then vanished again… no, Momonga was not interested in looking under Mare’s skirt. He was just curious about what he wore underneath it.
“Mo-Momonga-sama, w-welcome .”
“Mm… Mare, there is no need to be nervous. Take your time and go slowly. If you’re not used to it, you can also dispense with the polite language… though only when we’re in private, of course.”
“I, I can’t do that, how could I not speak respectfully to a Supreme Being… actually, Nee-chan shouldn’t be doing that too. It, it’s terribly rude…”
Although he disliked children being so formal around him, Momonga said:
“I see, Mare. Well, if you insist, then I am fine with it. However, I want you to know that I will not force you to do so.”
“Y-yes! ...al-although, may I ask why you came here, Momonga-sama? Did I make a mistake…?”
“Of course not, Mare. In fact, I came here to praise you.”
The expression on Mare’s face went from fear that he might be scolded to surprise.
“Mare, your work is very important. Even with our security net in place, the inhabitants of this world may be over level 100. If we are faced with opponents like that, concealing the Great Tomb of Nazarick will be our top priority..”
Mare nodded furiously in agreement.
“Which is why, Mare, I wanted to let you know how satisfied I am that you have carried out your task. In addition, I want to tell you how relieved I am that you were the one handling this matter.”
One of the ironclad rules of society that Momonga believed in was that a good boss should compliment the good work of his subordinates.
The Guardians thought highly of him; conversely, in order to have them continue to be loyal to him, Momonga had to act in a way that was worthy of their praise.
Allowing these NPCs that his guild members had made together to feel disappointment or betrayal because of his actions would shatter his golden record as a guild master. It would be like a mark of failure branded on Momonga. Because of that, Momonga had to be careful to maintain the air of authority befitting a ruler when he spoke to the NPCs.
“...You understand what I’m thinking, don’t you, Mare?”
Mare might have been dressed like a girl, but the fact that he was a boy was evident from his panicked face.
“Very good. Then, for your hard work, I shall give you a reward.”
“How, how could I accept such a thing? I was simply doing my duty!”
“...You deserve a reward for your good performance. It’s only natural.”
“It, it’s not like that! We exist to give our all for the Supreme Beings, so working hard is only to be expected!”
This back and forth went on for a while, and the two of them could not meet in the middle. Momonga decided to cut this sequence of events short.
“Then, how about this. In exchange for this reward, continue your loyal service to me. That should do it.”.
“Is, is that really alright?”
To cut him short, Momonga produced the reward in question — a ring.
“Mo-Momonga-sama… you’ve taken the wrong thing out!”
“—It can’t be right! That’s the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown, a treasure which only the Supreme Beings possess! I can’t accept a reward like that.”
Momonga was shocked at how the unexpected reward was making Mare tremble.
He was correct in that this ring was intended for the guild members. Only 100 of them had been made, so that meant that there were only 59 rings without owners — no, 58. As a result, they were quite precious, but the reason for this gift was not just as a reward, but the hope that it would be put to good use.
In order to put Mare’s rampant imagination at ease, Momonga sternly said, “Calm down, Mare.”
“I, I can’t! How could I accept a valuable ring that only the Supreme Beings should possess—”
“—Calm down, Mare. Teleportation is blocked in the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and that generates all kinds of inconveniences.”
After hearing this, Mare slowly regained his composure.
“My hope is that during an enemy attack, the Guardians will command their respective Floors’ forces. At the same time it would be quite sad if a Guardian was unable to move around freely due to the teleportation block. Therefore, I give this ring to you.”
Momonga raised the ring on his finger high. It glittered brilliantly in the moonlight.
“Mare, I am pleased with your loyalty. At the same time, I understand your reluctance as an NPC to accept this ring which symbolizes us. However, if you truly understand my intentions, you will accept my orders and this ring with them.”
“But, but, why me… shouldn’t everyone else have gotten one too...?”
“I had intended to give the others these rings; however you are the first. This is because I am pleased with your work. If I gave this to someone who did no work, then this ring would have no meaning. Or do you intend to devalue this ring?”
“No, no, of course not!”
“Then take it, Mare. After accepting this ring, continue working hard for Nazarick and myself.”
Mare nervously reached out his hand and slowly accepted the ring.
Momonga felt somewhat guilty as he watched Mare. The truth was that he had an ulterior motive for giving him the ring.
That was because once Mare had the ring, it would be more difficult for people to tell that Momonga was teleporting around.
As Mare put on the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown, it immediately changed its dimensions to fit Mare’s slender fingers. He could not help but stare at the ring on his finger, sighing in relief. Then he turned to Momonga and bowed deeply.
“Momonga-sama, th-thank you for this great gift... I promise that from today onward I will work harder so I do not disappoint you!”
“Then, I’ll trust you with it, Mare.”
A determined look appeared on Mare’s face as he gave his immediate answer.
Why had Bukubukuchagama-san, who had designed Mare, dressed him like this?
Was it to dress him differently from Aura, or was there another reason?
Just as Momonga was pondering this question, Mare asked a question of his own.
“Ah, excuse me, Momonga-sama… but why are you dressed like that?”
“...Ah, about that…”
Because I wanted to get away — obviously he could not say that.
Mare’s eyes sparkled as he looked up to the troubled Momonga . How should he bluff his way through this? If he failed here, all the acting he had done to appear like a commanding superior would have gone to waste. No subordinate would respect a superior who was trying to flee.
Momonga desperately tried to calm himself down, and then help came from an unexpected quarter.
“That’s simple, Mare.”
Momonga looked back, and his eyes were instantly drawn to the person he was looking at.
A woman who seemed to be the embodiment of all feminine beauty stood beneath the moonlight. The bluish-white radiance played across her body, which sparkled in response. It was as though a goddess had descended from the heavens to grace the earth. Her black wings flapped, creating a gust of wind.
It was Albedo.
Although Demiurge was behind her, such was Albedo’s beauty that Momonga’s eyes did not even register Demiurge’s form.
“Momonga-sama wore this armor and concealed his identity because he did not wish to disturb the others at work.”
“When Momonga-sama approaches, it is only natural for everyone to stop whatever they are doing and bow to him. However, Momonga-sama did not wish to interrupt anyone. Thus he disguised himself as Dark Warrior-sama so the others would not cease in their labors to pay him his due respect. Am I correct, Momonga-sama?”
After hearing Albedo’s question, Momonga nodded repeatedly.
“As, as expected of you Albedo, you understood my true intentions.”
“It is only natural, as the Guardian Overseer. No, even if I were not the Guardian Overseer, I am confident that I could read your heart, Momonga-sama.”
As Albedo smiled and bowed deeply, there was a bizarre expression of Demiurge’s face as he stood behind her.
Although it weighed on his mind, he could not object to the people assisting him.
“So, so that’s why…” Mare said, with a look of realization on his face.
As he looked toward Mare, Momonga saw a sight he could hardly believe was real. Albedo’s eyes had suddenly gone wide open, to the point where it seemed like her eyeballs might fall out. She was pointing at Mare in a strange way.
Just as Momonga was thinking about this, Albedo’s face returned to its usual beautiful state, so quickly that Momonga thought it had all been an illusion.
“Ah, no, nothing… alright, Mare, sorry for disturbing you. Take a break, and continue the camouflage work afterwards.”
“Y-yes! Then, Momonga-sama, I’ll be on my way.”
As Momonga nodded to him, Mare rubbed the ring on his finger and left.
“Speaking of which, why did you come here, Albedo?”
“I heard Demiurge say you would be here, so I wished to greet you, Momonga-sama. However, I apologize for making you see me in this filthy state.”
Momonga looked at Albedo again as he heard the words “filthy”. However, he did not feel that the words were fitting. Granted, there was dust on her clothes, but it did not lessen her beauty at all.
“Certainly not, Albedo. Your radiance could never be diminished by something as insignificant as dirt. That said, I feel a little uncomfortable about making a beautiful maiden like yourself run around. However, since this is an emergency, I must ask you to continue working for Nazarick for the time being. I apologize for that.”
“I can endure any hardship as long as it’s for your sake, Momonga-sama!”
“I am grateful for your loyalty. Ah, yes… Albedo, I have something to give you.”
“...What might that something be?”
As Albedo lowered her head and calmly replied, Momonga brought out a ring. Naturally, it was a Ring of Ainz of Ooal Gown.
“You will need this item in your position as the Guardian Overseer.”
“...Thank you very much.”
Her reaction was so different from Mare’s that Momonga was somewhat disappointed. However, he immediately realised that he was mistaken.
The corner of Albedo’s mouth was twitching and she was desperately trying not to let her expression change. Her wings were shuddering because she was trying her best not to spread them. The hand which took the ring had clenched up (when had she done that?) and then it opened up, trembling mightily. Even an idiot could see her excitement.
“Continue your loyal service, As for Demiurge… some other time.”
“I understand, Momonga-sama. I shall continue working hard in future to prove myself worthy of such a mighty ring.”
“Is that so. Then, I have abandoned the tasks that I must take care of. I’d best return to the 9th Floor before I get scolded.”
After seeing Albedo and Demiurge lower their heads in response, Momonga activated the teleportation effect of the Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown.
In the instant before the scenery changed, Momonga thought he heard a woman shouting “ALL RIGHT!” However, he felt he must have been mistaken, because there was no way Albedo could make such a crude sound.
They were close to the outskirts of the village.
Enri heard the sound of clanking metal from behind her as she ran. It was a rhythmic sound.
She looked behind with a prayer in her heart — as expected, it was the worst-case scenario. A knight was chasing the Emmot sisters.
Just a little further.
Enri took a deep breath and forced herself to soldier on. She had no energy to waste on anything else.
Her breathing was rapid, her heart beating hard enough that she felt it would burst, and her legs were shaking mightily. Soon enough, she would be completely exhausted, and she would collapse and not get up.
If she were alone, perhaps she might have lost the strength to run and given up.
However, she was holding her little sister’s hand. It gave her the energy to run away.
The truth was that the powerful desire to save her sister had kept Enri going until now.
As she ran, she glanced behind again.
The distance between herself and her pursuer had not changed. Even in armor, the man’s speed had not decreased. This was the difference between a trained warrior and a village girl.
Sweat ran down Enri’s back as her body went cold. If this kept up… she would not be able to escape with her sister.
—Let her go.
Those words echoed through her head.
—Perhaps you could escape by yourself.
—Do you want to die here?
—It might be safer if you split up.
“Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
Enri shouted at herself for those thoughts through her clenched teeth.
She was the worst sister imaginable.
Why was her little sister holding her tears back?
It was because she believed in her big sister. She believed her big sister would save her.
As she gripped the hand of her little sister — that hand which gave her the strength to flee and fight on — Enri steeled herself and hardened her resolve.
She would never abandon her sister.
Enri’s young sister was as tired as Enri herself. Therefore, she suddenly stumbled, yelped, and almost fell.
The reason why the two of them did not fall was because they were holding tightly onto each other’s hands. However, Nemu’s near-fall caused Enri to falter herself.
Although she wanted to run on, her little sister was starting to cramp up, and she could not move fast. Enri wanted to pick up Nemu and run, but the sounds of metal drawing up beside her filled Enri with fear.
The knight beside her held a bloodstained sword. In addition, his armor and helm were covered in traces of spattered blood.
Enri pushed Nemu behind herself and glared angrily at the knight.
“It’s pointless to struggle.”
There was no compassion in those words. Instead, there was only mockery. Those words said that running would only end in death anyway.
The anger in Enri’s heart boiled over, and she thought, what was he saying?
The knight raised his sword to Enri, who had stopped moving. However, just before he could swing it down on them—
“Don’t look down on me!”
—Enri forcefully punched the knight’s metal helmet. That strike carried the anger that filled her and the desire to protect her little sister. She did not care that she was striking metal with her bare hand. She hit him with every ounce of her strength.
There was the sound of something like bones cracking, and soon pain spread throughout Enri’s body. The knight wobbled under the force of the mighty blow.
Enri bit back the pain and made to flee again — and suddenly a line of scorching heat bloomed on her back.
The village girl punching the knight in the face had shamed him, hence his anger.
He was swinging his sword wildly, having lost his cool. As a result, his first blow did not cause a mortal wound. However, that was the end of her luck. Enri was hurt, and the knight was filled with rage. The next blow would certainly take her life.
Enri looked at the longsword raised high before her.
Panic was written all over her face as she watched the malevolent gleaming of the terrible swift sword, and she realized two things.
The first was that her life would be over in a few seconds. The second was that an ordinary village girl like herself had no way of fighting that fate.
The tip of the sword was stained with some of her blood. As her heart beat faster, the pain spread through her body, along with the scorching heat of her wound.
The pain she had never felt before filled her with fear and made her want to throw up.
Perhaps vomiting would clear the feeling of nausea that filled her.
However, Enri was looking for a way to live, so she had no time to throw up.
Although she wanted to abandon her struggle, there was a reason why Enri had not given up until now. That was the warmth pressed against her chest — her younger sister.
She had to let her sister live.
That sole thought kept Enri from giving in.
In contrast, the armored knight in front of her seemed to be mocking Enri’s resolve.
The raised sword swung down.
Perhaps it was because all her energies were concentrated here, or because her brain was working overtime because she was on the verge of life and death, but Enri felt that time was passing very slowly, and she desperately tried to think of some way to save her little sister.
However, she could not think of anything. All she could do was use her own body as a shield, letting the blade cleave deeply into herself, in the hope of buying time for her little sister to escape.
As long as she had the strength, she would hang on tightly to the knight or the sword he stuck in her, holding on tight and not letting go until the flame of her life guttered out.
If she could do that. she would gladly accept her fate.
Enri smiled, as though she were a martyr.
As a big sister, this was all she could do for Nemu. The thought made Enri smile.
Could Nemu escape the hell that was Carne Village by herself?
Even if she fled into the forest, she might run into patrols of soldiers. However, as long as she could survive, there was a possibility of escape. In order to give her little sister the chance to survive, Enri would bet her life — no, she would bet everything.
That said, the idea of being hurt again frightened her, so she closed her eyes. In this world of darkness, she prepared herself for the pain that would come—
Momonga sat on a chair and looked at the mirror before him. The roughly one-meter wide mirror did not reflect Momonga’s face, but a patch of grass. The mirror was like a television set, showing images of a distant plain.
The grass of the plains swayed in the wind, proving it was not a still image.
As time passed, the sun slowly rose, its light banishing the darkness that covered the plains. This pastoral scene, almost poetic in its beauty, was a stark difference from the former location of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, the desolate world of Helheim.
Momonga reached out to the mirror and swiped his hand right. The mirror’s image changed.
This was a Mirror of Remote Viewing.
This was a magic item used to display an image of a specific region. It was a very useful item for player-killers, or player-killer-killers. However, there were low-level spells which occluded information-gathering spells that could hide people from the mirror’s eyes. In addition, it was easy for users to be counterattacked by offensive barriers, so it was an average item at best.
However, for the present circumstances, an item which could show the outside world was a very useful item indeed.
Momonga enjoyed the movie-like quality of the grass within the mirror as the image changed.
“It would seem that I can move the image with a wave of the hand. That way, I won’t have to keep looking at the same spot.”
The scenery and the angles with which it was viewed changed within the floating mirror. Although he had made several mistakes so far, Momonga kept changing his gestures to alter the landscape within the mirror, hoping that he would find someone. However, up till now, he had not found any intelligent beings — for instance, humans.
He repeated the same simple gestures over and over again, but all the images he got were the same: plains. Momonga was starting to get bored, so he looked at the other person in the room.
“What’s wrong, Momonga-sama? I stand ready to heed your every command.”
“No, there’s nothing, Sebas.”
Sebas was the other person in the room. He might have been smiling, but his words seemed to hold some kind of subtext. Although Sebas was absolutely loyal to him, he had objected to Momonga’s excursion to the surface without bringing his followers along.
Indeed, just after Momonga returned from the surface, Sebas had accosted and lectured him.
Momonga said what was on his heart.
“What will I do with him…”
Being with Sebas made Momonga think of his guildmate Touch Me. After all, Touch Me-san was the one who had designed Sebas.
Still, he didn’t have to make him so similar to himself. Even the way Sebas gets angry reminds me of him.
After grumbling in his heart, Momonga looked back to the mirror.
Momonga’s plan was to teach Demiurge the hard-learned lessons of how to control the magic mirror. This was what Momonga had meant when he spoke to Demiurge about another security net.
Although it would have been simpler to leave this task to his subordinates, Momonga wanted to handle this task personally. The truth was that he wanted to use his can-do working attitude to inspire and gain the respect of his subordinates. Therefore he could not be seen to give up halfway. Still, why can’t I switch to a higher vantage point? If only there were a manual… With these thoughts in mind, Momonga went about the painstaking work of figuring the mirror’s controls out by boring, repetitive trial and error.
He did not know how long it had been.
It might have only been a while, but so far his work had not borne fruit, and he could not help but feel like this was all a waste of time.
Momonga casually waved his hand with a vacant expression, and his field of vision suddenly expanded.
Surprise, delight, pride, Momonga’s exclamation was filled with all of these. At his wits’ end, he made a random gesture and the screen suddenly did as he wanted. This was a cry of joy one would expect out of a programmer who had pulled eight hours’ worth of overtime.
Cheering and clapping answered him. The source of these two sounds was Sebas.
“Congratulations, Momonga-sama. Your servant Sebas stands in awe of your prowess.”
Granted, this was the fruit of extensive trial and error, so you don’t need to go that far. Momonga thought that, but when he saw that Sebas looked quite happy, he decided to humbly accept the butler’s praise.
“Thank you, Sebas. Although I apologize for making you accompany me for so long.”
“What are you saying? Staying by your side and obeying your orders is the reason for a butler’s existence, Momonga-sama. There is no need to thank or apologize to me… although, it is true that this process took quite some time. Momonga-sama, would you like to take a break?”
“No, there is no need for that. Undead like myself are not affected by negative statuses like fatigue. If you’re tired, you may go and rest.”
“Thank you for your kindness, but it would be unthinkable for a butler to rest while his master worked. With the aid of magic items, I am not affected by fatigue either. Please allow me to stay by your side until the end, Momonga-sama.”
Momonga realised one thing from his conversations with the NPCs; namely, they casually used game terms in their speech. For instance, skills, job classes, items, levels, negative statuses, and so on. If he could use game terms with them in an unironic way, it might be easier to give them orders.
After agreeing to Sebas’ request, he continued studying the ways to control the mirror. Finally he discovered a method to adjust the height of his viewpoint.
Momonga smiled in satisfaction, and began looking for a populated area.
Finally, an image of something like a village appeared on the mirror.
It was located roughly ten kilometers south of Nazarick. There was a forest nearby, and wheat fields surrounded the city. It appeared to be a rustic farming village. By the looks of things, the village itself was not very developed.
As Momonga zoomed in on the village, he felt that something was amiss.
“...Are they holding a festival?”
People were running in and out of their houses this early in the morning. They looked panicked.
“No, that is not a festival.”
That steely voice came from Sebas, who was watching the display with a keen look in his eye as he stood beside Momonga.
There was an undercurrent of disgust in Sebas’ stern words. As Momonga enlarged the image, he too furrowed his nonexistent brows.
Fully armored knights were swinging their longswords at the villagers, who were dressed in rough clothes.
It was a massacre.
A villager fell with every swing of a knight’s sword. The villagers could not resist them, and could only run away. The knights pursued and killed the fleeing villagers. There were horses eating the grain in the field. Those horses must have belonged to the knights.
Momonga scoffed, intending to change the image. This village had no value to him. If he could extract more information from it, perhaps he might have a reason to save them. But as things stood, there was no reason to save this village.
He should abandon them.
Momonga was taken aback by how he could make such a heartless decision. A cruel slaughter was occurring before his eyes, but the only thing he could think of was the good of Nazarick. There was nothing like pity, anger or worry, basic human emotions anyone should have.
It felt like he was watching a TV show about animals and insects, where the strong ate the weak.
Could it be that as one of the undead, he no longer considered himself part of humanity?
No, how could that be?
Momonga struggle to find an excuse to justify his thinking.
He was not an agent of justice.
He was level 100, but like he had told Mare, this world’s commoners might well be level 100 as well. Therefore, he could not tread blindly into this unknown world. Although it looked like the knights were conducting a one-sided slaughter of the villagers, there might be other reasons at work here which he did not know about. Reasons like “illness, “judgement”, “setting an example”, and others like them kept appearing in his mind. And if he stepped in and defeated the knights, he might earn the ire of the country they belonged to.
Momonga stretched out his bony hand and rubbed his skull as he thought. Could it be that after becoming an undead being who was immune to mind-affecting effects, he had become inured to scenes like this? Definitely not.
He waved his hand again, showing a scene from another part of the village.
It seemed like two knights were trying to pull a violently struggling villager off another knight. The man was pulled away, his arms were held, and he was rendered motionless where he stood. Before Momonga’s eyes, the man was stabbed with a sword. The blade entered his body and exited from the other side of him. It should have been a fatal blow, but the longsword did not stop. One, two, three strikes — the knight seemed to be taking out his anger on the villager as he hacked at the man’s body.
In the end, the knight kicked away the villager, who collapsed to the ground while spurting his blood into the air.
—The villager looked straight at Momonga. No, this might have just been a coincidence.
It was definitely a coincidence.
There was no way for anyone to detect the mirror’s surveillance apart from anti-divination spells.
Frothy blood leaked from the villager’s mouth as he tried to open his mouth. His eyes were unfocused, and Momonga could not tell where he was looking. Even so, with what may have been his dying breaths, he gasped his last words:
—Please save my daughter—
“What do you intend to do?”
Sebas seemed to have been waiting for this moment to speak.
There could only be one answer. Momonga replied coldly:
“Nothing. There is no reason, value or benefit in rescuing them.”
Momonga nonchalantly looked at Sebas — at the phantom image of his past guildmate.
“This… Touch Me-san…”
Just then, Momonga remembered something.
—Saving someone in trouble is common sense.
When Momonga had just started out in YGGDRASIL, hunting down characters of heteromorphic races was a common practice, and Momonga, who had chosen such a race, had been PKed countless times. Just when he was about to leave YGGDRASIL, those words, spoken by that man, had saved him.
If not for those words, Momonga would not be here.
Momonga sighed softly, and then he smiled. Now that he had recalled that memory, he had no choice but to go save them.
“I will repay that debt… besides, sooner or later, I’ll have to test my fighting strength in this world.”
After saying that to his absent friend, Momonga enlarged the view of the village until he saw everything. After that, he tried to pick out the surviving villagers.
“Sebas, put Nazarick on maximum alert. I will go first, and you will tell Albedo, who is standing by next door, to follow me after fully equipping herself. However, I forbid her to bring Ginnungagap. After that, prepare support units. Something might happen which results in my inability to retreat. Therefore the units sent to the village should be adept at stealth or have the ability to go invisible.”
“I understand, but I wish to request the task of defending your body to be given to me.”
“Then who will relay my orders? These knights are currently sacking the village, which means there might be knights near Nazarick who might attack us. Therefore, you must stay.”
The image changed, and now it showed a girl sending a knight flying with a punch. The girl was leading an even younger girl as they ran away. They were probably sisters. Momonga immediately opened his inventory and withdrew the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown.
Just as the girl planned to flee, she was slashed in the back. Since time was tight, Momonga swiftly incanted the spell.
It had no limits on distance and a 0% chance of teleport mishaps.
The spell Momonga used was the most accurate and potent of such spells in YGGDRASIL.
The scene before him changed in an instant.
The fact that the opposition had not used teleport-blocking filled Momonga with relief. If he was denied the chance to rescue them, and was ambushed instead, it would have been bad.
The scene before the eyes was the same of what he had seen earlier.
Two terrified girls were in front of him.
The one who looked like the elder sister had a braid of straw-blonde hair that reached down to her breasts. Her skin, healthily tanned from working in the sun, was now deathly pale from fear, and her dark eyes were wet with tears.
The little sister — the younger girl — buried her face in her sister’s waist, trembling in fright.
Momonga gazed coldly at the knight standing before the two girls.
Perhaps he was shocked by Momonga’s sudden appearance, but the knight simply stared at Momonga, having apparently forgotten to swing the sword he was holding.
Momonga had grown up without knowing the touch of violence on his life. He did not think that the world in which he currently resided was a simulation, but the real thing, Even so, he did not feel the slightest bit of fear at the knight before him who held a sword.
This calmness allowed him to make a cold, cruel decision.
Momonga reached out an empty hand and cast his spell.
This spell was one that crushed a foe’s heart, and among the ten tiers of spells, it was an instant death spell of the 9th tier. Many of the necromantic spells which Momonga was adept with possessed instant death properties, and this was one of them.
Momonga had chosen to open with this spell because even if it was resisted, the spell would still temporarily stun his opponent.
If the spell had been resisted, his plan was to take the two girls and jump back into the still open [Gate]. He had already planned his route of retreat since he was not sure what his opponents could do.
However, it would seem those preparations would not be necessary.
A feeling of something soft crushing beneath Momonga’s fingers travelled up his arm, and the knight collapsed silently to the ground
Momonga looked down upon the fallen knight.
It would seem that even killing someone did not stir any emotions within him.
There was no guilt, fear or confusion in his heart, which was like the surface of a calm lake. Why was it like this?
“I see… so it’s not just my body, but my mind that’s no longer human.”
Momonga took a step forward.
The elder sister squeaked in confusion as Momonga walked past her, probably in fear at the knight’s demise.
Momonga had clearly come to rescue her. However, the girl was seemingly confused by Momonga’s sudden appearance and actions. What was she thinking?
Although he had his doubts, Momonga did not have time to worry about them. After verifying the wounds on the elder sister’s back through her tatty old clothes, Momonga put the girls behind him, and glared at a knight who had just emerged from a nearby house.
The knight saw Momonga as well, and took a step back in fear.
“...So, you dare to chase girls, but not someone who can fight back?”
As Momonga stared down the quivering knight, he considered what spell to use next.
Momonga’s opening spell was one that he particularly favored, [Grasp Heart]. This sort of magic was Momonga’s specialty. Momonga had used his innate skills to increase the chances of instant death, and his necromancy-enhancing abilities improved the effectiveness of [Grasp Heart] even further. However, it meant that he could not gauge the strength of that knight.
Therefore, he should use another spell against this knight, something that did not instantly kill him. This way, he could measure the strength of this world and verify his own power.
“—Since I’ve come all this way, I might as well run a few experiments. You shall be a test subject.”
Momonga’s necromancy spells were augmented, but the simple attack spells he used were not very destructive. In addition, since metal armor was weak against electrical effects in YGGDRASIL, most people enchanted their plate armor with electricity resistance. Therefore, Momonga deliberately chose to attack his foe with an electrical spell to see how much damage it would do.
Because his aim was not to kill his opposition, there was no need to enhance its effects with skills.
A dragon-shaped bolt of white electricity crackled around Momonga’s arms and shoulders. The bolt flared brightly as it instantly surged out at the knight Momonga was pointing at.
There was no way to avoid it or defend against it.
The knight who had been electrocuted by the dragon-shaped lightning bolt shone brilliantly for an instant. Miserable as his death was, it was still a beautiful sight.
The light in his eyes faded, and the knight collapsed to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut. The body beneath the armor was charred black and gave off a vile stench.
Momonga had been planning to follow up with another spell, but he felt silly as he noted the weakness of the knights.
“Pathetic… he died so easily…”
To Momonga, the 5th-tier [Dragon Lightning] was a weak spell. When hunting level 100 players, Momonga would usually cast spells of the 8th tier and higher. Magic of the 5th tier and below would almost never see use.
Now that he knew the knights were weak enough to be finished off by 5th-tier magic, Momonga’s tension vanished in an instant. Of course, it could be that these two knights were especially weak among their kind, but still, it was a great relief. Still, the plan to retreat with magic had not changed.
These knights might be focused on offense. In YGGDRASIL, a blow to the neck counted as a critical hit and dealt extra damage, but in the real world, it might well be fatal.
Instead of relaxing, Momonga raised his guard. It would be too foolish to die because he was careless. Next, he ought to continue testing his powers.
Momonga activated one of his skills.
“—[Create Mid-Tier Undead, Death Knight].”
This was one of Momonga’s skills, which could create various undead. The Death Knight in question was Momonga’s favorite undead monster, which he used as a meat shield.
It was roughly level 35, but although its attack power was only comparable to a level 25 monster, its defensive power was very good, equivalent to a level 40 monster. That said, monsters of that level were useless to Momonga for the most part.
However, the Death Knight had two very important skills.
One of them was the ability to draw away enemy attacks. The other was that just once, they could survive any attack with 1 HP. Momonga liked using Death Knights as shields because of these two skills.
This time round, he was also looking forward to using the Death Knight in a similar way.
In YGGDRASIL, when he used his skills to create undead, they would appear out of the sky in their summoner’s vicinity. However, things seemed different in this world.
A cloud of black fog appeared. The cloud headed straight for the body of the knight whose heart had been crushed and then enveloped it.
The mist slowly expanded, and melded with the knight’s body. After that, the knight wobbled before slowly rising to its feet like a zombie.
Momonga heard the shrieks from the sisters, but he had no time to worry about them. After all, he was quite surprised at the sight before his eyes.
With a wet, dripping sound, several rills of black ichor oozed out from between the gaps in the knight’s helmet. It must have come from the knight’s mouth.
The black fluid flowed out without end, until it covered the knight’s entire body. It looked like a human being that had been swallowed by a slime. Completely surrounded by the black liquid, the knight’s body began to twist and change.
After several seconds, the black liquid fell off the body of what was now a Death Knight.
It was now 2.3 meters tall, and its body was correspondingly bulkier. It no longer resembled a human being, but a wild beast.
In its left hand it held a large shield that covered three-quarters of its body — a tower shield, and in its right hand it held a wavy-bladed flamberge. This 130cm-long weapon was intended to be held with both hands, but the massive Death Knight could easily wield it with one hand. A dreadful red-black aura covered the flamberge’s blade, which pulsed like a heart.
Its massive body was sheathed in a suit of full plate armor made from some black armor, and it was covered in red tracery that resembled blood vessels. The armor was also covered in spikes as far as anyone could see, and it looked like a man-shaped incarnation of brutality. Demonic horns sprang from its head, and one could see its rotted face underneath them. Twin points of hateful, murderous light shone in the eye sockets of its ghastly visage.
Its tattered black cape blowing in the wind, the Death Knight awaited Momonga’s orders. The way it carried itself was truly deserving of the name “Death Knight”.
Much like he had with the Primal Fire Elemental and Moonlight Wolves he had summoned, Momonga used the mental bond with his summoned monster and pointed to the corpse of the knight who had been slain by the [Dragon Lightning].
“Exterminate all the knights who are attacking this village.”
“OOOOOOOAAAAHHHHHHH!” it roared.
So mighty was its cry that it shook the air, and it was so filled with bloodlust that everyone who heard it broke out in goosebumps.
The Death Knight ran, fast as lightning. The way it charged forward without hesitation was like a hunting hound that had scented its quarry. The undead hatred for the living made it sensitive to the prey that it would soon slaughter.
As the Death Knight’s silhouette shrank into the distance, Momonga was keenly aware of a difference between this new world and YGGDRASIL.
That was “independence”.
Originally, the Death Knight should have stayed by its summoner’s side to await his orders and attack any enemies which approached. Yet, it had disregarded that order and launched an attack of its own accord. This difference might be a fatal vulnerability in an unknown situation like this one.
At a loss for words, Momonga scratched his head and sighed.
“It ran off… to think a shield would abandon the person it was supposed to protect. Then again, I did tell it to do so.”
Momonga reproached himself for his miscalculation.
Although he could make quite a few more Death Knights, it was best to conserve limited-use abilities while he was not sure of the enemy and the situation. Still, Momonga was a back-line mage. Without a front-liner to run interference for him, he was effectively naked.
Therefore, he would need to create another defender. This time, he would try making one without a corpse.
Just as Momonga was thinking about that, a humanoid shape came through the still-open Gate. At the same time, the Gate’s duration ended, and it slowly disappeared.
A person clad in a suit of full-body black plate armor stood before Momonga.
That suit of armor looked like a demon. It was covered in spikes and did not expose the slightest bit of flesh. Its clawed gauntlets grasped a black kite shield in one hand and a bardiche that radiated a sickly green glow in the other. A blood-red cape blew in the wind, while the doublet beneath was also the carmine of fresh blood.
“The preparations took some time. I apologize for my late arrival,” Albedo’s melodic voice spoke from beneath the horned helmet.
Albedo’s levels were in the defense-focused Dark Knight class. As a result, among the three level 100 warriors of Nazarick — Sebas, Cocytus and Albedo — Albedo possessed the greatest defensive ability.
In other words, she was the strongest shield in Nazarick.
“No, it’s fine. You came just in time.”
“Thank you. Then… how shall we dispose of these inferior lifeforms? If you do not wish to stain his hands with their blood, I will gladly eliminate them on your behalf, Momonga-sama.”
“...What exactly did Sebas tell you?”
Albedo did not respond.
“I see, you didn’t pay attention… my intention is to save this village. Our enemies are the knights in armor, like that corpse over there.”
Momonga saw that Albedo nodded in understanding, and turned his eyes elsewhere.
The two girls shrank under Momonga’s unyielding gaze, and tried their best to make themselves as small as possible. Perhaps it was because of the Death Knight, or because they heard its roar, or because they had heard Albedo’s words, which made them tremble uncontrollably.
Perhaps it was all of them.
Momonga felt that he should show his intention to help and reached his hand out to the elder sister, but the two girls seemed to have gotten the wrong impression.
The elder sister wet herself, followed by the younger sister.
The stench of ammonia filled the surrounding air. Fatigue washed over Momonga like a tide. He had no idea what to do, and Albedo was no help, so Momonga decided to continue trying to express his good intentions.
“...You seem to be hurt.”
As a working man, Momonga had long since trained up his ability to ignore things.
Momonga, who pretended not to notice, opened his inventory and withdrew a backpack from it. Although it was called an Infinite Backpack, it could only hold up to 500 kilos of items.
YGGDRASIL players commonly put their immediate-use items into this bag, because the items within the bag could be assigned to hotkeys in the game interface.
After digging through several of these Backpacks, he found a small phial containing a red potion.
It was a Minor Healing Potion.
This potion could restore 50 HP, and beginners in YGGDRASIL frequently used it. However, Momonga as he was now had no need for this item at all. This was because this potion healed through positive energy. To an undead being like Momonga, this potion was like a damaging poison. However, not every member in the guild was undead, so Momonga kept some of these items just in case.
“Momonga offered the red potion. The elder sister’s face was pale with fright as she replied:
“I, I’ll drink it! Just, please, spare my little sister—”
He watched the little sister weeping as she tried to stop her elder sister, while the elder sister apologized to her little sister while taking the potion. Their reactions confused Momonga.
After all, he had saved them in a tight spot, and had even offered them a potion. Why were they acting like this in front of him? What was going on here?
They don’t trust me at all. Even though I wanted to leave them to their fate at first, I ended up being their saviour in the end. They should be crying and hugging me in gratitude. Isn’t this sort of thing common in manga and movies? But the exact opposite is happening now.
Where did I go wrong? Could it be that being instantly accepted is a privilege of the beautiful?
Just as a baffled expression dawned on Momonga’s fleshless face, a dulcet voice said:
“...Momonga-sama offered you a healing potion out of the kindness of his heart, but to think you would actually dare to refuse it… you inferior lifeforms deserve ten thousand deaths for that.”
Albedo raised her bardiche in a natural way, preparing to behead them on the spot.
Considering they had treated him like this despite how he had risked himself to save them, Momonga could understand Albedo’s feelings. However, if he let her go ahead and slay them, then there would be no point to this rescue.
“Wait, wait, don’t be so hasty. There’s a time and place for this, so lower your weapon.”
“...Understood, Momonga-sama,” Albedo replied gently as she withdrew her bardiche.
However, she was still radiating murderous intent, to the point where the two girls were gritting their teeth in fear. In response, Momonga’s nonexistent stomach began cramping up.
In any case, he had to leave this place as soon as possible.
If he remained here, who knew what other tragedies might occur?
Momonga offered the potion again.
“This is a healing potion. It is harmless. Hurry up and drink it.”
Momonga’s words were gentle, but backed with an adamant will. There was also the implied threat that if she did not drink, she would be slain.
The elder sister’s eyes went wide and she gulped the potion down. After that, a look of surprise filled her face.
She touched her back, then wiggled her body in disbelief and patted her back.
“The pain is gone?”
“Y-yes, it is...”
The elder sister nodded stiffly, to indicate that it did not hurt.
It would seem that the minor wounds on her were easily remedied by a low-tier healing potion.
Now that he had their trust, Momonga continued by asking a question. There was no way around that question, and depending on the answer, it would affect his future movements.
“Do you know of magic?’
“Yes, yes I do. The alchemist who comes by our village… my friend, knows how to use magic.”
“...Is that so. Well, that makes things easy to explain. I am a magic caster.”
Momonga then cast his spells:
“[Wall of Protection From Arrows].”
A dome of light, roughly three meters in radius, surrounded the sisters. The second spell was not visible to the naked eye, but there was a subtle change in the air. He had originally planned to use an anti-magic spell as well, but he did not know what sort of magic existed in this world, so he did not do so for the time being. If the enemy had magic casters, then that was just their bad luck.
“I have cast a defensive spell that keeps living creatures from coming near you, as well as a spell that weakens the effectiveness of shooting attacks. As long as you stay here, you should be safe. Ah, just in case, I will give you these as well.”
After calmly explaining the effects of the magic to the two dumbfounded sisters, Momonga withdrew a pair of unremarkable-looking horns. Apparently, the magic did not obstruct them, since they sailed straight through the forcefield as Momonga tossed them to the sisters’ side.
“These are called the Horns of the Goblin General. If you blow them, Goblins — in other words, small monsters — will appear. Order them to protect you.”
In YGGDRASIL, electronic data crystals dropped from monsters could be slotted into almost any sort of item (apart from certain expendable items), in order to create just about any item a player could think of. In addition there were certain artifacts which could not be created by players and had fixed stats. These horns were examples of them.
Momonga had used the horn before, and at that time it managed to summon a Goblin Troop, 12 or so Goblins with some measure of ability. There were two Goblin Archers, one Goblin Mage, a Goblin Cleric, two Goblin Riders and their wolf mounts, as well as one Goblin Leader.
Although it was called a Goblin Troop, their numbers were few and they were very weak.
This was a trash item for Momonga. The surprise was why he had not disposed of it yet. Still, Momonga felt quite smart for being able to put this trash item to good use.
Another good point about this item was that the summoned Goblins would linger until they were killed instead of vanishing after a while. That could at least buy the girls some time.
As Momonga finished, he turned to leave, bringing Albedo with him as he headed to the village. However, after a few steps, a couple of voices called out to him.
“Ah… th-thank you for saving us!”
Those words stopped Momonga in his tracks, and when he turned around, he saw the two girls, their eyes brimming with tears as they thanked him. He simply replied:
“...Think nothing of it.”
“And, and this may be thick-skinned of us, but, but you are the only one we can count on. Please! Please save our parents!”
“Alright. If they’re still alive, I will rescue them.”
The sisters’ eyes went wide as they heard Momonga’s words. Their faces reflected the disbelief in their hearts, but soon they came to their senses and lowered their heads in thanks.
“Th-thank you! Thank you very much! And, and, may we know…”
The girl’s voice trailed off, and then she asked in a mumble:
“May we know your name...?”
Momonga almost responded by reflex, but in the end he did not state his name.
The name “Momonga” was that of the guild master of the former Ainz Ooal Gown. Then what should he call himself now? What was the name of the last man who remained in the Great Tomb of Nazarick?
—Ah, that’s it.
“...Remember my name well. I am Ainz Ooal Gown.”
The mighty roar shattered the air.
It was the signal for a slaughter to become a massacre of a different sort.
In the blink of an eye, the hunters had become the hunted.
Londes Di Gelanpo had probably cursed his gods more times in the past ten seconds than he had in the rest of his life. If the gods really did exist, then they should defeat that evil being right now. Londes was a faithful man — why had the gods abandoned him?
The gods did not exist.
In the past, he had looked down on those people who did not believe in the gods as fools. After all, if the gods did not exist, how could the priests work their magic? And now, he realised that he was the foolish one.
The monster before him — a Death Knight, for want of a better word — drew closer.
He took two steps back in response, trying to get away from it.
A shrill creaking noise came from his armor, and the sword he clutched in both hands was trembling uncontrollably. He was not the only one; the other 18 knights surrounding the Death Knight were all acting the same way.
Although they were filled with fear, none of them ran. This was not courage — the grinding of their teeth could attest to that. If they could, they would run as fast and as far as they could.
It was because they knew there was no escape.
Londes’ eyes shifted, pleading for help.
This square was at the center of the village, where Londes and his men had gathered 60 or so villagers. They looked fearfully at Londes and his men, while a group of children were hiding behind a wooden watchtower.
Some of the children held sticks, but none of them was in a fighting stance. It was all they could do not to drop their sticks.
During Londes’ attack on the village, they had chased the villagers to the central square. They searched the houses, and then to root out anyone who was hiding in the cellars, they poured in alchemical oils and set them on fire.
There were four knights standing guard around the village with bows, and their job was to shoot down anyone who tried to escape the village. They had done this several times now, and it could be said that they were old hands at this sort of thing.
The massacre had taken a fair bit of time, but it had been successful, and they had gathered the surviving villagers into one place. After that, they would release some of the prisoners as bait.
It should have been like that, but—
Londes still remembered that moment.
The sight of Erion flying through the air, after the last few villagers fled into the square.
It should have been impossible. Nobody knew what was going on. How could they understand the reason why a trained, grown man in full plate armor — which still had some weight even if it was lightened by magic — could fly through the air like a ball?
After soaring about seven meters through the air, he fell to the earth with a thunderous crash and lay still.
A bone-chilling monster stood where Erion had been. The hair-raising undead being called a “Death Knight” lowered the tower shield that had bashed Erion and stood before them.
This was when their despair began.
Their panicked squeals echoed through the air. One of the men huddled together with his comrades could not bear the oppressive terror and fled with a scream.
Under these extreme circumstances, it was only natural that — when stretched to the breaking point — people would snap. However, among all of the fleeing man’s comrades, not one of them joined him. The reason was that would soon be evident.
A black gale whirled past the field of Londes’ vision.
The Death Knight’s body was larger than a normal human’s, but its nimble grace was far beyond anyone’s expectations.
The fleeing man only managed to take three steps.
Just as he was about to take his fourth step, an arc of silver brilliance cleaved his body in two. The bisected left and right halves of his body collapsed in opposite directions. A sour stench filled the air as his pink internal organs spilled out.
“GUWOOOOOOOOOOHHH!” the blood-covered Death Knight roared as it swung its sword.
It was a roar of joy.
Its look of delight was unmistakeable, even on its rotted face. As an overwhelmingly superior slaughterer, it savored the despair and terror of the pitiful humans who could not even survive a single one of its blows.
Nobody dared attack, though they had swords in hand.
At first, they had tried an attack, though they were afraid. But even those blades which had made it past their foe’s defense could not strike a telling blow through the Death Knight’s armor.
In contrast, the Death Knight did not use its sword, but sent Londes flying with a shield bash, and it did so without using enough force to kill.
It was clearly toying with them, from the way it did not use its full strength. It was plain to see that the Death Knight wanted to enjoy the dying struggles of these humans.
The Death Knight only dealt fatal blows in earnest when the knights tried to escape.
The first knight to run was Ririk. He was a nice guy but a bad drunk. His limbs were chopped off, followed by his head.
After seeing the two deaths, the other knights knew the score, so they did not dare to flee.
Their attacks were ineffective, and they would be killed if they tried to run.
The only thing they could do was wait their turn to be tortured to death.
Although there was no way to see their faces below the full helms they wore, everyone present was keenly aware of their fate. The wails of grown men reduced to children echoed throughout the village. These men who had always oppressed the weak had not thought that one day, they would be on the receiving end of that treatment.
“Oh god, please save me…”
After hearing these cries for salvation, the strength left Londes’ legs and he almost fell to his knees. He loudly cursed the gods — or was it a prayer to them?
“You, you lot, go hold that monster back!” a desperate knight shouted. He knew that his fate was sealed. His words sounded like an off-key psalm.
The man who spoke was standing next to the Death Knight. The way he was stumbling back on his tiptoes to back away from the corpse of his comrade was quite comical.
Londes frowned as he looked on that man in his pathetic state. It was hard to tell who had spoken those words because their closed helmets covered their faces and their voices were distorted by fear. Still, he knew that only one man would speak like that.
Londes’s frown deepened.
Overcome by his lewd desires, he had tried to rape a village girl and then sought help from others after he got into a fight with her father. After he was pulled off the other man, he vented his anger by stabbing the father with his sword. That was the kind of man he was. However, his family was quite wealthy in their country, and he had joined this unit because of his family’s riches.
Everything had gone wrong because he had been made their leader.
“I’m not someone who should die here! All of you, hurry up and protect me! Be my shields!”
Nobody moved. He might have been appointed their leader, but he was not popular at all. Nobody would throw their lives away for a man like this.
However, the Death Knight responded to his shouting, and it slowly turned to face Belius.
The only thing praiseworthy about him was that he could make so much noise while standing in front of the Death Knight.
Just as Londes began to respect this odd quality of Belius’, he heard the man shriek in terror:
“Money, I’ll give you money! 200 gold pieces!! No, 500 gold pieces!!!”
Those were considerable amounts he was talking about. However, right now, it was like telling them that he would pay them to jump off a 500-meter cliff.
Although nobody responded, one person — no, half a person moved as though in reply to him.
The right half of the bisected corpse gripped Belius’ ankles firmly. The bloody gargling from its mouth hardly sounded like words.
“—Ogyaaaaaahhhhh!!!!” Belius screamed in an unnaturally high-pitched voice. The onlooking knights and villagers were frozen in fear, their skin covered in goosebumps.
In YGGDRASIL, creatures killed by the Death Knight would become undead of comparable power, haunting the place where they were killed. According to the game’s rules, those damned souls who fell to the Death Knight’s blade would become its slaves for all eternity.
Belius stopped screaming, and fell like a puppet whose strings had been cut, facing the sky. He must have passed out. The Death Knight drew closer to the defenseless man and stabbed its wavy-blade flamberge down.
Belius’ body twitched, and—
Woken by the incredible pain, Belius screamed: “Leh, leh me guh!!!!! Ah beggehg yeh!!!!!! Ah duh anythuh!!!!!!!”
Using both hands, Belius desperately grabbed the flamberge that had already penetrated his body, but the Death Knight paid his futile struggles no heed and worked the flamberge like a saw. His flesh and armor were cruelly torn open, and fresh blood flew everywhere.
“—Aah— eeeh— ah gib ya munni, leh, leh meh guh—”
Belius’ body shuddered, and then he breathed his last. Only then was the Death Knight satisfied, and it stepped away from Belius’ corpse.
“No… no… please, no…”
Their screams came from seeing the ghastly sight before them. If they ran, they would die swiftly, but if they stayed, they would die horribly. They knew that perfectly well, but still, they could not bring themselves to move.
“—Get a grip!”
Londes’ shout tore through their wailing. The world was filled with silence, as though time was standing still.
“—Fall back! Sound the horn for the horsemen and archers to come here! The rest of you, do your best to buy some time for the hornblower! I’d rather not die like that, if you don’t mind! Now move!”
Everyone moved in an instant.
There was no sign of their earlier panic. Everyone moved in silent unison, like a raging waterfall.
Their mechanical obedience to their orders without thinking created a miracle. There was no way they could move so immaculately again.
The knights each did what they were supposed to do. They had to protect the knight who would blow the horn and signal the others.
One of the soldiers who had taken several steps back lowered his sword and withdrew his horn from his bag.
The Death Knight charged, as though reacting to the horn being taken out. Everyone was shocked. Could it be that the Death Knight wanted to destroy their means of escape so he could kill them to the last man?
The flood of darkness drew closer and closer, and everyone knew that stepping forward to try and stop it was certain death. However, the knights still climbed over each other to block the Death Knight one after the other. Their fear was wiped away by an even greater fear and they surged forward to become obstacles.
Every time its shield moved, a knight was smashed through the air.
Every time its blade flashed, a knight was cut in two.
“Dezun! Morett! Behead the fallen! Hurry, before they come back as monsters!”
The named knights hurriedly ran toward their murdered comrades.
The shield swung, and a knight was thrown into the air. His body was bisected by the flamberge.
Four men had lost their lives in the blink of an eye. Though Londes was still gripped with fear, he readied his sword against the coming of the jet-black storm, like a martyr preparing to give his life for his faith.
It might have been a meaningless gesture, but Londes did not intend to wait for death. Giving voice to a battlecry, he swung his sword with all his strength at the oncoming Death Knight.
Perhaps it was because of his circumstances, but Londes’ muscles broke their limit and surprised him. It might have been the best blow Londes had ever struck in his life.
The Death Knight swung its flamberge as well.
In an instant, the world before Londes spun—
And he saw his decapitated corpse collapse to the ground, as his sword swung through thin air.
Just then, at that moment, the horn rang out—
♦ ♦ ♦
Momonga — Ainz raised his head as the sound of the horn reached him from the direction of the village.
The area around him was covered with the corpses of the knights who had been standing guard here. The stink of blood hung heavy in the air, but Ainz paid it no heed as he ran his experiments. Just then, he chided himself for getting his priorities wrong.
Ainz cast down the sword in his hand. The sword which had originally belonged to a knight fell to the ground, its gleaming, razor-sharp edge now stained with dirt.
“...Well, I’ve said it before, but this physical damage reduction is quite something.”
“Ainz Ooal Gown-sama.”
“...Ainz will do, Albedo.”
Ainz’s request to be called by a truncated version of his name threw Albedo into confusion.
“Ku, kufu! Am, am I really allowed to do that? Would it not be disrespectful to shorten the name of the leader of the 41 Supreme Beings, especially if it is also the name of Nazarick’s rulers!”
Ainz did not think that it was a big deal. However, her words meant that she respected the name of Ainz Ooal Gown, which pleased Ainz. Therefore, his reply was phrased in a gentle tone:
“It’s fine, Albedo. Until my former comrades arrive, that is my name. I permit you to shorten it.”
“I understand… no, but please let me address you with the appropriate respect. Then, then… my master, Ai-Ainz-sama… kukuku… yes, that’s right...”
Albedo twisted her body shyly.
However, since she was in full body armor, Ainz could not see her beautiful face. To him, she was just acting strangely.
“Could, could it be… kukuku… could it be that I’m the only one who’s allowed to address you in such a way?”
“No. Having someone address me by such a long name all the time would be annoying, so I would like to have everyone do the same thing.”
“...Is that so… ah, that’s right. Yes, that’s what I thought—”
Albedo’s mood turned gloomy all of a sudden. In an uneasy voice, Ainz asked:
“...Albedo, what do you think of the name I chose?”
“I think that name suits you very well. It fits my beloved — cough, cough — it fits you, in your capacity as the one who united the Supreme Beings.”
“...This name was intended to represent the 41 of us, and this includes your maker, Tabula Smaragdina-san. However, I ignored the feelings of your master and the others, and took that name for myself on a whim. How do you think they would feel about that?”
“...Although I fear to anger you… I pray you will allow me to speak. If my words displease you, then I will gladly take my own life if you command it. I feel that some of the Supreme Beings who abandoned us might object to that name being used by the one who stayed with us until now, Momonga-sama. However, they are not here, so if you wish to use that name, all I feel is happiness, Momonga-sama .”
Albedo lowered her head after she finished speaking, and Ainz remained silent.
The phrase “abandoned us” swirled in his mind like a vortex.
His past companions had left him for their own reasons. YGGDRASIL was just a game, and they could not abandon their real lives for a game. Momonga felt the same way too. Yet could it really be said that he — who had been fixated on Ainz Ooal Gown and the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick — had not been suppressing his anger toward his former comrades?
They abandoned me.
“...That might be so, but it might not be. Human emotions are a complicated matter, and there is no right answer. Raise your head, Albedo. I understand your feelings. All right, it’s decided… this shall be my name. Until my comrades object, I shall be Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“Understood. The thought that our most exalted master… and the man I love most would bear this glorious name fills me with joy.”
The man I love most… ah.
The uneasy Ainz decided not to worry about this for now.
“...Is that so. I’m glad to hear that.”
“Then, Ainz-sama, would you like to spend some time here? Although I would be happy to stand by Ainz-sama’s side, I… right, a stroll through the woods would be fine too.”
He could not do that. Ainz had come to save this village.
The parents that his sisters had asked him to save were already dead.
As he thought of their corpses, he scratched his head.
The sight of their bodies reminded him of a dead insect by the roadside. There was no pity, no sadness, no anger.
“Hm, well, a stroll might be all right. After all, there is nothing of importance to do. The Death Knight seems to be quite happy to do his job.”
“As expected of an undead being that Ainz-sama made. His marvellous execution of his duties is truly praiseworthy.
The undead made by Ainz’s magic and his skills were stronger than ordinary monsters of their kind due to Ainz’s class skills. Naturally the same applied to the Death Knight he had just created. However, it was only a level 35 monster, and it was nothing in comparison to the monsters which required XP to create, like Overlord Wiseman and Grim Reaper Thanatos.
The fact that it was still fighting until now meant that the enemies were weak.
In other words, there was no danger.
He wanted to jump for joy when he thought about it, but he had to okay the role of the dignified master, so Ainz quashed that thought. However, he clenched his fists tightly, under his robe.
“The enemies who attacked the village were too weak. Then, let us go check on the survivors.”
Before Momonga set out, he realised that he had some things to do first.
To begin with, he deactivated the special effects of the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown. The malevolent aura which wreathed it vanished like a candle flame in the wind.
Next, he withdrew a full-face mask from his inventory. It was gaudily decorated, and its expression was hard to describe, being somewhere between crying and anger. It resembled a Balinese barong mask.
The mask looked creepy, but it had no special powers. It was a simple cosmetic item which did not contain a trace of data.
Only those who were logged onto YGGDRASIL for more than two hours, between 1900 to 2200 on Christmas Eve, would have this mask — no, as long as they were in the game during that period of time, they would automatically receive it. It could be called a cursed item.
This mask was known as the Mask of the Jealous, or the Jealous Mask.
Once, when he wore this mask, he was flooded by messages. “Has the company gone mad?” “We’ve been waiting for this.” “Nobody in our guild has it, can I PK him?” “I’m done with being a human being~” and other such things in a certain large message board.
Then, he took out a pair of gloves. Their rough exterior betrayed the fact that they were crudely made and had no special properties.
These gloves were called Jarngreipr, and they were an armor item made by one of Ainz Ooal Gown’s members for fun. Its only ability was to increase the wearer’s strength.
He used these items to hide his skeletal appearance.
Naturally, there was a reason for this emergency camouflage. It was because Ainz realised he had made a fatal mistake.
Ainz was used to YGGDRASIL, and looking like a skeleton did not frighten him. However, to the people of this world, Ainz’s appearance was synonymous with terror. Both the sisters who had nearly lost their lives and the fully-armored knights were afraid of him.
For the time being, he would use magic items to change his appearance from a “dreadful monster” to “evil magic caster”. That ought to reduce how frightening he appeared. Then he thought about the Staff. In the end, he decided to keep it with him. Besides, it was not a problem for him.
“Rather than beg your god for aid, you should not have massacred these people in the first place.”
With that line only an atheist could come up with, Ainz looked away from the corpse, whose fingers were folded into a gesture of prayer, and cast a spell.
Ainz floated lightly into the sky, Albedo soon followed him shortly afterwards.
“『Death Knight, if there are any surviving knights, leave them alive. They are useful to me.』”
The Death Knight sent its acknowledgement of Ainz’s will back through the mental link they shared. It was difficult to put the distant Death Knight’s thoughts into words.
Ainz flew toward the place from whence the horn blast had come, as quickly as he could. The wind lashed at his body, because he had never flown this fast before in YGGDRASIL. The robe plastered to his body felt a little uncomfortable, but that passed swiftly.
He soon reached the sky above the village, and Ainz looked down on the landscape beneath him.
Ainz discovered that part of the village square was darkened, as though it had absorbed water. There were many corpses and a few trembling knights, as well as the Death Knight.
Ainz counted the panting knights, who were too tired even to move. There were four of them in total. Though there were more than he expected, a few extra would not be a problem.
“Death Knight. That will be all for now.”
His words seemed strangely incongruous with the surroundings, like he were buying something at a store. But to Ainz, this situation was as casual as going shopping.
He slowly descended to the ground, accompanied by Albedo.
The false knights stared at Ainz with mouths agape. They had been hoping for a rescue, but what had come was the man responsible for everything, and his arrival shattered their hopes.
“Greetings, gentlemen. My name is Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“If you throw down your arms, I can guarantee your lives. Of course, if you would rather fight—”
One sword was cast to the ground. It was shortly followed by the other swords being thrown down until there were four blades on the ground.
Nobody spoke during this time.
“...You seem quite tired. Although, don’t you think your heads are held a bit too high before the master of the Death Knight?”
The knights immediately prostrated themselves before him without a single sound.
They did not look like vassals before their lord so much as convicts awaiting execution.
“...I will permit you to leave with your lives. In exchange, tell your master — your owner — this.”
Ainz used the effects of the [Fly] spell to move near one of the knights, and then he removed his helmet with the hand that was not holding the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown. He noted the man’s exhausted eyes, and their gazes met through the mask.
“Do not make trouble around here. If you make a disturbance here, I will slay you with the rest of your country.”
The trembling knight nodded as hard as he could. His frantic gesture looked quite comical.
“Get lost. And make sure to relay this to your master.”
He jerked his chin, and the knights fled like rabbits.
“...Ah, this act is tiring,” Momonga quietly grumbled as he watched the knights run away.
If there were no villagers around, he might even have stretched his shoulders. Although he was doing the same thing in the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, playing the role of a dignified person was very tiring for an average salaryman like Ainz. Yet, until the curtains closed on this act of his, he had to wear yet another mask.
Ainz resisted the urge to sigh and walked toward the villagers. Albedo followed behind him, her every step accompanied by the clanking of metal.
“『—Clear up your zombie slaves』,” Ainz ordered the Death Knight.
As Ainz drew closer to them, he could more clearly see the confusion and unease on the villagers’ faces.
It was not that they were not happy at being rescued from the knights, but frightened by the person before them.
Ainz finally realised this. He was powerful, much more so than those knights, so he did not consider this situation from a weak person’s point of view.
He decided to reflect on this, and pondered it quietly.
If he went too close to them, the outcome would be the opposite of what he was hoping for. Therefore, Ainz decided to stop at a distance from them, and spoke in a kindly tone.
“You have been saved. Be at ease.”
“You, you are…”
One of the villagers was saying that, but even in the middle of speaking to Ainz, his eyes never left the Death Knight.
“I saw someone attacking this village, so I came here to help.”
As the noises spilled out, looks of relief dawned on the faces of the villagers. Even so, they could not be completely at ease.
What a pain. Should I try a different approach?
Ainz decided to handle this in a way he did not like much.
“...That said, this was not for free. I expect a reward commensurate with the number of villagers whom I saved.”
The villagers looked at each other. It would seem that they were worried about money. However, their doubtful looks faded away. This crass demand for money in exchange for salvation seemed to have allayed their suspicions somewhat.
“With, with the village in its present state…”
Ainz raised his hand to silence the other man before continuing.
“We’ll discuss that later. I rescued a pair of sisters before I came here. I will go bring them over now. Can you wait here for me?”
He had to make sure those sisters did not talk and give away his true identity.
Without waiting for them to reply, Ainz slowly headed off. At the same time, he thought about using magic to alter memories.