Volume 3 – The Bloody Valkyrie
Chapter 5 – PVN
—There was the sound of sizzling, as though someone had thrown a burning torch into water.
The spell which surpassed the very definition of tiers went off — it looked as though the sun had risen on the land, dying everything in his field of view a brilliant white.
The exothermic conflagration generated a rapidly-expanding wave of heat, which greedily consumed everything within its radius.
This hell of a vision lasted only five seconds, but it felt dozens of times longer than that.
Eventually, the brilliant white world disappeared. In the wake of the vanishing pulse of superhot energy was a large circular area — vastly different from before.
Nothing outside the area of effect was affected. The trees were still trees, the earth was as full of vitality as the forest, and the forest itself was untouched — an extremely normal world.
In contrast, the area within the circular area was charred black, converted into a dead zone of jaw-dropping proportions.
The awe-inspiring temperatures had consumed all the vegetation in the area, leaving only a few carbonized tree stumps. There were several vitrified areas on the ground which were still emitting smoke.
Standing beyond the bounds of that world which permitted no survivors, Ainz felt a dreadful presence washing out from within.
It came from the only person who remained within that area.
Nothing living could have survived that fatal heat.
That strange sound, accompanied by what seemed to be a gnashing of teeth, filtered into Ainz’s ears.
He turned to look at its source, and saw a point of red amidst a world scorched black.
He saw Shalltear with wisps of smoke trailing off her body, and a look on her face which seemed to say, “not enough gun”. Her crimson pupils, filled with hostility and bloodlust, focused on Ainz’s body.
“Ainz-samaaaa! That really hurt!”
Shalltear slowly walked forward, her footfalls fracturing the charred ground underneath.
Step by step, she shrank the distance between Ainz and herself, the Spuit Lance in her hand cutting through the air with a whoosh which indicated that she was still able to fight.
Arcane magic casters could only show their true ability at long range. Ainz had no frontliners to cover for him, so there was no advantage in allowing his foe to draw near to him. Yet, Ainz did not scramble back. In a tone which called to mind an image of a champion welcoming a challenger, Ainz arrogantly taunted Shalltear:
“That was just a meaningless present. Did you like it, Shalltear?”
Shalltear laughed, and her mirth came from the bottom of her heart.
“Wonderful! To think I have to kill you, the all-powerful Ainz-sama!”
“-Sama, you say. Why do you address me as -sama? Who is your master?”
“What a strange question. Is it not natural to address a Supreme Being like yourself with -sama? As for my present master…”
Shalltear’s face scrunched up, as though confused.
“...Why do I have to fight you, Ainz-sama? ...Ah, is it because you attacked me? But why would you attack me, Ainz-sama… I need to destroy anyone who attacks me with all my strength? Why is that?”
Before long, Shalltear seemed to have come to a conclusion, and her smile from earlier returned to her face.
“Well, I’m still not too sure why, but since you attacked me, I must destroy you, Ainz-sama!”
“...Is that so… I understand. I understand what kind of state you’re in...”
“Oho, what’s wrong, Ainz-sama? You look a little weak there. How can you beat me like that?”
“Hmph, aren’t you getting something wrong? Do you think someone like you can defeat me — defeat Ainz Ooal Gown? The name of ‘Ainz Ooal Gown’ is invincible. Shalltear, you will kneel in submission before me.”
“Ahahahaha! Ooooh, how scary~”
Moving with a speed which put gales to shame, Shalltear charged, wreathed in bloodlust. The scorched ground exploded beneath her feet with every step she took. Clementine’s assaults were swift, but Shalltear’s speed was in a class of her own.
For an instant, Ainz was grateful that he did not need to blink, because Shalltear was fast enough that he would lose track of her if he took his eyes off her for a moment.
Trailing laughter behind her, Shalltear continued her charge, aiming the tip of her lance at Ainz and thrusting forward. The lance charge was originally a technique used by mounted knights and made with the speed and weight of their mounts behind it. However, Shalltear’s strike — made with her extraordinary strength and her awesome speed — easily surpassed that attack.
The word “one-shot kill” could not even begin to describe that assuredly fatal blow, and it tore through the air towards Ainz.
However, despite the ever-approaching tip of the lance, Ainz remained unmoved.
In a gentle voice, he said:
“It’s dangerous, you know.”
The tender warning he gave Shalltear, as though concerned for her well-being, referred to the countermeasure he had prepared for Shalltear’s attack.
As Shalltear attacked, the [Triplet Maximize Magic - Exploding Mine] spell which he had cast beforehand automatically triggered.
The three explosions blew Shalltear’s body away.
As Ainz saw this,he apologized in an even more compassionate tone:
“Shalltear, please forgive my late warning. Actually, there were mines there… [Maximize Magic - Gravity Maelstrom].”
She was still flying back from the force of the explosion when Ainz hurled a black sphere after her. It was a spinning vortex of hyper-intensified gravity that could significantly damage a target, even one of Shalltear’s level.
At this moment, Shalltear stood back up from her downed state and held out an empty hand.
“[Wall of Stone].”
A vast wall of stone emerged from the ground, completely enveloping Shalltear. The gravity maelstrom Ainz had thrown collided with the wall, causing it to bend, twist and crumble, but the gravity maelstrom vanished as well.
“Hmph! [Maximize Magic - Hold of Rib]!”
As Ainz followed up with another spell, massive ribs erupted from the earth and closed in on Shalltear like a bear trap. The sharp points of white bone bit deeply into Shalltear’s body.
Normally, this spell would have continued holding its target after damaging them, but Shalltear easily shrugged free. This was because she was immune to movement restrictions, resulting in the failure of the attempted restraint.
“...Shalltear, I forgot to tell you, but I’ve already set mines around this area. How about attacking me from the air instead?”
“—Ainz-sama, I won’t take the bait. You’ve put traps in the air too, haven’t you?”
“Was that so obvious?”
“Yes, I saw through it long ago.”
She chuckled, and the red flames in Ainz’s eyes dimmed.
There was nothing of the sort. The mines Ainz had laid just now were the only set. Neither had he set traps in the air. This battle was not an easy one where he could waste MP on ineffective spells.
Therefore, he had used the mines as a bluff to hamper Shalltear’s mobility. He had narrowed his eyes after she had stepped into it. However, now was not the time to relax.
Ainz was the challenger in this battle. He was walking a very fine tightrope, and he would fall if he was not careful. Ainz knew this, and he was not stupid enough to become complacent over a small victory like that.
“Still, that’s Ainz-sama for you. A simple charge like that couldn’t close the gap between us.”
There was genuine admiration in Shalltear’s eyes and her voice. At the same time, Ainz could sense the fighting spirit she radiated from her entire body.
The real show’s about to start.
If Ainz’s body could produce sweat, his back would probably be a flowing river by now.
In any case, I need to keep doing damage until my MP runs out.
If he could not do that, then Ainz would be set on the road to defeat.
♦ ♦ ♦
Shalltear braced the Spuit Lance, narrowing her eyes at the magic caster before her — at her master, Ainz Ooal Gown.
She had no idea why she had to oppose her beloved master, but her mind told her that it was not an important question. All she had to do was kill him and then ponder the matter at length afterwards.
As she calmly considered this, Shalltear smiled she noted how favorable the current situation — against a lone undead being — was for her.
Magic casters — particularly arcane magic casters — were incredibly powerful, but that power derived from their MP. Once their MP ran out, they would naturally lose their fighting ability. On the other hand, Shalltear might have been a divine magic caster, but she was also adept at melee combat. Even if her MP ran out, she could keep fighting as long as she had HP.
Therefore, even if she could not deplete her foe’s HP to zero, she could still win as long as her enemy expended all his MP. This was especially true for an arcane magic caster like Ainz, who had no means of recovering his health.
So, please tremble in fear at your dwindling HP and MP. Ahaha, my heart pounds so hard whenever I think of Ainz-sama’s terrified face!
Then, what was the best way for her to fight? It would have to be a drawn-out battle.
Shalltear gripped her divine-class Spuit Lance as she hastily threw a battle plan together.
That weapon’s special ability was to recover the wielder’s health in proportion to how much damage it did to an opponent. No, one could say that this divine-class item was designed around that special property. This was why Ainz, the eternal backliner, had not summoned any minions to be his vanguard. He was very aware that summoning weak monsters to tank for him would only serve to recover her HP.
Ah~ Poor Ainz-sama. He can’t summon frontliners and has to fight all by himself~
Shalltear cast [Mana Essence] as a sadistic grin formed on her face.
That spell permitted her to perceive her opponent’s mana for a while, and so Ainz’s remaining mana appeared before her.
That’s a lot of mana… how did he amass that much?
Ainz had about one and a half times the MP (mana) of Shalltear. There was probably nobody else in Nazarick who had a mana capacity like that.
He truly is a Supreme Being. One could call him an extraordinary undead… a super undead… no, a godly undead.
That said, she still did not think that she would lose. Perhaps it might be different from the other Guardians, but to Shalltear, Ainz and his enhanced necromantic attack spells were hardly a challenge for her.
Of course, I mustn’t be careless. That said, why isn’t Ainz-sama wearing his divine-class equipment?
The robe Ainz wore now seemed very plain to her. It lacked the dignity of his usual black robe.
Could it be that he wore it to deal with me? It’s very likely, but there’s no point just staring each other down. Nothing will happen. So let’s restore some health first in preparation for a drawn-out battle...
The spell Shalltear had just cast could even recover the health of the undead. Currently, it was restoring the health lost from the super-tier attack spell. At this moment, Ainz launched another attack, throwing out a gravity sphere like just now.
“[Maximize Magic - Gravity Maelstrom].”
The black orb approached at great speed. She considered casting the [Wall of Stone] from before, but that would not put any pressure on her opponent. She would have to make the first move if she wanted to greatly decrease her foe’s mana.
The plan was to teleport into close range and begin melee combat.
Her field of vision distorted, but the scenery that should have instantly appeared before her eyes felt like it had been slowed down.
Shalltear guessed that this was the effect of the teleport-impeding spell, [Delay Teleportation].”
As Shalltear had guessed, she was quite a distance away from Ainz, when she should have been deposited into the range of her Spuit Lance. Instead, she saw three sparkling balls of light before her eyes — made by the [Drifting Master Mine] spell.
Shalltear sensed the mines and assumed her mist form to evade them as they flew toward her. This skill transmuted the body into mist, and it was quite a flavourful skill for vampires. However, it did not transform the body into the physical phenomenon called mist, but instead phased the body into the astral plane. Thus she could use it to completely avoid attacks in the physical world — the three explosions which resulted.
After Ainz’s shout, he followed up with a [Maximize Magic - Astral Smite].”
That spell could strike astral entities, and it found its mark on Shalltear’s body, whose defense had been somewhat reduced after taking mist form.
Wracked by agony, Shalltear terminated her mist form. She felt her lip split, and something soft and slippery escaped from within.
“Truly marvellous, as expected of you, Ainz-sama!”
Ainz did not respond to that honest praise. He merely studied his opponent with doubtful eyes.
“You can’t believe me, right? But I do feel you are someone worthy of my loyalty.”
He was very good at spell combat, after all.
Still — Shalltear’s lips could not help but curl up in a smile. This was because Ainz’s MP had diminished greatly.
Shalltear’s health had decreased somewhat, but that amount of damage was well within limits. In contrast, Ainz’s mana had gone much further down than anticipated, so it was well worth the loss. In other words, Shalltear was one step closer to victory.
Then, how about this one?
Shalltear made her move.
White radiance filled the area around Shalltear, a defensive barrier made of pure mana. While this barrier impeded the caster’s attacks, it would also completely negate her opponent's’ attacks.
Through this barrier of light, she saw Ainz scrambling to cast a spell.
“That’s right. If you don’t cast a spell soon, it will go very badly for you.”
Shalltear already knew why Ainz seemed to have the upper hand in this battle.
Was it because of his abilities — no.
Was it because of his equipment — no.
Was it because of his preparations — yes.
Indeed, these favorable circumstances were due to Ainz’s extensive preparations and many spells which he had cast beforehand. The power of magic casters varied greatly with their preparations for any given situation, and the same applied to Shalltear. Therefore, Ainz should have been trying to break Shalltear’s defenses before she could buff herself up.
Shalltear was poor at defensive spells, and she had no intention of casting them. Her aim was purely to drain Ainz’s mana. She smiled to Ainz as he frantically cast his spell.
My my, everything’s going according to plan, Ainz-sama. Still, you’re not even using scrolls, staves or wands; are you trying to preserve your strength? Are you too panicked? Or did you know they weren’t effective against me?
Ainz’s magic resistance completely negated the effects of low to mid-tier spells, regardless of how powerful their casters were. In contrast, Shalltear’s magic resistance was affected by her opponent’s stats and levels. Even a 10th-tier spell by a weak magic caster would not be able to breach her resistance, but against a powerful magic caster — like Ainz — 1st-tier spells were the limit.
Some scrolls were affected by their creators’ skills, but for the most part, they were made at the minimum possible level that allowed for their creation, which also meant that they were fixed at the lowest possible caster level. Thus, there was a high chance that scrolls would not be able to breach Shalltear’s defenses. Was that why Ainz had not done it?
As Shalltear analyzed the combat conditions, Ainz continued casting a spell.
“[Maximize Magic - Thousand Bone Lance]!”
Countless — well over one or two thousand — lances of bone erupted from the earth around Ainz. The ivory spears assailed the defensive barrier from all directions. Soon, she heard the sound of what seemed like glass cracking, and Shalltear’s protective barrier shattered with it. Scattered chips of bone flew in all directions, melting away into nothingness.
She had not expected this magic barrier — upon which she had spent a significant amount of mana — to be broken in one move. Shalltear was unable to believe this as the attack on her continued.
“It’s not over yet! [Maximize Magic - Thousand Bone Lance]!”
Her teleport destination was an open space in the air, outside of the [Delay Teleportation] spell’s area of effect.
“Don’t think you can get away — [Maximize Magic - Gravity Maelstrom].”
Shalltear had expected Ainz to follow up with some kind of attack against her. His spell came flying over, as though aimed at the place Shalltear would appear after teleporting.
She seemed calm and collected as always, but Shalltear was quite fascinated by Ainz’s incredible prowess. These masterful abilities could only have been honed through long experience.
“You seem to be taking this quite easy.”
Shalltear’s opponent — she was not quite sure why she had to kill him — asked:
“Why is it that you are so at ease while fighting me? We are on the same level, but my gear is stronger than yours. Granted, my specialty cannot be brought to bear — which is to my disadvantage — but that is all. Still, I can sense the confidence from you, your belief that you have the advantage and that victory is assured.”
A sense of superiority filled Shalltear.
“Ahahaha, then I shall show you the one of the reasons why I can take it so easy. Did you know I had a skill like this?”
With a smile of victory, Shalltear evoked an Impure Shockwave Shield. A wave of force — colored reddish-black like clotted blood — spread forth, disintegrating the gravity orb upon contact.
This was one of Shalltear’s skills, which combined offense and defense.
Ainz clicked his tongue at this. Shalltear had done so earlier because things had not gone as planned, but for Ainz, it was because he could no longer relax around her.
Shalltear laughed at Ainz’s expression, and then she showed off another special skill of hers.
A gigantic divine lance appeared in her hand. It was well over three meters long with an especially large head. The aura of purity it emanated proved that this was no ordinary weapon. It reflected the rays of the sun in its silver radiance, producing a beautiful and eyecatching display.
“Oh… I’ve never seen that before. Did you summon it with a skill or something?”
“Ahahaha, we’ll see how long you can act tough, Ainz-sama. Since you don’t seem to know this weapon, allow me to introduce it to you. Its name is the Purifying Javelin!”
Shalltear released the platinum lance as she laughed at Ainz’s ignorance. She did not throw it like a javelin, but instead it rose by itself and darted out. This was a weapon which was guaranteed to hit if she spent additional MP—
—And hit it did, piercing Ainz’s chest. In Shalltear’s eyes, that unmoving skull seemed to twist in pain.
“Ahahaha! That’s a holy-element weapon for you; it seems like it was quite effective!”
Shalltear summoned the gigantic lance to her hand again, and cast it forth once more. The lance travelled at unavoidable speed, this time piercing Ainz’s shoulder.
“Kuh! Don’t look down on me! [Maximize Magic - Reality Slash]!”
Ainz cast a powerful spell.
When one reached the highest level of the strongest warrior class, World Champion, one would learn the supreme, ultimate skill called [World Break]. This 10th-tier spell was merely an inferior copy of that skill, but it was still among the most damaging spells in the game.
It cleaved through the very fabric of space, and fresh blood fountained from Shalltear’s chest.
A hit from this powerful attack spell could disregard virtually any form of magical defense, but the damage dealt converted back into health and flowed back into her body, as though time itself had reversed to render the attack completely ineffective.
Ainz howled at this:
“What did you just do?!”
“There’s no need to get worked up, Ainz-sama. That was a skill too,” Shalltear answered as she gloated over him.
“Cheh! In other words, my skills won’t work and you can do as you please, huh?!”
“Please don’t think this is unfair. This was an ability which Peroroncino-sama bestowed upon me. In other words, that great being is superior to you, am I wrong, Ainz-sama?”
“—That felt like it came from the heart.”
That emotionless tone — or perhaps it was so calm that one could not pick out any emotions from it — filled Shalltear with doubt. However, before it could settle in, Ainz shouted again:
“Here I come, Shalltear! I’ll show you that no matter what skills you have, none of them can hold a candle to my magic!”
“Aha! You want a showdown of firepower then, Ainz-sama? Don’t think I’ll lose to you!”
A [Maximize Magic - Reality Slash] spell crossed paths with a Purifying Javelin, each tearing into the bodies of their targets.
As the two of them traded attacks again, Shalltear laughed at Ainz’s foolishness in her heart. At the same time, she was confused — why am I fighting Ainz-sama?
Shalltear Bloodfallen was a Floor Guardian of Nazarick, set over the 1st to 3rd Floors. At the same time, she was a loyal subordinate made by the Supreme Being Peroroncino. That being the case, was it not bizarre that she would be fighting Ainz Ooal Gown, who was formerly known as Momonga? Why was she doing battle with Ainz-sama, who was another member of the 41 Supreme Beings?
If her creator had so ordered, she would obey and fight with all her strength. Even if all of Nazarick were her enemies, she would charge at them without a moment’s hesitation. Yet, this was not the case.
She thought and she thought and she thought, but she could not find an answer.
Still, she could not stop herself. It was as though someone was whispering into her ear, “Shalltear, you have to kill the enemy with everything you have.”
Shalltear inspected Ainz’s MP consumption with [Mana Essence], and then she fought to suppress the laughter rising in her heart. At the same time, she reversed time to recover her health.
More powerful spells consumed more mana. [Reality Slash] was one of those spells, and it was quite inefficient, in terms of damage caused for mana expended. Even so, Ainz was still using it. Shalltear thought that perhaps Ainz was hoping to deplete her health and claim victory before the battle became a brawl.
That’s right, finishing it quickly is the right thing to do, because drawn-out battles are to my advantage… Perhaps it’s also because Ainz-sama knows that debuff spells have little effect on the undead.
Shalltear narrowed her eyes and focused on Ainz, who was still casting big spells.
Very well, then I shall adapt to whatever he comes up with.
Shalltear’s skills were divided into the at-will and limited use types. Turning back time to recover damage could only be done three times a day. The Purifying Lance was also only usable three times a day, while the Impure Shockwave Shield could only be used one more time today.
Still, there was no point in being miserly about them. Shalltear’s plan was to end the battle in a melee fight. Her MP and skills were essentially tools to deplete Ainz’s MP.
I can fight without MP, but Ainz-sama is finished without MP.
Shalltear could fight with the total of her HP and MP, but Ainz could only use his MP. This was the great disparity between them.
She looked on Ainz — who was limited to his spells — with a gentle expression in her eyes. One could call them the eyes of a mother looking upon her child… or rather, the look of pity which the mighty would bestow upon the weak.
After throwing her final Purifying Javelin, Shalltear accepted the [Reality Slash] counterattack, and decided to move into the second phase of the battle.
“How about this, then? [Summon Monster 10th].”
“As if I’d let you! [Greater Rejection]!”
The summoned monsters were dispelled in an instant, and Ainz’s smug laughter reached her ears.
“I won’t let you draw out the fight, Shalltear.”
I can’t smile yet, though I was just trying to use up my MP after expending all my special abilities.
Shalltear faked a stern expression, and then cast another spell.
“Really now? Then how about a direct attack? [Maximize Magic - Vermilion Nova]!”
“[Triplet Maximize Magic - Call Greater Thunder].”
The crimson blaze — one of Ainz’s weaknesses — engulfed him, while three gigantic strokes of lightning earthed themselves through Shalltear’s body.
This was the first time in this battle that she had felt her health drop like a rock, which put a look of displeasure on Shalltear’s face.
Did he make preparations to resist fire?
No matter how powerful one was, one could not prepare to resist all elemental attacks. There was still a limit, even if a heteromorphic character combined their racial resistances with job classes that granted resistances and outfitted themselves from head to toe in resistance-granting divine-class gear. However, by focusing on specific resistances, a character could make themselves immune to elements to which they should have been weak.
In other words, Ainz had forsaken his other resistances and focused on raising his fire resistance.
This might be troublesome. I have no idea which elemental resistances Ainz-sama gave up.
The only way to discern Ainz’s elemental weaknesses was to use [Life Essence] to check his HP and barrage him with attacks of multiple elements, then see which one hurt him the most.
I’m not going to do something tedious like that. I’ll target an element which he should be weak against.
“—[Maximize Magic - Brilliant Radiance].”
“—[Maximize Magic - True Dark].”
Holy-element light wrapped Ainz, purifying his body, while Shalltear’s body was corroded by non-elemental darkness.
In this moment — Shalltear did not miss the fact that Ainz had flinched.
Although he was trying to cover it up by changing his stance, there was no way he could cover up the fact that he was trying to remain stoic in the face of pain.
Shalltear smiled inwardly, because she had found his weakness.
No, she could not blame him for that. After all, most undead were highly vulnerable to holy-element attacks. It was very difficult to remove that weakness, and if he had geared himself to resist the fire element, there was no way for him to do so.
The two of them locked eyes, and Shalltear cast her next spell.
Naturally, the spell Shalltear had chosen was still [Brilliant Radiance]
They exchanged magic in this back-and-forth fashion for some time. Even Shalltear had lost a sizeable amount of health. In fact, her HP (health) might well be zero had she not secretly used MP on skills which defended against spells.
That’s Ainz-sama for you… he’s far superior to me in spell battle, be it in attack or defense. I used several holy-element spells in a row, but Ainz-sama took a lot less HP damage than me. Still, I also made him burn a lot of MP too.
From what she could see, Ainz’s MP was greatly reduced from how it had been when they had first started out. Even so, she could see Ainz’s fighting spirit burning in his eyes.
It’s getting hard to take, I want to break Ainz-sama’s magnificent will and turn him into a beaten dog.
Shalltear forced herself to ignore the sensations welling up from her lower belly. If she were in her room, she would have called a Vampire Bride over, but she was on the battlefield, much to her regret. And of course, she could not comfort herself on the spot to slake her desires.
That being the case — she would satisfy herself through combat.
Shalltear looked at Ainz with lust-moistened eyes, and she licked her lips. If she continued lengthening the distance between them, what sort of face would he make for her?
“Then, time to recover. [Maximize Magic - Greater Lethal].”
Positive energy restored the health of the living, while negative energy would damage them. However, the opposite was true for the undead. Thus, [Greater Lethal], which channelled vast quantities of negative energy, was the most powerful healing spell that Shalltear (one of the undead) could cast.
“I see. It would seem I’ve lost quite some health as well — [Greater Lethal].”
Shalltear blinked several times, unable to believe what was happening before her eyes. However, she had to accept the fact that Ainz’s wounds were recovering before her eyes, even if she could not quite believe it.
“...Eh? Why is it that you can cast the divine spell [Greater Lethal]? Was it on your class’ spell list?”
“No, sadly, this is not an innate ability, but an effect from a magic item. This magic item only allows me to use a single specific spell, and requires me to use an equipment slot, nor can that spell be enhanced with skills. It is also much weaker than someone casting the spell off their own list, so you could say it has many drawbacks.”
As Ainz complained, he used [Greater Lethal] again, causing Shalltear in turn to mumble, “that’s a spanner in the works, isn’t it?” Still, her aim was to deplete her foe’s MP, so the plan was not yet ruined.
With that in mind, Shalltear continued casting [Greater Lethal] to recover her health. Since Shalltear was a level 100 character, it took a while for her to fully recover.
At the end, she cast—
“[Maximize Magic - Greater Lethal].”
“[Body of Effulgent Beryl].”
—After healing his wounds, Ainz cast a defensive spell on himself.
Shalltear was a divine magic caster, and she had not received much knowledge from Peroroncino. Thus, she did not know what the [Body of Effulgent Beryl] spell did. However, the green radiance that surrounded Ainz appeared once more, so Shalltear concluded that it must be some kind of defensive magic.
That seems about right. I’ll launch a direct attack next.
Shalltear brandished her Spuit Lance, but just as she was about to move, the words which had slipped from Ainz’s mouth entered her ears.
“What a disadvantageous fight.”
Shalltear had not expected this, and she loosened her grip on the Spuit Lance. She was about to say, “Did you only realise that now?”
Well, she wanted to say that, but Shalltear concluded that it would be disrespectful to mock Ainz, her master, so she did not speak those words.
...My master? Ainz-sama?
That word kept appearing in her mind, and it confused her. Why was she baring steel at her master, Ainz-sama? Still, this was quite normal. There were many things in the world which were difficult to understand, and this was simply one of them.
Having made that decision, she sensed that Ainz’s actions lacked consistency. Thus, in a casual tone which did not belong on the battlefield, she asked:
“If you feel it is disadvantageous, why not retreat?”
“Mm, well, you do have a point…”
Ainz’s skeletal face could not show any expressions, but for some reason, she had the feeling that he was smiling bitterly at her.
“I… yes, that’s right. I’m very stubborn, Shalltear. I don’t want to run from this.”
Ainz looked at one of his empty, skeletal hands. Shalltear’s eyes went to that hand as well.
“Perhaps others will not understand why I have done this. Some might even think of me as a fool. Still, right now, I am enjoying my position as guildmaster, because... I… Well, I might have been guildmaster, but all I did was mainly coordinate events or other sundry tasks. I hardly led from the front. Still, I am now standing on the frontlines for the sake of the guild… Perhaps it was simply to satisfy myself.”
“Is that so? Is that what they call a man’s imperative?”
“Yes… Is it? It might be… Well, to some extent, I might have resigned myself to my fate. It seems we were almost interrupted by this pointless conversation. My apologies, let’s start again.”
Ainz calmly studied Shalltear, who was bracing her Spuit Lance. He had to triumph in this melee if he was to attain victory.
The back of her armor bulged out, and a pair of bat wings burst forth, as though going straight through the plates. Ainz knew what would happen next.
Several giant bats flapped out from behind her to the sky. These were Elder Vampire Bats summoned through her Household Summons skill. In addition, she continued summoning Vampire Bat Swarms.
They were not strong monsters, but he could not let them do as they pleased. Ainz cast a spell:
A tornado, 100 meters high and 50 meters across appeared before him. The black funnel cloud engulfed the bats before they could flee, trapping them within the vortex.
Fast-swimming shapes could be seen within the rapidly-spinning tornado. These creatures were six-meter long sharks, and they moved as though they were in the ocean. The desperately fleeing bats were like bait which had been dropped into the water, and the sharks sprang on them. This spell showed its true potency against flying creatures, and the proof of that was adequately shown as the sharks ripped the Elder Vampire Bats limb from limb in an instant.
Just as the Vampire Bats were vanishing after being torn apart — a shadow broke free of the tornado.
It was a crimson shadow, bursting out of the tornado at top speed. The lance it thrust before itself left an afterimage in the onlookers’ eyes, like the fiery plume of a rocket.
Ainz could not react in time, and his body was wracked with pain. It felt as though his bones were crumbling.
In the instant in which Ainz had failed to pay attention, Shalltear had appeared in front of him. Her cruel weapon pierced through Ainz’s chest and protruded out his back.
The weapon which had struck him also did bludgeoning damage, and the massive drop in health which resulted drew a cry of agony from Ainz.
Any pain which the undead Ainz felt would cut out once its intensity exceeded a certain threshold, much like his emotions did. This was why even Suzuki Satoru, who lacked combat experience, could endure this pain and calmly deal with it.
That said, this was no ordinary pain.
Ainz’s — no, Suzuki Satoru’s — mind was assaulted by the fact that his life was ebbing away. His vision grew dim and he felt himself losing consciousness, as though he had lost a great deal of blood.
However, Ainz’s will was stronger than that weak mind.
This was because the person fighting here was not Suzuki Satoru, but the supreme ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, Ainz Ooal Gown.
Shalltear did not cease her attack, even as Ainz considered what steps to take next.
Having impaled him with the tip of her lance, she continued driving it forward, ramming the point straight into Ainz’s body and forcing the thicker part of the lance behind it into him. He felt his body tearing apart, as well as a burst of intense pain, accompanied by the sensation of his health depleting further.
Thus, Ainz decided to activate the [Body of Effulgent Beryl].
The green light which enfolded him shattered.
The 10th-tier spell [Body of Effulgent Beryl] reduced the effectiveness of bludgeoning attacks against its subject while it was in effect, and it could completely negate one instance of bludgeoning damage after it was cast.
The [Body of Effulgent Beryl] absorbed the damage dealt by the lance, and so it seemed as though time had turned itself backward, the lance’s tip retreating back outside Ainz’s body.
Ainz moved back to where he had been standing before the lance had impaled him. As Shalltear watched him in bafflement, Ainz cast another spell.
“[Wall of Skeleton]!”
A wall composed of numberless armed skeletons erupted between the two of them. The skeletons in the wall attacked Shalltear, chopping, stabbing and slashing at her.
However, none of them managed to hit Shalltear’s body.
“[Maximize Magic - Force Explosion].”
An invisible shockwave exploded from Shalltear. The wall of skeletons buckled under the invisible impact, and then completely disintegrated.
The pulverized chunks of bone pattered like rain as they fell. Still, it had bought some time for Ainz, so it had been worthwhile.
In accordance with Ainz’s command, the [Triplet Magic Greater Magic Seal] triggered three magic circles, each of which released 30 streaks of light, for a total of 90. These white bolts of light were non-elemental [Magic Arrows]. The dazzling afterimage left behind as they travelled through the air were like the spread wings of an angel — an angel of death.
1st-tier spells could not breach Shalltear’s magic defenses, but Ainz had cast that spell anyway. Sensing something odd, Shalltear desperately tried to evade them, but the ivory bolts of light turned a full 90 degrees in mid-air and chased her down, falling on her like hail.
The 90 magical bolts scored hit after hit on Shalltear, rapidly dropping her health.
The reason why they could pierce Shalltear’s defense was because Ainz had used a skill to temporarily boost the magic arrows to the equivalent of 10th-tier spells.
Ainz was not finished yet.
“Dance! [Triplet Magic - Obsidian Sword].”
Three longswords appeared in mid-air, their black bodies gleaming. They streaked after Shalltear, as though they had a mind of their own.
“Out of my way!” Shalltear shouted as she batted them aside with her Spuit Lance. However, the obsidian swords continued attacking her even after they were deflected. These weapons, created as they were through magic, were very difficult to destroy through physical means.
Shalltear used her scant few remaining MP to cast a spell which dispelled other magic.
Two obsidian swords vanished from that spell, cast with no regard to her remaining MP. However, one had not vanished, and it continued attacking Shalltear. The success rate of [Magic Destruction] was directly dependent on the spellcasting ability of its caster, and this was conclusive evidence of which magic caster was superior.
“Ahhh, how annoying!”
Shalltear paid no heed to the longsword attacking her and pressed onward to Ainz. Damage like that was barely a scratch to Shalltear.
The Spuit Lance sent Ainz flying to the side. With no way to resist bludgeoning damage now, Ainz could not ignore this damage. He stabilized himself in mid-air with [Fly], and then—
—This was the first time Ainz had cursed in panic during this battle.
Ainz had enough health to weather an attack like that, but the problem was right before his eyes. This was because the health lost by Ainz had been used to restore Shalltear’s own health.
Her recovery rate was enough to surpass the damage done by the obsidian sword, so in order to cut down her rate of healing, Ainz cast an attack spell.
“[Triplet Maximize Magic - Reality Slash].”
The three dimension-rending slashes drew gouts of fresh blood from Shalltear, but she paid it no heed and continued pressing forward, the implacable obsidian sword at her back.
Shalltear’s depleted of MP, so all she can do is advance and fight within the effective range of the Spuit Lance… is that it? But that’s the kind of fighting I hate most...
Ainz retreated with a [Fly] spell, and continued attacking.
“[Triplet Maximize Magic - Reality Slash].”
Even as he kept backpedaling, the distance between them shrank with each passing moment. This was the difference between the speed of a [Fly] spell and a fly speed which had been augmented by skills.
Shalltear pulled herself before him, spurting blood as she did. Then, she suddenly curled herself up. The air distorted — and a massive shockwave erupted from Shalltear’s body.
That isn’t a [Force Explosion]! That’s an Impure Shockwave Shield!
The shockwave generated by the skill shattered the obsidian sword and smashed into Ainz, sending him flying into the distance.
Perhaps the Impure Shockwave Shield had been enhanced by another skill, but Ainz ended up tumbling several times along the ground. By the grace of his [Fly] spell and the magic items on him, he managed to force himself back upright.
Perhaps it was because he lacked semicircular canals or because of his undead traits, but Ainz was not dizzied by the rolling, and made to open the distance between himself and Shalltear.
This was a fortunate consequence. Ainz did not want to be locked in melee, and he now had a chance to cast other spells.
Just as he was about to do so, Ainz saw a ball of white light coalesce in front of Shalltear, which slowly shaped itself into a humanoid form.
Ainz was very aware of what that was.
His unmoving face grew stiff, and in contrast, Shalltear grinned like she had scored an overwhelming victory.
“It’s here… It’s finally here, huh? I knew she’d use this sooner or later, but to think Shalltear would use [Einherjar] — her trump card — at this critical moment…”
The white light fully resolved itself into the shape of a person.
If one ignored the bleached-white armor and the glowing skin, it was the spitting image of Shalltear.
Ainz understood that the resemblance was not merely cosmetic.
While it lacked Shalltear’s spellcasting ability and several skills, and had no magic items, its weapons, armor and stats were otherwise identical to Shalltear’s. It was not undead, but a golem-like Construct. The two creature types had nearly identical resistances and immunities.
In other words, there was another Shalltear, who could only fight in melee combat.
Ainz had anticipated this would happen, but facing two level 100 opponents at the same time was still quite taxing.
In addition, Shalltear had summoned countless minions, like wolves, bats, rats, and the like—
These summoned minions were not as powerful as the Einherjar, but he could not discount their power in a group.
I could wipe them all out with an area-effect spell… but what should I do about the Einherjar?
Just as Ainz was thinking about his next move, the Einherjar charged, and that surprised him.
Why was Shalltear not moving? Did she not intend to gang up on him?
Ainz learned the answer to those questions after shifting his line of sight. At the same time, the points of light in his eyes blazed up.
“Now that’s just unfair!” Ainz cursed. To think she would actually do something like that.
What Ainz saw was the sight of Shalltear’s summoned minions disappearing one after the other, their bodies pierced by the Spuit Lance.
Shalltear was killing her summoned minions with the Spuit Lance to restore her health.
It went without saying that the amount of health restored by the Spuit Lance depended on the amount of damage it inflicted. When she attacked Ainz — who was of equal level and had a high defense — and her weak summons, it was immediately obvious which would give her more health in return. Indeed, Ainz could see Shalltear’s health refilling rapidly.
The summoned minions steadily died and vanished.
This was an unexpectedly cruel fact.
Since friendly fire was in effect, this too should have been an expected outcome.
Ainz regained his calm, and altered his battle plans to take this unexpected development into account.
However, Ainz could not completely calm himself after witnessing someone killing their own summoned monsters to restore health, a sight which could not take place in YGGDRASIL. As a result, the charging Einherjar landed a solid hit on him.
The expressionless Einherjar continued attacking, the blows knocking Ainz back.
Forced back by the continuous string of attacks, Ainz decided to use his own trump card.
Shalltear’s summons were not unlimited, so they should be almost used up by now. Still, it would be bad to let Shalltear heal herself by using the surrounding monsters.
The original plan was to use the trump card once the Einherjar appeared. That plan did not account for Shalltear healing herself by killing her summoned minions.
♦ ♦ ♦
Ainz had 60 levels of job classes, and one of them was quite special.
It was a class that was very rare even in YGGDRASIL, held only by a small number of players.
Ainz could enter this class because he was not fixated on pure power, but had instead focused on roleplaying a necromancer to the hilt. Had he pursued character power, he would not have discovered this class — which required a very unorthodox build — by chance.
This was because the class’ entry requirements were five levels of Overlord, a focus on necromancer-type job classes, as well as an overall character level of 95.
In normal games, most people would spread the news of a newly-discovered class on walkthrough sites to share with others. However, games like YGGDRASIL put a very high premium on information. For instance, few people would share news about a World-Class Item with others without charge. This was especially true for classes with trump cards.
The class in question was called “Eclipse”.
The class description stated: “Only an Overlord who is truly dedicated to the pursuit of Death may enter this class, which swallows up all life like an eclipse.”
The move Ainz was planning to use was one which was only available after reaching the maximum level (5th) in Eclipse, a skill which could only be used once every 100 hours.
It was the trump card of the Eclipse class.
That skill was called [The Goal Of All Life Is Death].
In that moment, a clock face appeared behind Ainz, its hands indicating 12:00. Then, he cast a spell:
“[Widen Magic - Cry of the Banshee].”
A woman’s wail echoed through the air. This cry carried with it an instant-death effect.
Ainz had used various skills to augment this spell, so its potency was greater than normal and harder to resist. Still, it was useless against Shalltear and the Einherjar construct.
Oddly enough, Shalltear’s summoned minions — who had no resistance to instant death — did not fall.
This situation was quite bizarre, but Ainz remained unmoved. Rather, one could say that things were going as planned.
The clock face behind Ainz ticked, and its hands slowly moved as the spell took effect.
Ainz glanced at Shalltear in the distance as his health dwindled under the onslaught of the Einherjar, and at the same time he felt quite disappointed.
...So I can’t finish this cleanly, huh? Damn you, Peroroncino, did you build her specifically to counter me? To think you actually gave her a resurrection item! Dammit!
Ainz cursed his guildmate within his heart.
Ainz frantically struggled to avoid the attacks of the Einherjar. After 12 seconds had passed, the hour hand had completed a full circuit, and it pointed to the heavens once more.
Then, Ainz’s trump card took effect.
In that moment — the world died.
This was not metaphorical.
The Einherjar evaporated into white mist as it couched its lance, and dispersed before Ainz’s eyes. Even a homunculus with no concept of life died instantly. Shalltear’s familiars shared the same fate, unable to resist the destruction which overtook them.
That was not all.
Even the air — which was not even alive to begin with — fell into death. For over 100 meters in all directions, the air was no longer breathable. If any living creature tried to respire within that area, their lungs would be corrupted by the deadly air, and they would die.
Neither did the land escape the embrace of death. The terrain in a 100 meter radius was instantly transmuted into sand.
Only Shalltear and Ainz could move in this world, where only death remained.
Ainz’s trump card, [The Goal Of All Life Is Death] strengthened the effect of instant death magic and skills. Thus augmented, those instant-death effects could bypass any immunities or resistance and kill their targets after a certain amount of time had passed.
One could resist it by using a resurrection effect on themselves within 12 seconds, as Shalltear had.
The air and the land had also died because of that effect.
In YGGDRASIL, the environment would not have succumbed, but in this new world, the effects were quite appropriate to the skill. All things were equal in the face of Death.
Ainz himself was taken aback by this strange effect. The land had not died like this in YGGDRASIL. He could not help but shake his head after witnessing the effects of the game’s powers in the real world.
However, Ainz swallowed back his surprise. The pride in his heart would not permit him to show any sign of shock. Instead, he acted as though this had been part of his plan. Carrying himself with the arrogance that befitted a ruler, he gently asked the sole survivor:
“What do you think, after experiencing the power that can slay even the unliving?”
The wind blew, dispersing the dead air between them. That wind carried his words to her.
“Incredible, I would expect nothing less of you, Ainz-sama. My household summons are dead to the last. However, your MP is almost depleted, while my health… is still at maximum.”
In Shalltear’s eyes, Ainz’s MP was nearly zero. It was not completely gone, but he would probably only be able to use two or three more spells. With his MP so low, there was no way he could finish off Shalltear, no matter what spells he used.
Not even that super-tier spell which could grievously damage the undead — [Fallen Down] — could do so.
“I believe you only have two more 10th-tier spells in you? You had too much mana, so I can’t really judge how many more spells you can cast.”
“That’s correct. I should only be able to cast about two more spells, I believe?”
That was not a lie.
She had won.
Shalltear quirked up the corner of her mouth in a knowing smile.
There was no longer any doubt that Shalltear Bloodfallen was the victor and Ainz Ooal Gown was the defeated.
Shalltear patronizingly congratulated the loser, who had struggled so bravely until now.
“Truly magnificent. I had to deplete my MP and use up all my skills in order to drain your MP to that level, Ainz-sama. You are to be praised for lasting this long.”
Shalltear tightened her grip on the Spuit Lance. Now, all that was left was to deliver the fatal blow in melee combat.
“You are correct. Thus, I shall humbly accept your praise.”
Shalltear’s forehead twitched.
She was very annoyed.
She was very annoyed at Ainz Ooal Gown’s nonchalance. However, in the end Shalltear managed to swallow her rising uneasiness.
No matter how she pondered the situation, Shalltear could not think of how Ainz could turn the situation around. He had already used his ace in the hole. Thus, that was probably not composure, but the resignation of a death row convict, who had already foreseen his fate.
Shalltear slowly closed the distance between them. Even if her enemy tried to cast a spell from a scroll, Shalltear was confident of being able to strike faster than him. Thus, there was no need to be hasty.
Ainz did not flee, but merely stood proud where he was. She could sense his determination from his stance, and so Shalltear asked:
“Any last words?’
“Well, hm… Since you felt that I was a disadvantage, that without my MP I would be nothing more than a mook… You came at me with everything you had. For that, I must thank you, Shalltear. If you had fought more carefully, things would not have gone so smoothly.”
Shalltear doubted her ears. It would seem she had heard some nonsense.
Ignoring Shalltear’s confusion, Ainz continued evenly:
“The most crucial thing in PVP is to deceive one’s enemy. For instance, pretending that you’re vulnerable to holy-elemental attacks when you’re largely immune to them after swapping out your gear. On the other hand, there’s the fact that you’re still weak against fire-elemental attacks. However… I seem to have miscalculated. I used [False Data: Life] because I thought you would use [Life Essence]. It would seem that was a waste. If there is a next time, do remember to check your opponent’s health. That’s the difference between the theory and practice of tactics.”
This was not what Shalltear wanted to hear.
Shalltear could not understand the meaning of those words. No, she did not want to understand them.
He did not want to admit his defeat — no, she could feel his strong will. More than that, he sounded like victory was at hand for him.
Shalltear continued closing the distance, but the thoughts welling up inside her checked her step.
...Why isn’t Ainz-sama backing off? As an arcane magic caster, he can’t possibly beat me at this range. This must be a bluff!
“My friend Peroroncino told me a great many things when he was making you. After I came to this world, I took the liberty of memorizing everyone’s information. However, aside from my black history (Pandora’s Actor), you are probably the NPC in Nazarick with whom I am the most familiar.”
“Didn’t you say… you didn’t know my skills…”
“I was lying, of course. Wasn’t that obvious? I thought that perhaps if I said so, you would take the bait. That’s because it would be quite hard to win if you saved your Impure Shockwave Shield to the last.”
The flow of blood meant nothing to the undead, but Shalltear could feel hers draining from her face. In exchange, a wave of agitation spread through her entire body.
That was not a lie.
Nothing he was saying here was a lie.
Ainz Ooal Gown was standing before her without running away because he was confident of attaining victory.
Shalltear’s lips parted and she wailed, the better to vent the emotions welling up inside her breast.
Shalltear was the lion, Ainz was the rabbit, she should have been the hunter — no, that was wrong.
This should have been a battle between lions; it was just that Shalltear had treated him as a rabbit—
The anxious and uneasy Shalltear clutched at her Spuit Lance, intending to finish this battle right away, intending to kill her foe with strike after strike, even if he fought back —
An instant before that, the spell Ainz cast went off, and he reached into his robe.
A clear, crisp sound rang forth.
Shalltear could not help but doubt her eyes.
This was impossible.
The Spuit Lance had bounced off some kind of white metal.
If it had been deflected by magic, Shalltear would have pressed the attack, because she knew Ainz did not have much MP left. That would simply have been his death throes. However, Shalltear froze as she beheld the scene before her.
That pure white radiance was not the work of magic.
—It was from a suit of armor.
It was a set of pure white armor, with a huge sapphire set into the breastplate, which radiate a pure, holy light.
That suit of armor was on Ainz’s body, and it had repelled the thrust of the Spuit Lance.
From his superior height, Ainz looked toward Shalltear.
No… he was probably looking down on Shalltear.
She was angry, of course, but Shalltear did not have the energy to spare on that, because a cold voice spoke to her:
“From the start, I too was planning to end this battle in melee.”
♦ ♦ ♦
There was a loud bang as a hand struck the magnificent table, which shuddered from the blow it had taken.
The Guardians here had been watching the battle intently.
They had struck the table several times, but this was the first time that particular person had done so.
“Impossible! That. Armor. Belongs. To. That. Supreme. Being!”
“...Touch Me-sama, is it?”
Albedo squinted at the crystal monitor as she breathed the name of that Supreme Being.
“Correct! That. Is. Touch Me-sama’s. Armor!”
Cocytus seemed very excited — no, in truth, he was very excited — as he exclaimed.
The pure white armor which Ainz wore belonged to one of the nine people in YGGDRASIL who possessed the class of World Champion.
Only the winner of the developer-sanctioned tournament could possess the class of World Champion, and the company awarded a special piece of equipment to the champion as a prize.
Touch Me had chosen that suit of white armor. This specially-made armor complemented his status as a World Champion, and its abilities exceeded those of divine-class items, putting it on par with Guild Weapons. Of course, since it was a gift to the champion, only the World Champion could equip it. However—
“By using the warrior transformation spell — [Perfect Warrior]... it would seem… he is no longer bound by any job-related penalties, and can make use of warrior equipment.”
Demiurge’s tone was filled with respect, and Albedo murmured in awe.
“To think his plans had been laid out that far in advance…”
Albedo broke out in goosebumps, and she hugged herself.
By turning into a warrior via magic, one could equip several items that would normally only be usable through specific job classes. This was a method the developers had implemented to allow players without specific classes to make use of items such as shurikens, vajras, kasa, and other bizarre pieces of equipment. However, it would seem that spell’s remit also extended to those prize items issued by the developers to World Champions.
“Astounding…To. Think. He. Actually. Thought. That. Far. Ahead... I. Am. In. Awe.”
Though the battle had not yet been decided, the Guardians present were filled with incomparable reverence for Ainz’s cunning and wealth of experience, which had allowed him to weave such an intricate plan and guide it to fruition.
And as the Guardians watched the crystal monitor, their delight and awe growing within them, the sound of the table thumping could be heard again.
Again, Cocytus raised his voice.
—The sound of clashing metal rang forth.
An unbelievable sight unfolded before Shalltear’s eyes. The edge of the blade cleaved into Shalltear’s chest from her shoulder, until it reached her unbeating heart.
Shalltear’s crimson armor was dyed an even deeper shade of red. She scrambled back, looking at Ainz in shock.
Ainz held a katana. It was a massive nodachi, wreathed in electrical discharges. That sword had cut through Shalltear’s armor as though slicing through paper.
Her armor was a legendary-class item. Only a rare few divine-class weapons could go through it with such ease.
Then — there was only one answer.
Ainz was holding one of those few weapons—
Shalltear screamed the name of that blade as she coughed up blood.
“Takemikazuchi Mk 8!”
Shalltear leaped back, avoiding the strike from the nodachi. The fact that she had jumped so far beyond the nodachi’s striking range was a sign of how frightened she was of that sword.
However, nobody would mock Shalltear for doing, even less so if they were denizens of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick.
Rather, they would have a look of understanding on their faces, because they all feared this weapon of the Supreme Being.
They feared the sight of this sword, named after and wielded by Warrior Takemikazuchi, one of the 41 Supreme Beings.
“Did I not say so, Shalltear? Ainz Ooal Gown is invincible.”
Ainz stepped forward, and Shalltear immediately took two steps back.
“Shalltear, you should know this. Ainz Ooal Gown is the combined power of 41 people. You had no hope of victory from the start,” Ainz calmly said.
His words rang with absolute confidence and the utmost assurance.
The dangerous battle of earlier had been like treading on thin ice, where one false step might send him to the bottom of the lake. But now, Ainz had brought the battle to his enemy.
Currently, their MP was 0, but Shalltear’s HP was higher.
However, after using [Perfect Warrior] to become a level 100 warrior, Ainz’s stats far outstripped Shalltear, who was not a pure warrior. In addition, Ainz’s equipment was superior to hers.
That meant — the unfavorable battle from earlier was a thing of the past.
The man who had turned the tables advanced with even, steady steps.
“—Shalltear Bloodfallen, open your eyes and witness the might of the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick, the one who gathered the Supreme Beings, and the man which you praise with your very own mouths.”
Those words were the signal for the attack.
Ainz stepped forward and delivered an overhand strike with the nodachi.
Shalltear leapt away, preparing to jump forward as she did. Her aim was to counterattack Ainz in the opening after he made his move. Sure enough, it was hard to be overly precise with the nodachi Takemikazuchi Type 8, much like it was with the Spuit Lance.
The lightning-swathed Takemikazuchi Mk 8 rent the air as it swung down — and then the tip of the blade halted in front of Shalltear, who was preparing to jump, before thrusting forward at incredible speeds.
No matter how strong one was, it was very difficult to stop a full-strength blow in the middle of a swing. This was especially true when one used a large and heavy weapon.
Yet, Ainz could do it. This was because he had not used all his force to attack. In other words, he knew that the strike would have been avoided, so he had deliberately feinted an opening.
The continuation of that attack had also been planned out, down to which strike he would use to follow up. It was an instinctive, natural movement for a warrior.
Ainz simply provided the bodily strength to turn it into reality.
However, he probably would not have considered these matters had he not experienced combat in E-Rantel. He would probably have unleashed one massive earth-shattering strike after the other, and taken Shalltear’s counterattacks.
Even after becoming a level 100 warrior, he would not have been able to fully utilize a warrior’s abilities, and they would have ended up wasted. Much like driving a car, one might have a license, but there was a world of difference between someone who only had a license on paper and one who was used to driving on the open roads. Both of them could operate a car, but their reactions to sudden changes in circumstances would be drastically different.
In other words — experience.
During this battle with Shalltear, Ainz felt that this experience was his most potent weapon.
♦ ♦ ♦
It’ll be hard to avoid it.
That was what Shalltear calmly thought as she saw the tip of the sword coming at her, as fast as lightning. However, thrusts were a risky move. One could use the weaknesses of thrusting attacks to turn a dangerous situation into an opportunity.
Then… it can’t be helped.
Shalltear put her hand into the path of the thrust, having decided to sacrifice her left arm.
As the blade pierced her palm, Shalltear twisted her left hand, successfully diverting the thrust to one side.
It did not penetrate her chest, but the tip of the sword still drove through her left palm, into the muscle and bone, until it was deeply buried in her left arm. In addition, the electricity surrounding the nodachi coursed through Shalltear’s body.
Though she was undead, the sensation of being savagely penetrated still filled Shalltear with something resembling terror, though she kept the corners of her mouth raised.
It was a smile — not one which an injured person would make, but neither was it a brave front. After all, that was what Shalltear had intended.
Shalltear tensed her left arm. The nodachi halted, pinned down by her muscles.
Thrusts were maneuvers that might end up leaving one’s weapon stuck in a foe’s flesh should they miss their mark. Hence, they were not very practical in combat. In other words, they had a weakness. Shalltear knew that weakness, which was why she had sacrificed her left arm to force an opening in her opponent’s defense.
She could not have done so if she could not grasp the nodachi in her left hand in the instant before it impaled her — a feat which she had to perform within tenths of a second.
“You’re open now!”
Now that his nodachi was tied up, Ainz had no way of defending against the Spuit Lance.
As Shalltear thrust the Spuit Lance at lightning speed, she once more beheld a startling sight.
Ainz let go of the divine-class weapon in his hand — a magic item of the highest order — and then withdrew one of the several wooden sticks slotted at his waist.
“Hah?! Are you retarded?! How could a little stick like that block the Spuit Lance?! And then you actually let go of your divine-class weapon?! Isn’t that a colossal mistake?!”
Granted, not remaining attached to Warrior Takemikazuchi’s divine-class weapon was a wise decision, but there was no way he could win after losing that weapon.
With a mocking smile on her face, Shalltear vowed to make Ainz suffer more than her left hand had. She thrust the Spuit Lance with all her might — and then it was deflected, with a clear, crisp sound of metal against metal.
“Eh?” Shalltear exclaimed in surprise.
The wooden stick was no longer in Ainz’s hand, and in its place were two kodachis, which had deflected the Spuit Lance. One was as blindingly brilliant as the sun, while the other glowed with the pure, gentle light of the moon.
Ainz’s hand — which were holding the kodachis — began smoking. It would seem that those weapons were the bane of the undead.
“You were saying something about being open, Shalltear?”
“Cheh! What, what’s going on?”
Shalltear could not feel the weight of the weapon which had pierced her left arm. It had vanished, as though it could not exist in the same world as the new weapons which Ainz had prepared. Shalltear sensed that they had returned to their original place.
“Well, that’s true. If you can’t handle a weapon in each hand, sticking to one would be wiser…”
Ainz’s mumblings seemed to have been directed at someone elsewhere.
“Then, is that the case for me now?”
Shalltear could not understand what he meant by those words, and after losing her balance, the moonlit kodachi swung at her.
The attack at her neck was a feint; the kodachi nimbly altered its course and streaked at her shoulder. It was only by the barest of margins that the Spuit Lance managed to deflect it.
Ainz took the opportunity to close the gap with Shalltear. Since his foe was using a massive weapon, drawing nearer would make it harder for his opponent to make her move. This was the thinking of a grizzled veteran — one who was intimately familiar with that idea.
Then, the other kodachi — the sunlit one — sliced into the gap in the Spuit Lance’s defense and lightly pierced Shalltear’s body.
She wailed in pain.
Actually being stabbed did not hurt that much. The problem was the agony which came from the holy-element energy which filled her body like poison. That pain was much harder to bear.
Ainz moved the kodachi from side to side while it was still within her, as though to saw open the wound.
“Get away from me!”
The distance between Shalltear and Ainz was too narrow to use the Spuit Lance, so she kicked at him. He blocked it with a kodachi, but he could not fully resist the kick and was flung back. At this moment, Shalltear saw that Ainz’s hands had released the kodachis, and they had another small stick in them.
Then, as the stick fragmented, a huge, savage-looking gauntlet covered Ainz’s hand. That gauntlet was so big that it nearly dragged on the ground from a standing position—
—And as Ainz shouted, he punched her.
Shalltear reflexively raised the Spuit Lance to defend herself, but the massive impact travelled through the Spuit Lance and washed over her entire body.
Shalltear yelped pathetically as she was flung backward, as though struck by a gigantic fist. The hit did not do much damage, and the Spuit Lance could block physical attacks, but the knockback effect was enough to overcome the magic items protecting her.
She recovered her lost balance quickly thanks to her magic items, but a fire still burned inside her head.
“How, how dare you force such a pitiful sound out of me! I’ll make sure you squeal like that before I tear you apart… huh?”
Her eyes shifted, and as she saw a massive globe of light, Shalltear’s agitation vanished.
That flare of sunlight came from the bow Ainz had drawn. Its arrow of light were naturally targeted at Shalltear.
“No, no way, how could that be… Hou Yi’s Bow?”
This weapon had been named after the hero who had shot down the sun while China was still a balkanized mass of smaller countries. It was also the main weapon of the Supreme Being who had created Shalltear.
All the Guardians were protected against ranged weapons, so they did not have to worry about simple projectiles. However, those arrows of light did not do physical damage, but elemental damage. In other words, they were counted as magic attacks, and those defenses did not apply.
Dammit! I’m out of MP! If I had some, I could defend myself with a spell! I’m out of skills too! If I had known, I should have saved a few uses for… no!
The fact that she had used up all her MP and her skill uses were all the result of their previous battle. In other words, she had followed Ainz Ooal Gown’s script to the letter.
Shalltear’s eyes turned bloodshot and she bellowed. This was the expression of one who had realized their mistake after the fact, and who was determined not to admit defeat.
“Damn you! How did you obtain Peroroncino-sama’s weapon? Was all this part of your plan? How did you prepare all these weapons? Where did you hide them? Was it a skill that activated after you broke those sticks?!”
What on earth was going on here?
It was as though the world itself was bending over backwards to help him out.
“What sort of magician would I be if I told you the secret of my tricks?”
“A trick?! A trick couldn’t have summoned Peroroncino-sama’s weapon!”
“...Well, that’s correct. Saying so is kind of disrespectful towards him. Simply put, I was using cash items. You should understand now, right? Everything you have done until now has been dancing in the palm of my hand.”
A fully charged orb of light streaked out at Shalltear. She knew it was useless, but she tried to block it with the Spuit Lance anyway — and then her surroundings were enveloped by a blast of exploding brilliance.
Shalltear tried to think as the sacred radiance scorched her entire body. Retreating was pointless, and if this went on, there was nothing she could do but let him slaughter her at his leisure.
That white armor had high defensive power, but it could not possibly be unscathed by a hit from the Spuit Lance. All she could do was count on her weapon’s life-absorbing properties as she abandoned all defense and focused on an all-out attack.
Shalltear gave voice to a battlecry that did not suit her face. A cold, clear voice responded to her:
“The odds of victory are seven to three… I trust I need not say who is who?”
Ainz slowly raised an axe made of red crystal that shed a purple glow. It was a menacing-looking greataxe. As she saw this, Shalltear hesitated on whether or not to advance, but in the end she took a step forward.
After all, there was nowhere for her to run.
“Such admirable determination. This is the endgame, Shalltear!”
♦ ♦ ♦
“...Ainz-sama. Will Win.”
Those words slipped out from Cocytus as he shook his head. However, Demiurge — who lacked a warrior’s knowledge — asked a question.
Naturally, Demiurge was firmly convinced that his master would win. However, he needed to know more about the situation to make a logical analysis, and so he voiced the doubt in his heart.
“Why is that? Should it not take a long time to determine victory?”
“Shalltear. Has. Abandoned. Defense. For. An. All-out. Attack. I. Would. Have. Done. So. In. The. Same. Situation.”
“Indeed. Ainz-sama changed his weapons one after the other — in other words, she has no idea what other weapons Ainz-sama possesses. Under these circumstances where she lacks further knowledge, Shalltear would conclude that running away is a foolish option after seeing Ainz-sama’s bow. Thus, all she can do is close the distance to the attack range of her Spuit Lance and fight. The fact that she can no longer use skills and magic only adds to that… at least, that is what I think.”
“I see. So that’s how it was. After all, only you could fully grasp the weapons which the Supreme Beings did not show to us, Cocytus.”
“I. Only. Know. Of. Their. Effects. And. Names. But. I. Have. Not. Seen. Them. Before.”
“I see. I think I understand, though I am unclear on the details. In other words, now that Shalltear is committed to an attack, Ainz-sama has brought out the axe—”
“Thank you, Cocytus. That Blood-Drinking Flesh-Eater does not look very balanced and seems inaccurate. However, it should be able to strike Shalltear, who has abandoned her defense.”
“I. Mentioned. It. Before. But. The. Entire. Fight. Has. Gone. As. Ainz-sama. Planned. I. Am. In, Awe. Of. His. Prowess.”
“Ainz-sama probably foresaw those developments. His insight is astounding, as expected of the one who gathered all the Supreme Beings… In all honesty, he could probably rule Nazarick easily without us. I am somewhat dissatisfied.”
“...His. Extraordinary Ability. As. A. Magic. Caster… No. As. A. Combatant. Is. Truly. An. Inspiration.”
“Still… the battle is not decided yet, no? Ainz-sama is still at a disadvantage compared to Shalltear, in terms of health.”
Albedo simply smiled, because she was certain of Ainz’s victory.
“There will be no problem on that account.”
“Why is that?”
“That man is Ainz Ooal Gown, our ruler and supreme leader. Since he has declared he will seize victory, there is no doubt that he will attain it.”
♦ ♦ ♦
Every attack ate away at their health.
Shalltear’s attacks restored her health, but the damage Ainz dealt with every hit was enough to negate the health that Shalltear regained. The Spuit Lance chipped away at Ainz’s health, turning this into something like a game of chicken.
Every time that axe scored a hit on Shalltear, it felt as though it would chop her armor to bits. She felt bones breaking and flesh ripping throughout her body. However, whenever she thrust her lance, which dealt bludgeoning damage thanks to a skill, she could feel bone fragmenting under her assaults.
This feeling… Can I win with this amount of health…?
Joy filled Shalltear’s heart, as she felt that there was still a chance of victory. If they continued trading blows, that might just be the case.
After abandoning all thoughts of defense, Shalltear had thrown herself wholeheartedly into the attack, thinking only of seeing which of them would fall first. Shalltear, so full of anxiety, finally smiled as a light appeared in the darkness.
This was because she had been calculating the rate of her health’s depletion. The more she worried, the greater her joy would be.
Shalltear laughed as she struck and was struck in turn.
“Ahahaha! Ainz-sama! It seems you’ll run out of health first! The difference in our health will be what determines victory and defeat!”
And then, something dumped cold water on Shalltear’s pride.
It was a simple sentence:
“...Do you really think so?”
Shalltear realised her foolishness as she heard the voice of the schemer who had run her ragged and who had controlled the progress of all the events which had unfolded thus far.
How did he intend to turn this situation around?
Shalltear did not know how he would do it, but a third person’s voice clarified her doubts.
“Time’s up — Momonga-oniichan!”
It was a girl’s voice.
She had never heard this voice before, which seemed to be that of a woman pretending to be a child. It reminded Shalltear of a female voice she had heard before. If that woman had pitched her voice differently, it would probably have sounded like this.
“Now, what do you think ‘Time’s up’ refers to?”
Engrossed in trading blows and mauling her foe with her weapon, Shalltear had no idea what that question meant. A look of bafflement appeared on her pretty face.
“If everything thus far has gone as I have planned, that means, the time which has passed has also been within my calculations. Now, what do you think that watch meant when it told us that time was up?”
The axe in Ainz’s hands vanished, becoming a pure white shield. With his matching white shield and armor, Ainz resembled a paladin of pure white.
The shield rang crisply as it deflected the Spuit Lance’s attack.
Things being as they were, Ainz had probably turned to defense because of that female voice, but Shalltear had no idea of the reason for that. As he went on the defensive, Ainz’s voice reached her ears amidst the clashing of metal.
“Do I even need to say it? The battle is over, and victory has been decided.”
Why? Shalltear was still at 25% health. How has victory been decided, Shalltear wanted to scream, but she could not.
“...Super-tier magic cannot kill you in one hit when you’re at full health. Then, all I need to do is reduce your health until it can do so. And it would seem our back and forth just now has heavily depleted your health.”
“...Ahhh, ah, ahhhhhhhh—”
Shalltear desperately attacked, trying to shut her opponent up and block out the knowledge of her impending defeat.
The clashes of metal against metal rang out continuously, the interval between them less than a tenth of a second. Shalltear’s continuous attacks lashed at Ainz like a storm.
However, Ainz neatly blocked them, with unimaginable speed. So skilful was he that it seemed that he could stand beneath a great waterfall and not get wet. As he effortlessly blocked the attacks against him, he continued:
“...It’s true that I am inferior in terms of pure fighting ability… but my magical defense is superior. Then — you should understand what I’m getting at, right? I’m about to make my move, Shalltear. All you can do is pray that I miscalculated.”
♦ ♦ ♦
Knowing that defeat was at hand, Shalltear continued her frenzied string of attacks. Though her features were distorted, her looks were not diminished.
In the face of that, Ainz made his final gambit.
Despite what he had told Shalltear, his plan had not gone as smoothly as he had intended.
To begin with, super-tier magic was like a skill, and did not consume MP. However, it was still a form of magic, and he could not access it when transformed into a warrior.
Once he dispelled the warrior transformation magic, he would not be able to equip his armor and shield and they would fall off him. That would make it very difficult for him to resist Shalltear’s attacks. If she decided to use a skill of some sort, he might not be able to secure a victory through HP damage with super-tier magic.
That would spell defeat for him.
However, he had no other way to win.
Ainz briefly went over the timing of his actions. First, he would dispel the warrior transformation, and then he would use a cash item.
He had never been this profligate in the use of cash items, even when PVPing in YGGDRASIL. This was the difference between a game and reality — between entertainment and survival.
He blocked Shalltear’s full-tilt attack with his friend’s shield, and then he glared at her.
He dispelled the warrior transformation, and cast the super-tier spell.
The same magic circle appeared around him as before, and he prepared to break the hourglass-like cash item—
—And then he suddenly hesitated.
This was because a wave of guilt flooded through him; guilt at murdering an NPC which his friend had painstakingly created.
His hesitation was a fatal mistake.
Shalltear did not miss that opening. She noticed the item in Ainz’s hand and thrust her Spuit Lance, enhanced with a skill. Her plan was to destroy Ainz’s hand.
Having dispelled his warrior transformation, Ainz could not possibly avoid Shalltear’s attack—
♦ ♦ ♦
—And then she felt something.
Just as the Spuit Lance was about to destroy the item, she felt something on her spine. That was clearly hostility.
Someone hostile had appeared beside Shalltear, so obviously that she could not ignore it.
Shalltear averted her eyes from Ainz to see who that enemy was.
And then — she found that there was nobody there.
Ainz’s spell had created a 200 meter-wide expanse of desert. Nobody else was there beside Shalltear and Ainz. The hostility she had felt just now was nowhere to be found, as though she had been daydreaming—
“Not good!” Shalltear exclaimed as she came to her senses, but by then it was already too late.
The hourglass shattered, reducing the casting time of the spell to zero.
With those words, a brilliant flash erupted between them and swallowed up everything.
Shalltear could feel her body disintegrating in the incredible heat.
Her carbonized right arm crumbled to dust, while the Spuit Lance slowly fell to what was probably the ground in this bleached-white world. Her face was shrivelled up from the incoming heat, and all she could see before her was whiteness.
Her throat was dried up too — in fact, she did not know if her throat had also been incinerated — so it was difficult to speak. Still, there was one thing she had to say. Shalltear Bloodfallen marshalled the last reserves of her vitality to give praise:
“...Ah, long live Ainz Ooal Gown-sama. Truly, you are the mightiest of Nazarick’s Supreme Beings.”
This was her sincere respect for the almighty one who had gathered the 41 Supreme Beings. The heatwave seemed to burn away her bindings, and though her body could not move, she felt unimaginably free.
Someone who should not have been there appeared in Shalltear’s vanishing consciousness. That someone was the person that had allowed this victory to take place.
The undead could ignore just about any form of mind-affecting effect. However, there were certain abilities that produced similar effects, but which were not counted as mind-affecting. That person had used such an ability.
Shalltear smiled, and said:
Thus satisfied, Shalltear vanished into a world of white.
♦ ♦ ♦
Aura dispelled her skill [Sky Eye], and her puckered pink lips returned to their original shape. There was a look of annoyance on her face as she began scolding someone who was not there.
“You dummy… how could you let yourself get mind-controlled, even though you were undead? That’s just so stupid of you.”
“What, what’s wrong, onee-chan?”
Mare looked where Aura had been looking, but since he was deep in the forest, all he could see in any direction was trees. Still, he could tell what Aura was looking at from the way she was facing.
She should have been observing the battle between Shalltear and her master.
His big sister Aura could use a ranger skill to expand her field of vision to about two kilometers. This was why he and his sister were standing watch over the surroundings with the help of the Eyeball Corpses.
“Th-then, has the battle been decided?”
“Mm. Ainz-sama won, hands down.”
“That, that’s what I thought too.”
The form of Ainz-sama — a being that not even the strongest Guardian could defeat — appeared in Mare’s mind. It was a sensible conclusion; how could the one who led the Supreme Beings be defeated?
“Then, onee-chan, should, should we go collect Shalltear’s equipment?”
Aura considered what she had seen before terminating her skill.
“Ainz-sama should have recovered it all. We’ll fall back as instructed.”
Mare knew his sister was in a bad mood, so he said nothing else, but obediently acknowledged her commands.
Aura’s best friend had been mind-controlled, and made to point her lance at the beloved master to whom they had all sworn their loyalty. While her execution was the expected outcome of such a course of action, she still felt upset about it.
He opened the name list in the Throne Room, and as expected, the space which should have contained Shalltear’s name was blank. This verified that Shalltear was dead, and so phase one of the plan was concluded.
Ainz’s heart ached. While he knew that there was no other way, the fact that he had personally committed and witnessed the act filled him with guilt.
In his heart, Ainz apologized to Shalltear. Then he gulped, and turned to the gathered Guardians.
“Then, the next step will be to resurrect Shalltear. Albedo, pay attention to Shalltear’s name. If she remains mind-controlled as before...”
“Ainz-sama, though I may overstep myself, I propose that you should allow us to deal with it ourselves.”
Cocytus and Aura immediately agreed with Demiurge’s words, while Mare despondently agreed as well. Only Albedo remained unmoved.
Demiurge’s passionate words interrupted Ainz’s mumbling.
“We are fully aware that your orders are to be respected above all else, Ainz-sama. We will grind ourselves to dust in order to obey them. However, as your loyal servants, we cannot allow you to be placed into danger once more, Ainz-sama.”
Demiurge’s gaze shifted from Ainz to Albedo.
“If Shalltear betrays you once more, then we shall eliminate her as your Guardians. We pray that you will watch us do so, Ainz-sama.”
Now that he understood the Guardians’ intentions, Ainz could not offer any further resistance.
“I understand. Guardians, if Shalltear betrays us once more, you may deal with her as you see fit.”
The Guardians nodded in acknowledgement.
Ainz felt miserable as he watched them.
What a pathetic excuse for a master he was.
Even after going this far, he still had to let his beloved children kill each other.
The root cause of it all was his foolishness. It was all his fault.
Ainz wanted to sigh, but as he saw the gentle expression on Albedo’s face as she stood to the side, he decided to swallow it.
“Ainz-sama, all you need to do is stand aside and watch. To whom should we pledge our loyalty if the final Supreme Being vanishes? Though we will not have been abandoned, we will still be lonely if all the Supreme Beings are gone.”
“...Indeed. It’s very lonely to not have anyone by your side.”
Ainz’s eyes had unconsciously turned to the the flags hanging within the Throne Room, his gaze resting on the emblems above his head.
“...Yes, you’re right… It must have been that way in the Treasury too… What a fool I was.”
After muttering to himself, Ainz turned to face the Guardians.
“Protect me, Guardians. It begins now!”
Their spirited replies washed over Ainz as he grabbed the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown that floated in the air beside him, and turned it toward a corner of the Throne Room.
There was a mountain of gold coins there, about 500 million of them. That was the sum needed to recall Shalltear to life.
Normally, he would have needed to use the keyboard to perform the necessary operations, but he now knew that it was no longer necessary.
The mountain of gold changed shape, from a solid to a liquid.
Watched by the Guardians, the molten gold formed a river, which flowed to the same place. Ten thousand tons of gold compacted and shrank, taking a humanoid shape that finally resolved itself into the form of a golden puppet, and its golden glow slowly weakened.
Soon, the golden glow had vanished completely, leaving white, waxy skin and platinum blonde hair. There was no doubt that the person before him was Shalltear Bloodfallen.
Ainz kept his eyes fixed on Shalltear as he bellowed Albedo’s name.
“Please be at ease. It seems the mind control has been terminated.”
“Is that so…”
Ainz unconsciously touched his chest in response to the powerful sense of relief flooding him. The gesture calmed his spirit. Then, he reached into his pocket dimension and retrieved a black cloak, before he strode over to the supine Shalltear.
Her eyes were tightly shut, and her chest was not moving. She lay quietly on the ground, like a corpse. Still, the undead were essentially animated corpses, so that was hardly unusual.
The chest he had just seen was so flat that it hardly seemed to belong to a girl, but to a boy. Not knowing where to put his eyes, Ainz’s gaze left her chest and looked elsewhere.
The freshly resurrected Shalltear was naked (of course), so he had no idea where he should be looking. Ainz was so panicked that he forgot that all he had to do was look elsewhere.
His vision had sharpened greatly from when he was a human being, so he could see certain places very clearly.
Shalltear’s body was carelessly displayed, and her thighs were slightly parted—
—Ainz hurriedly threw the black cape over her.
The cape spread in mid-air, settling perfectly on Shalltear and covering her entire body.
It’s not like I regret doing that! I’m undead, so I have no sexual desires! No, that should be, almost no sexual desires. I was looking at Shalltear’s body because I was simply curious about whether or not she was designed with parts under her clothing. You’d never be able to take off all your clothes in YGGDRASIL anyway, so that’s why I took a peek. That’s right, it’s not because I was wondering if she had hair down there or anything!
As Ainz tried to explain his actions to… someone, he approached Shalltear, feeling somewhat helpless. Perhaps the reason why he took so long to reach her was because he wanted to cool down his overheating head.
Also, he deliberately ignored the female voice behind him saying, “If you are interested, I have no objection to displaying myself for your viewing pleasure.”
As Ainz stood before her, Shalltear’s crimson eyes opened, as though sensing the presence of someone nearby. She blinked sleepily and looked around, finally resting her gaze on Ainz.
She sounded like she was groggy from having just woken up. However, he could hear the loyalty in her voice. Although Albedo and Nazarick’s administration system had already verified her allegiance, Ainz was delighted to confirm it with his own ears, and he knelt down to embrace Shalltear.
It was hard to believe that such a slender body possessed such startling physical abilities.
Ainz paid no heed to Shalltear, who was babbling in a thoroughly baffled way, and tightened his grip on her.
“Wonderful… no, I’m sorry. This was all my fault…”
“Eh? Ah, I’m not sure what happened, but I’m certain that you couldn’t have made a mistake, Ainz-sama.”
Shalltear’s ice-cold hands returned the embrace. They were vaguely uncomfortable, given that she seemed to be trying to grope him, but Ainz did not stop her, because she was probably trying to verify her sense of touch after her resurrection. He pretended that he did not hear her saying, “Ah, shall have my first time here…”
However, Albedo immediately made her displeasure known.
“...Ainz-sama, I believe Shalltear is tired, so we should leave her be for now.”
Perhaps there was a penalty for resurrecting NPCs, just as there was for players. After all, this was the first resurrection ever since coming to this world.
“Tell me the details later. Before that, I have some questions.”
After Ainz let go of Shalltear, a look of disappointment crossed Shalltear’s face and she glared sharply at Albedo. Albedo responded with her usual smile. He thought they would continue staring at each other as usual, but Shalltear averted her eyes instead.
“Yes, do ask me whatever you desire… right, Ainz-sama, why am I in the Throne Room? Then, there’s the matter of my body, and your treatment of me, Ainz-sama. Have I caused any trouble?”
“I was about to ask you that. Do you remember anything that happened?”
“...Sorry. Shalltear, tell me the last thing you remember.”
Shalltear’s most recent memory was five days ago. She had no impression of what had happened after that, until now.
Ainz could have used the 10th-tier spell [Control Amnesia] like he had at Carne Village, but even altering short stretches of memory would require a massive amount of MP. The staggering amount of MP needed to affect five days’ worth of memories was beyond the limit of ordinary magic casters. Not even Ainz and his extraordinary MP regeneration rates could do it.
Of course, the resurrection process might be such that NPCs lost their memories of the past few days. Alternately, perhaps several people might have gathered to do it.
He lacked information at the present moment, so he could not solve that mystery.
Still, he could be sure that whoever had used the World-Class Item on Shalltear had gone silent, vanishing without a trace.
It’s quite troublesome when I don’t know who’s acting behind the scenes. The enemy might be waiting for a chance to strike at Nazarick… no, perhaps I should be glad that this incident didn’t escalate… In any case, I’ll make sure I thoroughly avenge myself on whoever did this to Nazarick.
Ainz quelled the anger which even his undead traits could not fully suppress, and gently asked Shalltear:
“Are there any other problems with your body?”
If this world was like YGGDRASIL, then there should not have been anything else. The NPCs should not have lost levels, but he was unsure if the same applied to this world as well. For all he knew, the NPCs would lose levels, just like player characters would.
Ainz felt herself up before answering Ainz:
“I don’t think there’s anything.”
“Is that so.”
After Shalltear answered, a look of shock came over her face. Not knowing what was wrong, Ainz felt uneasiness welling up inside him.
“What happened?! What’s wrong?”
“My chest is gone.”
The faces of the Guardians twisted as they heard this, with expressions of “We want our concern back” written all over them. Even Demiurge had his teeth bared.
“Don’t you know what you did? How could you say something like that?!”
As Albedo delivered a rebuke on everyone’s behalf, Shalltear’s shoulders trembled in fright.
Ainz had gone so limp that his hands were about to drag on the floor. All he could do was watch Shalltear argue with the other Guardians, and ponder various questions about resurrection.
In particularly, he hoped that Clementine and Khazit, who he had met in the graveyard, would also lose their memories after resurrection, as Shalltear had.
Still, that was just being optimistic.
Since he did not know why Shalltear had lost her memories, he could not guarantee that their resurrection through magic would be the same as resurrecting an NPC through money.
Just as Ainz was thinking about these things, Shalltear had already begun tearing up under Albedo’s one-sided torrent of abuse.
As Ainz watched the scene before him, he recalled a scene from the past.
♦ ♦ ♦
He saw Bukubukuchagama (the elder sister) scolding Peroroncino (her younger brother), and the rest of his smiling guildmates.
The NPCs before him were like his past comrades.
♦ ♦ ♦
Ainz slowly reached a hand out, and then stopped in mid-air. It felt as though an invisible wall of glass was blocking him.
A profound sense of loneliness filled Ainz’s heart.
It felt as though the memories of the warm place where the Guardians existed was little more than an image on a monitor — and he was on the other side.
If he stepped into it, they would pledge their loyalty to him. That was a form of awe, and not the warmth he had felt when he had been with his friends.
He felt that it was a terrible shame.
Just as Ainz’s hand fell powerlessly, Albedo turned around — as though sensing something strange about Ainz — and watched him quietly. Baffled by why she was looking at him that way, Ainz was about to ask what was wrong when the flames in his eyes suddenly flared up.
That was because Albedo was gently holding her hand out to him. After a moment’s hesitation, Ainz took her hand, and thus he was pulled into the circle of the Guardians.
Albedo was the first to speak, and then the other Guardians followed suit.
“Ainz-sama, please reprimand Shalltear sternly.”
“That’s right! Please give this dummy a good scolding!”
“Indeed. She. Needs. A. Stern. Lesson.”
“You’ll remember Ainz-sama’s words of wisdom, won’t you?”
“Al-although, maybe it would be better not to be too strict... er, erm…”
Ainz could not keep his laughter from escaping his mouth despite the baffled looks from the Guardians around him. No, that laughter did not just come from his mouth, but from his heart.
After he was satisfied, Ainz silently turned back to Shalltear.
“I have told Albedo before, but the fault for this does not lie with you, Shalltear. It is I — who possessed all this information but did not consider the possibility of this happening — who most deserves to be rebuked for this. Shalltear, you did nothing wrong. Remember that.”
“Thank, thank you, Ainz-sama!”
“Demiurge, you will be in charge of explaining what happened to Shalltear. Can you do that?”
Demiurge bowed to show that he understood.
“Ah, then there’s the matter of Sebas—”
“He will be bait.”
As Ainz calmly proposed using one of his subordinates as bait, the Guardians merely nodded, with the attitude a proper minion should have. They were simply prioritizing the considerations of the master of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick over the life of their colleague.
“I am not entirely willing to do this, but it cannot be helped… I do not know why Shalltear was targeted, but if the opposition is looking for a new victim, they might well decide on Sebas, who was travelling with her. This was why I did not call him back to receive a World-Class Item… Albedo, select a few clandestine operatives to keep an eye on Sebas and his surroundings… He might be bait, but I do not intend to allow Sebas to be so easily taken. Inform these observers that their mission also includes preventing the enemy from approaching Sebas.”
After issuing his orders, Ainz narrowed his eyes — in other words, the flames in his eye sockets grew dim.
...Someday I shall meet the person who used a World-Class Item on Shalltear. When that day comes, I shall return the favor with interest!
“Understood. I will select the appropriate personnel as soon as possible.”
“Please do. Thanks to Shalltear, we now know that NPCs can be resurrected, but I do not wish to kill any of the NPCs my friends created again.”
Moved by those words, the Guardians lowered their heads. They had probably sensed how much Ainz valued them. However, since he had actually voiced those feelings, the effect on them had been that much greater.
Shalltear seemed to have realized something had happened to her. A look of shock crossed her face, which soon turned into one of utmost regret.
Ainz gestured that she did not need to take it to heart. Just then, a voice came from the side.
“Ah, then, Ainz-sama.”
“What is it, Mare?”
“Erm, ah, should... should I remove all traces of the battle?”
“There’s no need for that. Did you know? When one breaks a spell-sealing crystal, it releases powerful energy, enough to level the surroundings.”
“Eh? Is, is that so?”
“...My apologies. It’s a lie, of course. What is false is true and what is true is false. Magic-sealing crystals seem to be rare items, so nobody should be able to test that. Albedo, put a few scratches on the item Nigun was using. Then, we’ll need to have the blacksmith build some damaged armor and put some scorch marks on it, so it looks like it went through an intense battle.”
“In addition, perhaps I have been too careless so far, which allowed hidden enemies around Nazarick to harm us. Thus, I wish to initiate a program to strengthen Nazarick. Part of that is to use my skills to create an undead army. I think I’ve mentioned that before… hm? Did I only tell Albedo about that? Forget that. In any case, this will be my top priority. I would like to make some preparations to recover corpses from E-Rantel which can be used to make an undead army.”
“About that, Ainz-sama…”
“What’s wrong, Albedo?”
“If I am not wrong, when you use a human corpse as a medium for making undead, the undead thus created are quite weak, despite being mid-tier. Is that correct?”
“Indeed. Is there a problem?”
The most powerful undead he could make with the corpses of the Sunlight Scripture were level 40. Beyond that, the undead would vanish with the passage of time, along with the corpses that served as their medium.
“In truth, after receiving that order, I had considered ways of obtaining fresh corpses. Perhaps you could consider using non human corpses?”
“...I trust you do not intend to use the corpses of Nazarick’s vassals?”
“No, that is absolutely not my intention. I was thinking of using other demihumans.”
Albedo smiled. It was a stunningly beautiful — and terribly cruel — smile.
“Aura discovered a Lizardman village. What do you think of attacking and destroying them?”
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