Editors/Proofreaders: Ferro, TaintedDream, Namorax, Skythewood, SifaV6, JcqC
Lower Fire Month (9th Month) 3rd, 18:27
Brain stuck around until the guards Climb called for arrived. When he started to head back to Gazef’s house, the sun had already set and his stomach stung in hunger.
...If I kept Stronoff hungry, I’d feel bad.
He pushed open the doors as if it was his own house, but it was only because he had permission from Gazef to do so.
As he started to walk towards the room Gazef loaned to him, Brain heard footsteps heading towards him. He thought it was probably Gazef, and confirmed it when the footsteps were heard coming downstairs.
“You’re late Unglaus. Where did you go?”
There was no hint of criticism in his voice. Seeing that Brain didn’t reply and fell into deep thought, Gazef’s eyes beamed with curiosity.
“If you’re okay with it, do you want to tell me about it over a meal?”
It was a true sight for sore eyes. Brain replied as he rubbed his stomach.
“That sounds like an amazing idea. So, where to?”
With a slightly surprised expression, Gazef guided him to the dining room.
“Do the servants cook for you? Or do you cook the meals yourself?”
Gazef smiled bitterly at the empty question.
“No, I’m quite terrible at cooking actually.”
He continued after pondering a little.
“Maybe the servants are getting old, since the food always seems under-seasoned. After a day of hard work, you want to have something strong, but the servants don’t seem to be too understanding.”
“The Kingdom’s mightiest Warrior Captain is forced to eat under-seasoned healthy food?”
Brain smiled as he teased Gazef, but Gazef replied tensely as always.
“Unglaus, I would love to present you with the gourmet under-seasoned healthy food of my home, but we’ll have to do with food I bought from outside.”
“If it is so, I must thank you for being so considerate.”
Seeing Brain smile, Gazef broke into a little laughter. However, his counter-attack commenced.
“But what about you, can you cook?”
Gazef’s sword of rebuttal missed and slice through thin air.
“Nothing complex and only simple stuff. It’s a big problem if you can’t cook during training trips or expeditions.”
Nodding slowly, Gazef brought a little basket that was tucked away in a corner of the dining room. The basket was big enough to fit a baby and a smell that stimulated the nose and stomach wafted into the air.
The two men sat facing each other.
After taking out several dishes from the basket, they filled their glasses with wine and raised them for a toast to each other. There was no particular reason they shared a cheers and gulped down the wine in silence. Brain took two big gulps before setting down the glass.
He let out a deep sigh and murmured with shaky heart.
"... It’s been a long time since I had a drink.”
“It’s the same with me. I haven’t had a meal in my house lately either.
"... The palace duties must be difficult.”
“Ever since I became the Warrior Captain, there seems to be always something.”
“Defending the royal family as well?”
“That too. As a matter of fact, that’s the main duty.”
After hearing Gazef’s stories Brain could feel how puritan Gazef was. He could afford to stray around from time to time, but he kept moving forward in a straight line.
‘A person like this is sure to be hated by the nobles.’
As if Brain’s assumptions were right, Gazef’s stories barely contained any mention of nobles. Despite being in a high position like Warrior Captain, most of the stories were about his life as a soldier or about the royal family. There were no stories of some hoity-toity dance gala.
Changes were happening in neighboring countries such as the Empire, but in the Kingdom a large wall of different status stood between the nobility and commoners.
For Brain, this whole situation was hilarious.
He devoted all his time training to defeat Gazef, and he expected a fight to the death the next time they met. Now, they sat drinking as friends. As if his thoughts were read, Gazef smiled as well.
Their glasses clanged once again, but feeling a little drunk, they clinked too hard and some wine spilled onto the table.
“Try not to spill it onto the food.”
“It might taste better with some wine on them.”
“I don’t know much about taste… Unglaus, perhaps you are the same too?”
“Brain. Just call me Brain.”
“Alright, then I am Gazef.”
They laughed and clanged the glass once more.
Gazef’s stories were diverse and there were plenty of things Brain did not know about. As the atmosphere heated up, Gazef asked shamelessly.
“So Brain, just what happened to a man of your calibre?”
As if treating an open wound, Gazef treaded carefully. His gauging of Brain’s reaction was not to determine whether he was telling the truth, but out of genuine concern.
Looking at Gazef blinking profusely from receiving a thanks out of nowhere, Brain eased up as well. He took a moment to recollect himself before speaking.
"... I met a monster.”
“A monster? What kind?”
“Probably a vampire… Called Shalltear Bloodfallen. The attack I devised… to defeat you was deflected by her with just a pinky finger.”
He could see Gazef’s eyes widen.
"...Is that so.”
Gazef took a sip of his wine. Brain took a sip as well and recount the battle— No, the massacre that took place.
Of course, he did not mention anything about banditry. Gazef might already have guessed how Brain used to live like. However, he didn’t have the courage to tell Gazef that he was the kind of man who had done anything in the name of getting stronger.
Thankfully, there were no signs of suspicion in Gazef’s eyes.
“Will you believe me?”
"...The world is big and wide. It won’t be strange even if a monster like that existed. Looking back in history, there were beings like Demon Gods and Dragon Lords as well. But a monster like that… it’s above my ability.”
“Yea. I don’t know how strong you are now, so I won’t speak irresponsibly, but I will say it’s impossible for you to win against it. A monster like that is beyond our realm of ability. Even if two of us fight together, we would only last 1 or 2 seconds longer.”
“Hey, please say that’s not so.”
Gazef complained in joking tone, but Brain pleaded with all earnest.
“Gazef, you’re a Warrior Captain who’s in charge of protecting the royals. Please do not fight it if you ever run into it. Your life is valuable.”
“I thank you for your advice, but if that monster called Shalltear tries to attack the King, I need to stall for time even if it costs me my life.”
Even stalling for time would be impossible unless that monster decided to toy around with Gazef. However, if it was Gazef... he felt Gazef might be able to do it. Even if for just a few more seconds.
“Shalltear. Shalltear Bloodfallen is it.”
Gazef nodded heavily after asking about its description once again.
“Alright, after we’re both sober, do you mind telling me about it once again? It seems wise to collect as much information about it as possible.”
“Even if you do collect the information, I’m not sure if anything can be done about it.”
“If a storm is coming, then we need to prepare for it. Plus, who knows if other wiser people have a good idea.”
“That would be the best case.”
“I have several acquaintances who are adamantium ranked adventurers. Perhaps they might have couple ideas. … So, Brain, what will you do now?”
Brain frowned at the question. What should he do from now on. His gaze slowly wandered to his Katana he laid beside a small table.
It was a lingering regret.
It was all a lingering regret. No matter how hard he tried from now on, he could never defeat that monster. The dream of being the strongest was already shattered. His life had been a waste. He couldn’t live with his head in the clouds anymore.
It was a wild dream of a child…
“What should I do… Perhaps I should go back to farming.”
He was originally a farmer. He could barely remember, but he remembered the basics of farming from a corner of his head. Everything else was swordsmanship. To put it nicely, he lived his life with a single goal.
“That… doesn’t sound so bad… but, will you consider serving the Kingdom along with me?”
It was not a bad proposal. He could never win against a monster like Shalltear, but as a human he considered himself to be among the stronger ones. However...
“I’m not really used to working as a team. I’m not very good at grovelling either.”
“Do you think I do a lot of grovelling?”
“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that you do. It’s just that I imagine all of the people who work in the palace to be like that... Gazef, your idea isn’t bad at all. Fighting for someone else… Ah! Speaking of which, I met a boy called Climb.”
“Climb? Are you referring to a boy with hoarse voice?”
When Brain affirmed Gazef’s voice rose in pitch out of surprise.
“You met Climb? He’s the Princess’ bodyguard, so I didn’t think he would leave her side that far…”
“I saw him while he was training in the city.”
“Training in the city… He’s not very talented so it would be impossible for him to be stronger than he is now. What remains for him would be to improve his physical strength. Was it that kind of training? If not, then I should give him a little word of advice.”
“Hmmm, with the sword… he is talentless. But in some ways, he was superior to me.”
Gazef made an expression for Brain to stop joking.
Of course, the difference between Brain and Climb was absolute, and aptitude could not be compared. However, in front of the truly strong, Brain realized it was like comparing how fast snails could race each other. Above all, having the heart to stand against the killing intent of people like Sebas must be praised highly.
The broken me would have ran away. But if it was Climb, he would never run away with the person he’s supposed to protect behind him. Someone like him… might be good enough to cut the tip of that monster’s pinkie.
Gazef had curious expression on his face, but Brain remained silent. Instead, he told the story of the assault on one of the brothels run by the Eight Fingers.
“Is that so… with Climb.”
“If you think inconvenient things will happen to you, it’s okay to just kick me out. Now that I think about it, it would be a problem for you if somebody who dealt with the underground world goes in and out of your household.”
“No, it’s no problem at all. As a matter of fact, I welcome it wholeheartedly. They’re scum who dirty the Kingdom. I would have liked to stand at the front as you smashed into that place, if it was possible.”
“Are the Eight Fingers that harmful to the Kingdom?”
“It’s quite disgusting. They control most of the Kingdom’s underworld. With the money they earn, they buy out the nobles and exploit the commoners as well. Even if we try to crush them, the nobles they’ve bought out always interfere. If we want to strike, we’ll need to hit the hidden facilities spontaneously like you did, Brain. Even then, they hold more power than average nobles, so if we fail, the repercussions will be huge.”
“Between the hammer and the anvil.”
“Yea. It would be good to deal them some blows like you did. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.”
“What about invoking the Royalty’s authority?”
“It’d be impossible due to the opposing Noble factions. The real problem though, is that they have bought out people in both factions.”
Heavy atmosphere surrounded the two as they drank and ate silently.
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 4th, 17:01
The members of Blue Rose visited the castle early in the morning. All of them carried a large sack and every time they touched the floor, metallic sounds echoed from within. It was their equipment. Because they were entering the Royal Castle, it would be problematic to walk around fully armed to say the least.
Released from the burden of having to lug everything around, everybody stretched their shoulders and arms. The leader, Lakyus Alvein Dale Aindra watched Renner with envious stares.
“So your duty as princess starts now?”
Renner did not have much political power, but still had jobs to do as a princess.
“Don’t worry, I can put them off a little bit.”
Lakyus made a mischievous face. Renner followed suit, but went back to her serious expression once more.
“Lakyus, as soon as you’re prepared, I want you to carry out what we talked about.”
“Why? From what I heard yesterday, weren’t we going to attack one at a time in absolute secrecy?”
Evileye, the mask wearing mage style magic caster asked.
She did not take off her mask even though she was in the royal palace. The only reason such suspicious attire was permitted was due to the fact of her being an adamantium ranked adventurer, the peak of humanity's finest. Also, the fact that the leader of the group, Lakyus, was nobility helped out as well.
“Actually, an unforeseen problem came up last night, so we need to adjust our plans accordingly. Evileye-san, yesterday….”
Renner told them about the attack on the brothel last night. The congratulatory gazes from the Blue Rose made Climb stand even more rigid in embarrassment.
Truthfully, it was not Climb, but the two people who were with him who had truly saved those girls who were suffering in the brothel. Climb didn’t feel as if he had done anything praiseworthy. In fact, Climb was glad he was not reprimanded and felt somewhat relieved that the plan wasn’t completely ruined by his actions.
“You’ve done well, cherry boy.”
“Gagaran is correct. Capturing one of the Eight Fingers... is a great achievement.”
“...‘Undying King’ Deibaanku, ‘Void Executioner’ Peysilian, ‘Dancing Scimitar’ Edstrom, ‘Thousand Kills’ Malmvist, ‘Devil of Illusions’ Succulent and the leader, ‘Battle Demon’ Zero.”
Tia started listing the names.
“Deibaanku is undead. It’s said Peysilian can attack enemies that are quite a distance away. Edstrom uses weapons with special magic and Malmvist is a lone wolf that specializes in lunging. We already have Succulent, so let's ignore him. Lastly, a brawler who specializes in unarmed combat, Zero. They are all at least adamantium ranked.”
“Yeah. Having even a single one of them captured is a huge advantage for us.”
“You did well, Climb. But meeting and acting together with Brain Unglaus, you’re really lucky.”
Climb agreed on that point.
“Ha, taking down Succulent with a single strike. They say he fought neck and neck with the strongest warrior in the Kingdom, Gazef Stronoff. It seems he’s as good as they say. But personally, I’m more interested in the old man Brain claimed he couldn’t win against.”
“I didn’t ask for Sebas-sama’s residence.”
"...Hmm, Climb, maybe he was wary of you and didn’t teach you. Or maybe you weren’t quick enough and couldn’t ask him… Which is it?”
“It was both, Evileye-sama. Perhaps if I asked, he might have told me, but it’s true I didn’t want him to get involved further.”
"...You’re more diligent than I thought.”
The twin sisters praised Climb.
“But to never have heard of someone like that before, it’s incomprehensible…”
Starting with Evileye, everyone’s suspicion of Sebas only rose. Climb tried to divert the situation by making a rebuttal, but Lakyus gathered everybody’s attention by clapping.
“Now, now, let’s leave that subject for later date. If not for him, we wouldn’t have known the location of the brothel nor got a hold of Cocco Doll. Plus, Climb is indebted to him as well.”
“You are correct, Lakyus. So, Princess. Does changing the plan mean we are changing the place of attack as well?”
“Yes, Evileye-san. We will take all of them down tonight, in one fell swoop. If we take our time, it would only give the initiative to our enemy.”
Silence filled the atmosphere.
The only one participating in the plan was Blue Rose. Lacking the manpower, the plan was to attack one place at a time.
“Hey, Princess-san, didn’t you say we didn’t have enough people? Or did you find someone overnight? We couldn’t even hire any other adventurers.”
Ever since the creation of the Adventurer’s Guild, its motto was to defend humanity from other threats. So there was an unofficial rule that the Guilds would never take part in inter-human conflicts. If not, the Guilds couldn’t co-operate with each other in different countries.
There could be someone who was willing to do this kind of work if they asked around in the guild, but the guild had their own ways of applying pressure to enforce the unofficial rule. Punishments ranged from issuing a simple warning to being blacklisted from all requests and in the worst case scenario, expulsion from the Adventurer’s Guild. The adventurers who were kicked out of the guild and went on to take illegal requests were called ‘workers’. According to rumours, the Adventurer’s Guild even hired assassins to eliminate the worst of them.
Although Blue Rose was breaking the unofficial rule to fight against a human organization, Eight Fingers, it was being tolerated due to the fact that they were adamantium ranked adventurers.
“Even if we do bring in other people, utilizing the guards would be foolhardy. They already have their people inside the guards. Maybe for the final clean-up stages, but otherwise it would be risky.”
“Same with any of the nobles’ household guards. Who knows which one of them is one of their cronies.”
“The only ones we can trust are Gazef Stronoff and his warriors, no… I’m not sure if we can trust even his warriors.”
“It’s so hard to come up with a contingency plan because we do not know their true strength. But if this goes on, the entire Kingdom will rot away. We’ll just have to do our best under the circumstances.”
Renner nodded at Lakyus’ complaints.
Invasions from the Empire, an internal power struggle and now corruption as well. Climb could almost see golden sunlight radiating from the Princess in her efforts to tackle these issues no matter how bleak everything seemed. He truly thought that she would unite the Kingdom and bring happiness to its people, and he once again strengthened his loyalty to her.
All those who thought that she was just a pretty decoration, especially the nobles, angered Climb. But the angelic voice of Renner dispelled all his anger and he concentrated on the conversation once again.
“It’s just as you said. We will borrow the strength from a trustworthy noble.”
“You know one, Princess?”
“Yes, Evileye-san. I do not know many, but there is one trustworthy noble.”
“Eeeh? Who’s that Renner? I think you already know it, but if they’re not trustworthy, then it’s meaningless. There’s also no guarantee that they’ll send enough of their soldiers over either.”
“I have that covered. It will be alright. We’ll also enlist the help of the Warrior Captain.”
“Ah, the Warrior Captain.”
“If it’s the Warrior Captain, we can trust him. If the Eight Fingers already got to him, then there’s no saving this Kingdom.”
“Then Climb, call over Marquis Raeven immediately. We had a discussion earlier, so he should still be in the capitol.”
“The Marquis? I also saw him with the Prince earlier…”
Marquis Raevan indeed met every criteria they had set out, with the exception of trustworthiness.
He was one of six Great Nobles and his wealth could not be matched by any of the other nobles. However there was no evidence that the Eight Fingers had not already gotten to him yet. As a matter of fact, his wealth could have been attributed to working with the Eight Fingers. However, Climb quickly abandoned such thoughts. If Renner, his most respected master and the wisest woman, said so, then he would trust Marquis Raeven.
But unlike Climb, the rest of Blue Rose frowned at the name.
“Oi, oi, Princess. Are you sure we can trust him?”
“Rumors say Marquis Raeven is a turncoat.”
“A spineless man who’s constantly switching sides from the King’s faction to the Noble’s faction, who would do anything for a profit, even if it was for the Eight Fingers.”
“I don’t want the information to be leaked from there, Princess.”
Amidst the negative opinions, Lakyus clapped loudly.
"...Everyone stop. Hey Renner, Marquis Raeven doesn’t have a good reputation. Can we trust him?”
“It’s not an absolute guarantee. I also think he has been receiving a certain amount of bribes from the Eight Fingers.”
Everybody had confused expression, but those who had their own suspicion asked.
“Diverting their attention with false information?”
“Used for assassinations. Give false information to focus the security elsewhere.”
Renner shook her head at the former assassins’ words.
“Tina-san, Tia-san, that’s not it. Even if he accepts money from the Eight Fingers, it doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to co-operate with them. Marquis Raevan was a better man than I thought… Climb, go get Marquis Raevan. He’ll meet with you immediately if you tell him that you destroyed one of the brothels and have captured the head of Eight Finger’s slave traders.”
Climb looked outside to check where the sun was. As it was still bright with morning light, it was still too early to request an audience. However, since great nobles were not the easiest people to have an audience with, it would be better to start early.
“Should we even talk about the head of the slave traders? I think it might be best to keep it a secret…”
Since even a great noble wouldn’t refuse a personal invitation from the Princess, Climb thought it would be best to reserve that fact as a card Renner could use.
“If we want to make him our ally, we must show our hand as well. It’s the best way to prove to the Marquis that we trust him.”
Climb nodded and bowed respectfully.
“I shall bring over Marquis Raeven as soon as possible per your orders.”
“Thank you, Climb. Now, since that will take time, would anyone like some red tea?”
♦ ♦ ♦
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 4th, 9:37
The Blue Roses already knew. Even if Marquis Raeven came, it would be after midday. Great Nobles held meetings with other nobles in the morning. It would be a different story if the King summoned him, but Renner was still powerless.
Obviously, this would be a lower priority for the Marquis. So when Climb returned early, they wondered if he had been turned back at the gate. However, when they saw the two men standing behind Climb, they could not hide their surprise.
One was Marquis Raeven. His appearance could be described nothing less than immaculate. He wore a doublet made from a beast’s, or probably a monster’s, high-quality fur, woven with golden threads. Around the buttons and the sleeves, intricate patterns were sewn in, and from the way it reflected light, there were many pea-sized jewels embedded in there. Clothing of the highest class worn only during important occasions, it truly suited him as one of the six Great Nobles.
The next person was a rather chubby man.
Renner looked at him with surprised expression.
“Oi, my younger sister from another mother. You look as healthy as ever… Oh, if this is the daughter of the Alvein family, then is she the famous Blue Rose? To see Adamantium ranked adventurers here.”
The man who entered without knocking was the second Prince, Zanack Barleon Igana Ryle Vaiself. As Lakyus showed signs of respect to the royalty, he spoke in a relaxed manner.
“I came because it sounded like an interesting discussion.”
“At your service, Princess Renner.”
“Thank you for coming, Marquis Raeven. Please raise your head.”
Renner stood up to greet her older brother who was higher in the line of succession before speaking. As Marquis Raeven raised his head, he had a thin smile on his face. It was a truly creepy smile and made others feel uncomfortable, but other kinds of smiles would not fit him well.
“Would there be a problem in sending the others to another room?”
“As you say, older brother. Lakyus, Climb, would you mind waiting for me in the other room?”
Lakyus accepted without a complaint and motioned her comrades to the other room. They would prepare without delay in the other room. The Blue Rose and Climb bowed their heads and disappeared into another room. After watching them leave, Renner guided the two to the table.
“Of course, Princess Renner.”
“Alright, my dear sister.”
One person sat down with class and the other simply plopped himself down. Renner poured a cup of red tea and pushed it towards Marquis Raeven.
“It’s an honour to have the princess pour it personally for me.”
“I’m sorry that it’s only lukewarm.”
“Hmmm, is there none for me?”
Zanack looked towards both of them with disappointed face.
“My, my... I thought older brother disliked teas.”
“Yea, I don’t like weird water dyed with tea leaves, but having nothing to drink feels lacking.”
“Should I tell the maids to bring something over? Would you prefer liqueur?”
“Doesn’t matter if it’s red tea. No need to tip off the maids.”
“If we act today, maids won’t have the chance to send information back to their family.”
“Should we not be careful? Women’s tongues are very loose. Especially the maids that work in the palace. They’re faster than they look.”
With a smile, Renner poured a cup of red tea and placed it in front of Zanack.
“Hmmm… You’ve already tested the maids’ information network, haven’t you.”
“What might you be talking about?”
“Well, it doesn’t matter.”
Zanack replied curtly and sipped the red tea before sticking out his tongue at the bitter taste.
“But, Princess Renner, what is the matter this early on? Of course, I am always prepared to answer your call.”
“Thank you, Marquis Raeven. We don’t have much time so I will be frank. I wish to borrow your wisdom.”
With a light cough, she spoke earnestly. Marquis Raeven’s eyes widened and had light of surprise in them. However, those eyes returned to normal once he calmed down again.
“My wisdom. If it’s a problem that you cannot solve… I’m not sure if I can be of any help.”
“I don’t believe so, Marquis Raeven. After all, concerning matters within the palace, there is no one more talented than you.”
Marquis Raeven and the Prince shared a glance.
Renner almost never participated in the power struggles. However, what did she mean by “matters within the palace”? Marquis Raeven chuckled. When you are lacking in information, it is better to gather more rather than guess and come to a wrong conclusion.
“So how may I help you?”
“I wish for you, the hidden leader of the Royalty Faction, no, the one who controls the Royalty Faction from the shadows, to lend me your household troops.”
Marquis Raeven made an expression as if there had been a magical explosion right in front of him. Anybody would have been surprised if they were here. After all, Marquis Raeven was not a man who easily changed his expression. However, he could only react like this. If it was any other noble, he would have laughed it over. But this was a long concealed truth.
Marquis Raeven had for a long time been considered a rat who would go between the two factions as it suited him, but in reality he commanded the Royalty Faction and prevented civil war from breaking out. If the man called Marquis Raeven had not existed, the Kingdom would probably have already collapsed. On the side, Zanack held his breath.
He already knew Renner was incredibly smart, a monster with the shape of human. But without anyone to act as her hands and feet, she was in a way imprisoned in the palace. How did she come to that conclusion? In the entire Kingdom, Zanack had been the only one to deduce that. Both people immediately thought that she might be bluffing, but abandoned the thought immediately. From Renner’s tone, nobody could imagine that she is lying. Both were constantly dealing with people who were full of lies, and they were still unable to determine if she was lying or not. Renner ignored the flabbergasted Marquis and continued her story leisurely.
"...Perhaps I need to confirm it with the other great nobles in the Royalty Faction, but Marquis Volumlashu is leaking information to the Empire. If so…”
“Wait a second!”
Even louder than Zanack’s cracked voice, Marquis Raeven raised his voice.
“You know, don’t you? That’s why you were making sure that the Marquise didn’t get access to too much information.”
Both men looked at Renner with their mouth gaping open.
Renner had murmured this with the same unchanging expression, daring them to prove her wrong.
Forgetting even her title as princess, Marquis Raeven was in state of panic.
Marquis Volumlashu was one of the six Great Nobles and only Raeven and Zanack knew that he was an informant. The only reason Marquis Raeven had tolerated that traitor was to maintain the power balance between the factions.
Thus, he concealed this fact to the Noble Faction and made sure that not too much information flowed towards the Empire. He had accomplished this in complete secrecy thus far. Zanack only knew of this because the Marquis had told him. Then how did this little bird in a cage manage to deduce this answer. Just the mere thought of how she had achieved that gave Zanack goosebumps.
“How did you learn all that…”
“It gets mentioned here and there. Maids also speak of it sometimes.”
How trustworthy would the maids’ stories be, Marquis Raeven still could not believe it. Especially if his past memories served him right, he could understand what she meant by deducing it from what maids were talking about. In a way, this woman in front of him had sifted through piles of garbage to piece together a jewel.
A comparison truly worthy of women such as Renner flowed out his lips. Despite hearing a rude comment, Renner simply smiled. Marquis Raeven abandoned all thoughts he previously harbored.
She was worthy of being treated as an equal. His memory had indeed been true.
"...Very well, everything I know, I shall be sharing with you. Is this fine with you, my Prince?”
After confirming that Zanack had approved, Marquis Raeven sat straight up, facing Renner head on. His attitude was similar to Gazef facing an opponent.
“However, I would like to speak to the “real” Princess Renner.”
“What do you mean by “real”?”
Renner asked as if question was strange.
“In the past, I saw a girl. A girl with powers of observation that I could not even hope to match, a girl who spoke of things so complex, I could not comprehend. Of course when I had finally figured out the meaning and the value of those words, a long time had already passed.”
Marquis Raeven’s soliloquy continued in silence.
"...A girl who spoke something incomprehensible, that’s how I evaluated her. Even though I only thought of her like that, it felt as if I was facing a dangerous person.”
“A dangerous person?”
Renner asked quietly.
“Yes. Because it had been so brief, I simply thought it had been just my imagination. But I had truly felt that. Empty eyes that were thinking nothing of the world and holding only contempt for other humans.”
Marquis Raeven’s shoulders shuddered in response to the chilly atmosphere that filled the room.
“By the time I saw that girl again, her aura matched that of any other girl of her age. So I thought I was mistaken back then… I truly wish to ask you, Princess. I wish to know if my suspicion that you have deceived us so far is true or not.”
Two pairs of eyes collided with each other. It was as if two snakes were tangled in a fight to the death. Then suddenly, light from Renner’s eyes disappeared. Marquis Raeven made a nostalgic smile as if he had just witnessed a scenery from his distant memory.
“Ah… to think it had been that long…”
Zanack shed cold sweat at the scene of his sister turning into an ugly and dangerous monster that still had a smile on her face. He had already had a clue what kind of hideous true self was lying beneath that beautiful face. His assumption that she wanted to grasp power and destroy the Kingdom had been incorrect, but she was still a cancerous being of a completely different level.
“Of course, Princess Renner. Those are the same eyes I had seen in the past. You’ve been putting on quite an act ever since then.”
“Not quite, Marquis Raeven. There was no acting, I was simply satisfied.”
"...Your personal guard, Climb… Is he who you’re talking about?”
“Yes, it’s all thanks to Climb.”
“For that boy to have something in him to change you… I thought him a mere child… Just what is he to you, Princess?”
“You mean Climb…?”
Renner’s gaze wandered through the air. How much was he worth. What kind of words would truly express his value.
Renner Thiere Chardelon Ryle Vaiself
If her existence could be summed up in one word, it would be ‘golden’. The word referred to her beauty. However, few knew that she possessed an ability which would make her beauty pale in comparison. Her intelligence, observational skills, comprehension, creativity, leadership, and every other aspect concerning rulership was overdeveloped.
—If described in one word, it would be ‘genius’.
It could only be said to be a gift from god. Her thoughts, which could only be described as divine inspiration, were all created from combing through and observing countless information. Even if one searched all across the continent, no one could come close to her abilities. Even amongst the beings that transcended humanity, there were few who could compare to her.
Even in Nazarick, only Albedo, who oversees all servants and guardians, and Demiurge, who possesses fiendish wisdom and expertise in all things concerning rulership, could truly match her. Humans always make decision from their own point of view. In that sense, she could be described as strange or weird. However she had one fault. She could never understand why others did not know what she knew. If there was a someone who was on equal terms with her, they might have recognized her for the genius she was. If it had been so, results might have been different.
But this was not the case.
The evaluation she received was that of a young girl who annoyed others because she only spoke of incomprehensible things. Because she was a cute girl, there was not too much hatred for her and she received a fair amount of love as well, but the fact that nobody really understood what she said had a huge effect on her mental development, and slowly twisted the girl over time.
It could be said that she was lonely because she was a genius. Without anyone by her side who could understand her, her stress only increased to the point where she was unable to eat anything without regurgitating it. Nobody thought the Princess, who was only getting weaker and weaker, would survive. She might, indeed, not have without her puppy, and even if she did survive, a demon lord would have been born instead. A demon lord who could only look at things in terms of numbers, and forced sacrifice upon the few for the good of the many.
It was truly a simple change. While she was going out for a stroll with the guards on one rainy night, she picked up a puppy. The puppy whose life was saved thanks to its master showed something in its eyes for her. It was a heavy set of eyes. The girl certainly felt it. The look of admiration in all its purity.
She was used to looks of indifference. She was used to looks of disdain. She was used to looks of doting. However, she could not understand that gaze. That truthful gaze was a target of hatred, panic, happiness, unknown sensations and — a human.
Just like herself, she saw a human in him.
The puppy she picked up became a boy, and then a man. Whether he was a puppy or a boy or a man, that same pure gaze stared at her. However, that gaze was no longer painful. Because of that gaze, she could converse with others with some semblance of a normal person. She could interact with those ugly and filthy lesser beings. And now, Renner’s world was complete with Climb just being in it.
“Climb… Yes, it is so. If I could be joined with Climb… Hmm, perhaps if I chain him up so he can’t go anywhere, I will be happy.”
The atmosphere froze. It was a given that Zanack could not, but Marquis Raeven also could not hide his consternation. They had expected to hear sweet words filled with romantic fantasy befitting a beautiful young lady, but this was beyond their imagination. If she spoke of unfulfilled love due to difference in status, it would be understandable. But that statement was outrageous to say the least.
“Is… is that so. This is your true face. What should I say… when you were young, it always felt like something was strange about you, but now I know you’re not normal.”
“Is that so, older brother? I thought there was nothing strange about it.”
“Then why not raise it, Princess? They wouldn’t interfere... No, it would be impossible without an accomplice.”
“Yes, it would indeed be difficult to do while putting up a front as Princess… Plus, there is no use if it’s done by force. His gaze, I want to chain him up completely and raise him like a dog.”
There are few people who would be happy listening to others fetishes. Marquis Raeven especially wanted to take several steps back after hearing Renner’s desires.
“To talk about raising him like a dog… Does that mean you don’t truly love him?”
Renner looked at the Marquis as if she was staring at an idiot.
“Of course I love him. I simply really like his eyes. Him tied up like a dog as well.”
“I’m sorry, my dear younger sister, but that’s not love.”
“Love comes in all shapes and sizes.”
"...I apologize, but I cannot understand it at all.”
“I have no particular desire to be understood, but if you understand that I truly love him, that’s good enough for me.”
Strange. He knew she would be different, but this is too different. They’re currently talking about something that can change the fate of the Kingdom, yet they spoke of the Princess loving a mere common soldier. This was the more incredible conversation in many ways.
“Princess, if that is your personal preference…”
“It’s not a personal preference. It is pure love.”
Marquis Raeven did not want to make a rebuttal against Renner’s reprimanding tone.
“Yes, love… Sure. But for the Princess to wish to be married with Climb… At this stage…”
“Impossible. Do you also think that would be the only consequence? Even a whisper of this, and you would be sent off to marry someone immediately. Probably someone from the nobles’ faction as well, considering that they have the ear of our eldest brother.”
“Of course, older brother. If eldest brother inherits the throne, it would probably be the first thing he does. I think all talks about it have already concluded. There are nobles who always look at me as if I am theirs.
“I already knew that the Noble Faction was offering their support in exchange for the marriage, Princess.”
“But don’t you think Climb is pushing it too far? ...Even if he receives a title, Baron would be the most he can achieve. Even if he does receive a higher title as a special case, marriage would still be out of the question.”
“I know that myself, older brother. It would be impossible with the Kingdom’s current situation.”
Zanack smiled at himself. This could be a useful opportunity.
“Why don’t we make a trade then? If I become the King, I’ll marry you and Climb myself.”
“Really? There is no going back on your word.”
“Is there any reason for me to reject it? It’s a gamble with the highest chance of winning. Ever since you came into my room with Marquis Raeven, I wanted to talk to you about it.”
"...You mean you already predicted everything?”
Zanack smiled bitterly, but his thoughts and expression did not match. He knew she was smarter than him, but he never guessed he would have been dancing on top of her palm the whole time. Logically, Renner didn’t need to tell them about her plans and thoughts. But if it was to draw out the proposition from him, it was understandable. Zanack hurled all sorts of insults at her inside his head. She truly was a monster.
“And older brother… no, Marquis Raeven. I have one request for you.”
“What would that be, Princess?”
“I believe you have a child, Marquis Raeven.”
“Yes, he just became five.”
Marquis Raeven barely held his face from becoming relaxed just by thinking about his lovely son. He wanted to brag everything about him, but saw Zanack’s wary face and held back.
“Please make him my fiance.”
“Never! I will never hand him over to someone like you.”
Marquis Raeven screamed out. However, looking at Zanack narrowing his eyes and Renner smiling the same as ever, his face reddened at his outburst.
“I have no excuses, your highnesses! I was just caught off guard…”
Marquis coughed once before looking at Renner again.
“Your highness, excuse me, but can you tell me the reason?”
“You would already know.”
“Look, younger sister. If you mentioned the subject…”
“You would marry my child, and actually make a child with Climb. My child would have a child with whomever he actually wants and that child would be his legitimate heir and you would go around pretending to be the mother. Is that what you are suggesting? It’s truly not a bad suggestion. Her highness can have a child with whoever she wants, and our house would be connected with the royal family, even if it’s all a lie.”
“I have no interest in titles or bloodlines. If you would just let me inherit a reasonable amount of wealth for my child, I won’t try to take over your household or anything.”
“I trust you on that.”
“...If it’s someone like Marquis Raeven, even father will be unable to stop it. The Marquis marries into the royal family, you can be with someone you love and I gain an additional supporter. Nobody loses anything, and if anyone betrays the others, all of us will go down together… It’s a perfect plan. But is this the kind of proposal you should be making to me…?”
“My, my, I already promised that I am going to help you. Plus, I think learning about this later would be even worse.”
Zanack could not answer because Renner was right. As long as they held on to each other’s weakness, it was an irrefutable proposal. Even if she was a little off in the head, a person with her abilities would be vital in ruling the Kingdom.
“Then your highnesses, I think it’s enough talk about ourselves… I heard you had a run in with the Eight Fingers? Even arresting the head of Slave Trade Branch.”
“Yes, it is just as Climb said. That’s why I want to launch an assault before they go underground. I managed to obtain information about the Eight Fingers’ hideouts around the Kingdom, so we will strike today. But there is one problem, we do not have sufficient manpower, so I was hoping you would be able to lend us your strength.”
Zanack and Marquis Raeven looked at each other. The first to speak was Zanack.
“Then where’s the place?”
Renner passed around the translated message she intercepted.
“Has this information been verified?”
“Of course, Marquis. I requested Lakyus to investigate it. I just received a report that it is indeed a hideout for the Eight Fingers. The problem is that the territory belongs to another noble.”
Calling it a policing act would be stretching it. If one moved troops inside another noble’s territory, it would be same thing as picking a fight with him.
“But I don’t expect any problems from it. Once we find the evidence that it is linked to the Eight Fingers, we can apply pressure on that noble.”
“Even if we don’t find the evidence, we can use that letter. Seems like everything is lining up.”
Three people smiled at each other, but there were no warmth in those smile.
“My sister, I have a small request as well.”
Zanack looked around. It was the first time he checked if there was anyone else around in the room. It meant that this was truly the important and secretive information.
“Truthfully, our older brother has been receiving some money from the Eight Fingers as well. I wanted to use this as leverage against him, so I went ahead and investigated if they had a safe house in the capitol. It seems they indeed do. I want to squeeze this place into the hit list as well.”
“It’s fine. This is the time to clean them out once and for all, and if we miss this chance, who knows if it will come once again. By the way, which Department is it operated by?”
“The Drugs Trade Branch.”
“Then it’s in a bit of danger zone. A couple of days ago Lakyus attacked one of the villages harvesting the drugs. If we don’t act quickly, they might flee.”
“What…? Marquis Raeven, so can you act immediately?”
“It would be difficult. I have my own list of nobles who might not be with the Eight Fingers. Even then, the only nobles we can completely trust are about two. I need some time to convince them. There’s also one other problem.”
“What is it, Marquis Raeven?”
“It might not be enough with just my household troops.”
Certain strong adventurers can sometimes take on an army alone. There were several theories why so many Adventurers were stronger than an average human being. The most likely theory was that when the body is in danger, the brain kicks into overdrive, producing effects similar to accelerated healing and ability boosts. Other theories included blessings from the gods, absorbing mana from monsters, but the common factor in all theories was that there is a sharp increase in mental, physical and magical abilities. This effect is more likely to occur when facing a strong opponent, so adventurers who have met all sorts of monsters would likely be stronger.
Against opponents like that, simple soldiers stood no chance.
“But if it’s your personal guards, wouldn’t it be enough?”
Marquis Raeven swayed his head at Zanack’s question.
“Indeed, they are all retired adventurers who were ranked higher than mithril, but the enemy is even stronger. The ‘Six Arms’ of the Eight Fingers. Every single one of them is able to stand toe-to-toe with an adamantium ranked adventurers. If they appear, it will become very dangerous. Though it would be a different story if only one shows up and we can overwhelm that person with numbers.”
Zanack’s stuttering was understandable. The peak of adventurers, the adamantium ranked, were strong enough to take on thousands of men alone.
“Then we’ll ask Lakyus that each member of Blue Rose take on one place. I doubt more than two of the Six Arms will be at each place.”
“...Isn’t Blue Rose a five member party? The opponent has a total of six members, is it really wise to split our forces like this? There is no guarantee they will be in the capital either.”
“We want to get them all in one strike, but it will be difficult.”
Renner’s intercepted message mentioned seven different places. Including Zanack’s location, the total came to eight. However, there wasn’t enough manpower to spread it so thin.
“It’s a shame that we’ll have to leave three places untouched… but there is no other way.”
“How about sending those who finished their attack immediately onto the next three locations?”
“That seems to be the best option, your highness. However, freely moving soldiers about in the capitol will be a problem. How will we solve this?”
“I’ll try to talk it over with father. Worst case, we’ll have to give it up. Perhaps I’m being too greedy…”
A knock sounded at the door.
Normally it was a maid’s job to get the door, but since there was none, Marquis Raeven stood up to grab the door. However Renner motioned him to stop and opened the door herself. After confirming who was there, Renner looked towards the two men with happy face.
“He is the one who will help us with the sixth place.”
Despite being uncomfortable, the man who came in guided by Renner was the Royal Warrior Captain, Gazef Stronoff.
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 4th, 21:00
Climb held a black mass in his hand. It wiggled ever so slightly. The black mass was solid, but took on the shape of an extremely soft object that was being pulled by gravity. Climb smashed the strange looking bead against his armour. The bead burst against Climb’s white armour with liquidy noise and splashed black spots all over Climb’s armour.
Some would have suspected that there was black ink inside the bead. The effect of the bead did not end there. The black spots started wiggling and then started to spread throughout his armour, covering the surface with black substance. In mere seconds Climb’s shining white armour turned pitch black.
The bead Climb used was a magical item called ‘Magic Dyes’. High class magic items would often confer additional heat or cold resistance but what Climb used could only change colours. The reason he used this item was obviously because of his flashy white armour.
Lakyus called the leaders of every group and Climb went over to her. The one who stood in middle was a female warrior with all sorts of equipment. First in sight was the famous magical sword Kilineiram. The sword was about the size of a bastard sword and was sheathed, so he could not take a look at the famed blade which supposedly reminded the observer of the night’s pitch darkness. Even just the grip was beautiful. Inside the black sapphire that was embedded into the pommel was a brightly burning flame. The armour she wore radiated in a way that implied it could not have been made with materials any lesser than platinum and gold. It was an armour with unicorns carved all over it and it was said that only virgins can wear them and that it would never tarnish — the ‘Virgin Snow’.
Compared to her ornate and flashy armour, her cloak seemed to be made from simple grey materials. This item was called ‘Cloak of Rat Speed’ and increased movement speed, agility and evasion. It was an unimaginably powerful magical item, considering its appearance. She didn’t seem to have activated her famous magic item ‘Floating Swords’ yet. The reason why Lakyus still had her flashy gear on was because she could disguise them at any time with her own magic.
Those who stood beside her were all faces he already knew. The members of Blue Rose, and Gazef Stronoff. Standing side-by-side with them, Climb could only think that he did not fit in there.
Lakyus explained the plan for attacking the Eight Finger’s eight buildings. However, since there were only seven groups, the plan was revised so that as soon as a group finished subduing a place, the leader of that group and Marquis Raeven’s personal guards — all former adventurers who had been ranked above mithril — would rush to the last target and the remainders would mop up their originally assigned place. The goal was to neutralize and capture everyone if possible, but killing them if they resisted was authorized as well. Lakyus continued and warned everyone.
“Your opponent is the force controlling the underworld. There might be traps or unexpectedly strong opponents. Never let your guard down.”
Climb’s body shuddered. It was not because of fear, but due to the crucial role he had been assigned. Compared to the other groups’ leaders, Climb’s skills and abilities were extremely lacking. The only reason he had been assigned as one was because he was not an average soldier, and his personal helper would support him. Even the Marquis Raeven’s only team of former orichalcum ranked adventurers had been assigned to him. Under these circumstances it had been impossible for him to refuse.
Plus, the moment he realized why he had been chosen as a group leader, he could not simply sit around. Blue Rose, Marquis Raeven, Gazef Stronoff, and in case of something went wrong, Prince Zanack, too. There was nobody who represented Renner. Thus, by making Climb one of the group leaders, she wanted to show that she had a large part in the plan as well.
It seems to be the work of Prince Zanack and Marquis Raeven, but why would they do that?
The reason was a mystery to Climb. However, the mission of spreading the knowledge that Princess Renner was working hard for the people of the Kingdom gave him strength.
The little pep talk finished and everyone dispersed. When he went back to his group, the man who stood at the front of the group spoke with relaxed voice.
“Are you ready?”
That man was Brain Unglaus, deputy leader of Climb’s group and his personal helper who had been brought by Gazef.
“The members are all ready. On commander’s words, we’ll move out immediately. We’re going to be taking this route. Our friend over there helped to choose.”
There was a red line navigating through the streets on the map of the capital Brain handed over. After taking a look at the map, Climb looked at the man Brain was pointing at. It was one of the men from the former oricalchum ranked team. As if recognizing Climb’s gaze, he waved his hand in greeting.
Climb slightly bowed his head towards the man who was much older than him. Normally it would be frowned upon if a group’s leader bowed his head to another member of the group, but since Climb, who had no real strength to speak of, was the leader, he would need the help of others rather than personally stand at the forefront of the assault. While they were sharing a conversation, a humongous person approached Climb and spoke.
“Oi, cherry boy.”
He had hoped she wouldn’t call him that. While Climb was desperately thinking that in his head, he felt how the gazes towards him changed. He was glad none were of disdain. Some of them were like the gazes of adults watching a child, and some were of strong camaraderie.
“What is it, Gagaran-sama?”
Compared from the inn, she was covered with first class magical items. Her red full plate mail had spikes and eye like decoration around the chest area. It was her famous armour, ‘Gaze Bane’. Her gauntlets were little different and had snake decorations wrapping around them. It was an ancient relic that accelerated regeneration, the ‘Gauntlets of Kerykerion’. Around the waist was a war pick called ‘Fel Iron’ and the luxurious red cape befitting royalty was called ‘Crimson Guardian’. Inside the armour, where people couldn’t see, were the ‘Vest of Resistance’, the ‘Dragontooth Amulet’, the ‘Belt of Greater Power’, ‘Wing Boost’, the ‘Circlet Twister’ and even the rings had been imbued with magic.
This was the gear of one of Kingdom’s greatest warriors, Gagaran. Every single one of them was expensive enough to make one’s eyes pop. The only reason she could afford such equipment was because she was an adamantium ranked adventurer. Evileye, Tina and Tia also wore equipment that could be recognized as highest tier with a single glance.
“Nothing much, I just wanted to feel up the cherry boy’s ass some more.”
She probably meant that she was worried for him, but he really wished she would stop calling him that. He could take off a nickname like that if he wanted to in one of those stores, but he did not want to. Deep inside, Climb shed a tear, but Gagaran watched Brain with hawk-like eyes.
“Brain Unglaus. The man who fought toe-to-toe with the Royal Warrior Captain… Those stories weren’t a lie nor an exaggeration.”
“Blue Rose’s warrior Gagaran. You certainly are… strong. Truly fitting for a warrior of an adamantium ranked party. So, do I pass?”
Climb looked towards Brain as if asking what he meant by passing. Brain shrugged and told Climb what Gagaran truly meant.
“She came by to see if I am someone trustworthy enough to be entrusted with you.”
“Is that true?”
“What are you talking about… Why would I care what happens to you. It was just that it would be a shame if cherry boy died, so I came to see if you wanted to take care of it. Still, I can see that it’s no coincidence you caught the “Devil of Illusions”. A strong battle spirit. I can feel it even without sparring with you. If it was you, it would have been easy.”
“Gee, thanks. I can see the rumours about you were true as well. But it’s best to be on your guard. In this world, there are monsters strong enough to kill us instantaneously.”
“Oh-ho, you’re one of the careful types. Men like you aren’t bad either. You might not be a cherry boy, but how about it?”
“No thanks. I think it’ll explode from the pressure.”
Climb didn’t need to ask what would explode.
“That’s a shame. Well then, be careful Climb.”
Gagaran waved goodbye and strode away. Watching her walk away, Brain murmured.
“She’s a kind woman. Wouldn’t have guessed, considering her appearance.”
“Gagaran-san… No, all the members of Blue Rose are like that. Evileye-san may also appear mean, but even she’s a kind person.”
“A magic caster wearing a mask… Speaking of which, this Ainz Ooal Gown fellow that Gazef mentioned was wearing a mask as well. Is that the latest fashion trend among magic casters? …Hmmm? It seems we’re starting to move out.”
“It seems so. If we want to coordinate the time with groups that are going farther away, it’s about time.”
The two men could see a group that was already quite some distance ahead. Climb looked around to see if he could find a certain woman, but of course he could not find her. She would be with Prince Zanack about now. He knew how much work Renner had to do, yet wondered if his little sensation of sadness was due to his selfishness.
“Then shall we go, Climb?”
"...Yes! Right away.”
Climb commanded his group to start moving. Group leader Climb, deputy leader Brain Unglaus, four former orichalcum ranked adventurers, 20 soldiers from Marquis Raeven’s household troops, as well as several high class clerics that Marquis Raeven knew and people that Magician’s Guild secretly lent out came to total of 32. In the dark of night, they departed silently.
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 4th, 20:31
“For him to send this kind of force… I must thank Ainz-sama properly.”
It was Sebas’ first words after looking at around those gathered in the mansion. With Demiurge as their leader, the Floor Guardians Shalltear and Mare, as well as Pleiades’ Solution and Entoma were present. There were also several of Demiurge’s high level subordinates, the Evil Lords. It was a truly powerful force. One may even say it was overkill.
“Especially for Guardians who compete for first place in strength to come…”
“As per Ainz-sama’s orders, I, Demiurge will take command… Is there an objection, Sebas?”
“Of course not.”
“Then I shall get this out of the way so there is no misunderstanding between us. Ainz-sama did order us to rescue Tsuare, but the reason we have committed such strength is to punish these ignorant Eight Fingers who committed a grave sin against the Supreme Being.”
“I know that very well. Rescuing Tsuare is only a secondary objective.”
“That is correct. I doubt this Tsuare has resistance against revival magic, so the only reason I will try to rescue her alive is due to your suggestion.”
It was not a pleasant tone.
“Even so, if she’s already dead, there will a bit of a problem in finding her. If I was the enemy, I would throw her chopped off head at the idiots that come wandering in.”
“I thought you were more likely to show them a scene of you torturing the hostage as an example, Demiurge.”
“A very logical conclusion. To tie up the would-be rescuers and torture the hostage in front of their very eyes… Just imagining it makes my heart race.”
“And what exactly is it that would make your heart race?”
Sebas hid his anger underneath his smile. Though, if it’s Demiurge, he would see through the smile. It was a thin act before him.
“All of it, Sebas. All of it.”
Demiurge’s slit-like pupils emitted a cold gaze.
“Of course, if it was me, I would even scheme for the rescuer to escape with the hostage, and the moment they believe they have escaped, I would turn the tables around. The greater their hope, the greater their despair.”
“That sounds like fun. If we get an opportunity, I would like to try that out as well.”
“B-but if they really escape, w-wouldn’t it be dangerous?”
Demiurge and Shalltear laughed.
“Mare, that was a funny joke you made. Of course we would ensure they can’t actually get away. Well, if they ever do, they would deserve praise.”
“Demiurge, did you already obtain the necessary information to destroy the Eight Fingers?”
“Of course, Sebas. I have all the necessary information.”
Sebas was honestly surprised. The time Demiurge had spent in the capital was extremely short, but for him to have gathered information this fast... Sebas did not want to imagine what kind of method Demiurge used. The only thing he was certain about was that if Demiurge was acting on the Master’s orders, he would not mess around.
“Now about the locations, there are quite a few, but all that remains is to attack them. If possible, try to capture those who looks like they have useful information, and make sure to remind these Eight Fingers of their wrongdoing—”
Demiurge suddenly stopped, glancing at Sebas before he continued.
“—That they dared to sully the most graceful and magnificent name of Ainz Ooal Gown. If we want to pay them back proportionally to the insult they have done to us, we will need to extract more information as well. Any objections?”
“They need to pay for their rudeness toward Ainz-sama with death.”
“Of course, there’s no objection.”
The two Guardians and the butler replied. The Pleiades and the Evil Lords simply bowed without saying a word.
“Good, then Sebas. Can you tell me of the location they called you out to? I need to confirm if it’s one of the locations I have learned of.”
When Sebas spoke the address, Demiurge smiled.
“Should I be happy that it’s a match or be saddened that there is one less place to attack. It is one of the places I’ve scouted out. I shall leave that place to you.”
“Thank you. But there is a chance she may be injured. I wish to bring someone who can use healing magic.”
“To save her is the wish of Ainz-sama as well… Solution, since you have superior detection abilities, I wanted to leave you as a reserve, but can you support Sebas?”
“As you command, Demiurge-sama.”
“But, Demiurge, about the humans inside that building who kidnapped Tsuare…”
“If you leave any of the scum that tried to trample on Ainz-sama’s words alive, I’ll kill you myself this time.”
“No need to worry Demiurge. I will exterminate them.”
“I wanted to say this for a long time… can’t you two be more friendly with each other?”
Sebas could see Demiurge making an ambiguous expression from the corner of his eyes. He imagined that he probably made a similar expression. The more he thought about why he didn’t like Demiurge so much, the stranger it became. He was perfectly fine with Shalltear, who shared similar hobbies with Demiurge, but Demiurge annoyed him whenever they talked to each other. Even so, to quarrel with Demiurge right before the mission would be like spitting on the kindness of the Supreme Beings. Sebas deeply apologized to his master inside his heart and bowed towards Demiurge.
“I apologize for showing you rudeness even though you came to correct my mistakes.”
“...Well, it doesn’t matter. For now… Is it going to be alright for you to evacuate Tsuare immediately to Nazarick after you rescue her?”
“Of course. Are all the preparations made to receive her?”
“No problem~. On that point, we prepared accordingly~.”
Sebas nodded his head to Entoma who spoke sweetly.
“Any other questions? No? Then we’ll divide the members into seven groups and decide where each group will attack. Of course, Sebas and Solution are already assigned, but first thing to beware of… Shalltear!”
Demiurge’s tone suddenly became strong, surprising Shalltear.
“What, what is it, Demiurge?”
“Please wait in the back as reserve, since you lose all control when you’re drenched in blood. If you go out of control killing useless flies, it will be a problem.”
“It-, it’s alright! If I use Spuit Lance to suck it all in, the chances of that happening would be very small!”
“It’s still a no. We need to be careful with this and need to avoid the risks as much as possible. Also Sebas, I’ll apologize beforehand. Rescuing Tsuare and punishing the Eight Fingers is just stage one of this plan. However, I cannot tell you anything about the entire plan or stage two, because the moment you return to Nazarick after accomplishing stage one, you are no longer part of the plan. To avoid any information leaks, we need to keep it on a strict need-to-know basis.”
“I understand. Then I will prepare immediately.”
Once Sebas left the room, Demiurge continued.
“Alright, first, I will relay the important information. Concentrate and make sure you do not miss anything. Entoma, you can make illusions, correct? Then please use them as I instruct you.”
After listening to all the details from Demiurge, Entoma created an illusion in an empty space. Demiurge was fully satisfied with the illusion as well.
“I forbid you to kill this person. In the worst case, you are permitted to injure him if necessary but think of it as fundamentally not allowed. Especially you, Shalltear.”
“You don’t need to keep reminding me.”
Shalltear puffed up her cheeks at being repeatedly mentioned and Mare smiled bitterly.
“U-umm. I-is it ok not to, uh, tell Sebas?”
“It should be alright. Considering his personality, he isn’t someone who would randomly hurt people… but just in case, will you take care of this in an emergency, Solution?”
“Yes, as you command.”
Demiurge nodded satisfactorily.
The last part of the plan was linked to someone who would bring huge benefits to Nazarick. If there is a mistake, then there was a chance that the ultimate goal of world domination, which the Supreme Being Ainz Ooal Gown has not said aloud, could be delayed. The moment the master said “I entrust everything to you”, mistakes could no longer be tolerated.
Despite having received direct orders from Albedo; Shalltear, Cocytus and Sebas have made mistakes one after the other. If this continued, the very abilities of the Guardians and the other stronger members created by the supreme beings would be questioned. Of course, the master did not show displeasure at their failure, and Cocytus’ failure seemed to have been part of the plan, but they cannot keep relying on his goodwill.
We must prove how useful the Guardians are to Ainz-sama by succeeding with this plan.
Was there any use for foolish subordinates that cannot perform their duty in a satisfying way?
And if the final remaining being were to disappear due to disappointment...
The mere thought made Demiurge freeze in fear.
Failure is not an option. We must show a result that will wipe away all the previous failures.
With certainty in his heart, Demiurge looked around to everyone.
“And don’t forget, the people who brainwashed Shalltear may be waiting for an opportunity to strike. Nobody will desert their post without permission. If you’re deemed suspicious by myself or any other Guardians, raise your two arms or their equivalent as a proof of your loyalty. Do not act in a suspicious manner. If you do, we may kill you immediately for the safety of the plan. Any questions?”
“Uh, I just asked a question, but can I ask another one?”
Demiurge gave Mare a gentle smile and motioned him to go ahead.
“Ah, yea. S-Sebas doesn’t have a World-class item like us. Will he be alright?”
“As Ainz-sama foresaw, he is to be the bait. If the enemy falls for it, then it would be great. Albedo is watching from the Throne Room in case the enemy falls for the bait. Also, for those who cannot use ‘Message’, do not act independently. I will watch over the entire operation, so come to me instead. In case of an emergency or if for some reason you can’t contact me, I have already told Mare everything about the plan and he will act as the Second-in-Command.”
“Wha… What about myself…?”
“Sorry Shalltear, but like I said, I can’t trust you completely, so you’re in the reserve. Haaa... your uncontrollable bloodlust can be quite a concern.”
“I got it, I got it, alright!!!”
“As soon as stage one is finished, we will enter stage two immediately. I’ll explain it to you now. This is the real deal, so pay atten— …What is it?”
A Shadow Demon wiggled out of Demiurge’s shadow and whispered new information into his ears.
“Is that so? It’s certainly last minute, but can’t be helped.”
It was a truly annoying matter but something that could not be ignored.
“Mare, this is a new information. We have a new Eight Fingers hideout to attack. I’m sorry, but I will need you to head there instead. You might not have enough manpower, but I will send Entoma as support.”
“Y, yes, um, please leave it to me!”
“Good answer. We’ll talk about the details later, but for now let me explain Operation Gehenna while everybody is here. This is the most important plan we’ll execute in the Kingdom, so pay attention.”