Translators: Skythewood, Rockgollem, Nigel
Editing: Namorax, TaintedDreams, Ferro, NoirX, SifaV6, M
Nazarick Time 10:30
“You’re making too much noise. Quiet down.”
Ainz motioned with his left hand, and held that pose.
He took a step back and returned to his original stance.
“You’re making too much noise. Quiet down.”
Once again, he motioned with his left hand and froze mid-pose. He checked the reflection of himself in the mirror and slightly adjusted the position of his left hand.
“…Good? …Is this the spot? No… Would it be cooler if I extended my hand a bit more to the left?”
He returned to his initial position.
“You’re making too much noise. Quiet down.”
Finally satisfied with the pose, Ainz grabbed the memo pad on the table beside him.
“Since I’ve finished the pose… I should work on the lines while I have extra time.”
He circled the phrase he was practicing earlier and flipped a page. The majority of the sentences written on the page were variations on the phrase “I shall consider it.” The phrases that were too over-the-top and thus unusable were all crossed out.
For Ainz, who used to be an average person, acting like a leader was difficult. Thus, he repeatedly practiced playing that role just in case a situation called for it. Of course, the entire memo pad was filled with phrases Ainz came up with.
Even though an hour had passed since Ainz started practicing, he did not require any rest.
Ainz was the supreme overlord, but in reality, he barely did anything. Unless there were important decisions or emergency situation that required his leadership, there was nothing to do. Albedo took care of all the details and all Ainz had to do was skim through the reports.
Since there was never anything in the reports that required his attention, he really just skimmed through them all. It was not an attitude befitting a ruler, but as long as Albedo was around, and there was no emergency, there would be no problem.
All proper organizations should be like this anyways. It’s not good for someone who stands above others to work on the frontlines.
It was a foolish move for the supreme commander of an army to participate in the fight on the frontlines unless he was there to raise morale. It was because there were incalculable dangers.
I should give up this adventurer business and gather knowledge to deal with emergency situations— I know I have to train my mind as well, but what should I do? Who’s going to be the teacher…? How can I not ruin the image of Ainz Ooal Gown that everybody believes in…
Everyone inside Nazarick respected Ainz as the supreme overlord and kneeled before him. That was right. Ainz received respect from his subordinates which his former comrades created, who were, in some ways, their children. Just like how a father could not betray his son’s admiration, he could not betray them as well. That was why he practiced acting, in the hope that he could at least appear to play the part.
Ainz was fully aware that it was embarrassing. Otherwise, why would he lock the door and forbid the maids and the Eight Edge Assassins that guarded him from entering? Sometimes, he would even plant his face in the pillow and scream “Arrrgghhh—!” when he could not stand it anymore.
“Something fitting the supreme overlord of Nazarick… A figure that’s respected…”
Ainz flipped the page while feeling like he was coughing up blood. There were plenty more lines he came up with in his spare time, and it felt like the finish line was still somewhere beyond the horizon.
Ainz Ooal Gown was undead and emotions over a certain threshold were suppressed. But—
“I need a break…”
The consciousness of Suzuki Satoru was weary from mental fatigue and screamed out loud. He shouted that he did not want it anymore.
But from Ainz’s tightly clenched jaws came a different sound.
“What are you doing? I need to work harder.”
Ainz flagellated himself for wanting to avoid all this, and his eyes regained their strength. He looked into the mirror.
Suddenly, a digital “pipipipipi” noise rang out.
The source was the bracelet on his left arm. It was a heavenly sound to Ainz. He turned off the sudden beeping and let out a big sigh.
“If time’s up, then it can’t be helped. Yes, time’s up.”
Ainz returned the memo pad to a box. When he closed the lid, he could hear the sound of several locks engaging. If someone tried to forcefully open the box, it would trigger an extensive array of attack spells, all of which would be centered on the box to destroy it. Unless it was someone with a level 90 with a rogue class job or a character over level 80 with full specialization as a rogue, it was near impossible to open it. It was that secure of a box.
Only after sealing the memo pad with such secure item, he put the item in the pocket space. His pocket space also had countless other rare items. However, a high level thief would be able to steal items from it. Just because a rogue could, did not mean said rogue could just immobilize his opponents and rob them dry. The limit would have been one or two items per player. Still, the possibility of being robbed even once or twice made Ainz —who should experience no fear as he was undead— shudder in terror.
In this New World, there were unknown factors such as talents as well. That was why he placed the box in such a way so that others would go for the rare items instead of the box. After he stored it, he checked again. He checked the box repeatedly like a housewife making sure the door was locked before leaving on a trip. Only after he satisfied himself that it was there did he allow himself to sigh in relief.
Ainz finally left his bedroom. The place he was headed to was the room he regularly used as the study. The ones who bowed deeply to him there were the regular maid, Albedo, and Mare.
There was nothing surprising about the maid or Albedo being there, but he was surprised that Mare, who very rarely came around, was there. Ainz cut across the room, turned around at the table and sat in a motion that he had practiced for over thirty times. The key point was not to not step on the robe andor not push the chair out of the way.
The next pose he took was one that had him lean back in the chair. It would not look good if he leaned back too nearfar or too far. The kings had a kingly way of — maybe — sitting down.
I don’t know how kings take a seat… I should talk with a king from somewhere…
It was recommended for company men to lightly sit in the middle of the chair without leaning on the backrest. But Ainz Ooal Gown was no longer a company man.
Thus, Ainz practiced the postures of the ideal king in his mind.
“Raise your heads.”
The three raised their heads. The fact they would not raise their heads without a command felt like a waste of time, but he could not ignore their intention of wanting to display their utmost loyalty every time. That was why Ainz controlled himself and went through the same ritual every time.
“Then I shall ask you first, Mare. What is your business?”
Whether it was because he was nervous, Mare let out a squeaky voice. Ainz smiled, but since there were no muscles on his face, nothing moved. However, it still made the atmosphere seem warmer. As if sensing this, Mare breathed easier. He seemed less tense as well.
“I, uh, brought that, uh, thing.”
Ainz did not go “What are you talking about?” like a boss with a bad personality. Instead, he simply took it from Mare. It was because of the possibility that he could have forgotten what he had ordered.
“Is that so— No, it’s fine.”
Ainz stopped the maid who was preparing to receive the object from Mare with a wave of his hand.
“Mare, bring it directly to me.”
Mare straightened his back, approached Ainz and presented a folder to him. Ainz slowly opened the folder.
This… it’s the memo folder.
All three Guardians had taken up Ainz’s offer and circled the “Participating” box.
“Considering the order of names, it would’ve been fine if Cocytus’ subordinate came instead. You worked hard, Mare.”
“No, no. I’m happy to serve! Besides, since Cocytus-san was working, I came here instead. Plus—”
Mare gently caressed the ring on his left ring finger. It was an action filled with care and love.
…Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown. I’m happy that he likes it, but wearing on that finger is a bit… And why is he looking at me with that kind of look…
Ainz felt a sudden chill and glanced over at Albedo. She had her usual beautiful smile on her face.
Ainz looked at her left ring finger. Just like Mare, there was a ring there, like that was the right place for rings to be.
What was it, an ancient Greek story?
He remembered hearing that putting rings on different fingers meant different things from Yamaiko in the past.
There was a vein leading directly to the heart in the left ring finger or something, right? They would also mix medicine with the left ring finger because if there was something poisonous in there, it would affect the heart… does the sous-chef do something like that, too? Ah, I got distracted… They’re still looking at me.
Ainz clasped both his hands on top of the desk.
“What’s wrong, Mare? What are you looking at? Is there something funny on my face?”
Ainz took the greatest of pains to make sure those words did not come out in a mean manner.
“N-no. Nothing like that. I just thought Ainz-sama was cool…”
Ainz unconsciously stroked his skeletal face.
“Ahhahah… Mare, you’re quite good with flattery.”
“It’s not flattery!”
It was a loud voice that nobody would have thought would have come from Mare.
“I-I apologize. But, I really thought Ainz-sama was cool. Even when you were sitting down, it was a movement truly befitting the Supreme Overlord of Nazarick.”
Ainz looked at the maid in a questioning manner, and the homunculus nodded in agreement as if she understood what Ainz was asking. Albedo vigorously nodded up and down as well, despite not being asked. In fact, her wings flapped up and down tooas well.
“Is that so? I’m glad to hear that.”
After Ainz’s short answer, he stood and walked up to Mare. As he stood in front of the boy who was petrified and wondering if he would be scolded, Ainz instead gently caressed his head. It was a rough, but gentle gesture.
“Thank you, Mare. Your words always make me happy.”
He did not reveal Suzuki Satoru’s embarrassment.
“I have always felt that I need to thank my comrades.”
“The other Supreme Beings?”
Ainz kneeled to look Mare eye-to-eye.
“That’s right. I’m thankful that they created this Great Tomb of Nazarick and that they created you, Mare and everybody else. All of you — obviously including you, Albedo and Sixth.”
Albedo’s wings spread wide, as if she was about to climax. Also, the maid who was suddenly addressed by name looked as if she did not know what to do. She was usually calm and collected, but this side of her made Ainz laugh heartily.
“All of you are my treasures.”
Ainz lifted up Mare as if letting him ride on the shoulders.
“I don’t even want to hand you over to Bukubukuchagama-san.”
“I am honoured, Ainz-sama.”
Sixth, who thanked Ainz on Mare’s behalf, had tears of joy flowing down her face.
“On behalf of Nazarick, I thank you for remaining here with us, out of all the Supreme Beings. I know that there are many instances where we have displeased you and you have found us lacking. I know it is rude to ask this of the creator, but please allow us to serve you loyally!”
“I will allow this. I said something like this to Albedo and Demiurge in the past — I am the master of the Great Tomb of Nazarick and your liege, Ainz Ooal Gown.”
Ainz was surprised that he was so comfortable saying these things that he had not prepared for. Though in a way, it was not that surprising, because all he had done was vocalize how he truly felt.
Mare hugged Ainz and buried his face in Ainz’s shoulder. A calm voice in Ainz’s mind said that it was a good thing he was not in his usual attire. A warm, wet sensation came from the shoulder of his robes, but Ainz let Mare cry. After the sniffling noise died down a little, he lowered Mare to the ground while softly petting him on the head.
Ainz took out a handkerchief from his pocket to clean Mare’s face. Since he had never done this for someone else before, he ended up being a bit rougher than he expected, but Mare stood still and let Ainz do as he pleased.
“Then, go wash your face, Mare.”
“W-what about Ainz-sama?”
“Hmm. I need to go to E-Rantel now. I have a meeting with the Guild Master. I rejected it so far because it was annoying, but I can’t put it off any more. If not—”
Ainz looked at Albedo, who was standing in silence. It was difficult to tell what expression she was making because her long hair was covering the face. But the fact she was trembling ever so slightly made him afraid. It resembled a volcano brimming with rage right before the eruption.
“What is it, Albedo?”
In that moment—
—Ainz’s field of vision suddenly shifted, and he felt something hit his back.
It did not hurt, since Ainz would only take damage from something with magical properties. It was just a shock light enough to tell him that he hit something in the back, but nothing that was close to being painful. However, the reaction of Ainz’s human side made him blink his lidless eyes for a second.
The situation was so sudden that Ainz could not think clearly for a moment. Since his undead mind was immune to confusion, it must have been Suzuki Satoru who was flustered.
When he opened his eyes, the Eight Edge Assassins came into view. Ainz understood that he was somehow lying on the floor and tried to get up, but he could barely move due to something soft and mysterious holding him down.
How is this possible? I have restrain resistance and other movement hindrance resistance items. The moment I was completely immobilized, I should have been freed… This means the opponent has high level restrain skill!
Ainz looked at the creature that was trying to restrain him and confirmed that it was Albedo, as he had suspected.
After straddling Ainz with both legs and firmly mounting him she raised her upper body.
“W-what is it? What’s the matter?!”
“I don’t need to… hold it in anymore, right!”
Albedo opened her eyes wide. Her pupils that seemed to split her golden irises apart gave Ainz a chilling sensation down his back.
“W-what are you talking about?!”
Ainz panicked, but Albedo ignored him and put her hands on her dress, closing her fingers around the slit of her cleavage. With a grunted “Hmph!” she tried to rip it apart, but the material did not budge.
“Magical clothing is annoying. I should use an item destruction skill or just take it off normally.”
“Get a hold of yourself, Albedo. Get down from me right this instant!”
He tried to push her off by force, but the opponent was a level 100 warrior. Plus, he could not use his full strength because he was grabbing something extremely soft while trying to push her off. Albedo’s hands closed in and tried to open up Ainz’s robe.
“Don’t try to take off my clothes! Don’t move your hips! Oi!”
“It’s your fault, Ainz-sama! I held it in so far, but you started saying things that I can’t hold myself anymore! It’s all Ainz-sama’s fault! I just need a little bit! Just a little bit! Really, a little bit! Please, give me some of your favour! It’ll be over by the time you’re finished counting the number of Eight Edge Assassins on the ceiling!”
If she had mentioned that it was Ainz’s fault for changing her setting, he would have lost all will to resist. However, Albedo looked like she was about to devour Ainz whole and the fear of being eaten, like that of prey being cornered by a predator, overrode Ainz’s guilt and he struggled against her.
Finally, his subordinates, who were confused at this sudden situation, sprang into action.
“Albedo-sama has lost her mind!”
“Albedo-sama has lost her mind!”
The Eight Edge Assassins jumped off the ceiling simultaneously.
“Get her off Ainz-sama! No, no! Don’t try to restrain her with skills! It’s just going to get cancelled! Use your strength!”
“It’s too much! To be this strong, she is indeed the Overseer of Guardians! Mare-sama, help us!”
Ainz fixed his clothing after being finally liberated and pointed to Albedo, who was being held by all four limbs by the Eight Edged Assassins.
“Albedo shall be grounded for three days.”
The Eight Edged Assassins dragged Albedo out of the room.
“U-uh, Ainz-sama… Are you alright?”
“I’m fine… But when did Albedo turn so weird? Did she eat something bad…? Devils don’t need to eat food, but there shouldn’t be a problem with eating… right?”
Mare looked away as Ainz asked the question.
“Well… I guess, uh, mmm, there would have been this and that happening for her. She must have been under a lot of work-related stress.”
Ainz stood up from his place and called over the maid. To regain his dignity, he spoke in the most regal voice he could manage.
“…Tell Narberal and Hamsuke to prepare. It’s time to head to E-Rantel.”
♦ ♦ ♦
Nazarick Time 13:35
Sitting on top of Hamsuke, Ainz pulled the reins to signal him to halt. He looked over E-Rantel’s gate which stood strong in front of him. Ainz did not dislike the gate, which could easily stop an entire army and radiated power and gravity. In Yggdrasil, there were many gates larger and more magnificent than this one, but unlike simple data, this gate was made with human hands —though the possible help of magic could not be discounted— and sweat. Standing before the steely gate steeped in history and labour, an indescribable emotion welled up from inside him.
There were guilds that conquered and used a city as their base in Yggdrasil. I used to wonder why they would set up a base in areas so difficult to defend… but I think I can understand now. Ruling a great city might be the dream of any man.
Back in Yggdrasil, it was a common occurrence for different guilds to lay siege to a city. Most members of Ainz Ooal Gown could not understand why they would do that, but there were also few members who said they wanted to try it as well.
It was not a good label, but looking back, it was a good memory.
“What is it, my lord?”
“Nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
Hamsuke asked because her master had halted and took no further action. Ainz replied in a plain tone, as though trying to change the topic. It was a voice to hide his embarrassment about the fact he was caught up in the memories of good old days.
“Then, let’s go to the Adventurer’s Guild and get some monster subjugation quests.”
They could book a room for the night in E-Rantel, but they could not afford to waste the money. The only reason Ainz, who did not need sleep or food, stayed at a high-class inn was to show off his status as the highest-ranked adventurer in the city and to make connections. However, he was already acquainted with all the relevant authorities and would be welcomed should he ever visit them. Thus, there was no need to stay at an inn any more.
Plus, even when he did stay at an inn, he would teleport to Nazarick and create undead until morning anyways. Since there was no point in lingering, it would be wiser to take a quest and leave the city quickly.
In truth, he had begun to think that there was no longer any value in staying around E-Rantel.
“Is that so? My lord seems to enjoy fighting.”
“I don’t particularly enjoy it. Even if I do accept a subjugation quest, I’ll just mop it up quickly and spend most of the time in Nazarick as usual.”
Ainz lightly tapped Hamsuke’s gigantic head.
“We also need to train you to equip weapons and armour.”
“I always train hard! Those lizardmen taught me a lot, my lord. Soon I will even be able to use an ultimate strike!”
“If you can use martial arts, that would be perfect. What about your comrade who’s training alongside you? Do you think he can use martial arts as well?”
“That fellow? He does not speak, so I would not know. Though I feel he would be a long way from being able to do so.”
Ainz did not think “it” would be able to talk either. The possibility that it would be able to use martial arts was also close to zero. It was an experiment. If Ainz’s Death Knight could learn warrior-class skills, the plan would be changed immediately. If it could get stronger from training, it could be a matter of utmost priority.
“The undead do not require rest or sleep. Since it can train continuously, it should have learned martial arts faster than Hamsuke. But since it still hasn’t learned anything, it appears to be a failure.”
“Wait my lord! He’s trying very hard as well! Day after day, even after this king had gone to bed… I beseech thee to not kill him!”
“…Who said anything about killing? What kind of evil being do you think I am?”
“That is right! There is none in this world who is as generous as you are, Ainz-sama! He even spared a pathetically weak creature like you.”
Those chilling words flew from Narberal, who was riding just behind, and Hamsuke shook her body.
“—Nabe, we’ll be arriving at E-Rantel soon, so call me Momon.”
“As you command.”
“And Hamsuke is a vital part of the plan to strengthen Nazarick… Make sure you treat those who work for Nazarick wellaccordingly. Let me remind you that Hamsuke isn’t the only one I’m talking about.”
“Yes! I apologize.”
He also wanted to tell her to stop calling the humans names like “tick” or “flea”, but she didn’t listen and he had stopped trying entirely. If it was Narberal Gamma’s setting to call the humans such names unconsciously, he did not want trample on the hard work and devotion of his comrades.
“Well, let’s go.”
Hamsuke strode forward with Ainz on top.
There were several people standing in line by the gate. Entering the city was much stricter than leaving and all cargos were searched thoroughly. Thus, it often took a while for peddlers or wandering merchants to get to their turn for inspection.
“Doesn’t seem like it’ll take too long…”
There were several travelers in the line, along with an armed group who looked like adventurers. Narberal asked quietly when Ainz stood behind them.
“Momon sam—san, can we not go ahead first?”
She was right. When Ainz first arrived, he had to go through thorough and annoying inspections, but as he became more famous, the inspections became simpler and nowadays he had a free pass. Not only that, they often passed him through before others.
It was not that “Darkness” was special, but all adventurers over Mithril rank were treated like this. It was to make sure they did not displease or inconvenience what could be dubbed the “city’s secret weapons”.
They should just exempt us from entrance fee as well…
It was a tiny amount of what he had earned through adventuring, but this was the number one source of money for Nazarick. Still, he did not consider using ‘Flight’ to just get over the walls.
Momon was a hero. Thus—
“We will not cut in line… Unless there’s an emergency or something that needs to be done quickly.”
Narberal replied with her head bowed while Ainz stared in front, zoned out on top of the Hamsuke.
“The line doesn’t look like it’s moving…”
The line stayed still, as though there was a traffic jam on the road.
“What is that…? They’re checking a wagon… Checking it really thoroughly. No, they’re just surrounding it and not checking it. Did they find something illegal? Excuse me.”
Ainz asked the gruff-looking guy standing in front of him.
“Ah, yes, what is it?”
“No need to be flustered. It just looked like the line wasn’t moving, so I’m wondering what’s going on.”
“I don’t know the details, but I saw this young lady going towards the checkpoint with some soldiers. Then suddenly—”
Even though he heard the summary, it was hard to discern the details. Ainz stuck his head out and listened in towards the direction of the check point. He could hear a loud shout when he listened carefully.
Ainz’s curiosity was stimulated.
When he first arrived at E-Rantel, he was asked several questions as well, but in the end he could enter easily. He almost felt that guards were rather friendly towards common folk like adventurers and travelers. There was probably a real reason why they were friendly to him, but what kind of interrogation was that country girl undergoing?
Because his adamantite rank was universal in nature, there were few cities which would not allow Ainz inside. So Ainz wanted to know what they were asking her. In the future, he might need to infiltrate a city as someone who was not an adamantite-ranked adventurer like, Momon. To avoid any problems which might result at that point, he wanted to be prepared.
“Wait here. I’ll check it out.”
“I shall go with you.”
“There’s no need. I’ll be very brief.”
All the soldiers who spotted Ainz shouted out in surprise. In E-Rantel, there was not a single person who did not know of the adamantite-ranked adventurer, Momon.
Ainz put special care into appearing confident as he approached the checkpoint. Inside was an agitated magic caster, a soldier and a country girl sitting on a chair.
“We want to enter the city as quickly as possible… but what’s the matter?”
The two men screamed out in surprise like the soldiers on the outside and the country girl looked over in his direction with a stupefied expression.
“M-Momon-sama! I apologize!”
“What are you… Hm? She’s…”
It was a familiar face. He felt as if he had seen her before and he racked his brain —even though he did not have one— for information about her.
“Yes! We were investigating this suspicious girl, so it took some time. We apologize for inconveniencing you, Momon-sama—”
Ainz remembered the girl's name while thinking that the man’s voice was distracting.
“—Enri. Yeah, you’re Enri Emmot, correct?”
“Uh, I’m sorry but who… Ah, that’s right. You came to the village with Enfi. I don’t remember talking with you… Did you hear my name from Enfi?”
Ainz froze unintentionally.
Ainz froze unintentionally.
The one who met with Enri was the masked magic caster, Ainz Ooal Gown. Right now, he was the adamantite-ranked adventurer wearing pitch black armour, Momon.
Damn it! I said it out loud without thinking. Crap, I need to leave here quickly. But why is she here? If she was looking for me— no, looking for Ainz Ooal Gown, is something wrong? I need to hear about the details.
Considering what she had just said, it was not likely that she had discovered his true identity, but he needed to take the possibility that he had been discovered into consideration. Even if she could not tell that Ainz and Momon was the same person by comparing the voice from several months ago to what was coming out through the helmet now, there was nothing to lose by being careful.
Ainz called over the magic caster with a beckoning gesture. The magic caster would know more about the situation than the soldier.
He took the magic caster outside the checkpoint, far away enough so that nobody else could listen in the conversation.
“So… She’s a friend of a friend of mine. Can you tell me what happened?”
Technically, it wasn’t a lie since Nfirea was both Ainz and Momon’s acquaintance.
The magic caster opened his eyes wide. His expression was similar to surprise, but it was subtly different. One might compare it to a strand of string connecting to another. It was like he had solved a puzzle.
“Is that so… Of course…”
He wanted to tell the magic caster to stop talking to himself, but Ainz waited for him to speak.
“I thought she was a simple countryside girl, but she was carrying a powerful magic item in the shape of a horn. So I was going to find out how she came into possession of such a powerful item among other things.”
“What kind of horn was it? And its effects?”
“The effects were—”
Ainz looked up into the sky after hearing the whole story. He wanted to avoid the situation because he realized he had given that item to her.
He had given Enri that item for her to protect herself, without knowing that this kind of item was abnormal in this world. He did not imagine that it would cause her trouble. He could make excuses, saying that it was not his fault, but he could not just abandon her either.
Should I help? I’m not at fault, the one who has the item should be responsible… But it’d be troublesome if that item went into someone else’s hands. Plus, if she gets arrested…
Nfirea knew that Ainz and Momon were the same person. If he heard about this situation from her later on, he would think that Ainz had abandoned her.
There’s definitely going to be a problem… It doesn’t matter what happens to other useless humans, but he’s a valuable one. There’s a saying, “turn a crisisobstacles into opportunities”. If I help her, Nfirea will be thankful and I’ll be able to chain him down with obligation.
Ainz spoke in a tone that he thought sounded very insightful.
“There’s no need to worry about it. I know very well what kind of person she is. She’s definitely not someone who would cause trouble, so please let her go. Can you do that?”
“Of course. If it’s an acquaintance of Momon from ‘Darkness’, even a criminal would be able to enter the city freely if you vouched for them.”
“Is that so. Then, I’m sorry to ask this of you, but please let her in. And I apologize once again, but can you let us, ‘Darkness’, in as well?”
♦ ♦ ♦
Ainz returned to Narberal and Hamsuke with the permit.
“I have the permit. Let’s go in.”
He passed by those standing while riding on top of Hamsuke. He had grabbed the attention of those waiting, but after they spotted the black armour, giant swords, Hamsuke and Narberal, they looked away, as though they had accepted it. They were keenly aware of the clear difference in status between them and Ainz.
He entered E-Rantel while receiving deep, respectful bows from the soldiers.
“Nabe, I have something to request of you.”
“I stand ready to receive any command.”
It was little unsightly for an adventuring comrade to show such signs of loyalty in middle of a city, but Ainz knew it was useless, so he continued.
“A girl called Enri will shortly pass the gate with a cart. Go and discreetly ask her why she’s in E-Rantel.”
Next, Ainz looked for a place to hide himself. It was to avoid further conversation with Enri.
He looked around and decided that a nearby stack of wooden boxes were high enough for him to hide behind and ordered Hamsuke there. The soldiers who were working behind the boxes were surprised by Ainz and Hamsuke’s sudden appearance.
“Soldiers, a moment of your time, if I may? I am curious as to what’s in these boxes.”
Ainz confirmed that he was not visible from the gate and asked the soldiers. In reality, he had no interest in the wooden boxes, but only asked because he did not want to get kicked out as a hindrance.
“Ah, yes, it’s an honour for Momon of Darkness to take interest. This is a vegetable named ‘kinshu’ from Grandel. This is—”
Ainz replied with “Is that so” or “Interesting” to the soldier who explained earnestly. His replies were insincere, but the soldier ignored it and carried on. After Ainz had learned quite a lot on how to cook kinshu, Nabe appeared from behind him.
“—I’m sorry to cut you off. Your explanations were very helpful, but my comrade is back, so please excuse me.”
Ainz announced to the soldier and trotted off on Hamsuke.
“So, what did she say?”
“She first wants me to convey her thanks to Momon-san. She had three objectives. First was to sell the herbs she gathered, the second was to check if anyone at the temple wanted to immigrate and the third was to go to the Adventurer’s Guild.”
“Adventurer’s Guild? What kind of quest is she trying to put in?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t ask her that. Should I find her and beat her until she spills the beans?”
“No, don’t do that. We need to go to the Adventurer’s Guild anyways. We should be able to find out through the guild.”
It was probably not something like wanting to thank Ainz Ooal Gown directly. If that was the case, Lupusregina visited the village regularly—
“Speaking of which, Nabe. Did you receive any special report from Lupusregina?”
Ainz frowned —even though he did not have any skin on his face— when he saw Narberal shake her head.
Originally, he had stationed the Shadow Demons at Carne Village, but for the purpose of building a good relationship with them, he had sent Lupusregina instead. He had ordered her to send a report if any problem occurred, but there was not any report so far. So he decided there was nothing problematic happening over at Carne village thus far.
There would not have been a need to report that Enri went to E-Rantel alone, but uneasiness sprouted like clouds deep inside Ainz.
“I thought of Lupusregina as a hard worker. What do you think, Narberal?”
“It is as you say. It might be easy to think of her as insincere due to her way of speaking, but it’s an act. She is an excellent maid who is brutal and cunning.”
Calling someone brutal and cunning was hardly a compliment. Ainz glanced over at Nabe’s face to make sure it was not something she said because she did not hold Lupusregina in high regard, but saw only respect and admiration.
“Then is it alright to head to the Adventurer’s Guild, my lord?”
“Of course. You know the place, right? Then Nabe, hop on behind. There’s no need to take out “Statue of Animal: Warhorse” again.”
As soon as Ainz grabbed Narberal’s hand and pulled her up, Hamsuke launched forward as if she had been waiting for it. Ainz no longer felt ashamed of riding Hamsuke around the city. He rather liked how he could talk and give commands to it. It felt like a taxi.
The Adventurer’s Guild came into view, as well as the sight of Enri entering with her cart.
“…Guess it can’t be helped. We’ll use the back door. Hamsuke, go around the back.”
“As you command, my lord!”
Normally, adventurers were not allowed to use the back door, but adamantite adventurers were allowed to do pretty much anything they pleased. It was still the first time he used the back door though. Excessively using his privileges just because he was special would only tarnish his reputation.
He asked the first guild clerk he met after going through the back door to be guided to the guild master. Fortunately, or not, the guild master was in his room.
“Oh, Momon! Welcome!”
The guildmaster, Ainzack, welcomed him with arms wide open. He grabbed Ainz just like that and hugged him. It did not matter too much since he wore his armour and helmet, but if he had worn thin clothes, it was the kind of passionate embrace that he wanted to avoid for more than one reason. There was a light pat on the back before the guildmaster slowly broke off.
“It’s been lonely because you haven’t come around recently. Now, now, take a seat. We’ll talk for a bit while we wait for the members to arrive for the meeting.”
The guildmaster pointed towards the couch with an expression of greeting an old friend.
After Ainz had sat down, the guildmaster sat beside him. The distance between the two of them was short and it felt like a suffocatingly short distance, with their knees almost touching each other.
“Momon, we’ve known each other for a long time now. How about speaking informally now?”
“No, there needs to be formality even amongst friends. I was taught that this was something very important.”
When he was actually at work, he responded more kindly and even talked informally to show some familiarity, but Ainz had no intention to do something like that with the guildmaster. He decided it was the right answer to keep their relationship strictly professional.
Being too closely entangled with an organization will cause problems. As an adventurer, I don’t want to be too closely associated with a city. It’s about time that I found somewhere else to be. But before that…
Ainz peered at the guildmaster through the slit in his visor.
Why does he have to sit beside me? Isn’t that normally Narberal’s place? Having him sit there is weird.
Their proximity made Ainz feel uncomfortable, and it made him question the guildmaster’s sexuality.
I heard from the leader of the Magician’s Association that the guildmaster has a wife… or is that just a sham? Although it seems like he’s just trying to deepen our relationship… there must be some kind of ulterior motive behind it. Or maybe he thinks I play for the other team?
The very thought made Ainz break out in nonexistent goosebumps.
Ainz was strictly heterosexual… or rather, he used to be. As an aside, Suzuki Satoru was a fan of big breasts. That trait endured even into his current existence as an undead being. Rather than, say, Cocytus, Ainz felt more desire for Albedo.
Ainz shifted his seat away from the guildmaster and turned so that he was looking the man face to face.
“Forgive my rudeness. In truth, I came here to ask a favour of you. One of my friends has come to the Adventurer’s Guild with a request. Could you tell me what that request is about?”
“About that… well, by the rules, we’re not allowed to disclose the details.”
“Even so, I still need your help. I know this is unfair of me, and I know that rules exist for a reason. But still, I hope that you—”
Ainz lowered his head, and the guildmaster crossed his arms. He stared at the ceiling with a stern expression on his face.
However, that passed in moments.
“I understand,” the guildmaster said to Ainz. “I can’t refuse Momon-kun’s request. Then, can you tell me this friend’s name?”
“She is Enri of Carne Village— no, her name is Enri Emmot.”
“Enri, is it? Well then, please wait for me.”
After a while, the guildmaster returned to the room, followed by a female receptionist he had seen before. Her body was stiff, as though it was made of ice, and she entered the room in an unnatural way.
“Please excuse the disturbance, Momon-sama!”
This was the first time Ainz had seen someone move so awkwardly, raising their right arm with their right leg. Although he was thinking “Wow, that’s… sad” or “You don’t need to be so stiff, do you?” he maintained his resolute attitude and nodded sagely. The need to maintain one’s dignity was the burden of those with an adamantite rank.
“She attended to the request from Enri Emmot of Carne Village. It would be better if you asked her directly. Please, ask anything of her that you need.”
“About that… then— no, before that, guildmaster, please tell her to have a seat. I’m not the owner of this room, but still…”
“No! That would be overstepping my bounds! I’ll stand, thank you very much!”
To Suzuki Satoru, it felt wrong to have his counterpart standing while he sat. However, for Ainz Ooal Gown, the ruler of the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick… it wasn’t a problem at all. With that, he could easily deal with the differences between a leader and a follower. It would seem his daily practice had not been wasted after all. Indeed, it felt like he had slowly increased his experience total.
…How much more XP until I level up, hm?
“Is that so? Well then, let’s begin. Please tell me, in detail, about the request she made. Since this is very important, I hope there will be no omissions.”
Sticky sweat beaded on the receptionist’s forehead.
“What’s wrong? Is something the matter?”
The receptionist’s gaze was flickering back and forth.
“Am I asking the wrong questions? …Well, that might be so. Then, let me ask; was it a request to find someone?”
“No, i-it’s not like that…”
“Ah, then what is it like? Was it not a request, then?”
“…Actually, it was more of a consultation for a future request. It concerned monsters called the Giant of the East and the Serpent of the West, monsters of the same level as the Wise King of the Forest that Momon-sama tamed. That, er, was it, I think.”
Momon considered that being too direct and forceful would only scare the receptionist, and continued asking.
“Then, will this be a problem in the future?”
“N-no! I-I didn’t know she was a friend of Momon-sama! If I had known I would have gotten more details from her! It’s true!”
The sight of the receptionist on the verge of tears perturbed Ainz. Could someone with so little control over their emotions work as a receptionist?
“…Forgive me, I have not instructed my subordinates well enough.”
“But, no! That was the guild’s rule!”
After listening to the two of them, Ainz realized that they might have gotten the wrong impression. They thought that since Enri and Ainz knew each other, Ainz could have taken the request for free, but as a way of saving the Adventurer’s Guild’s face, Enri had come to request via the guild.
But the receptionist had treated Enri coldly and kicked her out due to monetary issues. They were arguing over who was responsible for slamming the door on an adamantite-ranked adventurer’s friend.
But… wouldn’t that be the right thing to do, according to the guild rules?
Ainz turned a disapproving eye to the guildmaster, who was chastising the receptionist.
It’s the duty of a superior to protect their subordinates when they make mistakes. Or perhaps he’s putting on a big show of scolding her in front of a customer to win sympathy for her? What a masterful technique… looks like he’s really getting into it.
To Ainz, the receptionist had done the right thing. The guildmaster probably thought so, too. However, be it Ainz’s entry through the back door or his audience with the guildmaster, it would all be forgiven because he was an adamantite-ranked adventurer. It was because adamantite-ranked adventurers were worth keeping around.
“But I really didn’t know!”
With the receptionist almost in tears, Ainz cut in with gentle words.
“You were not wrong.”
The receptionist’s eyes went wide in surprise, and the accumulated tears finally fell.
“It’s very important to obey the organization’s rules. While there are times when they should be bent, I won’t hold this incident against you.”
“Thank you very much! Thank you very, very much!”
“Although it might be troublesome, please tell me the details of her request. This isn’t a formal acceptance of the request, but rather, it’s so that it’s easier for me to take action should the situation call for it.”
“I understand! I’ll go get the details from her right away! Then, please excuse me!”
The receptionist fled from the room at top speed, as though a typhoon had passed through.
“…Even if you want to gain my sympathy, please don’t scold innocent people. It upsets me.”
“…As I thought, I can’t put anything past you, Momon-kun.”
The guildmaster’s sincere reply told Ainz that his hypothesis had been correct.
It seems the tricks of the Japanese salaryman can be used anywhere. Then, the question is—
The image of Lupusregina appeared in Ainz’s mind.
How did Lupusregina not know of the monsters that a village girl like Enri was aware of? Was there a failure in establishing an information network? I need to check this out.
I have to return to Nazarick soon, Ainz thought as he awaited the receptionist’s report.
♦ ♦ ♦
Nazarick Time 16:41
A worried Lupusregina entered Ainz’s office. The panic and unease of being suddenly summoned was written all over her face. Inside the office was Lupusregina, the regular maid Sixth, the battle maid Narberal, Aura, who was the one most familiar with the forest, the Eight Edge Assassins on the ceiling, and the owner of the room, Ainz.
By the way, Albedo was still in confinement.
Lupusregina was about to prostrate before Ainz when he interrupted her.
“Lupusregina, is there something you’ve kept from me?”
After seeing the confused look on her face, he wondered if she did not know about it after all. Ainz decided to repeat what he had heard about the Giant of the East and the Serpent of the West from the Adventurer’s Guild. However, as Lupusregina seemed to have known about this long before, Ainz’s mood changed drastically. He exhaled long and loud.
“So you were aware of this, then?”
“Yes. About that—”
Ainz’s thunderous shout, filled with wrath, seemed to shake the very room. As the others recoiled like they had been physically struck, Ainz felt something suppress his emotions, but even after the peak of rage was cut off, his anger surged up again, and there was no way he could fully rein in his ire.
“Why did you not report this to me? Were you trying to deceive me?”
“N-no! Nothing like that!”
“Then why? Why did none of this reach me at all! What was the reason?”
“B-because I th-thought it wasn’t a big deal, s-so I didn’t report…”
For some reason, the sight of the frightened battle maid peeking up at him only incensed him further.
“Lupusregina Beta! I am thoroughly disappointed in you!!”
Lupusregina was not the only one who flinched at this. Nabe and Sixth were trembling too, and the Eight Edge Assassins on the ceiling seemed to have froze up as well.
“I gave you the task of taking care of the village, but that did not mean you could do as you please! You were told to report anything that happened in the village, anything at all, so what is the meaning of this!”
Ainz’s face twisted as he looked down on Lupusregina, who was unable to answer him. This was an unforgivable sin for a worker; no, for anyone. These rules were obvious for anyone who did business, or rather, for anyone who worked in society at all: “Report, Communicate, Discuss”. Report what you learned. Communicate clearly with others. Discuss issues as they came up. They were considered the lifeblood of a company’s operations, and they were very important.
If she can’t even do that, I don’t think I can forgive her from the perspective of a leader… no…
As he looked on the terrified Lupusregina, Ainz could not help but think that he was at least partially to blame. These mistakes would only result if a superior was unreliable and could not properly direct his subordinates.
A failure in the group’s communications is my fault. I couldn’t take proper control of this… maybe I should step back and let Demiurge or Albedo handle this sort of thing.
“…Lupusregina, are you aware of Carne Village’s value to Nazarick?”
“Hah? No… yes. Er, I heard Ainz-sama say that village is very valuable…”
“No, no, I mean, what do you, personally, feel is valuable about the village?”
“W-well, there’s a lot of toys there, and…”
“Ah, that’s how it is. Well then… I’m sorry. It was my mistake. I did not realize you thought like that…”
Ainz laughed tiredly. He realized it was his fault after all.
“I take back what I said about you being a disappointment. I went too far. Please forgive me.”
“W-what are you saying? It was my foolish mistake!”
“Since it’s like that, just be more careful next time. Now then, I’ll explain again, so pay close attention. That village is very valuable to us. Especially that boy, Nfirea, and his grandmother Lizzie. They are of great importance to Nazarick.”
“Eeh? Is-is that so?”
“Indeed. I have handed the task of creating new potions to those two.”
“Ah, that-that’s right! I have something to show Ainz-sama!”
Lupusregina practically shouted that last part, her face pale. She took out a vial of purple potion and Narberal, who was closest to her, took it and handed it to Ainz.
Ainz looked at the potion through the light.
“Y-yes! This is Nfirea’s new healing potion!”
Ainz’s anger flared again, and he tried his best to quash it.
“If he managed to make this, then that family’s importance has risen again.”
Ainz laughed quietly as he saw Lupusregina’s clueless face.
This purple potion Nfirea made had been concocted using various items provided by Nazarick. The most important thing was that without possessing Yggdrasil’s potion creation skills, they had managed to use ingredients from Yggdrasil to create something other than this world’s “blue” potion or Yggdrasil’s “red” potion.
“To start, the healing potions of this world are blue. But the healing potions I know of are red. Curious, don’t you think?” Ainz rambled.
The knowledge and powers of YGGDRASIL were applicable to this world. From the angels he had first encountered, to the apparent existence of World-Class Items, there was a very high chance that players had been here in the past. In that case, why was it that the potions were not red like in YGGDRASIL? There were three possibilities. First, the downfall of a country might have resulted in the loss of those potion-making techniques. These techniques should have been quite widespread, and nothing short of an entire country’s destruction would be able to wipe them out.
The second reason might have been that Nfirea simply did not know these techniques since they had not spread to the nearby countries. Perhaps distant countries might be using red potions. After all, in Japan, the same soup looked completely different when prepared on different sides of the country. The third reason was optimization: making in-game potions would require in-game materials. Maybe those materials were difficult to find here, or they weren’t available at all, and that’s why only blue potions could be made with this world’s materials.
“That is to say, except for the second possibility, this potion that Nfirea made—”
Ainz swirled the purple potion in its vial.
“This might be a once-in-a-century technological revolution, for all I know. Well, if it’s the third possibility, this might turn out to be a failed product after all. His hard work in the future will give me the answer.”
Ainz hoped that Nfirea would be able to make in-game potions without consuming in-game materials. Who knew, perhaps he might end up making a third, completely different potion.
“Then, wouldn’t it be more effective to let more people research the subject?”
Narberal’s question made Ainz frown.
“That is a foolish question. Narberal. Indeed, the work would proceed more quickly, but it would be very dangerous. Knowledge is power, and freely distributing it is a foolish action.”
Yggdrasil was also like that, so Ainz could confidently say that.
“For example, there is a possibility that his potion could be refined to the point where it could kill me with a single attack. Then, it would be safer to monopolize this knowledge than to spread it… It’s better for vassals to be a little ignorant, but technological advancements must be scrutinized. This is the same for Nfirea and his potions. Though I would like to lock him up in Nazarick and make him focus solely on research and development…”
This would both prevent the spread of the technique and the usage of the potion.
“Then, then why have you not done so?”
Narberal’s eyes seemed to say, “Please order me to do so,” and so Ainz replied immediately,
“Rather than imprison him and force him to work, I will build his trust in us as a long-term scheme that will bring better benefits to Nazarick. Demiurge analyzed the situation and concluded that it was better to shackle him to us with a debt of obligation— Hm? What’s wrong, Lupusregina?”
“There’s one thing I don’t understand. Could you explain it to a fool like me? Why did Ainz-sama give the potion to someone like Brita?”
Ainz had no idea who Brita was, going by her name alone. While trying to maintain an all-knowing sage-like facade —which was to say, a carefully blank expression— he struggled frantically to think of a solution.
Could it be that potion?
Ainz recalled the first night he spent in E-Rantel. As the memories came to mind, Ainz was grateful that his body could no longer sweat.
—What should I do? What should I say?
But he could not keep silent forever.
Demiurge! Albedo! Why aren’t you here! No, Demiurge is currently abroad performing his tasks, and Albedo is in confinement! It’s too late to call her over!
“—Is that so, you really don’t understand?”
“—Is that so, you really don’t understand?”
“Yes. I apologize for my lack of knowledge. Please enlighten me.”
Just don’t ask! Ainz wanted to shout. However, he had no other options, so all he could do was roll the dice and hope for the best. As the thought came to mind, courage filled him.
“Fufu… hahahaha. Indeed, it was a dangerous move that you, Lupusregina, have the right to be curious about. It could have resulted in a development that we would not be able to control. However, there was a motive for taking such risks.”
“A-a motive? Wasn’t it just meant to compensate her for the loss of her potion?”
Narberal’s interruption made Ainz swallow the words he was about to say. His brain spun into high gear, and he struggled to recall that encounter in E-Rantel.
That’s right! At that time, I just did it so I wouldn’t be seen as a cheapskate! Damn!
Ainz maintained his calm demeanour. Caught with his pants down, he had to tell a lie to cover up another lie. He struggled to muster up the vestiges of his rapidly-vanishing courage.
“…Is that all you thought I was doing, Narberal?”
“I am very sorry!”
“…No, this isn’t something you should apologize for. At the time, I wasn’t confident my plan would work out, so I chose a simpler explanation.”
“Then… what was your real aim?”
In the face of Narberal’s questions, Ainz’s jaw hung open for a moment at a loss for words. But in that moment, inspiration struck. With that as the basis for his confidence, Ainz prepared to speak.
“…It was Nfirea…”
As Ainz slowly opened his mouth, he took in the subordinates around him. If Demiurge or Albedo were present, they would probably interrupt and say, “Ah, so that’s how it is. As expected of Ainz-sama.”
Narberal, on the other hand, could only furiously furrow her brows.
Ainz cupped his chin with a silent “Umu”. Fear began creeping over the faces of Narberal and the others, because they thought Ainz’s pose meant, “do you still not understand, even after I’ve said this much?” In truth, Ainz had made that gesture unconsciously, not knowing what to do with his hands.
In a short period of time, Ainz had been subjected to extreme tension and mental stress. Between these two clashing forces, an epiphany came upon Ainz. He did not know how it would sound until he said it, but all he could do was head forward while stumbling through the darkness.
“…Mm. I intended to get the attention of the pharmacist known as Nfirea, is that enough of an answer? How shall I say this… what would you do if you got your hands on a potion that was completely different from any other potion that you had ever encountered?”
“…Discuss it with someone?”
“Exactly! Lupusregina, it is exactly as you said. As I predicted, Brita brought the potion to the pharmacist she trusted the most. That was how I came into contact with Nfirea.”
Nfirea had apparently said something similar when they met at Carne Village.
“Ah! So that’s how it is! That was your objective all along!”
“You seem to get it. That was the bait for my hook to catch a master alchemist. Although there was a chance it could have ended up in a strange place and caused problems, it was still worth a try.”
Ainz could sense the girls understood the point he was trying to make.
I managed to connect all the points together…
Just as Ainz was about to sigh in relief, a sudden, unexpected question came.
“Then… I understand I’m being very rude, but could I ask one more question…”
No, you may not. Stop. Please. I’m begging you. Don’t ask me any more questions.
Ainz was crying inside, but his face remained impassive.
“What’s the matter, Lupusregina? If you have any doubts, feel free to clarify them with me.”
Lupusregina swallowed, and with a serious expression on her face, she asked,
“Does Ainz-sama always think this far ahead when making plans?”
How could that be? Most of the time, he made things up on the spot. Of course, he planned for the future, but more often than not, the results were completely different from what he intended. Of course, he could not say any of that.
Ainz laughed quietly. It was a practiced laugh.
“Of course. I am the ruler of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, Ainz Ooal Gown, am I not?”
Quiet exclamations of “Ohhhh!” rose up from all around him, and Lupusregina’s eyes went wide.
“What’s wrong, Lupusregina?”
“A wise king…”
Lupusregina’s gasped words made Aura frown, and she took a step forward. However, Ainz stopped her.
“Pay it no heed. Is that all you have to ask?”
“Then, er, then, another. Wouldn’t it be better if we let the monsters attack the village, and then Ainz-sama would swoop in to save them, wouldn’t that be better? I mean, wouldn’t Nfirea and his grandmother feel extra grateful to Ainz-sama for plucking them out of danger? That would make them more useful… right?”
“Well, that is a good plan, and worth considering, However, Nfirea might end up hating the monsters too much and be no longer willing to help us… perhaps it would be more effective if we saved Enri Emmot as well.”
Carne Village was a village that had been saved by the magic caster Ainz Ooal Gown. As long as it had value, that method would be of questionable use.
“By the way, the most important people in that village are —in descending order— Nfirea, his crush Enri Emmot and finally his grandmother Lizzie. You must protect these three people no matter the cost. Everyone else is expendable. If need be, sacrifice your life to protect Nfirea. Is that all, Lupusregina?”
“Yes! Thank you very much!”
“Now then, Lupusregina, I will forgive you for this lapse. Now that you know my objectives, do not expect to get off so lightly the next time you make this mistake. Do you understand?”
“Very good. Then go. Show me results that will change my opinion of you.”
Lupusregina bowed and exited the room, followed closely by Narberal, who seemed more like a policeman escorting a criminal. After the two of them vanished out the door, Ainz turned to the Guardian beside him.
“Aura, the Giant of the East and the Serpent of the West, do you know—”
Suddenly, a loud shout came from outside the room.
“Ainz-sama is amazing! I can’t believe he thought so far ahead, and in such detail! He must be some kind of monster!”
The voice that came through the thick door was not very loud, but it was enough to interrupt their conversation. Given that they could hear her words so clearly, how loudly was she yelling in the corridor, just outside?
“…Should we tell her how thin the doors are?”
“I think she’s just too excited, maybe a good punch will cool her down—”
There was a smashing sound from outside the door, and then the sound of something heavy being dragged slowly away.
“Aura, I don’t think you need to go any more. Back to the previous topic; let me know what you’ve found.”
“Yes. Er, I’m very sorry, but I haven’t heard anything about the Giant of the East and the Serpent of the West. After we fought that tree monster called Zy’tl Q’ae, I did a quick sweep of the forest, aside from the underground caverns, which I didn’t investigate. I didn’t find any strong enemies…”
“Well, if they’re only as strong as Hamsuke, I understand why you wouldn’t have paid any attention to them.”
Even a gardener would not know how many ants were crawling in his domain. If they occasionally missed a strong enemy, that could only be chalked up as part of the job.
“I am truly sorry. Then, Ainz-sama, will we be doing house-cleaning?”
“That sounds like a good idea. We’ll get rid of those pesky flies and put the forest under Nazarick’s complete control.”
“Got it! Then, I’ll send some of my pets along—”
“Mm, about that, it seems a little boring that way. I’d like to see what sort of creatures this Giant of the East and Serpent of the West are, who can rival Hamsuke.”
“Then, shall I bring them here?”
“No, I think I shall go visit them in person. Thanks to Hamsuke, I’ve found another way of appreciating the value of antiques as well.”
Ainz laughed at the puzzled expression on Aura’s face.
“Well, of course that’s not all. I also intend to make sure Lupusregina is doing her job…”
♦ ♦ ♦
Nazarick Time 19:16
Late at night in the forest, Fenrir ran smoothly without making any noise. There were places where branches protruded or which were covered by vines, but it didn’t matter for the two riding on it. Fenrir was like a spirit without physical form, not harming even a blade of grass with its strides. One of Fenrir’s skills was hastened movement over land.
“Further ahead would be the suspected residence of the Giant of the East as reported by my subordinate.”
In the dense vegetation which blocked out the lights from the stars and moon, Aura didn’t sound nervous at all. Unlike the vision of normal humans, she and Ainz could see as if it was noon.
“Is that so. The Giant of the East and the Serpent of the West, it would be too greedy to hope that both of them would be here. I will leave the absent Serpent of the West to you, Aura.”
“Okay! I will work hard! What should we do about the fools who oppose Ainz-sama?”
“Let’s have a chat with them first.”
Aura turned back to look at Ainz with a baffled face.
“Hmm? Aren’t you going to turn them into your subordinates?”
“The Giant of the East and the Serpent of the West are unknown monsters. It would be better to start with a chat. They are precious monsters that didn’t exist in the game after all.”
“Ainz-sama is so kind.”
Aura wasn’t being sarcastic.
“Re-really? I am only kind to those who I can make use of— and the residents of Nazarick… If they are equals with Hamsuke, they should have some use, that’s how I see it. Rare items are worth collecting.”
“I heard what you mentioned just now, but is Hamsuke really that valuable?”
“Of course. As a guinea pig.”
Hamsuke was undergoing intense training as a warrior under the tutelage of Zaryusu. By the way, an undead created by Ainz was also one of those disciples. Would the two of them —one a beast and one a corpse— be able to master warrior skills? If the undead could be taught to use martial arts, the combat potential of Nazarick would increase tremendously. Ainz didn’t think it was possible, but he would never know unless he did the experiment.
“It is important enough to warrant the blacksmith making a suit of armour for it?”
“You are well informed. This is one of the reasons. We will be sending Hamsuke out to battle in the future, so improving defence is necessary.”
If she learned martial arts, Hamsuke would be able to wear full plate armour. However, evasion and mobility would be lowered if the armour was equipped right now… In order to counter this—
If Hamsuke learns martial arts, that would allow for smooth movements, even while wearing full plate armour. If we were in the game— No, even right now, I am unable to wear metal armour. Considering that, we are a long way from success… If there was another Hamsuke, we could test another method…
Overall, the exact differences between this new world and the game rules were still a mystery. Demiurge would be able to find out by experimenting thoroughly, but Ainz didn’t feel like doing so for some reason.
Magic, something that runs contrary to the laws of physics, exists in this world. The concept that nothing is true, everything is permitted might have been forced onto me…
“Is something the matter, Ainz-sama?”
“Hmm? No, nothing. Why do you ask?”
“Because you looked as if you were thinking about something, I was just wanted to know if that was the case.”
“Ahhh, that so? Just pondering trivial matters, nothing important.”
Aura faced the front once again in relief, her silky blonde hair swaying with the movement. Ainz shifted his gaze down that slender back— at his hand that was wrapped around that petite waist.
What a slim waist. That’s how kids are…
Ainz didn’t have any children himself and was curious. He tapped her waist and back lightly, as if to confirm something. Ainz did so gently since they were on Fenrir, but Aura still jumped and turned around with a jerk.
“Uwah! What-what is it Ainz-sama?!”
Her entire face was red, something even someone without night vision would be able to tell.
“Ahh, nothing, I just felt that your waist was really slim. Are you eating well? You might have equipment that sustains you without having to eat, but you can still eat if you wish to, right?”
“Ye-yes. Eating won’t grant any buffs, but I am still eating properly.”
In the game, humans and demi-humans, who had limited lifespan, would grow and age normally. In contrast, heteromorphic races with unlimited lifespan would stop growing after a certain stage. If this world was like this, Aura and Mare would have room to grow further. Since they were still growing, Ainz hoped they could have a diet as nutritious as possible. With his comrades gone, Ainz was responsible for the growth of these children.
“Eat your meals properly, alright?”
“Yes! I’ll eat until Shalltear despairs!”
Why did she mention Shalltear? Ainz decided not to worry about it too much.
“…Equipment that allow subsistence without food might not be good for growth, switch it out if the situation allows it. In the future, both of you may meet someone you love…”
Aura and Mare were cute kids, and when they grew up, they would become a beautiful young lady and a handsome young man, respectively. Ainz imagined the two of them being surrounded by members of the opposite sex professing their love for them… Although he had never experienced this before, Ainz felt embarrassed just imagining it. And, probably from the influence of the conversation earlier, a large number of Hamsukes appeared in his mind.
Aura and Mare being surrounded by a large number of Hamsukes was cute, but it was different from what he had in mind.
A hamster is a type of rat, and should be able to reproduce fast. It’s only right to spay or neuter your pets… I did think about breeding a certain number of them… Are there any males of the same breed?
“Huh!? That’s way too early, Ainz-sama. I’m just seventy-odd years old.”
“True, true. You’re still a kid, huh. By the way, who do you like in Nazarick, Aura? What is your type?”
Ainz, who didn’t have any experience with love, would normally feel jealous when he saw couples display their affection in public, but he would be able to offer his blessings if it concerned these NPCs.
“I like Ainz-sama the most.”
“Haha, that makes me glad.”
The pleasantries of Aura the child made Ainz happy. For Ainz, who loved the NPCs like his own children, he would naturally smile when he hear them say they liked him.
“So, who does Ainz-sama like the most? Albedo or Shalltear?”
“Haha. Well, I like Aura a lot.”
Ainz patted Aura’s head from behind, ruffling her hair through his fingers.
Should I think about Sex Ed for the children? If there is a school for dark elves, sending Aura and Mare there will allow them to grow right? What would Bukubukuchagama do if she was here? Speaking of schools… Campus love comedy… That’s what Peroroncino-san screamed at Slathan-san to make Nazarick Academy together. Where did that data go?
“What is it Aura, that was loud.”
“Ah! I-I am sorry. Doing that so near the Giant of the East’s territory…”
“It’s fine, no need to apologize. It is a matter for the future anyway—”
“Yes, that’s right. What is it? You seem worried… Something wrong?”
“No no, it’s nothing. Yes. Eh, so it will happen in the future?”
“Ahh, yes. If there is a nation of dark elves, it will be good to visit it. You should come along then.”
“Huh?… Ah, okay! That kind of future! Right. Yes! Please let me go along with you. Well then— we are almost there, Ainz-sama.”
An unnatural light could be seen in the night air through the opening in the forest ahead.
“Alright. Well then Aura, sorry, but can you post the monsters you brought along around the perimeter? I need to make some preparations.”
Ainz activated one of his unique skills, summon high tier undead. What appeared was a horseman with an ominous aura who was riding on a pale horse. Ainz repeated the summon several times.
“Alright, four should be enough. Well then, Pale Riders, stand by in the air. Capture anyone who attempts to escape.”
The riders acknowledged wordlessly and rode into the air with a tug of the reigns. Their forms turned immaterial as the riders passed through the branches and flew into the sky.
“Okay, the nets have been set. All that is left is to appraise them.”
“Yes! Ah, don’t we need to test their durability?”
“We don’t need to spend that much time. I am not looking for a fight, just a chat with them.”
Ainz really meant it. He didn’t like battles. He was willing to resort to ruthless means as long as there was something to gain, but personally, he detested cruel behaviour. Ainz wouldn’t intentionally step on ants and a resolution through dialogue would be the best method.
Fenrir reached the opening in the forest. Although it was referred to as an opening, it was just a place with relatively fewer trees.
Just like how trees around a demonic tree would wither, trees wouldn’t grow in some places. There could be plenty of reasons for that, and the reason here was probably because a monster was in residence.
The trees felled by axes were scattered all over. It was a pitiful sight, as though someone had messed the place up in frustration after a hiccup in a major construction project.
“How amusing. Aura, they are probably mimicking your structure. The works of fools are so ugly. This is what happens when creatures living in caves want to build something.”
“That is so, Ainz-sama. This is their nest.”
There was a crack near the black, burnt ground.
“…Can’t they even decorate a little? Well, forget it, let’s leave knocking for next time.”
Ainz followed Aura as they moved into the cavern near the clearing. Glancing ahead, he could see that the slope at the entrance was slight and the space within was rather small. The ceiling was high, which allowed huge creatures to move freely.
… This reminds me of a dungeon exploration during my gaming days. When I found a cave in the mountains, I would get excited and wonder what was inside.
Back then, the one leading the way would be Tigris Euphrates, Ainz— or rather, Momonga would follow behind. Momonga would summon undead to support them. These undead would be sent ahead of the party to trigger traps, in what was called a “warrior’s disarm” or “summon disarm”.
Ainz who was reminiscing the past walked briskly, but his good mood only lasted several seconds. The stench coming from below made Ainz frown— even though he didn’t have brows. It wasn’t the pungent smell of gas, but that of decomposing animal fat.
Is this a trap to conceal the smell of gas with that of rot? Can the dumb beings living in caves make such an elaborate trap… This is probably a coincidence.
Ainz was an undead that did not need to breathe and had absolute resistance against such airborne attacks. Aura was protected by magic items that would block the effects of the stench if it was an attack. Hence, this place simply smelled bad.
“The Giant of the East does not seem to be a hygienic creature. It would be great if it is intelligent enough to converse with.”
“That is true. However, that will be difficult. Judging from the footprints, they are several barefooted creatures living in this cave. The prints are large, so they must be at least two meters tall.”
“I see… And that is one of them.”
They descended the slope in the next second, and Ainz saw the monsters that lay beyond.
“Ainz-sama, that is an ogre…”
Two of them were carrying something with a bloody scent into the cave . Ainz pointed at them with a wry smile. If this was a dungeon crawler, he would have killed the ogres in silence and proceeded to clear the floor quietly, but this time the objective was a bit different.
“…I didn’t come here to wipe them out, I need to chat with them in a friendly manner… Hey, you ogres there, sorry for interrupting your meal.”
The two ogres looked at Ainz in unison and roared. Echoes were loud in the caves, so Ainz wasn’t able to tell where the roar in response came from, but it probably came from the depths of the cave.
“What a loud doorbell, how tasteless… Aura, fall back.”
Watching the ogres become more agitated, Ainz sighed. He understood that they had no intention of conversing with him.
“Skeleton! Skeleton! Bad!”
The ogres came before Ainz with their murky words, swinging their clubs.
“Anyhow come—” The ogres raised their clubs high and swung down “in house—” as they attempted to send Ainz and Aura flying. However, their non-enchanted clubs would never be able harm them. “Say sorry—” The ogres struck again.
Ainz head was clobbered hard and his vision shook a little. It didn’t hurt, but it still made him mad. Anyway, Ainz would kill anyone invading Nazarick in a fit of rage. When he thought about it that way, it was only natural that they would attack him, so he took it without complaint.
An envoy of peace would lay down his arms and wait for the situation to unfold.
The ogres arriving afterward didn’t have clubs, and simply reached for Ainz and Aura with their bare hands. They probably wanted to grab him after seeing that clubs were useless. Ainz furrowed his brows for a moment, although that gesture couldn’t be seen since he was a skeleton. It was fine for them to grab him, but Ainz saw through the darkness that the hands of the ogre reaching for him were covered in blood.
Ainz immediately took a staff out of thin air and swung it. It wasn’t imbued with any special magic, only an enchantment that increased the blunt damage it dealt. The head of the ogre reaching for him exploded. The ogres were splashed by the splattered brains and blood, and stepped back after dropping their clubs.
“You, you no skeleton…”
“It is troubling to think of me as a skeleton. I am here to meet your boss, the Giant of the East. Can you get him to come here? Well, he will probably come anyway if I wait.”
Ainz waved to shoo them away, and the ogres sprinted into the depths of the cave.
“Ara ara, I showed them the difference between our abilities too soon.”
Ainz touched the place where he had been hit by the clubs as he made his way slowly down the slope. This seemed to be their dining area, with the remains of numerous corpses lying everywhere. Ainz and Aura continued walking while avoiding those places.
“I messed up, I accidentally used too much strength because it was annoying. I was planning to negotiate with them before the talks broke down and it turned into a massacre…”
“This can’t be helped! Those lowly ogres wanted to touch Ainz-sama after all!”
“I am happy to hear you say that. Punitto Moe-san also said ‘throwing a punch to get the other party’s attention’… Or was that Warrior Takemikazuchi?”
“It can’t be wrong if these are the words of the Supreme Beings!”
Those two had extremely different views, so who said it? Ainz tried to recall when a large number of monsters flooded out of the cave. All of them were much taller than humans.
“A bunch of trolls huh. I thought the part about giants was just a ruse, but there appears to be some truth in it.”
Trolls had long noses and ears, with an exceptionally ugly face. Their large bodies were deformed, and thus nauseating. They wore clothes that looked like the skin of tiger-like creatures, with the beast’s heads hanging on their shoulders. Well over two metres in height, they had strength far exceeding that of ogres. Only fire and acid could stop their powerful regeneration abilities. Altogether, there were six trolls and fourteen ogres.
Ainz paid the most attention to the troll at the head of the group. It had a superior physique as compared to the other trolls and its confidence could be seen clearly on its ugly face. With leather armour made from the hides of several animals and a great sword that was larger than the one Ainz used in the guise of Momon, it had also better equipment than the others. The sword seemed to be a magic item, with some form of liquid flowing back and forth in the groove right in the middle of the sword.
“About the same as Hamsuke?”
“Looks like it.”
So this troll was the Giant of the East. Ainz observed carefully, wondering what kind of troll it was. Trolls were monsters with many different sub-races, with unique adaptations depending on the place where they were found. For example, there were volcano trolls that were resistant to fires, sea trolls that could swim nimbly and breathe in the ocean, mountain trolls with monstrous strength living in the mountains and the rare toll troll, which lived under arched bridges. They could increase the variants of their species almost at will.
And so, what was the specialty of the troll before Ainz? Trolls which adapted to caves were called cave trolls, but they were different from what he saw before him. A troll that he saw for the first time in this world— this ignited Ainz’ collector spirit.
The Giant of the East was a rare variant. It had survived countless battles and had adapted to battle, a troll specializing in battles. Ainz dubbed it a war troll, a rare specimen even among the many types of trolls. Its combat abilities were exceptional compared to other trolls its age. Its body might be smaller than those of mountain trolls, but its muscular body and fighting ability were far superior to them. Its weapon wasn’t something that could be wielded with just brute force, but a sword. It was knowledgeable enough to know that clubs were subpar weapons. It was a troll that had awakened as a warrior.
“So you are the Giant of the East?”
When the other party didn’t deny it, Ainz pointed slightly to the right of the troll.
“I would be really happy if you are the Serpent of the West. Are you?”
Normal beings would think that there was nothing in the direction Ainz was pointing, but Ainz could see as clear as day that a heteromorphic being was there.
“You probably think you can hide using invisibility, but I have seen through it. You can stop your futile actions now.”
After dispelling its invisibility, a monster appeared in that empty space. It was indeed a serpent. No, it only had the shape of a serpent. The upper body was that of a frail old man while the lower half was a snake. Such monsters existed in the game and Ainz stated its race immediately.
“A Naga. It might be mistaken for a snake, but isn’t that an exaggeration? No, a title like Virtuous King of the Forest exists too, so it makes sense.”
“To see through this one’s invisibility, could it be—”
“—Why are you here, skeleton!”
A loud voice reverberating within the cave drowned out the words of the Naga as the Giant of the East took a step forward. With someone worth speaking to in front of him, Ainz faced the creature head on.
“First, let me clarify, I am not a skeleton. Correct your misunderstanding.”
“If not a skeleton, what are you?! I permit you to state your name before the King of the East, Guu!”
Ainz couldn’t understand what he was saying momentarily. Since it spoke like a king or a tribal chief, that was probably its name.
“I see, Guu. Apologies for the late introduction, my name is Ainz Ooal Gown.”
The cave echoed with laughter.
“Fuhahaha! The name of a coward! Not a powerful name like mine, your name is ugly!”
Following these words, the giants laughed along in an annoying way.
Aura who had taken a step forward was stopped by Ainz.
“It’s fine. Don’t get angry over something so trivial, stay cool. We are here to talk as ambassadors of friendship. For future reference, could you explain why you think I am a coward?”
“Ahh, mysterious undead, long names like that are proof of cowardice.”
The Naga standing by the side explained to Ainz, a sarcastic smile on his wizened face.
“The ideas of worthless people. What about you, do you think my name is cowardly too?”
“No such thing, this old one has a long name too. This old one is the Serpent of the West you spoke of — Ryraryus Spenia Ai Indarun. Oh, invader Ainz Ooal Gown. This old one thinks their brains are not matched with their bodies, but there are pros and cons to them ruling over this forest.”
“…You have just saved your life.”
The Naga was shocked by Ainz’s comment. He wanted to ask further, but the giants were still laughing.
“What are you weaklings doing here!? To get eaten!? Bones are crunchy and delicious too! I will start from the head!”
“I am the one building a fort in the middle of the forest with undead and golems. Don’t you know?”
The atmosphere changed as Guu and his lackeys emitted fierce hostility, while Ryaryus was on guard.
“I know! Annoyance! If not for the nagging of the snake, we would have killed you long ago! Save me much time, cowardly black shortie!”
“What a quick conclusion. However, I am here to negotiate with you.”
Ainz gestured at them to kneel.
“Swear fealty to me if you want to live.”
“You stupid! We won’t listen to cowards! Eat you here right now! And the brat behind!”
“Guu, he is the one behind that terrifying building, it is dangerous to insult him! And that is a dark elf behind him! They were the lords of this forest before that demon tree came. They are strong— he is not listening.”
Ainz couldn’t take it anymore and laughed heartily.
“Hahaha! Your bark is worse than a dog, meat bag. How about this: I, the one with the cowardly name, will have a one on one duel with you, who has a powerful name. You won’t be scared and run away right? If you do, lower your head onto the ground and I will rear you like a slave.”
“Interesting! Me enough to fight you! Tear you to pieces, and eat!”
“Very good. This is your choice. The negotiations have broken down. Aura, go a little further away. I want to play with it by myself.”
Ainz had just finished when the sword cleaved down towards him. Guu attacked with his three-meter long sword. Ainz didn’t move and took the blow directly.
“What is the matter? You think this is unbelievable?”
Ainz remained still as Guu’s face twisted from surprise. He swung horizontally this time. Like before, Ainz took the hit straight on.
After retreating a few steps, Guu looked at the sword in his hand, and then at Ainz. He then turned his back to his foe and walked to the other giants.
In the next moment, the sword struck his troll subordinate. The sword cleaved in through the shoulder and split the troll easily, spraying blood everywhere.
With a loud, stupid sound, the giant roared in pain.
Seeing the state his subordinate was in, Guu nodded his head in satisfaction, confirming that there was nothing wrong with the weapon.
“I see, this is the regenerative power of trolls. It is really surprising to see it in action.”
The open wound healed swiftly, just like watching a video in reverse. He did that because he knew about his fellow troll’s ability, but Guu had a sinister face, as if he was ready to inflict another wound onto his subordinate on the floor.
“Deciding the fate of the weak is the privilege of the strong. However, I am… very unhappy.”
Ainz stepped forward, no longer in the mood to play. Guu gripped his sword tightly with both hands, waiting for the slowly advancing Ainz.
“Guu! This fellow, Ainz Ooal Gown is too unnatural! We have to work together to defeat—”
“Shut up! Just watch from there, coward! —Guoohhh!”
The barrage of attacks grew stronger with each strike. This attack power, which exceeded that of a human by far, was the greatest among all the opponents Ainz had faced since coming to this world. However, since they couldn’t crush sturdy siege walls or make a crater in the ground, these attacks were barely better than scratching Ainz’ back. Ainz took the attacks straight on.
“Oh look, my clothes are getting wrinkled, can you stop already?”
Ainz looked away with a bored expression and tidied his messy robes. He then looked up at Guu as if he just remembered something.
“Ah, you done yet?”
“Why you, rawrrr!”
Guu judged that the sword was not effective and attacked with his bare hands instead. The large fist was like a hammer that would crush normal humans or send them flying. Ainz took the attack that was fatal to humans head-on, and casually dusted off the place he had been hit, as if someone had dirtied him with his touch. Guu halted his attack, his ugly face turning even ugliermore ugly, staring at the unsurprised Ainz.
“So the attack of one who has a brave name and great confidence ends here?”
“Your defence is pretty good— Hyaaa!”
Ainz, who had closed the distance between them, waved the staff in his hand, and half of Guu’s foot was blown off. Unable to stand, the giant fell onto the ground.
“Being timid doesn’t mean being weak, you can understand that even though your brain is the size of an acorn, right?”
The giants and ogres watching the duel witnessed the pathetic sight of their leader and gasped. Ainz sighed weakly, realizing that monsters that could only understand the situation this late were useless. However, it would be different if they were capable of seeing the right moment to escape.
“Aura, he is the only one who is not allowed to flee, catch him.”
Ainz was brief, but Aura understood immediately and took action. An instant later, Aura had reached the Naga who was trying to use ‘Invisibility’ in order to silently get away.
“Ainz-sama, I caught him, what should I do with him?”
Ainz ignored Guu who was before him and used one hand to grab the head of the Naga who was still facing Aura. That attitude showed Guu and everyone else one single thing— Guu was no threat at all.
In the face of such intense humiliation, Guu ground his teeth furiously and loudly. However, Ainz wasn’t bothered at all.
“Why you!” The Naga kept squirming, entangling Aura. “I will strangle you just like that!”
A calm voice came from within the balled up Naga.
“Hey, I can’t see Ainz-sama’s handsome figure like this. I will rip out your throat if you are too noisy, alright? But I will be careful and not kill you.”
After feeling their difference in strength from that small fist, the Naga slowly let Aura slide from his coils.
“Aura, time is money, so don’t do unnecessary things. Go further away, to a distance where he won’t get killed even if he gets dragged in.”
Aura easily pulled the Naga that was several times heavier than her.
After the leg and the muscles that had been cut off had regenerated, Guu finally stand up. Ainz shifted his eyes to it, observing that Guu’s physique was still the same.
“You are healed. Shall we continue?”
Ainz said calmly while resting the staff on his shoulder. He was clearly showing Guu that he didn’t plan to defend against him.
“You, you, what did you do, do to me? What did you do? Magic?”
Guu retreated with his sword in hand while Ainz drew near in pursuit. Ainz had a shorter stride than Guu, so the distance between them was larger than before.
“Hmph”, Ainz sneered through his nose.
“—Huh? How funny. I, who has the cowardly name is advancing, while you, who has the brave name is retreating? Why is that?”
Ainz asked in a flat tone, and an answer came from behind.
“Because Ainz-sama’s name is brave, and the weird name Guu is cowardly. Right, snake?”
“Yes, Yes! This is proof of the greatness of Ainz Ooal Gown-sama!”
After hearing the cute, girly voice and the pained voice on the verge of tears, Ainz nodded repeatedly.
“I see, I see. That make sense. Cowards have short names— Ainz Ooal Gown is the name of the brave and mighty.”
“Shut up, coward.”
Driven by terror and wrath, Guu attempted a cleaving attack. Ainz didn’t dodge or block, hitting back with his staff directly. Ainz did not allow the sword to parry the attack or Guu to dodge.
The staff blasted part of Guu’s body away.
Amidst the terrible screams, Guu’s minions who were watching the battle cowered in fear.
“As expected of trolls, you recovered thanks to your regeneration ability. But it still hurts right? That was the strongest hit I have thrown so far, you coward who wants to protect himself from my attack.”
Before Ainz was a head that was half the thickness from before. Normal creatures would have died instantly, but the giant’s head was slowly recovering.
Guu’s face recovered to its usual ugly form, with intense terror engraved onto it. A fear several times stronger than before was pressing down on him.
“You, what are you! Why is my attack not working?!”
Ainz lowered his head and spread his arms slowly.
“…Death. I am the one who will bring you death.”
“All, all of you! Kill that thing!”
“Well well, as expected of the one with a cowardly name, to break the rules of a one-on-one challenge… It suits your name. That’s why, I will forgive you.”
Ainz announced in a great mood.
Bound by their fear of the unknown monsters before them, Guu’s minions moved slowly. Even the most stupid person could sense Ainz’ power. Even if they hated it, the scene before them confirmed this fact. They were very hesitant in going against either Ainz or Guu, staring at them without moving.
Even so, they weren’t moving.
It was the same for Ainz. Right now, there was an intrinsic balance that was restraining everyone. If this balance collapsed, the giants would flee from the cave immediately.
It would be a hassle if they ran away… A hassle to hunt and kill them one at a time.
“You are right, playtime is over.”
Ainz activated an ability he hadn’t thought much of— but which was a powerful force in this world.
‘Despair Aura V’.
An aura radiated out with Ainz at the center. Like puppets with their strings cut, the trolls, ogres and Guu all fell to the ground. The monsters laid there without moving. It was obvious that the flames of their lives had been extinguished.
The fearful voice of an old man echoed in the silent cave.
“What, what did you do, my lord?”
The naga did its best to keep away from Ainz, twisting its body. Ainz looked back at it.
“I used a special skill. Trolls might have regenerative abilities, but that doesn’t mean they can resist instant death attacks… All of you don’t have much value, but you might still be useful. However, if you reject my rule, you will be disposed of.”
“This old one is happy to serve under your rule! The weak submitting to the strong is only natural. This old one will brave hell for you with no hesitation!”
Ainz stared at the Naga whose head was almost on the ground, and shrugged nonchalantly.
“…Well, anything is fine. The reason I came was for negotiation after all.”
“How, how frightening. My lord, you must think that it’s fine whatever happens to this old one. My lord must regard this old one who rules the western forest on the same level as rolling stones.”
“No, I am slightly more interested than that. You mentioned something about dark elves right? Tell me the details.”
“Of course… Certainly. This old one will tell everything it knows! But, erm…”
Ainz waved for it to continue, and the Naga said:
“Could you spare this old one’s life after that?”
“I promise you this. If you swear fealty to me and work hard, I will reward you for your efforts… Speaking of which, where are your subordinates? Are you like Hamsuke, no, the monster that ruled the southern forest, who controlled the west alone?”
“No, this old one has subordinates. I did not bring them along for the negotiation with Guu. If negotiations broke down, they would not be able to escape with invisibility.”
“I see, then next question. Are there any trolls working for you?”
“That is splendid. Can it replace the Giant of the East? No, that would… be difficult. Alright, bring your minions to my— no, to the building this child is constructing. Aura, let him go.”
“Would it be fine?”
“It’s fine, he already swore fealty to me. If he betrays me, I will think of another way.”
Aura slowly removed her hand from the naga’s throat, which had bruises in the shape of a hand. It was still tense, but the naga relaxed a little. Ainz ignored him and walked towards Guu’s carcass.
“I will use this as a reference for zombie trolls.”
Using a special skill. Ainz could turn corpses into undead. They were either zombies or skeletons, but the stronger the physical body, the more powerful the zombie. One famous example would be zombie dragons.
Ainz picked up the sword, which was much taller than himself, from the ground. It was a magic item that could change its size according to one’s strength. It would fall out of his hand if he tried to wield the sword as a weapon he was unable to equip, but just holding it was fine.
“How about giving this to the village to make it stronger? That might be the best way to use this magic item. It is not valuable enough to bring it back to Nazarick.”
“Ainz Ooal Gown-sama!”
Ainz looked boredly at the Naga who was trying to say something.
“This, this one won’t do something like betraying you! The only ones who would do that would be fools like the ants on the ground.”
“I don’t think the look in my eyes told you so much… Is that your special ability? Even that observant Demiurge can’t read my true intentions.”
“This is not a special ability, I can only sense whether someone was interested.”
This might be the special ability of all Nagas, Ainz thought.
“Is that so… Well, I understand. Hurry and gather your minions. This is my first command.”
Nazarick Time: 21:07
Demiurge entered Ainz’ office elegantly. He bowed deeply to Ainz, who was seated before him, nodded at Mare and Cocytus, who were at Ainz’ side, and acknowledged the presence of the maid with a glance.
Ainz responded with a look and contacted Entoma with ‘Message’.
『It is time, Entoma. Give Lupusregina her orders, she has to protect those three with her life.』
“By your will. I will relay that to Lupusregina.”
Demiurge walked slowly to the center of the room, and his cool movements made Ainz envious.
How is he able to move so confidently, is it better to keep my back straight after all?
When Demiurge stopped, Ainz spoke to him:
“You came, Demiurge.”
“Yes! Thank you for your invitation. Is the ‘Message’ with Entoma proceeding well?”
“There are no problems, she reported back and conversed with me clearly. The test is a success.”
“That is wonderful news. I am very grateful to you for making time for me.”
“Don’t mention it, Demiurge. Accommodating the one who works the hardest for Nazarick is only natural. And you didn’t make me wait long… Well then, let’s hear your thoughts.”
Ainz handed the paper in his hand over to Demiurge. After Demiurge shifted his eyes from the top to the bottom of the page, Ainz raised his question:
“As you can see, the content is a menu for a meal, what do you think? It’s meant for either a human male or female, maybe even a child.”
“…My view is that humans will eat everything Ainz-sama offers without any complaints, but that is probably not the answer you are looking for… I don’t think children will like foie gras? Also… Perhaps adding something refreshing will be better?”
“I see, good thinking. Thank you.”
“I am too honoured… Ainz-sama, are you planning to host some guests in the Grand Tomb of Nazarick, the sacred realm of the Supreme Beings?”
“That’s right, I want to entertain my guests.”
Receiving guests with hospitality, in order to establish warm relations, display wealth and power, or hint at offering benefits.
“Will that be fine?”
“It should be. Are there any problems?”
“No, absolutely not. Ainz-sama’s words are absolute.”
In the past, the Grand Tomb of Nazarick had almost never invited guests other than the guild members. Akemi-chan, younger sister of the guild member Yamaiko, did visit on several occasions. There was no rule forbidding the invitation of guests, just that it was seldom done.
That’s why my guild mates should be fine with it even if I invite Nfirea and the others. They aren’t intruders, but guests.
Ainz asked Demiurge, who seemed to be pondering something, and the two guardians who were already waiting inside the room:
“Guardians, are you ready to visit the bath?”
“My deep apologies, Mare and I thought about going earlier.”
“Is that so, then Cocytus— you are already holding it. Let’s meet before the bath house then. Increment, if anyone comes to my office, let them wait here.”
Ainz got up and left the room after hearing the answer from the maid. Leaving the minions who wanted to follow behind, Ainz led the way to the bath house that was situated in floor 9th floor as well. Ainz thought it would be better to chat idly as they walked side by side, but Cocytus’s cautious nature didn’t allow him to do so. Maybe he noticed that Ainz was feeling a bit lonely, Cocytus closed the distance and asked:
“Ainz-sama. Did. The. Number. Of. Eight. Edge. Assassins. In. The. Room. Decrease? Were. They. Sent. Somewhere?”
It might still be related to work, but conversing casually with Cocytus made Ainz feel better. Still, he kept his elation a secret when he spoke.
“They are in the E-Rantel hotel. Narberal is staying there in case some visitors appear. The Eight Edge Assassins are conducting surveillance some distance away.”
“Isn’t. It. Dangerous. For. Narberal. To. Be. Alone?”
“It is, right now is a good chance for someone to attack.”
“I. See. She. Is. The. Bait. Right. Now?”
“That’s right. If the enemy that brainwashed Shalltear is watching us, they will definitely think this is a rare chance. They might not want to get near Momon who defeated the powerful vampire Shalltear— although the name I gave them is different. What if Momon isn’t around and only one magic caster is left behind…”
“Will. They. Take. The. Bait?”
“No idea, but if they do bite, I will be a master baiter.”
Ainz made the movement of pulling on a fishing rod with one hand.
“Will. We. Send. Everyone. Out. When. The. Time. Comes?”
“No, we won’t do that. We will scope out the true identity of the opponent first. If they are as powerful as us, or better than us, then acting recklessly would be unwise.”
It made sense logically, but was hard to accept emotionally. Cocytus muttered:
“I. Understand. That. This. Is. Necessary. But. I. Find. It. Hard. To. Accept. This. On. An. Emotional. Level.”
“We need to investigate slowly and endure until the moment we discover the weakness of the enemy. When everything is ready, we will tear them to pieces. The sin of brainwashing Shalltear and forcing me to kill her is very heavy.”
Even if the other party was a player, Ainz didn’t feel for them at all. The only ones Ainz was concerned for were his past companions and the NPCs here. If anyone came to find trouble, he would teach them the terrible pain they would need to suffer for their foolishness.
“Repaying good with unto good and evil with unto evil. This is the norm of the world.”
A cruel smile appeared on Ainz’ face. He was feeling the exhilaration of the possibility of conducting more experiments if he captured a player. The experiment he didn’t carry out because it was too scary— death, would be the first test he would run.
“An. Eye. For. An. Eye. And. A. Tooth. For. A. Tooth. Right?”
“That’s true, but did you know? That saying also means that one shouldn’t go too far in seeking revenge. However, I intend to exact payback far beyond what they did to us.”
That’s what Punitto Moe would say, Ainz uttered in his heart.
“Ohhhh! As. Expected. Of. Ainz-sama. Excelling. In. Both. Might. And. Intellect.”
Without needing to turn his head, Ainz could feel the respect directed at him from his back.
“Is. Ainz-sama. Planning. To. Spend. The. Entire. Day. Inside. Nazarick?”
“No, after the bath, I will go through the work on hand and then return to E-Rantel. There are plenty of matters requiring my attention there too. What about you?”
“I. Will. Return. To. The. Guard. Post. Inside. Nazarick. For. The. Time. Being. The. Exploration. Of. The. Area. Surrounding. The. Lake. And. Other. Matters. That. Will. Benefit. Nazarick. Have. Almost. Been. Completed.”
“After you come back, the ones outside would be Demiurge, who is in charge of many projects, Sebas and Solution, who are gathering intel in the Royal Capital, Aura, who is constructing the base in the forest, as well as me and Narberal.”
“It. Is. Hard. To. Accept. The. Supreme. Being. Doing. Work. That. Should. Be. Done. By. Us—”
“Haha, just let this matter rest, Cocytus.”
“Please. Don’t. Say. That. Ainz-sama. Is. The. Ruler. Of. This. Place. Your. Word. Is. Law. Please. Ignore. My. Foolish. Rambling. Also—”
The air about them changed, making Ainz said “Ara?” Cocytus seemed a little depressed, but it was hard to tell— Ainz looked at him over his shoulder.
“If. Demiurge. And. Myself. Were. Truly. Excellent. There. Would. Be. No. Need. For. Ainz-sama. To. Venture. Outside. Correct? In. The. End. We. Are. Still. Too. Incompetent—”
“That isn’t true. All of you were created with a specific purpose in mind. That is why it is important for everyone to perform their assigned duties. To be honest, it is fine if you all couldn’t do anything else beyond that. Demiurge who is knowledgeable and intelligent is just too good, that’s all.”
Seeing that Cocytus was reluctant to agree, Ainz continued:
“Well then, you just need to increase the things you can do bit by bit. You should have learned plenty after subjugating the lizardmen village under our rule. Ruling the village will become the food for your knowledge from now on. Advance step by step like this, and you will be at Demiurge’s level one day.”
“Can. I. Really. Do. So?”
“I think it is possible.”
Ainz answered in a roundabout way.
“Demiurge is matchless in terms of intellect, to become a man who can rival him will be a tough road. However, I think that your efforts would not be in vain.”
The two of them continued walking in silence before Cocytus squeezed out his words out softly:
“My. Deepest. Gratitude. Ainz-sama.”
“I didn’t say anything that is worthy of your gratitude. Alright, Cocytus, we are almost at the bath. Let’s ease the atmosphere before Demiurge or Mare returns.”
♦ ♦ ♦
‘Spa Resort Nazarick’ was a wonderful place located on the 9th Floor of Nazarick. It had a total of nine types of baths and seventeen baths for the two genders. The most famous bath was the Cherenkov bath with its blue rays that were so bright it hurt the eyes, a bath that exerted an air of elegance. Ainz, who arrived at the bath with Cocytus opened his eyes wide because he met an unexpected person.
Hearts seemed to pop out at the end of her words as Albedo shrieked. No, not just her, Shalltear and a tired Aura was there too. Demiurge and Mare weren’t here, were they already waiting inside the changing room?
“Al-Albedo, why are you here?”
“Hmmm? I am here to bathe with everyone… Ainz-sama too?”
“Ah, yes… That’s right, what a coincidence, Albedo.”
“Really, what a coincidence! …I heard that it is better to exercise and sweat a little before entering the bath. How about Ainz-sama and I exercise and sweat together?”
Ainz felt a sudden chill.
“Well, table tennis sounds fine…”
“That’s not what I meant. I was talking about something naughty.”
With the agile movements expected of a level 100 warrior —too quick for Ainz to dodge— Albedo closed the gap with Ainz and tried to write something on his robes. However, her finger poked through the gaps of Ainz’ ribs.
Both of them spoke at the same time.
What a laughable sight, Ainz smiled wryly as he pulled his face away slightly in order to speak with Albedo.
“My finger pierced Ainz-sama’s important place…”
Albedo’s entire face blushed red, her eyes were wet and there was a fragrance about her. It was similar to what Ainz smelled on his bed.
“— Hey, I already asked this before, but isn’t this girl really weird?”
Aura asked her question while holding Shalltear back, while Ainz was stunned.
“…My sincere apologies, Ainz-sama. I couldn’t help myself. Eh, please think of this as the result of accumulating too much stress from working for Nazarick. Please.”
“That, that can’t be helped. Yes. Albedo, I am grateful for the hard work you put in everyday.”
Ainz who wanted to walk away in brisk steps was stopped by a hand grabbing his robes. There was no need to wonder who this hand belonged to.
“Albedo, what is the matter? Why are you so reluctant to let me leave?”
“When I hear these words… It ignites a fire in my heart. My abdomen is also squirming. That’s why— Ainz-sama…”
“Hey, wait, calm down Albedo! Co-Cocytus!”
“Leave. It. To. Me!”
The cold air that filled the room instantly lowered the room temperature in no time, making Albedo, who was going berserk, regain her wits.
“I. Will. Not. Forgive. Your. Rudeness. Towards. Ainz-sama. Even. If. You. Are. The. Overseer. Of. The. Guardians.”
Cocytus who put himself between Ainz and Albedo held a silvery white spear in his hand, it was obvious that he would attack if the situation warranted it.
“—Pardon my impudence, Ainz-sama. I lost myself back then.”
“I accept your apology, Albedo.”
Obeying his master’s will, Cocytus stepped aside, but held on to his spear.
“I know you are very stressed from your work, losing control is probably the way you relieve your frustration. Anyway, go take a bath and relieve your stress. Cocytus, good work.”
After Ainz finished, he parted the curtains of the men’s bath, but stopped because of the footsteps following behind him.
“…Why are you following me, Albedo? Just to be clear, this is the men’s bath, not the women’s bath.”
“I want to wash your back for you.”
“…Rejected. Furthermore, I am not alone and will be entering the bath with the other male Guardians. Are you fine with them seeing your naked body?”
She might say it is fine since she is a succubus, Ainz thought, but Albedo replied immediately.
“Well then, there are family baths in another place—”
“Family baths are not meant for that kind of thing!”
“But, Ainz-sama. I think it is too sly to only shower the men with your affection.”
“That’s right”, Shalltear whose mouth was being covered by Aura chipped in. The idea of going in together made Aura’s eyes sparkle, she preferred group activities. Cocytus seemed a bit troubled.
Bathing together is showing affection? …The previous incident too, isn’t Albedo a bit odd? Is she acting strange because of that incident?
“Albedo, let me say this first. I prefer women to men, and I am a pure heterosexual.” Ainz silenced Albedo who wanted to say something in return. “Maybe in the future, a relationship like that might develop. However, while the situation about this world isn’t clear, having such a relationship with one of you will be detrimental to the future of the organization.”
Uuuuu, Albedo furrowed her brows.
“And all of you are like the daughters of my friends— the relationship is too complicated.”
“I was wondering what was happening at the entrance, so it was you people giving trouble to Ainz-sama.”
“O-Onee-san… is dead.”
“I’m not dead”, the girl retorted weakly.
“I was waiting for the two of you.”
“Sorry for being late. However… Overseer-san, isn’t it about time for you to learn how to control your emotions?”
Demiurge’s narrow eyes widened slightly, showing his hostility openly. It was frightening when someone who was gentle became angry. True to these words, the atmosphere became tense. Influenced by the tension, Cocytus took a stance against Albedo too. Albedo was smiling as usual. No, her smile was deeper than usual.
Ainz roared angrily.
“Do not quarrel in front of me! Imbeciles!”
All the Guardians went down on one knee and trembled.
“We are very sorry, Ainz-sama!”
“…Enough, get up, everyone.” After seeing that everyone was up, Ainz spoke gently as if to soothe troubled children.
“Stop such barbaric disputes. That will disappoint me greatly, understood?”
After receiving acknowledgement from all those present, the wrath in Ainz’ heart vanished completely.
“Alright, let’s take a bath and change the mood. The men’s group will follow me. Aura, you are now the supervisor of the women’s group. Do not let those two behind you do anything stupid.”
“By your will!”
A fire burned brightly in Aura’s eyes. At first, Albedo and Shalltear thought it was a good chance to sneak into the men’s side, but their resolve was shaken after they saw how hyped up Aura was.
Ainz opened the curtains with the character ‘men’ on it, ignoring the ruckus behind him. He took off his clothes in the changing room. Usually, it was bothersome to remove his equipment, but he had already made preparations in advance and stripped in no time and walked forth briskly.
I’m naked right now, but how should I move…
His body was a skeleton without any meat or skin. It was unthinkable for Suzuki Satoru, but this was natural in this world. Ainz had wondered on multiple occasions how he should reconcile this difference in his actions.
“I will go ahead first.”
“Please, please wait for me!”
The naked Mare followed with brisk steps. He was normally dressed in a girl’s attire, but he looked like a boy right now. As he was still a child, there weren’t any bulging muscles on him. To think that such a soft body possessed such power, this was something unique to the nature of this world, just like Ainz.
Ainz thought that as he looked at Mare, and warned:
“Don’t run here. The floor is wet, it is dangerous.”
Guardians wouldn’t die even if they slipped and hit their head, but Mare looked just like a kid, so Ainz couldn’t help but worry.
“Y-Yes, I am very sorry.”
Don’t apologize so seriously, Ainz thought.
“Sorry for the wait.”
Demiurge and Cocytus followed shortly. Demiurge had a lean and well toned body. He probably followed a proper training regime, but part of the reason was due to the settings of Ulbert.
“Cocytus looks the same as he always does.”
“Well, he is always naked.”
“Could. You. Not. Phrase. It. In. Such. A. Lewd. Way?”
“Sorry. Cocytus’ exoskeleton is his armour. That is how he usually looks, so it can’t be helped.”
Exoskeletal armour was a type of body armaments, just like Shalltear’s nails and teeth. It could be strengthened with the increase of the user’s level and the use of crystal data. The good thing about a weaponized body was the convenience of not needing to replace the equipment, and it would be repaired when the user’s HP was restored. It wouldn’t drop upon death, and it provided its users with many benefits.
The drawbacks were that the hardness, toughness and other stats were comparatively lower than player equipment of a similar level. It was almost impossible for a level 100 weaponized body to reach the stats of divine level equipment. Perhaps that could be done with special skills that enhanced a weaponized body, but Ainz wasn’t sure of that.
For players, the cons outweighed the benefits, but the reverse was true for NPCs. The players could save the hassle of preparing another set of arms and armour.
“Thank. You. Very. Much.”
Cocytus lowered his head. Ainz didn’t really speak up for him, but—
It bothered him so much that he is thanking me— is he being bullied? Should I tell the others to take note of this?
This was probably how a teacher would feel if there was any bullying in class. How would Yamaiko handle this, Ainz thought as he said to the men’s group.
“Alright, let’s go.”
Ainz led them into the bath, which was made up of twelve zones in total. Starting with the largest, the jungle bath, there was also a traditional looking roman bath, a yuzu bath with yuzus floating on it, a carbonated bath, a jacuzzi, an electric bath with low current that electrified the body, a cold bath with charcoals floating on it, the Cherenkov pool —though nobody really knew what it was made of— and a mixed open air bath… although the scenery was artificial.
There was also a sauna, a bedrock bath and, finally, the lounge.
“Which one should we visit? Let’s hear your thoughts.”
“I. Think. The. Cold. Spring. Is. Great. If. Ainz-sama. Is. Agreeable.”
Ainz possessed cold resistance, so he wouldn’t be affected by extremely cold water, but it was definitely weird to recommend the cold spring right off the bat.
“Cocytus-san… We are here to bathe…”
Mare said diplomatically, and Cocytus finally realized he got things wrong. He corrected himself right away.
“Since we are here to bathe, we should go to a pool that will promote blood circulation… Wait, I have a question for you. Can you go into a hot pool? You wouldn’t become a boiled lobster, right?”
“No. Worries. My. Exoskeleton. Is. Resistant. To. Fire. Much. Tougher. Than. Your. Body.”
“Hmph,” Cocytus spoke pridefully.
“Er, erm, I think a normal pool will do…”
“I. Think. A. Cold. Spring. Is. The. Best… As. Comfortable. As. Submerging. In. Ice…”
“You are the only one who will say that, I think that’s an unpopular opinion…”
“Alright, it won’t be fun if we are not doing this together. Let’s go to all of them one by one. We will start with the normal forest pool. My comrades made them with a lot of effort.”
“I’m looking forward to it”, Ainz subordinates said as he led them towards the forest pool— with Cocytus who was feeling a bit lonesome— in tow.
The dense forest might be created artificially, but it looked so realistic that Ainz was expecting monsters to pop out from it any moment.
“This place is modelled after an area that existed in the past, the Amazon river. The creator was Bellriver-san, assisted by Blue Planet-san.”
With his back to the sighing Guardians, Ainz picked up a bath ladle and stool.
Why are all the ladles in this bath yellow? When I asked them, they said it was tradition… So all the bath ladles are yellow.
“This might sound obvious, but you have to clean your body before entering the pool. The way I wash up will dirty the surroundings, so don’t come too near.”
Having said that, Ainz poured a full ladle of warm water onto his body. An amazing amount of water bounced off without touching his body. Wetting his body in one shot was impossible. After repeating this several times and confirming his body had been rinsed, Ainz took out his brush.
After applying a lot of liquid soap, Ainz started brushing his body. There were plenty of gaps between his bones and the bubbles flew all over the place, as if a monkey was doing the brushing.
Huh, I should have brought my cute slime, bathing assistant Miyoshi-kun with me.
He shouldn’t be showing others his goo-covered appearance, but cleaning himself with a brush after so long was a great hassle. While Ainz was working hard and brushing himself, Mare pulled a stool over with one hand. A little nervous with his cheeks red from the steam, Mare smiled:
“Ai-Ainz-sama! I, I will help you wash your back!”
“Hoh? Oh, I see. You want to help me wash up. It is tedious, so use this brush, using a towel will be tiring.”
Ainz turned his back to Mare, who picked up the brush and started cleaning slowly.
“You are doing great.”
“Thank you very much!”
“You can’t do it wrong though”, Ainz responded to Mare’s thanks. He sneaked a peek at the other two.
“I will help you wash up.”
“Sorry to bother you.”
Ainz was all smiles— although he didn’t actually have an expression as he was a skeleton— and couldn’t suppress his grin.
— Right now, this is the best place in Nazarick.
Ainz’ smile deepened when he heard the child’s voice say: ”I need to wash here too”.
“Thank you, Mare. Now, let me help you wash up, you don’t need to hold back.”
Ainz turned the panicky boy around, and filled Mare’s towel with suds. Ainz washed carefully and made sure to apply enough force, relaxing more than when he was being washed.
“Does it hurt?”
“No, no problem!”
After cleaning up Mare’s unusually stiff back, Ainz returned the towel to him.
“You can do the front yourself right?”
Ainz picked up the brush and scrubbed his ribs carefully, taking care not to splash water onto Mare who was cleaning besides him.
“Well then, I will make a move first.”
Demiurge, who was done, swayed his tail as he walked towards the pool. Next was Cocytus. Compared to Ainz, cleaning up was equally tedious for him, but his four nimble arms hastened the process greatly. Mare followed after, and finally, Ainz was done several minutes later.
The pool was large. Warm water flowed endlessly from an exquisite lion head and steam covered the entire place. Ainz watched his steps as he walked over, and saw two of the Guardians in the pool nearby, with Cocytus a bit further away.
“Ah… so comfortable.”
Ainz had the impression that children would swim in the pool, but Mare simply sat there maturely with a towel on his head. The way he talked like an adult even though he had the appearance of a kid surprised Ainz. The position of a Guardian was a tiring job.
“Indeed, I can feel the fatigue flowing out from my body.”
Demiurge took off his glasses and splashed his face as he breathed out, just like an old man.
“Eh, you said you had resistance.”
“I. Didn’t. Expect. It. To. Be. So. Hot…”
“…Don’t release cold air because of that. And don’t come over here. A bath has to be hot.”
No wonder Cocytus was staying further away. The water around him was probably turning chilly.
“It. Feels. Nice. To. You. Because. You. Are. Resistant. To. Fire, Demiurge… Cold. Springs. Are. Great. As. Well. Right?”
“I’m not interested. Also, you can enjoy it without resistance anyway. Can’t you endure this bit of discomfort, Cocytus?”
“Are. You. Taunting. Me. Demiurge— Interesting.”
“Take it easy, bathing is a leisure. Go to the sauna if you want to compete in endurance. Don’t push yourself if it gets too hard.”
Mare’s forehead was sweating as he exhaled hotly.
“Look, that’s how a bath should be. Don’t push yourself too hard Mare, get out of the pool if you can’t take it anymore alright?”
“No, no problem Ainz-sama! I will use magic if I really can’t take it!”
That would be weird too, Ainz thought without saying it out loud. He shift his gaze towards Demiurge.
“…Is entering the pool with your resistance on the correct way?”
“That is one way of doing it, Ainz-sama. It is similar to Ainz-sama who is an undead creature that can’t get wet.”
He could feel his body warming up a little, but it wasn’t as comfortable compared to his time as a human.
The drawbacks of being undead…
While Ainz was missing the joy he had lost—
—He lifted his head above the steam and looked at the surroundings.
“May I ask what is the problem?”
“I think someone is calling my name.”
“Did. It. Come. From. Next. Door?”
Cocytus gestured at the wall behind him.
“That side is— I see, the women’s bath.”
“I see, but… Are the walls that thin?”
“Maybe. They. Are. Just. Too. Loud.”
Ainz focused on his hearing. He didn’t have any ulterior motives, just a bit curious about what the girls were chatting about. He didn’t stick his ears to the wall. That would be an action ill befitting the ruler of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Keeping some distance from the wall, he tried his best to eavesdrop on the sound from next door.
“Albedo is so bushy down there.”
The first thing he heard made Ainz frown.
“—Don’t put it so lewdly, Aura. Ah— Ainz-sama is probably beyond this wall. Are there any holes I can peek through?”
Ainz looked closely at the wall, wondering whether someone had built any strange mechanisms into it. There was a period of time when such devices were all the rage among the guild members, and some of them might have been installed here.
“—Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Boys should be the ones doing that.”
“—That is impossible. Ainz-sama just needs to command me to ‘show me the goods’, he doesn’t need to peek.”
“—Oh, Shalltear is actually making sense.”
“—How rude. Is that a toothbrush? Brushing your teeth in the pool… Could you not do that right now?”
“—It can’t be helped. It is hard for me to clean myself, so I have to do it in a large bath like this.”
Albedo’s voice seemed to be coming from a higher spot, and a loud brushing sound could be heard.
“—Hmm, that looks tedious. Alright, I will allow it.”
“—Wahh, don’t look over here while grabbing your head. Disgusting. Shalltear, aren’t you going to brush your teeth?”
“—I can do that in my room, no need to do it here. Anyway, can we even get cavities?”
“—Even if you don’t have cavities, if you have bad breath while kissing, even a thousand year-old love will turn cold.”
The sound of the brush stopped and heavy footsteps could be heard.
“—Hmm, wait, are you going in like this? At least…”
After a loud splash, sound of water flowing down could be heard. Someone seemed to have boldly leaped into the pool.
“—Wah! Cough cough! If I were a vampire from the storybooks, I would have sunk and not gotten up!”
“—You are not a kid, don’t jump in!”
“—Fufufu. Ah…How relaxing. That’s why I came here.”
“—At least follow bathing etiquette… Oh?”
“—What? Hmm? The lion is moving?”
“—To not know the etiquette means you have no right to enter the bath! Exterminate!”
The sudden male voice made Ainz and the others looked at each other.
“Eh, that sounds like a man.”
“I. Never. Imagined. That. I. Would. Hear. This. In. Person. That. Is. The. Area. Guardian. Of. The. Bath. Right? But. Is. There. A. Man. In. The. Female. Bath?”
“No, I’ve heard that voice before… It’s Luci★fer-san.”
When he heard the ominous voice of that man, Ainz recalled the various troubles that Luci★fer had caused. To be honest, he didn’t really like that man.
“One of the Supreme Beings!?”
“—So hard! This is not a simple steel golem! Albedo!”
“—Die! You scrap metal golem!”
With the loud sound of impact, something crashed hard onto the wall. Even the wall on the men’s side was shaking.
“…Basically, prepare yourselves to charge into the women’s bath in full gear should the need arise.”
Ainz issued his command to the reluctant Guardians.
The fiasco should end if they disarmed the attack mode set up by his comrades, but they should be having an all-out battle next door. With their gear off, the women’s combat potential would drop drastically, so they might need to help them if the situation called for it.
“…I want to bathe in peace next time.”
Ainz said after shaking the water on his body off while walking towards the changing room. The Guardians nodded their head as one in response to the casual remark.
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