Editors/Proofreaders: Namo-Namo, Rockgollem, Tainted Dreams, Skythewood
Everyone looked forward to the coming of spring. This was more so on the part of the peasants, who could feel the earth coming back to life under their feet. However, even city residents welcomed spring as well. Granted, spring in the cities was largely a matter of not having to buy kindling for warmth.
On the first day of spring in E-Rantel, however, all that greeted it was silence.
The main streets were devoid of people, as if they had all died. Still, from the gaps in the shutters and doors — cracked open just a little — one could sense something from the houses that faced the streets. It felt as though people were holding their breath and peeking at the world outside.
Today was the day when E-Rantel would be officially ceded to Ainz Ooal Gown and become a city in the Sorcerous Kingdom of Nazarick.
The first city gate opened, and bells of welcome pealed forth.
After much time had passed, the second city gate opened, and the bells echoed through the city once more.
Between the second and the third doors was the residential zone of the city.
The reason the residents of E-Rantel had not fled was because they knew even if they escaped, all that awaited them was despair.
Even if they were masters or expert tradesmen in E-Rantel, in other cities, they would have to start over as apprentices.
Cities with long histories had a social order and hierarchies. Outsiders who were new to the city would naturally need to start from the lowest, most junior positions. That was to say, even if they fled to another city, most of them would not be able to find a proper job, and they would live and die as paupers in the slums.
As such, most of the residents remained in E-Rantel.
However, if their lives were in danger, they would choose to flee. That was only sensible. After all, the gossip about the new ruler, no, their new king, was that he was a fearsome being.
They said he was a magic caster who massacred the Royal Army.
They said he was a cold-blooded creature who looked like an undead being.
They said he was a monster that enjoyed bathing in the fresh blood of children.
The rumors circulating were all of this nature, with hardly a single positive word about him.
And so, everyone hid behind their doors, planning to spy on Ainz Ooal Gown from between the gaps in their windows.
Before long, Ainz Ooal Gown’s procession arrived on the main street.
All who saw him lost the power of speech.
He was a being who matched the rumors circulating about him.
The first person they saw could still be considered alright. At the head of the contingent was a beautiful woman who was as radiant as the full moon.
She wore a diaphanous white dress, with silky black hair and alabaster skin. Her body, adorned with constellation-patterned jewelry, was beyond the realm of lust and envy. However, the fact that she sprouted horns from her head and long black wings from her waist, in addition to her supernatural beauty, were all signs that she was not human.
Behind this beautiful goddess were the warriors. As they looked at them, the residents shuddered uncontrollably.
The warriors were divided into two groups, differentiated by the styles of armor they wore.
If the first group were to be summarized in a phrase, it would be “death knights.”
In their left hands they carried tower shields which covered three quarters of their bodies, and in their right they carried wavy-bladed swords, like flamberges.
Including their tattered black capes, their massive frames were more than two meters tall. Their black metal, full-body armor was covered in wavy crimson patterns, reminiscent of blood vessels. It was also covered in spikes. They looked like physical incarnations of brutality.
The faces of their helmets — which sprouted demonic horns — were open. Within were the remains of rotted faces. Their empty eye-sockets blazed with a crimson fire, filled with hatred for the living and a longing for slaughter.
The second group could best be described as “death warriors.”
They carried long-bladed swords, while various weapons hung on their waists; hand axes, warhammers, crossbows, whips, rapiers, and other weapons. All of them bore many dents and scratches — proof that they had been heavily used.
They were roughly two meters tall, and the armor they wore was comparatively light. Their bodies were clad in leather armor made from the hide of some unknown beast. The ruined armor, both arms, and parts of their faces were covered in spell-strips — strips of cloth covered in arcane runes.
The only thing that could be seen from between the strips were the ruins of human features, similar to those of the death knights.
Everyone could feel an overwhelming power radiating from this contingent, and as the palanquin carried by several of these beings came into view, the shock they had experienced faded into the background.
An undead being sat on the palanquin. An oppressive aura of death floated around him, a black mist that roiled like a maelstrom. Beyond him, an obsidian radiance shone from behind his back.
Just by instincts alone, anyone would know who this was.
It was Ainz Ooal Gown.
We cannot possibly survive under the rule of this monster; our lives will be short and stunted things. Just as everyone started to think this, the sound of a door opening carried through the air.
In order to see what was going on, the citizens of E-Rantel pressed their eyes to their gaps and slits to peek outside. What they saw was the form of a running child. He held something in his hand and he was sprinting towards Ainz Ooal Gown’s parade of inhuman beings. Behind him, his pale-faced mother was chasing him.
“Give me back my daddy!”
The boy’s young voice echoed through the streets.
“Give me back my daddy! You monster!”
The boy threw something. It was a rock.
The rock flew toward the parade — its target was Ainz Ooal Gown.
Perhaps it was due to nervousness or tension, but the rock fell short of its mark and rolled across the cobbled road.
His mother who caught up with him had the look of a dead person. She knew what would happen to them now.
The mother hugged up her son from behind as her body shuddered. She desperately tried to conceal the boy’s body in her arms.
“He, he’s just a boy! Please, I beg you! I beg you to forgive him!”
In response to the mother’s frantic plea, the radiant angel smiled.
They were saved. That was a warm, motherly smile that would put anyone’s heart at ease.
“—Ten thousand deaths will not suffice to atone for the crime of disrespecting Ainz-sama. We shall start with one.”
And then, the beautiful woman produced a gigantic battleaxe out of nowhere. The fact that she could wield it so easily spoke of her superhuman arm strength.
The uses for that axe were very easy to imagine, and the things they imagined were vivid indeed.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, as a breeder who raised a worthless head of livestock.”
As she watched the slowly-approaching woman, the mother realised what was going to happen to them, and hugged her child tightly.
“Please! Spare my son, even if it’s just my son! Take my life, do anything you want to me! Please!”
“What are you saying? Is there a reason to kill you? Ainz-sama does not enjoy meaningless slaughter. The innocent will not be killed. Please rest at ease and await the mincemeat that will be made for you… although if it was up to me, I would prefer to turn him into a croquette.”
The boy in his mother’s arms didn’t seem to realize that he would soon be slain. However, anyone watching knew that the child’s short life would end in a scant few seconds. Yet, nobody was willing to step forward to save him.
Although they wanted to turn their eyes from the impending tragedy, nobody could pull themselves away.
Be it mother or child, everyone was transfixed by the murderous aura that the beauty emitted.
“Regret your crime of rudeness against the most exalted one as you die.”
In the moment Albedo swung down her massive axe, the world shuddered as the sound of metal clashing against metal rang out. The source of that sound was a thrown greatsword that had buried itself into the earth, interposing itself like a shield between the pitiful mother and son, and the beautiful woman.
That sword — and its wielder — was known to every person on the street.
A living legend.
An invincible warrior.
A gentle hero.
As they beheld the entrance of the only being who could save the two of them, the people sang the name of the swordsman in their hearts.
The name of the Dark Hero, Momon.
A man clad in jet-black armor slowly emerged from one end of the alley, and wrenched out the greatsword stuck into the ground. With a mighty flick of his wrist, he shook the dirt off of it. His other hand was already holding his sword, and the battle-ready Momon faced the beautiful woman down.
“Is there a need to use so much force on a boy throwing a stone? Nobody’ll want to marry you.”
“Even if you lecture me, I won’t be hap… Kuh! The sin of rudeness against Ainz-sama knows no age or gender. All who commit it must perish!”
“And what happens if I don’t allow it?”
“Then you will be a traitor to the lord of the land, and will be exterminated!”
“Is that so? Well, that’s not a bad thing. However, don’t think you can take this head so easily, hm? If you want it, you’d better be prepared to risk yours as well.”
Momon deftly spun the swords in his hands and took a fighting stance. That bold and dominating posture was surely the stuff heroes were made of.
“You, protect Ainz-sama.”
After giving an order to the black-armored warriors, the beauty readied her battleaxe in turn.
The spectators wanted to believe that the winner of this confrontation would be Momon. But the battle aura radiating from the two of them denied it. They could feel that the beautiful woman was a warrior who was Momon’s equal.
The two of them shortened the distance between themselves into the range of meters. And the one who disrupted the impending conflict between the two was Ainz Ooal Gown himself. By the power of magic, he soundlessly flew up from the palanquin and landed upon the earth, before putting a hand on the beauty’s shoulder.
He leaned in and placed his mouth to the beauty’s ear before whispering into it. Her face lit up with a gentle, lovestruck smile.
“I understand, Ainz-sama. It shall be as you say.”
She bowed to Ainz, and then pointed her axe at Momon. However, her murderous intent from just now was absent.
“…I have not yet heard your name. Speak it.”
“I am Momon.”
“What? Momon. Then, I ask you. Do you think you can defeat us?”
“…No, I cannot. Even if I fought to the death, I can only defeat either you, or the one beside you.”
Despair filled the hearts of all who heard these words. It was because they knew that even the great hero could only kill one of those monsters.
“And besides… if I fought with all my strength, many innocents would be caught up in our battle. I cannot do such a thing.”
“How foolish. Despite your impressive skills, you would — I’ve spoken too much. Ainz-sama has a proposal for you. Listen to it with gratitude. Surrender and swear fealty to us as a warrior of Nazarick.”
“—Are you kidding me?”
“How rude. Ainz-sama does not wish to rule these streets with despair and bloodshed. The extinction of all humanity would not offer any benefits to Ainz-sama. But even if we said this, the people here would not believe it. So we will have you do Ainz-sama’s work as his subordinate.”
“…What’s that all about?”
“In the future, there may be more fools who would throw stones at Ainz-sama. At that point, we will have you remove their heads. In exchange, we will permit you to be a witness, in order to prove that Ainz-sama will not allow the innocent to suffer in his city.”
“…I see. So, as his enforcer, will I be serving from beside him?”
“Not quite. As I said, you will be responsible for eliminating traitors. Consider it to be a form of self-representation, combined with the role of an enforcer.”
“I have no intention of swearing myself to the service of evil.”
“Neither do we have any plans of perpetrating that sort of evil. Then, what will you do? If you will not pledge your sword to Ainz-sama, then you shall be slain as a dangerous individual, no matter how many people we have to kill to get to you.”
Momon looked around.
“I intend to travel, and I have no intention of being anyone’s subordinate.”
“That is also an acceptable answer. Then, shall we begin the collateral damage to the surrounding people now?”
“Wait! Don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t made my decision yet. I also have a partner. What will happen to her?”
“She must pledge herself to Ainz-sama as well. There can be no other answer.”
“Although in the past, I put my objective of travelling as a priority… it seems I’ve gotten myself entangled with this city. Will it be alright if I don’t kneel?”
Ainz once more whispered into the ear of the beauty.
“That is permissible, and so it is decided. Momon, work hard for Ainz-sama.”
“…I understand. But remember that if you harm the people of the city for no reason, this sword will be aimed at you and your master.”
“…In that case, when the people of this city rise up in revolt against Ainz-sama, I hope that sword will also be pointed at those who rebel. It doesn’t matter if they are children or not. I look forward to the time when this city will rise up against us, and to your agonized face as you execute its people. Then, we shall be going ahead first. Do join up with us afterwards.”
Ainz Ooal Gown’s entourage continued steadily forward. After the long procession had finally faded out of sight, the people streamed out of their homes. It was amazing how so many people managed to keep themselves so well hidden.
Everyone was praising Momon.
Just as Momon started using his hands to wave away the tide of adoration, a sound rang out clearly over the crowd. It was the sound of the mother slapping her son.
“Why did you do that?!”
Again and again, she slapped her son.
Both mother and child were crying, but even so, she didn’t stop hitting him.
Momon grasped the mother’s hand.
“Could you let him be for now? There’s something I’d like to ask him.”
“This boy has caused so much trouble for you, Momon-sama! We sincerely apologize from the bottoms of our hearts!”
“No, please, pay it no heed. There’s no need to apologize, Ah, there’s no need to cry either. I have some questions for you.”
As Momon tried to hush the boy‘s crying, he asked the boy why he had done it.
Everyone thought the boy must have wanted to avenge his father, but the boy said that after a strange man lectured him, he felt that he had to throw the rock.
“I see… dear mother, there’s no need to punish your child. This might be the result of magical control. It’s a plot by the Theocracy, trying to force me into a confrontation with Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“…No, the Theocracy wouldn’t do that. Isn’t it Ainz Ooal Gown’s plot to make Momon-sama into his vassal?”
Momon nodded deeply to the shopkeeper who spoke. He had opened his shop here just a couple of years ago.
“That is certainly a possibility. But on the other hand, it is also a good opportunity. Since I have an excuse to be by his side, I can monitor his movements. If he plans to harm you, I will take his head. But in exchange, I hope you will not revolt against Ainz Ooal Gown.”
“Why shouldn’t we?! As long as we have Momon-sama—”
“—Please do not continue that line of conversation. They are waiting for someone to speak those words. If the idea of rebellion comes up, he will order me to kill you. Perhaps that’s what they’ve been hoping for.”
Momon spread his arms, and continued speaking to everyone openly.
“I cannot be the one who breaks the agreement made just now. Because of that, I hope everyone will be able to bear with anything unreasonable they say. However, if anyone feels they are being treated poorly, please inform me.”
As they realized that Momon was saying he was a hostage, the faces of the people took on pained looks.
To those people, Momon smiled gently.
“However, I hope you will not worry too much. To begin, that fellow might end up being a good dictator. Let’s wait and see. Also, if the Theocracy makes a move, they might try to incite you to revolt. I hope you will all keep your eyes open.”
Nobody could accept this from the bottom of their hearts.
But at the same time, nobody could voice their opposition to him.
Ainz Ooal Gown was undead. Nobody could trust a dangerous being like that which bore a hatred for the living. And, of course, everybody trusted Momon. In fact, Momon had even given up on his goals for the sake of the city folk. It was only natural that they would give their allegiance to Momon in turn.
Everyone present agreed with Momon’s proposal, and after promising to spread these words to the people around them, they dispersed.
As a result, E-Rantel became a place the neighboring countries scarcely believed could exist, a peaceful city without bloodshed, existing under the rule of Ainz Ooal Gown.