Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 3rd, 17:44
The reception room door opened slowly. Even though the hinges had been freshly greased and should open smoothly, the door opened slowly as if there was a huge pressure difference between the inside and the outside. It was just like Sebas’ heart. If the door knew how he felt, it wouldn’t have opened, but it still swung open and he could see all who waited for him inside. Waiting inside the normally empty room were four heteromorphic figures. One was a cyan coloured warrior. He had cancelled his cold aura and stood rigidly with a halberd in hand. One was a devil. What kind of emotion would he be hiding behind his mocking face? In the devil’s arms was a fetus looking angel with wings that looked like tree branches.
And the last—
“I have no excuse for being late.”
Using all his willpower to suppress the shaking in his voice, Sebas offered a deep bow to the Supreme Being who was the only one sitting down. For Sebas, who held the position of house steward and butler, there was only one being whom he bowed to in fear and respect. One of the 41 Supreme Beings.
—Ainz Ooal Gown.
The ruler of Nazarick who held overwhelming power. In his hand was the ‘Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown’ which was emitting a dark aura. In his empty eye sockets, faint red flames flickered about. Sebas could feel those eyes slowly scanning his bowing figure.
“…Don’t worry about that, Sebas. It is my fault for arriving without any prior notice. Enter, we can’t have a conversation if you are just bowing down by the door.”
Sebas reacted to the heavy voice and got up with his head still bowing. When he took a single step forward, he felt a chill going down his back. He could sense hidden hostility and killing intent. His gaze slowly shifted to the two Guardians. They did not appear as if they were paying attention to him, but only a normal person would think that. Sebas could already tell. In that tense atmosphere, there was no friendly aura. It was the exact opposite, he was being treated like an enemy. Sebas could guess why they might hold such hostility at him and wondered if anybody else could hear his pounding heart.
“It would be best for you to stop there.”
Demiurge’s cold voice stopped Sebas in his tracks. It was somewhat far from the master. It wasn’t too far to hold a conversation and it was a respectful distance considering how big the room was.
However, if it was Ainz, he would have told Sebas to come closer. The lack of such words gave Sebas an even stronger sense of isolation.
Not only that, but the distance was within the ideal range of Cocytus’ attack.
Solution who came in with Sebas also stood by the door.
Sebas could not figure out how, but Ainz made a hollow sound with his skeleton fingers.
“I shall ask you first, Sebas. Do I need to explain why I am here?”
There was only one reason. The situation alone was telling enough.
“…No, I understand.”
“Then I want to hear it from your own mouth, Sebas. I heard the report, it seems you picked up a cute pet?”
Sebas felt a chill down his spine. Then he remember that he had yet to answer his master and quickly raised his voice.
“…You’re late in your answer. I will ask again, Sebas. You are raising a cute pet?”
“Yes, I am raising her.”
“Then I shall hear you out first. Why did you not report it to me?”
Sebas looked towards the floor with shaking shoulders, fearing that the situation would become worse if he were to say something. Seeing how Sebas had yet to answer, Ainz leaned to a side in the chair. Creaking noise echoed loudly through the room.
“What is it, Sebas? You seem to be sweating. Shall I lend you a handkerchief?”
Ainz took out a white handkerchief with an exaggerated motion and nonchalantly threw it in Sebas’ direction. The handkerchief flew past the desk and opened up before falling to the floor.
“I permit you to use it.”
“Yes! Thank you.”
Sebas took a step to pick up the handkerchief, but hesitated to use it.
“…There is nothing like your pet’s blood on it. I just didn’t want to see you sweating so profusely.”
“I apologize for showing you my unbecoming side.”
Sebas opened up the handkerchief and wiped his sweat away. The handkerchief changed colour from absorbing an unexpectedly large amount of moisture.
“Now, Sebas. When I sent you to the capital, I told you to record everything and send back reports. This was because it’s difficult for you to determine which information is useful or not. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of rumours that were written on the report as well, correct?”
“Yes, that is so.”
“Then Demiurge, I’ll ask you for confirmation, since you have seen all the reports Sebas sent as well. Was there any mention of the pet in the report?”
“No, Ainz-sama. I checked again multiple times, but there was not a single mention.”
“Then, Sebas, tell me why you have done so. Why did you not report it? …I want to know why you have ignored my order. Is the word of Ainz Ooal Gown not enough to compel you?”
That sentence shook the atmosphere. Sebas hurriedly replied.
“Of course not. It was my foolishness to think that it wasn’t important enough to report to you, Ainz-sama.”
Four killing intents pierced his body: Cocytus, Demiurge, the angel Demiurge was holding in his arms and Solution. With a single command, they would not hesitate to attack him.
There was no fear of death. To die for Nazarick was a great honour, but the notion of dying as a traitor made Sebas’ body shake. For a creation of the 41 Supreme Beings, dying as a traitor was the greatest shame there could be. By the time Sebas’ forehead was full of sweat once more, Ainz spoke.
“…So what you are saying is, it was your own foolish decision? Is that what you mean?”
“Yes, Ainz-sama. Please forgive my indiscretion.”
“…Hmm, is that so… I understand.”
After hearing Sebas’ heartfelt apology, Ainz’s neutral voice returned once again. As there were no orders to eliminate Sebas, the atmosphere returned to normal once again. However, Sebas could not rest easy as Ainz’s next command made Sebas’ heart sink.
“Solution. Bring Sebas’ pet over here.”
After Solution left, door closed quietly. Sebas’ sharp senses tracked Solution’s footsteps beyond the door, walking farther and farther away. In this place, there were four heteromorphic beings: Ainz, Demiurge, Cocytus and the strangely shaped angel. Was the reason they didn’t bother to hide their appearance because there wouldn’t be a need to? If someone from Nazarick wished to silence someone, killing was the best method. He should have released her sooner. Sebas shook his head on the inside , but it was already too late for such thoughts. He could feel two people approaching the door.
—What should I do?
Sebas’ looked up at the empty ceiling. If she’s coming here, then he needed to decide. There was only one choice. He looked at Demiurge and Ainz who were still watching him, and his gaze fell down to the floor once again. A knock sounded at the door and opened. There were two women standing there, as expected.
“I have brought her.”
Even though Sebas has his back turned to her, he could hear Tsuare gasp at the door. Maybe she was panicking after seeing a devil, Demiurge. Maybe she was scared after seeing a giant insect, Cocytus. Maybe she was terrified after seeing an angel that looked like a fetus. Maybe she was petrified after seeing death incarnate, Ainz. Or maybe it was all of it.
The Guardians’ displeasure only intensified with Tsuare in front of them. In some way, she was the embodiment of Sebas’ mistakes and failures. Tsuare could not stop shaking at all the hostility directed at her. In this world, Guardians were the ultimate beings, and all weaklings would tremble in fear at the mere sight of them. The fact that Tsuare wasn’t crying was already an amazing feat. Sebas did not look back, but he could feel Tsuare’s gaze fixed on him. Her courage came from the fact Sebas was in the same room.
“Cocytus, Demiurge, stop. Learn from Victim’s example.”
With Ainz’s soft voice, the atmosphere changed. No, it should be said that all hostility towards Tsuare vanished. Ainz extended his left hand towards Tsuare and motioned for her to enter.
“Enter, Sebas’ new human pet, Tsuare.”
As if she was under a spell, she entered the room with shaky steps.
“You didn’t try to escape, very courageous of you. Or did you hear something from Solution? That depending on how you act, Sebas’ fate will be decided?”
Tsuare, who was shaking non-stop, could not reply. Sebas felt her gaze towards his back intensify. It alone let him know how she truly felt. Without hesitation, Tsuare stood behind Sebas as she entered the room. Cocytus slowly moved and stood behind Tsuare as if he was waiting for something. Tsuare grabbed the corner of Sebas’ sleeves. Sebas could remember when she first had grabbed onto him in the alleyway. Perhaps if he had acted more prudently back then, this would not have happened.
Demiurge looked at Tsuare in a cold manner and then suddenly—
— The sound of a finger snap rung out.
Demiurge, who was about to speak understood what his master wanted, and swallowed the words he wanted to say.
“—It is fine, Demiurge. For having the courage to not run away, I, the ruler of Nazarick shall forgive her for the lack of manners.”
“My deepest apologies.”
Ainz nodded slowly at Demiurge’s apology.
The chair squeaked as weight shifted.
“First would be the introduction. I am Ainz Ooal Gown, Sebas’ master.”
It was so. The 41 Supreme Beings, they controlled everything; even Sebas’ life and death. His master’s declaration that he was a servant brought him the greatest joy. Unfortunately, the happiness was only strong enough to make his back shake a little. It wasn’t because Tsuare was there, because for a moment he even forgot that she was there. No, it was something else. Even while Sebas thought about it, the conversation continued.
“It’s alright, Tsuare. I just need to know that you exist. I have no interest in you besides that. You simply need to stand there. You will find out why I called you over soon.”
The red light in Ainz’ empty eye sockets moved.
“…Sebas, I want to hear it from you. I ordered you to act as discreetly as possible.”
“Because of this worthless woman, you allowed an annoying matter to develop, am I correct?”
“You are right.”
Tsuare squirmed a little at the mention of ‘worthless’, but Sebas remained still.
“…Do you not think it was an act of willfully disobeying my order?”
“I deeply apologize that my shallow thoughts have displeased you. I shall take caution so something like this never happens again—”
“I said it’s fine.”
Ainz fixed his posture once again and the chair squeaked.
“Everyone makes mistakes. Sebas, I forgive your transgression.”
“—I thank Ainz-sama for his generosity.”
“But every mistake has a price… Kill it.”
The room’s atmosphere tensed up again and it felt as if the temperature had dropped a couple degrees. No, it wasn’t truly so. The only one who felt it was Sebas. Everybody else from Nazarick were unmoved.
What did he order to be killed? No, there was no need to ask. The fact things had to turn out this way made Sebas’ heart and mouth equally heavy.
“…I beg your… pardon…”
“Hmm… I mean for you to eliminate the root of your mistake, thus redeeming yourself. If any trace of your mistake remains, it would set a bad example for the others. You are the butler of Nazarick. One who stands above many. If someone of such an important position does nothing to rectify his mistakes…”
Sebas let out a deep breath and breathed in again. He who did not shirk before even the strongest of opponents felt like a small prey cornered by a predator.
“Sebas, are you someone who follows the decisions of the 41 Supreme Beings, or are you someone who follows his own decisions?”
“There is no need for words. Show me through your action.”
Ainz closed his eyes and opened them again.
Hesitating just for a second, no, even a second was a long time to hesitate. It was enough time for loyal servants like Cocytus, Demiurge and Solution to show hostility once more. In that amount of time, Sebas came to a conclusion.
Sebas was Nazarick’s butler. He was nothing more than that. His foolish hesitation caused this situation. If he had asked for a permission earlier, this would not have happened. It was all his fault.
Sebas’ eyes emitted a steely look. He turned around to Tsuare and her hands released their grip. They floated in the air hesitantly for a moment before slumping. Tsuare could understand which conclusions Sebas came to after looking at his face.
She smiled and closed her eyes. There was no signs of fear or desperation on her. She had the face of a martyr who was ready to accept her fate. Sebas’ movements had no hesitation in it either. Sebas was calm. His action was how a loyal servant of Nazarick should act. There was no reason to disobey the master’s orders.
There would be no regret. There could only be loyalty.
Sebas gripped his fist tightly to grant her the only mercy he could afford to give, a quick death. His fist flew towards Tsuare’s head.
—Something hard intercepted his first.
“—Why are you interfering?”
Sebas’ fist, which was supposed to blow away Tsuare’s head had been blocked. One of Cocytus’ arms had caught his fist. Preventing him from carrying out his order, wasn’t Cocytus disobeying the Master? But Sebas’ astonishment was cleared up immediately.
“Stand down, Sebas.”
As he was about to strike for the second time, Sebas obeyed Ainz’s words. There was no reprimand for Cocytus, but only an order for Sebas to stand down. In another word, the reason Cocytus stopped Sebas was because it had been planned so.
Everything had been an act, designed to test Sebas’ loyalty and will. Tsuare opened her eyes slightly and confirmed that death was not going to happen immediately. As the threat of death went away, so did all her tension and Tsuare sniffled as her body started shaking. Her legs looked as if they would give in at any moment, but Sebas did not hold her. No, he couldn’t hold her. What could he possibly do? He was a man who had abandoned her. Ignoring Tsuare, who was gripped in fear, Cocytus and Ainz started talking to each other.
“It was. Indeed. A killing. Blow.”
“Then I will declare that Sebas’ loyalty is no longer questioned. You did well, Sebas.”
Sebas bowed deeply with a rigid expression.
“—Demiurge. Any objection from you?”
“!rewop eht evah I ……lluksyarG fo rewop eht yB (There is none.)”
“Then we shall move on to the next matter.”
Ainz stood up with a fingersnap and let his robes flutter with a wave of his arm.
“Thanks to Sebas, we have collected plenty of information. There is no reason to linger here any longer. Thus, we will return to Nazarick. Sebas, I will leave it to you to take care of that woman. I would like to say that so long as your loyalty has not changed, I won’t interfere, but we will need to examine her a little before letting her go. It would be problematic if she decided to go around telling wild stories, wouldn’t it Demiurge?”
“Yes, it is indeed so. As long as unknown enemies exists, we must prevent any information leak about us if possible.”
“Then what should we do?”
“…May I suggest testing her first?”
“A sound idea… Sebas, let us postpone the matter on how to deal with Tsuare just a bit longer. We will not kill her, but that is no guarantee either.”
Sebas could not hide his surprise. Since these words implied that Tsuare’s fate was still unclear, did this mean that even the Great Ruler of Nazarick was unable to make an immediate decision?
“Ainz-sama, is it due to my mistakes that we are retreating from this mansion — the capital?”
“…It is so, but not so as well. As I stated earlier, we have already obtained all the information we need. As long as there is no reason to remain undercover here, I have judged that it would be safer to simply retreat. Demiurge, I shall take Victim and return first.”
Ainz received the angelic fetus and activated his magic.
Ainz fluttered his robe like an actor as the magic activated. His figure appeared as if it had been sucked in by a black hole and disappeared completely. For a moment, Sebas was confused at Ainz’ new act that he had never seen before, but regained his composure.
“Demiurge, she appears to be very tired, so I want to let her rest for a bit. I believe there won’t be any problem now if I carried her?”
“…I suppose you’re correct, Sebas.”
Demiurge smiled devilishly and gently motioned towards the door as if he was ushering him out.
“But I want you to keep in mind that we will call her again if necessary. This might be unnecessary, but I don’t want to go on a fox hunt in the capital.”
“…Please follow me.”
Tsuare answered with cracking voice and followed Sebas with her barely moving legs. Their footsteps echoed across the hallway. They walked in silence and soon reached Tsuare’s room. It wasn’t far, but it felt as if they had walked quite some distance. Only after having arrived in front of the door, Sebas spoke as if he had finally made up his mind.
“I won’t apologize for it.”
He could feel Tsuare flinch behind him.
“But, it is my fault that there was an order to eliminate you. If I had been more cautious, it would not have happened.”
“I am a loyal servant to Ainz-sama and the 41 Supreme Beings. Even if similar situation occurs, I will follow their order… So please, be happy amongst the humans. I will petition him to allow it… Ainz-sama can manipulate memories, so ask him to erase all your bad memories and be happy.”
“…Including memories of you?”
“…Of me as well. Nothing good will happen if you remember me.”
“And what exactly is good for me?”
Sebas felt strong will in Tsuare’s words, and turned around to face her. What Sebas came face-to-face with was a woman who was still teary, but had strong will in her gaze. He feebly thought of words to convince her. Nazarick was indeed an amazing place blessed by the Supreme Beings. However, that thought was limited to the creations of the 41 Supreme Beings and NPCs of Nazarick. It was not a place where talentless and talentless human beings could survive. It was also not a place which would accept a weak and worthless being like Tsuare either. It was impossible without the blessings of the Master. So, Sebas spoke.
“…I have told you to be happy amongst other humans.”
“My happiness is being together with Sebas-sama. So, please, take me with you.”
Sebas felt a bit of sympathy for Tsuare.
“…You seem to take joy even in the most insignificant things. You are simply thinking that because of the hell you have been through.”
Because she had experienced the worst, she felt happy even in an inferior condition. Sebas judged so, but Tsuare denied it with a smile.
“…I don’t think this place is a hell. I can eat until I’m full and I can get proper work… I was born and raised in a small village, life was hard there as well.”
For a moment, Tsuare looked as she was looking into the distance before she faced Sebas once again.
“We worked our land even when we were hungry, but the local lord took most of our crops. There wasn’t enough left to feed ourselves. Plus, we were just toys to him. Even when I was screaming, he was raping me while laughing. While laughing. I was just—”
“— I understand.”
Sebas hugged Tsuare, who was rigidly laughing and gently wrapped his arms around her shoulder. In that moment, he could feel her tears flowing out as if a floodgate had been opened. There was no way that what she had experienced and had seen was everything there was in the world. But for Tsuare, the human world was like that.
Sebas was thinking to himself. What would be the best alternative? There was only one answer. However, there was also a high chance of incurring his Master’s wrath and then he would have to kill Tsuare.
“There is a chance that you will die.”
“If it’s by your hands, someone who saved me when I was going to die there and then…”
Sebas came to a decision and steeled himself when he saw Tsuare’s expression.
“Very well, Tsuare. I shall ask Ainz-sama to take you to Nazarick.”
“It’s a little early to thank me. If he orders me to kill you as a result—”
“— I am already prepared.”
“Is that… so.”
Sebas relaxed his arms and tried to move away, but Tsuare did not let go. She looked up at him while holding tightly onto his clothes. In those eyes were looks of expectation. Sebas had his own guess, but could not confirm what those expectations were. Besides, there was something to confirm.
“I want to make one thing certain. Will you have no regrets leaving the human world? Will you ever want to return to it?”
Just because she goes to Nazarick doesn’t mean that she will never see human society again. There was no particular reason to imprison her either, but that didn’t mean there is no possibility for it either.
“…I wanted to see my younger sister once again… But I don’t particularly want to remember the past…”
“I understand. Then wait in this room. I will meet with Ainz-sama.”
Tsuare let go Sebas and wrapped her arms around his neck. Ignoring Sebas, who was confused about what she was doing, she stood on the tips of her toes. For a moment, Sebas and Tsuare’s lips met each other. It was only for a brief moment that their soft lips met before Tsuare moved away.
“It was electrifying.”
Tsuare moved away while touching her lips with both of her hands.
“It was my first time having a happy kiss.”
Sebas could not say anything, but Tsuare smiled happily.
“Then I will wait here. Please, take care, Sebas-sama.”
“Ah, yes… I will take care of this shortly.”
“Did something happen? Your face is red.”
It was the first thing Sebas heard when he came back to the room. On the mention that his face was red, he breathed deeply. To show inconsistencies in one’s emotions was not fitting for someone who was about to enter into an audience with the Master. Suppressing his left hand, which unconsciously tried to touch his lips, Sebas put on the perfect face.
“There is nothing, Demiurge-sama.”
“There is no need to use -sama for me. Same goes for when we are in front of the Supreme Being, Ainz-sama, as well. What about you, Cocytus?”
Sebas showed that he understood the two Guardians.
After five minutes, the room distorted. When the distortion was over, someone was standing there. It was Ainz. He did not have the ‘Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown’ he had a moment ago and Victim was nowhere to be seen either. Sebas, Cocytus, Demiurge, Solution. All four in the room bent their knee and bowed.
“You did well coming here.”
Ainz walked to the back of the desk and sat.
All four stood up to see Ainz who appeared to be in good mood.
“Now, Demiurge. Didn’t this incident show you that you are too careful? I never doubted that Sebas would betray us even for a second. You’re all too cautious. Did we not confirm it in the Throne Room in the first place?”
“I apologize for making you worry. For Ainz-sama to be willing to go along with my worthless suggestion, I am forever grateful.”
“It’s fine. Even I make mistakes. If I know that Demiurge is offering a second opinion, I can rest easy. Furthermore, I am not such a small-minded person to rebuke words of advice.”
Ainz turned away from Demiurge who was bowing deeply.
“Then we need to talk about what to do with that human woman, Sebas.”
Sebas tensed up.
He carefully surveyed Ainz’s expression as he squeezed out his words.
“What do you plan on doing with Tsuare?”
Intermittent silence came before the conversation continued.
“Let’s see. I believe I mentioned that if we simply let her go, information concerning Nazarick may spread?”
Demiurge nodded at Ainz’s glance.
“That would be the case, Ainz-sama. What do you plan to do with her?”
“I will manipulate her memory. Then… give her some money and let her loose somewhere appropriate.”
“Ainz-sama, I think killing her will be the easiest solution.”
Solution nodded as if she agreed with Demiurge. On these objections, Ainz sunk into deep thoughts once again. If two people agreed… it may be decided that way. Sebas was taken aback on the inside. If the Master had made a decision, it would be difficult to overturn it. Even if he is forgiven for it, he will lose all standings with Demiurge, Cocytus and Solution. If he disagreed carelessly, he risked earning Ainz’s displeasure.
But now was the time to speak.
Sebas tried to offer an opinion contrary to Demiurge’s, but did not have the chance. It was because Ainz spoke before he could.
“…There is no need, Demiurge. I don’t like killing somebody without a proper reason to do so. Even if it’s a weakling, you can’t use them if they are dead. If they are alive, they will always have some sort of use.”
Sebas held back his sigh of relief. Tsuare’s fate had yet to be decided. There was still a chance.
“I understand… Then should I let her work in my breeding pens?”
“Ah, where you were raising your Chimaeras? Speaking of which, are they suitable for consumption? We need to work on food production for Nazarick as well.”
Demiurge’s gaze avoided looking at Ainz who was murmuring “Chimaera steak… No, Chimaera hamburger…” and wandered around before returning.
“… The meat’s quality is not fit to be used for consumption in glorious Nazarick…”
Demiurge smiled while not recommending it.
“Of course, we are butchering the dead livestock and feeding it to other livestock. Since it would be difficult to eat whole, we grind it up first.”
“Hmm, cannibalism, is it? I guess they are animals after all.”
“It is as you say, Ainz-sama. That is what makes them cute and playful. However, they are rather omnivorous and eat things like wheat as well. If it is not too much to ask, then may I ask for you to give me any wheat you have left? We’re running low already.”
“They are the precious source for the scrolls. We can’t let them go hungry. Let’s see… Sebas, before you completely withdraw, purchase large amount of wheat and send it to Demiurge.”
“As you command. If it’s large amount, I would like to borrow a warehouse and gather it there. What shall I do to transfer it to Nazarick?”
“Let’s see… Shalltear will use ‘Gate’ to move everything to Nazarick. Is it alright for me to leave everything else to you afterwards, Demiurge?”
“Yes, we will take care of it from then on.”
“Demiurge, your contribution to Nazarick is the greatest. Worthy of praise.”
“There is no greater joy for me, Ainz-sama. Your words give me more strength than ever before.”
“Well, then. Are you sure that you’re not working too hard? You get called over every time something happens, operate the breeding pens for the scrolls, prepare for the creation of the demon king, and several other important matters. I’m wondering if you’re doing alright?”
Demiurge smiled contently. It was a genuinely happy face that Sebas had never seen before.
“It is a great honour for you to personally worry about me. But rest easy, I only get joy from my work and it is not too much. However, if I ever do decide that I need help, I shall request some immediately.”
“Make it so.”
Sebas thought about the true identity of Demiurge’s breeding pens and frowned on the inside. As a comrade of Nazarick who served the Supreme Beings, he knew only too well what Demiurge was like. There was no way he would operate a simple breeding pen. Even if it was a hybrid monster he came up with— Suddenly, an epiphany came to Sebas. He could guess what Demiurge was keeping in the breeding pen.
Was it okay to send Tsuare to place like that? Demiurge would protect her physically, but her mental safety was not guaranteed. The conversation between Demiurge and Ainz paused for a moment. This was the time to speak out. Sebas decided so and said to his master.
“What is it, Sebas?”
“If it’s alright with you—”
He breathed in deep. This was a gamble. A very dangerous gamble. But he needed to do this.
“I was thinking about having Tsuare work in the Great Tomb of Nazarick.”
Silence spread through the room and Ainz asked Sebas.
“In the past, I’ve asked Cocytus a similar question. Sebas, what do we stand to gain from this?”
“Yes, first, she is capable of making meals. Currently, the only ones capable of cooking are the Head Chef and the Sous-Chef. Yuri is an exception. It would be beneficial to Nazarick to have others who are capable of cooking. Also, setting the precedence of a human working for Nazarick would be a benefit on its own. If we show that even inferior creatures like human beings can work for Nazarick—”
“I understand, Sebas.”
Ainz put an end to Sebas pouring out how much Tsuare would be useful to Nazarick.
“Sebas, I understand what you are trying to say. I was also concerned about the fact that we have so few who are capable of cooking.”
“But Ainz-sama, can she truly cook something befitting Nazarick?”
Sebas glanced at Demiurge with knife-like gaze. Demiurge simply smiled back at him.
Bastard— Sebas swallowed the word in his mouth.
Ainz has forgiven him, but Demiurge hasn’t. That’s probably why he was interfering with Sebas on the matter of what to do with Tsuare.
“That has its merits as well. What do you think, Sebas?”
“…Tsuare cooks mostly home-made meals. To say if it’s fitting for Nazarick… I cannot offer a solid answer.”
“Home-made meals. I doubt boiled potato is fitting for Nazarick.”
“I believe Demiurge is being short-sighted right now. Perhaps she can only cook home-made meals right now, but the Head Chef can teach her. We need to look for long-term investments.”
“Then, why not just have her help me in my breeding pens? Grinding up all that meat is also quite a chore.”
Ainz watched the noisy scene quietly. Beyond them, he could see the scenes of the past unfold. The ghosts of their creators, illusions from the past…
♦ ♦ ♦
“Then where shall we go today?”
“To the Fire Giants.”
“To the Ice Dragons.”
“…Ha… Ulbert-san, don’t you remember that some people need the rare drop from the Fire Giant Boss, Surt?”
“It seems like Touch Me-sama is the one who doesn’t remember that there are people who need to kill the Ice Dragon to fulfill their class-up requirements.”
“…That may be, but Yamaiko-san needs the rare drop to enchant an item.”
“No, I’m not particularly…”
“You mean the ‘The Flame of the Beginning’? Then you would need ‘The Ice of the Beginning’ as well. Let’s go to the Ice Dragons.”
“…Thanks to all the cash items, it has a high drop rate now. Compared to the Dragons, Surt has a lower drop rate, so let’s get that out of the way first.”
“Then I’ll go buy the cash item for it now.”
“…But, but, but…”
“…How about going for some erotic monsters like Succubus?”
“Shut up, younger brother.”
“If it’s demonic monsters, I want to go get the Lords of the Seven Deadly Sins. Of course, we would need some more preparations.”
“…Touch Me-sama, stop trying to solo-play this. Considering the members we have now, it’s most efficient to go get the Ice Dragons.”
“No, no, isn’t it you who’s trying to solo-play, Ulbert-san? When did we ever care about efficiency?”
“Can the top mage and top warrior stop fighting…”
“They were like that from the start. Ever since I invited them to join the guild.”
“To be talking with that weird, pink slab of flesh, Touch Me-san is brave.”
“…Teapot-san, Peroronchino-san, should I use the Guild Master’s authority for the no weapon loot?”
“Didn’t some guild put up the guide for the Lords of Seven Deadly Sins before?”
“They defeated “Pride”, it just got uploaded today.”
“They say a World class item will drop after defeating all seven, since they’re World class threats.”
“Speaking of World class items, why don’t we use ‘Calroic Stone’ to make a golem core?”
“Nuuboo-san, shouldn’t we focus on weapons?”
“Making armour isn’t bad either.”
“Shouldn’t we think some more about this? Since it’s an item we can ask the GMs for, we should consider it some more.”
“Isn’t that right? Momonga-san?”
“I know how to get more ‘Caloric Stone’, but we already spent so many minerals from The Seven Hidden Mines.”
“To never be able to attain it unless we own all of them, it’s a headache.”
“Yea, as long as different guilds own different parts of the mine, we can’t get it back once we use it. It’s not like they’ll just sit around while we take them over one at a time…. How about leaking this information to a place like Trinity? Some are bound to get greedy and come running for it. We can strike when they’re exhausted from fighting each other.”
“You want to sell the information to the Alliance as well and make them fight with each other? You really are a strategist, Punitto Moe-san.”
“Speaking of the Alliance, it seems he’s hatching another plan against them.”
“It seems like they stole a World-class item from some guild, which is now really mad at them.”
“Oh man, though I think an alliance between top guilds like last time would be difficult.”
“—Then can Momonga-san decide?”
“That sounds good, Guild Master. What do you want to do?”
“…Eh? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention… What were we talking about again? …We’ll just go with a vote like last time.”
“Then new gold coin to vote for Ulbert-san. Old gold coin to vote for Touch Me-sama. Now they will pitch their plans to you guys.”
♦ ♦ ♦
“Be. Quiet. You’re. Before. Ainz. Sama.”
It was as if Cocytus had splashed cold water on both of them. Both looked over at Ainz and the colour of their faces changed. It was impossible to read any emotion from the red flame that lit his empty eye sockets, but they could feel something strong coming from his gaze. Both acted before a strong reprimand came their way.
“I have committed a grave mistake in front of Ainz-sama.”
“I have no excuse for such poor behaviour.”
The reaction they received was an incomprehensible one.
Bright laughter echoed throughout the room. Very happy and bright laughter. Sebas, Solution, Demiurge, Cocytus, no one could remember Ainz laughing so happily and blinked in surprise.
“Of course, of course, you are forgiven. That’s it! Fighting like that! Hahahaha!”
Sebas had no idea what had struck Ainz right now, but let out a breath of relief.
“Hahaha… che, passive skill kicked in.”
His master returned to a calm mood like a puppet whose strings had been cut. But everybody shared the thought that Ainz was in a good mood. Ainz spoke to Sebas with a bright tone.
“Sebas, I understand what you are talking about, but to bring a human to Nazarick… Very well, I shall see her before I decide. Bring her.”
“Yes? Ah, yes. As you command.”
Sebas was puzzled at Ainz’s strange orders, but brought Tsuare over immediately.
“Ainz-sama, I have brought her.”
“Good work bringing her—”
Suddenly, Ainz leaned forward from his chair. The way he studied Tsuare was peculiar. Wondering if it was out of displeasure, Sebas glanced at Tsuare. There was nothing different about her from earlier and couldn’t understand why his master was suddenly treating her so.
The small murmur that leaked out probably wasn’t intentional.
“…Welcome, Tsuare. But I will remind you that I do not give second warnings. It is because I respect choices, even if the outcome is bad. Now if you understand this, I will pose my question. This will all be over if you lie, and it will also be over if it’s not the answer I am looking for.”
Sebas could hear Tsuare gulping beside him. With such threats, it was impossible to tell what would happen next.
“Then, what is your real name?”
He could not understand the intent of the question. Why ask something like that? Sebas could see her eyes racing from side to side. Her attitude told the full story.
‘Please answer honestly.’
Sebas prayed in his heart.
If it was something she didn’t tell even to him, there must be something about her true name. Even so, to lie to the Master would only result in the worst situation. Silence continued, and after some time had passed, Tsuare replied in small voice that resembled mosquito buzz.
“T, Tsuare… Tsuareninya.”
“It’s Tsuareninya Beiron.”
“Is that so… Is that so… Then I will ask again, Tsuareninya. Do you wish to live in The Great Tomb of Nazarick, in another word, somewhere I rule? … The Great Tomb of Nazarick is not a place where humans live. I don’t want to say it’s impossible for them to live there, but there are simply no such things as humans there, so I do not know how suitable it will be for you. If you want, I can give you a sizable sum of money and you could live happily amongst other humans.”
It was an almost unnecessarily generous offer, but Tsuare did not hesitate for a moment to answer.
“I, I wish to live with… Sebas-sama.”
Ainz nodded slowly, and the flame in the empty eye socket weakened.
“Very well then. Heed me, my loyal servants.”
Everyone bowed their head and Tsuare followed suit.
“From now on, I shall protect Tsuare under the name of Ainz Ooal Gown. I could also treat you as a guest of the Great Tomb of Nazarick if you wished, you know?”
“T, thank you, but I wish to work alongside Sebas-sama.”
“…If that is what you wish for. Then I shall place you under Sebas’ direct command as a temporary maid. Sebas, assign her appropriate work. Also, for Pleiades, switch from Six Star System to Seven Sister System, and change the leader accordingly. However, we won’t move her and Yuri Alpha will be the temporary leader instead.”
Solution bowed deeply.
“And let all in the Great Tomb of Nazarick know that Tsuareninya is protected under the name of Ainz Ooal Gown, not to mention she will be a comrade as well.”
All except Tsuare and Ainz bowed.
“Is there any objection, Demiurge?”
“I have none. Your word is the law in the Great Tomb of Nazarick. However, I believe there will be those who cannot understand why you let a human into this blessed land. What shall I tell them?”
“…Strictly speaking, Yamaiko-sama’s younger sister, Akemi-sama, was a dark elf but still welcomed at Nazarick. Just because she is a human being, I don’t think there’s much of a difference.”
Ainz looked at Solution before continuing.
“If that wasn’t the case, we would probably need to kick out your youngest as well.”
“I am unsure if an immortal would qualify as a human being.”
“That might be so, Solution. Well, Demiurge, announce my decision. If anyone objects, tell them to come to me and I shall explain it to them personally.”
“As you command. I have no more questions.”
“Then I will confirm everything. We will start withdrawing from the mansion. All guards assigned to the mansion will return to Nazarick immediately. Sebas and Solution will tie up all loose ends in the capital and Demiurge will transfer the wheat. As soon as everything is ready, I will send Shalltear to use ‘Gate’. Any questions?”
Everybody bowed in silence and Tsuare followed suit after observing them.
“Then, Sebas. What will you do with Tsuare? Will you return with her, or should I take her with me?”
“I believe letting her stay with me would cause you the least inconvenience.”
“Very well then, Sebas. Solution, bring all the guards over. I will return with them to Nazarick.”
“As you command.”
After watching the three of them leave, Demiurge asked.
“Did you know of her from before?”
Ainz stood up slowly without answering. He turned towards the wall as if someone stood there and finally opened his mouth.
“Demiurge, I believe that a favour should be repaid with a favour, and an eye for an eye. It also applies to the debts I owe to others.”
Ainz took out a book from midair. The book had a leathern cover and was held together with metal wire. It was too shoddy to truly be called a book.
“There are some parts the Chief Librarian translated, but this is the original copy. This is a diary expressing the anger of a young girl… who had her older sister taken away by some noble.”
There were good sisters in a certain village. Their parents passed away when they were young, but they survived by relying on each other.
But the older sister was dragged off by a noble— a noble who had nothing but bad rumours about him. If the older sister had been able to live happily, the younger sister would have been able to put up with the parting, but the younger sister could guess what would happen from the rumours she had heard. Her older sister would be treated like a plaything and abandoned like trash once he tired of her. This was the truth and the younger sister left the village to find a way to save her older sister, because nobody in the village had tried to help her. Soon, the younger sister realized she had a talent for magic and tried to get stronger to save her sister. However, she passed away before she could realize her goal. The page with one short sentence was the last page of the diary. It was about a new comrade on the mission to gather herbs, praises about two adventurers called Momon and Nabe.
“Thanks to this diary, I have learned much about this world. This is my debt. I will repay my debt to you with your sister.”
Ainz put away the diary whose colours had started to fade due to its age.
“Then I have one request to make of you, Ainz-sama.”
“What is it, Demiurge.”
“I found a strange information amongst Sebas’ reports. I wish for time to investigate further.”
“Is there a problem?”
“It would appear so. I have a place I want to check out and I hope that I can make it there by the time you have returned, but I cannot say for certain as I need to find the place first… I know it is disgraceful to waste your time, but please grant me some respite.”
Ainz reassured Demiurge with a bright expression.
“It does not matter, Demiurge. No doubt you are acting for the benefit of Nazarick. How can I not wait under such circumstances. Go, Demiurge.”
“I am forever grateful.”
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 4th, 15:01
The sun rose and Sebas’ and Solution’s busy day started again.
The reason for being so busy was simple. It would have been easy to leave the Kingdom without a word, but then all the connections and contacts they built up would have gone to waste. Thus they acted as if they were returning to the Empire. With Solution in tow, Sebas exchanged farewells with all the merchants and important guild members he was acquainted with.
Obviously, the conversation didn’t end at parting wishes. It was obvious that people wanted to leave a good impression for future business, not to mention having an opportunity to talk to a beauty like Solution. As a result, each farewell took more than 30 minutes and the day dragged on.
“It took a long time, but the process of moving all the wheat from storage is complete. It seems we can return to Nazarick without a problem now.”
On his words, Solution seemed to beam with happiness. Sebas felt that she was happier about completing the master’s orders than the prospect of returning to the Great Tomb. As Sebas was the one in charge of collecting information in the Kingdom, there were not many opportunity for Solution to feel as if she was carrying out her duties.
At least the farewells were Solution’s work as she needed to appear to be the one in charge. With her strong sense of satisfaction, she almost looked as if she was humming in joy.
As a matter of fact, because she was in such a good mood while talking to the merchants, Sebas was able to negotiate several favourable agreements, like the waiving of storage fees because they had purchased large amounts of wheat.
There are benefits to being a beauty.
Sebas truly thought that while tying the horses at the stables and walking towards the front gate with Solution.
Standing in front of the door, Sebas put the key in the keyhole. He turned the key as he had done many times, but there was no clicking sound of unlocking. Sebas frowned in surprised and met his eyes with Solution.
The door isn’t locked?
With a small push, the door creaked open. The only other person in the manor was Tsuare, but there would be no way that she left on her own.
“There are several new scratches around the keyhole. There’s a large possibility somebody picked the lock…”
Before Solution could finish her sentence, Sebas slammed the door open. He didn’t think there would be any traps, and even if there were, he would just smash them apart.
The manor felt empty since everything had already been cleared out. Setting his detection abilities to maximum, he scanned for Tsuare, but he felt nothing.
“Tsuare! Tsuare! Are you in here?”
He shouted while searching the manor. He had searched every corner but there was not a single trace. It was almost as if she had never existed in the first place.
Someone was definitely in here. Considering there’s no smell of blood, she must have been kidnapped. Then what would their demands be…
Sebas balled up his fist tightly.
He was angry with himself, carelessly leaving Tsuare alone in the house. As a matter of fact, he had been apprehensive about leaving Tsuare alone. After his encounter with the underground organization, he knew there would be trouble afoot.
However, he still left her at the manor because of her trauma and her fear of the outside world and strangers. Only reason why she didn’t act up while facing the Guardians was because she could not register them as humans. Tsuare’s reaction back then was an extremely normal reaction of a person who encountered a monster.
Even if Tsuare could’ve been left in the carriage, Sebas had wanted to avoid any possible complications and had left her in the manor.
Because the brothel he destroyed would need time to re-establish itself, and since it would take some time to plan an attack, Sebas had assumed that the ones behind the destroyed brothel would have needed more time to reorganize themselves before trying to take their revenge. In hindsight, it was a disastrous miscalculation, but it was too late now.
As he walked briskly down the hallway, he heard Solution call out for him in reception room.
“Sebas-sama, over here.”
“Did you find her, Solution?”
There was no way she did, because Sebas had checked just now. However with hope, he stepped inside the room to see Solution holding a piece of parchment.
“Something seems to be written on—”
“Please, allow me.”
Even before Solution could finish he snatched the parchment from her. Using the magic item to read the content, he crumpled the parchment in anger.
“Kidnapped. I will follow them and rescue her.”
“It seems like a wise course of action.”
Sebas’ eyes widened as he did not expect Solution to agree.
“However, Ainz-sama ordered us to return to Nazarick. Shouldn’t that be prioritized?”
“But he did not say without Tsuare.”
“Sebas-sama… If you act on your own again, it will be a bigger incident this time. Plus, how are you going to find them?”
“They conveniently left the time and place for a meetup. It seems like they belong to the criminal group that owned the brothel I destroyed.”
“I see. However I still need to send a report to Ainz-sama before you leave. If you had not touched the brothel in the first place, this would not have happened. That goes against Ainz-sama’s order of being covert. If Sebas-sama acts out again, it will mean you disobeyed him once again… Also, did you forget Ainz-sama’s words earlier?”
It was a poignant reply, especially considering who had guaranteed to protect Tsuare.
“Please report to Ainz-sama that she has been kidnapped and that you are awaiting instructions.”
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), 4th, 15:15
“Hmm hmmm hmmm~”
Humming along pleasantly, Albedo threaded the needle. She pushed the needle through, and pulled it out. After repeating this step hundreds of times, she had sewn a black cloth on top of the white figure. Next, she stuffed the white figure and it took on somewhat of more circular shape. Looking at the nearly completed doll, Albedo smiled softly. It was a gentle smile of a goddess full of mercy and love.
“Alright! Ainz-sama’s head is complete!”
She clenched her fist in satisfaction and petted her handmade doll head with the appearance of a skull. Small pieces of cloth were sewed on it to become eyes and mouth, which gave it an overall cute look. If Ainz saw it, he would definitely have been embarrassed.
“Then next is the body…”
She gently sat the skull plushie on a corner of her desk and stood up to grab another spool of white thread.
This was Albedo’s room. Originally her room was the Throne Room, so she had nothing in the way of a private chamber. However, Ainz assigned her the common room the 41 Supreme Beings used so that her work as Overseer of the Guardians would not be affected. Just like Ainz’s room, Albedo’s room was large. Albedo didn’t have many belongings with her, so the room looked rather desolate and empty. After two months of her stay though, it was a different story.
One of the reasons for this was the dressing room she was about to open.
It was a room full of Ainz. She had hand made them all by herself. The dolls were in the shape of Ainz and had different poses; some were full-body pillows, some were miniature plushies. This was Albedo’s top secret space and not even the maids who came to clean the room were allowed to peek inside. It was dubbed the Harem Room.
Albedo hopped around while letting out a strange noises. Then she flapped her wings by her waist and flew straight into Ainz cushion at an incredible speed. It was similar to a rugby tackle. Still hugging the cushion, she rolled around the floor. Because there were countless other Ainz on the floor, it did not hurt. Holding herself in the middle of three Ainz cushions, she laughed creepily.
“Ku-hu-hu-hu-hu, the newest cushion I made from Ainz-sama’s sheets… In another word, I’m sleeping with him indirectly. Ku-hu-hu-hu…”
Albedo buried her face in the cushion and sniffed furiously.
“There is… no smell.”
It was a very sad voice. If someone heard it, they would probably have felt bad for her as well. Because Ainz was an undead, he needed no sleep and his bones had no particular odour to them. He washes his body to remove the dust or wash the blood away, but his body did not excrete anything that could constitute a smell.
“Hm, hmm? This is… perhaps… Ainz-sama’s…!”
However, for a maiden in love like Albedo, it was possible to smell even the faintest of Ainz’s odour. Whether it was her own imagination or not was up to debate.
“Snort snort, sniff sniff”
The way she buried her face in the cushion and sniffed it repeatedly was resembling more of a pervert than the Overseer of the Guardians.
“Ahh~ I’m so happy.”
As the Overseer of the Guardians, Albedo had many tasks to deal with. These included stationing soldiers, constructing the defense network, checking maintenance inside Nazarick, and anything that concerned the Throne Room. There was enough workload to break a camel’s back.
So it was especially important for her to come in here to recharge and feel happy again.
“Ah, I want to see Ainz-sama again! See him again! See him aga~in! See him again.”
Albedo vented her jealousy of Narberal who went on a trip with Ainz while tightly holding onto the cushion. At that moment—
She stood rigidly. She checked around her while shedding cold sweat before realizing it was a voice carried via magic.
“A, Ainz-sama! What do I owe the pleasure to?”
『I just heard from Sebas, no, from Solution with ‘Message’ that the girl Sebas picked up, Tsuare, has been kidnapped. Form an appropriate squad to support Sebas.』
Albedo remembered Tsuare when Ainz mentioned her. Ainz became Momon and left for E-Rantel immediately, but Demiurge who remained had told the vague details about her.
“Please excuse my rudeness for questioning your great order, but is it worth forming a squad just to save some worthless being like a human? If it involved those who interfered with Shalltear I would understand, but…”
『No, they probably have no connection with Shalltear. This time it seems to be a criminal organization lurking in the Kingdom.』
“Then even more so…”
『Albedo. I swore to protect Tsuare in the name of Ainz Ooal Gown. Do you understand what this means?』
The atmosphere changed from earlier. A burning sensation of rage could be felt all around the room and Albedo could only make a choked up sound.
『You understand! Right!! I swore to protect her with my own name! They kidnapped her despite that. This is an insult to my name and everyone else in the guild! There is no excuse, even if they didn’t know.』
The rage suddenly subsided at the end of the sentence. Because his emotional threshold had been exceeded, the calming effect had activated.
『… I’m sorry. It seems I became too angry at those scumbags. Forgive me, Albedo…』
Due to the master’s remorseful voice, she could finally calm herself down enough to speak. The Supreme Being’s rage affected even Albedo. Even if it was not directed towards her.
“T, there is nothing for Ainz-sama to apologize about.”
Albedo bowed deeply even though there was nobody standing in front of her.
『… Then I’ll entrust this to you, Albedo. Rescue Tsuare unharmed.』
“I shall do as you command! While rescuing her, I shall make sure to exterminate the vermin who annoyed you!”
『Then I’ll entrust this to you. Speaking of which, Demiurge should still be in Nazarick to receive the wheat shipment. He will be the one in charge…』
“I shall go myself—”
『No, Albedo. You need to protect Nazarick. Send Demiurge. Make sure their identity does not get revealed as well. I shall leave this matter in the Kingdom to you and Demiurge. Be cautious.』
The ‘Message’ ended and silence returned. Albedo slowly stood up and proceeded to put the cushions away.
“…But I really don’t understand.”
In Albedo’s eyes, there was an unnaturally rigid look. She looked towards a corner of the room.
The reason she did not let any maids in the room was to make sure she could monopolize her Ainz dolls and that nobody could touch them. But there was another reason as well.
That was a flag with the emblem of “Ainz Ooal Gown” embroidered on it. The flag which should have been visible as soon as someone entered the room, laid crumpled in a corner of the floor. There was no sign of admiration or respect towards it, only hatred and hostility.
“Ainz Ooal Gown… How boring.”
In place of the flag of Ainz Ooal Gown, Albedo had raised a different gigantic flag instead. A flag so large, it resembled an opera curtain.
“This, Great Tomb of Nazarick is only yours. I, Albedo wish to only serve you. Ah… One day, I want to hear your great name once again…”