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  1. 3
  3. Ainz travelled to the Lizardman village through a [Gate].
  5. He was escorted by Hanzos for his protection. Of the five Hanzos, one had a red cloth tied to his right arm. It was not enchanted in any way; it merely indicated that he was their leader.
  7. At first, he had simply thought that doing so would make it easier to manage them. However, the newly appointed leader was overjoyed to have been chosen, and Ainz could tell that he was all smiles under his mask.
  9. Frankly speaking, Ainz felt somewhat guilty. After all, he had merely given him a piece of cloth.
  11. Defended by his vassals, Ainz could now see the statue of himself.
  13. Ainz had already been here several times before, since it was a pre-arranged teleport destination. Still, it deeply embarrassed him.
  15. There were statues of historical figures and so on in Suzuki Satoru’s world, but surely anyone would be ashamed to witness a monument to themselves while they were still alive.
  17. What truly disturbed him was the fact that the facial bones were slightly different from his own. It would seem they were trying to beautify him
  19. Do the cheekbones look more handsome when they’re like that? I don’t get it at all. What kind of aesthetic sense could have produced this?
  21. As Ainz contemplated the matter, he turned and noticed Cocytus and his Lizardmen kneeling before him.
  23. He was used to such genuflection now that he was more experienced in playing the role of a superior being. Still, it did not please Suzuki Satoru the salaryman. That said, he understood that it was a sign of their loyalty, so he did not ask them to stop.
  25. “—Raise your heads.”
  27. After that permission — given with mixed feelings — was granted, the Lizardmen looked back up, as though they had just come out of a daze.
  29. “Thank. You. For. Coming. All. This. Way. Ainz-sama.”
  31. Ainz indicated to the still-kneeling Cocytus that he should rise.
  33. “Umu. Thank you for your hard work. I have received your report on the village. Though I only glanced through it, I did not see any problems, which is good. Your accomplishments here are worthy of praise.”
  35. “Many. Thanks! All. This. Was. Accomplished. By. Your. Glory. Ainz-sama.”
  37. I didn't do anything, Ainz wanted to say. Instead, he accepted Cocytus’ loyal praise with dignified grace. After all, if he had said anything else, it would have devolved into an infinite loop of “Nono,” “Nonono”, “Nononono” and so on. Ainz was quite certain of that.
  39. “...That said, the excellent results you have shown deserve to be rewarded.”
  41. Thinking back, Albedo and Mare had already received a Ring of Ainz Ooal Gown each, Aura had received a watch with Bukubukuchagama’s voice recorded into it, Shalltear had been given Peroroncino’s bestiary, and Demiurge — he had given Demiurge that demonic statue made by Urbelt.
  43. His gift to Cocytus was the lives of these Lizardmen, but it was probably time for some other reward.
  45. “Perhaps you might say it is not needed, but it is only natural that rewards and punishment must be handed out as they are deemed necessary. ...Tell me, Cocytus, what do you want?”
  47. “No. Ainz-sama. I. Desire. No. Reward. Other. Than. To. Serve. You. Loyally.”
  49. While Solution’s request for “innocent humans” was quite disturbing, a request like Cocytus’ was also quite hard to grant.
  51. One of his guild members had complained about a certain type of annoying woman, the kind who said, “Anywhere is fine” when you asked “Where do you want to go for lunch”, and then went on to say, “We should have gone to an Italian place after all”. Ainz felt the same way. It was a hundred times easier to get along with someone who plainly stated what they wanted.
  53. “...Cocytus. A lack of desire can sometimes be more troubling than greed. I now command you — tell me what you want within a week’s time, limited to material objects. Do you understand?”
  55. A distressed look appeared on Cocytus’ face. Ainz paid it no heed.
  57. “Do you understand?” he repeated.
  59. “If. That. Is. Your. Will. Ainz-sama.”
  61. “Umu. That is my will. Alright, then. Cocytus, it is time to move onto my reason for coming to this village. I wish to speak to Zenberu.”
  63. “Understood! I. Have. Already. Brought. Him. Here. Please. Come. This. Way. Ainz-sama.”
  65. Cocytus moved behind and to the side of Ainz, and then addressed the kneeling Lizardmen.
  67. “Zenberu. Answer. Ainz-sama’s. Questions. You. Are. Permitted. To. Directly. Address. Him.”
  69. Zenberu raised his head with a “Yes”, but there was confusion in his voice.
  71. “Then, I shall get to the point. I wish to visit the Dwarven Kingdom. Thus, I wish to employ you as a guide. Can you take me there?”
  73. The Lizardman looked like he had narrowed his eyes.
  75. He did not understand the expressions of Lizardmen, and he could not tell what kind of look he had on his face, but it did not seem like a good one.
  77. “My sincerest apologies, Your Majesty, but may I ask your intentions for heading to the Dwarven Kingdom?”
  79. As he finished speaking those words, a clacking of mandibles issued from behind Ainz.
  81. “...Zenberu. Seeking. To. Know. The. Intention. Behind. Ainz-sama’s. Decisions. Is. Insolence. Of. The. Highest. Order. All. You. Need. To. Do. Is. Answer. The. Question. Truthfully.”
  83. Cocytus was using the same tone he always did, but there was distinct displeasure in his words.
  85. Ainz wanted to shrink away from the clearly unhappy voice coming from behind him.
  87. Still, while Ainz was already like this despite not being the target of Cocytus’ aggression, Zenberu remained silent. He watched Ainz’s reaction, his gaze unwavering.
  89. Tension filled the air amidst the fearsome silence, which was broken only by the threatening sounds from Cocytus. Not much time should have passed, Ainz thought. when he suddenly realised that Cocytus was about to make a move and moved to block him. Not doing so would be dangerous.
  91. “It’s fine, Cocytus. Zenberu did not show me any disrespect.”
  93. “But. Ainz-sama—”
  95. “It is fine. Then, I shall take a small measure of pity on you, Zenberu. What gave rise to the misconception you now hold?”
  97. Zenberu’s reaction was only natural considering what he had done to this village. Still, Ainz did not let those thoughts show on his face. If Ainz willed it, then no blame could be attached to the servants of Nazarick for their actions. Acting otherwise in front of his subordinates might make them doubt themselves and affect their future activities.
  99. “Zenberu. I have no intention of harming the Dwarves. I have come in person because I wish to form a friendly relationship with the Dwarves.”
  101. “Is that really true?”
  103. “You—”
  105. Ainz turned to Cocytus.
  107. “Cocytus. Your loyalty pleases me. But I have already said that it is fine. Pay no heed to what Zenberu says here and forget it.”
  109. “Understood!”
  111. Was this what they meant by “speaking your mind frankly”? If the boss asked you to “speak your mind frankly”, it was clearly a trap.
  113. Ainz turned back to Zenberu.
  115. “Indeed, that is so, Zenberu. I will swear it on my name if need be. I wish to forge a friendly relationship with the Dwarves. However, it is also possible that the use of force may be required if it is warranted by their response. Can you understand that such a course of action might be unavoidable?”
  117. “Naturally.  It makes perfect sense. In this world, might makes right. Even so, how shall I say this… I do not wish to repay kindness with malice.”
  119. Zenberu paused to take a quiet breath. Ainz was reminded of how warriors breathed when they were about to launch an attack.
  121. “In addition, if extermination ensues immediately after I take you there, I pray you will forgive me for taking up arms against you.”
  123. A quiet clacking came from behind him, and Ainz said, “It’s fine” to Cocytus.
  125. Even without checking, he already knew it was the sound of Cocytus tightening his grip on his weapons.
  127. What shall I do with you, Ainz thought as he looked haughtily upon Zenberu. It would seem his repeated practice had paid off, because Zenberu’s body froze in terror.
  129. “Well, if that happens, I shall simply have to destroy you as well. Not that I mind… But that is quite brave. Have you considered the fact that your betrayal might end up destroying all the Lizardmen in the village as well?”
  131. “...I trust you would not really do that, Your Majesty?”
  133. As Zenberu stared hard at him, Ainz cupped his chin with his thumb and forefinger. Then, he made an announcement.
  135. “It seems you are mistaken. I consider matters in terms of benefits and liabilities. While I will probably not destroy the entire group for the treachery of one man, if it turns out that similar betrayals might occur in the future, and that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits of leaving them alive, do you not think I will exterminate them all without delay? Or do you think I am a brainless, all-loving being?”
  137. Zenberu’s expression changed.
  139. However, Ainz did not know what kind of expression it had changed to.
  141. It seemed odd to be saying this as an undead being himself, but he felt that the Lizardmen were sly.
  143. There was no need to understand the expressions of other races. After all, he was merely an undead being with the memories and experiences of the human being called Suzuki Satoru.
  144. 异种族的表情什么的没理由会了解。自己到底也只不过是,有着名为铃木悟的人类的经验的不死者罢了。
  146. Since Zenberu did not look like he was going to continue speaking, Ainz carried on:
  148. “Ah, don’t worry. I will not destroy this village even if you do betray me. After all, it would not be an organized uprising, and your reaction is quite understandable given your personality and history. They are your old friends -- your benefactors? I understand why you would side with them. However, allow me to repeat myself: I will not destroy the Dwarven Kingdom for no reason.”
  150. Whether players were present or not, Ainz did not want to launch straight into hostilities without a dialogue.
  152. After all, things were not progressing very well with the neighboring countries.
  154. Now that they had to vassalize the country which they had the best relations with, their name would live in infamy if they ended up waging war on the Dwarves as well.
  156. Therefore, they had to do their best to sign a treaty of friendship with the Dwarves. This way, they could show the nearby countries that the Sorcerous Kingdom was an entity which could abide by pacts and agreements. This would also give them the moral high ground and allow them to limit the actions which could be taken by any players hiding out there.
  158. What would players do if they were wary of the Sorcerous Kingdom?
  160. The most likely outcome was that they would deem the Sorcerous Kingdom an evil empire, and use that as a rallying cry to declare a jihad on them.
  162. On the flip side, what would they do if they heard that the Sorcerous Kingdom had signed a treaty of friendship with the Dwarven Kingdom, like a proper, decent nation?
  164. Some people might think that it was signed under duress or that it was gunboat diplomacy. However, on the surface it would appear to be a fair and normal treaty.
  166. Hypothetically speaking, if a player decided to wage war on the Sorcerous Kingdom, that player would certainly invite entities on his level — most likely other players — to join him in his crusade. However, some of these people might think of the Sorcerous Kingdom as a decent nation. These war-averse people might cite the Dwarven treaty as a reason to stay out of the conflict.
  168. Granted, this was a presumptuous conjecture, but he might even be able to strike while the foe was in disunity and defeat them, whereupon the bombshell of “That’s why I didn’t want to fight” would go off and tear the enemy apart.
  170. This was the reason why he wanted to place himself on the moral high ground.
  172. After all, the only thing Ainz feared was a group of players, not just one or two other players.
  174. It was true that players with World-Class Items were fearsome, and so were players with very powerful classes, like World Champion. That said, if they were alone, they would not be able to defeat Nazarick without using one of the Twenty.
  176. “So you can be at ease.”
  178. “—I understand that now.”
  180. “Umu. That is for the best. Can I entrust that task to you then, Zenberu?”
  182. “I understand, Your Majesty. I will take you to that cave city of the Dwarves where I once briefly resided.”
  184. Ainz nodded in satisfaction, and then turned to Zaryusu.
  186. “Good, I will address Zaryusu now. Please accept my felicitations on the birth in the family. Are both mother and child well?”
  188. Zaryusu nervously (?) answered:
  190. “Yes, Your Majesty. They are doing fine. It seems my child is about ready to start walking.”
  192. “That’s fast!”
  194. That said, his investigations revealed that the human children in this world developed faster than those in Suzuki Satoru’s world in all aspects, be it in terms of teething, speaking or walking on their own. Of course, that was merely something he had come up with after comparing his observations to his recollections of what Touch Me had said in the past.
  196. “Is that so? I feel it is quite normal…”
  198. “Ah, I see. I seem to have considered that from a human’s point of view. Children… hm. Currently, I am in the process of building a nation composed of beings from various species working together. If I asked you to live in a nation of humans under my rule for the purpose of advancing that agenda, would you accept?”
  200. “I cannot refuse Your Majesty’s orders.”
  202. “Oh, don’t be like that.”
  204. While Zaryusu might not have intended it to come out that way, it sounded like mockery.
  206. The same thing happened with Ainzach earlier, Ainz mused as he continued speaking.
  208. “I wish to hear your opinion on the matter. Having left the Lizardmen as a Traveler, you should have experience with this sort of thing, am I wrong? In other words, you should be able to think in ways that differ from regular Lizardmen. Because of that, I would like to hear what you think and feel about the ever-changing world that lies ahead of you.”
  210. “I became a Traveler because I felt that things could not go on as they had. I was forced to do so by my circumstances.”
  212. “Even if that was the case, your perspective should have been broadened by seeing the world. If possible, why not substitute yourself with a regular Lizardman and thus evaluate the merits of Lizardmen travelling to a human nation?”
  214. “Yes…”
  216. After thinking briefly, Zaryusu spoke once more.
  218. “Personally speaking, I would not want to travel to a human city. It would feel too discomforting to do so with a wife and child in tow. Even if it was a country ruled by Your Majesty… it would be quite difficult.”
  220. Having to abandon familiar surroundings and travel to a completely different environment was deeply distressing. It was only natural that one would want to preserve the surroundings which they were used to. This was especially true for Zaryusu, who was a man that had to shoulder the burden of a family.
  222. There might be some who would disliked being protected for their entire lives. But Ainz felt that people who could not accept protection when the circumstances called for it were weak, be they PKs or PKKs.
  223. 说不定有人唾弃这样一直被人守护着的人生吧。而安兹却觉得无法根据情况去被人保护的人是弱小的。无论是PK啊,还是PKK都是如此。
  225. “I see. Then… Is it possible for the children to become accustomed to that sort of thing?”
  227. “Does that mean you only intend to take the children, Your Majesty?”
  229. Ainz sensed faint criticism within those words.
  231. Zaryusu must have thought that Ainz would forcibly separate the children from their parents.
  233. “Don’t let your imagination run wild. I intend to build a nation where different races can coexist in harmony. The first step of that is to create a place where the children of Lizardmen, humans, Goblins and so on can come together and play happily. That is all. ...Still, I trust that all of you do not intend to live and die in this tiny little world of a lake, but that you plan to step into the world at large?”
  235. The faces of the Lizardmen filled with complicated expressions.
  237. “Do you mean… You want more people to become Travellers?”
  239. “I take it the job of Traveller is not very glamorous among the Lizardmen, am I wrong? I am simply saying that you should broaden your minds. ...I am not quite clear on this, but could it be that you and your wife do not intend to grant your child a wider view of the world?”
  241. A strange look crossed Zaryusu’s face.
  243. “That… is hard to say. I would like to have our children live in a village that is safe and does not lack food, but times are different now.”
  244. 「……这实在难以回答。可以的话更希望孩子们可以在安全无忧也没有食物短缺的村子里生活下去,但现在已经不是那种时代了吗」
  246. He must have been speaking in his capacity as a parent. This was little different from how Ainz wanted the NPCs to live in happiness. As he mused on that, Ainz began feeling a certain kinship with Zaryusu.
  248. “I understand how you feel. One cannot expect change from those who are set in their ways. The quicker the change, the more the older generation will whine and reject it.”
  250. Ainz shrugged while Zaryusu and Zenberu smiled.
  252. “It is as Your Majesty says,” Zaryusu replied. “The elders still complain every now and then.”
  254. “Doesn’t that mean you’re one of those old folks then, Zaryusu?”
  256. Zaryusu looked at Zenberu in bafflement, but even Ainz had picked up on it.
  258. “Parents with children, then? —Yes. Exactly.”
  260. Ainz looked lovingly upon Cocytus, who stood by his side.
  262. “Well, it seems I will have to make this point clear. Cocytus, I shall now give you an order.”
  264. “Understood!”
  266. “Even if Zenberu chooses to oppose me, you are forbidden to harm his friends within this village.”
  268. “I. Hear. And. Obey. Oh. Supreme. One!”
  270. Ainz nodded in satisfaction to the deeply bowing Cocytus, and then looked back at Zenberu.
  272. “Then, Zenberu. I would like to know everything you know. Tell me where you met the Dwarves, what sort of life you had with them, what sort of gifts please them, and so on. Tell me everything.”
  274. “No problem, Your Majesty.”
  276. “Such. Rudeness—”
  278. “It’s fine, Cocytus. He would lose his head for something like that under official circumstances—”
  280. Ainz looked around.
  282. “However, this is hardly a formal setting. I shall allow this to go unpunished. I believe I am capable of that much.”
  284. Ainz chuckled, and Cocytus spoke again, confused.
  286. “Ai-Ainz-sama...”
  288. Ainz reached out to interrupt Cocytus, and then glared coldly at Zenberu. Then, he used a move he had practiced countless times before the mirror.
  290. “However, Zenberu, there is one thing you should not forget. Cocytus will feel guilty because of the tone you take with me.”
  292. Zenberu’s body shuddered, possibly out of fear.
  294. Are these pre-battle tremors?
  296. “...My sincerest apologies, Your Majesty. Your servant has overstepped himself.”
  298. “—It is fine, You should be grateful to Cocytus, the administrator of this village. Because of him, I will not harm it directly… hm, it seems I have said something pointless. Shall we begin discussing the Dwarven Kingdom?”
  300. “Before. That. Will. You. Not. Take. A. Seat. Ainz-sama?”
  302. Ainz was mildly discomforted by Cocytus’ suggestion.
  304. Ainz did not feel fatigue, so he did not need to sit down. However, he could not simply ignore a valuable suggestion like that.
  306. “Indeed. Let us do so. Cocytus, don’t use something too decadent. Anything I can sit on will be fine.”
  308. “Understood! Then. Please. Excuse. Me.”
  310. Cocytus went to his hands and knees, prostrating himself on the ground.
  312. The image of Chair overlaid itself on Cocytus from Ainz’s memory.
  313. 记忆中夏提雅过去的幻象重叠在了科塞特斯的身上。
  315. “...I think I know what is going on, but it might be best to ask, just in case. What are you doing?”
  317. “I. Heard. That. Shalltear. Once. Did. This. As. Well. Therefore. I. Sought. To. Imitate. Her.”
  319. “That was a punishment for her. There is no need for you to do this.”
  321. “But. The. Lizardmen. Under. Me. Have. Spoken. Disrespectfully. To. You. Ainz-sama—”
  323. “There is no need to bring up the past. I already said I did not mind. Did you not hear me?”
  325. “That. Is. True. But—”
  327. Haa—
  329. Ainz had tried to talk him around, but Cocytus was proving unexpectedly stubborn. Despite the fact that the undead did not get tired, fatigue filled Ainz’s soul. Sensing difficulty all around him, Ainz decided to abandon his resistance and made a pronouncement.
  331. “—Ah, that’s enough. Then, I shall be taking a seat, Cocytus.”
  333. “Understood!”
  335. His reply was quite forceful.
  337. Sitting down like this in front of others was very — well, to some extent, it was embarrassing.
  339. Still, the others would find it strange if he hesitated here. What he should have done was to adopt the air of an absolute ruler and matter-of-factly sit upon the body of his vassal.
  341. Ainz bent at the waist. In truth, it was very uncomfortable. In truth, it was very uneven. And in truth, it was very cold.
  343. On top of that, Cocytus seemed to be huffing and puffing in excitement, leaking an ever-thickening white mist, so it looked as though someone had sprinkled water on dry ice and the vapors were billowing out from between Ainz’s legs. It looked like some cut-rate special effect used to make someone look more impressive, and it made him feel like he was sitting on a bed of nails.
  345. “Does. It. Please. You. Ainz-sama?”
  347. Crap. He could not be honest here.
  349. A bizarrely curious part of him wanted to know what would happen if he did speak his mind, but the thought of Cocytus’ reaction was too frightening.
  351. “Mm, it’s not bad…”
  353. Will I sound like a pervert if I say that, Ainz frantically thought. However, he could not think of anything else to say.
  355. “Then. May. I. Know. Whether. You. Prefer. Shalltear. Or. Myself?”
  357. “...”
  359. Ainz was struck dumb. How should he answer?
  361. “Eh… Why, why do you want to know?”
  363. “Yes! I. Feel. That. I. Must. Practice. For. When. I. Must. Someday. Bear. My. Master. Upon. My. Back.”
  365. “...Eh?!”
  367. What the hell was he talking about?
  369. Was Cocytus of a species which allowed the female to mount them during reproduction? Or was he just a sexual masochist?
  371. Takemikazuchi-san!
  373. No, he should have been more decent than that. He might have loved fighting, but he should have been a good man who rarely gave people trouble.
  375. But why did Cocytus turn out this way? Ainz was shaken to the core, as though he had discovered someone else’s secret fetish.
  377. “Is, is that so. That’s good.”
  379. Although, Ainz did not know whether it was good at all.
  381. “Yes! Then. Dare. I. Ask. What. Your. Answer. Is. Ainz-sama?”
  383. “It’s slightly uneven, but not to the extent that I can’t sit down. In that sense, Shalltear is slightly better.”
  385. “Is. That. So…”
  387. “No! No, I mean, you have your advantages as well. Ah, how shall I put this, cold… yes, this cool sensation would be best on summer days.”
  389. Ainz could not help but wonder why he was so desperate to comfort Cocytus.
  391. “I. See! However… Mm.”
  394. While silently rejoicing that Cocytus had fallen silent to think, Ainz addressed the Lizardman.
  396. “Th-then! Pay no attention to what is happening over here. Come, Zenberu, tell me.”
  398. “Ah, yes.”
  400. According to Zenberu, he had climbed up and down slopes and peaks to find the Dwarves, spending a month in a fruitless search. It was only when he was about to give up that he encountered a Dwarf who came out to explore the surface. After that, various things happened, and he earned the Dwarves’ trust and was brought to their city.
  402. His appearance had not done him any favors at first, but he had apparently gained their trust after baring his heart to them.
  404. After that, he had learned martial arts in the Dwarven city. He left once he gained enough confidence in himself and returned to the Lizardman village.
  406. The most important thing among all this was whether or not Zenberu could lead Ainz and his party to the Dwarven city.
  408. Zenberu looked a little uncomfortable, but in the end he replied that he could probably do it.
  410. The Dwarven city was underground, in the depths of a cavern, so he should be able to lead him there as long as the mountain’s terrain did not change. When he heard this, Ainz was reminded of the underground cities in YGGDRASIL, and he could not help but get excited.
  412. The last thing he asked about was the distance to the Dwarven city.
  414. Zenberu replied that the journey back from the Dwarven Kingdom had taken about a week along the mountain trails. That had brought him to the northernmost tip of the lake.
  416. Given the Lizardmen were not used to walking on land, a week’s journey on foot roughly translated to about 100 kilometers.
  418. Unfortunately, they had to rely on Zenberu’s memories, so they could not plot the shortest course on a map.
  420. I should be prepared to stray off course repeatedly.
  422. It made him think of his adventures in YGGDRASIL, and Ainz was all smiles.
  424. “...Is this information useful to you, Your Majesty?”
  426. “Of course. I welcome expeditions in the dark with only a feeble lantern to light the way. That is what they call excitement, no?”
  428. Perhaps they thought Ainz was making a joke, but quiet laughter came from the ranks of the Lizardmen.
  430. Ainz did not intend to correct their mistake. People who did not know YGGDRASIL would find it hard to understand.
  432. “Then, I shall appoint Zenberu as my guide, and we shall prepare to set out according to what he has told me. Aura and Shalltear will arrive soon with their followers in tow, so you should get yourself ready too.”
  434. “I hear and obey, Your Majesty.”
  436. Ainz nodded graciously to him, and then rose from Cocytus’ body.
  438. He paid no heed to the quiet, mournful sound from below him.
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