Overlord Light Novel, Chapter 61 Volume 9
Overlord Volume 9 Prologue
Edited/Proofread by Deus Ex Machina
Jircniv Rune Farlord el Nix — the peerless ruler of the Empire, and the young man who was dreaded as the Bloody Emperor — reflected on his flawless performance.
He was confident that he had won his counterparts over using his charisma, that they were putty in his hands. There should have been no problems.
The nobility excelled at such wordless expressions of personality. This was especially true for the Emperor, who had been thoroughly educated in these ways from his youth, to the point where none would be able to see through his facade. To his guests, he should have appeared to be a kindly young man.
It was very important to understand one’s opponents.
It would be difficult to glean information from someone who was robed with suspicion. However, one could use trust and goodwill as strings to manipulate them, slowly peeling away the layers of wariness which they wore, until they were laid bare before oneself. Of course, such deceptions would be hidden behind a gentlemanly smile which said “we warmly welcome you.”
And the gentleman Jircniv’s opponents were a pair of Dark Elves, who had barged into the Imperial city on the back of a Dragon.
This was the first time he had met individuals whose appearances belied their incredible power.
The earthquake triggered by the staff-wielding girl had claimed 117 lives. Of these, 40 had been his royal guards, 60 had been knights, eight had been arcane magic casters, eight more had been divine magic casters, and then one more — a truly jaw-dropping list of casualties.
As for the knights, being able to stand guard in the Imperial Palace meant that they were among the most elite warriors in the empire, but he could close an eye to their losses. If they were to be ranked like adventurers, one might classify them as silver-rank. Due to the extensive systems in place for the education and training of new knights, these numbers could be easily replenished in the future.
Next were the royal guards, the elites among the elites. It was regrettable that half their number, each the equivalent of a gold-cranked adventurer, had been slain at once. They were equipped with weapons and armor that had been forged and enchanted by the many magic casters of the Empire, a fortune that was worth more than their weight in gold.
And then, there was the most painful loss —the last man— one of the strongest knights in the Empire, “The Immovable” Nazami Enec. Though he claimed he was just imitating a fighting style he had seen before, his two-shield technique that emphasized defense was enough to earn him the title of “the toughest knight”, even among the Four Knights who were the strongest knights in the Kingdom.
In this world, where the fighting prowess of one mighty warrior was more valuable than that of several hundred conscripts, the passing of such a warrior could not be simply described as one man’s death. In the worst case, it might even be seen as a weakening of the entire country’s military power.
In all honesty, Jircniv would have liked nothing more than to chase them away, but he could not do so against opponents who could kill without blinking an eye. He did not know if this was just a show of strength. Therefore, all he could do was welcome them with a smile.
Still, he would not let them walk all over him. Jircniv’s eyes intently studied the two children in front of him, not letting a single movement or gesture escape his gaze.
One could learn many things from even the most mundane of observations.
Jircniv’s senses were very sharp, and he had once discovered that a seemingly loyal noble had actually been scheming secretly with nobles hostile to him, much like one would sniff out spices. Now, he strained those senses to the utmost in order to pick out every clue he could uncover
He studied their clothes—
He studied their looks—
In any case…
The emissaries of Ainz Ooal Gown that had come to the Imperial Palace, the two Dark Elf children, were exceedingly attractive. He could not help but think that they when they grew up, they would break the hearts of many a member of the opposite sex.
Those small, slender bodies, with their ever-changing expressions. They seem like simple, ordinary children no matter how you look at them. Knowing nothing else, it would be laughable to think that they were emissaries for anyone.
A country’s emissaries —their ambassadors— required certain qualities, one of which was their personal appearance. Making a poor impression due to one’s undignified deportment would be a detriment to one’s country.
Ainz Ooal Gown should have understood that principle. Knowing this, what was the motive behind sending a pair of easily-underestimated Dark Elves?
Jircniv racked his brains as he pondered the mystery.
From what I can gather… it must be a demonstration of force. He sends easily-underestimated ambassadors and then tries to intimidate me with overwhelming destructive power. The stark contrast between first and second impressions is meant to maximize the psychological impact… but if that was the case, wouldn’t riding in on Dragonback ruin the effect? The Dragon’s formidable presence would overrule their benign appearance… or is it that these two are the only ones suitable as emissaries? Or was there another— damn. I can’t read their intentions. I don’t know enough.
He had several theories, but they vanished like foam on the waves.
My first priority should be learning more about the opposition. Without this foundation to work on, nothing can be done. Then, I must verify the boundaries beyond which they would be angered. It would be a fool who allowed negotiations to break down because he offended the other party.
First, Jircniv had to learn why they had come to this place
The two Dark Elves had said “The Emperor sent a rude bunch to the Great Tomb of Nazarick”, and then they had instantly killed over a hundred people in the middle of the court. But did they have evidence for that, or was it just a leading question? Jircniv had to find out at least that much.
After taking the timing of their visit into consideration, the “rude bunch” in question would certainly be the Workers. If that was the case, the one giving them orders would definitely be Jircniv. However, there had been several degrees of separation from him; Jircniv’s name should not even have been mentioned in the same breath as these people.
How had he — Ainz Ooal Gown — seen through his schemes? He would need to take a different attitude with them.
Since they came as emissaries, there should be a chance to glean some information from them. Even the slightest action might shed some light on their plans.
Behind the two of them was a foe who had allowed them to barge into another country and intimidate its leader with sheer force. Even a tiny mistake here could spell death for him.
He did not want to trigger another earthquake
Jircniv turned his attention to the neighboring room.
It should have been filled with royal guards, and there should have been more royal guards at his side. But today, he had not bothered. That was because even if he had put 50 royal guards in there, they could do nothing but die if they tried to fight against these two. Thus, there were only five other people in attendance for this meeting.
One of them was a member of the Empire’s Four Knights, “Lightning” Baziwood Peshmel. Another was Jircniv’s most trusted advisor, Fluder Paradyne. There were also three trusted scribes.
He had also ordered the royal guards to dig up the cracks in the courtyard.
He knew exhuming the corpses was futile, but he told them to do it anyway.
The Empire did not have anyone who could use resurrection spells. Even the adamantite-ranked adventurers of the Empire did not have such power. The same applied to their priests. Of the neighboring countries, perhaps only the Kingdom of Re-Estize and the Slane Theocracy could command such magic.
Even so, he still wanted to recover the bodies, because it was a waste to let their gear and magic items be lost with their owners. Also, recovering the bodies and laying them to rest would preserve morale.
“Honored emissaries, you have travelled far and wide to grace us with your presence. Will you not moisten your parched throats? We have prepared some simple refreshments for you. We hope you will try some, if it pleases you to do so.”
Jircniv rang a chime, and the maidservants waiting outside quietly entered the room. There were almost twenty maids, with brightly-polished silver trays.
After their arduous training, these maids should have moved with crispness and beauty.
Yet, even the steps of these maids — who were Jircniv’s pride and joy — were slightly flustered today.
It was precisely because their movements had been so immaculate in the past that the flaws now stood out that much more.
What’s wrong? They’ve entertained so many dignitaries in the past without a hitch; why are they having problems now? Are they under the effect of some kind of magic?
Jircniv wanted to reach under his garments and grab his medallion, but he resisted the urge to do so. The medallion was effective precisely because people did not know it was there; if they knew he possessed such an item, it would have the opposite effect instead.
When the maids faltered after looking at the two Dark Elves, he finally found the reason for their missteps.
Aha, so that’s why… it’s because they’re fascinated by their looks. Well, it’s not as though I don’t understand… no, dammit. I mustn’t make a fool of myself.
Perhaps he should be praising the maids instead for only wavering that much in the face of such beauty.
After setting down the drinks and snacks, the maids bowed and filed out.
“Then, please, do help yourselves.”
The Dark Elf boy raised a glass with a bored expression on his face.
It was easily a treasure in its own right, its transparent crystal etched with exquisite artistry.
Jircniv was not particularly fond of decorated glasses like these. However, that was not to say that he did not possess such things. Even a simple eating utensil used to welcome a guest could be used to show of the glory of the Empire, to let them know exactly how important they were to the Empire.
The Dark Elf boy took a mouthful of the beverage.
No hesitation at all… is he not on guard for poison, or does he have magic that protects him from such things? Or did he already sense that I had no such intentions? …Or is it something else? Hm, that girl doesn’t seem worried either.
“This doesn’t taste particularly good. And it doesn’t have any special effects either.”
The boy’s words filled Jircniv with a new thrill of terror.
Nobody had ever said something like this to him, even when he had been a child himself.
When the surprise faded, it was replaced by a mild anger blazing up in his heart — what a rude boy. But of course, Jircniv was not foolish enough to let that irritation reach his face.
“Then, I sincerely apologize,” Jircniv smiled at the boy. “I pray you might be so kind as to enlighten me as to your favored beverage, that I may prepare some for you on future visits.”
…Did “no special effects” mean no poison? Did he believe that I would be trying to poison him from the beginning? What did he mean by that?
“There’s no way you could prepare the drinks I want.”
“O-oneechan, y-you’re being rude…”
“Oh? Am I now?”
His sister? So he’s not a boy, but a girl. They’re not brother and sister, but just sisters?
When she said that, she did look like a girl after all.
Why… dressing as a male… no, perhaps she wanted to dress in clothes that allowed for freedom of movement? Children of their age are kind of androgynous anyway. What if… the other one was a male… no, given the way she’s dressed, there’s no way she could be. Still… the younger sister’s quite well-behaved.
Jircniv considered how to bring the girl with the staff over to his side, or at least to build a good relationship with her, which might benefit the Empire. However, he lacked information about them and so he could not come up with anything good.
To begin with, he could not forget how this “well-behaved” girl had massacred so many of his men. Treading recklessly around her would be like sticking one’s hand into the maw of a sleeping Dragon.
As I thought, I just don’t know enough about them. I need to find out more as soon as possible.
“Then, honored emissaries, allow me to introduce myself once more. I am the Emperor of the Baharuth Empirem Jircniv Rune Farlord el Nix. I am certainly aware of Fiora-dono’s own noble name, but might I inquire as to yours?”
“Ah, I- I’m Mare Bello Fiore.”
“My deepest thanks, Fiore-dono. Then, with reference to what Fiora-dono said, specifically ‘Ainz-sama is very unhappy and will destroy this country unless he receives an apology’… I assume that I, as the presumed offender in question, will be making my way to Nazarick?”
“Isn’t that obvious?”
It was a terse reply, but one that dripped with frostiness.
The Dark Elf called Aura had no warmth in her eyes from the very beginning. She looked at people like she was looking at insects.
Then, a question.
Indeed, they were on the mark, but the question still remained as to how much he should admit to, as well as the way by which they had come to know about his involvement. Under normal circumstances, he would confuse them with blather and then send them back before learning more about them, but he did not know if he would fall for it. In the end, he still needed to feel out their boundaries, otherwise the situation would be dire for him.
“Then… am I right to say that Ainz Ooal Gown-dono personally ordered the two of you to come here?”
“Yes, he was… what about it?”
“Nothing, I was just making sure.”
Jircniv sank deep into thought.
Who was Ainz Ooal Gown? A Dark Elf, a tomb, a Dragon, none of these went together. There had to be some common factor between them.
Was he a Dark Elf who once lived in the Great Forest of Tob, then moved into a tomb on the plains? Then the Dragon would be the pet monster of the Dark Elf tribal chief Ainz Ooal Gown.
Jircniv dispersed his wild theories.
…I should leave the tales to the bards. My job is collecting information and learning the truth.
What he knew now was that the other side had a way of gaining information from within the Empire. So did he have a far-reaching web of spies, or…
Ainz Ooal Gown is a person who carefully analyzes information. Then I must confirm this.
“He ordered you to come on a Dragon?”
“Y-yes, Lord Ainz told us to do so.”
“I see… so that’s what it is…”
“What are you getting at, asking all these weird questions? Are you apologizing? Or not coming? If you’re not coming, then come out and say it so we can tell Ainz-sama, and then return to destroy your country. It’s that simple.”
There was a saying, “one cannot gain a Dragon’s eggs without entering a Dragon’s lair”. It meant that one could not make great gains without taking great risks.
Jircniv had heard this saying before, and so he steeled himself to take the next step.
“Naturally, I wish to expiate my wrongdoings before him. Though I have no impression of sending anyone to a place called Nazarick, it is entirely possible that one of my underlings might have acted rashly, and independently of my orders. That being the case, the ultimate responsibility lies with their overall superior — namely, myself.”
From the corner of his field of vision, he saw the three scribes’ eyes widening fractionally, while Fluder nodded in approval.
“Huh~ all right. Let’s go together, then.”
“A moment, please. While I have no issue with leaving presently, I am still the ruler of this country, and I cannot simply vacate the seat of power all of a sudden. Perhaps, if you could allow me two, maybe three days…”
Jircniv glanced at the twins’ faces to make sure it was all right before continuing.
“—In order to get the affairs of state in order before I leave. After adding in the time to settle some other pressing matters and preparing the reparations for Gown-dono, I think ten days should—”
“Ten days? That’s a bit long, don’t you think?”
“With ten days, I will surely be able to prepare an appropriate gift. A thoughtless offering would only be disrespectful to him. Then there is the matter of finding the parties involved. The Empire is large — scouring it will require an appropriate amount of time.”
“A gift, huh,” Aura muttered. Beside her, Mare began to look uneasy.
I see… they were distracted upon hearing the subject of an appropriate gift for Gown. That means they deeply revere their master. I should be able to buy some time with this.
But before Jircniv could continue, Aura spoke first.
She was all smiles, and her tone was one of teasing.
“Just kidding~. Ainz-sama just told me to tell you to come over now, but he didn’t say exactly when. So ‘now’ is ‘however long you think you need’.”
Though he wanted to spit on Ainz Ooal Gown, who had seen through his schemes, at the same time he also felt that his opponent was both an intelligent and worthy foe.
So he wanted to see how I’d react to the demand of “now”, then. Well well, Ainz Ooal Gown, you’re a tricky negotiator. You must be quite the sage to have foreseen the path this conversation would take.
“Say, aren’t you going to say anything?”
It was only after hearing Aura’s cold voice that Jircniv realised that he had been lost in his thoughts.
“Ah — ah, forgive me. I was merely contemplating what to prepare if I didn’t have enough time.”
“Huh~ well, it doesn’t matter. Then… can you give me an answer? How long before we can expect you to come over to Nazarick?”
“Just so,” Jircniv ignored Aura’s provocation. “All preparations considered, I think I will be able to pay you a visit in five days’ time.”
“Got it. Then, we’ll let Ainz-sama know. Ah, that reminds me, should we help you dig out the guys buried alive out there? Though…”
Aura clapped her hands together, and her smile was far too malicious to be childlike.
“…They may have ended up like rice crackers. Or mincemeat. That might be a bit hard to fix.”
Jircniv continued smiling, because the opposition’s aim right now was far too transparent.
People revealed their true nature during times of great emotion. So they must have been trying to provoke him to see his reaction. Jircniv had used this technique during negotiations himself, and the best way to deal with this sort of thing was not to allow himself to be baited.
“Then, I am grateful for your assistance. I shall leave the rest to you.”