Overlord Light Novel, Volume 14: Chapter 2 -(part 1)

overlord volume 14

Overlord Light Novel, Volume 14: Chapter 2 -(part 1)

Volume 14: Chapter 2 – Countdown to Extinction (Part 1)

In the capital city of the Kingdom of Re-Estize, in the Valencia Palace.

One of the rooms had a kind of heat typical of the number of people gathered inside. Though that number was not high by any means, the room wasn’t spacious either. The point was, the people in that room were so serious and occupied with their tasks that they had begun to raise the temperature of the room bit by bit.

In the center of the room sat a rectangular meeting table and situated on the most important seat in the room was Rampossa III. Sat to his right was the second prince, Zanac, and the rest of the seats had been filled by the Kingdom’s courtiers and ministers. Due to the fact that they were all advanced in years, if you were to take a look around the room, all you would see were white hair on white heads and shiny bald heads.

If this was a normal situation, everyone except the king would have stood up to pay their respects and then properly initiate the meeting — this was the protocol after all — but that was not what had happened. Each one of them had a cup filled with tea in front of them, signifying the potential length of this meeting.

After confirming that everybody had received the materials they had prepared, Zanac said loudly,

“Let’s start the court meeting then. The topic of this meeting will be the declaration of war we have received from the Sorcerous Kingdom.” He had used a term as intense as ‘declaration of war’ in hopes that everyone would treat this meeting with the gravity it deserves.

The truth was, the white-haired interior minister, who was around the age of his father, had the most displeased expression out of them all. It seemed that he was deeply anxious about the emergency.

Zanac took a stealthy glance at the side of his father’s face. He was worried the most about his father’s judgment. Was his father still capable of fully understanding how dangerous this situation could be and take appropriate actions against it?

{He probably has some convictions against the Sorcerer King who had killed ‘that guy’…}

He had heard that after his father received news of the Warrior Captain Gazef Stronoff’s death, he was shaken to his core and couldn’t think straight. After it was explained to him how resurrection was not possible, he flew into a rage that had never been seen before. Zanac bore witness to it all as he was there with his father when it occurred.

Since then, his father appeared to have aged quite significantly. He had lost all motivation and was as lifeless as a mannequin constructed out of flesh and bone.

Would his father, who had been traumatized this much, be able to make a calm judgment against his sworn enemy, the Sorcerous Kingdom?

{It’ll be up to me then—}

Zanac felt uneasy so he took a peek at the ministers.

The topic of this meeting was something that was delivered to them days ago by an envoy from the Sorcerous Kingdom, an official document that bore the royal seal of the Sorcerous Kingdom. The content of the document reads, “A grain convoy meant to serve as humanitarian aid from the Sorcerous Kingdom to the Holy Kingdom had been taken by force by a citizen of the Kingdom. We deem it a hostile action against the Sorcerous Kingdom and hereby declare war on your country.”

The document also bore the seals of other countries that approved of the Sorcerous Kingdom’s actions.

As of now, the envoy was staying within the capital, waiting to deliver the Kingdom’s response letter back. Given that this was an official communication between countries through documents, it would not have been unusual to give the other side a week or two to respond. Even then, for them to reach consensus on a response, finish their preparations, complete investigations, et cetera would probably take them more time than they have on hand, even if they were to rush through every process.

“I’m terribly sorry, because we have had to investigate two of the six seals on the document from the envoy, it took us quite a bit of time.”

The one who had lowered his head was the minister of foreign affairs, who was also the minister of seals and was in charge of the investigation over the seals approving of the Sorcerous Kingdom’s decision.

“The ones we were certain of before were the four from the Sorcerous Kingdom, the Empire, the Draconic Kingdom, and the Holy Kingdom, correct?”

The minister of foreign affairs nodded in response to the minister of finance’s question.

“That is correct. Of the two remaining — one was from the Dwarven Nation. Though we had identified the design as Dwarven, the seal still had some variations compared to the ones on the documents we’ve had from them from two centuries ago. After we received the assistance from Re-Blumrusher with the investigation, we found a similar seal, so we judged that it was probably a remake of the original after a certain era. The other seal, the one that was next to the Holy Kingdom’s, appeared to be the seal of the one they call the ‘Faceless One’.”

“They placed an individual’s stamp alongside the seals of state?”

The minister of military affairs was in total disbelief.

He was the youngest of the ministers. Both him and Zanac lowered the average age of the room by quite a lot. With that said, he was already over 40.

His appearance did not do his rank of the minister of military affairs justice; he was skinny, weak, and had a face that suggested he was neurotic. He seemed more of a financial personnel than a military one.

His relationship with Gazef had not been great – or rather, he had deliberately flaunted his dislike of him – so he was not heavily relied upon by Rampossa and had been absent from court meetings quite frequently. The lack of contact between them made Zanac unaware of his capabilities.

However, since Marquis Raeven had praised his abilities to Zanac, he should be someone who could earn his keep at the very least. No matter what he was like as a person, he should at least be competent, right? No, if he wasn’t at least competent he wouldn’t have made it as a minister.

“It appears as though the minister of military affairs is not too familiar with this matter. Usually, when the Holy Kingdom applies their national seal on a document, their high priestess would also stamp on the seal of their temple. This must be something similar to that.”

“…so they’re trying to send the message that the ‘Faceless One’ had already overtaken the authority of their religious institutions, or that she has authority above that of their current religious institutions?”

“Your servant believes that to be the case, your Majesty. The document we received for the current Holy King’s coronation still had the seal of their temple, so it appears that she had begun rapidly consolidating power right after that event. So even though we had never seen the stamp of this ‘Faceless One’ and could not confirm its validity, since it was stamped next to the national seal of the Holy Kingdom, we could only assume that to be the case.”

“Other than the Council State and the Theocracy, most countries have approved of and joined the Sorcerous Kingdom’s condemnation of the Kingdom. This wasn’t subterfuge by the Sorcerous Kingdom, but the truth.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

His father let out a tired sigh.

“Has the Draconic Kingdom also bent their knees to the Sorcerous Kingdom?”

“We can’t be certain, your Majesty, because we have yet to receive intel on what had happened in the Draconic Kingdom. Perhaps they had fallen prey to some honeyed words or perhaps they simply felt that there was more to gain by siding with the Sorcerous Kingdom than siding with us.”

The Dragonic Kingdom was probably only endorsing the Sorcerous Kingdom’s actions and was not participating in the war itself.

“Is that so? I understand, minister of foreign affairs. Thank you for your hard work. Now then…interior minister, how many of those within the Kingdom believe in the contents of this document?

“Yes. Though we’re not too sure about the entirety of the Kingdom, about seven-tenths of those within the court believe this to be a ploy of the Sorcerous Kingdom. About a tenth of us believe that it was done by highwaymen — that part of the peasantry that would be boorish and foolish enough to do such a thing. The remaining two-tenths believe that this could be the plot of a third nation.”

“Hmm, if it was a plot, their goal would most likely be to weaken the Kingdom and the Sorcerous Kingdom or to simply disrupt the peace between the Sorcerous Kingdom and the Kingdom. If that was the case, it has to be the Council State and the Theocracy.”

“Your Majesty, I believe that conclusion to be too rash. There’s also the possibility that the Empire is plotting to overturn its status as a vassal state. After all, if it was the knights of the Empire, they could probably easily charge and overwhelm a convoy.”

“—that would not be possible. The incident happened on Kingdom soil. Did our investigations not reveal that there were tens of men? Even if it was the Empire or the Council State and the Theocracy, there would be no way they could bring so many soldiers onto our soil behind our backs. Or maybe, they had help from within. Perhaps they had hired bandits within the Kingdom, mercenaries would also be an option — the specifics does not matter, what matters is that we as a nation had committed a mistake.”

The minister of military affairs asserted that it was impossible for this to have been a plot that had been executed by soldiers foreign to the Kingdom.

Everyone knew how hard he had worked to maintain the public order which had almost collapsed within the Kingdom after that battle. He had proven his aptitude through the debacle, perhaps that was why he was so confident in his own judgment.

“It would have been hard with bandits, but I still hope that we could absorb some mercenaries into our ranks, but we simply do not have the capital to do so.”

“Are you saying that our finances are not in order?”

“I did not say that at all.”

“But you implied it—”

“Minister of finance, minister of military affairs, please stop arguing. We do not have time for that.”

The two lowered their heads upon hearing the king speak.

The minister of military affairs continued to speak to a now silent room.

“But, I have no doubt that this is some sort of a plot by someone. I have testimony from the guards at the gates that the caravan was flying the Sorcerous Kingdom’s flag and had a pretty impressive security detail when they left the capital.”

Most of the Kingdom’s people knew of the massacre the Sorcerous Kingdom had committed on the Katze plains, so no one within the Kingdom would dare to provoke such a terrifying country.

If they had to deduce who was behind all of this, there was only one country that checked all the boxes.

—The Sorcerous Kingdom.

Everything made sense once they considered it as a self-orchestrated, self-performed plot.

They probably had ordered the caravan to burn or dispose of its cargo — or maybe they plainly did not load those wagons up in the first place — and made up the excuse that they were attacked by some non-existent entity. It was hard to imagine a more plausible explanation.

“Zanac, though not much time has passed, how much progress have you made on your investigations?”

“Actually…your son I had already found out who had started this incident.”

The courtiers all had shocked expressions.

“…It’s just that, that was what made it difficult. We had doubts about it being a conspiracy precisely because it was so easy to find the culprit. Would you be so kind as to give me a bit more time?”

“Of course, we have to investigate the exact details of this incident, but given the situation any amount of intel would be helpful. Can you report on what you have figured out — what you are absolutely certain of?”

“As you wish, my king. What we are certain of, is that the criminals in question include the one known as Baron Philip Dayton L’Eyre Montserrat and his serfs.”

The courtiers began to speak, “Montserrat?” “Have you heard of that name?” “A baron and his serfs attacked the convoy?” “Were they trying to avenge someone who died in the battle?” “Perhaps he’s one of those that does not put much thought into their actions?” “Emotions could lead one to go on unexpected rampages, couldn’t they?”

In the midst of this, the one to speak up was the minister of justice who appeared to be pretty miffed,

“Your Majesty, this…this has to be a scheme of the Sorcerous Kingdom, correct? Your servant could not fathom why a noble of the Kingdom would mastermind something like this.

“I concur. Is the Sorcerous Kingdom not a country that would nonchalantly use [Charm Person] in their courts? It is entirely possible that they couldn’t care less about using equally sleazy methods on a national level. For example — was that baron being controlled using [Charm Person]?”

The phrase “I see” could be heard throughout the room. Zanac couldn’t help but feel regret for leaking that information after hearing the accusations the minister made in the second half of rhetoric.

“If that’s the case, we need to offer protection to that baron as soon as possible. Though I’m not too versed on the matter, I have heard that the spell called [Charm Person] leaves the victim with the memory of what happened when the spell was cast on them. Therefore he would not remain silent.”

Zanac wasn’t as knowledgeable in magic as the minister, so he had made a rookie mistake.

“Summon that baron. Investigate what had happened. At the same time, protect him.”

“—my king,” Zanac did not want to say so, but after steeling himself he said, “after we find out what had happened, could we offer the head of that baron as an apology to the Sorcerous Kingdom?”

“What are you talking about?”

His father’s gaze was sharp enough that it felt as though it was piercing right through him. Even when he was reduced to a skinny old man, the man who had borne the title of king for the longest time still had an aura that was worthy of praise.

{I doubt I have the same level of majesty, but, I won’t back down so easily.}

Even if this was a scheme by the Sorcerous Kingdom, was it really worth fighting a battle on the battlefield the enemy had specially prepared for themselves? He was terrified of the prospect that they would be continually arguing back and forth about whether ‘it’s a scheme’ or ‘it’s not a scheme’ up to the point when they will be engaged in a full-scale war.

Rather than wait for things to get to that point, it would be better to just give up the head of the noble who had started it all sooner than later and hope that it would de-escalate the situation.

It would be absolutely foolish to fight an opponent who had already demonstrated their superior powers in their previous battle. If a war was to occur, it was hard for him to imagine that the nobles who knew about that tragedy would still send their levies.

Even if they were willing to send their own soldiers, they would just be endangering themselves.

“My king, I believe that we should avoid a war with the Sorcerous Kingdom.”

“And so you would be willing to offer an innocent noble as a sacrifice? Is that something the heir to the throne should say? My son, think before you speak.”

Zanac licked his lips and replied,

“My answer remains the same regardless of what the others may say. I believe that it’s imperative for us to avoid a large loss of life with a small sacrifice.”

“If we were to do that, should we just hand over the head of another loyal servant every time the Sorcerous Kingdom comes knocking on our door? Do you understand that simple logic?”

“I understand…but father should have seen the tragedy of the Katze plains which I had not. Would you still risk conflict with the Sorcerous Kingdom with that in mind?”

His father let out a sigh and curled his lips into a straight line. Zanac pressed home his advantage by following up with, “I am against the idea. Allow me to repeat myself, I believe that a war with that kind of country should be avoided at all costs, even if we have to sacrifice an innocent noble.”

His speech was hardly fit for the heir to the throne. He might get called weak behind his back and lose the loyalty of a few courtiers because of this, but Zanac believed that this was the only path through which the Kingdom would survive.

“…Your Majesty. Your servant supports his Highness’ proposal too.”

The one to agree with him was the minister of internal affairs, but he was about to add on to Zanac’s proposal,

“Your Majesty, your servant understands your desire to protect all citizens. So how about we just — become a vassal state of the Sorcerous Kingdom?”

The courtiers began shouting “What are you talking about!?”, “Have you lost your sense of honor!?”, and so one upon hearing what the minister of internal affairs had to say. The minister ignored them all with his gaze affixed towards Zanac’s father.

Faced with a suggestion that had branded the suggester a traitor, his father gradually let out a smile.

“That, I especially cannot do. That would be akin to betraying the loyalty of generations of people who had served this Kingdom. How will we be able to face them then? I apologize to you, earl. Thank you for your suggestion.”

“Your servant did not deserve that apology.”

Zanac saw that they were communicating on the deeper level through their gazes.

Would he be able to have courtiers who were this loyal?

His father was a merciful man, but nothing more. No — perhaps it was because of this that talented people were willing to serve him. His father was exceptionally talented in recruiting people more talented than him, like the Warrior Captain Gazef Stronoff.

Zanac felt that it was better for him to become king than his brother, who was more likely to become a puppet of the Eight Fingers or the Noble Faction and doom the country than not. That was why he had worked together with Marquis Raeven to become king or a powerful grand duke to prepare for the future.

But now — Zanac couldn’t help but feel inadequate compared to his sister’s genius and his father’s charisma. Even if he became the king, it wasn’t likely that he would have made the Kingdom a better place.

The only thing he could do was to improve himself, but it wasn’t such an easy task given his age and personality, plus he never wanted to self-improve anyways. He would probably keep his personality until death.

“—minister of military affairs, I want to propose a hypothetical. What could we do to win a war against the Sorcerous Kingdom?”

“Could we form an alliance with another country before then? Are we to face them alone?”

Zanac, Rampossa III, and the minister of foreign affairs exchanged gazes. Zanac, as their representative, answered with,

“We have not been successful in forging an alliance with the Council State. We had begun negotiations with them way back — just after that battle had ended. We were not able to form an agreeable alliance back then. If they knew our relationship with the Sorcerous Kingdom has worsened, the chance of rejection would only go up.”

“Is that so…then your Majesty, though this question may be out of line. What would you consider as the victory condition of this war? Do we have to drive the enemy off in battle? Or do we have to kill — or rather, destroy the Sorcerer King? If it’s the latter, I do not believe that we have any chance at a victory at all.”

“…minister of military affairs, that would not be the case. What if we only had to force the enemy to withdraw their forces?”

“Let me think about it…” the minister of the military tilted his head as he contemplated. He came up with the answer, “luck would have to be on our side, but if we were to march an army the long way around and occupy E-Rantel while their troops are still marching from E-Rantel towards the capital, we might have a chance to turn the tide of battle.”

“We would have to break through their three layers of fortifications?”

“Yes, your Majesty. It would be something that could only be accomplished if we were able to sneak an army that is as large we can possibly muster past their defenses — which was why I said that luck had to be on our side. Of course, if the Sorcerous King, the one who was capable of casting that terrifying spell without breaking a sweat, was to stay in E-Rantel then this plan would undoubtedly fail.”

Another way to put this was that if luck was not on their side, they had no chance of victory at all. Zanac wasn’t sure if his father understood the full implications of the minister’s words.

“If that was the case, then if the Sorcerous Kingdom had invaded us without a formal declaration of war, everything would have been over. A surprise attack would have rendered us unable to gather enough troops in time, in which case we wouldn’t even be able to carry out the plan.”

It was the tradition for formal declarations of war to be passed between nations, a sort of gentleman’s agreement or etiquette.

To send a formal declaration of war was to send the message that ‘our country respects etiquette’ to the other nations. If they did not do so, they would have been viewed as a barbaric nation, which would have had a seriously negative impact on their diplomatic efforts.

Between nations of different races, this tradition was not often observed. However, even when nations of different races were involved, it depended on the age, history, diplomatic relations with their neighbouring countries, and so on.

So given this context, how would a nation ruled by the undead, which hates the living, conduct itself? Would they provide a formal declaration of war?

“—My king. As I had expected, we would only have the slimmest chance of victory if we were to go to war. If that is the case, should we not try our best to avoid that outcome, by sacrificing a little?”

“Sacrificing a little…?”

“Yes, my king. We should summon that baron at once and put him on trial. Afterwards, we will have him take responsibility for his actions regardless of the outcome, and off with his head.”

“…We can’t do that, Zanac. To summon that baron and put him on trial would be fine, but if he was innocent or if we could declare his innocence, I will not do such a thing. I have a better plan in mind.”

“A better plan…? What is it?”

His father fell silent and shook his head.

After witnessing that, Zanac concluded that his father was probably lying. If there really was a better plan then he should say it out loud. If there wasn’t, he was probably lying to cover for the fact that he had not thought of a good reason on why they should spare that nobleman.

Zanac felt disappointed by his father and contemplated what he should do next.

{No matter how I look at it, the future of the Kingdom seems grim…Looks like I will have to do it by force.}

First of all, it was a necessity for them to pin all responsibilities on that baron.

Though the probability is slim, that baron may have been the source of all of their troubles anyways. In any case, if they could make that the truth, then their problems would be solved.

However, Zanac couldn’t think of a way to pin all responsibilities on him. What if he was to kill the baron on his way to the capital and then pin the responsibilities on him? His father wouldn’t be able to say otherwise if that was the case.

Even if his father objects to the plan, as long as he could pull it off on his own, everything would be fine. He had considered whether things would turn out this way the moment he had heard of the incident. He had already arrived at a conclusion back then.

The grave crime of usurping the throne.

He was so close to inheriting the throne, he didn’t even have to do anything but wait. The number of disadvantages of doing what he was about to do was too many to count. The only advantage of this plan was that it solved the problem at hand.

If that was to be the case then usurpation might be a stupid idea on paper, but if he was to allow the status quo to remain as is, there would not be a Kingdom to speak of soon.

Zanac had hoped that he could at the very least receive approval from the courtiers present. There was also a need for him to request the services of that man from his sister. Brain Unglaus was an indispensable part of his plan. If Brain was there, they would definitely have the upper hand in terms of strength.

{—ah—how frustrating! Why do I have to plan this out in the first place! If only the Sorcerous Kingdom did not exist! If only that freakishly powerful undead being did not exist!}

If not for the Sorcerous Kingdom, if not for its intervention with their annual battle with the Empire, though his brother may have become king already, the Kingdom would still not be forced into the corner as it had been now.

Zanac cursed in his heart.

And then, the sound of door knocks could be heard.

Zanac had a premonition.

To interrupt a meeting this important, it must be an emergency. To be honest, the way they were knocking on the door was quite violent too.

Issues of such importance were usually — no, they were definitely bad news. That was Zanac’s premonition.

Zanac, as their representative, gave his approval to let them in. A knight panickedly entered the room, just as he had expected.

“A forerunner from the Sorcerous Kingdom has just notified us that their Prime Minister, Albedo, will arrive at the capital in less than two hours!”

In their previous communications, the title of Guardian Overseer did not make much sense to them so they had apparently switched her title to that of the easily understandable Prime Minister. Did the arrival of a person of such calibre confirm his apprehension?

—-no, wait.

His premonition was off the mark. This wasn’t bad news — but the worst news.

{So — for what purpose has she come for?}

The envoy who had brought the official document was not inside this palace. Though he had wanted it to linger within the capital, they did not have the courage to let an undead creature stay with them. This was why it was currently staying within a mansion in the nobility’s portion of the city.

They had stationed guards around the mansion under the guise of protection, the perimeter was so tightly guarded that not even a slime could make it out without them noticing, but the envoy had apparently yet to contact the Sorcerous Kingdom.

Could they have been communicating through magical means? Or did they plan to visit the Kingdom even if the envoy had not returned?

Also, they had not sent the forerunner before they had departed, but rather this late into their journey. What for?

{With that said — it doesn’t seem as though they’re here to declare war.}

If they were here to declare war, they would not be sending their second-most powerful official into territories where they were uncertain of what could happen.

As an envoy from a foreign nation, the Kingdom would not dare harm her — though she might have that naive idea. However, from Zanac’s perspective, she did not appear to be the kind of person to wander into territories she knew would be dangerous to her.

“Grant her an audience. Prepare the throne room for an appropriate reception immediately.”

“Yes, your Majesty!”

The knight left the room upon hearing his father’s orders.

Usually, even if a foreign dignitary was to come to the capital, it wasn’t as though they would be granted an audience with the King on the same day. But, given their current situation, they couldn’t just tell the Prime Minister of the Sorcerous Kingdom things like, “you will be granted an audience in a few days.”

“Everyone, I apologize but can you all switch to more formal attire and gather in the throne room?”

Upon hearing their king’s request, the courtiers including Zanac, lowered their heads.