Ok…this… took a while. Sorry about that.

You've waited long enough, I won't put a bunch of Author's Notes right at the start. On with the chapter and I hope that you enjoy it.

XXXXXXXXX

It wasn't anything fancy, just a room with a wooden table and a number of wooden chairs. Momonga took his seat, with Yuri and Lupusregina sitting on either side of him, while the Adventurers took their seats across from them.

Momonga took note of how the four spaced themselves out and sat in positions where it would be easy to draw their weapons at a moment's notice. Silver was only the third rank from the bottom in the Adventurer hierarchy, but these four had definitely gone through some dangerous events to gain that kind of awareness. To him they were all quite young, probably under twenty, but none of them gave off any hints of childishness. Only calm professionalism.

"Now, before we start talking about work, we should probably introduce ourselves first." The one who spoke was the same warrior from before. He had the same blonde hair and blue eyes common in the Kingdom, and was dressed in banded armor with strips of metal held together with metallic thread over a chain backing.

"I am the leader of the Adventurer team 'Swords of Darkness', Peter Mork. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. This fellow here is Lukeluther Volve, our eyes and ears."

The man next to Peter nodded in response. He was blonde with brown eyes, wearing leather armor. Unlike the somewhat burly Peter he was slender and long of limb, with a wiry musculature.

"To my left is our Druid Dyne Woodwonder. He's good with healing spells and nature magic, and he knows his way around herbalism too. However, I doubt he holds a candle to your friend there when it comes to the healing arts if your claims are true."

"Pleased to meet you! I hope to learn much during our time together!" boomed the burly, barbaric looking man. He was clad in furs and sported a full, bushy beard with long blonde hair. He kept several pouches and bags at his belt and the whole area around him smelled of grass and unknown plants.

"And, finally, the brains of our team, the spellcaster Ninya."

"Pleased to meet you."

Where the other three were tanned from long hours in the sun, the fourth member of the group was pale. Between his complexion and his auburn hair he was noticeably distinct from his comrades. From first appearances, as well as his youthful features and higher voice, he seemed to be the youngest of the group.

Unlike the others, who wore various kinds of armor, Ninya wore only a leather robe with various pouches and trinkets kept at his belt, and kept a long wooden staff leaned against the wall behind him.

Taking everything in, Momonga concluded that he was most likely an arcane spellcaster like himself.

"But, Peter, do you mind not using that weird nickname?"

"Huh? But I think it's a good one, don't you?"

Momonga had no clue what was going on. "You have a nickname?" Did that mean something here?

Lukeluther put his arm around Ninya's shoulders and ruffled his hair. "Yeah, this guy here's a talent holder, a super genius spellcaster! Bow before his might!"

The young man quickly extracted himself, face burning red. "Would you stop it!? Like what I can do can compare to someone who can use Sixth Tier magic."

Momonga quietly observed the horsing around, secretly delighted that he had a live example of a Talent holder right in front of him.

That piece of information didn't come from Nigun, but rather from the rank and file members of the Sunlight Scripture. Talents were a bit like Martial Arts, something unique to this world. They weren't entirely uncommon, about one in two hundred people had them, but they had a wide variety of different effects.

All the while Yuri and Lupusregina kept their silence, watching the four of them just like Momonga himself was. Yuri was as prim and proper as she always was, but Lupusregina was starting to let a smile onto her face. Momonga was beginning to learn that that could mean trouble.

Ninya quickly got his hair back in order. "And while I may have a Talent, it's hardly anything special. I just got lucky that I got something useful."

"Oh…." Momonga grew even more interested, and strained to listen to the banter.

Talents were received at birth and could not be modified or changed. As a result, it was entirely possible that someone might have a Talent but could never put it to practical use. For example, among the Sunlight Scripture there were Talents such as Nigun's ability to strengthen summoned monsters. The rank and file members had a few Talents among them, like being able to increase the speed of mounts, being able to speed up the harvest by several days, and being able to predict the next day's weather with 70% accuracy.

But if someone had a Talent for strengthening summoned monsters, but was incapable of learning magic to summon monsters, it would go to waste. Most people with Talents ended up in that sort of situation. Those able to make full use of what they had were hard to come by.

Most of those who had Talents useful in combat ended up becoming Adventurers. So among Adventurers, finding people with Talents was supposed to be fairly easy. Momonga saw the proof of that now, he had encountered someone like that on his second day in the city!

Lukeluther ignored Ninya's attempts to dodge the subject. "I think his Talent has something to do with studying magic, isn't that right? He was able to learn magic that should have taken him eight years to master in only four. I can't use magic myself, so I'm not entirely sure how great that is."

Momonga was a spellcaster himself, and was deeply curious. He felt a collector's desire rise up within him. This was an ability foreign to the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and had the potential to strengthen the organization. 'If I can gain control of this ability somehow, it might be worth making enemies of everyone here….'

Shortening the time needed to learn new spells and abilities… the only thing he knew of that could do that was the Supreme Magic [Wish Upon A Star].

The two kept on talking, ignorant of Momonga's hungry gaze.

"Honestly, I'm just lucky. This Talent made it possible for me to become an Adventurer and take the first step toward my dream. Without it, I'd just die a lowly peasant after spending my life in toil."

Ninya's solemn muttering seemed to spread a depression around the room.

As if in response, Peter joined in with forced cheer. "Oh come on Ninya, you should be proud! You're a famous Talent holder in this city, that's something special!"

The younger man just shook his head. "Spare me, there are plenty of people more famous than me."

"You mean the leader of Blue Rose?"

"She's famous too, but I'm talking about people here in E-Rantel."

Dyne exclaimed "Ah, you must mean master Bareare!"

Momonga could not contain his curiosity. "Bareare? What kind of Talent does that person have?"

All four stopped what they were doing to stare at him. It would appear that the answer was common knowledge.

Momonga had jumped the gun, eager to satisfy his curiosity learn about an ability that could strengthen Nazarick. He cursed himself for his carelessness, and tried to find some way to recover from this mistake.

But before he could say anything, the other side came to a conclusion of their own.

It was Peter that spoke up. "Oh, I get it. No wonder we've never seen you before, even with all that fancy gear. You guys are from out of town aren't you?"

He thanked all the gods that he never believed in for this mercy of a question and quickly nodded. "That's correct, we only arrived in E-Rantel yesterday."

"No wonder you wouldn't know about Bareare then. I guess he's only famous in this city. You've really never heard of him before?"

"That's correct. If you wouldn't mind, could you tell me about him?"

Peter adjusted himself in his chair. "Well, that's not a problem. His name is Nfirea Bareare, and he's the grandson of the best potion maker in town, Lizzie Bareare. His Talent allows him to use any magical item. He can use scrolls from different spellcasting systems than what he uses, and can even use magic items created by Demi-humans. Even items restricted to special bloodlines or specific individuals shouldn't be a problem for him."

"Oh…."

Momonga tried to hide the awe in his voice.

How much could this talent do? Would he be capable of using the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown, even though it was restricted to the Guildmaster? Would he be able to use World Items? Or was there some kind of limit?"

He felt that this individual could be very dangerous, but could also be very useful.

Lupusregina just smiled. "Sounds like an interesting guy~."

Lukeluther smiled happily at the sight. "Hey, sorry for us talking amongst ourselves for so long. So, what are your names?"

Momonga straightened himself in his chair, hoping to regain a noble, regal bearing. "I am Suzuki, an arcane spellcaster. To my right is Irri, a powerful Monk, and to my left is Erin, a Cleric. It's nice to meet you all."

The two maids nodded as he finished but said nothing.

Peter took control of the situation again. "It's nice to meet you all. I hope you don't mind if we get down to brass tacks? The truth of the matter is that what we're doing doesn't exactly count as a request."

The masked skeleton tried not to let his confusion show. "So you mean…."

The young warrior raised a hand to stall the question. "What I mean is that we're going to be hunting down monsters outside of town."

"Ah, I see."

'That should be enough to count as work. Or is there some special Adventurer reason that it doesn't count as a request? Is this like those requests on the board I saw that wanted people to hunt a certain number of a certain kind of monster?' Momonga didn't know, and he didn't want to ask and maybe make himself look stupid. So he went with a safer question.

"What kind of monsters will we be exterminating?"

"Ah, we're not exterminating specific monsters. We'll just be hunting monsters that we can find. If we bring in proof of the kills, the local government will pay us based on how strong the monsters were. What do they call it where you're from?"

'Oh, so that's what it is.' Rather than a Quest, this was more like hunting respawned monsters in YGGDRASIL just to farm money.

Dyne interjected in his deep baritone. "This is something we all have to do to make a living, especially right now."

Momonga's curiosity flared up. "Right now?"

Ninya scratched his head as he responded. "Yeah. Hunting monsters is nice and all, it helps everyone, but it doesn't pay as much as an actual request. But you saw the board right? There aren't that many requests for iron and silver plates right now, and the ones that ARE there aren't exactly plum assignments. So we're hoping to get enough money to make ends meet long enough for new silver plate requests to come in."

"I see, that makes sense." Momonga was well aware of what it was like having to wait for a seasonal product to hit the shelves.

Peter had an awkward look on his face. "I hope you guys don't think badly of us for this, but this is kind of the main reason we wanted to work with you. If you guys are as good as you say, which I don't disbelieve mind you, then we should be able to bring in a big haul. This will also get you more money than what the Guild usually offers for copper work, so everyone should benefit."

"That's not a problem, it's not bad to cooperate so that everyone comes out ahead. But, since we're talking about rewards, how exactly will we split the proceeds from this?"

Ninya jumped in again. "We talked it over a bit before we asked you. We were hoping to be able to split the money 50/50. I think that's fair, don't you?"

Momonga recalled Lucifer's words, to leverage his power for greater gains, but decided that this wasn't the time for it. "Splitting the money evenly shouldn't be a problem. So, where will we be looking for monsters, and what are we expecting to find?"

Peter stood up to get a map out of his pocket and spread it across the table. As Momonga looked it showed E-Rantel and its immediate environs.

The warrior pointed to a patch of green south of the city. "We'll be looking for monsters here, near the southern forest. We won't be going into the forest itself, we just aren't equipped to handle what lives there, so instead we'll be hunting things that emerge onto the plains. The monsters around there should be fairly weak, the only thing that can hit the back line would be goblins that have items granting flight. Unfortunately, we won't get much for killing such weak monsters, so we'll have to go for quantity over quality to make a real profit."

Momonga wasn't sure about this easygoing attitude. From what he could remember of YGGDRASIL's goblins, they could be anywhere from level one to level fifty and had a wide variety of different enemy types. So did that mean that they didn't expect to find powerful goblins? Or were this world's goblins just that weak?

"What will we do if a powerful goblin shows up?"

Peter responded with confidence. "We probably won't see any goblins that we'd have to worry about. While strong goblins do exist, they tend to be tribal leaders. They know that the plains are where humans live, and they know what happens when they get too uppity. They won't want to come out of there on their own, leaving their tribes unsupervised. It will give some lieutenant a chance to try and take over. And they won't mobilize their entire tribe and risk a serious subjugation force coming after them just to get us. So we shouldn't have anything to worry about as long as we stay out of the forest."

The young warrior faltered for a moment. "But, in the event that something serious DOES pop out of nowhere, we will have to let our hopes rest with you Mr. Suzuki. I hope you don't think less of us for this."

In other words, they were hoping he was going to power level them?

That was something he was deeply concerned about, in the grand scheme of things. If there were other Players out there, and they helped the locals level up, it could grow into a threat to Nazarick. Yet, when he brought up this fear, Lucifer just smiled and said nothing, silently dismissing his worry. It kind of pissed him off.

Of course, he had no intention of helping the people of this world get power unless he could be certain that they wouldn't turn on him.

But… one small expedition wouldn't let them grow THAT much. And if it turned out that the monsters were actually very dangerous, he'd think of a solution then.

"That's fine, if things get truly dangerous we'll definitely be able to handle it."

Peter smiled. "Well, that's a relief. I think that's about it. So how about it Mr. Suzuki? Shall we work together?"

Momonga nodded. "I don't see any problems with this arrangement. Let us fight together. Since we'll be working together for a while, I might as well let everyone see what I look like."

With that, Momonga took his mask in hand and shifted it, allowing light to shine on half of his face. Or rather, the illusion that he had cast over himself.

The four were quite surprised by what they saw. From his black eyes and black hair, he was evidently from a far off land.

"I'm surprised he looks as young as he does. For someone capable of Sixth Tier magic to be so young, I'm super jealous."

"Huh!? Young? He's on the wrong end of forty at least!"

"Well, compared to Fluder he's young…."

Peter ignored Ninya's muttering. "I've heard that people with dark hair live in the south, are you from that region?"

Momonga quickly replaced his mask. "Yes, the three of us have come from a distant land. I hope you don't mind if I keep my face covered. If people find out I'm a foreigner there might be trouble."

Of course, this didn't include the possibility that people would raise a fuss about Yuri's or Lupu's exotic looks. But it was a bullshit excuse to minimize the chance of people discovering his inhuman nature so Momonga didn't care. He just hoped that nobody would point out the fallacy and continued on.

"Since we'll be working together, we should dispel any doubts now. Does anybody have any questions for me?"

Lukeluther raised his hand immediately "Yes! I have a question! Me!"

After quickly looking over at his companions and seeing that he was the only one, he immediately continued, asking Yuri of all people "Tell me, just what is the relationship between the three of you?"

Momonga had no idea what the man meant, and so gave a simple answer. "… We are companions."

If the ranger's first question was strange, the next was flat out bizarre. He bowed his head to the surprised Yuri "I've fallen in love with you! It's love at first sight! Please go out with me!"

Everyone turned to look at Lukeluther. After a moment, Momonga realized that he wasn't just joking around and scrambled to figure out how to handle this ridiculous development. But while he tried to figure out what to say, all eyes turned to Yuri.

The eldest of the Battle Maids was probably the nicest of them, but she seemed distinctly annoyed for some reason. Her smile was strained as she looked at him and responded. "Thank you, but I'm not interested in a boyfriend at this time."

The Swords of Darkness took this response in stride, and Momonga sighed deeply in his heart, thankful for her normal response. If she had said something weird he had no idea what he'd do.

Lukeluther just bowed again. "Thank you for this firm rejection! Let us start off as friends!"

Yuri didn't seem to know how to respond to the man's advances, and Lupusregina just started laughing. "Man, this guy doesn't know when to give up does he su~?"

Peter just ignored his friend's antics and looked over to Momonga. "So, with that out of the way, shall we get going. The four of us are already fully prepared, how about you?"

Momonga thought about it for a moment. His group didn't have rations, but they had a response for that so there shouldn't be any problems.

"The three of us are prepared as well, let's get going."

"Okay then, Lukeluther wake up. It's time to get moving!"

With that, everybody left their seats and filed out of the room.

XXXXXXXX

The group made it as far as the main hall before the Swords of Darkness stopped in their tracks.

Momonga looked over to where they were staring and saw a man.

He was rather plain looking if you ignored the somewhat large nose. Short orange hair, dark blue eyes, average height, tan skin. Most of his body was concealed by his armor though. The solid plate was a dusky gray metal, with even darker edges outlining each individual piece. A short red scarf wrapped around his neck was the only other adornment he had.

The stranger was sitting on a barrel to the right of the door they just exited, scraping under the fingernails of one hand with what looked to be a silver dagger. As he continued the delicate work, he looked over their group of seven with a keen eye and lifted an eyebrow.

Momonga was getting tired of the staring. He looked down at Peter and asked the obvious question. "I hate to pry, but do you know this man?"

The man with the scarf nodded. "Yeah, he knows me. Don't mean to sound arrogant, but most people around here do. Go ahead young man, introduce us."

Peter gaped for a second before regaining his bearings. "U-um, right, okay. Um, Suzuki, I would like to introduce you to Master Bellote. He is the leader of Sky Wolf, one of the three Mythril Adventurer teams here in E-Rantel."

The hidden Overlord felt like taking a deep breath, even though he didn't have any lungs. Mythril was third from the top of the Adventurer ranking system, and the highest rank of Adventurer that lived in E-Rantel. And if this guy was the leader of a team, he was probably one of the most famous and powerful men in this city.

Momonga wasn't scared of the man if it came to a fight. But the real question was what one of the most powerful men in E-Rantel was doing waiting for him outside of his meeting.

'Have we been detected?'

If they had been discovered, there would be no hiding it if this Bellote guy exposed them in front of the entire Adventurers' Guild. A quick look around the room revealed no obvious preparations to capture him, nor did he detect anything hiding with invisibility. But he could see that everyone in the room was watching his group and this Mythril Adventurer. He got the impression that this guy was the real deal, and as influential as he feared.

Bellote nodded to the young man. "Quite right. And I'm afraid I'm here on official business." He turned his gaze to the disguised Momonga. "The Guild Master asked me to have a word with you regarding your… unusual request. Would you mind if we take a walk back to that meeting room you were all using? This should be discussed in private."

Momonga was getting seriously worried, and the maids could tell. He saw it as the two of them started to slowly prepare themselves to fight. Never before did he wish so badly that 'Telepathy' was a spell he could learn, it would save him a big headache right now. The last thing he needed was for his overzealous protectors to start something.

He gave a shallow bow in response as he shouted at the maids in his mind. "I have no problem with that. But I'm afraid I've agreed to take a job and I wouldn't want to abandon my allies here."

The leader of Sky Wolf just shrugged. "Fine, then they can come along. It doesn't matter if just a few people sit in. Is that fine with you kids?"

The Swords of Darkness looked at each other, apprehensive. The source of their unease was obvious, Momonga felt he could practically read their minds.

'Are we getting into something over our heads?'

They quickly came to a decision however, and Peter stepped forward. "If it's okay with the two of you, we would like to sit in on this if it affects our group as well."

Bellote hopped off of his barrel and sheathed the dagger in his belt. "No problem. Follow me."

Without another word he walked right past all seven of them and made his way towards the meeting room that they had just vacated. And, with only a couple of glances at their respective companions, the seven of them followed.

Scenarios rushed through Momonga's mind as he walked down the short hallway. Was he already discovered? Was he walking into an ambush right now?

He was an arcane spellcaster. By nature, he wanted to keep melee fighters away from him. It wasn't impossible that enemies had secreted themselves in the meeting room after they left it, and were waiting for this Bellote guy to lead them back in to spring an ambush. If they were only as strong as the mythril Adventurer, he would have nothing to worry about as far as his safety was concerned. But if they were powerful warriors… powerful Players… then he could be in real trouble if combat broke out in that tiny room.

'As much as I hate to say it, I'd have to rely on Yuri and Lupusregina to hold off any enemies long enough for me to teleport us out of there. They'd probably die, and I hate to put them in danger like that, but we would have no trouble resurrecting them…. On the other hand, those 'Swords of Darkness' might take our side if we get caught in an ambush. If that's the case, they can be the sacrifices. But what if they join in against us? If the attackers are people they know they might side with them against us without thinking. Maybe I can use mind control to turn them against the attackers to give us room to escape?

He was working out the ideal timing for casting a 'Mass Suggestion' spell when they reached the door.

Silently, Momonga, Yuri, Lupusregina, and the Swords of Darkness took their seats as Bellote rustled up a chair for himself and sat down. All the while, Momonga's metaphorical heart was in his throat as he looked around the walls in search of hidden ambushers.

He didn't see anything, but they might have been hidden inside the wall with a spell like 'Meld into Stone'.

Before his musings could go any further, Bellote cleared his throat. "Okay, it's like this. And bear in mind, this little conversation does not leave this room." His baleful gaze toward the Swords of Darkness left no question about who he was referring to.

Turning back to Momonga, he continued. "I'm going to speak frankly, I'm not one to beat around the bush when I don't have to. The Guild Master is caught in a bit of a bind. The big question is whether or not your team is as great as you claim. What you boasted about earlier at the front desk was… outlandish, to say the least. But you have impressive equipment, impressive enough to make Ainzach think that you could be the real deal."

Momonga was happy that he looked the part, but not really sure about where the Adventurer was going.

"So, the question is what to do with you. What he would like to do is give you what you want and let you tackle that Drake. If you are as mighty as you claim, it shouldn't be an issue. If you're a bunch of fakes, you'll die horribly. And another team can be sent out to salvage all that impressive gear."

The masked overlord tilted his head. "So, he is going to let us take that request?"

Bellote shook his head. "No. As much as he'd like to do it, he can't. Red tape. As much as he might like to make an exception, he can't. There would be an uproar, not just from the local Adventurers, but from other Guild executives throughout the region. The first he can deal with, all he'd have to do is have you show off and the locals would shut up. But the other Guild Masters wouldn't be put off so easy. So he can't just throw you into the deep end. Especially if doing so actually gets you killed. That would get the other bigwigs all kinds of upset. So we're going to make a compromise."

He reached under his collar and pulled a rolled up piece of paper out from under his breastplate. When he spread it out on the table, Momonga saw that it was a request paper like the ones on the board.

CLEAR OUT THE UNDEAD FORTRESS

Villages to the southwest have been repeatedly assaulted by groups of undead. Seven different villages have been attacked, two of which had to be evacuated. Confirmed undead sightings so far include Skeletons, Skeleton Archers, Skeleton Mages, Skeleton Warriors, Red Skeleton Warriors, Zombies, Zombie Beasts, Zombie Ogres, Wraiths, Bone Vultures, and Ghouls. These Undead have been encountered in different numbers over the last two months, further details will be discussed upon accepting the request.

Recently, the movements of the Undead in the region were finally traced to a fortress near the eastern foothills of the southern mountains on the border with the Slane Theocracy. Preliminary reconnaissance indicates that this is the source of the undead scourge. This fortress must be infiltrated and cleared of all undead inhabitants. Full details of the fortress, including the existence of subterranean levels, are currently unknown. Full details of the inhabitants of the fortress are unknown. Full difficulty level is unknown, but considering the numbers and variety of the undead seen so far, is expected to be at least 80. Expect powerful undead defenders and prepare defenses against necromantic magic, curses, paralysis, poison, and disease.

The possibility exists that the difficulty of this request is too low. If this turns out to be the case, retreat and report this information so the difficulty can be raised appropriately.

Difficulty: MYTHRIL

REWARD: 400 Gold Coins, 50 Gold Coins for escaping with intelligence for future assaults.

As everyone looked over the paper, Momonga saw the Swords of Darkness turn pale.

Bellote waited for everyone to take a look before he spoke again. "We can't let you take a Mythril request on your own, the rules forbid it. And if you are what you say you are, the Guild Master doesn't want to get on your bad side by forcing you to go through low level requests and rank up examinations. But while he can't let you take a Mythril request on your own, there's nothing in the Guild by-laws against higher ranking Adventurers letting lower rank teams come along on their jobs."

Momonga finally understood what the offer was. "So, instead of letting us go off on our own, he'll have us accompany you and your team on a request you were going to tackle anyway."

Inside, Momonga approved of the idea. Rather than let pointless red tape stand in the way, the Guild Master came up with a clever means of granting a potentially powerful new recruit a way to prove themselves while simultaneously putting them in the custody of a group that could watch their every move and satisfy the requirements of the rules he had to follow so nobody could complain. It reminded him of one of the better supervisors he had had in his life. From the point of view of an office drone, he couldn't help but approve. It was the mark of a good boss.

The Mythril Adventurer nodded. "Exactly. If you do well, the Guild Master is prepared to offer immediate promotions to 'commend your valor'. After all, a Copper team excelling and holding their own on a request that would normally take a Mythril team is definitely a feat worthy of an instant promotion wouldn't you say?"

'So, he didn't just come up with a way to satisfy and test a brash new recruit, but to get him through all the pointless red tape in the future if he turns out to be as good as he seems.' Honestly, Momonga wanted to meet this Guild Master Ainzach. He felt that he might be able to learn from his management. But, at the same time he also wanted to avoid him.

If he was really that capable, he might be too smart for Momonga's disguise to fool. He wasn't sure if he should be happy or worried.

The Swords of Darkness were muttering among themselves, but Yuri, or rather, Irri, peered down at the request paper before asking a question. "Excuse me, but it says here that further details would be discussed after the request is accepted. Seeing as you have most likely accepted the request, could you talk to us about those details?"

Bellote's mouth twisted into a brief grimace before he started talking. "Not a whole lot to tell you. The executive I talked with used a lot of words but it pretty much boils down to 'the weaker undead are more numerous and the stronger undead are in fewer numbers'. Also, that list isn't entirely accurate."

He shifted around a little bit before continuing "This isn't a new problem. The problem of the Undead attacking those villages has been going on for more than a month. Plenty of requests have been coming in to defend this village, or investigate that claim, and what have you. That list is the sum total of what all of those Adventurers that went out there fought in that region. My own team took care of four of those requests, and we encountered a platoon of Skeletons backed up by a quartet of Skeleton Mages, a bunch of zombies following three Zombie Ogres, a pack of Wraiths hiding in a village graveyard, and a dozen Red Skeleton Warriors wandering the countryside and slaughtering everyone they came across."

The Swords of Darkness were looking at the man in awe of his accomplishments, but the young man, Ninya, spoke up. "So, while the list indicates the Undead that have been fought in the area, it doesn't necessarily reflect whatever garrison might be waiting in the fortress? Isn't the Guild supposed to investigate all the requests to make sure that the Adventurers going out are well prepared?"

The Mythril Adventurer nodded at the young man's question. "That's right, they are. But then you have to ask the obvious question. The Guild is supposed to investigate the requests. Who actually does the investigating and makes the reports?"

The Silver team looked at one another, baffled for a moment before Bellote answered his own question. "The Guild's staff is mostly made up of Adventurers that retired for one reason or another. For example, about half the receptionists out in the hall used to be Copper or Iron plate Adventurers before they found out that they weren't cut out for it. Maybe they reached their limits and got left behind, maybe their team got wiped out, maybe they just didn't want to fight anymore, who knows. The investigators are no different. The people looking into the requests tend to be former Gold or Platinum Adventurers who just aren't up for taking requests anymore. For checking out Copper, Iron, or Silver request difficulty, that's not so hard. But what happens when a few former Platinum Adventurers have to investigate something that's more than they can handle? That's where things start to get ambiguous. And that's when you start to get uncertain requests like these."

Bellote turned to look at Irri. "To answer your question, the investigators found the fortress and scouted the exterior. The place is basically a ring six towers connected by a tall, thick wall, with a big open courtyard in the middle. There's one gate, and it's nothing but iron bars so they could look into that courtyard. There's a lot of space, and it's mostly filled with various humanoid skeleton type monsters. But they weren't able to get a look at what lives inside the towers, so we don't know what to expect there. To be honest, the difficulty of this request has a very real chance of being wrong, and that's why the secondary reward is there. If it turns out to be too much, if this really turns out to be something we need an Orichalcum or Adamantite team to take care of, we need to find out as much as we can and get out alive so that the Guild can put the word out. Understand?"

Momonga was formulating a response when Lupusregina, or Erin, spoke up. "Okay, so… if we agree to help you out how are we splitting the reward?"

The older Adventurer just shrugged. "I have five people on my team, so we'll split it eight ways. Everyone gets an equal share, that's as fair as fair can be. So, does you asking about the reward mean that you're considering the request?"

The Overlord suppressed a flash of annoyance at Lupusregina for asking about something like that so brazenly, it weakened their position in the negotiation. And he didn't really think that such a split was exactly fair. If one team ended up doing most of the work, shouldn't the reward reflect that? 'But, if it comes down to it, accepting a smaller part of the reward would help spread our reputation as being fair wouldn't it? That's probably worth the money we'd make by insisting on a larger share….'

He looked over at Bellote. "We're certainly considering it, but at the same time I wouldn't want to back out of a previously made agreement and leave my allies here out in the cold." He looked over at the Swords of Darkness, who immediately started looking sheepish.

Peter waved a hand "Oh, no Mr. Suzuki, we wouldn't want to inconvenience you. Don't hold any agreements we made earlier to be binding for something like this. This is definitely a more important job than hunting goblins on the plains. On top of that, we don't want to be responsible for holding you back. If you don't take an incredible opportunity like this just to humor us we wouldn't sleep at night."

Dyne the Druid nodded. "Agreed, we wouldn't want to act as a burden to someone aspiring to promotion. Although…" he shot a sidelong glance at Bellote "All that talk of being 'prepared to offer promotions' is rather sketchy Mr. Bellote."

The Mythril Adventurer shrugged. "That's the way of the world kid. Sometimes the rules get bent so that the people at the top get what they want. And be aware…" he shot the Druid a mild glare "That this is the sort of thing I was talking about when I said that what gets said in here, stays in here. Nobody needs every Adventurer in town griping about some exception to the usual rules."

The druid grit his teeth a little, but subsided. Meanwhile Momonga was thinking of a way to get more out of this.

'It might be dangerous, but it's important to spread my fame quickly. That would work better with lots of witnesses. In the worst case, Lupusregina knows 'Raise Dead'. But would it be seen as being willing to risk lives for no real gain? It might be interpreted as being too clingy to existing arrangements. Hmmm, you guys, why aren't you here to help me out? '

Finally, he decided to take the risk. "Hmm, Bellote-san, if we accept the request, might you consider taking these four along with us as well?"

Bellote raised an eyebrow in response, while the Swords of Darkness were beside themselves.

"What?! No way!"

"Mr. Suzuki I don't think you've thought that through."

"I'm honored, but…."

"As much as I'd love to spend more time with Irri… I don't think…."

Bellote waited a minute for the frantic Silver plates to calm down before he added his opinion. "With all due respect Suzuki, I don't think that would be a good idea. I appreciate your wanting to look out for your new friends, but trying to take these kids on a job like this is asking for trouble. I mentioned before that it isn't against the rules for higher ranking teams to invite lower ranking Adventurers to assist them, but while it isn't against the rules it isn't exactly common either. I'm sure you can imagine why. And when it does happen, the gap isn't this big. The only reason you guys, a Copper team, are being considered to help me is because of the obvious extenuating circumstances. Please keep that in mind, and understand that I cannot bring these four with us in good conscience."

Momonga inwardly cursed as everyone simultaneously rejected his request. 'Oh well, it was worth a try.' He'd just have to work that much harder to get Bellote and his team to spread word of his deeds. But this would be a good chance to confirm something.

"I have to ask, do you four find the undead on this list that terrifying? What do you think you could handle?" 'With any luck, this will help me determine just how strong the lower ranks are.'

Ninya scrunched up his lips as he considered the paper for a moment before answering. "Most of the skeleton types- the normal ones, the Archers, and the Riders, we wouldn't have any problems with. The ghouls and zombies and Bone Vultures wouldn't be too scary either unless we were attacked in huge numbers. But the Wraiths would be very dangerous since we don't have many ways to attack incorporeal undead. And we wouldn't be able to hope to handle the Zombie Ogres or Red Skeleton Warriors either. As for the normal Skeleton Warriors, we could only handle one or two of them at a time without being overwhelmed. I can't imagine what could be leading a horde like this except maybe a Lich, but if we ran into something like that we'd just die."

The young man bowed his head. "I'm sorry Mr. Suzuki, and I thank you for your consideration, but even if you offered to take us along on this request we would have to refuse. An Adventurer has to know his limits or else he'll just get killed. This request is too much for us to come along, even just to act as a supporting role."

Seeing the boy's other teammates nod in agreement, Momonga had no choice but to accept defeat. And he couldn't fault them, they were right after all. Even in YGGDRASIL, foolishly challenging areas you weren't prepared for was a good way to lose levels and items fast. They were right to be cautious.

He glanced at his two companions. They each nodded back to him. To Momonga, the gestures spoke of a willingness to accept whatever decision he made. Although to any outsider it looked like long time companions silently communicating and coming to an agreement.

The overlord looked over at the Swords of Darkness. "Very well then, I won't press any further on the subject. And I thank you for making this decision easier for me."

He looked over to the patiently waiting Bellote. "We'll accept the request. We can leave as soon as your team is ready."

The Mythril Adventurer nodded without giving any sign of triumph or relief. "Good. I'll inform the Guildmaster. My team is scattered throughout the town getting ready to go. We were planning to meet up at the West gate tomorrow morning, so you can meet us then. It'll be good to work with you, I'm expecting great things."

Bellote stood up and extended his hand to shake.

Momonga stood up and exchanged grips with the stoic man.

"It will be good to work with you too. I expect to show you great things."

XXXXXXXXX

So… that's all I've got at the moment. Sorry if it's a little puny considering the size of previous chapters, and the… oh… nearly six month wait.

I'll probably post another chapter sooner rather than later containing the scenes I wanted to add onto the end of this one featuring Tigris Euphrates and what he's getting up to in E-Rantel and fitting Zuranon into the changing picture.

This is the first shift from the canon outline that the story followed up until this point, so I hope you all enjoyed it and will bear with me as the changes gradually shift the story into entirely new territory.

Thank you for your patience and I hope to see you in the next chapter sooner rather than later.