Nero Claudius.

From the moment Jircniv first met her, he had a feeling she was more than she appeared to be. At first, that feeling of intrigue and mystery drew himself to her, but the longer he observed, the more captivated he became.

All roses had thorns, and if it was beauty, Nero would no doubt rank at the top. However, it wasn't simply beauty that she possessed, but an insight and way of thought to lead and enrapture people that was beyond compare.

He thought it an exotic skill garnered from her self-proclaimed profession as a dancer and artist, but staring at her now, it was clearly more than just that.

She burned brighter than any flame amid the battlefield.

"Wedge formation!" Nero yelled, the flames of her sword igniting into a signal she flared into the sky.

The Baharuth Empire boasted a superior military capability to any nearby kingdom after Jircniv's reforms and the bloody purge. Ability over blood was Jircniv's moto, and his Empire flourished through it. Suppression by nobility ceased, and a strong central command was created through fear of Jircniv's wrath, but even still, they were ever grateful for his mercy.

The thousands of orphans, oppressed, and the wronged who were sponsored by Jircniv's policies readily trained under the Empire's wisest sages and noble knights.

At Nero's call, the chaotic army lines disrupted by the disturbance of the demons were quickly called into order as mandatory drills forced the body into auto pilot. Friend and foe were quickly reestablished into fighting lines with the Re-Estize Kingdom army watching in dumbfoundment.

Baharuth light armoured troops came forward, creating the tip of an arrow, while heavy troops followed from the back and spread on the left and right flanks (-^-).

The demons had regrouped while Sasaki, Brain, and Musashi dealt with their leaders, but who was better in medieval warfare than Nero?

"Light troops forward - Charge!" Nero ordered, magic energy flaring around her and taking the form of floating red roses.

Nero cast one of her unique area-wide buffing skills.

The red roses touched upon the armours of the Empire's army, and instantly created a red ephemeral mantle of the Roman Legions.

'Flowers to the Earth.'

Bolstered, the light infantry that formed the tip of the wedge would become the sharp spear that would pierce the enemy formation.

With a resounding clang, knights and infantry made contact with the disorientated low rank demons, causing mass confusion.

Humans were inherently weak. Even the lowest level demon's basic parameters far outstripped them, but in this case, the magic energy lacing the army's armour and weapons were highly effective.

A soldier's eyes widened as his sword tore through a demon's shoulder to hip in a single swing, the rows of undead that followed afterward, similarly thwarted. With shaking hands, the solider glanced to Nero, swallowed, and then reaffirmed his resolve. "For the Glory of the Empire!"

Jircniv watched everything happen from afar, noticing when Nero's eyes narrowed.

The light troops were getting too carried away in their frenzy and risked isolation.

She issued the next order.

"Rotate and withdraw to the flanks or central lines!" Her voice was booming.

Soft spoken and ordinarily jovial, Nero's words carried weight on the battlefield.

Not taking her orders lightly, the vanguard light troops did as was instructed and trailed back, breaking the tip of the wedge as they retreated to the sides and the heavy infantry behind them stepped forward. (-^-) to (_-_)

"Heavy infantry- HOLD!" Nero's eyes shifted back to the retreating light infantry and the undead giving chase. "Light troops reform the line!"

"Gh!" The enemy's forces were swift, and caught the ankles of the rotating light infantry, stalling the process.

"Cavalry! Sweep the sides and screen the central core from envelopment!" Nero gave new orders, deploying the highly mobile unit of knights on horses.

With clopping hooves, and sharpened lances, the Empire cavalry charged with the sound of their horns, but the undead proved themselves troubling as they shrugged off mortal blows and impeded the horses.

"Rangers fire at will!" Nero called for stronger support, urging the light troops into a new attack line.

"Strong right flank formation!" She commanded, a majority of the light infantry bolstering a single flank (-=). "Push and topple their left flank and then roll up the enemy line from the rear!"

Explosions echoed out as the undead and demons capable of casting magic were systematically bombarded by twisted steel swords that caught the eyes of many participating in the war. Only Nero was unperturbed at the help.

"Use the allied cover fire and push!" Nero cheered, eyes surveying the battlefield.

Behind Nero, and watching from afar, Jircniv and his closest confidents had no choice but to reassess Nero as a simple performer.

Was that not a War General? The range and experience she was demonstrating could not have been the work of a mere act. Which begged the question of the type of past she must have had.

"Imperial Knights, support Nero." Jircniv gave the order, teeth gnashing together at the gnawing sense of unease still in the air. "Worry not for my safety. Fluder is with me."

"But my Lord, are we not pushing the demon's back-

All opposing opinions were silenced by the gravity of Jircniv's stare.

"We hear and obey," the Four Imperial Knights took to the battlefield as Jircniv swept his gaze to the side of Re-Estize and shouted. "I Jircniv el Nix of the Baharuth Empire formally declare an invitation for an armistice and a call for a temporary cooperation against the Demons!"

Jircniv was staring at the puppet King of Re-Estize that had come to watch the outcome of the annual war. It was to him in which he spoke in order to test whether autonomy was truly lost in Re-Estize.

Beside the King stood Gazef Stronoff wearing full plate armour, but that wasn't the true reason for Jircniv's call.

Rather, it was the archery of the man located in the rear of the Re-Estize army that had allowed Nero to break the shackles of the Demons and even now continued a hail of cover fire.

With an eye for talent, Jircniv had locked onto who would most be able to support his army.

"…We of Re-Estize accept!" King Ramposa was not above failing to see the bigger picture. "Troops forward! Rally to the Empire General in red and drive out the Demons!"


Nero could feel the flow of battle quickly shifting in their favour. Since time immemorial, mankind had always banded together in the face of larger threats. From the looks of things, the rallying of the two armies had not been expected by the demons.

Umu. That was what they get for underestimating her.

Glancing to the leaders of the present Demons, Sasaki and Musashi were holding their own while Brain appeared to be suffering under the onslaught. When it seemed as if Brain would be defeated, Nero was about to personally move to support, but held herself back when Gazef came charging to reinforce Brain.

This war would be won.

Nero's intuition was already indicating to her the outcome, and yet, variables beyond anyone's predictions changed everything.

An ominous pressure descended on the area and created a winter chill that froze those nearest to the epicenter of a floating doorway. Manifesting in the air over the battlefield, the doorway was akin to a passage between dimensions with its otherworldly presence and eerie motives of skulls, binding chains, and black ravens.

A gate?

Nero narrowed her eyes in thought, while many of the others fighting in the battle grew uneasy.

However, for those in Re-Estize who survived the attack of the capital, the gate was all too familiar. It was the very same one that had helped end the tragedy in the kingdom, but something was off.

If before, the gate had drawn in all the undead in the capital and resolved the attack, this time, its sudden appearance was marked by tell-tale signs of warped metal pushing out from within.

Staring up at the Gate, Shirou recognized it immediately as a single name came to mind.

Scathatch?

It was true that if she descended the current state of demons and undead would be quickly resolved, but then where was she?

Briefly, Shirou noticed Nero glance at her for confirmation that the gate should have been a friendly intervention.

Shirou could not immediately nod his head in the distance, and Nero could not delay for long.

Unease would spread and affect the morale of the army.

"Umu, focus forward!" Nero made her decision. The Demons and undead still on the battlefield had to be routed first. "The door comes later!"

She held her breath and narrowed her eyes as fiercely apologetic Arche came to her side.

"Lady Nero I-"

"Umu, not now," Nero cut in, causing Arche's expression to pale, but Nero wasn't done. "Do you see it?" She asked.

Arche froze before she finally glanced up over the battlefield and used her magic eyes and gasped.

Nero didn't have Arche's eyes, but she could sense it.

Nero could feel it before anyone else as numerous sacrificial magic circles ignited over the battlefield right below the unsuspecting feet of the two armies.

"T-That's not, what level of magic is this?!" Arche's guilt quickly turned into fear at the sudden discovery. "Was the gate above a ruse?"

"Tch." Nero clicked her tongue, flames igniting further on her sword. "Aestus Estus!" She declared, her sword thrumming with magic power aimed at the growing magic formations.

"Move!" Nero ordered as she tried to slash down.

Shirou too tried to strike at the magic circles after discovering them, but he was unable to use any truly damaging 'arrows' with numerous allies standing overtop the drawn lines.

Nero didn't have as much of a problem.

Her words were followed once spoken, and a path was cleared.

She cleaved down but hitched her breath when she was forced to divert her strike towards a blast of magic energy aimed at her head.

Cleaving the projectile in two, the magic split and exploded on either side of Nero. Smoke wafted up into a thin haze blown by the oncoming shockwave of wind. As the dust parted, the masked Demon, Jaldaboath, appeared in the location Nero had been intent on severing.

Wearing an orange suit and tie, Demiurge donned the mask of perpetrator under a false name.

"You found out?" Demiurge mused before chuckling. "Still, if a single sword could hope to stop all of them, I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of preparing the battlefield before hand. And…that Gate appearing now. Was this also part of his plans. As expected of him."

Nero didn't speak a word as Jaldaboath grew lost in his own musings. She'd heard that Demons were a talkative bunch, but the purpose of speaking was soon evident.

Stalling.

All at once, the pre-placed sacrificial magic spread across the battlefield activated.

Glowing blood red, hundreds of people and undead who stood overtop disappeared from existence, turning into goblets of blood that pooled up into massive dark spheres.

Her Romans-

"You bastard!" Nero's expression contorted for the first time.

The anger was genuine to the point that even she was surprised. Perhaps it was due to the Baharuth Empire's culture and the people's way of living, but a part of her couldn't help but interpose them with the memories and experiences within her.

Demiurge remained indifferent.

"Nero Claudius, or should I call you Emperor Nero?" Demiurge said instead.

Not expecting the sudden form of address, Nero was momentarily taken aback, but she wasn't the only one.

Nero's expression tightened while the faces of her allies coloured with surprise and intrigue.

Demiurge had been steadfastly doing his research since the moment he'd been warned of certain individuals that could pose an existential crisis to the Great Tomb.

"You know me, demon?" Nero said cautiously, boldly stepping forward as a shield to the people who rallied under her.

Demiurge did not disappoint. "More than you'd think," he admitted.

Demiurge already knew the lore of his adversary granted through the insight of his supreme lord. Only, Demiurge thought further and embellished on key points by using deductive reasoning to construct a feasible explanation for the happenings of the New World.

To begin with were rumours in Roble and the supposed return of the Evil Lords. Regardless of if the Evil Lords were truly returning, Demiurge could only focus on what he knew. And Demiurge knew for a fact that Nazarick and its denizens were not the Evil Lords, but he could not confidently say that the return of the Evil Lords was not alluding to them.

The reason for Nazarick's forced transportation to the New World was not fully known even to him, and the timing was too coincidental.

Then there were the cases of Heroes that rose up to put an end to the Evil Lords. In correlation to YGGDRASIL, and the basis of heroes and villains stemming from the original world, Demiurge brainstormed a working hypothesis.

Information was always key, and Demiurge had been collecting various sources to compile a comprehensive report until now.

Roble, Re-Estize, the states of the religious fanatics, and even the Baharuth Empire, they had similarities with concepts and customs Demiurge was familiar with in YGGDRASIL's expansion packs.

Roble, the kingdom of Knights and Faiths.

Re-Estize and its collection of vagabonds, mercenaries, and adventurers.

The Baharuth Empire and its imperialistic colours and tendencies.

The picture was coming together.

Nazarick and its denizens had only recently arrived in the New World, but could the same be said of the ones Lord Ainz called the 'Raid Bosses?' Moreover, what if it wasn't the first time?

Demiurge had gathered various recollections of mankind's history in this world, and the heroes that led them through the dark ages were all obscured or died valiantly. Of which, the nature of the Baharuth Empire had its founding in a great being that united the people in divine glory passed down through its subsequent emperors.

The setting was all too reminiscent of YGGDRASIL's warring emperors of Midgard.

Therefore, Demiurge was somewhat certain to conclude that, she, Nero Claudius:

"You are an individual outside of your time." Demiurge accused. In YYGDRASIL, emperor Nero who took in both heteromorphic and human races ultimately failed in the war and died under the Romulus faction. Then what if, before death she appeared here? "You are a person who was meant to die."

For a second, a pregnant silence descended over the mayhem and death.

"Gibberish," Jircniv muttered before addressing his army. "Do not be fooled by the words of a devil!"

"Fooled?" Demiurge tilted his head, laughing uproariously as he noticed a certain change in Nero's expression. "The person herself should know better than anyone else. Isn't that right, Emperor Nero?"

"..." Nero did not answer.

When thrice she sees the setting sun in her obscured memories, the flash of a blade to take her own life came to mind.

"Nero?" Jircniv and the others were unable to catch up to developments, and Demiurge was all too willing to stall for time as the sacrificial magic took effect.

"Would you like to listen to the conjectures of a demon's insight?" Demiurge offered, deciding to share a point to be mulled over. If things go right, he wouldn't be the only one trying to solve a mystery. "You see, rumors have been floating across the New World as of late, haven't they? Whispers of a return of darkness that will once more plague the land, but are they all that have returned?"

Jircniv froze as pieces of a puzzle were clicking in his mind. The warnings from Roble caused sweat to bead over his brows. It was all adding up.

The return of the Evil Lords from the dead would usher in another era of turmoil, but…were the Evil Lords long thought dead the only ones to reemerge?

The rumored Holy Valkyrie of Roble, the heroes who saved Re-Estize's capital, and now Nero in the Baharuth Empire, heroes of inexplicable strength were reappearing one by one.

Noticing the blank look that crossed Jircniv's features, Demiurge did not waste the opportunity to sow a seed.

"That's it exactly, Nero, is a person who should already be dead!" Demiurge revealed his conjecture. "Not only that, but she could potentially be a figure who existed in the World's lost records of the tumultuous times where humans founded their pitiful kingdoms just to survive."

Turning to Nero, Demiurge was growing more and more certain.

Customs, traditions, ruling structure, all of it was reminiscent to the policies the emperors fought with in YGGDRASIL's Midgard.

What if what happened in Midgard was a reflection of what had happened in the New World?

"You and the warring emperors were one of the founders of the Baharuth Empire, am I wrong?" Demiurge was confident in his claim.

-Yes. It was certainly wrong.

Shirou alone was the only one who was for sure about his answer, but the rest weren't on the same boat including Nero.

Part of it was Shirou's fault because he wasn't fully aware of the happenings pertaining to his NPC's, and the jumble of memories they had from YGGDRASIL and the ones from human history.

In fact, Shirou was ignorant that they had experiences from proper human history beyond the background he'd set for them in the first place.

In contrast, the revelation had stunned Jircniv and the Baharuth Army into silence.

Jircniv's mind in particular was working on overdrive. Various mysteries and inconsistencies he'd observed from Nero could suddenly make sense.

The colours Nero flew, the reminiscence constantly in her eyes while within the Empire's streets, and even how she interacted with the Empire's people-

In a flash of light, Nero suddenly summoned her battle attire, changing out of the decorative clothing she'd been wearing from the clothes she fancied in the Empire.

What replaced them was a vibrant red dress, golden gauntlets with a pauldron covering her right arm, and the most eye-catching of all…was the laurel wreath sitting over her head that mirrored the very one Jircniv was wearing as an Emperor's crown.

It was the fully ascended battle dress of YGGDRASIL's Nero Claudius.

Demiurge reaffirmed himself in the quiet stillness.

"Finally showing your true colors are you, Emperor Nero?" He mused.

"Umu, is that why it was so familiar?" Nero spoke solemnly, somewhat taken away by Demiurge's explanation, half doubting, half confused. "Baharuth was a place of my Rome or was it influenced by it?"

Nero shook her head and glared. The memories and programming within her were too jumbled to make heads or tails of everything, but one aspect was clear as Nero Claudius.

It mattered not if Demiurge's conjecture was wrong, or if her Rome had somehow influenced the dynamics and empires of this new world.

She wasn't just the same Nero of the Warring Emperors of Midgard in YGGDRASIL, but Nero that also had a different set of memories and experiences pertaining to human history.

All that mattered to her was the adoration of those who followed her.

And they were killed.

Offered up to some ritual to summon a greater demon.

Where her people called out her name with love and devotion was her Rome.

"Umu. Do not speak as if you know me, demon," Nero said, putting strength into her sword. "I applaud whatever you know of me, but you have made the mistake of harming my Romans! Do not judge my worth, my motives, or my desires, that is my ability alone!"

Magic energy shimmered around Nero, erupting from around her and bathing her in a golden hue.

A ruler, a tyrant, a leader, that was her right.

Her Imperial Privilege.

Her durability, lethality, insight, and demeanor soared all at once through an internal declaration.

Jircniv and the others of the Baharuth Empire were momentarily dazzled by the brilliance of the figure Jircniv would strive to emulate.

Cheerful in the adoration of her people, but tyrannical in the face of her enemies.

The Rule of Nero (37 – 68 AD / reigned 54 – 68 AD)

A being who ruled a nation that echoed through an era.

Here and now, she made a promise an emperor must keep.

"I will crush you in the name of Rome."

An oath sworn on the name of the Empire.


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