To stand on the shoulders of giants was the privilege of those that came after.

Jircniv had always believed that his rule of the Empire was not any lesser than that of his predecessors, and that his capabilities and intellect far outstripped the other emperors documented in the Empire's known history, but this…

The clanking of armor echoed as legions of Roman soldiers under Caesar's command marched with the colors of red and gold adorned over scutum shields that formed a wall.

The echo of thunder reverberated with each punch and kick of the mad emperor ravaging through the ranks of the demons.

And the most impressive of all was the man who stood with his arms raised and spear held aloft. An overgrowth of roots and trees obeyed his whims and formed barricades around the injured and changed the terrain of the battle itself.

For a fraction of a second, Jircniv glanced up at the burning Aquila that Nero had conjured. He could not assess if it was some sort of new Tier Magic or if it was some sort of skill, but regardless, he could infer from what Nero said that it was what enabled the arrival of the Empire's past glory.

Goosebumps traveled down Jircniv's skin.

"Gramps, this is-"

Jircniv barely began to seek Fluder's consul on the matter's transpiring before cutting his words off when he noticed Fluder's manic expression. Jircniv always saw Fludel as his mentor and father figure, but he also knew of the old man's obsession with magic and research.

Fluder could not take his eyes off of the flaming Aquila, the space Nero had overlaid, and then finally, his eyes reached the robed Magic Caster standing over the corpse of the felled Demon, Jaldaboath.

Jircniv clicked his tongue, knowing that it would take a lot to get Fluder out of his daze.

Instead, Jircniv stared back at the battlefield.

Contrary to the awe and rising morale of the Baharuth side, those in Re-Estize's army were making complicated expressions. On one hand, Nero's actions had saved them from being slaughtered by demons, but on the other, the Baharuth Empire's influence and rise in the region as a result of what happened on this day was indisputable.

A Past Glory.

Ephemeral, forgotten, and replaced with Baharuth, it changed little. Everything was tied to the root, and the basis of Baharuth as it was today clearly stemmed from the emperors that fought in the dark age of the Evil Deities.

Their arrival in the present era did not bode well for the odds of the Evil Deities' return.

Nevertheless, Jircniv was struck with wonderment.

Rome and the Great Empire.

Just as Fluder had his obsessions, Jircniv had his dreams and ambitions fostered as a child raised from one of Baharuth's five great families. He was seated as crown prince before political maneuvers from his adversaries labeled his mother a traitor, but the past was done. What mattered was the goal fostered within him from a young age.

To create the most prosperous empire whose might and wisdom encompassed the known world.

"Snap out of it, emperor."

A jovial voice snapped Jircniv back to reality, a rotund man with an uncanny charisma approaching Jircniv while yelling orders to the army.

"Negligence leads to folly on a battlefield," the man said, but Jircniv was more drawn to the laurel crown worn over the man's head.

The man too was a former emperor.

"You are?" Jircniv couldn't help but ask with a respectful tone.

"Caesar," the man said before jumping straight to the point with narrowed eyes. "Now what about putting that army behind you to use? Will you join the Legion's columns and support the flanks? The war is not yet won."

Truly?

Jircniv blinked.

Beyond the lesser demons spilling from the black spheres, all that was left was the undead Magic Caster that suddenly appeared from the opened gate above.

The Gate itself was what was putting Jircniv on edge, but the battlefield situation was different.

A single Magic Caster against all the might of the Empire?

Jircniv could not see the Magic Caster's chance of victory, especially with Jaldaboth's death.

"You seem doubtful, but if there's a thing or two I've learned in my campaigns, it's that variables should not be taken lightly." Caesar said, pushing Jircniv with a light shove. "Now go."

Despite his personal thoughts, Jircniv found himself moved by Caesar's eloquence and the wisdom held beneath.

"Baziwood, round the men and enforce the old legions in front!" Jircniv yelled out, calling for his most trusted knight.

"By your orders!" Baziwood didn't hesitate and rode off with his contingency of soldiers.

Jircniv then turned to his most skilled knight.

"Leinus, support Nero with the vanguard troops!"

She didn't even hesitate, causing Jircniv to grunt.

Of his Four Imperial Knights, Jircniv trusted Leinus the least as he knew he'd only gotten her cooperation by promising to help get her revenge or treat the scars that marred her face.

However, Nero was different.

Nero had proven that she could directly cure Leinus of her affliction, and that motivator would incite Leinus to do her utmost for Nero.

Efficiency was the mark of a capable leader.

With two of his Imperial knights deployed, Jircniv quickly made his way into Re-Estize's upper command room. Now wasn't the time for reservations.

Surrounded by a group of bodyguards, Jircniv pushed through into Re-Estize's ranks. Most understood that infighting would not do them well against an army of demons, so they reluctantly let Jircniv in.

Jircniv expected to see Re-Estize's king overseeing this year's war, but someone else was in his place.

The Golden Princess.

Ah, if it wasn't Princess Reiner, this detestable woman. Even now, it was difficult to understand Renner's motivations…

It irked Jircniv to be cooperating with her, but now wasn't the time.

"Princess," Jircniv greeted bluntly.

"Emperor," Renner greeted back, voice rather subdued. "It would appear that power structures will soon be changing in the region."

Jircniv's mouth nearly quirked up in agreement, but the twinkle in his eyes could not be hidden. The Baharuth Empire would rise in prestige and strength; its influence would soon span beyond even the local region as the happenings of Katze plains propagated.

For that was the Glory of the Republic, of the Empire returned. The center of all modern civilization.

A bucket of cold water was then poured over Jircniv's thoughts as he reminded himself of Caesar's words.

He could imagine later. Now was the time for action.

"Of your army, how many are of the loyalist faction versus the noble's faction?" Jircniv scoffed. He was well aware of Re-Estize's internal politics. What he cared about was how many soldiers would obey Renner's instruction over their lives.

"..." Renner's lips twitched, her silence stretching.

Jircniv's mind worked quickly before he scowled.

It was a check by the Noble's faction using Princess Renner as a figurehead. Victory for Re-Estize would have gone to Renner's name, but merit would belong to the Noble's whose faction the army primarily consisted of. The King's hands would be tied, but there was still one assurance that enabled the King to send his daughter.

"Gazeff and my bodyguard Climb are fully on my side," Renner eventually admitted. Her real task had been to watch Shirou, but Shirou had disappeared in all the chaos.

"Useless." Clicking his tongue, Jircniv stormed off.

He would have to make do.

An army without a true leader were just hunks of meat wearing iron plates. If he pushed the Re-Estize army to the forefront, they could at least serve the role as shields.

"Nazami, Arc!" Jircniv called for the last of his two Imperial Knights. "Guide the main force and push Re-Estize to the forefront. They either work with us or die."

"What about your protection?" Nazami protested.

Jircniv grit his teeth, but he pointed at a guilty Arche trailing behind him as a part of his guard detail. Whether or not what she did was right to lead Jaldaboath to them, it didn't change that Nero deemed her capable.

"I have the Magic Caster and Fluder when he gets his mind back in his head." Jircniv insisted. "Fulfill your duties."

Nazami grudgingly nodded and moved off with Arc.

Firming the latches on his armor, Jircniv hardened his expression. He would personally command the rest of the legions under him.

Setting forth to join the battle with Nero and the ghosts of past emperors, Jircniv suddenly faltered as a sudden oppressive aura exploded over the horizon.

Jircniv's pupils dilated at the unmistakable sensation of death hanging over the air.

He quickly swiveled his head towards the source and the color drained from his complexion.

-the undead Magic Caster?!

A raspy voice filled with anguish and rage echoed out in the quiet din.

"The Goal of All Life...Is Death."


Gh.

Shirou turned his head just enough to avoid a stab to his temples before bending his knees and sweeping a sword horizontally. It was met with no resistance as his foe easily sidestepped and maintained pressure.

"Cu," Shirou gritted his teeth, locking weapons with his present adversary. "Why?"

If Shirou hadn't intervened when he did, then Nero would have been struck dead.

Sparks grated as Shirou put more pressure into the grip of his swords.

Cu's red eyes remained neutral. The glee and life often found in them when enjoying battle utterly absent, replaced instead with metallic indifference.

He was covered in a warped armor that clung to his arms and legs, and his chest was left bare, revealing hardened muscles taut with strength.

Shirou gritted his teeth as Cu began pushing.

Words were not getting through to him at all, and keeping up was proving difficult as Cu's parameters were above Shirou's own.

Cu kicked dirt into Shirou's eyes, causing him to flinch and scowl, but the blinding effect was damning.

There was no time.

Shirou knew a follow up strike was coming and let his body respond before conscious thought.

He rolled, the spear's edge grazing his arm and causing searing pain to shoot up to his brain.

Digging his heels into the ground, Shirou Traced a copy of Kanshou and Bakuya behind Cu's back and attempted to subdue Cu by aiming for his legs. The married blades that were effective against demons and monsters were reacting to the energy around Cu, and in turn, Cu was wary of them.

Mental corruption?

Shirou could only surmise.

"Tch." Cu clicked his tongue, power swelling in his arms before he kicked and sent Shirou tumbling. The pair of swords Shirou Traced to strike Cu in the legs were dodged in the next second.

Tumbling, Shirou wiped the dirt off of his right cheek before standing back up onto his feet.

His analysis was complete.

The versatility of Shirou's arsenal was not something that could ever be underestimated. No matter where or how, he would alway have a weapon suitable to his circumstances.

"I don't know what happened to you, but what I do know is that I haven't done enough." Shirou muttered, jaw clenched. "And that's why I'll save you."

A twisted ritual dagger appeared in Shirou's hands.

Whatever was afflicting Cu, Rule Breaker was sure to undo it all. Spells, contracts, magic, it was the preferred Noble Phantasm of the Witch of Colchis.

Shirou ran towards Cu, feeling the world blur around him as his eyes shifted into hyperfocus in order to keep up with Cu's speed.

Cu's reaction speed was far faster than Shirou's, but if Shirou could guide or predict Cu to strike at certain places, Shirou would always be able to react first.

Throwing a stab, Shirou's pupils dilated as he watched the tip of Cu's spear almost graze his neck. But this was an opportunity he sought.

Snaking his arm around Cu's spear, the tip of Rule Breaker was aimed to nick Cu's side.

However, Shirou's mind's eye warned him of danger.

Retracting his movements, he pulled back and narrowly avoided a bladed kneed strike.

Dammit.

Shirou cursed, backing up and gaining some distance. Even if he could predict Cu's movements, hitting Cu was another thing entirely.

Cu's beast-like agility far exceeded Shirou's own.

Moreover-

Shirou Traced a copy of Rule Breaker and fired it through the air, watching as Cu blurred and the strike sail harmlessly past him.

Protection from Arrows.

One of Cu's skills was going to prove troublesome.

Shirou took a deep breath and cooled his thoughts. Subsequently, he began to project numerous copies of Rule Breaker.

Fine.

Regardless of the output, he would go all in.

From dozens, to hundreds, hell he'd go into the thousands if he had to!

A single hit was all that it would take to bring him back.


Ainz could not fathom the reality he'd stepped into upon gaining a hard fought freedom, granted one that had avoided a direct confrontation.

In the Land of Shadows, Ainz had been so severely restricted under that oppressive witch that there had been no chance of resistance. His escape was less a matter of his own doing and intelligence, and more a matter of circumstance.

It was by a stroke of luck.

Ainz was in possession of a special skill that was capable of turning corpses into undead. The stronger the body of the corpse, the more powerful the zombie becomes. Zombie Dragons made from the corpse of a Dragon were the greatest examples in Ainz's mind, but that all changed from the moment Ainz used the skill on Cu.

Cu was on a tier above even Dragons, turning into an Undead Lancer of extreme skill and agility.

It was a trump card Ainz had been saving, and the only boon he felt was worth Cu stumbling into the Great Tomb of Nazarick.

As much as Ainz had been restrained, Cu was different.

In trying to find out what was wrong with Cu, Scathatch had allowed a feeble amount of sentimentality to influence her.

Scathatch had trained Cu in the Land of Shadows, making Cu no stranger to the lands.

The last instructions Ainz had given Cu was to find a way to escape the Land of Shadows and kill all of Nazarick's enemies.

Therefore, while interrogating Ainz, Scathatch had been unable to stop Cu from somehow starting a jailbreak and forcibly opening the Gate of the Land of Shadows.

-The Witch would not be preoccupied for long.

The moment the internal rebellion in the Land of Shadows was quelled, she'd be coming in full.

Ainz was well aware of his situation, and yet, staring at Demiurge's dead body, reason was the last thing on his mind. What replaced it was palpable fury.

The emotional inhibitions of his class enabled him to maintain a rational mind even while utterly infuriated.

There would only be a single chance.

The flaw of capable people was that they didn't blindly charge in like fools. They would first assess who they were dealing with, wasting valuable time.

And time was what Ainz required to enact the unique skill of his class. The time his adversaries were taking to react to his sudden arrival was all he'd have.

Beyond recognizing Nero of all enemies buffing the combined strength of the other emperors before him, Ainz knew this battle was lost.

Romulus's eyes were focused fully on Ainz, his intuition as the Great Founder marking Ainz as the largest threat present.

But so what?!

Even using cash items were not out of the question.

Cold, seething, anger flowed through Ainz's very bones as he picked up Demiurge and stored him away.

"Widen Magic."

Ainz did not hesitate.

There was no guarantee it would hit, but at the very least it would make all present in a hundred meter radius pay the price.

If the people of the Great Tomb would not falter to offer their lives for him, then Ainz would extend the same courtesy.

HOW DARE THEY?!

'Cry of the Banshee.'

Ainz summoned the Great Tomb's scepter and held it aloft.

Mana consumption did not matter. He'd think about it later.

In his peripheral vision, he could already see Romulus reacting to his surge of magic energy.

Come closer. Go ahead and try!

An aura of death pervaded as a massive revolving magic circle extended outward to encompass the target area.

In this space, he was God.

He who becomes a True Lord of Death.

The Eclipse Class, the unique class of an Overlord specialized in Necromancy and Instant Death Type Magic, was unraveling.

With a cooldown period of a hundred hours, it was Ainz's ultimate attack.

It was a skill that even bypasses instant death resistances unless they cast a resurrection effect on themselves within twelve seconds.

"The Goal of All Life is Death!"

Let everything die.

He'd think about escaping afterwards.


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