Holy Celestial Empire…
In the far eastern reaches of the continent, a pall of mourning had descended upon the Empire. The day they received the devastating news of the alliance's defeat was etched in the annals of tragedy. Citizens poured out onto the streets, their hearts heavy with grief for their fallen loved ones.
War, as brutal as it was, brought with it its share of casualties, but typically there were survivors who lived to tell the tales. However, this war had unfolded as an unprecedented catastrophe. Out of an army of one million valiant souls, a mere five hundred had emerged as survivors. The scale of this tragedy was unparalleled in the annals of history, leaving the Empire in a state of shock and mourning.
Amidst the grieving populace, conversations, and lamentations intertwined:
"I never thought we would suffer such a devastating loss..."
"My son, my husband, they're gone... It's unbearable."
Tears flowed freely, and a sense of profound loss hung heavy in the air. The Empire had been irrevocably scarred by the events of the war.
In the wake of the Holy Emperor Ajax's tragic demise and the unexplained absence of the Holy Maiden, Jeanne d'Arc, the nation found itself under the rule of Priestess Aurora. With the powerful nobles who could have laid claim to the throne lost in the brutal war, only their widowed wives remained to manage their estates, as their sons, who had not yet ventured to the battlefield, were but children.
As the nation grappled with this void of leadership, conversations among the surviving nobility painted a stark picture:
"The Emperor's death... It's left a chasm in our leadership."
"Yes, and with Jeanne missing, we're left without clear guidance."
The absence of strong leadership and the weight of their recent losses weighed heavily on the nation, casting it into a period of uncertainty and transition.
Aurora, who had stepped into the role of the emperor, faced a daunting array of challenges. Her trusted companions, the knight Zooey, and the priestess Astrida, provided invaluable support, yet the empire's vast expanse and the countless documents demanding her attention seemed an insurmountable task.
Together with Zooey and Astrida, Aurora worked tirelessly to navigate the intricate bureaucracy, addressing the empire's needs one document at a time.
"This is overwhelming," Aurora confided to her companions, her eyes scanning another document. "The burden of ruling this empire is beyond anything I ever imagined."
Zooey, ever loyal, offered a reassuring smile. "We're here to support you, Your Highness. Together, we can overcome any challenge."
Astrida nodded in agreement. "We've weathered great adversity. With patience and diligence, we shall bring stability to the empire once more."
As they faced the monumental responsibility before them, the trio understood that the path ahead was fraught with difficulties, but they were determined to rebuild their nation, step by step.
"Have you heard anything from Nazarick?" Aurora inquired, her voice tinged with concern.
Zooey shook her head. "Not yet, Your Highness."
Astrida chimed in, her worry was evident. "It's been a week since they mentioned their arrival, and there's been no further word from Nazarick."
The trio had placed their hopes on the assistance and guidance they anticipated receiving from Nazarick. As time passed without any communication, the worry that their empire might descend further into chaos grew.
Aurora, committed to restoring stability, felt a heavy responsibility weighing on her shoulders. Her earnest desire was to ensure that the empire could transition smoothly into the hands of the Nazarick Kingdom without descending into turmoil.
Aurora's voice was laden with sorrow as she mused, "Why did the Holy Maiden have to leave us in this dark hour? Our people are in despair and desperation."
Zooey offered an understanding perspective. "She seized the opportunity to save the castle of the Great Gods, in collaboration with the Sorcerer King. The liberation of Eryuentiu had always been her sacred goal. I'm afraid she may not return, Your Highness."
Astrida added to the somber discussion, her sympathy evident. "His Majesty's alliance with the Dragon Lord appeared to deeply affect her, to the extent that she no longer prioritized the survival of the royal bloodline." She couldn't help but feel sadness for the burden Jeanne had borne.
As Aura gazed out of her window at the city below, the extent of the devastation became painfully evident. The once-proud Empire now lay in shambles, its people suffering, particularly the impoverished peasants who had borne the brunt of the conflict. The war had disrupted their lives, leaving farms in dire need of labor and the fields uncultivated.
With a heavy heart, she muttered to herself, "I'm just a priestess, not an Emperor..."
Faced with crises from all sides, and the looming presence of Nazarick, it felt as though the Celestial Empire had reached its final chapter.
Meanwhile, at the city's gates, an extraordinary and unsettling army was making its arrival. The few young guards stationed there, who had received only basic training, were taken completely by surprise as they beheld what seemed like creatures from the darkest pages of horror novels.
An army of darkness was advancing into the city. The Nazarick Kingdom had arrived without the courtesy of prior notice or formal introduction. Leading this imposing force was none other than Ainz Ooal Gown himself. To his left, walked the Seraph Angel, and on his right, Artoria Pendragon stood with an air of pride.
As Ainz Ooal Gown gazed upon the city, he couldn't help but comment, "The Holy Celestial Empire, hmm… Nothing holy here, or celestial." His words resonated with the stark reality of the city's condition, devoid of the sanctity or grandeur implied by its name. It had fallen far from its former glory.
Seraph, exuding calm assurance, responded, "It is as you say, my Lord," acknowledging Ainz's observation with a composed demeanor, her unwavering loyalty to the Supreme Being evident in her words.
With an air of superiority, Artoria Pendragon chimed in, "This is but a village compared to your glorious Kingdom, Lord Ainz." Her pride in Nazarick was evident, making a clear distinction between the fallen city before them and the might of their own realm.
Amid this unexpected arrival, Artoria pointed an accusatory finger at one of the guards, who was trembling with fear. "You there!" she exclaimed, while the rest of the guards, equally terrified, urged him to act. "Tell the governor of this city that Nazarick has arrived," Artoria ordered with an air of authority, her imposing presence sending a shiver down the guard's spine.
In his panic, the soldier stammered, "Who-who are you?" Fear and confusion gripped him as he faced the formidable and otherworldly presence of Ainz and his companions.
"Go now, you idiot!" With the encouragement of his comrades, the trembling guard was swiftly guided towards the city to deliver the unsettling message. The dark forces of Nazarick had descended upon the city, casting a deep shadow of fear and apprehension over its inhabitants.
The guards could do nothing but watch in powerless despair as their beloved Imperial Capital fell into the hands of the Nazarick Kingdom. The Sorcerer King strode forward into the city, his presence commanding fear and awe, while an army of undead horrors followed closely behind him, shrouding the city in an eerie darkness.
Terrified citizens hurriedly sought refuge within the safety of their homes as soon as they laid eyes on the nightmarish creatures that accompanied the Sorcerer King. The once bustling streets had now turned eerily desolate, devoid of any life or movement. Peering out from behind closed curtains and shuttered windows, the citizens observed their new ruler with a mixture of fear and curiosity, their lives forever changed by the arrival of Nazarick.
Among the hushed whispers of the frightened citizens, disbelief was a common sentiment. The overwhelming might of the Sorcerer King's forces had shattered their once-mighty army, leaving many in a state of disbelief. Others cowered in their homes, fearing that these monstrous beings might breach their sanctuaries and unleash unspeakable horrors upon them. The arrival of Nazarick had left an indelible mark of dread and uncertainty upon the city, as the citizens grappled with the harsh reality of their new rulers.
"An angel?!" As the Seraph Angel, resplendent and divine, rode through the city astride a white horse, a hushed murmur of awe and astonishment swept through the citizens. They watched in amazement from the shelter of their windows, unable to fathom the presence of such an ethereal being in their midst. The sight of the angelic figure left many in quiet reverence, mingled with the prevailing trepidation in the air.
In the Holy Celestial Empire, angels were revered as holy and benevolent beings, servants of the divine who protected and watched over humanity. They were seen as the embodiment of purity and goodness. Yet, the angel now present in the city, astride a white horse alongside the sinister forces of the Sorcerer King, stood in stark contrast to the traditional beliefs. This angel, a servant of the Sorcerer King, symbolized a profound shift from the traditional notions of holiness, and its presence left the citizens in a state of profound confusion and disbelief.
The second woman, with her striking beauty and regal demeanor, appeared as if she belonged to the legendary knights of the Celestial Empire. Her appearance and pride were reminiscent of the revered Holy Maiden Jeanne d'Arc. However, what confounded the citizens was that this incredibly beautiful knight was also a loyal servant of the Sorcerer King.
The paradox of such beauties, one an angel and the other a knight serving the cause of a skeletal monster, left the people of the Empire in a state of bewilderment and disbelief. It was a contradiction that challenged their deeply ingrained beliefs and understanding of the world.
"How rude!" Seraph exclaimed.
Ainz arched an eyebrow, his crimson eyes reflecting a hint of curiosity. "What is it, Seraph?"
"Those pests should be kneeling before the rightful ruler of this land, but they choose to cower in their wretched holes," Seraph muttered with disdain.
Ainz nodded, a subtle smirk gracing his nonexistent lips. "Well, they are currently on the losing side. Can't blame them for trying to survive. Wouldn't you do the same, Seraph?"
Seraph's eyes blazed with unwavering loyalty. "I would gladly plunge myself into the darkest depths of hell itself, my Lord, rather than imagine such a betrayal!" Her words resonated with her fierce devotion.
Artoria's voice echoed with unwavering determination, her words a solemn decree. "Lord Ainz, to maintain the sanctity of your rule, we must make a profound statement. Putting some of them to the sword would serve as a powerful example, a deterrent for those who dare to disrespect the Supreme One."
Ainz regarded her with an enigmatic gaze, the red gleam of his eyes betraying no emotion. "Putting them to the sword might be excessive, Artoria. We must demonstrate our strength, but let us also be mindful of our image. We seek order, not unnecessary brutality. We aim to inspire awe, not instill fear that breeds rebellion."
Seraph, standing by with a loyalty that radiated like an unyielding flame, interjected, "Might I propose a strategic demonstration of power, my Lord? An exhibition that leaves an indelible mark, without descending into unnecessary brutality."
Ainz spoke with quiet confidence, his words carrying the weight of undeniable authority. "I have already displayed the extent of our power through demonstrations. As it stands, there is no one in this region who can pose a credible threat to us."
Seraph, ever devoted, added, "Your might has resonated, my Lord. The mere mention of your name strikes fear into the hearts of those who might have harbored dissent."
Knock! Knock! Knock!
The rhythmic echoes of the harsh knocks disrupted the serene atmosphere of the room. Startled, the three women exchanged glances, their expressions revealing a mix of surprise and curiosity. "Come in!" Aurora called out, her voice tinged with authority.
A guard, drenched in sweat and gasping for breath, burst into the room. His visage held the terror of one who had glimpsed the supernatural. Astrida, the picture of composed curiosity, inquired, "What happened to you, guard? Is there something of utmost importance to report?"
The guard struggled to compose himself, stammering out the urgency of the situation. "The Sorcerer King is coming, my lady!" His words hung in the air, heavy with fear.
Aurora, normally poised, rose from her chair with a sudden jolt of fear. "Where is he?" Her voice betrayed an undercurrent of anxiety.
"He is in the city! He appeared at the gates, seemingly out of thin air, with an army at his back!" The guard's report echoed in the room, leaving a chilling silence in its wake.
Zooey, the voice of reason, intervened with a firm command. "Enough, soldier!" The room fell into an immediate hush. "Thank you. Now, leave us," Zooey ordered, and the guard hastily exited, leaving behind a tense atmosphere.
"Your Holiness," Zooey turned to address Aurora, her expression grave. "We should meet him now."
Aurora swallowed hard, the gravity of the situation settling upon her. "Yes…" she conceded, the realization sinking in that the moment to confront the Sorcerer King face to face had arrived.
Ainz Ooal Gown's arrival at the regal palace was nothing short of an event. The towering gates swung open to welcome the dark silhouette atop a fearsome, black demonic horse. A hushed murmur swept through the air as the onlookers took note of the presence that now graced their realm.
With an unhurried dismount, Ainz descended from his otherworldly steed, a manifestation of power and dread. Artoria and Seraph, his loyal attendants, moved with a disciplined grace in his wake, accentuating the gravity of his entrance.
As the Sorcerer King closed the distance, the three women—Aurora, Zooey, and Astrida—awaited him with a blend of trepidation and awe. The atmosphere quivered with an unspoken understanding of the shifting power dynamics. Ainz's enigmatic visage cast a spell over the scene, the very air heavy with the anticipation of a paradigm shift.
In an act of profound acknowledgment, Aurora, Zooey, and Astrida gracefully descended to their knees, their submission a testament to the seismic shift in the balance of power. The palace courtyard, once echoing with the sounds of bustling life, now bore witness to the silent surrender of three formidable figures to the enigmatic ruler who had emerged from the shadows.
"Rise." The command resonated with an imperious authority, the voice of the Overlord cutting through the air like a blade. The three women, Aurora, Zooey, and Astrida, obeyed, slowly lifting themselves from their submissive positions, yet keeping their heads bowed in an almost reverent deference.
Ainz Ooal Gown, the Sorcerer King, stood before them, an enigma wrapped in an aura of undeniable power. His skeletal countenance bore no emotion, his crimson eyes piercing through the uncertainty that hung in the air. The women, now privy to the visage of their new ruler, felt a shiver of trepidation course through them. As they stood before the Overlord, a tense silence enveloped the courtyard, broken only by the distant whispers of the wind.
Aurora's voice wavered as she stammered, "Your Majesty, welcome! It is truly an honor to extend heartfelt greetings to the esteemed ruler of this magnificent land." Her words hung in the air like fragile petals, a delicate offering to the ominous presence that now dominated the courtyard.
"Lift your head in the presence of the Supreme One when you speak, mortal!" demanded Artoria, the command cutting through the atmosphere like a whip, demanding immediate compliance.
The young priestess, Aurora, felt a shiver run down her spine at the stern order. Her head shot up with a start, meeting the piercing gaze of the indomitable Artoria. The weight of the command lingered in the air, a reminder of the rigid hierarchy that existed in the presence of the Supreme One.
Aurora's eyes, wide with a mix of fear and awe, locked onto the skeletal visage of Ainz Ooal Gown. The silence that followed was pregnant with unspoken tension, each heartbeat echoing the uncertain dance between submission and the unknown fate that awaited those who dared to stand before the ruler of the realm.
"Artoria, please..." Ainz spoke with a calming tone, attempting to diffuse the tense atmosphere. He observed the priestess shivering, and it wasn't just her; the anxiety was palpable among the others as well.
The Sorcerer King's crimson gaze bore into Aurora, his tone carrying a weight that demanded truth. "Who are you?" he inquired once more, seeking more than just a name.
"Your Majesty, I am Aurora, the high priestess of the Empire," she responded with a respectful bow. "I've been chosen to lead the nation temporarily, with assistance from the knight Zooey and the nun Astrida in managing the post-war crises."
Ainz nodded, acknowledging her introduction. "Good job," he remarked, his words a measured approval. "Since the citizens now understand what I am and the actions I took in the war, has there been any hint of rebellion?" The question hung in the air, a subtle reminder of the Sorcerer King's vigilance.
Aurora felt a bead of sweat forming on her forehead at the inquiry. "Your Majesty, they would never dare go that far!" she hastily assured, her words tinged with a mix of conviction and apprehension. It was evident that Ainz sought reassurance, a guarantee that his rule was firmly accepted, and any potential uprising within the Empire would be swiftly suppressed. The delicate balance between loyalty and fear played out in the exchange, as Aurora navigated the challenges of aligning herself with the supreme authority that now loomed over the Empire.
"Your Majesty," Zooey spoke with a tone laden with profound reverence, "I bore witness to the awe-inspiring might you unleashed upon the Empire's army. To defy such overwhelming power is an act of sheer madness, and Emperor Ajax, sadly, succumbed to that insanity." Her words carried not just the weight of observation but also a subtle hint of regret for the fallen leader.
With a graceful and respectful bow, Zooey communicated not only her loyalty to the Sorcerer King but also a solemn acknowledgment of the consequences faced by those who dared to challenge the indomitable force that was Ainz Ooal Gown.
Astrida's voice resonated with a touch of reminiscence and a hint of incredulity. "Indeed, Your Majesty. Even the esteemed Holy Maiden Jeanne displayed wisdom by avoiding any confrontation with your might. She warned Emperor Ajax against the madness of challenging Nazarick." Astrida's words held a subtle critique of Ajax's ill-fated decisions, emphasizing the futility of opposing the overwhelming power that Ainz Ooal Gown commanded.
In the retelling, Astrida subtly underscored the contrast between those who recognized the futility of defiance and the ill-advised actions of Emperor Ajax, painting a vivid picture of the consequences of opposing the force that now stood as the undisputed ruler.
"I appreciate your comprehension of the situation, ladies. I am confident that the people of this land will not rebel and will come to accept our way of ruling, sooner rather than later," Ainz remarked with a calm assurance. His words carried a sense of conviction, reflecting not just belief but the calculated certainty that the authority of Nazarick would be acknowledged and embraced by the populace. The air around them seemed to ease, as Ainz expressed confidence in the stability of the newly established order.
"Now, Miss Aurora," inquired the Sorcerer King with an air of regality, "you mentioned being a priestess, correct?"
"Yes, your Majesty," affirmed Aurora with a respectful nod.
Ainz continued, his penetrating gaze fixed upon her, "Given your divine calling, do you still harbor the desire to retain the position of governor in this territory?"
Aurora's confusion lingered, her uncertainty evident in the furrow of her brow. She had anticipated being summarily dismissed, so the question caught her off guard.
"I am not sure, your Majesty," she admitted with a touch of hesitance. "I am merely 15 years old and doubt whether I possess the strength of mind required to govern thousands of citizens."
"I am sure the human citizens of this land would appreciate having someone of your stature and reputation as their governor," Ainz remarked, his tone thoughtful. "The choice is yours. You can step away at this moment, or you may choose to stay for a few days or months to assess whether you feel equipped to continue governing the land."
Aurora found herself grappling with the weight of the decision. The unexpected responsibility bestowed upon her by the Sorcerer King left her incredulous, a mixture of disbelief and trepidation washing over her.
"Lord Ainz is displaying great generosity toward you, my child," spoke the angelic figure with a soothing resonance.
Aurora, contemplating the magnitude of the opportunity presented to her, realized that only a select few might find themselves in such a privileged position, given a choice of governance by the Sorcerer King himself.
"I... accept, your Majesty! With gratitude for your faith in me, I shall dedicate myself to working for the glory of the Sorcerer Kingdom," declared Aurora, a newfound determination lighting up her eyes.
"Well, that settles everything. Having faith in yourself is a commendable quality. I eagerly await the results in the future. And, of course, I shall grant you immortality. It's a choice, as is everything," said Ainz with a measured tone. He couldn't help but consider the potential for Aurora to follow in the footsteps of the one from Carne, a thought that lingered in the back of his mind.
"Thank you, your Majesty, a million times over. I am truly grateful," expressed Aurora, her words filled with sincerity as she bowed her head in deep appreciation.
As the Sorcerer King departed the realm, Aurora found herself back in her office with the knight and nun. Despite her satisfaction with the outcome, her gaze now shifted towards Zooey, the knight. To her surprise, Zooey's once ordinary eyes had transformed into a striking shade of crimson.
Aurora couldn't help but wonder about the implications of this change, a subtle undercurrent of curiosity and intrigue mingling with the contentment that filled the room.
"Ah, Zooey, how do you feel?" Aurora inquired, a hint of uncertainty in her voice as she observed the transformed knight before her.
"Good, my Lady. My armor feels lighter than ever, and this may sound unsettling, but I can sense your blood flowing through your veins," Zooey calmly replied.
Aurora's eyes widened in both surprise and a touch of trepidation. "Oh, goddess," she uttered, realizing that Zooey's transformation had granted her abilities beyond the ordinary.
As the Sorcerer King prepared to leave, Zooey, with newfound boldness, raised her voice high and fervently wished for immortality. The atmosphere in the yard shifted, and an air of tension enveloped the scene. Artoria, the woman poised with a blade, deemed such a request as shameful in the presence of their lord.
However, before the blade could descend, the Sorcerer King intervened. He halted Artoria's impending action and, surprisingly, granted Zooey the very immortality she had desired. Zooey's form underwent a profound transformation, elevated to that of a high-level vampire, marking her newfound existence with an aura of power and eternal life.
Astrida's eyes held a mix of curiosity and concern as she inquired, "Why did you desire immortality, Zooey?"
Zooey paused, contemplating her own motives. "Now that I think about it... I'm not entirely sure. The opportunity presented itself, and I took it because who knows if I'll ever encounter the Sorcerer King again. Besides, I lack a family, so there's no one for me to burden with the passing of time." Her words carried a subtle wistfulness, acknowledging the unique circumstances that led her to seek a timeless existence.
Zooey's past, as an orphan found on the steps of the church, had shaped her into a quiet and seemingly aloof individual, a demeanor she maintained even as she rose to the position of a knight. Her enigmatic nature was further emphasized by her disinterest in wealth and power, rendering her a mysterious figure within the ranks.
Astrida, aware of Zooey's background and now privy to her unexpected desire for immortality, nodded in understanding. "I understand, Zooey," she said, bowing her head respectfully, acknowledging the complexity of the knight's decision and showing empathy for the path Zooey had chosen.
"Are you also planning to become immortal, my lady?" inquired Zooey, her crimson eyes focused on Aurora.
"I don't think so, Zooey," replied Aurora thoughtfully. "I want to remain human, live out my life, and eventually pass away. Who knows how many tragedies will descend upon this world in the future? I don't want to be there to witness it all." Her words carried a mix of wisdom and a desire for a finite existence, reflecting a perspective shaped by the awareness of the unpredictable nature of the world.
Both Aurora and Zooey, each harboring their own unique ideals, maintained a deep respect for one another. As Zooey departed the office to test her newfound powers, Aurora and Astrida, undeterred, continued their work, seamlessly transitioning back to the tasks at hand. The air in the room, now tinged with a blend of newfound responsibilities and subtle mysteries, settled into a rhythm of purposeful diligence.