Ah yes, this is the last epilogue for my first story. It has been quite a journey really. In this part of a gargantuan Epilogue, I will go in detail why Magnus decided to help Ainz in the first place and the charm of the whole story of the entity that is Ainz Ooal Gown.
Also, the chapter is still kinda in beta phase, so expect flaws here there.
The conviction of a higher entity part 2: What make you great
Magnus's revelation of what made a civilization great in his opinion didn't really solve much. In fact, it brought new confusions. After a moment of consideration from what he had seen, once more, Ainz broke the silence in a tone that had an increasing curiosity.
"No matter how rare they were, they still can exist, and there may exist those who can do this better than me. And even then, why not choose someone who is better than me, perfect even? After all, you know full well that I am nowhere near perfection."
At this, Magnus replied with a busted crisp laughter that echoed across the whole infinite plane.
"You talk as if I have ever really asked for perfection Ainz. No, I have never really liked it… Not even close. I don't need to see the story of someone perfect or something like the incarnation of the distilled essence of a species or whatsoever. In fact, I am more intrigued about the concept of imperfection, on how the hosts of such a concept make use of all they have and continuously improving themselves, maybe even ascending from their very limit. In fact, I don't really like those who care too much for perfection, I even despite those who have deemed that they have achieved perfection."
Magnus focus on Ainz once more
"Your humbleness and carefulness, always among your aspects that amuse me to no end... and some of the paradoxes that make you great. Regardless of your overwhelming power, regardless of how much you have achieved, you are always eager to learn about new and strange stuff, you're always cautious when you make a move, and almost not a single one of them was done without any consideration whatsoever. "
"Isn't that what others do as well?"
"Of course… Until many reached a certain height."
"They became arrogant, didn't they?"
Magnus nodded as he took a frustrated breath.
"Aye, they become arrogant. They become more careless in their actions, they become callous in their decisions and they become more and more stagnant as time goes by. I can't really blame them, after all, the illusion of invincibility is among one of the strongest and popular illusions that ever exist… Regardless, the damage it may cost would be catastrophic. This especially apply to a whole civilization, or maybe only its leaders become too arrogant, which actually happen a lots in history"
His lips then formed into a tender, intriguing smile.
"Yet, for some reason, not you. You are always so cautious. Even with the amount of resources that you have, you could have somewhat of a total continuous conquest by force without stopping until you finally take over the world, without a care for the life of those you have just conquered. You could rule them with an absolute iron fist and no one could do anything about it really.
But... no… no, you did not. Some, you took by force via casus belli, some voluntarily bend their knees to you, some you manipulated them to swear their loyalty to you. And when new land, you took care of those you have conquered, you gave them the same status as those who were originally your people, you brought them and their descendants a new, better life which also helped make them into good citizens for your kingdom, unlike so many others that leave them to their fate. Only when most things, if not all things are settled, did you move on to the next target. This shows clearer and clearer as your empire expands, even as your resource is near limitless and only increases as time goes by."
"Magnus, you know that, I do it only for the sake of efficiency, and not totally from the goodness of my heart... Not to mention, you know well that I did order for the genocide for some races during my conquest right?"
In reply of the notion Ainz spoke of, Magnus simply snickered as if it was something redundant or even, ridiculous to him
"You talk as if me, my kin and reality really give a fuck about the flawed system that is this so - called "morality"." Magnus said, his voice turned cold and empty like the void "Sure, some higher entities somewhat care about that. However, those are among the weakest of the weakest beings could be considered as higher entities, far below us. Us though? Oh no, we don't... We really REALLY don't give a damn about how you do it, but only the result - the efficiency and effectiveness of your doing. At the end of the day, it is the only aspect that matters as it is what truly is carved into the annal existence. This especially applies much more to leaders of nations and politics as efficiency and effectiveness of their decision are morality, or at least, would result in an overall "moral" end."
Suddenly, Magnus's face then started to darken and the air around him. His voice slowly becomes more and more menacing.
"I would rather see someone who is evil, self-serving or at least, have low morality, however, whose actions, although never come from the goodness of their heart or intentionally for others, would eventually bring out a better future, to succeed rather than seeing a bunch of idiots with hearts of gold trying to do good, only to ruin everything for everyone in the end of the days and in the long run. And you know what the worst part about those idiots is? They are much, much more prominent in history of every reality and for most of the time, they were the ones that halted, if not, pushed back true progress one way or another meanwhile they actually thought they were contributing goodness. They, along with weaklings of minds and spirits, are the true destroyers of civilizations, especially when things are too good and peaceful.
In fact, you can say that I abhor their existence. Even when they recognize what they have done wrong, I would still gladly massacre every single one of them in the most painful way as possible and give each a fate much worse than death.
After all, that is a reoccurring theme in history. Those who are bad, with bad intentions, bad actions that create bad results and those who are idealists that are well meaning, yet fail and even if they succeed, those immediate results of their leave terrible consequence and the result is not worth it, actually shared the same place… On the gallows, where their bodies are shamelessly naked, desecrated and mutilated by the very world around them as their names are despised, hated and spit upon for all eternity… Maybe, all except by those as damnable as they were, who would also deserve the same fate."
This was not the first time Ainz had seen his friend like this. There were numerous times in the past when Magnus showed his darker side.
One of the more memorable instances was that one time 8 years ago as that was the first time that side of Magnus was revealed to him. He still remembered that day as if it had just happened yesterday.
During a monthly meeting in Nazarick, Magnus revealed crucial information that apparently, ever since their departure from that cursed world, those mega corporations decided to put in great measure trying to take this world for themselves. And as expected, there was earth shattering fury and a suffocating aura of malice coming from every Supreme Being as well as their creations. Even if their domain was still being protected by Magnus's gift, many of them still wanted some sort of retaliation toward the corporates for even daring to invade their domain. Some called for a complete conquest of Earth, others just suggest the complete destruction of the mega corporations. And in the end, they all came down to the conclusion with the plan of having Earth conquered, although not directly by them, but rather, in their name and they would then come in and take their prize later on. For that job, Ainz knew exactly who to rely on.
On the subject of dealing with potential future incursion however, Magnus volunteered to be the one dealing with them. At this, some Supreme Beings raised questions on the methodology of such dealing. In response, Magnus only vaguely replied to which most of his peers agreed upon, though some were still partially skeptical.
"Before arriving in this world, they will be trapped in a limbo of my own creation and shall be judged upon. Those who wish to only have a better life, were willing to serve under us and after telling us what is needed to be known would be allowed to stay and would be sent to the palace of E-Rantel to be approved upon and assigned to a specific position. Meanwhile, for those who do not hold such potential and only had the purpose of causing harm and violating us or/and being a corporate lap dog, will have their power stripped completely away, and will be thoroughly interrogated in the 7th floor of Nazarick and then will be sent back with a message."
As expected of Magnus, his suggestion was fruitful. The ones the mega corporations sent were truly remarkable in power and could single handedly deal with the whole Nazarick and his vassals pre-ascension. After ascension though, all of them were not enough to even touch a Floor Guardian, let alone harming them, but regardless, the power of each of them was still impressive nonetheless. For that, those who submitted to them were now excellent commanders of some parts of the army and specialists of different fields, and it seemed like they had been really enjoying their stay.
Those were in the second category however, their fate was much more different.
On the day of the first interrogation, Ainz decided to personally come to the 7th to see the result for himself. Since the day of the Ascension, every floor has become more or less a pocket dimension interconnecting to each other. Along with many other additions, they also became larger ịn all dimensions, most had the scale of a continent, one of them was no other than the 7th floor. And so, to make things quick, he teleported to right in front of the room. Stepping out of the black glistening prismatic metal door of the interrogation room was Magnus and Demiurge, however what he saw next was something bewildering which had indeed given him more insight into the entity that was Magnus.
Magnus's face was seemingly slightly annoyed as if he had just had to deal with an annoying pest yet the air around remained calm and neutral, on one hand was a stack of paper and under the other was an orb, reek of power. Demiurge's, however, was a whole different story. His normal calmness was no more and for the first time ever, Ainz saw Demiurge being actually frightened. His posture was slightly shaking. His everyday smile had vanished and left behind the face of a completely traumatized man, pale and drained of his very soul. His eyes, although were gems, he could clearly sense an overwhelming dread, fright and inferiority coming from his wandering sight, but also… A strange sense of enlightenment?
Then he heard they spoke to each other
"And that is how you deal with foolish, annoying pests like them. I hope today's demonstration proved to be useful to you Demiurge." Magnus said calmly as he turned his head to Demiurge.
"Y… Yes m'lord. To… Today has been very u...useful, I have lea...learnt much from you." Startled at Magnus's words, Demiurge stuttered, trepidation was in his every word.
"And there is still much to learn in such an art, what you have just seen is only the very beginning of how to truly deal with those types of pests. But I think we should stop for today, take some rest, maybe do something else and of course, let the knowledge sink in and recollect yourself. Don't you agree?"
"Wi… Wise word m… my lord. I… I agree w...with such as well."
"Thank you for your compliment Demiurge." Magnus said, his eyes met with Ainz's "Ah Momonga, looking to see how the interrogation was going?"
"Ah... Yes, I was going to check but, it seems like it has been done. So how did it go?" Ainz asked, still somewhat regaining his posture from seeing such a sight.
"Long story short, the fucker was a bit pompous and hard headed initially, but as always, it is a success. Anyway, here is the power as well as the equipment he used to hold and the information he spilled out, some of them can be quite interesting if I were you." Magnus replied, his voice was joyous as if that annoyance before had never existed and handed Ainz the report and the globe.
Looking through the paper and the globe that was given to him, Ainz nodded pleasingly.
"You two have done well. My compliment to you two, as always."
"You are welcome Momonga. And may I take my leave? I kinda have some business to deal with." As he got his friend's approval, Magnus vanished in the instance, leaving Ainz and Demiurge behind. At which, Ainz spoke
"Demiurge… Can you tell me exactly what happened in there?"
Demiurge nervously swallowed a baleful spit, the memory of what had just happened permanently ingrained into his mind as he stutterly replied
"Today… I ha-have been enlightened, my Lord. I ha-have just recognized h-how much of an f-fool… an arrogant idiot I have been, more than I expected."
'What?' Ainz was as surprised as he was somewhat horrified at such an absurd notion as what he was seeing right now and if he was in his humanoid form, his eyes would be bulging out of the proportion.
" Be-Before this, I tho-thought that I had known all tha-that is to know about the a-art. Until today… I had thought myself a-as the pinnacle of e-evil, beside the exception that is Lord Ulbert of course.
But I… I have been wrong… I have been horrendously wrong. I have been k-kind, too kind… To the pests that deserved worse. C-Compare to Supreme Being Magnus, I ha-have been nothing but the pu-purest, most righteous angel to ever live, who ha-had done nothing wrong, and my Creator would at most had only squash a b-bug in his whole majestic existence."
At this, Ainz was deeply disturbed and if he could, he would have been sweating bullets. How could he not? At a certain point in time, he had found out about Demiurge's "Farm" true nature and so disturb he had been, he ordered the subject for that farm to only be limited to some specific groups of "candidates", which Demiurge obliged. And now there was something that even Demiurge was disturbed about. It really spoke volume how horrendous things were. But as Ainz regained his posture via emotional suppression, he said
"I… I think you should take a rest for the whole day Demiurge, or several days, if you need to. Take this as a command."
"A-As your wish, Lord Momonga." Demiurge said and walked to his resting room on the floor in hesitant, wandering steps.
When Demiurge was no longer in sight, Ainz looked back to the door of the room where the interrogation happened. Before everything, it could be said that he had been a bit curious on how Magnus would personally deal with such threats and with what short of tools, but now, that curiosity now vanished and he no longer had the slightest of that desire. While deep inside he knew that Magnus's loyalty was absolute and he had never had doubt about him after that day and he had somewhat acknowledged that Magnus had a more sinister side ever since their first met, but to think he could go this far, a strong sense of dread was inevitable. It was short lived however as his emotion suppressor kicked in, but regardless, from that day forth, he was now more aware of a much more different side of the seemingly the entity of light that was his newest comrade.
"To think that side of you can have such an extent… woe are the ones who caught in your ire, Magnus."
"Hmm, I have always seen that you cared so much for the details?" Ainz once more asked curiously as the dark grimace of before was lessened significantly, but hadn't completely ceased from existing.
"No… Result and end not in the sense of "the end defines the means" or its contrast. What it should really mean is the accumulation of effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, the cost, the direct and indirect consequence from your actions and how much of the bigger picture do your actions encompass. Basically, more or less the combination of both."
Magnus emphasized, this time it was a more pleasant tone but a hint of brutal indifference and calculativeness still present in every word.
"Sure, you have ordered at least five massacres during the course of your conquest. But what matter was that you won and all of them, no matter how gruesome they could be, secured a better, more sustainable, cost efficient and of course, easier future compared to the hypothetical ones if you hadn't ordered it. Combined with what I said before, you have done so well that although many of the latter descendants of those that were the target of those unfortunate incidents, still considered that fate to be a great tragedy, they blamed such fate upon the foolish bunch that dragged their ancestors to share the path of eternal damnation. And instead of blaming you, they are now forever grateful for the lives that they are now enjoying.
And believe me Ainz, if other men and women of high position had ever had the resources of Nazarick or something similar, most, if not all of them would be no better than you. No... what they do would be much much worse. The atrocities caused by them would be much more in both scale and degree, yet the efficiency does not follow, a completely idiotic way to waste resource I have to say."
Still unsatisfied, Ainz rebuttal with self doubt
"Even then, I am not behind many of those decisions and those plans, especially the ones when the Kingdom was still at its infancy. They weren't mine, they belonged to Albedo, Demiurge and Pandora Actor, the true geniuses of Nazarick. In fact, during that period and maybe even now, they still do much of the job. Despite being proud of my kingdom and despite the experience I have garnered, I can say that I know how to be a good one, however, I don't believe I am that godly of one. And still..."
"You are aware that there are many types of leaders and kings, right?" Magnus noted, one of his eyebrows peaking up as Ainz abruptly stopped "Some are powerful in their physical capability, some have peerless intelligence that none can match. Some do all the jobs, some give it to others… And some, they aren't too special in any of those aspects. Instead, they are charismatic, incredibly so, no matter whether they are aware of it or not. Most of all, they have seemingly mastered the art of being a moderator and the art of using their personnel resources.
And you, my friend, is that type of king."
Ainz could understand what Magnus meant by that. In many ways, it was true. During the time when everything was still in YGGDRASIL and his guild was still in its prime back then, he had always been the moderator of his guild and he was picked to be the Guild leader for that very reason. In fact, some had come clean to him that if it weren't for him, they would have left and the guild would have been asundered a long time ago.
When he and Nazarick first came to the New World, he sometimes had to moderate the conflicts between some of the denizens. As time went by, he had taken on more active roles in the administration of the kingdom, diplomacy, that original duty of his was still his most crucial, frequent role. As the kingdom grew and allies were made, he had to solve problems between allied Players with each other and they with the denizens from time to time, and sometimes, even between the orders dedicated to his friends. And now, with his friends' arrival, the weight he had to carry seemed lesser, but conflicts between them still happened sometimes and he always had to be the one to solve it.
"Moderating and using one's own personnel resources, each is an art by its own right." Magnus noted musingly as he continued.
"During the entirety of your eternal reign, you have always been surrounded by specialists and extraordinaires that help your rule with passion and absolute loyalty. Instead of falling into the trap of pride, you remain level headed and humble as you take in the words of your ever trustworthy subordinate with utmost consideration and act upon it.
Yet, at the same time, you constantly improve yourself so that you don't have to rely on them too much as you also wish for them to take a rest once in a while. And when there are conflicts within their court, you use their wisdom and authority to solve the issues with gracefulness… And of course, with luck.
Maybe the most important of all, regardless of how listening you are to your allies, no matter how much of a moderator you are, you wouldn't sell out those who have followed you from the start and your family or bend over to the wills of anyone that meant to undermine their authority. It is actually much harder than it sounds you know. From such unity and authority, you and those following you have built a heavenly kingdom of ever increasing splendor and greatness that we all know and love."
Silence dawned upon them as Ainz did not know what to say. He knew Magnus was completely sincere, there was no denying that. Yet regardless of it, his mind still was that of doubt about himself as he recognized that the success he had today was nothing but a pure fluke of fate. What if that fluke of fate disappears and he has to deal with an opponent he could never be able to fight or a calamity he could not revert, what then? And even if he and others were technically invincible, would they be able to bring in the bright future that was shown to him if the divine intervention that was Magnus disappeared? There was just so much to think.
After a second or so, Magnus finally noticed something seemingly wrong, his voice had a faint concern to it, yet in a way, knowing exactly the conundrum of worries in Ainz's mind
"...What is wrong? Is there something else troubling you?"
Unlike the time before, when the questions and rebuttal from Ainz were rather constant, this time there was some hesitation on his part. True, this place lifts away the very concept of the feeling of burden, stress and tiredness. However, it doesn't mean it is a place for absolute escapism where one could indulge in senseless serenity and forget about everything and everyone else that they are supposed to care for.
No... this is a place where one has the greatest opportunity to become the primogenitor of billion ideas, the planner of trillions plans, sage of an unlimited wisdom, the artist of infinite inspiration,… or at the simplest level, this is the perfect for one to come up with a way to come out with the solution to the conundrum one currently have. In silence and serenity, this is the place where one's mind and spirit becomes the clearest and freest it can ever be, from all the toil of exhaustion, the stress and the disturbance from anything and anyone else. This is a place where one's soul can fully express, without the chain of shyness and of the feeling of uncertainty. In the end, the only thing that is left behind is the unshackled, fully collected and untangled mind and soul with complete determination to one's own objective they initially have. This applies to everyone, Ainz is no exception to this blessing.
As such, with all those shackles liberated from him, Ainz looked down to the ground, considering ways to formulate his worry. In a sense, he was fully aware that Magnus knew well what this worry was. But what he said back then was kinda correct, the best way to solve this type of conundrum is to ask directly, personally who knows the answer well and then get a satisfying answer. After a moment, he remarked in a voice of a tranquil mind and spirit, yet the content was filled with his deepest concern
"Like I said, thinking about everything we have experienced, I felt so… Small in comparison. I mean, like you said, even before meeting you, I am fully aware that I am not the most powerful being out there. After witnessing all the things that are out there, just how grand they can be, even with all these powers firmly in my hands, I couldn't help but to question that... what if someone… Something much more powerful than me, than all of Nazarick and our kingdom can be, arrive without the intention for peace? What if you weren't there? What then? In a sense we are currently having these because we were lucky we have you, without you, all might have been lost forever. In my case, everything would no longer exist 10 years ago, by the ruinous power of that World Enemy I have been told about.
Even if the prophecy dictated that the future would be glorious, no matter how clear they were, they were nothing more than prophecies, predictions, they aren't that certain, and can be changed if the condition is right. Sure, in a sense fate dances in our palm too, but like The Goal of All Life is Death, it is said to inflict death upon everything and anything, yet there is a limit in it, it just had not been discovered yet in the past. Because of that, if some entity with an immense degree of fate altering capability, what then?"
Replying to this, Magnus just burst out some giggled as he continuously shaking his head
"It seems like you were kinda distracted that day. Can't blame you though, it is hard to pay full attention to me when there are just so many things happening on the same day, especially the complete reunion to those you held dear that you didn't think you would ever see anymore. And maybe with your libido coming back, the one you were glad to see the most was Albedo? Or was it that countless naughty hours with her and the unmeasurable duties as a king and a father afterward had made you forget that part entirely?"
Hearing that, Ainz could not help but to feel a bit embarrassed, because not gonna lie, he was partially right on the distracted part. In a more calming manner but a smile still visible on his face, Magnus then continued with an assuring voice
"But anyway, besides the increase in power and breaking all the limits, I also noted that I gave this universe and in extension, your entire domain absolute protection against any of the aforementioned forces. I guessed it was not so important huh? And if some entity arrived without any hostility but would have it later on, they would be banished, unless I determined otherwise. And… What is wrong about having more luck, privilege and more power than others even when you seemingly didn't do anything for it? By now, you already know that there exist beings that are powerful because they just are, with almost without any reason or whatsoever, without requiring them to do anything for it, their power and luck is completely for granted. And it doesn't matter. For at the end of the day, what matters is what are you going to do with all that resource you have. Will you use it wisely with utmost efficiency and effectiveness and expand upon it or will you simply drag everything into the abyss? Will you improve your own abilities even when that luck is abundant or will you abuse the hell out of it and when the luck is gone, you become a sitting duck? I believe you know the answer well. Help, in this case, from me, is no different, just take it and use it well."
As he took a breath, one of eyebrow raised intriguingly and his tone ever asuring, he continued
"And what if I didn't exist? I am existing right now, am I not? In a way, it is all that matters. And if you are thinking about the scenario where I just cease from existence, that is very VERY likely to never ever going to exist, to say the very least, if not, outright impossible in its truest sense. And like I have told, I can be anywhere, anytime, at the same time I want. Even when I don't show myself, I will arrive by your side whenever the time is right. And in the worst scenario that I couldn't be there for some reason and had the possibility of resulting in an unfortunate consequence, I have already mentioned in that contract, haven't I? Besides, you have already had all the needed foundation of knowledge and power to expand even further in a sustainable manner without the need of me. So, in the end, you don't need to worry much."
On one hand, Ainz couldn't help but to feel embarrassed at what Magnus just said. If he was in his humanoid form, his greyish porcelain skin would have been temporarily added a slight shade of red. However, what mattered to him was that his worry was lessened for most part.
"However, many of those concerns are… Very much legit, for many times what we thought to be the absolute is nothing more than a limit ones self-imposed upon themselves. We just can't know we are truly the most powerful." Magnus said while his eyes and voice had a sense of adoration, and solemnity "Once more, through such a concern, you have shown yourself a king of wisdom and humility who is completely immune to the illusion of invincibility and constantly strives for a new height, regardless how peerless in power you seem to be."
"Say, I see that you emphasize the virtue of humility and being self conscious much during our talk. I know that it is a very highly rated individual characteristic and I have to say some even said that I am a saint of humbleness, but why are you so focused on it?" Ainz asked curiously before he came to a partial realization "Let me guess, it is something absolutely crucial that is rarely or even, have never been completely aware of right?"
A satisfying smile formed on Magnus's face as he received.
"Because such a mindset is crucial for one's own ascension. Believe me when I say this Ainz, in nature, the ways to ascend to a higher plane of existence are pretty much the same for every level, just different in scale and degree. However, the greatest obstacle is no other than one's own mindset."
"Really? How so" An increasing curiosity could be found in Ainz's voice
"Yes, in the entirety, awareness of oneself is crucial in one's own ascension. However, for most of the time, acknowledgement of one's identity has always been the more… prevalent than the other aspects, to the point of being more than just being ego." Magnus paused before he continued with his explanation.
"Just imagine... the arrogance I mentioned but turn it up to 11. It is even harder to judge them as this is not just some mere arrogance, but one that was backed up by a solidified and seemingly logical belief. A belief born from the solid fact that they are now beyond everything and every so called gods they have ever known, the degree and the scale they held dominance upon so vast and endless, it feels like literally everything while it is not. This only increased significantly for every time one ascends, most even can never see further beyond what they originally knew. Following it would be the absolute stagnation where they are too blind to see all that is beyond them… Of course, unless something or someone higher than them comes knocking at their doors.
But again, it is not so logical in the sense that they are supposed to know that if there is something higher than who they were, there is a high chance there exists those higher than what they are now."
"I presume there are still cases that one could break through such an illusion?"
"There are, albeit, very very few. One of the most noteworthy cases was that of a specific 3 metaphysical higher entities. Even for many that could be considered as "gods" and higher entities, they were nigh invincible. They exist because they exist, without a single need to latch on anything or anyone else to retain their power and existence. Their authority is immense and unquestionable, the scale they ruled over are utterly incomprehensible and beyond anything for so many. But... They were smart and oh so logical. Even when they were practically on top of the food chain, they still theorized that there exists entities that are higher than them."
"Have they succeeded?"
"Yes, eventually they found an entity who shared all their characteristics but truly infinitely greater. In comparison to that entity, those 3 are nothing but the most insignificant spec to ever exist."
"Is this being a member of your kin?"
"No…" Magnus shook his head "In our point of view, relatively close to the weakest and to say the least... far far away from those among the strongest, whose power could only be very partially and vaguely described by your language as true boundless in the truest sense, unrestricted, unbound by any and boundlessly above anything and everything. Said the name of any being, any among the strongest of my kin would, quite literally, infinitely more powerful than them in every way, with only the exception of those rank higher than that specific entity. And the only way to get a higher rank is to be truly more powerful than those who below, or at least, through a combat trial."
"And you said that you are the one who rules over your kin?"
"Yes, yes I am. And again, I doubt their usage of such description of boundlessness and stuff. And I presumed that you have guessed why from this conversation of ours."
"Recognizing that there is a chance of an entity higher than you, would you still be by our side even if such an opponent ever came and wanted to bring ruination to our kingdom and my family?"
Suspense descended upon them. Shock and hurt was evident on Magnus's face, his eyes went wide and his lips slightly opened up as if he couldn't hide his surprise. He then looked down to the ground, his eyes frown and each of them was like a pool of sadness. His form was restless upon his chair, his facial features twisted, confused and seemingly in pain. This transition was so weird that even Ainz visibly staggered back in surprise. Finally, after a moment or so, Magnus looked at Ainz and finally said in a stuttering voice
"Have… Have I done anything that offended you or... something treacherous even? If so… Please tell me, please give me chances to repent myself so that I could be reliable in your eyes once more."
Taking no second, yet still in a calm, assuring voice and manner, Ainz replied
"No Magnus, from all that I know, I can guarantee that you have never done such a thing. Every of your actions are for the benefit of my cause and my kingdom. Those that are for your own pleasure have never caused negative consequences."
However, it didn't seem to affect his condition much. A tender flair covered Ainz's skeletal form. From the light was him in his humanoid form, smiling warmly like the luminescent sunlight of a beautiful autumn day and a pair of beautiful ruby red eyes filled with gratitude, then he spoke as Magnus slowly looked up at him
"In fact, I can say for absolute certainty that there is not a single moment I regret ever meeting you. You have always dedicated so much to me, to my family and to our legacy, for that I am eternally grateful, we all do. Maybe, the only regrets I have concerning you would be that I have acted kinda too hostile toward you when we first met."
"Which, I can't blame you, can I?" Magnus replied with a huff, a small smile slowly forming on his face as he looked up once more.
Ainz nodded. Then, his face became sterner and in a more thoughtful manner.
"But you know, to say the least, for some people, things can be very much different if one sees something more... supreme than oneself and everything they know of. By that point, all of their previous loyalty can easily vanish in the instant. Coming from our experience, I presume you know exactly what I meant by that, do you not? For that, I just couldn't risk it."
"Oh, I understood it, too well in fact. But I think you don't need to worry about much. From what you have heard about my kin, you would think my kin as an omnipotent species of cold and detached beings of an eldritch degree and maybe beyond such description, which is not wrong… but not completely true."
Magnus paused and fixed his gaze intensively upon his friend as Ainz peaked with great interest.
"Should you give us a good enough purpose or something truly worth fighting for, you shall find us to be what fanatics are meant to be and more than that, regardless how rational we always seem to be. The difference that distant me from my peers is that due to my constant wandering, I am more attached to the denizens of lower levels of existence, which allow me to understand them, to see their potential, to see what matters far more better than any of my kin."
"However, should the situation ask, regardless how much I understood others, there would be no limit on just how far I would go just for those I cherish." Magnus replied, every word he spoke held conviction and an unparalleled cruelty "After all, I have killed my own kins and the entity that could be considered as our god before just for that very reason."
His eyes shined with the fire of zeal that could eclipse the brightness of a billion suns and a stern voice that held the conviction of the endless sea of zealous devotees from the past to the very end of time. Yet, at the same time, Ainz couldn't feel any craze in Magnus's eyes but only clarity of thoughts and the most logical of purpose and reasons.
"For the first time during my wandering, I can say that I have found a place where I can infinitely invest myself in, a true purpose I can live for with absolute certainty. This place is the closest thing to have the potential to be a true utopia, a luminous and noble beacon of what civilization supposes to be. But what makes it truly a miracle, an exotic gem in all of existence is that all of these greatness were born from the world of grim and darkness where conflicts, threats and disasters had been constant and always around the corner, where the strong of the past rule with utter foolishness and callousness.
And all of that is thanks to the greatest and perhaps the most balanced walking paradox to ever exist that is their king. A king whose authority is unquestionable like no other, whose power is almighty, whose wisdom and knowledge is greater than that of any sage. Yet, at the same time, this king does not undermine and is never hesitant to learn, have and improve upon strange new things regardless how insignificant they may be, always try to improve himself and never let his guard down. An utterly ruthless king who possesses an unfathomable will that does not let anyone trample and desecrate upon him and all those he holds dear, a will that would make even higher entities coward in fear should any of them care enough to find out. Yet, at the same time, he was still capable of showing nobility, kindness and even love to those following him, especially to those close to him, while still able to maintain utmost efficiency and effectiveness. And whose mindset is rather unique, one out of countless, immune to blinding light of grandeur, a mindset that is meant to create a higher entity of a neverending ascension. And that king is no other than you."
For a moment, Ainz was completely awed. He couldn't but feel like he was witnessing the very concept of devotion but taken to a new entire level. He was rendered speechless and couldn't know how to react but only to let Magnus speak his mind like before. As Magnus seemingly became calmer, he continued
"However… Such qualities are not the only reason, but there are other more personal motives."
This was something Ainz really wanted to hear. In a way, he was certain that in the grand scale of existence he was not the only one who inhabits such traits for as rare as such the combination can be, there always be someone, something else have them, maybe even to a greater degree. This had only been solidified through their conversation. After a while, Magnus continued, his voice once more filled with nostalgia as his eyes drift into the memory of a time seemingly long ago.
"As we interact more and I prove myself more and more useful, my relationship with you and Nazarick become closer and closer. Then things truly took a turn when the next Player's advent happened..."
'How… Typical' Ainz mused as he thought about the long history of Players incursion. It was truly a wild card. To him, some were beneficial, some were unbeneficial, to say the very least. But what was noticeable with every incursion is that there always exists a huge potential to create a significant change to the world around, especially if the ones who come are powerful or/and accompany them is a guild base. It is rather varied, it could be something like a new regional revolution, the creation of a new powerful kingdom or even something as grand as the end of a seemingly eternal era and the beginning of a new.
Accompanying those bigger changes were countless smaller alterations. For the better or worse, new ties are made while the old were thrown away, new loyalty is sworn while the seemingly everlasting ones are betrayed, bestest of friends become the most bitter enemy, the everyday most rational individuals suddenly become the most devoted of fanatics, peace replaced by the most gruesome of wars and wars are replaced by unbreakable alliance or even a permanent confederation, new ideas were born meanwhile the old ones were either made a comeback and prospered once more or continue to be shunned to oblivion...
Perhaps this chaos was one of other reasons why the old Dragon Lords were so wary and paranoid of such an event, of course, beside the main reason that one incursion in the past managed to wipe off most of their race. Only until he and Nazarick truly established themselves as a global powerhouse or maybe even, only when they had fully managed to take over the entirety of this world had the potential negative effect of such world changing events toward his domain truly been reduced to almost none. After all of those struggles, he had fundamentally recognized that the only thing that is absolutely constant and eternal is the loyalty of his family and those he can truly consider as his allies, those he would never trade for anything else, even if it was for his own life. And after knowing of all that happened during the time he was back on Earth, maybe, just maybe, his citizens can be considered as such as well.
"It was not a friendly one, but an advent of an overly ambitious and powerful player with a guild base in the nearby continent. To say the very least, his actions were rash and without any real thinking. He took over the continent too quickly with his NPCs and PoPs which were lackluster but enough, without any fashion or style as his force plunged through the land like an unstoppable and unrestrain horde of destruction. Of course, they made their moves against us first even when he had just taken over the whole continent without any stop." Magnus said, a satisfying bloom on his face "Uberknow to them, we had already prepared ourselves. And as expected, they were annihilated as they were nothing compared to the power of Nazarick and the Sorcerer Kingdom. From the thought to be predator, they had now become the most pitiful of prey."
As he continued, the seemingly satisfaction was replaced by dissatisfaction.
"And when we arrived on the land that he called his kingdom, we found a complete mess. Everything was incredibly disorganized, the regional administration was… utterly lacking of any needed requirement or whatsoever to say the least. The concept of citizens of one nation almost didn't exist as many races still officially prey on each other as they originally had been. As we marched deeper and deeper into the territory, everything was the same as where we previously marched through, nothing changed at all. There was no resistance from the native, some even greeted us like some type of liberator. The only significant resistance there were belonged to that Player and his force."
From dissatisfaction, it had grown to be utter distaste
"Especially after meeting you and seeing the love you treat the denizens, I say he was a mongrel who had no right to be their lord. The more we advanced, the more desperate his actions were. He threw those he was supposed to love and cherish at us like a maniac, later on, he even threw in those that aren't meant for combat at the slightest bit. When he retreated he abandoned them without any hesitation or whatsoever, as if they were just disposable toys to him. Of course, we all knew that they would do it with glee, but such actions from him truly gave that version of you a bad taste, a sentiment that I fully agreed upon and one that I am certain that you would share as well."
Hearing such, Ainz couldn't help but be furious. Although he didn't know who these NPCs were or even then, they had no connection to them or whatsoever. Yet, he couldn't help but to imagine it was him who treated the denizens of Nazarick like that, something he would loath himself for all eternity if he ever did that.
"During the confrontation against that player by me, that version of you and the denizens of Nazarick, he spilled some information about YGGDRASIL and about the Players. The Guardians didn't pay attention to it much or consider them as nothing but desperate gibberish of some dying madman. However, at that time, I hadn't looked deep into such information yet, so for me, it held some rather… Interesting information."
The ferocity that was in his eyes were no more as it was replaced by a calm pool of absolute serenity. His lips then formed into tender smile and his voice was gentle
"When everything is finally over, the Player is dead, a new continent belongs to us and his treasure plundered. When we were alone in your study, I asked you on the subject that Player spilled out. By that time, we had become very close, we knew each other well enough. He knew nothing can really hide from me. Heck, he even knew that my awareness of his fallibility, no matter how much he had tried to hide it in front of everyone. He partially knew what I could actually do. Yet, he still trusts me for the most part nonetheless. That Ainz even said that I could leave should such revelation destroy my perspective on him and Nazarick. If I leave, I must also promise him that this information must be an absolute secret and no harm would be made to Nazarick as well as its denizens and the kingdom in the future by me, which I swore.
And so, in the utmost privacy of his study, he told me the story of how everything came to be to the moment I arrived. He told me the story of the colorful world that was YGGDRASIL… of the full story of the other 40 Supreme Beings… of that version of Earth in the year 2138… and of course, the story of a man named Suzuki Satoru, the life he used to have and the scenario he has caught himself in. It lasted for hours, with each syllable greatly condensed with pride and sentimentality. Yet, that story didn't lower my perspective on that version of you or Nazarick one bit. In fact, in a sense, it even strengthened my tie with Nazarick many times more. For that, I decided to stay."
With a simple gesture from Magnus, a floating transparent screen appeared beside them.
"See… You are not the only one who has ever faced this before. Far from it, I have met with uncountable cases of being suddenly transported to another world, stuck in one's own virtual bodies included." From the screen, Ainz saw scenes of numerous other instances that Magnus mentioned. Some came with some power, some didn't and they had to build themselves up from the start. Some arrived as humans, others came in the form of a myriad of other races and species: demon, vampire and angel, elven, skeleton like him and in some cases, even slime and spider. Then, the screen disappeared. "However… Different from them, whose stories are repetitive in nature, dull and rather… mediocre, yours however is different, unique even."
Then Magnus's eyes and his voice shimmering with a sort of the fondest of nostalgia, and of a degree of thoughtfulness in every syllable as Ainz tentatively took in the information.
"There is a certain charm in the story of a lonely and seemingly purposeless normal man who finds himself in a strange yet familiar world, where he would find his purpose he had never really had, within the memories of his friends and within those that are supposed to serve him without question, who he considered them as his dearest family rather than servants that he can use in any way he likes...
In the story of a man who try his best and would do anything and everything to protect and honor those memories, to make those he cherish happy and safe in a world that hate them, want them dead or enslaved and have those memories plundered for idiotic usage…
Of a reluctant leader who initially partially decided to make a kingdom just to honor those memories, to seek them regardless how unlikely it can be. He then unconsciously decided to take over the world only because it would make those he cherished happy. But as time went by, he would be reluctant no longer, for he took up the mantle of a true leader with absolute certainty as he fully realized that the combination of conquering, good statecraft and constant, stable development is the best path to secure their future and honor the legacy of his friends."
As Magnus spoke, Ainz's mind went back to the time he first set foot on this world, to the inaudible vow that he would do whatever it takes to keep them safe and happy. He remembered the pain and despair when he became aware about Shalltear being brainwashed and he had to strike her down. He remembered the beginning days of his conquest and Project Utopia - the backbone idea behind his kingdom. He remembered the day he fully understood that he couldn't sit idle around, the best way to secure the future of the memories of his friend and the denizens of Nazarick is through a careful conquest of the world as he witnessed the power and destruction of the Dragon Lords and the first encounter with a powerful and overly ambitious Player who was a ruler of a powerful nation nearby. His counterparts of that and many other universes may not have much problem with the True Dragon Lords, he presumed, but he was sure that his counterpart would still take up the mantle as the potential problems caused by the Players or any powerful entities of YGGDRASIL would be very much enough. And it would undoubtedly be an inevitability that his other counterpart would do so as well in the universes that exist something just equally as bad or even worse.
"There is a charm in the story of a man who now holds the form, mind and soul of an unfeeling, unliving being, yet capable of showing virtues, true nobility, humanity, care and even love greater than many of those of the living. More so when initially, the target for such concepts is limited to only some specific individuals, as time went by, it would be given to innumerable others but with priority to those who were the firsts.
From that very love and care, he has taken a huge part in making those he held dear tamer, grow beyond who they are made to be. Also from that, he has become the cultivator of countless talents whose names are carved in an eternal shade of brilliant gold in the annals of history."
Ainz's mind then went back to every fleeting moment he had spent with denizens of Nazarick, every mission, every journey, every milestone of their growth and development, even every small moment they spent together. He even remembered those of New World and some of the allied Players that had become a part of his family, from the first time they met, every single time they had spent together, their departure from this world and their return in the unprecedented glory and power that none native of this world had ever achieved.
"And of course, there certainly is a charm in the story of a man, whose will, self awareness and… selfishness for himself and those he cherishes was unfathomable in nature and he used them all in such an effective and efficient way. So immense they were, it was to the point that not even its holder had ever truly had a good grab of it, to the point that you are seemingly immune to the concept of arrogance as every of his move was made with utmost carefulness. So much so, those of higher existence who ever care to take a look into you, see what you can become, what can be born from such will, they would all be wary and try to prevent such ascension from happening, one way or another.
All of those charms intrigue me to no end."
Unlike previously, what was shown in his mind were incidents that had never happened before. He saw "himself" stare up against a gigantic entity in a nightmarish landscape. Its form was a mystery as it was cloaked in pure dreaded darkness. Despite such, its power could be seen and felt. All around, reality casually shifts to its mere presence and its aura despoiling and dominating. Instead of submitting himself like a slave, his fiery eyes were unflinching and hid behind those gaze was an unbreakable will and determination as behind him was the Tomb with all of its denizens inside.
Then he saw another scene where "he" was marvelling at the magnificence that is his ever growing empire from orbit. Pride and false sense of invincibility is inevitable when seeing the grand masterpiece built by the immeasurable effort of one's own self, of those one holds dear and countless lives that dedicate to them. Yet, for some reason, deep within his soul, "he" couldn't find the solace of invulnerability. As "he" looked up toward the cosmos, "he'' found himself lost in its magnificence... and wondered about all the danger it could hold. He stared and asked the abyss and the abyss stares back. What then flashed through in "his" mind were countless visions on the threat hid between the veil of stars and darkness. Peering into it, "he" couldn't find solace of safety, much less any sense of invulnerability in any of them. "He" only found just how vulnerable "he" and "his'' kingdom were. So terrible and surreal they were, any single one of it could break any man down to a miserable pile of despair.
Yet, for some reason, "he" did not. "His'' skeletal hand clenched, the gaze was fierce and the only thing he could feel coming from "him" was that of a pure unshakeable will, ready to take on any threat and do anything, all for the sake of those he held dear. In return, the gaze of those watching from beyond the abyss watched "him" with amusement and... a hint of wariness of what this seemingly insignificant being relative to them could actually become.
As Ainz snapped back to reality, silence once more dawned upon them. Though much lesser than before, he was still somewhat skeptical about pretty much... everything. After, according to the way he presumed how things work, these charms can't possibly be applied to every version of him… Right?
"Considering just how many possibilities out there, you are aware that not every version of me is like the one you met that day, right?"
At this, Magnus didn't say anything immediately. He looked up and his face seemingly marvelled at the "cosmos" of countless luminous stars above him. His eyes became calmer, yet still shined with the unyielding conviction of an unimaginable magnitude.
"I am fully aware of that. In the past, I had asked myself that same question sometimes. But no, it doesn't change this statement…" With a finger pointing up to the cosmos above him, he continued "Look up there... Those are not stars… They are something much, much more. Look up and indulge yourself in their magnificence."
As Ainz did so, he soon realized what Magnus meant. They weren't stars… They were universes or more than that. Realities where versions of him and Nazarick achieving an eternal, unquestionable zenith of all existence and only become greater every moment. They killed or conquered entities worthy to be called gods and higher entities. They built civilizations that made all that Magnus had recently shown pale in comparison and those that follow them eternally prosper and ascend with them. Although some were not like him in either form, power or parts of their personality, some had other members followed them to the New World from the very start and some even had alteration to Nazarick as well as the history of his guild, but in the end, he could feel well that all of them were more or less him. After a while, Ainz snapped back to reality, yet it felt like it had been eternal.
"Those charms... they don't just apply to this version of you or the one I first met. Rather, for some reason, it applies to every single version of you with Nazarick and the ones without Nazarick but prove themselves just as equally worthy. All of you, more or less have all those qualities I have already mentioned."
"How are you so sure about that though? Again, among infinite possibility out there, there must be at least some version that didn't have these charms or even, being the outright antithesis of who I am." Ainz questioned, his voice was that of doubt.
"You really think I have not thought of this before?" Magnus said with a gentle smirk "After a few more centuries of working with him, I recognized that I have attached myself to him and his kingdom far, far more than I normally and supposed to be. So I decided to temporarily stop time over there until I returned and went to realities where those charms are not meant to be there and try to experience them. And to my surprise, things didn't go as I expected. Regardless of how opposite those versions are to the one that I first met, I just couldn't bear myself to hate or even dislike you or the denizens of Nazarick. I couldn't help but still be able to see those charms, just hidden deep beneath the surface, waiting to be awakened. Some perfect nudges and interference here and there, at the right time, at the right place would be very much enough to set things on track. And my hunch was correct. Again and again I tried to find a version that would be able disillusion me from you and Nazarick, only to find none."
"You went to all of them?" Ainz asked, his eyes went wide and shock was rather evident in his voice.
Magnus solemnly nodded
"Yes, all of them. I even looked deep into the future of each of them, trying to convince myself even if you succeed, it would not be that impressive. Instead, I found the greatest, brightest example of civilizations I have ever seen. Heck, I even traveled to so many other worlds and realities that had somewhat the similar concept that of yours, only to find them to be pale copies of the potential of the real deal. No matter how hard I tried to find some sort of replacement, no matter how close they could be to that of yours, I could not really find them to be as charming as yours."
He then took a releasing breath, eyes seemingly sparkling with zeal.
"In the end, instead of finding myself disillusioned, I became more and more indulgent to you and Nazarick. To me, it felt as if the concept of the entity named Ainz Ooal Gown or Suzuki Satoru was meant to be just like how I first met you: a kind, humble, overly careful and initially reluctant lord who would not hesitate to do everything to keep those he cherished safe. A reluctant lord who would inevitably take up the mantle of a ruler, sooner or later, one way or another. One that would eventually achieve absolute greatness with unparalleled power and wisdom that shall make existence itself bow down to."
Then, Magnus's voice became that of a father talking about how great his children are, something Ainz knew full well of.
"And let's not forget about the denizens of Nazarick. Although initially there were some… difficulty in communication… between me and many denizens of Nazarick, as time went by and as I had proven myself to them, we came into a mutual understanding and even respect… Similar to you, in nature, all of them are seemingly the same in every reality. Along with their treasurable unbreakable loyalty, all of them are loveable in their own different and similar ways. All of it truly made them deserve all that is good in existence. So attached I am, the idea that at least you or any of them was to ever be despoiled or even… Dead, or like they always said "Supreme Beings forbid", something worse, has simply become… U̡̧͘͘ ̶N̢̕͢͠ ̡̨̕͝͡A̸̷̷͞ ҉̵̡͏C̸̡̀͜ ̶̨̢͟͞Ć̵͟҉͏ ̢̛̀͟E̶͜͠ ̶͏̴̛P̸̵̨͜ ̧̀͏̴T̨͞҉҉͢ ̷҉͏͏A̢͞ ̶͠͏͝B̸̢̕͢ ͘L͏̨ ̸͜͠E̶͡ ."
With just a single word, although it only lasted just for a nanosecond or so, the atmosphere around them completely changed in an instant. It spoke out as if it belonged to something beyond eldritch. It was oppressive, wrathful, so much so, he could feel as if countless numbers of who could be higher entities of every level were panic, screaming in fear, trying to do everything and anything just to appease the anger. In that moment, his face distorted into something completely different. It was completely darkened, his skin became deep charcoal grey, his hair became long and ragged, his eyes were almost without pupils, if you could consider the tiny red dot in each of his blackened eyes as one. And his teeth, they were sharp, eerie and wicked beyond all measure, and he was absolutely certain that those teeth could rend through things physical and beyond such like a hot knife with the heat of the beginning of the universe through the softest of butter. He could feel it all with absolute clarity, yet, instead of succumbing into some sort of unimaginable existential dread like how it is supposed to be, for some reason, he did not feel the slightest of fear, as if that wrath completely aimed toward someone, something else completely. Magnus then returned to how he previously had been as suddenly as it started. In response, there was only absolute silence as the Ascended Overlord of Death tried to take them in, his mind filled with thought as that was seemingly the only thing he could do toward such an information. Noticing such, Magnus continued.
"I know what you are thinking Ainz. If you must, calling such an obsession a mania is not wrong at the slightest bit. But the thing is, I am completely aware of this obsession of mine, long before this talk, at the very moment when I returned from the journey in the attempt to disillusion myself. Yet, despite knowing such, I simply don't want it to ever end, I want to indulge in it for all eternity."
The silence still continued, but Ainz's face became much less tense and his sight slightly gazed upon Magnus, eyes peaked with interest.
"But again, can you blame me Ainz? For the first time, I actually had so much care about a certain place and a certain group of people. For the first time since forever, I have finally found a place where I could truly consider as my home, I could truly invest myself into with people I truly find myself attached to that I consider as my family. For the first time, I actually had something that can be considered as a purpose.
All in all, beside some wandering here and there, some for occasional fun, some for some certain businesses, since that day forth, the Wanderer was almost no more as he finally settled down and became the Cultivator of Civilization. And to those that ever harm you… Well, they gave him different titles, none of them was ever close to anything remotely benevolent or neutral, very much the opposite exactly. But again, that is only to keep all of you safe and prospered."
In a way, it could be said that the ice between them, made from Ainz's own existential insecurity when he truly noticed how small and fragile he and all that he held dear could be, finally completely shattered. Though in a sense, he still had some questions.
"From what I remembered, you said that you have solved all of the future that would end up badly for us. Due to the nature of reality in its entirety, from what I understand, those versions should always be able to spawn. So how exactly did you manage to prevent it from happening again?"
"Like I said before, I can be anywhere, anytime, at the same time. Like right now, although I am sitting here with you, chatting about existential stuff, in another universe, I am doing something else and at the same time, in another, something completely different. It takes one hell of a level of multitasking to be honest. Along with that, let's just say that I gave out an order that prevents such from ever happening. Should there be tales depicting any one of them, they are nothing but a depiction of worlds long gone, completely cease from existence forever and could never be able to resurface, no matter what, no matter how. Those responsible for the creation of those timeline, whether they are good or bad, divine or mortal… Let just say, individually, each of their fate is worse than anything any entity can muster and death is indeed the greatest mercy that would never come to any of them. And as for those versions of you and Nazarick, well, I believe the contract said it all quite clearly."
"What if you found someone that you loved as equal as us in the future? Like your own offspring? It can happen after all." Ainz's voice softened significantly, almost without any doubt left.
"Please, even if I loved someone as much as you, the term of the contract does not go anywhere, it lasts for all eternity, perhaps even after one's own theoretical death, once made it can't be destroyed as it is completely tied to our existence. Perhaps, only theoretical higher entities than us can do so, but again, like I said, you are my family, my first family, there is no way in hell I would sell you out. The contract is more or less just a way for me to show my attachment and just to make sure. And if I were to ever find those somebody, I would certainly introduce both of you to each other, I am sure all of you would have great relationships and can learn things from each other. Should there be any conflict between two sides, I would do everything to prevent it from happening in the first place."
"And I would love to meet them as well. Also, as much as I appreciate help from you Magnus, but… I think that you shouldn't help me too through and through. After all, if you do so, I am afraid that you would be spoiling us too much, and I believe that would only make us stagnate, if not worse." Right now, Ainz's face was much brighter and his voice was much more casual, borderline joking.
"You are joking me right?" A small laughter burst out from Magnus "As if I would ever intend to do something as stupid as that. I have played the role of the mentor to so many in throughout space and time, that is literally the most basic knowledge. And hey, for most of the time, I have always been more of a guide, let you make your own choice, do what you are meant to do, almost without any interference from myself. I only act or intervene when it is necessary or you ask me to, when you are in trouble that you could not possibly solve. At the very most, I only do some slight intervention here and there, contain or deal with faraway threats that are difficult to manage. So, you can say that I also more or less play the role of an inquisitor as well."
Then, his hand then gently touched the large, onyx book on the table, caressing it as if it was some sort of treasure. Carefully, he revealed its front cover and it immediately caught Ainz's eyes as the book was handed to him. Its edge was decorated slightly with simple yet elegant detail and shined gold like it was condensed and liquefied light of stars and other beautiful, exotic things reality could ever offer, and in the middle was a perfectly made and engraved emblem of Ainz Ooal Gown of the same fashion.
"If you doubt my word on what I have just said, you can take a look at it for yourself." Magnus said with pride "Touch the book, focus upon your very self and your version of Nazarick, you will find all there is to know, from the very beginning to this very moment, and if there was any mistake in there, tell me please. And please, take your time."
And so he did, then magic happened. The pages turned by itself at an insanely quick pace. It seemed like this book was much longer than how it was supposed to be, if not, outright never ending. After minutes or so, it stopped. Once he laid his eyes on the pages, he seemingly could not hold himself back from being sucked into the book. In front of his eyes was the saga of him as well as that of every member of his family and his kingdom. The term "masterpiece" was created to describe it, yet completely unable to convey the entirety of its total grandness. Whether big or small, every single aspect, from every single letter to the way the details were written was no less than a masterpiece in its own right. As he read, time seemed to stand still and he could not help but to relive his whole journey with clarity of all sense. In fact, through this very book, he even gained more insight into the past as well as knew things that he was completely oblivious to before.
And true to Magnus's own words, almost every single action, decision made by him, the denizens of Nazarick, and recently arrived other Supreme Beings, was their own. In his case, beside that time 10 years ago, Magnus's interference was very much minimal, like he said, for most of the time, only to help ease up the way just a little bit, give advice and guidance and it would be safe to presume that it would continue to be that way in the long future.
As Ainz finished reading his saga, he gently closed the book, looked up, and was met with Magnus's iconic cheek wide smile. Noticing something was not quite right, Ainz asked bewilderedly
"Just... How long have I been reading this book?"
"Let's just say, you have been continuously enjoying it far longer than any book you have ever or would ever read." said Magnus cryptically.
"Which is how long exactly?"
"I have to say, you are a quick reader, still, you have been reading that book for 30 days straight. But again, it is not too shocking due to how the book was written in its entirety as well as the fact that it is more than three millennia worth of history."
"30 WHOLE DAYS!?" Ainz's voice was that of shock "WHAT DID YOU USE TO WRITE THIS BOOK ANYWAY?"
"Like I said, the existence of you and Nazarick carved a brilliant and eternal gold onto the canvas of reality. And this book shows just that." Magnus said with pride
"For the material that was written upon, it was made from the skin of an animal that had and shall never existed in the grand scale of existence, cured and refined to perfection and combined with the solidification of the purest essence of the void itself, the very original void where reality came to be, so that the pages may last for all eternity and are immune to any other tainted by any but the most beautiful of words.
For the ink, it was no other than the condensed liquefied light of the brightest of stars at their prime, distilled and mixed to perfection with an unimaginable amount of the perfect the finest of gold and its equivalences in the whole existence, including higher ones. Of course, I could not just take it from everyone, rather, they were absolute perfect duplication of them, from their form to every of their properties as well as their very essence, none could ever find any difference between the duplication and the real.
And last but not least, I blessed it so that may there never be an end to the book, may the readers find what they wish to see in an instant, may them see what those depicted see, feel what they feel and completely acknowledge the situation depicted. From which, may they understand the events and decisions were made and may them find themselves enlightened with its wisdom.
I hope such information satiates your bottling curiosity about the book, especially since it has already caught your attention at the very first glance as we arrive here."
"And it sure did." Ainz also replied calmly with a warm and satisfying smile in response "And since I have already spent so much time here... Magnus?"
"Hmm?" One of Magnus's eyes peaked with sudden intrigue.
"I wished to have some wine and some snacks as well as hearing about the story of the version of me and Nazarick which you find to be the most interesting."
"For the wine, most certainly." In an instant, on Ainz's end of the table were a fine bottle of wine in a bucket of ice along with a cheese board and 2 finely made wine glasses.
"And, as for the other requests, you know that you can read it by yourself in the book, you know that? Just do like before, but instead, you think about what you asked me."
"No…" said Ainz, his smile became slyly "I would like to hear it directly from you. There is just a certain charm about how you tell stories that really interest me to say the least."
"I see, but just one more, ok?" Magnus happily replied yet, his voice was still somewhat strict.
"Oh, that is very much enough really" Ainz then took a sip at the wine, the taste was simply perfect and it brought a strange refreshing sensation. As such, Magnus began
"There was this version…"
And so, for many hours, the two would indulge themselves in the saga that spans many worlds and universes, the saga of familiar lands with familiar characters, yet seemingly so foreign and far away at the same time. In a way, the book has already been completed once it was initially begun. However, for anyone else, it only works as a history book that documents all that has happened till the reader's point in time. For that, the talk eventually came to an end.
Just like Magnus's word, he returned right when he left and to make things safer, Magnus made an extra step, bid him goodbye and teleported him right back to the 9th floor of Nazarick.
In his majestic Overlord form, he calmly walked down the opulent hallway, his sight wandered to an unidentified hypothetical horizon, his mind deep in thought. His steps were that of an unprecedented confidence and their sound ushered in the deep, solace silence. Yet, his mind and soul held no pride, for there was only clarity and enlightenment. There was just something about the way Magnus talked that did not give out a sense of intoxicating degree of pride and praise like that of so many others, rather, it was enjoyable yet the information was still conveyed all the detail through and through.
Abruptly, he returned to the real world to the sound of two adorable little creatures surprisingly launching themselves toward him, clinging his legs tightly.
He happily graced the bundles of love that were Lilith and Azazel - his children with Albedo as he proceeded to gently, dotingly pick them up. Everytime he thought about them, he could not feel anything but a tender parental love resonated within him and when he looked at them, he could only see a great future waiting ahead for both of them.
Both of them inherited the best of their parents, all in personality, appearance as well as power. Both had their mother inverted horns, Lilith - the younger daughter, was almost identical to her mother yet had short platinum hair, meanwhile Azazel were identical to his humanoid form yet his hair was shoulder length and as dark as Albedo's. Through their beautiful eyes, ruby red for Lilith and brilliant gold for Azazel, intellect shined like the brightest stars in the darkest cloudless night. Each had a balance mixture between their parents' personalities, though the boy was a bit more and spirited while his sister was a bit more on the timid side. For that, although both exuded incredible potential both physically and magically, Lilith was a bit more proficient in magic while her brother was more on the physical side.
For a while, the room was filled with childish laughter and the loving sound of the father before another voice settled in which caught their intention. A motherly voice that was smoother than anything he could imagine with a tiny hint of sultriness in every word that was only reserved to him and him only, one that Ainz loved to no end.
"It's kinda late, children, you have classes tomorrow. So you two are better be preparing for bed now."
Following Albedo's kind yet somewhat commanding words, they kissed their father's skeletal cheeks, jumped down from his arm and headed toward each of their own rooms at a quick pace. With only two of them together, turned into his humanoid form, Ainz and Albedo enjoyed each other's embrace as they exchanged a passionate kiss for a whole minute.
"I hope you have had a great day today my dear…"
"Oh Momonga" Her voice was sweet and warm, full of passion and like most of the time, her mere presence brought comfort to him "As always, today was wonderful, Shalltear really knows how to orchestrate a festival. And after all, being with you, seeing you happy and seeing our children grow up everyday is more than I can ever ask for. And I noticed that you are brighter than usual as well."
"You can say that taking a break for a whole day does miracles to you." Ainz answered with a warm smile "And beside, who would not be brightened up when they are in the embrace of the love of their life."
She could not help but crimsonly blushed and smiled brightly at such a gallant response. Though it may sound a bit corny to some, but for her, every word or act of love given by him is always the very pinnacle of romance. Steadily, her soft palm gently pressed upon him, her fingers slowly sliding down his chest. Her voice was sweet and seductive, her presence was lust itself and her face was that of anticipation.
"Say ~ it has been 10 years since our first night together ~ Do you like to…"
As gentle as her, he put his index finger upon her lip, replied with a assuring smile
"Now now, only when the children are fully asleep shall we have time for ourselves."
"Then I will be patient until then my King ~"
"I as well, my Queen."
And so, the two immediately spurred into action, and today, like agreement, Ainz dealt with Azazel and Albedo dealt with Lilith, all with great anticipation for each other that no one else could notice. And when all things had been done, they then indulge themselves in the depthless ocean of love and carnal pleasure in the very room in which they had done so countless times before in the past.
Like always, after countless hours but only three hours real time, the atmosphere inside filled with nothing but their bodily odor intertwined and the room once filled with moans and dirty, passionate talk was now silent once more. It was not necessary for them to sleep anymore ever since that day, they could stay up 24/7 if they ever wish to. However, they still chose to sleep together as much as they could for at least to them, there certainly is nothing better than to put away all the burden and trouble of the world while cuddling with one's own lover after a passionate personal session of two, even if it is only just for a while.
While Albedo was dwelling in the most beautiful of dreams, her dearest husband however, was still fully awakened. Once broken free by the adorable calling of his children and by the love of his wife, his mind now returned to the realm of thought about his long conversation with Magnus once again, digesting, marveling at all that had been given to him.
Unlike before, his eyes now set upon Albedo while he was lovingly caressing her. Even after all that amount of activity the two had been having, everything, from her every physical aspect to her every little unconscious actions, was devoid of taint as they all emitted an unparalleled divine aura of grace and elegance. She slept peacefully on his arm, her lips formed a tender smile of pure happiness.
He then thought back to the smiles of his children, beautiful, innocent and as bright as the sun. He thought back to the everyday satisfaction and happiness on the face of his friends, of the denizens of Nazarick and of all of their families. And as he had grown attached to his people as time went by, combined with the responsibility of being a king and for pragmatic reasons, he too put some thought into the content of his citizens.
However, it did not stop there. Unconsciously, he saw and felt the smile and happiness of the countless others who they had not yet a citizen or born, who are the future loyal citizens of their kingdom, who would sworn their loyalty to him and his family, of the future descendants of the denizens of Nazarick as well as that of his friends. And most importantly, of the children of his children, and their children forevermore.
He treasured all of it.
He wanted to protect them all.
Their future, as well as that of their descendants and their descendants' descendants, will be secured.
They shall prosper and usher in an eternal dawn.
A dawn where the sun never sets with its light shall shine the glories they shall achieve in glistening gold.
A future where their greatness shall be carved onto the very fabric of reality and be known by all with their positions be on the top pedestal of existence where none could ever hope to harm them.
In the end, he understood it all now.
He understood who he was and could be in the grand scale of things.
He understood what they could all become.
More importantly, at least through example, he understood what reality can offer and the future may hold for him, his family and his kingdom.
In the end, he finally made up his mind, he knew what must be done and he would ensure all of them be done.
Right now though, he decided to join his wife in their nightly slumber while cuddling her tightly, much to her unconscious delight and much to his as well. But for sure, once the dawn of the new day broke, there would be much to do and to address from now on.
Meanwhile, in a specific idyllic realm, Magnus found himself musing happily, his hand masterfully scribbling down all that was happening as if a transcended work of art and in a way, it truly is.
He could sense it, the will of his friend, of Ainz Ooal Gown of this universe, flaring like never before. It did not just confine within himself or if he wished to, had his presence extend to the whole world. No… Although it was purely unconscious, its scale had gone beyond and encompassed the entirety of the local solar system, shielding the souls of those loyal to him and those he held dear with absolute protection as well as giving those who wished to harm them absolute existential dread.
Its degree however, was a whole nother story. Although short lasting but such will and determination had penetrated into multiple layers of existence, something so few had ever been capable of really done. As if it was a sort of challenge, the denizens of those higher dimensions vaguely felt as if something big, something abnormally powerful had just happened and it would not stop anytime soon. It was even more ominous when they could not trace back the origin of what caused them such a short but somewhat dreadful feeling.
All in all, his friend here, like countless other versions of him, has achieved the pinnacle of eudaimonia.
If the last 10 years could already be considered as something legendary, if not, mythical, then time after today… It would be something else, something much greater than before and only becoming greater and greater as time went by. There would be nothing stopping it, and he would help to make sure of it.
As he put down his quill, his lips bored a wide and satisfying smile, his hands hugging each other in a praying pose as he eyed up toward the "cosmos" above him with absolute devotion and zealoustry. In that silent solitude, his lone joyous voice ushered in this infinite realm as if it was for every layer of existence to hear.
"All hail Ainz Ooal Gown! All hail Nazarick! Praise be their eternal glory!"
Ah, what a journey it was. There end my first fic. Thank you to all those who took out a bit of their time follow along this grand "short" story. Seriously, I originally only intended this whole story as a long one shot, never thought it could be this long, so much that I have to split to multiple chapters.
But anyway, thank you all for reading and it would be even more appreciated if you leave serious reviews and criticism.
Now, with this done, I am planning to do something I would inevitably hate myself for doing, but it has been occupating in my mind quite a while now.
For those who wish to know, just PM me and ask, but I doubt you would like it.