Chapter update commissioned by Furiya


Each city in the seven shields alliance was known, primarily, for one thing. For some it was someone who ran it or lived there like in the case of Thorn and Ansur, while for others it was known for its culture, like how Rad was a hub of ingenuity and inventions. Ken however was instead known for its people and its history of those people as a whole.


The City of Ken was the city of Mercenaries. Ruled by Shield Princess Maia who once ran with the biggest Mercenary band in the land, the city of Ken was a city of Mercenaries. Hundreds of bands, both small and large, called the city their base of operation. To capitalize on this, the city did have a vibrant merchant base as well, transporting and selling food and weapons, while buying the services of the mercenaries to protect their shipments. Inn's and taverns made good money in Ken as well, but ultimately, the cities primary product, the only thing it really created itself, was mercenaries.

"Hey sweet cheeks, why don't you come over and I'll show you how a real man can entertain you!"

"Nah, don't listen to him, I can show you a good time."

"Both of you boys shut up, the only one who can show a girl a good time is another girl, am I right? Or am I right?"

And it showed as Ainz and his allies walked down the main road of the city. Mercenaries and prostitutes, male and female in equal measure on both sides called out to them from the corners of brothels. Merchants tried to call out for them to buy wares and peruse their goods as well, but were overshadowed by those looking to waste time with pleasures of flesh.

"This city, is a bit different than I had expected it would be," Ainz muttered as they walked, his gaze shifting from side to side slowly allowing him to look over the city. Unlike Ansur and Thorn with their building of bright stone, Ken was more similar to Rad, using dark stone and an abundance of wood in the construction of many of its buildings. Windows were covered only by wooden shutters, and while some buildings had glass in the windows, most did not.

It also differed in the roads themselves. There were no immaculately clean roadways, no carefully manicured bushes and tree's. Dirt filled the cobbles of the roads, refuse and junk lined the alleyways, and in someplace broken glass from bottle and windows lines the edges of balconies and veranda's. The buildings looked clean enough, and the sluiceways that went under most of the buildings front porches seemed clean enough, but the entire place had a look of misuse, of a lack of attention to things such as cleanliness.

"That is not a surprise," Amrita said as her eyes seemed to glance side to side warily. "For being the city of Mercenaries most have an image of the city being one big tavern with a brawl every hour. Not a city of inn's, taverns, and brothels catering to any who aim to become mercenaries."

"Wait, so, is there no industry in Ken?" Hara asked in surprise as she glanced around, visibly disgusted by the number of Brothels, and of both men and women trying to wave them over for services.

"There's industry like taverns, and merchants, probably a few smiths too," Flora said with a sigh. "But most of it is mercantile and mercenary work. In the past I heard a rumor that the Princes knight of Ken was trying to bring in more tradespeople to help the cities infrastructure."

"Doesn't look like they did much then," Hara said with a huff.

"No, they have," Ainz said as he pointed to the porches and small bridges that went over the small sluiceways that lines each side of the street. "Those are drains, but the water coming from them is clean enough. This city likely has a proper water system, and drainage system. Not the sort of thing that just mercenaries could build."

"I agree, they have had some upgrades done to the city since I was last here," Amrita said as she continued to glance around. "Something feels . . . off though."

"How so?" Hara asked.

"Like a sourness," flora answered. "Like . . . . A rat nibbling on tree roots, or a rose bush with its roots in a puddle of vinegar."

Hara looked to Flora with a strange expression.

"It's a feeling, I can't help how I describe it, especially now," Flora said with a sigh.

"Well, perhaps we will discover what it is that the two of you feel when we look for our own investigations," Ainz mused as he looked around as the shops. As before here were a consistent mix of inn's, taverns, and brothels. Many ranged in size, but there was never more than two of the same type of business beside one another, and the repeating mix, as well as the ways people hung outside of each of them, made it difficult to tell the difference as many of the places did not have signs or even names carved into the doors. "Is there a singular tavern, or place here quests are posted? A place that would be best for gathering information in this city?"

"The last time I was here, there was a large tavern at the end of the main road, just before the cities keep," Amrita exclaimed as the group continued walking. Ahead of them they could see a large keep. It was no full sized castle, but it was still a prominent fortification. "There, that is the keep."

"Hmmm, a keep, not a full castle," Ainz mused as a hand reached up and scratched his mask. "Is there a reason for that?"

"I've heard that it was decided that it did not need a full castle, since Ken is further south and the land between it and the dark lands is less traversable, swamps and the like," Flora explained before shaking her head. "Swamps wouldn't stop demons though."

"True. Has this city been anything else in the past, perhaps?" Ainz asked as he could begin to see the roof of a large building in front of the keep.

"Yes. Before the alliance was formed, it is said that Ken used to be a large bandit camp," Amrita answered. "Perhaps that is why it was not given a full castle, in case it became as such again?"

"Perhaps," Ainz mused as thoughts went through his head. The lands north of Ken were Swamp, and to the south and east were plains. Only to the west, between it and Geofu, was the land different a rough rocky badland that creeped into the north alongside the swamp. It was not a defensible position, so why had bandits of the past chosen it for a base of operation?

"There, it is still here," Amrita said, pulling Ainz from his musing as he could now see the large three story building ahead of them it was made of dark stone and wood, and surprisingly appeared to actually be connected to the keep itself. In front of it was a large fountain that, despite its size, had no statuary or anything like upon it, and around it were a dozen large noticeboards with roofs overhanging the boards themselves. Groups of men and women were gathered around all of them, making it impossible to see precisely what they were looking at, but the options were limited.

"Notice boards for work I presume?"

"Or city notifications, but mostly work if it is the same as last time I was here," Amrita said as she gestured toward the tavern itself. "They need to put bounties and the like outside or there would be no room within. We should be able to look for information inside though."

"Then lead on," Ainz said simply as he, and Flora and Hara, followed Amrita into the tavern.

The tavern was monstrously sized within. The main floor was open all the way to the ceiling, with the floors above being more like ledges to the sides that allowed those above to see below them. Tables of every size and shape were crammed into every corner and shadow of the main floor, aa well as likely on the floors above, and mercenaries young and old, man and woman, sat and drank and made merry while tavern workers, both men and women, tended the floors in outfits that were little more than string undergarments, aiming for those of their opposite sex.

"This, is not what I expected," Hara commented in surprise, just as a man wearing a pair of shorts so tight his junk could be seen through them walked up to the group.

"Hey ladies and," The man with a very high voice stopped and looked at Ainz in confusion. "Golem?"

"I am a man," Ainz said toward the man. "A Traveling magic cast- ahem, a traveling mage. These are my comrades."

"Right, cool sheets man, love the ominous evil look you got going," The flamboyant man said with a smile. "Don't recognize ya, if you're here for a slosh just find a table, or take one from someone too drunk to say no, and someone'll be by to help ya in a shot, m'kay?"

"Actually, we are here looking for information. Does that counter still operate here?" Amrita asked the man before he could have a chance to slip away.

"Oh yeah, it's up on the third floor now, but information costs ya. Might want to take on a few jobs so you have the money. Buh bye darlings!"

". . . he seems . . . . Flighty," Flora said as he watched the man walked off and pluck an empty mug off a table as he went by.

"I don't get it,"

"She means that he is gay," Ainz said to Hara as the group moved through the tavern toward what appeared to be stairs at the back. "He prefers the company of other men."

"Or he act that way to cater to the female mercenaries," Amrita said as she led the way up the stairs. "This is the only city where female mercenaries gather really."

"Why?" Hara asked as they reached the second floor, and found that the majority of it was filled with female mercenaries. Many wore armor that was just as revealing as knights armor, more so in some cases, but a few of them had what looked to be actual pieces of knight's armor alongside their other gear.

"Because many mercenary bands do not like having women, or retired knights in them," Amrita said as she slowed and stepped back to Hara. "Be careful."

"Yeah," Hara said with a nod as she looked away from the mercenaries as their group headed to the next flight of stairs.

Only for a sword to be brandished in front of it by a woman who sat at a table beside the stairway.

"Well, look what we have here. You are an interesting looking group. A hulking mass, a girl who walks like a merchant, and two who stand like soldiers, but refuse to show their wounds. Very curious."

"Hmmm, not as curious, as you are, Miss," Ainz stated as he looked her over. The woman was older, easily in her fifties, and while she did not look spry, she did not look weak either. She wore simple clothes with leather armor overtop that was surprisingly covering, yet her left arm stopped at her elbow, burn markings covering the stump. She also appeared to have a bone of some kind hanging from her neck by a metal chain.

"Oh, and what does the hulking man find interesting about me?" The woman asked with a smirk. "Shouldn't you be getting shitfaced while waiting for a job?"

"Hardly, we are here for information, so kindly let us pass," Ainz requested.


"Why?" Ainz asked as he raised a hand to stop Hara, who had taken a step forward while brandishing her Naginata in hand.

The woman grinned smugly. "Because the information counter is closed while I am on break."

"So you are the informant here?"

"I am, such as it is."

"Do you have information on the local landscape. Old mines, caves and the like?" Ainz asked.

"No idea," the woman said with a shrug. "I'm off the clock until tomorrow."

"But we need-" Hara began, only for Flora to grab her shoulder and cut her off.

"Tomorrow then?" Ainz asked for confirmation.

"Yes. Swing by in the morning, that's when people usually want info for jobs and the like, you know, stuff that helps them not die or get hurt on jobs," The woman said with a smirk as she finally lowered her sword. "Why don't you take on a simple job around the city? Gutters and drainage canals always need to be cleaned."

"Thank you, we will return in the morning to get the information from you," Ainz said before he started to turn away, only to stop. "What do your rates tend to be?"


"And they are?" Amrita pressed.


"Very well. We shall return tomorrow," Ainz said as he did turn and walk away this time, heading back for the stairs and down them.

"Sir, it is midday," Flora said as the group descended down the dark stairs, allowing her a moment to readjust her cloak and hood to better hide herself. "It is strange that a counter for such a service would be closed so early."

"No, the city is run by mercenaries, they make their own hours," Amrita said with a defeated sigh.

"No," Flora shook her head lightly as the group reached the bottom of the stairs. "A service such as information would be in high supply, especially by mercenaries. Closing early like this would cause a commotion."

"Unless such a thing is common," Amrita countered. "Mercenaries are rather lazy when not working after all."

"Both of you bring up good points," Ainz said as he moved through the tavern door and out. "The fact we have not been followed also makes both of them all the more likely."

"Both of our thoughts cannot be true sir,"

"Oh but they can," Ainz said as he noticed that there were far less people gathered around the notice boards. Many were now gathered to the sides of the city square instead, and the boards looked barren aside from a single piece of paper upon each of them. "Ah, so that is it."

"You've noticed something?" Hara asked as he hand upon her Naginata suddenly tensed. "Someone is watching us, finally."

"No, they have just been waiting for us to reach where they think they can manipulate us," Ainz said with a light chuckle.

". . . You mean they wanted us to have no information, and have to take a quest of their choosing?" Hara said before then smiling. "So, the guild information girl, or the princess knight?"

"Perhaps both, perhaps neither," Ainz mused with an inward smile. "The people of this city are likely use to those in differing dress, so they are not caring about us. It means that those who focus on us will be all the easier to spot here, so let us find an inn and rest till the morning."

"Is that wise when you think there are people aiming to manipulate us?" Flora asked.

"We can let them think they hold all the pieces of this puzzle," Ainz said with a chuckle. "What they do not realize, is that we are not a piece, but players. And what can a player do?"

Amrita smirked as she recognized the direction that Ainz was heading. "We choose if we play!"


"Well, it finally happened, Maia. He's here."

Maia, Princess knight of Ken, looked up from her desk to see one of the people, specifically an old retired mercenary who now worked for her running the cities information and quest desk in the main gathering hall, and let out a sigh that was part relief, and part annoyance.

"Damn. Was hoping that faker wouldn't show his face here, but if he has I'm glad we planned for it," Maia swore before looking up. "So what did he want, Anna? Let me guess, demanding my presence? Demanding money or materials?"

Anna walked into the room and casually dropped herself into a thick cushioned chair that, despite having bare threads and some stuffing coming out, compressed nicely under her weight. "Actually it was a bit strange. All he wanted was information on if there were caves or caverns near the city."

Maia stopped for a moment before she simply looked at Anna. "He, wanted to know about caves?"

"Yes. He also ignored the Tavern, as well as the job boards. Simply went to an inn after I told him to come back tomorrow."

Maia was silent for a moment before speaking. "He' not making any demands, and not taking any quests?"


"And, caves?" Maia asked, receiving a nod from Anna. "Why would he want to look for caves of all things?"

"Maybe he's a mage that likes spelunking?" Anna said with a shrug. "wouldn't be the weirdest thing mages like."

"No, but it doesn't make sense for him, not with what he supposedly is, and has supposedly done," Maia said in annoyance.

"Gotta say, I'm not as religious as you, but I don't see it. Him being some kind of reborn god," Anna said passively. She was Maia's most trusted ally, and as such was the only one she told about things like the meeting with Celestine that was now a few weeks ago, and the more recent information that Ainz's group had discovered and defeated a cult of a dark god that was run by a noble of all people.

"None of us really believe it I think," Maia said with a scowl. "Lady Celestine does, and I think Luu-luu is acting like she believes her to make her feel better, but I don't think any of us believe it. He's somehow tricking Lady Celestine, and if we can just prove it we can save the alliance from something terrible."

"So, I agree with the intent," Anna began before smiling. "But I do have to say this. As a mage, he's damn powerful. I'm no mage and I could tell he's powerful, and one of my people who was watching him told me he figured he knew of being watched the whole time, and he's refusing to watch him again. The old spellslinger's terrified of that hulking guy, and he hasn't even seen him cast anything."

"What are you trying to say, Anna?" Maia asked as she recognized her second trying to get somewhere specific in the conversations. If only she was just as blunt and to the point as most other mercenaries were.

"What if you are wrong?" Anna asked after a few seconds of silence. "What if, you, and the other Princess Knights, are wrong?"

"What do you mean?"

"What is Lady Celestine is right, and he is a god like she is?"

"You just said you are not religious," Maia said in a strange and annoyed tone. "You yourself have told me in the past that you barely even believe Lady Celestine is a Goddess."

"Honestly I don't," Anna said with a shrug. "But I think you are focusing far too much on your own thoughts, and not the other options. If you and the other princess knights, who made it clear to Lady Lucross your thoughts, are proven wrong and he is a god, what then?"

"He isn't, we just need to prove it, and figuring out what he is after is part of that," Maia said as she walked around her desk over to a map of the area around Ken.

"Haaa, you are not listening, Maia," Anna said with a shake of her head. "If that man, is a being beyond a normal person, you will need to accept it and have a plan what you do."

"That's a waste of time when he isn't a god," Maia stated as she looked at the map and scratched her head. "Why would he want to look for caves?"

Anna let out another sigh, though this one was much quieter. "Perhaps he's looking for something that is in caves? Some kind of moss or mushroom? Mages are weird that way after all."

"Maybe, it just seems an odd thing to look for after supposedly dealing with a cult," Maia said before her eyes slowly widened. "Wait a cult. Of an evil God . . . caves. . . what if he's looking for information on those cults to start his own without being found out?"

"Oh for the-" Anna mumbled, holding back from swearing. "That is absurd. Instead of thinking up outlandish ideas, why don't I just ask him tomorrow when I tell him about the caves?'

"That might- wait, there are caves near Ken?" Maia asked as she looked at the map.

"Only one, though most do not know it," Anna said with a smirk that infuriated Maia as she glared at Anna, expecting her to continue. "Hah, Maia, where do you think the city's water comes from?"

"From the pumps systems under the keep that . . . . Wait, there are caves under the city?!"

"A Massive underground reservoir actually," Anna said with a smile. "It's called the cistern technically, and it's where I had those tradesmen go to work a couple years back when you wanted the city's water system overhauled. I thought I told you this before?"

"You might have, but talking about water isn't exactly thrilling to remember," Maia admitted. "Why would you tell him about those caves though?"

"One, he's asking and it's my job to share information. Two, every few months I put out a job for mercenaries to head down into the cistern to make sure there no damage, and to clear out any unruly pests like waterbugs. The team that usually accepts the job retired a couple months ago though, and no one has been willing to accept it. They think it's beneath them."

"Of course they do. Mercenaries want to protect caravans and fight monsters and bandits, not clean moss off of pipes."

"Wants do not matter when something is a necessity," Anna said simply. "Either way, I plan on telling him of the cistern, and seeing if his group will head down to check things out. I figure it should get me some information on what his plans are. Sound good?"

"Do you believe it would be safe for such a person to see our water supply?"

"It will be fine, the pipes and such are all sealed."

"Alright, fine, do that and see what you can learn from him," Maia said with a huff. "Anything else I should be made aware of I might have missed?"

"Not anything of real confirmed note. There's a rumor that the Kuroinu have been sighted heading this way, but that wasn't confirmed."

"Damn, it'd be nice to catch up with some of them if it's true," Maia mused. "Did the rumor say how far away they were?"

"No, only that some were seen traveling westward from Ansur."

"Well, they'll get here eventually then," Maia decided with a shrug as she walked over to her desk and picked up a sword that was hanging from her chair. "Want to join me in a spar?"

"Sure," Anna said as she stood up with a grin. "I'm up for reminding the vaunted Princess Knight she's not infallible."


"How do you manage to keep doing this?" Amrita asked in exasperation as she stood at the end of a simple bed. "It's bad enough that it happens, but the fact you keep doing it so quietly none of us notice is a problem.

Hara, who was lying on the bed, was in her Arachne form with her legs tightly twisted in and among the sheets, looked annoyed and exasperated. Both because she was being nagged on, but also because she was tangled, and one of her legs seemed to be stuck in the mattress itself at an odd angle.

"Hey, it's not like I chose to transform in my sleep. I was asleep, not awake, and why am I the only one being yelled at for this when Flora is literally a giant flower bud on the floor?"

In that moment the extremely large plant bud that was on the floor between the beds opened up and seemed to both wither and shrink at the same time, revealing a very naked Flora who let out a content yawn. "Probably because I don't leave behind holes in beds when I am done sleeping, maybe? The fact I don't leave any evidence by absorbing the plants I make also helps I would think."

"You still need to be careful, people would be surprised to find a giant flower on the floor, and I'm pretty sure if you were not careful the roots from it could damage the floor," Amrita said, turning her ire to Flora for just a second before going back to Hara. "And you need to be careful as well. If someone sees you in this form accidentally it would cause a landslide of problems for all of us."

"Who is going to see us?" Hara asked as she tried to untangle her legs to little avail. "The door and window are sealed by magic!"

"I'd say you focus on that too much," Flora commented as she got up and began slipping on her clothes, the plant matter around her feet wilting and sliding in towards her feet and disappearing as he dressed. "Just because Sir Gown's magic is beyond anyone else's, doesn't mean things could not work around it."

"I doubt that," Hara grumbled as Amrita finally moved closer and began helping her untangle her legs.

"No, it is a safe worry," Ainz spoke up from where he was seated by the back corner of the room by a closed window. "Caution is always warranted for Heteromorphics."

"See, even he agrees," Amrita said with a shake of her head.

"He agrees, yet looks more content than any of us," Hara countered and pointed to Ainz, making it even more clear that Ainz had his mask and gloves off, and even had the front of his robe undone a bit, revealing a partial view of a large ribcage.

"I can close my robes and put on my mask and gauntlets quickly if someone comes to the door," Ainz said as he tilted his head back and forth, making it look like he was trying to crack his neck. "The same cannot be said for your transformations."

"Yeah yeah," Hara said in annoyance as she finally, with help, got her legs untangled out of the covers. "So, what's the plan then?"

"We get information," Ainz said simply, before lifting up his gauntlets in bony fingers and slid them on. "And, we shall see if that broker speaks truth, or intends to attempt entrapment."

"So we go in prepare for a fight then?" Hara asked as she began transforming into her human facsimile, a rather slow and not entirely nice looking process.

"Not everything needs to become a fight," Flora grumbled as she finished putting on her clothes, then reached for her cloak.

"While correct, it also does not cause issue to be prepared for anything," Ainz said as he closed up his robes. "I believe, we should see just how far their information withholding will go."

"What do you have in mind?" Amrita asked as she threw Hara's cloak at her, even as she was still dressing."

"It will be simple," Ainz said with a smile of his bony visage before placing his mask upon his head. "We go there, without going there.


Anna was not expecting trouble. She knew how mercenaries acted, and they were easy enough to deal with, and trouble meant something that actually caused a problem, rather than someone merely causing a commotion or yelling because they thought highly of themselves.

Yet when she saw the group of Ainz Ooal Gown enter the gathering hall below her, all she could imagine was trouble, which worried her. She expected them to arrive early in the morning, yet it was now nearly noon when they arrived. What she noticed second was that he, and the three with him seemed, off. The way they walked was, strange, like they were stiff somehow. The one who walked like a merchant walked like a servant, and the soldiers walked similarly.

"Something is wrong with this," Anna muttered as she watched them disappear by the stairs. With a sigh she then ascended the stairs behind her before they could reach her, and arrived at the third floor, taking up her position behind her information desk, and waited.

A short minute later the hulking robed form of the man named Ainz came up the stairs and up to her desk in a sort of, lopsided manner, like if a leg was hurt in some way.

"Surprised you are here so late," Anna commented with a smile. "I was just about to close up for the day."

"An odd time to close," Ainz said, his voice sounding, distant, as he spoke. "I am here for the information I mentioned looking for yesterday."

"Yeah I remember. Caves yeah? Why are you looking for cave anyway?"

"Personal business," Ainz replied simply.

"Which is what exactly?"


Anna let out an annoyed sigh. "Look big guy, I need to know what your reason for looking for caves is, otherwise I can't give you the information. You know how it is, right? Mercenaries need info, and they have to at least tell what kind of job they are doing. Are you looking for underground lichen for a potion or something? Mushrooms maybe?"

"If you have no information for us that is fine; we will be leaving," Ainz then said without missing a beat as he turned and began walking towards the stairs again.

"Now hold on, I have the information you want, I just need something in return, that's all,"

"How much coin?" Ainz asked without even turning to look back at Anna.

"I just need to know why you need the information it's not that big of a deal, right?"

"It is. My business is my,-"

"Anna!" a Burley mercenary said as he walked around Ainz with a piece of paper in hand and rushed up to the counter, slamming the paper onto the table. "Anna, I'm accepting this request, where is the gateway into the cisterns?"

Anna looked at the man, and then looked down at the request, the one for cleaning the cisterns walkways under the city, and back up at the man in confusion. "You are taking this request? No one ever wants to take this request."

"Yeah, well I need some money, and . . . well, I might be able to get into the Kuroinu pretty soon!" The man said with a smile.

"The Black dogs? I heard there were some nearby, but-"

"Nah, some are here, and they are looking for applicants," the man said with a smile. "The one I talked too wanted to see how I do on jobs, and asked to do this cleaning job with me, if I do a good job leading em around, I can get in."

"You want to get into the Black dogs, by taking a clearing and cleaning job?" Anna asked incredulously. "That sounds absurd."

"Look, he wanted to see the cistern and is offering me a position in the band, so are you going to tell me how to get into it or not?"

". . . No."

"Why not?!"

"Because I do not believe the Black dogs, a mercenary band known for only taking on missions with combat, and being very picky on the missions they take, would accept you by testing you on a cleaning mission. Something is up, and I feel you are being toyed with."

"You . . . then I'll just prove it!" The man said before turning around and storming towards the stairs, making Anna realize that Gown and his allies were nowhere to be seen.

"Wait, where did those others go, did you see?"

"Haa? What others?"

"The four others that were up here speaking to e before you rudely interrupted," Anna stated in annoyance, noting that the man now looked both angry, and confused.

"I didn't see anyone."

"You went around them when you came up."

"No, I came straight here," He said with a scowl. "Is this some stupid way to try to screw up my chances with the Black dogs?"


"You're just trying to stop me from making something of myself! You tell me you won't help me, and then try to make it some fake ghost's fault!"

Anna could feel a headache coming on as she sighed. "Listen to yourself. You sound crazy. The Black dogs, would not-"

"But they are! I know a Black dog when I see one, and if I do this I can get in with them!"

"Can you prove it?"

The man paused for a second, his expressions shifting to confusion. "What?"

"Prove it," Anna said, sighing as she stood up and walked around her desk. "I am going to go with and escort you and who you claim are the black dogs, and if at any time I feel like you are being tricked, or that they are not black dogs, then we are done. And I will revoke your mercenary license."


"This is non-negotiable. You either agree, or get out and you will not find the cistern," Anna stated coldly, her eyes glancing around the small third floor area. There was no one else around, as her desk was all that was up on the third floor, but she felt like she was being watched.

Had Gown and his odd allies really left?

The man seemed to look like he wanted to start growling like an angry beast but finally gave it, snapping his response. "Fine, let's go."

"Very well. I will grab my own gar, wait here a moment," Anna ordered as she turned and walked toward a door behind her desk, and not waiting to hear the man's confirmation that he heard her. Walking down the short hallway she found herself in her own room in the keep itself and quickly went about putting on some gear.

Leather breastplate, chain shirt, some leather greaves and bracers. Most people would think themselves perfectly safe if they were to travel with a mercenary band as renowned as the black dog's. mercenary bands idolized them, and even many citizens in most cities respected their names and deeds. Even Maia had an unhealthy love for them, but Anna knew why that was.

She was a black sheep in that regard as she did not like the black dog mercenaries at all. She had no one reason, nothing concrete. They were so big and powerful, they took over other bands, she had even heard rumors of them abusing their power against normal citizens in the past, but there was nothing ever concrete. In a way it was like they were too perfect. Good stories and tales, and so little that was negative.

She just didn't like them.

Finishing gearing up Anna grabbed her own weapon, a simple shortsword and a knife, and strapped them to her belt before grabbing a ring of keys and slipping them into her pocket.

When she came back put to where her work desk was she found the man, Heathe, if he recalled him name correctly now that she thought about it, standing where she had left him, looking very impatient.

"Finally. Let's go already, I don't want them to think I ran off and snubbed them!" Heathe said as soon as he saw Anna approach in her gear.

Anna shook her head as she followed behind Heathe, a simple glance being enough to make others in the hall ignore her presence and not make a big deal of it.

"So, where are these supposed Black Dogs supposed to be waiting for you?" Anna asked as the two of them reached the bottom floor and began heading for the door.

"They should be waiting right outside by the fountain," Heathe said happily, his steps fast.

Anna wanted to sigh, but held it back as she followed out of the hall. She wasn't expecting to see anything, but found herself surprised as she watched Heathe run over to a trio of rough looking men. One of which had an armband with the Black dog mercenary band that looked very much like the real thing.

"Sir, I have returned!" Heathe exclaimed as he came up to the three men and saluted to them.

The leader with the armband turned to him and nodded. "You know where the cistern is then?"

"No, not myself," Heathe admitted meekly. "The Information broker wouldn't give me the details and decided to accompany us instead."

Anna, seeing the kuroinu look up toward her Anna stepped closer and put on the best smile she could fake. "Good afternoon gentlemen. I hear you are looking to take the cistern cleaning job?"

"A woman?" one of the men grumbled in clear annoyance as he looked away, while the leader shook his head at his allies comment.

"Yes, we are, you are Ken's information broker then?" the leader asked, his eyes seeming to bore into Anna's eyes.

"I am. I am called Anna," She introduced as she stepped closer and held out a hand toward the leader.

The leader did not take Anna's hand and instead crossed his arms. "Well, why don't you tell us where the cistern is and we'll get the job done and test Heathe here, how's that sound?"

"Unfortunately I cannot do that," Anna stated simply as she lowered her hand. "The cistern key does not leave my person. It's the rules."

"Pretty stupid rules if you ask me," one of the mercenaries muttered under his breath.

"Well those are the rules. I shall accompany you to make sure you do not damage the cistern in its cleaning. If you can't accept that, then you can leave."

The two mercenaries shuffled closer to their leader and whispered something too quietly for Anna to hear.

"Enough guys, this is fine," the leader said with a smile as he looked to Anna. "We'd be happy to have you come with us. It will make things interesting."

"I see. And you actually want to take this job?" Anna asked calmly. "You realize it doesn't exactly pay well, right?"

"That is fine, we merely want to see how Heathe here dals with all sorts o work, and well, we need some water supplies and wanted to see how good the city's water is."

Anna raised a brow, unable to hold in her surprise. There were some mercenaries that strode to understand where their supplies came from, or were particular about some forms of supplies.

But the Kuroinu were not one of them unless it was beer or meat according to what Anna knew. Which meant these people was peculiar, or there was something going on.

"Well, that would be a way to find that out," Anna said in a friendly tone. "However, you will need to do the cleaning part of the job. You understand, right"

"Yes, that is fine," the leader said with a nod. "So, shall we get going then?"

Anna looked to see Heathe looking absolutely gleeful, while the mercenary leader also seemed happy. The other two however looked utterly bummed out. Yet, their eyes also had a strange gleam to them.

But to find out what they were planning Anna had to keep letting them think they had the advantage. "Very well, this way please," Anna said as with a wave of a hand as she began walking along the side of the gathering hall. At the back there was a small alleyway between the hall and the keep, and with the shadow from both buildings it was hard to see, but in mere moments Anna stopped in front of a hidden iron gateway in the wall. "This is the entryway into the city cistern," Anna began to explain as she slipped a key out of her pocket and unlocked the gate. "Be careful as we head down. The stairs will get damp as we go down."

"How far down does it go?" The merc leader asked as the group began descending the steps, small crystals embedded in the wall offering a modest amount of light for them.

"Very deep," Anna replied before smirking. "The cistern is a natural underground reservoir that we've modified. There are tanks below in the cistern that hold water as well as pumps that bring it up into the city. Being underground the cistern is quiet cold, so water forms all over everything."

"hmmmm, so its slippery, and very deep underneath the city huh?" the merc leader pondered out loud.

"Yes. Being so deep keeps the water clean and cool, but it does mean mold and mildew growth is sometimes a problem. And if they form we get waterbugs finding their way in, so they need to be killed or they may taint the water."

"Ah yes, tainted water would be bad indeed," The leader said with a chuckle as the group continued going down the stairs.

Nothing else was said as they went down, step by step by increasingly perilous step. The damp steps, while made of stone and angled upwards slightly to not make it easy to slip and fall down them, were still perilous, and all of them began moving down the steps slower.

"Hey," the merc leader spoke up just as Anna could see the bottom of the stairs ahead of them. "I think I heard something."

"It's just water echo," Anna said knowingly. "You'll hear it better shortly."

"You are sure we are not being followed?" The leader asked his steps slowing as he glanced behind them at the long stairway up.

"It is highly unlikely," Anna said with a smirk as she held up the key that unlocked the gate above. The crystals lighting our way only illuminate in this keys presence, so if anyone was following us it'd be in near perfect darkness and they would have slipped at this point."

"Is that so?" The leader muttered thoughtfully before then looking down. "I do hear water."

"I said you would," Anna smirked. "Just don't get blown away by the sight of the cistern."

"Blown away?" Heathe asked, his tone sounding incredulous. "Why would . . . . We . . . oh."

Anna smirked as she turned to see all of the men staring in surprise at the cistern as they came down the final steps and into it.

The cisterns was a massive stone cavern of dark stone with large crystals growing out of the ceiling that glowed a pale blue, illuminating the warehouse sized brass basins and connected barrels of brass and the machinery connected to them. Numerous pipes were coming out of everything and everywhere with only one massive pipe ascending into the ceiling. And perhaps the biggest thing of note was the massive waterfall surging out of a hole in the one wall and pouring into the largest if the brass catch basins. The noise from it was tremendous, and almost hid the sound of the machines that shifted and moved about between then basins and barrels.

"That . . . that's a lot of water," Heathe said in shock, barely able to hear himself as he spoke.

"Yeah" the merc leader said with a nod as his gaze moved to the basins and machines. "Are those pumps? How are they working while sealed in this place?"

"There is a waterwheel beneath the waterfall that moves all of the pumps," Anna said as she walked along the wall to what appeared to be a large brass cupboard and opened it up, revealing a number of scrubbing brooms and mops. "Here are the cleaning tools. The job is simple, walk around the whole cistern cleaning away any areas of mold you find, and kill any waterbugs you might find."

"Heh, so it's just cleaning with the small hope of fighting huh?" The merc leader said as he looked around at the cistern. "You know, this place is pretty big. Might be best if we split up."

"I wouldn't suggest it," Anna said grimly. "Waterbugs may not be large, but they have strong jaws and are near impossible to hear coming due to the waterfall."

"No, splitting up will be fine," the merc leader said with a smile. "I will watch how Heathe here works, while my two helpers here will do some work elsewhere. Please watch over them well."

"What? Now hold on here, you do not get to-" Anna began to say a the leader began leading Heath away. While his two subordinates quickly got between them and Anna.

"Relax miss, don't tie your panties n a knot. The boss will help him if he needs it."

"Yeah, can't test his mettle without seeing how he fights, right? You understand."

"What I understand," Anna said, noting that as she spoke the two men seemed to tense slightly. "Is that the two of you are trying to wiggle out of doing some cleaning yourselves,"

The two men seemed to relax, one going so far as to put on a smile and let out a meek chuckle. "Well, you caught us. But you get it right?" He asked as he began walking away, in the opposite direction their leader and heathe went. "We're the Black dogs, cleaning is beneath us. But, we do need a way to test people."

"Yes, because testing mercenaries with cleaning will absolutely tell you how skilled they are," Anna said as she moved, noting that the second man had taken up a position behind her. They were going to act soon.

"What are you talking about?" The one behind Anna said, his tone sounding insulted, but also forced. "It's perfect to see how new blood will take the less enjoyable work."

"Everyone knows you Black dogs only take jobs that ae guaranteed to be violent," Anna said with a shake of her head, using it to take a momentary glance at the one behind her, seeing how he now looked anxious, while the one in front of her was starting to look tense. "And Stealth jobs really are not your thing."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Anna did not answer for a few seconds, waiting to stop between a pair of large pumps that she could easily slip between if the need arose, and tuned to look directly at the man who had been behind her. "It means it is very clear you are planning something with this foolish farce of yours. So why don't you come clean and submit now, before this gets messy?"

Neither man said anything for a moment before they then broke into fits of laughter.

"What is so funny?" Anna asked as the two man staggered a bit away from her due to their laughter. Their hands were reaching for their swords, but they were laughing so hard they were having trouble drawing them.

"All of it!" the one man managed to say as he finally began stifling his laughs and drew his sword. It was a simple shortsword of no particular note, yet as he held it in front of him it looked dark in color, as if it was tarnishing in mere seconds. "This mission, the stupid shit we have to do for it, the fact you knew something was wrong and that we were planning something. It's all so damn funny it isn't even funny!"

Anna stared at the man, his voice cracking and breaking as if he was losing his mind. Yet, his eyes were solid and cold, serious and focuses and staring at her.

"Yeah, and now, since you know, you can't leave here alive," the other man said as he stopped laughing as well and drew his own sword, licking its edge like a maniac, his eyes with a very certain intent. "And we get to do what we want before we kill ya!"

"You both are idiots," Anna said with a shake of her head, her own sword swiftly slipped form its sheathe and held lightly in one hand. "Do you really think you can beat me? Or do you even know who I am?"

"You're a woman, who has yet to learn her place," the first man said with a vicious grin. "But don't worry, we'll show you your place soon enough."

"No, I will show you yours," Anna countered as she watched the two men, waiting to see who would act first.

Many people thought that mercenaries were all dumb brutes, muscle bound idiots who just charged forward and fought tooth and nail until they were crowned the victor, or died trying. And some were, but from her own years as a mercenary Anna knew that mercenaries fell into a few categories in how they preferred to fight.

Some would fight like dumb brutes, using their strength to their advantage, while others would use quick sharp strikes meant to immobilize or cripple their opponent. And then some others, like Anna and most female mercenaries, tended to fight with a counterstrike approach, using the enemies actions against them.

The second man struck first, lunging forward with his sword held high above his head, as if hoping to break Anna's skull. As these men had only their shortswords it was a foolish maneuver, easy to counter or even avoid and even easier to take advantage of.

These men were going to die for their arrogance.

Anna swung her own blade up to parry and knock aside the heavy overhanded blow. It would be terribly easy to then simply slice the man's arm and incapacitate him.

Only her own strike did not knock the blade aside at all. It felt like she had struck a rock, and as soon as he felt that she threw her body to the ground in a roll to avoid the blow, and then rolled again, avoiding a similar attack from the other man. Shoo looked at the men, noting that they did not look surprised or anything, and then looked at her own blade, finding a sizable Knick out of it.

"you are-" Anna began to say, only to stop as the first man rushed at her, blade swinging wildly from multiple angles as if he barely knew how to use a blade. Using her own blade to deflect the blow Anna felt her arm screaming at her. Each blow was like it was thrown by a troll, not a man, and the speed of the blows was much above a mere basic frontline mercenary. And worse, she could tell from the man's footwork that he did indeed know how to use a blade, he was just choosing to flex his absurd strength and speed in a way that was maddening effective. "How are you so-" Anna tried to aske as she deflected a blow, only for a sharp metallic crack to make her back step out of reach on reflex, allowing her to glance down in horror.

Her blade had snapped halfway down its length.

She looked up to see both men smiling at her, a strange smile like they had done something worth being proud over. Alongside something else darker alongside an odd violet glint to their eyes. Though it might have been the caverns lighting playing tricks upon her.

"There is no way you did this on your own," Anna said grimly as she pulled a small knife off her belt into her off-hand. You don't have the muscle mass to be that strong, and you shouldn't be that fast either. What demon are you?"

"Ha, I'm no demon, I'm a perfect model of a strong human man!" the man said with a hearty chuckle that seemed, dark.

"Yeah, we're perfectly human and perfectly powerful now that we know how the world is supposed to work!"

Anna's gaze narrowed as she took a couple stepped back and felt her heel click against the cavern wall. "What are you talking about?"

"It's simple really, honestly so simple it's stupid," the second man said as he walked to the side, between Anna and the direction that the stairs out of the cistern was. "You see, Men are stronger than women, and women are the ones that get pregnant. So why are women in charge, when men are stronger? Men are the ones supposed to be in control, and a woman can only be truly happy when fucked full of seed and children!"

Anna stared at the man for a moment before the depths of his words struck her, making a shiver of horror cut through her body. "You sound like a demon," Anna said darkly. "You've been corrupted somehow."

"Hardly, we just realized the truth," the first man said with a chuckle. "Sure, the demons almost get it, but they are just attack dogs, they have no idea how to properly use, or care for a female fuckslave."

"Yeah, but don't worry, once we break you in, we'll treat you real good," the second chimed in with a lecherous gaze as he licked his lips.

"You are disgusting," Anna spat as she sidled along the wall, the two men following her at the same measured distance. "You sound like insane rapists, no better than the demons."

"Oh please, we are not as dumb as the demons, and you only say that because you haven't come over to our way of thinking yet," The one man said with a feral grin. "But don't worry; once we get into it you'll come to like it quickly. Our tests have already proven that no women can say no for long. You'll beg for it like the rest after a while."

Anna's eyes went wide before they narrowed coldly. She could feel the hair on her arms standing up, and a heat in her chest as rage filled her. "You, you've done this to others already?"

"Gotta test our new abilities on someone, don't we?" the second man said as he began slowly moving toward Anna.

"New. . . so you were given that power and speed then," Anna instantly understood with a smirk. "So it's not even yours. It's just borrowed power. What's wrong, too weak to actually exercise to improve yourselves?"

"Shut up!" the one man snapped, clearly a nerve stepped on as he suddenly lunged toward Anna and swung his blade. A quick roll to the side allowed Anna to avoid the blade, though the fact she saw it hit the wall, and cut partly through it, was cause for concern. "You just don't get it you bitch. You women have taken our rightful places in the world from us, so we are just showing you were you should be kneeling!"

"Yeah, between our legs, ha."

"You are disgusting," Anna said as her grip on her knife and broken sword tightened. Even with their enhanced strength she knew she could win. She just wouldn't get out of unscathed so she needed more information. "So what, is this some kind of sick induction ceremony for Heathe?"

"As if. We just wanted in here. He, and you, are simply bonuses,"

"Yeah, bonuses it's time to collect," the other said as he moved in to attack.

And as he did Anna noticed a point of weakness she could exploit. The man's one leg was a bit odd, off to one side to an extent that it was probably a slightly mis-healed injury, not uncommon for mercenaries. But even if it didn't hamper his movement, it would be weaker to contact.

Anna moved toward the man at a low sprint, visibly surprising him as she got into his attack range. What also surprised him was the fact that she then dropped into a slide that used the damp floor to her advantage, sliding under his horizontal swing and between his legs, allowing her to slam the pommel of her broken shortsword into the side of his knee. The man let out a cry of pain and dropped to the ground, and in that time Anna got to her feet and slammed her knife right down into the back of his neck. She felt the telling crunch of his spine as she stabbed him and in barely a second his body went limp, falling from one knee to the floor and off her blade.

Only for an object to slam into her head as she moved to get up, knocking her to the ground. As she grabbed at her nose, thankful that it wasn't broken, even if that was a minor bonus, she noticed a sword on the ground a few feet from her, and looked to see the remaining mercenary storming towards her unarmed.

Had the idiot truly thrown his weapon at her?

Seeing it as a chance Anna three her own broken blade at the man as she scampered toward the whole and much more usable weapon. She snatched it up and got to her feet to see the man was no longer approaching her and had an arm in front of his face with a gash across it, making it clear what had happened but when he lowered his arm, he was smiling.

"Did you think I was an idiot for throwing my weapon?"

Anna's eyes went wide as she glanced down at the weapon and found it covered in an ominous purple haze. One that seemed to be surrounding her hand as well.

And she couldn't seem to let go of it.

"What the, what is this!" Anna demanded to know as she shook her hand, hoping that would help her let go of the blade.

"Just a little cursed stone I put in the hilt of my blade," the man said with a victorious smirk. "It'll help you surrender easier when I start railing you."


"Here let me show you," The man said before grinning. "KNEEL!"

Anna fell to her knee's in an instant as if her body had no ability to do otherwise. For a full minute she simply stared down at her knees in shock, before looking up in horrified realization of what it meant. "You, you made a-"

"A Command stone, yes. Though we don't have many, they are good for when we don't want to do all the work when training new sluts!" he declared as he stepped up toward Anna and undid his pants. "Now, LICK MY CO-"

"I've heard enough," came female voice that Anna did not recognize, and in that moments she found a woman standing to the side and between the man and herself, in the next second there was a strike, a swing of a weapon so quick she barely saw it occur, only the flash of metal, and the man being knocked backwards with a gurgle.

Anna blinked as she tried to make sense of what had happened, but stopped trying when she saw that the weapon the woman defending her was holding was not a sword, but a long hexagonal metal red of burnished metal with marking on it. Including iconography that Anna recognized. "An, inquisitor?"

The inquisitor did not turn to Anna but instead began walking over to the man on the ground who was coughing and grabbing at his throat. Her walk was measured and cold as she got closer to the mercenary, and then she simply raised her strange weapon over her opposite shoulder and with a quick swing that Anna could barely see, smashed the man's head into a pulp, sending blood, bits of bone and brain matter all across the floor an onto the wall.

"I,-" Anna stopped s she felt the curse on her breaking and let go of the sword, then noting the small black stone inset into the handle that cracked a second later. "Inquisitor there is another one here who-"

"It is dealt with," The inquisitor stated as she turned to face Anna, letting her partly see her face and making her recognize who it was.

"you, you were with that mage!" Anna said as she slowly got up to her feet. "What did you mean by it is dealt with?"

As if in response a great torrent of flames soared upwards into the caverns ceiling from the other side of the cavern, illuminating the whole cistern in a way it never had been before, and drowning out the sound of water with the sound of flames. When they subsided the sudden heat increase and evaporation of the damp confines of the cistern, caused a mist to form, clouding the cisterns already difficult to see insides and making the glowing crystals give the whole place a sort of turquoise hue.

"Why, are you here?" Anna asked as she took a step toward the inquisitor that she now knew had been alongside that mage that Maia had been wary of. "Why are traveling with that mage, Ainz Ooal Gown? Why are-"

Anna was cut off as the inquisitor suddenly swung her weapon, stopping it pointing right in front of Anna's face. Though the weapon had no true point, seeing the insignia of the inquisitors on the weapons end was worrisome.

"It was stupid of you to go along with these men when they so obviously were planning something."

Anna gaped at being talked down to in such a manner. Sure, the inquisitor was skilled, absurdly so, but she was still her elder, and a skilled veteran. "I thought I knew what I was getting into. I did not expect them to be enhanced by some form or magic or curse."

"It was still stupid of you. You could have simply demanded answers from them in the open, or in the stairway where you controlled the lighting."

"You, you were following us?" Anna asked, recalling the mercenary leaders earlier words of thinking he had heard something.

"Yes, and it was not hard for us too," the inquisitor said with a shake of her head. "You may want to look into who those people were with, and clean house if necessary."

"Where is that mage?" Anna asked as she saw the inquisitor starting to turn away from her.

"He is elsewhere."

"I will need you all to come with me to report this incident," Anna said, figuring it would be the best way to get answers.


". . . Excuse me?"

"I will not be coming with you," the inquisitor stated with a sigh, as if she was annoyed and tired. "None of us will be."

"You do realize I serve the city's princess knight directly. I could make this an order," Anna said coldly. She didn't like abusing her authority, but she needed to know what that mage and his minions were now after. And the best way to get that was to force them into a meeting with herself and Maia.

"And I am an Inquisitor, and Sir Gown working with the blessing of Lady Lucross herself," the inquisitor stated simply. "You cannot command either of us, and as we have not found what we are looking for, we are leaving. Congratulations. Your obvious attempt at manipulation means you will not need to deal with us any longer."

"What, all I was wanting was-"

"Your wants do not matter, only the results and your actions that led to those results," the inquisitor said as she turned and began walking away, seemingly toward the exit. "Good day and good luck."

"Wait, what were you, even looking for?" Anna asked even as the inquisitor disappeared into the mists. Anna could only stare at the mist for a moment before growling in annoyance to herself.

Maia was not going to like this turn of events.


"So, no sign of them there either," Flora muttered as the group of four walked through a dry patch of the nearby marshlands,

"It is fine, we have learned something regardless," Ainz said as he considered the next location to head to. According to what he had read the city of Geofu was next, but as it was led by that Kaguya woman he didn't feel like there would be much there to help him in the way of people or points of interest.

"Yeah, we found out that you can not only create illusions of ourselves that you can let us control, but that you can also make us invisible," amrita said with a shake of her head. "I've never heard of invisibility so powerful. It is a bit absurd."

"Yeah, and I want to learn it," Hara said with a mischievous grin. "Invisibility like that would be really good to have."

"I can imagine," Flora said with a smirk. "It would help you hide that huge butt of yours,"

"Hmph, too bad you can't hide the smell of fertilizer as easily."

"I wonder if you could hide cobwebs as easily,"

"And I-"

"Alright, I think that is enough," Amrita sighed with a shake of her head. "You both sound like children."

"Maybe they are simply getting properly used to each other," Ainz said with a light chuckle. "Friends do tend to bicker after all."

"That sounds absurd," Amrita stated before shaking her head. "So, there was not even a slight sign of them, or the ones I'm looking for at Ken. Geofu next?"

"I think, we may skip that city," Ainz said, making all three women look to him.

"Why?" Hara spoke up first. "Do you not think they will be there?"

"I don't actually," Ainz said before heaving a sigh. "I also do not believe that the Princess Knight of that city will want our presence anywhere near it. I also feel like she likely keeps a high guard for things related to magic."

"Ah, so the ones we are hunting would shy away from it in the first place then?" Flora asked.

"Yes," Ainz said as he stopped walking for a moment and looked up at the sky, rubbing his mask where his chin would be. "Actually, believe I may have been going about this wrong. Tell me, the furthest city of UR is the oldest fortress in these lands, correct?"

"Yes, Ur was originally build to protect Eostia from the nations to the northwest I believe," Amrita answered quickly.

"I see, and does it have any form of library or of records from those times?" Ainz asked.

"Ah, so you intend to cross reference the locations then, that makes sense," Flora said, making Hara amd Amrita look at her.

"I, believe it may have such records, but, what do you mean?" Amrita asked.

"Sir Ainz intends to cross reference the historic location of dark elf settlements with current roadways and maps, correct?" flora asked, earning a nod from Ainz.

"Yes. If we reference where they have lived, or have been sighted in the past, with current maps, we may discover a pattern," Ainz said as he resumed walking. "Honestly, I should have considered doing this earlier. It was foolish to forget such a simple thing."

"Not so simple if all of us did not consider such a thing," Amrita commented as she looked to Flora. "You have done such a thing?"

"Yes," flora said with a nod. "Sometimes merchants take jobs to find villages that do not appear on maps, or that have moved, so we have to figure out how to find them. The easiest way is to cross reference information such a sightings, direction and the like."

"Yes, which is why we shall head straight for Ur. The sooner we find the Dark elves that are not aligned with the Dark queen, the sooner we can discover the truth to all of this," Ainz stated seriously.

"That may prove difficult," amrita said with a sigh, prompting Hara to look at her.

"Why, it's not like anything can really get in our way, right?"

"True, no natural monster could likely stand before you or myself, and I doubt anything could against Sir Ainz. The problem is not monsters, but locations and culture. If we are passing Geofu, then Feoh would be the next city, and Princess Knight Alicia is the one who rules there. She is fiercely protective of Princess Knight Prim and essentially rules the forces of both cities while Prim controls the cities economies."

"And that works for those cities?" Ainz asked simply.

"Yes, to some extent."

"I'm guessing that the real one in control is Alicia?" Hara asked in an annoyed tone. "I can't imagine that little doll of a sister of hers leading, and Alicia is said to be next most powerful princess knight after Claudia."

"Actually, reports from the church paint a bit of a different picture," Amrita said as she looked to Ainz. "Regardless, I do not expect we would be allowed entry into Ur without Alicia's blessing, and getting both of theirs to see Ur's record may be difficult. Even the church has had difficulty getting access in the past."

"We will find a way when we arrive," Ainz said before he glanced back at Hara and Flora. "And on the way, we can continue your teachings."

"But, I can't use magic," Flora said, causing Ainz to stop and turn to face them both.

"Not yet, perhaps."


Authors note: And there's the 18th chapter, much later than I planned. Got stuck on a part, figured I'd put it aside while playing with other ideas, and then it slipped my mind. I'm very clearly a bad boy and that was clearly a bad idea. Luckily Furiya yelled at me and threw money at my face (via Ko-fi), so the chapter got updates fast. Ended up redoing like half of what I originally had to get past where I was stuck, so hopefully the chapters flow doesn't feel weird.

The next chapter will be a sort of intermediary chapter showing how some other forces and players are progressing while the main crew avoids Geofu and heads toward Feoh and Ur, So look forward to it.

Ultimately, we are getting close to what people are really waiting for, the Black Dog's Betrayal, so thank you everyone for following so far, and I hope this continued to scratch that itch.