AN: This is a double upload, so don't forget to read chapter 51 first.

Chapter 52

"This has to work!" Tabula said as both he and Lilith finalized the ritual that should bring Nazarick victory.

"It will. Be prepared. The center of the soul vortex is not meant to be traversed lightly. I can afford to lose one part of myself, but you cannot. Remember the defensive spells and, above all, protect your mind." Lilith said with an uncharacteristically worried voice.

"I will use all the caution I have. Mari would not forgive me if I got lost somewhere again. I think we are ready to go."

Lilith nodded as Tabula opened the gate to an area a safe distance away from the vortex in the southern desert. Saz was already waiting for them, as he would be the one to carry both.

As they stepped through, they were met with a loud, annoyed voice. "Took you long enough. I could have helped with the ritual, you know!?"

Tabula looked up at the black dragon, who clearly was close to overheating in the hot desert sun.

"Did you forget about the cooling spell again?" Tabula asked.

"I… Dammit." the dragon grumbled and applied a spell, letting out a breath filled with relief. He then lowered his head for both passengers to hop on.

"Prepare yourselves. I can't look after you while I'm navigating the dangerous winds."

"Thank you for the concern, Sazrasas Mlatarni." Lilith said with a slight bow before hopping on his neck.

"Just Saz is fine. There is no need for formalities in the face of death." The dragon chuckled and took off.

This wouldn't be the first time he tried to reach the point where it all started, but this time there was no stopping midway, no coming back until the job was done. The greatest mistake of his kind needed to be repaired, and the old enslaver needed to be removed.

As before, the screams of the shattered souls were getting progressively louder, grinding on his mind heavily.

'This is it, no turning back.' Saz said to himself as he flew over the derelict wall of the old capital.

"That is…" Tabula gasped. Saz lifted his head to look forward. Where once stood a castle, now a translucent shimmering vortex raged. His instincts screamed at him to turn back, yet he didn't stop. The flight was getting harder and harder, even his massive wings struggled against the winds of shattered souls.

He could sense Lilith standing up on his back as she shouted. "I will make an opening. Do not hesitate even for a moment!"

"We are flying into the eye of the vortex?" Saz asked.

"Yes."

Then the winds around him stopped and he saw a clear path inside. Following Lilith's command, he flew forward as fast as he could. The moment they were inside the eye of the vortex, the opening closed behind them.

Saz landed and let his passengers off.

"Tabula, assign the pullback anchors and open the gate. Once I shift the polarity, we need to take the beast in as fast as we can. Don't forget to put anchors on all our allies as well. Saz, pull your energy into the polarity shift spell."

Both of them nodded and started the signed tasks. Once enough energy was pulled into Lilith's ritual, the polarity of the vortex shifted and the calmness suddenly disappeared as the countless remnants of the souls started to return to the origin point and tore a rift in reality.

Tabula opened a gate large enough for the beast to be pulled through and messaged Ainz. { We are ready, come to us. }

With only half of his mana left, Ainz was relieved to see the gate opening. The Great Old One had shown no signs of being closer to defeat than he was at the beginning of the battle.

He flew towards the gate as fast as he could. { Eleleth, with me. The rest of you, take care of the capital. We will be back. }

{ You better be. I don't want to run the empire, got it!? If you manage to die, you bastard, I will pull you back from whatever afterlife I can! } Ulbert messaged back.

{ Good luck. } Buku sent a message as well.

There was no time to spare. Once on the other side of the gate Ainz cast Maximize Perfect Warrior' and shouted, "Eleleth, another set of chains!"

The Angel dutifully obeyed, casting the chains to the beast on the other side. "Everyone pull!" Ainz ordered and grabbed one of the chains. With the momentary warrior stats, he was the strongest of the group but held no illusion that he alone would be enough. Tabula, Eleleth, and Saz grabbed a chain each and pulled as well.

Hzanfrot, realizing that the trap had been sprung, roared and struggled against the chains with all his might. The first set broke almost immediately, but Eleleth didn't relent and cast another set, with everyone grabbing them and pulled as hard as they could. Slowly but surely, the beast was nearing the gate.

In a last ditch attempt to stop himself from being pulled into the vortex, Hzanfrot put his arms around the gate and tried to close it.

With no other option left, Ainz quickly canceled Perfect Warrior, then sent two waves of Blades of Unmaking, and switched back to the Perfect Warrior, ready to exert all the might the spell could provide. The moment Hzanfrot's arms were cut off, he let go of the gate, and Ainz tipped his balance and pulled the beast through.

Tabula immediately closed the gate and cast anchors on Ainz and Eleleth.

Lilith collapsed the vortex in on itself and shouted at Tabula. "Pull us out. Now!"

Hzanfrot roared. "You are not going anywhere! I am taking you all with me!" With the last of his strength, he attached all of them to himself, pulling the group with him into the depths of the abyss the reversed vortex plunged them into.

Moments later the vortex imploded, ending the centuries-old ritual that had threatened to end the world.

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The battle in Nazarick's capital ground to a halt as both sides felt the change. Free from battle with the Great Old One, Ulbert had a chance to blast one of his children to pieces, but even that didn't stop the rest from continuing the carnage, at least not until they sensed that Hzanfrot was gone for good.

The children of the Great Old One, realizing that without the backup of their creator they may not be revived, fled north towards the sea.

{ Ainz, is it over? } Ulbert messaged, but got no response. { Ainz? } 'Maybe he is busy?'. { Tabula? } {Eleleth? } { Anyone, answer me! }

{ I can't get a response from Ainz. } He messaged the others.

{ That can't be good. Until we are sure. Do not say anything to Albedo. Her flipping out is the last thing we need at this moment. } Buku responded.

{ I would be more worried about the kid, but sis is right. We need to find out what happened first. }

{ I will go investigate. You two deal with the retreating forces. } Ulbert said and opened a gate to the southern desert.

Ulbert stepped out onto the hot desert sands. The dreadful sensation he felt the one time he visited this part of the desert was gone. { Tsar, come to my location. } A moment later, Tsar showed up through the gate in his human form, followed by Rigrit.

"I can't sense master. He is gone from this world." Tsar said, answering the unspoken question.

"Are you sure?" Ulbert asked.

"Yes. He still exists, but I do not know where. The bond is weak." the dragon said regretfully.

"Let's investigate before drawing a final conclusion. Maybe some sort of magical anomaly is left behind and blocking them." Ulbert said.

"Agreed." Tsar said, returning to his natural form.

Reaching the old capital was an easy task this time. Reliving the memories on the other hand? Not so much. Tsar still remembered the city how it was, as he flew over the remains of it.

They landed near a small crater that likely was the nexus point. Ulbert carefully approached it, but there was nothing out of order. By all means, they had just stumbled onto a forgotten city, void of any anomalies.

Tsar changed to human form and kneeled at the edge of the crater, touching the ground.

"The ritual my father started is done. The world is safe. I do not feel the beast as well."

"They were pulled into it just as the Great Old One was?" Ulbert asked.

"If I had to guess, yes."

'You bastards. You both were supposed to return safely!' Ulbert swore at his friends, yelling into the still air.

"We will have to find a way to summon them back. I, for one, do not want to go tell Ainz's and Tabula's family that they both are gone." Ulbert said as he opened the portal. "I'm done here. When you have finished sightseeing, contact Buku, she surely has a long list of tasks to assign to you both."

Ulbert knew he could not hide the truth from Albedo and Splendora, and after an hour of waiting he slowly approached her office.

The moment he saw Albedo's face it was clear she already suspected.

"Ulbert?"

"They… We don't know where they have gone." Ulbert said, quickly adding. "We will find them and bring them back no matter what!"

"How?"

"Albedo, look, we both know Ainz and Tabula are still alive, just somewhere…"

"How are we bringing them back?" Albedo asked, with her tone betraying her rage.

"Mama, is papa lost somewhere?" Splendora quietly asked, with her lower lip trembling.

"We will find and bring back your papa." Ulbert said, trying to sound confident "Right, Albedo?"

"Yes, we will find him." Albedo said, picked up Splendora, and walked past him.

'This will not end well.' Ulbert grimly remarked to himself and teleported to his office. It was clear that running the empire would fall onto his shoulders once again.

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Ainz blinked as he observed the unfamiliar surroundings. It was rather clear that he wasn't in the same world anymore, as the scene was not particularly stable and shifted around a lot.

It took a few moments before the memories of what had happened started to come back

One moment he and his friends were fighting the Great Old One and successfully pulled him into the void, but then something went wrong. They didn't get out as planned. Instead, he and the others were plunged into the darkness together with the beast. In the chaos, he ended up falling through the scenes beyond description and, at some point, blacked out.

'I need to get back home!' The question was how to do it. He wasn't even sure where he was. Once again, he looked around, and this time, as his own mind calmed down due to emotion suppression, so did his surroundings.

At first, he tried to cast gate home but it simply failed. After all, the spell was not made for travel between worlds. No one responded to messages either.

Ainz quickly floated up and, after a moment, realized that he didn't even use a fly spell. As far as he could see, there was a blue sea on one side and a lush, green forest on the other, with nothing else in sight.

'I guess there is no point staying in one spot.'

Deciding to remain at the coastline for now, he flew forward. After about ten minutes, he noticed that there was someone or something in the distance that contrasted with the beach sand.

He cast a long-distance view and saw a man sitting in a beach chair. A familiar man. With no other options, he flew towards Regoz and landed next to him.

"Will you tell me where I am?" Ainz asked, mentally preparing to receive non-answers once again.

"In the astral plane, over a world where no animals exist." Regoz said, and with a wave of his hand produced a chair next to him, and motioned for Ainz to sit down.

"How do I get back?"

"An interesting question, but don't worry, that's why I'm here." Regoz said and leaned down to open a coldbox next to a chair that Ainz hadn't noticed before. Regoz took out two beer bottles and handed one to Ainz while motioning for him to sit down one more time.

"I will make a deal with you if I have to, but I need to get back home." Ainz said, accepting the offer. The last thing he needed was to appear rude to the being who might be his only hope of getting back to his wife and daughter.

"Relax for a few minutes. You just won your war and a round for me. There is no need to make a deal." Regoz said as he took the cap off the bottle and drank.

"Why?" Ainz asked, while doing the same.

"Let's just say it would be a much larger mess to clean up after your daughter when she comes searching for you than to teach you how to travel between worlds. Although it will come with its own set of changed paths."

"Is she all right?"

"Your daughter is fine. As I said, relax for a bit. A few minutes will not change much on the grand scale and we are not in the physical plane, so time is not flowing the same way. Just sit down, enjoy the drink, and maybe I will answer a question or two that bothers your mind."

Reluctantly, Ainz agreed and took a gulp of the cold beer. It wasn't anything particularly special, just your average cold beer on the beach. "What happens now?" he asked after a moment of silence.

"I teach you how to travel between worlds. You gather your buddies and go home."

"That's it?"

"Yes. What else did you expect?"

"What about our new world, the game, or whatever that all was?"

"The round ended, I won. As for the world, it is yours, well, technically, it belongs to Splendora but she is just a kid now."

"We won, but we all were just tossed away from that world. How does it count as a victory?"

Regoz smiled "The victory condition was for my side to remove Hzanfrot. Even If I left you here and brought Splendora and Albedo here to you, Nazarick still wins the war. Without their father, the children have no means to return to life. Even all their cults combined can't bring back more than a few in several millennia."

"What about your Queen? What does she have to do with Splendora?"

"Not much at the moment. All you need to know is that I'm under her orders to protect your daughter from more serious threats until she can take care of herself." Regoz turned to meet Ainz's burning gaze and added. "You don't have to believe me, it makes no difference in the long run, but for the sake of your mental state at least consider the possibility that our goals align from time to time."

"I… guess you are right."

"Of course I am. Now then. Here is the knowledge on how to travel between worlds and how to find your friends, and off you go before your wife snaps."

The needed knowledge appeared in his head instantly. He knew how to return home and he knew how to find Tabula, Eleleth, and Sazrasas.

He quickly stood up, putting the bottle aside, and said. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. I may show up in the future if need arises. Other than that, enjoy the world; you will get bored of it eventually." Regoz said and disappeared. With him, the beach scenery once again started to grow unstable, but this time Ainz had no need to stay around. He quickly found his first target and opened a gate to the world where Tabula had landed.

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The search was unsuccessful so far. Without Tabula, the research into the more abstract topics fell onto Nfirea's shoulders, but he was not able to locate his master yet, only confirm that he was alive. Or more precisely that his divinity existed.

Without Ainz running the empire, Ulbert was handling this hard task once again. With a tired gaze, he went through another pile of reports and requests. There were so many things in need of his approval that he wished for some sort of auto-accept spell.

At least he was not doing it alone. The additional table was put in his office, and his two best assistants Demiurge and Renner were hard at work going through less important requests.

The war was pretty much won. Without their leader, the Underwater Empire collapsed within a day, with the remaining children of the Great Old One retreating deep into the ocean to stave off eradication. The mermen, who could not follow them to the depths, surrendered and went into servitude in order to not go extinct.

Even so, the short-lived war had caused enormous damage and cost an unknown amount of lives. Nfirea had reported that, because of Roble, the soul crystals were full to the brim, and luckily he knew how to stop the process before it became unstable.

Unfortunately, the boy had no idea how to find the rest of the former guild members, as Tabula had not shown him their locations, thus for now crystals were left dormant until the God of Knowledge was found.

'When we find that bastard I will kick his bony ass!' Anger was the best approach to how he could handle the disappearance of his friend. Ainz existed somewhere, but nobody knew where it was. Who knows how long it would take to find him?

While he read another request, the door to his office flung open with a small figure walking in.

"Uncle Ulbert, where is papa? Mama wants to know too." Splendora asked, agitated. Rubedo stood behind the princess with her usual neutral expression, but Ulbert could see tiny changes in her expression. She too was devastated at Ainz's disappearance.

"We are still searching for your father, princess." Ulbert said in the kindest tone he could muster.

"I can help. I can ask friends."

'Friends? Do I even want to know what she means by that?' "That won't be necessary. We will find him soon. Leave this to adults, ok kid?" Ulbert said and hastily stood up. He approached Splendora and patted her head. "I promise we are doing all we can to find your papa."

"Can you tell mama too? She is sad." Splendora said, taking his hand and pulling him towards the exit.

"Fine, let's go tell your mother too." 'This is going to go over well, I just know it.' Ulbert sighed and let the princess drag him to the throne room where Albedo had spent the last few days.

The short walk after they reached the throne room doors, which Rubedo opened for them, ended quickly

Ulbert immediately picked up the voice of Mariposa. "I know it's hard, but we both must be strong. For her sake. You can't just wither away here while we wait for their return."

"I know!" Albedo responded angrily, and then stood up and turned around.

"Mama, Uncle Ulbert says that we will find papa."

Albedo forced a smile "Of course, we are going to find him soon." She then turned to Mariposa and said. "Could you look after Dora for a moment? I need to talk with Ulbert."

"Of course. Let's go get some treats." Mariposa said to Splendora and took her hand.

"Ok, Nana. But I want Mama to come too."

"She will join us soon." Mariposa said and gave Albedo a 'you better come soon' look before walking off with Splendora.

"Any news?" Albedo asked hopefully.

"We know he is alive but where…" Ulbert stopped mid-sentence as the void of a gate spell appeared near.

It took him a good moment to register that Ainz just stepped through it, followed by Tabula, Eleleth, and Sazrasas.

"Papa!" Splendora was first to react as she teleported into his embrace. Albedo snapped out the next moment and rushed to hug her husband as well.

"We are back. Sorry that it took so long." Ainz said.

"I don't know if I should hug or kick you. You left all your work to me again!" Ulbert said with a smirk.

"Just give me a moment and then we can start sorting things out."

"Yeah, yeah. I'll be in my office doing your job, you lazy sack of bones." Ulbert said and teleported away.

Mariposa approached her husband and grabbed one of his face tentacles "This is the second time you have disappeared on me. If you plan to make this a habit, you are in huge trouble!"

"Sorry dear." he could only respond sheepishly.

"I was so worried." Albedo said, hugging Ainz so tightly that he feared his ribs might crack.

"I know, but I had to find everyone first before returning home."

"You could have at least given me a sign that you were okay!" Albedo hissed as her hug became tighter. "I was so worried that you left me… us."

Ainz hugged both his wife and daughter. "I could never leave both of you."

After all, he would do anything for his family, even jump into the abyss again. It was hard to tell what the future held, but Ainz knew one thing for sure; he would stop at nothing to protect those he cared for.

Edited by Edgy.

Proofreading by DimensionalFish-Sama and placid-void.

AN: Thank You everyone for reading thus far. I sincerely hope all of you enjoyed reading the story as much as I did writing it. Please don't worry it is not the end, merely a resting point. I have been writing this story for over a year and now that the main story has reached its conclusion it is time for it to slow down.

Until further notice, I plan to release one or two 2-3k word chapters per month of more casual content focusing on what happens after the war with numerous characters that may have gotten less attention than they deserve.

Also, the 34 chapters will be retouched to bring them up to the same quality as the later ones' grammar wise so stay tuned for that. I do plan to update them only when all of it is finished though.

Editor's Note from Edgy: Hello everyone. What a run, ey? To think I'd actually see this story conclude, and what a story it was! I have to say, I have immense respect for Duke. I mean, do you guys even know how many chapters I have to edit in a day? It's nearly 4 AM as I type this! The guy is nearly as productive as he is skilled and fucking hell is he productive.

I've been here for a large part of the ride, and I'll have to revisit the earlier chapters to edit them as well, so look forward to that! Duke is one of the people that inspired me to write as well, so huge thanks to him for writing this and having the dedication to actually finish it!

Anyway, look forward to what the future holds! Been a pleasure editing this and I'll see you all around next time!