After the War Chapter 10
The hardest part about the recent revelations was that they needed to remain secret. 'Why couldn't Pandora ask me to leave?' Albedo clenched her fist in anger, snapping another pen in half. 'No, I can't blame him. He was just as shocked to know the truth.'
Albedo slowly took off her ink-stained glove and put it in her inventory while taking a clean one out.
'Where was I?' She returned her attention back to the repopulation plan for the Slane province, which was mostly uninhabited for a moment, save for undead work teams tasked with removing any remnants of the fallen nation's culture.
'Right, the road system.' She resumed the work while trying to push the intrusive thoughts away.
'That angel suspects the truth. She is too nosy!' Albedo distracted herself again, giving Eleleth a subtle glance. 'If she finds out… I better keep her close at all times. I will not let her harm my beloved!'
The angel always had this aura of knowing about her. 'Eleleth probably overheard some snippets of what went down while Ainz and I were on Earth and put together the whole truth! She… What am I doing? This paranoia is not helping me at the moment!'
Albedo gripped the pen once again but stopped before it snapped. 'I need to get this out of my head. I need to talk with someone. Maybe father… Mariposa knows! They created me together. I can talk with either of my parents.'
Determined, she quickly stood up and walked out of her office, followed by Eleleth, who served as her guard. With heels clapping she walked through the imperial palace at a fast pace. Teleportation was an option, but same as her husband, she made these short public appearances to show her presence in the castle.
The castle staff bowed and politely greeted Albedo as she walked past them, only responding by tilting her head. To stop and engage in conversation with any of them would waste far too much time.
As she walked out of the administrative wing, Albedo saw two of the guild members walking in her direction. 'Humans! I didn't even realize beforehand that most of them choose to remain human because they never truly were the Supreme Beings we thought them to be.'
"Oh, Albedo… good to see you." Nubo, a man in his mid-thirties with dark brown eyes and black hair greeted. Beside him stood Suratan, who just stammered. "Hey…" with an awkward handwave. He was about the same age as Nubo with a similar appearance.
"Nubo, Suratan. I hope the castle staff treats you both according to your position." Albedo responded with a professional smile.
Both men avoided her gaze looking down. Suratan was playing with his hands while Nubo just stood there nervously making subtle swings.
'They fear me. They know I am aware of their true nature. Such a… pathetic display. So much for the resolve of the 'Supreme Beings.' No matter. They are still the guild members.'
"E-Everything is great." "No complaints." Both men hastily responded.
"That is good to hear. Now if you excuse me, I will be on my way." Albedo responded in a pleasant tone and walked past them, not waiting for any response.
The rest of the way to her father's quarters went on without any interruption. The door guards, upon noticing her approach, bowed with the door opening even before she reached them. A young succubus in a maid outfit came out and bowed as well. "I apologize, Empress Albedo, but your father, Lord Tabula, is not present."
"What of my mother? Is she here?"
"Yes." The maid straightened out and opened the door fully for her. Albedo followed the maid to the guest area.
"Lady Mariposa will be with you shortly." The maid said with another bow and left.
Albedo sat down on the chair by the small table and waited in silence with Eleleth standing by the door with a gentle expression. Very few were aware of her past and true nature, thus her demeanor looked appropriate.
After a few minutes, Mariposa entered the guest area with a fast stride and sat down in a chair opposite to Albedo. She flashed her daughter a big smile and said. "I'm sorry to make you wait, my dear, I was communing with potential new residents."
"How many?" Albedo asked. New arrivals to the world were a weekly occurrence, so someone requesting a high-ranking member of the Empire, like Mariposa, for a favor was not that unheard of.
"Less than a thousand, but they requested a high mountain or another permafrost area."
"As long as they provide some use for Nazarick, I can find a spot for them."
"I will notify their leader." Mariposa said as she motioned to the maid to bring tea and refreshments. "So is this just a friendly visit or do you need something from your father?"
"I visited Earth recently." Albedo said with a slight tremble in her voice. "I wanted to talk with him about my findings."
"Oh! I… so you… if you want, I can call your father home." Mariposa said, her eyes widening.
"I assumed you would know." Albedo glanced at the angel standing by the door.
"Of course." Mariposa gave her a reassuring smile. "I was there with your father."
"Eleleth, leave!" Albedo said without turning to face her.
"Mistress, I'm entrusted with your safety. That means all your secrets are safe with me." Eleleth responded.
"I said, leave!" Albedo growled.
"Dear, she knows." Mariposa touched her daughter's hand.
Albedo turned and silently stared at the angel. Eleleth started to walk towards her as she spoke in a soft voice. "I knew about my master's and your origins even before I was summoned. It doesn't matter what you were before, my Empress, only what you are now has any importance. Even my mother was but an insignificant spirit at the moment of her birth."
Eleleth folded her wings and sat down on a chair between the two women. "When I became an angel I considered myself reborn, even if my old self still lives within me."
'She knew!? All this time, she knew and still was a faithful servant. Maybe my mistrust of her was unfounded. Still, I need to warn Ainz that she and possibly many other summons know of our past.'
"She is right, dear. But I can see that the truth about your origins is deeply bothering you." Mariposa gently squeezed Albedo's hand.
"I…it's just hard to accept that S…" Albedo didn't finish the sentence. 'They are not the Supreme Beings. Most of them even chose the human forms that they had before. They… I guess the players are the right term to use.' "I don't know what to think of players."
"They still are friends of your husband and your father, are they not?" Mariposa asked. "Maybe you should treat them as the individuals they are, not the idolized versions your peers see them as."
"But the others will not understand. I can't let them know the truth." Albedo pulled her hand out of her mother's gentle grip.
"Sacrifice is never easy." Mariposa said as the maid put cups on the table and poured tea into them. She even managed to covertly pull out an extra cup from her inventory for Eleleth, who was still sitting at the table.
Albedo waited for the maid to leave before she spoke again. "All this time, I treated you as lesser even though you could reveal the truth to me. I guess I can follow your example and pretend that players are the Supreme Beings other guardians take them for."
"Mistress is becoming a wise and cunning Goddess." Eleleth remarked. "It would be an honor to act as your advisor."
"Your prime duty is to serve my husband, but I will not shy away from taking your advice if it benefits me." Albedo responded.
'I do not sense any duplicity from her. Facade of an angel but the heart of a demon. I think my father wrote something similar into my backstory.' Soon after the truth had been revealed, Pandora had sent her a fair amount of data from the game including all her parameters and the flavor text Tabula had written.
The only other NPC that knew the truth fully agreed with her that the truth needed to be hidden. 'I should pay him a visit as well. He is my beloved husband's creation, but our relationship doesn't extend beyond our duties.'
Albedo quickly finished the cup of tea and addressed Mariposa. "I'm sorry for having such a short visit, mother, but there is someone else I must meet as well."
"Do not worry, dear. Visit me and your father when you can. But maybe next time warn me beforehand so I can drag your father out of the laboratory to meet you as well."
"I will." Albedo stood up with Eleleth following her example.
Once she was out of her father's quarters, Albedo spoke to Eleleth. "I will go to Earth, return to Ainz's side."
"Mistress, I must insist on accompanying you. Master would not forgive me if I left you unguarded." Eleleth said, picking up the pace and now walking beside Albedo.
In response, Albedo just nodded and contacted Shalltear to open the gate to Pandora's location. The last thing she needed right now was an argument with the angel.
With Shalltear almost instantly fulfilling her request, both arrived at a wide hall mere moments later. A blonde woman dressed in a short business suit noticed them and approached with a professional smile.
"Honorable messengers of the Gods, I welcome you to Earth. I'm the personal assistant of Lord Pandora's Actor, Isabella Carlile. How may I be of assistance?" She said with a light bow.
"I wish to talk with Pandora's Actor." Albedo responded in a neutral tone.
"Lord Pandora's Actor is in a meeting, but I can inform him of your arrival. How should I introduce you?" Isabella asked politely. 'I wish Pandora had given me enough information to know the ranks of messengers. This woman is looking at me with such casual indifference that I might as well not even be here. And that angel, could it be a seraph? She spoke of Lord Pandora's Actor without a title, which means she must be one of the so-called guardians.'
Isabella paled. 'Empress! This is the Empress herself. The wife of Ainz Ooal Gown, the head of the pantheon. The Goddess of Love and Family. I should have recognized her. How could I be so careless.'
The scripture written by the prime apostle was in circulation among the cult members for about two weeks but she had read it four times to familiarize herself with the pantheon of Gods she and others were now serving, and although descriptions of the Gods were rather vague, they still provided enough detail.
Isabella prostrated before the Goddess and said with a shaky voice. "Please forgive me for not giving you proper respect, o' great Goddess Albedo."
"You are forgiven. Just go inform Pandora that I want to speak with him." Albedo responded with a slight annoyance in her voice.
The woman jumped to her feet with surprising agility and ran towards a door to the right. She soon returned with Pandora in his default form who, upon noticing Albedo, exclaimed. "The wife of my beloved creator! It's good to see you." He then turned his attention to Eleleth. "And mademoiselle Eleleth. Welcome to the Earth."
"It's good to see you too Pandora. Splendora can't wait to play with you again. She is talking about you all the time."
"I will visit her as soon as I have an opportunity to do so." Pandora said as he guided Albedo to his office.
Both sat down in the lavishly decorated office while Eleleth remained outside, guarding the door.
"How are you holding up since… we found out the truth?" Albedo asked.
"I am doing great, to be honest. I already finished the first few volumes of the 'Chronicles of Ainz Ooal Gown.' It's just the beginning, but I should finish the rest of it within a month or two."
"You did what? We agreed to hide the truth and you are writing it all down? Are you out of your mind?" Albedo raised her voice.
"Just look at it and you will see." Pandora leaned over the office table and shoved a thick book in her hands.
Albedo opened the book and quickly skimmed it over. "This… this is wonderful."
"I wrote in a way that no one would suspect that it was just a game. I even took some creative freedom to dramatize some events."
"I see. Then by all means, continue." Albedo put the book on the table. 'He is coping much better than me. What a wonderful idea to hide the truth behind an exaggerated story.'
"Of course. This work gives me great pleasure. I hope father will like it."
"I have no doubt Ainz will be thrilled to see the final result. Oh, while I'm here, can you fill me in on the general plan so I can start making preparations on my end."
"The full plan is only at its beginning stages, but I can give some approximate requirements from Nazarick's side." Pandora said as he pulled out a large stack of papers from his inventory.
Pandora's planning abilities, as usual, didn't disappoint, as even his rough approximates were rather detailed and well thought out. Albedo listened while carefully memorizing the details.
He was the son of her husband, and considering how close he was to his half-sister, Albedo was determined to improve the relationship with him as well.
Proofreading by Sad_Smiles, Visur Nyxan, and I AM THE STRING CUTTER.
AN: Thank you for reading the story, and if you have caught up to the latest chapter, you can check out my other work or join my discord server (Link is in my profile) where additional chapters are available.