(A/N: This chapter might upset a few readers because this deals with Arche and her sister's fate. There were many possible routes to go with this chapter. However, I believe that this one is most fitting considering the blending of Ajax's personality and Citrinitas' lore!)
[Timeskip - 26 Days]
Today was a pretty significant day in the grand scheme of things. No, the denizens of Nazarick weren't celebrating a joyous event such as a holiday or a birthday. Today was the day that workers from the Baharuth Empire were invading the Great Tomb of Nazarick.
I say invade, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It was more like sealing the fates of adventurers to their doom by having them brutally killed for the NPC's amusement, or tortured also for the NPC's amusement.
Honestly, a part of me was quite excited about the event. Not because of the people being unknowingly sent here to meet their demise. After all, I'm not a monster. Maybe a villain for the plans I have for Cerabrate and other assholes like him in the New World. But by no means a monster.
This was mostly because it has almost been a month since the events of the Demonic Incursion within Re-Estize. And while day-to-day activities are fun for the most part, events such as the Demonic Incursion make those days seem plain.
However, I didn't just sit in my Alchemy Lab for almost a month. I took the mantle of Ordan Karris for a bit to complete some staged Beastmen quests alongside dealing with the shenanigans of Esdeath and Shalltear in and out of Nazarick. I even artificially recreated Entoma's old voice!
I was currently in my Alchemy Lab as usual. But instead of making potions, scrolls and the like, I was watching the different worker groups with a Mirror of Remote Viewing. Funnily enough, a few of the acolytes were crowding around me to watch the event unfold.
Team Foresight and the chubby man in silver armour were fighting some weak-levelled undead in some hallway, the old man and his team were waiting outside the tomb, and the cocky guy with the elven slaves was heading towards Hamsuke.
"Hmph," Ikaria huffed, crossing her arms at the sight of the invaders. "Pitiful humans. Even when presented with the generous offer of gold and jewels, their greed for more treasures within this Great Tomb blinds them…" The acolyte muttered with clear disdain in her voice.
Her acolyte colleagues were quick to agree, nodding their heads. "Indeed. How dare these… vermin.. abuse the Supreme One's generosity." Rimuru added, taking slight pauses in between speaking to think of how to describe the invading workers.
'I still forget that even my acolytes or the maids within Nazarick hate humans. From the outside, they seem caring. Yet the insides are a different story.' I thought to myself, looking at the mirror as the workers progressed through Nazarick.
"Well, at their core, humans are driven by instinct. Thus, it's in their nature to be filled with avarice, Rimuru." I said to the acolyte-dressed maid in a rather ambiguous tone. "It's amusing, really. They can be as greedy as dragons, yet as selfless as angels…"
I briefly reflected on a past life that seemed so distant. Auschwitz and Unit 731 reminded me of how vicious humans can be. Concentration camps and genocide, mass censorship, horrible crimes committed by people, you get the idea. Of course, there were plenty of other examples I could think of. However, those two were the first that came to mind.
Throwing away those negative memories, I also remembered all the good things humans from my past life did. From small acts of kindness like buying a meal for a starving stranger to bioengineers developing malaria test kits so cheap that the poor can have access to them.
My quick reminiscing of the past was swiftly ended when the acolytes gave a collective gasp of wonder. "Citrinitas' wisdom never ceases to amaze me…" Muttered a sweet but quiet voice to the side of me when the others gasped. A voice that was different from Rimuru's, Elaina's and Ikaria's.
The acolytes name was Frey. A rather friendly person who'd get along with nearly everyone… except for disgusting humans, per usual with Nazarick denizens. Similar to Ikaria, Frey had snow white hair, ruby-coloured eyes, and a plague doctor outfit.
However, that's where the similarities ended. For one, she didn't have one of her eyes covered by her hair. Speaking of, her hair extended down to her waist, the opposite of Ikaria's shoulder-length hair. Furthermore, Frey's plague doctor outfit was more of a dress instead of a butler outfit.
(A/N: I wanted to introduce a new acolyte because I have that power, lol. While Frey's appearance is very short in this chapter, she'll appear more as the story progresses :)
"I appreciate the compliment, Frey," I spoke, making the acolyte jump from slight surprise and lightly gasp, not expecting to be heard. The others around her slightly giggled at her reaction before calming down. "Now," I got off from where I was seated as my assistants moved back to give me some room.
"If you'll excuse me, I'll be heading out to the 6th Floor for a while. You ladies can keep watching the spectacle happening in the mirror, I don't mind at all. Besides, you're all working hard on the latest experiment and deserve a bit of an extra break." I said as the acolytes gave a warm smile.
"Thank you for your generosity, Lord Citrinitas!" Elaina exclaimed cheerily. Frey was also quick to say a few words. "Your kindness seems to never end, milord! But there is no need to give us a break as we take pride in serving you!" She pleaded, holding her hands together.
I dismissed the comments as I formed an incantation on my right hand, casting a 10th Tier spell. "Well, the option for a break is still there if you need it. In any case, I must depart. I bid you a temporary farewell, acolytes. [Gate]."
In an instant, a majestic purple swirl formed directly in front of me. Wasting no time, I stepped through as the scene around me changed from my Alchemy Lab to the top of a colosseum. As quickly as the portal formed, it closed once I was at my destination.
I would have immediately taken a moment to admire the fictional starry sky if it weren't for the loud voice of Aura, acting almost like an announcer for a certain worker team trapped at the centre of the amphitheatre I stood atop.
"And against them, the master of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, the Supreme Overlord… Ainz Ooal Gown!"
'Perfect timing…' I thought to myself, eyeing the team Foresight rather keenly. Everything proceeded as did in the anime. Firstly, the leader of the worker group, Hekkeran Termite, decided to talk his way out of the fight at the sight of the Overlord.
Surprise surprise, that didn't turn out well for him as all he did was enrage the salaryman. No, simply saying "enrage" wasn't enough of a description. The sheer anger Ainz felt was similar to the rage you'd experience when talking to a chubby Karen on a go-kart in a Target… except worse. Far worse.
Even from the highest point in the amphitheatre, I could feel the aura of absolute fury emanating from the Overlord. Thankfully, [Cold Blooded] did its charm in keeping me calm and fearless as it always has. Unlike Aura down below, I wasn't bothered by his untamed rage.
While Ainz was busy letting his anger run loose, with team Foresight and Aura doing their best to hold themselves together and not being blown away, I focused my attention on another individual. Standing to the side and slightly behind the Overlord was none other than my sister, Albedo.
She, just like myself, was also unaffected by the skeleton's fury. Well, except for her hair that was flying all about. However, that wasn't the reason why she caught my attention.
It was her gaze at the salaryman that did.
Even from a great distance, which I could thank Tier Magic for, I could clearly see the look on her eyes as bright as day. Her eyes were overflowing with hidden malice as she gave a cold, calculating look at the skeleton. Both of which went unnoticed by Ainz, Aura, and team Foresight.
"The secret unit…" I couldn't help but mutter under my plague doctor mask.
It was one of those things that were hinted at but never resolved. A loose end, if you will. Knowing full well about the death brigade's true intentions as it's disguised as a search party for Supreme Beings left a metaphorical sour taste on my tongue.
It's not that I'm worried about Supreme Beings being killed for I know that they'll never appear in the New World. It's more or less the hypotheticals that its existence creates for Nazarick.
What happens if the other NPCs find out about the secret unit? What if Ainz finds out about Albedo's true intentions in the far future? Then again, all that plotting from behind the scenes could just result in nothing. Everything proceeds as normal with Ainz being oblivious to Albedo's true intentions.
Though these were just a bunch of what-ifs revolving around a hidden plot, I still couldn't help but ponder about what it means for the future of Nazarick, making me all the more curious about it.
'Goodness, I sound just like Demiurge… overthinking about a plan or something.' I first thought to myself. Before I could continue with my thoughts, I heard a peculiar voice shout something from the level below me.
"BEAT THEIR WEAK ASSES UP, LORD AI- MGHMHGM!!!"
The shouting came from none other than Shalltear Bloodfallen, who cheered when the salaryman took off his robes and dawned more appropriate attire to fight team Foresight before she was quickly dragged away by Cocytus.
"How typical of Shalltear…" I muttered to myself. After witnessing the odd yet slightly comical sight, I focused my thoughts back on the death brigade.
'Well, the most important thing is that I want to keep the secret unit… well… a secret. The other Floor Guardians can't know about it. And Albedo can't know that I know about it. But it slightly irks me that I'm being left in the dark on the matter. Jesus Christ, now I'm really sounding like Demiurge. Not liking unknowns and loose ends and all. Anyways, for now, how do I proceed? Do I keep an eye on the secret unit but not interfere? Do I somehow convince Albedo not to go on with the true intentions of the secret unit? If I do the latter, how would I reveal to Albedo that I know her true intentions?'
This was the million-dollar question.
However, that million-dollar question was something future I would have to deal with. I pushed all those thoughts and theories out of my head as I focused my attention on the one-sided battle currently taking place within the Colosseum.
The fight had already proceeded to the moment where Ainz grabbed Hekkeran by the face, lifting him in the air before the Overlord cast [Paralysis] upon him and dropped him to the ground. 'So the fight is about to end, huh? Arche will fly away at any moment now…'
I didn't have to wait long as Arche cast [Fly] and flew towards the fictitious night sky. Quickly after, Ainz called out Shalltear's name. The vampire landed in between Albedo and Aura before walking towards the salaryman. Not wanting Arche to be killed as that would hinder some personal plans of mine, I used [Teleportation] to cover the distance from where I stood to Ainz instantly.
"After that, kill her mercifully without any pai- Oh… greetings, Citrinitas." Ainz halted with what he was about to say to Shalltear when a wild Citrinitas appeared within his view.
"Hello, my beloved darling!" Shalltear said in a cheery voice. This time, unlike times before, the gothic vampire didn't immediately pounce on the plague doctor. Partially not wanting to make a fool of herself in front of Ainz, and partially because she has been extensively learning about love and relationships since reading sacred texts left by Peroronchino.
Well, the road for Shalltear (and Esdeath) to learn about that topic was still rough. There were plenty of issues for Citrinitas to fix. For example, her weird and disgusting ways of expressing love. Despite that, she at least had some self-control and improved. Though slight, it was better than nothing.
Citrinitas replied back to both welcomes respectively. "Greetings, Lord Ainz. And hello to you too, Shalltear." He said in a well-mannered tone.
"Please excuse my sudden appearance, my Lord. However, instead of killing the girl, could you spare her?" Ainz put a skeletal hand on his chin, thinking about what the plague doctor said. "Could you please indulge me as to why I should, Citrinitas?" He questioned.
"While the girl is a thief and an intruder of the Supreme Beings' home, she can benefit Nazarick more alive than dead. In short, the girl has a Talent. Given she is within the Tomb, why throw away the opportunity to conduct experiments and gain more knowledge of the unknown art? Furthermore, my Alchemy Lab is in need of test subjects."
Citrinitas' reasoning did seem quite appealing to Ainz. In fact, the offer was very tempting. 'A Talent? Citrinitas did mention to me in a report of his that he wanted to research what Talents are. I too am curious about them. In that case, I see no point in not agreeing with the request.' He concluded.
"Very well, Citrinitas," Ainz said in a regal tone. "I'll agree to your proposal. If that's all, you're permitted to leave to get the girl and bring her to your Alchemy Lab for experimentation." Citrinitas nodded after hearing Ainz's words before flying away in the direction of Arche.
Seeing the plague doctor fly away, the Overlord turned his attention to the vampire next to him. 'Oh my goodness…' The salaryman thought to himself. 'I brought Shalltear here just to have given her job to someone else? In front of her? That's so BM of me! How can I be a fair ruler if I did something like that? That was so unprofessional!' He couldn't help but scold himself internally before speaking.
"I'm sorry for the sudden change of plans and wasting your time, Shalltear. You can go back to what you were previously doing. If I require something done, I'll be sure to give you that opportunity." Ainz did his best to rectify his mistakes toward the petite vampire.
"There is no need to apologize to me, Lord Ainz! You're a Supreme Being!" Shalltear quickly exclaimed. Aura and Albedo, who were in the background, could only nod at what Shalltear said.
"Besides, I'm perfectly fine with this outcome." Shalltear flew back as Ainz turned his attention to the final two members of team Foresight: Imina and Roberdyck Goltron.
The pair was utterly speechless at the conversation between Ainz and Citrinitas. "You bastard… BASTARD!!!" Roberdyck shouted from the top of his lungs, gripping his morning star tighter than ever from sheer anger. "HOW IS THAT FAIR?! ARCHE DOESN'T DESERVE SUCH A FATE!!!" He continued to scream.
"Will you shut up already?" Aura shouted from a distance.
"Well, I'd say death is mercy if I simply killed her. But, as you know, there has been a change of plans. You should be glad that your friend will help benefit in this Great Tomb." Ainz retorted, still keeping his royal tone.
"Grateful? Arche will suffer torment! Let's do this, Rober!" Imina drew an arrow, pointing it directly at the Overlord as Roberdyck charged toward him with all his might.
Shalltear watched from the sidelines with Albedo and Aura as Roberdyck and Imina did their best to fight the skeletal mage. However, unlike Aura and Albedo, Shalltear didn't feel joy in watching the two fail in their measly attempt at fighting back. This was because she was deep in thought.
'I can't believe I failed Lord Ainz once more…' She thought to herself, depressed she couldn't be of use to the Player. 'How can I repay my debt to the Supreme One for being brainwashed if he chose Citrinitas to do the job over me? Does he hate me?' She continued. Shalltear couldn't blame Citrinitas for taking her spot. After all, his proposition would benefit Nazarick and she loved him.
The thought of Citrinitas made Shalltear sidetrack from answering her own rhetorical question. 'Citrinitas… I love you from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad we're getting closer together. I wonder what atrocious experiments you'll do to that girl… and if I could possibly join you, kufufufufufufufu…'
"What in the name of the Great Gods is this?" Arche asked herself whilst rubbing her head after hitting the invisible barrier head-on. "A wall. We're in the 6th Floor of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Everything you see past that wall isn't actually there. It's all fake."
Arche quickly turned around, only to be met by a man draped in a mysterious robe and an odd bird mask. He was none other than the plague doctor and grand alchemist, Citrinitas. "My name is Citrinitas. It's a pleasure to meet you, Arche."
"This place…" Arche looked all around her, stunned by what the plague doctor said.
"Illusion magic is something special, isn't it, Arche?" He replied. "Is escape possible?" The alchemist only shook his head in disagreement. "I see…" Closing her eyes, Arche quickly tightened her grasp on her sceptre before charging directly at Citrinitas.
The alchemist, just like Shalltear in the anime, caught the weapon quite easily. He pulled the weapon away from her grasp and let it fall to the ground below before grabbing her wrist to make sure she didn't run away.
"W-What are you going to do now? Kill me?" Arche asked in a broken voice. Her will to live was almost gone. There was still a pair of twins that kept her going.
"Well, maybe if my fellow colleagues were here instead of me, they wouldn't hesitate to. But I won't. The Alchemy Lab benefits by having a person to experiment on to test new potions and the like. You being a Talent holder is only an added bonus."
Arche's eyes widened with fear when Citrinitas said those words. Her fingers trembled with fear as tears started to form in her eye ducts. "Those innate abilities have always intrigued me. They can range from utterly useless to overpowered. Noticing your Talent called All-Seeing Eyes has made me think about all sorts of possibilities…" By this point, tears started to trickle down Arche's cheeks.
"What would happen if I took your eyes and put them in another person's sockets using alchemy? Would they get your Talent? What if I healed your eyes back? Would you still have the Talent? You get the picture…" From those words, Arche felt a warm, yellow liquid trail down her legs.
"While it sounds painful, but it isn't as bad as it sounds. While your body will have to go through horrid things, I'll do my best to minimize your pain with magic before healing you up. Furthermore, I won't chain you up and keep you in a cell. You'll be treated quite humanly… unlike those in the Happy Farm. After all, I'm not a monster that gets a kick out of one's torment."
Although not greatly, it did somewhat relieve Arche's rampant fear and despair. "V-Very well, Sir Citrinitas. I… I accept my fate…" Arche said in a miserable, defeated tone as the plague doctor let go of Arche's wrist. She didn't even try to run away as Arche figured there was no point in doing so.
"H-However, before you use me as a test doll, I have o-one request, if you're willing to listen…" Arche said, thinking about her sisters back in the Baharuth Empire. She didn't even know if the alchemist in front of her would listen, but the way Citrinitas presented himself made her try anyway.
"As long as such request is acceptable, I don't mind listening to what you have to say, Arche," Citrinitas replied. Arche took a deep breath to calm herself down before speaking.
"Y-You see… the reason why I became a worker… was to pay off the debts of my parents. Back when the Bloody Emperor rose to prominence, he stripped my family of their noble status due to their incompetency. Stuck in their delusions, they kept living their lavish style even though they didn't have the money for it."
'Oh… I know where this is going…' Citrinitas thought to himself while listening to Arche's story.
"They racked up so much debt that after a while, I decided that m-my time as a worker would end with my next job before I took my younger sisters with me and cut my parents off financially. T-This was why I came to this tomb… to help my innocent… s-sisters. I fear t-that… if I d-don't come and take them… my s-sisters would b-be… sold into slavery! So, please! I beg of you! Find it in your heart to save them! I'll do anything! J-Just save them!"
Arche couldn't help but burst into tears from not being able to control her emotions. Ugly and heavy sobs that could make anyone feel bad when heard came one after another. The girl did her best to wipe away the waterfall of tears that formed in her tear ducts but all that did was make her eyes irritated.
'If I do save them, I'd have to give a reason to Ainz and everyone else what my motives were. I can't just say I saved the twins of some thief just because she asked me to. But I can't let those children be sold into slavery, treated like Tuare and then killed. That's utterly sick. What to do… what to do…'
As Citrinitas was deep in thought, Arche somewhat got a hold of her emotions. While tears did flow out her eyes, they were much more minimal compared to before. She looked at Citrinitas, who still hadn't given an immediate response, which only made Arche more anxious and worried.
'Actually… I could just give Shalltear and Esdeath the twins to take care of. Not only does that save the twins from slavery, but those two women will learn a valuable lesson. Yeah… that's what I'll do.'
"Very well, Arche," To Arche, those words were like having a weight lifted off her body. "I'll take care of those twins of yours. I'll assure you they'll be safe. Seeing as it's night, I'll let you get some rest. After all, tomorrow is when my team starts experimentations on you…"
Next Chapter: Parenting 101 - ft. Ureirika & Kuuderika
Next Next Chapter: The Albedo Conspiracy
(A/N: I've been reading what has been translated of volume 15 on Reddit, and I must say that the Elf King is a fucking asshole. I'll make sure Citrinitas sends him to the Happy Farm, xD. I won't spoil anything here but read part 1 of chapter 2.
Anyways, what are your thoughts on the chapter? Love it? Hate it? Any room for improvements or have any suggestions? Please, let me know as your feedback is always appreciated!)