5 「Carne Village」
For the first time he was going to leave the safety of the Citadel, for the first time, he was entering himself a new world. An immersive new world.
As the group of five made their way out the front doors of the fortress known as the Blue Citadel, they all looked around from the top of the elevated steps outside the gates.
He took in the flatlands, the mountains nearby and the massive amounts of forest. According to the map he had seen, they were north from E-Rantel in what could only be described as a delta between the arms of forest.
There was one path, one direction to go, to escape having to go through the forested wilderness. That was to go south west. There would be a village though that they'd be passing through, Carne Village.
It wasn't the greatest of places to live, considering its proximity to the border with the rival country of known as the Baharuth Empire. He could only imagine how often villages along the border would get raided by rogue parties.
Plus the proximity to the forest meant that they'd also be attacked by monsters often. That wasn't something he really wanted.
Before they left the top of the steps, Sir Gallifrey emerged from behind them, stepping out of the gate and beside Cipher. He wore a large pack on his back with sleeping gear, pots and pans. He looked like he was preparing to set up camp in the wilderness.
"It should take us less than a day to get there Galli, there's no reason to take so much stuff." Cipher snickered looking over the stuff.
Peter held back a chuckle, he wasn't happy that Cipher was coming with them, but it was happening anyway whether they liked it or not.
Dyne was looking forward to the walk though, having been kept inside all this time, he wanted to be around some nature. He was a druid after all and being around nature was well, part of his nature.
Lukrut was stretching a bit, enjoying the morning sun on his face.
The group began to descend the long stairs down to the ground.
"So what kind of monsters are we expecting to run into on the way back?" Cipher asked curiously, his eyes watching the grass move like the ocean as gentle gusts of wind passed through the plains.
"Goblins, Ogres. The usual," Lukrut laughed it off a bit, his arms folded behind his head casually.
"I... see," Cipher eyed the back of his head for a moment before looking to Ninya, her staff bouncing off each step before her foot.
"My Lord, I have surveyed a few villages along the border. Some of them seemed to have been attacked, others are being scouted. It gives the impression a war going to begin soon."
"I see..." He said as he looked over towards the Knight, then over towards the Swords of Darkness.
Peter was interested to hear this. If there was a war, not only did it sometimes mean dangerous times, but it also meant that the Nation may try to hire adventurers as they're typically more powerful that the average soldier.
"If there is a war, which side would you choose?"
After a brief moment of thought, he shrugged. "Depends on the side which not only has the most to offer, but also can be considered the most trustworthy. Considering how medieval this relam is..."
"What I'm saying is that the Nobles and Royals will be hard to trust. If nobles are in strife with their masters, then the Kingdom has little to offer, as their word will be hardly legitimate in a corrupted setting... Like a Noble being able to abduct a common villager without punishment. A warmonger who thrives in chaos. If my presence steps on another's foot, and the King cannot control his people, then all is for not."
With this mouthful of words, he wasn't wrong. Even though they all were pretty much from common upbringing it was clear politics ruined all good things. The corrupt, the decent, the way the world worked... He'd be at war with everyone.
"Kind of reminds me of the Eight Kings of Greed." Ninya muttered, as it was a large part of history pertaining to the continent and the current state of affairs.
"Eight Kings of Greed?" Cipher asked curiously, it was clear he was no from around here and this tid bit of information hadn't been shared.
"Eight powerful beings united the continent, conquered the known world." Ninya was in story teller mode, "It's a simple tale really, a tragedy. After uniting the world, they fell to infighting and no there's just a shadow of a city left. I didn't delve all that much into it though."
"Interesting..." Cipher rubbed his lower lip with the knuckle of his right index finger.
By now after walking for about fifteen minutes, they made it to the bottom of the stairs and sat down at the base of the citadel.
"Why is it so high up?" Dyne sarcastically complained as he rested slightly for a few.
They weren't necessarily tired, but they weren't comfortable either.
Cipher however just remained standing, watching over them. They had just gotten done taking their short vacation, though longer than they truly had time for. It just felt a little off moving so much at a time.
"Do you guys need a little pick me up?" He'd ask inquisitively, a grin across his lips.
"Pick me up...?" Ninya looked up at him as she slowly got back to her feet, dusting grass off her shins.
"「Greater Revitalize Zone」" Was the only thing he said, causing a red circle to appear around them. Suddenly they were filled with rejuvenating energies. The wearing of their feet from walking down all those steps seemed to suddenly vanish.
"Whoa!" The group exclaimed as the rest stood up, inspecting themselves.
After a few seconds the zone dispersed, leaving them feeling even greater than before they started their descent from the Fortress that now dominated their view to the North.
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Sometime had passed since they had left the citadel behind.
Whenever someone went to moisten their lips, Sir Gallifrey was there to offer them a pitcher of cold water. Something none of the adventurers were used to.
"Wow thanks," Ninya said with a smile, looking up at the salt and pepper haired man.
"All is as my Lord wills." The Knight responded with a grin, taking pride in his service to his supreme creator. While the kingdoms all had their gods, the Guardians only had the one and he was alive.
"Hah... Of course it is," Ninya laughed a little.
Lukrut just stared at the Knight who seemed to be overly infatuated with his Lord. Was this what it was like to be doted upon? The Knight seemed to not take in the negative aspects of Cipher's actions or how he acts amongst other things.
Peter also seemed to notice this, but with all of the Guardians. For the several days of the vacation they had been granted by the stranger. It was clear none of the Guardians had a negative opinion, if anything, they held him in the highest regard. Even the lesser NPCs felt the same as the Guardians. They treated him as if he was an almighty being.
He could hardly understand this.
Ninya though, she had been distracted the entire time with those lessons. The pain and the thoughts of reuniting with her sister. As much as she wanted to save her sister, the idea made her nervous and anxious. What would she say? How should she act? What if her sister blamed her for being taken?!
Her eyes fluttered over to Cipher for a moment or two.
Her gaze hadn't gone unnoticed.
She had this strange feeling that every time she felt his gaze on her, there was this sensation of great loss. At the same time, whenever she saw him look at the Guardians around him, there was a strange aura of relief.
It was like he felt alone, but is relieved that he isn't truly so.
Was the real reason he was helping her out of sympathy? Or was it relation? Could it really be that he is doing this just as a way or repaying her for the information he could have gotten anywhere else?
In a way his actions confused them all still. Inviting them in, keeping them for a few days in the castle, asking to join them as adventurers and even traveling amongst them.
He was so much stronger than them. If he wanted to remain a secret, he could have just slaughtered them all, but at the same time it wouldn't save him from being revealed.
Another team would have been sent, a stronger team. Then a stronger one, and a stronger one, but in the mind of Ninya's... It was going to be really hard for even a top teir adventurer to take him on. Especially with that magical sword sheathed in its scabbard at his hip.
The weapon had been hardly noticeable until now, as if it had been concealed from view. The sword itself had glyphs engraved into it, glyphs she had never seen before. It even gave a slight glow to anyone who laid their eyes on it.
Most of the walking was quiet. They kept to themselves for the most part, following a dirt path they happened upon. As they were reaching the out laying lands of Carne Village, the first thing they noticed was the smoke in the air.
"You weren't kidding..." Peter placed a hand on the side of his head, his eyes on the figures in the distance that resembled Knights. It was a slaughter.
The group all looked to Cipher and Sir Gallifrey.
The small group was severely out numbered, even if they moved in it was likely they'd be overwhelmed. That was clear, just knowing their own strengths and weaknesses.
"We're already in their sights," Cipher muttered as he glanced over his shoulder towards a group of Knights revealing themselves from their hiding place.
Turning and pointing his finger at the incoming Knights, he wore a very annoyed expression. He sensed deception in the items they were wearing. The reason why, he had no idea. It had to be something to do with his somewhat passive divination as an Arch Lich. He could sense things like that.
Just as the team moved into formation, a semi-circle, a series of loud sounds erupted from the tip of his finger.
Cipher was casting this spell over and over again. Super compressed bullets of magic energy were leaving his finger, ripping large chunks out of the people dressed as Knights from the rival Kingdom.
They hardly had a chance. There were just screaming. One of the bullets hit the ground at a Knights foot and he was sent several feet into the air only to land on his head. He stuck out of the ground like an arrow with his legs lifelessly dangling onto the ground.
That's when a familiar voice would reach the back of his mind.
"Cipher, I see you at the edge of the village."
Turning to look towards Carne Village, he raised a brow seeing a Death Knight charging through a handful of spineless fools. They were being torn apart like nothing, just pieces of paper.
He then glanced a little over the village and narrowed his view on what looked to be a singular pair of figures. A female form and a masculine one. A rather wide masculine form considering all the robes and lavish décor involved in his attire.
That was Momonga.
"Good to see you," Cipher used telepathy to respond to him, "But isn't that a bit overkill?"
"I thought it would defend me... Instead it rushed off on its own after I gave it the order to kill the Knights."
"...And what exactly were you expecting it to do after giving the order?"
"Point Taken. Also, it seems that creating and summoning an undead uses nearby corpses."
"Sounds logical, its like an update to the game."
"This is hardly an update."
"Yeah, I figured as much."
As the Knights around the adventurer party had been displaced, they made their way towards the village. The idea was to get over there and help the villagers escape the undead, but quickly as the Knights were retreating, the Death Knight didn't seem at all interested in the villagers.
The moment they arrived however, the group paused, watching a masked man who had long sinse landed with Albedo at his side, having introduced himself as Ainz Ooal Gown.
"What's with that mask? It's a bit... Creepy." Cipher commented without reserve, one hand on his chin and a brow raised as if he was observing a piece of abstract art and trying to make sense of it.
Momonga, now known as Ainz in his primary form, laughed at Cipher's exclamation.
"Ainz-sama! There are armored troops heading in this direction!"
Both Cipher and Momonga looked in the direction of Re-Estize soldiers coming towards the Village. They were clearly not the same group which attacked the village.
Looking through and eye glass, Peter nodded to himself. "It's the Kingdom's Head Warrior!"
"Head Warrior?" Cipher asked as he looked over at Peter again. It was something else which was left out from the information shared with him. So the King had a Champion? Interesting.
The Overlord nodded, "Village Elder. Have everyone move around your residence. You and I will greet them." The Elder acknowledged the order and had the village inhabitants move to the safe location as the hooves of the mighty steads came rushing towards the village.
It wasn't long before the Head Warrior appeared, wearing armor and sporting dark brown hair, styled facial hair and olive toned skin. He was hardly babyfaced, he looked like a veteran warrior. Especially with the almost impressive jawline of his.
However using his「Greater Identification」Cipher was subtly disappointed to find that this man was no match for him. Let alone Ainz. He may be stronger than all those normal people of this world in the area at the moment, but he was entirely outmatched by every single NPC and Player present even during a one on one.