Mushoku Tensei Redundancy / Mushoku Tensei Redundancy Chapter 26 extra
To Ars Greyrat, Aisha is an special existence.
She has been by his side ever since he could remember, no matter where and when always watching over him.
Her existence is akin to a fourth mother.
His three mothers each taught Ars various things.
Sylphy taught knowledge and how to make friends.
Roxy taught wisdom and tricks for studying.
Eris taught sword skills and to protect those important to him.
Aisha also taught him many things.
But more than the mothers, she helped him understood things he couldn’t otherwise.
So she’s unlike the mothers.
So, perhaps her existence is more akin to an older sister?
Ars has two older sisters.
Lucy is the respectable sister.
Diligently follow the mothers’ teachings, attend class, always acting high and mighty, and lecturing Ars on studying and exercise.
Lara is the lazy sister.
Ignoring mothers’ lectures, skipping classes, but always treating Ars as an equal and a friend, or involving him with her various mischiefs. Quite a few times, Ars got in trouble after following her advices.
Aisha also, sometimes lecturing him, other times offering suggestions.
But more than the sisters, her lectures and advices helped him better understood himself.
Different from the self-improvement or fun provided by his older sisters.
So compared to Lucy and Lara, she’s also different.
Not a mother nor an sister, an existence he couldn’t quite grasp.
That is Aisha.
Anything he asked for, Aisha would always comply.
No matter how capricious the request, she would always say, what am I to do with you, but always made it happen.
Sometimes she would be strict with him, but never did she lecture Ars without cause.
Whenever Ars was upset, she would always gently hug him.
And suggested how he can do better next time.
No matter how upset Ars gotten, as long as his face was buried in Aisha’s ample bosoms, all his worries would simply fade away.
When he was still small, there was a time when he thought her annoying.
But Aisha was always right.
When feeling rebellious, and he done opposite of what Aisha said, it always ended in disaster.
But at the end, Aisha would arrive and say, “See, get it now?”
Ars could only grumble and nod.
When Ars turned ten, he thought he’ll always be protected by Aisha, living under her guidance.
Maybe he was brainwashed.
Aisha’s guidance robbed Ars of his critical thinking, since “everything will turn out alright, as long as he listen to Aisha” had long been planted in him.
But to Ars back then, he never thought that was a terrible thing.
When Ars had his tenth, family members each gave him a present.
Among them was a sword.
A real sword.
Eris the red mama told Ars, “use this to protect those important to you.”
In that moment, only Aisha’s face appeared in his mind.
And instinctively he turned towards Aisha.
As if she felt him, she looked back as well and their sights crossed. She smiled.
Don’t know why, but he felt embarrassed, and turned away.
Perhaps it was at that moment Ars realized his feelings for Aisha.
Of course, he didn’t speak it.
Because he was too embarrassed.
Or perhaps it was because Lara the older sister was still childish, or Clive of the same age had yet to act on his feelings towards Lucy.
He was too young for romance.
Perhaps that was what he thought.
Then one day, something happened that made him think otherwise.
It happened in the bath.
Greyrat House has a special rule of always using the bath in pairs.
Usually Ars would take his bath with Aisha.
But quite a few times that month, they didn’t.
Instead, it was with one of his three moms,or with one of his siblings.
But that day, it was a rare occasion to bath with his father.
Father was a distant existence to Ars.
Not only was he rarely home, he was also one that command respect from everybody.
Not just the mothers, but all the adults as well.
Like Dragon God Orsted, North God Alek the Third, also the school principal and vice-principal.
All the incredible people in Ars’ eyes were full of praise for Rudeus.
And also, no matter whatever Ars did wrong, his father never yelled at him.
Only smiled and said, “be more careful next time.”
Once, while loitering in father’s study, he accidentally tipped over a particular figurine, smashing it.
It was an important figure that father’s friend Zanoba gave him.
Of course, Ars thought he would get lectured.
And in truth, white mama admonished him, red mama spanked him, and blue mama lectured him sternly.
So of course father would have yelled as well.
With that thought, he apologized to father.
But father wasn’t upset.
“You’re very honest. That’s impressive. Next time, please be more careful.” With that said, he patted Ars on the head.
What a relief!
Lucy believed father’s attitude meant he had “no expectations for us.”
So close, yet so distant, father had already casted us aside, having zero expectations for useless children, she said.
When he heard that, Ars thought, why, of course. His heart sank.
Even though Lucy used winning father’s approval as motivation for working hard, Ars couldn’t do the same.
But even a father like him felt relaxed in the bath.
With head leaning against the edge of the bath, lying flat with his limbs spread, he said “Oh~, I’m healed.”
Rare seeing father like this.
Of course, at home he’s often laxed. But in Ars’ eyes, he remained so capable.
Ars studied his father’s behavior carefully that day.
Sensing the attention, perhaps feeling a little awkward, he sat back up and met Ars in the eyes, whom was sitting across the bath.
“Em, Ars, can you wash your hair on your own yet?”
“… Yes, sir. And rest of me too. Isn’t that expected?”
In front of father, he couldn’t help but speak politely.
“Ah, of course. You’re ten already. You sure grew up fast.”
Father said with a laugh.
“Sword skills is intermediate, but should reach advanced soon. Still beginner in magic, but I’m capable in chantless magic.”
“I see. Exercise and studies are important, but don’t overdo it. It’ll all be pointless if you wreck your body in the process.”
Hearing him, Ars couldn’t help but think.
Father really held no expectations for us.
When father was his age, he already was Saint Level in Water Magic, and intermediate in Swords.
We’re lagging way behind in comparison.
That thought made Ars depressed.
“So, em. You’re ten now.”
“Yeah, I am?”
“It’s that pestering Ariel. Few days ago, I was visiting Asura Kingdom, and Ariel-sama mentioned a marriage proposal of her daughter and you.”
“Yeah. For nobles of Asura Kingdom, around ten is usually when that topic crops up.”
Father stared straight at Ars, murmuring “Em” and nodded.
“Those conversations will definitely happen more frequently now.”
“It’s a good thing you took after Eris. You’ll definitely have many suitors.”
When he heard that, he thought reflectively.
“But Ars, I must warn you. Don’t fool around with girls just because you’re popular. If in the process, you made them cry, papa will get mad at you.”
He can’t imagine father angry.
But at that point Ars realized.
The idea of Marriage was never that far away from him.
So whom he would rather have that kind of relationship with…
In that moment, as naturally as it may, Aisha’s face floated in his mind.
Less than a year later, he confessed to Aisha.
Of course, during that moment, he didn’t understand.
Always under Aisha’s protection, Ars couldn’t understand.
The Ars who thought “everything will turn out alright, as long as he listen to Aisha” wouldn’t understand what Eris meant by “protect those important to him.”
What he didn’t understand was, it was he who was suppose to be protecting Aisha.
He must protect Aisha.
The first time that dawned on him was the family meeting, when Eris got angry.
Until then, to Ars, Aisha was a perfect existence.
Capable of accomplishing everything to perfection.
Failures were rare, but even then she could manage a complete recovery.
An existence that didn’t need his help, didn’t need his protection.
That was the Aisha in his heart.
But in that family meeting, Aisha fell into a predicament.
Yet he didn’t understand.
And he still didn’t, not until Eris pummeled him and yelled, “Even though I taught you to protect” before it finally dawned on him.
How cornered was Aisha.
Only then he realized.
Aisha was human.
Even though she’s wise beyond words, but she’s not perfect, and sometimes she makes mistakes.
No matter how few and far between.
Certainly far less than Ars.
But she still makes mistakes.
Then he understood what it meant to protect Aisha.
When Aisha gets cornered, stand before her, and give his all to keep danger at bay.
Let his body be her shield, even exchange his life for hers if necessary.
That’s what it meant to protect Aisha.
Just like Aisha has always done for Ars.
Ars finally understood.
Until now, he was always the one being protect.
Thus he decided.
From then on, he’ll always protect Aisha.
It was that moment when he woke up from his brainwashing.
Yet Ars was but a child.
Lacking in both wisdom and experience.
If only Ars was smarter, or a few years older.
After the family meeting, when Aisha said to him, “Let’s go and live our own lives, let’s elope!” then he may have resisted.
Aisha-nee, allow me protect you this time around. I will definitely explain myself properly, so let’s give talking with father another try.
Or perhaps, until I become an adult, please wait for me. I’ll definitely marry you then.
Something like that.
But Ars, at that moment, only remembered three lessons.
One was what Eris taught him,
“Protect those important to you.”
And what Aisha taught him,
“If you want to do something, just do it. When in trouble, jump into the action.”
And finally the ending of an old fairy tale.
“Separate those mutually in love would only end in disaster.”
From these three lessons, Ars concluded:
(If it’s what Aisha wants, let her. When Aisha makes a mistake and fallen on hard times, then it’s my turn to help and protect her.)
As expected of Eris’ child, she would have reach the same conclusion.
In any case, he nod in agreement with the idea to elope.
After that, following Aisha’s instructions, he nervously absconded with her.
With Aisha following close behind, his sword was always readied.
When they encountered magical beasts or robbers on the road, he took the initiative and fought.
Without realizing it, his legs no longer tremored.
The sword skills he was trained in since birth ended up useful against magical beasts and robbers alike.
In the morning, he did the work Aisha found for him.
Even though Ars was still young, he was capable in both magic and sword play, so there’re plenty of jobs to be had.
Tapping into everything he know to do the job.
Aisha purposely looked for those type of work for him.
Ars also trained his sword and magic skills during work.
Exercise, practice swings, and chantless magic during break time.
Repetition, practice, and the real deal, the most effective way for Ars to gain experience.
Perhaps Aisha thought of that too.
They also had wild nights together.
It was only natural, since they both wanted so.
Days lacking mothers and father certainly made him anxious.
But he doesn’t regret it.
Rather, he felt fulfillment for doing what he wanted.
And anyways, Aisha’s always smiling.
Then one day, even that last bit of anxiety dissipated.
It was half year since they eloped. On one particular day, he no longer felt anxious.
In its stead, he gained resolution.
But Aisha’s smiles were replaced by anxiety and unease in turn.
When Onii-chan finds them, what he would do, it was probably that.
Ars must have come to an realization.
That he must do the protecting.
Not that he was particularly confident.
After half a year, although he gained quite a bit of confidence, he wasn’t particularly strong.
Not against father, red mama, white mama, or even blue mama did he have a shot of winning.
Despite that, when father and mothers come to separate us, or try to harm Aisha, he’ll fight.
He won’t let them touch Aisha.
Even if it kills him, he’ll protect Aisha.
Naturally it came to that.
Because that was what father had done, and what red mama taught him to do.
Those confusing lessons finally made sense to him.
Ars made up his mind. Then, the moment came.
—Rudeus’ Point of View—-
Aisha and Ars were sighted in Milis Continent.
At a remote corner of Holy Kingdom of Milis, in a small village by some river.
Aisha and Ars apparently live in a cottage there.
The eyewitness account came from Roxy.
Or more specifically, from an adventurer.
An adventurer working in Milis, by request visited this village, and discovered Aisha and Ars.
Because of the request made to the adventurer’s guild, for finding Aisha and Ars, that intel was turned over to Rude Mercenary Company.
When Rude Mercenary Company received the intel, it was duly suppressed as prearranged by Aisha.
But it didn’t end there.
Even though I prevent Roxy from joining the search.
In secret, she nevertheless used the Teleportation Circles to collect intel from all over world.
But Roxy had an old acquaintance working at the Milis Adventurer’s Guild.
That was how Roxy learned of their whereabouts, and the fact that the Mercenaries suppressed that intel.
Roxy hurried to the village as soon as she learned of it.
And spotted from afar Aisha and Ars.
She avoided contact and hurried back home to deliver the news (I was worried sick since Roxy had disappeared for days)…
That’s what happened.
After that I reached the village.
Bringing Sylphy and Roxy with me, and Eris as well.
Lilia wanted to come, but I decided to leave her home.
Let me talk to Aisha first.
A peaceful village, lacking in every amenities.
I heard it’s a village built by the forester guild.
Located at the midpoint for lumber transport route, between the lumbers upriver and the merchants in the city, an industry-based village.
Husbandry and farming are only kept for subsistence.
Since it’s by a forest, damages by magic beast are frequent occurrences, so requests to the adventurer’s guild are made regularly.
And because the village would naturally disappear once the lumber supply upstream become exhausted, it was never given a name.
So it was never recorded on maps.
Outside of the locals, most people would never knew this village ever existed.
The two of them lived in a corner of that village.
A remote cottage, probably built by hand.
By their home is a small farm plot and chicken coup.
And a little garden.
I stood before the house.
Wanting to rush right in to talk with Aisha.
But I didn’t.
Because a small body was standing guard.
Wielding a real sword, staring daggers at me.
Killing intent shone in his eyes.
Never had I received that from my own blood.
For a moment, I thought of running home and cry.
Of course, I didn’t…
Been a while, Ars, look how much you have grown.
Or is it just the outfit?
Equipped with adventurer-style leather jacket and sword, he look buff overall.
And there’s a ferocity about him that he never had at home.
I guess we should talk.
“Ars… Do you think this is appropriate?”
“Your relationship with Aisha, running away, and this right here… you don’t regret any of it?”
“Yes. I’m aware.”
Ars nodded resolutely.
Without a bit of hesitation.
Tougher than my imagination.
He hadn’t been merely clinging tightly onto Aisha without thoughts.
That kind of feeling.
“I do wish you could have shown the same attitude that day.”
“Yes. I should have.”
“If you did, I would have listened to what you had to say.”
“That day, I wouldn’t know what to say.”
He immediately replied.
So what changed over the past year?
“You plan to spend the rest of your life with Aisha?”
“That’s the plan. I love Aisha. Always causing her trouble, always needing her help and guidance. Of course, I’m grateful to father and the mothers, but I think I owe Aisha even more. If Aisha says she wish to spend the rest of our lives together, I’ll certainly will spend the rest of my life protecting her.”
A lifetime wholly revolving around Aisha, a little worrying…
But, this attitude, and these words, if he had said it on that day, things would end up differently, probably.
Well, my refusal was of a different reason, so maybe they would eloped anyways…
But at least Eris probably won’t had to beat Ars up.
No, maybe it was the experience from this past year, that helped him realized the capacity for those words.
Maybe it was for the best that he struggled with Aisha in an harsh environment like this.
Yet he’s still so young.
It felt like he’s putting into words before learning of the ways of the world.
Like a little kid confounded by reality, so instead threw a tantrum, because he overestimated his abilities.
“You think you can do that?”
“I don’t see it.”
Speaking earnestly, Eris frown and looked at me.
“I’m different from a year ago.”
He said, stubbornly standing over his doorstep, refusing to let us pass, refusing to let us take Aisha away.
Well, now that?
First, I should test whether he’s really capable of what he says.
“… Then let me test whether you’re lying or not.”
Eris said what I was thinking, then stepped up before me.
Looked like she’s not here to talk it out.
I nodded. She unsheathed the sword by her waist and pointed it at Ars.
The killing intent emanating from her was the real deal.
I can see Ars’ face turning pale in an instant.
Not just his face. His legs, his entire body are quivering.
Yet despite so pale and spooked, he did not run.
“You can protect her?”
Eris only asked.
“I’ll protect Aisha-nee.”
Ars immediately answered.
Eris made her move in the next instance.
With terrifying speed she striked at Ars.
A speed and timing beyond my reaction time.
YetArs reacted in time.
He deflected Eris’ blade, but fell to the ground in doing so.
Even though he fell, Ars striked back at Eris’ legs.
Blood spattered from Eris’ foot.
But that alone won’t stop Eris.
Stepping off her damaged foot, she striked down at Ars, still lying on the ground and unbalance.
From below Eris, the sound of meat being cleaved can be heard.
Not the clang off the back edge.
Blood sprayed. The soil around Eris’ feet colored red.
Some even spattered onto my face.
An unforgiving sound, an unforgiving sight.
I’m going to lose Ars for good.
That thought made me tremble in silence.
But my worst fear did not pass.
Because in the next moment a shadow leaped between Eris’ legs.
Even with blood gushing out off his shoulders, he beared his teeth at Eris, showing unyielding fighting spirit.
Once again, Eris attacked.
Completely ignoring the bleeding from her foot.
Ars also charged.
The wound on his shoulder was deep, staining his his cloth red, but he did not complain of the pain.
Eris’ strike was stronger, faster.
Every time Ars deflected a strike, it seemingly shook his entire body and caused him to stagger.
At times he was send flying, rolling, slightly injured, then kicked, or beat with the hilt. Soon enough he’s covered with bruises.
But he refused to yield.
Keeping a distance, he would forced himself back up, took his stance, then charged at Eris again.
Over and over again.
With such overwhelming power before him, Ars was covered in bruises.
Except for the initial strike at Eris’ foot, none of his remaining attacks ever connected.
Ars’ utterly outmatched.
Yet Ars wasn’t beaten.
Eris was no naive swordswoman.
Not taking Ars down, was it because he’s her own son?
Holding back to avoid killing him?
Perhaps a little of both.
But more than that.
Not a spot on Ars that was not cover in injury.
He should have realized now, that Eris cannot be beaten.
But Ars refused to yield.
Refused to admit defeat.
There’s no other choice.
The sound of metal clashing, and Ars’ sword flew off his hand.
The sword flung across the sky and landed by my feet.
It surprised me.
Not just the sword, Ars’ hand was still attached.
That hand, severed from his body, still clenched the sword tightly.
In that moment I wished to put a stop to this battle.
But even from afar, one can tell Ars would refuse to yield.
Even without a hand, he still crouched low, posing to fight with Eris once more.
Seeing this, Eris tosses away her sword.
And strikes at Ars with bare fists.
Ars rushed at Eris, shouting.
With no other option, he could only rush with all his strength.
In contrast, Eris looked calm.
A strike at the head and he fell to the ground. She jumped on top.
With her kneecaps to pressed down his hands, straddling him.
The next scene was one I was long familiar with.
“ORA ORA ORA ORA!”
With no ability to resist, Ars did nothing but take the beating. Refusing to yield, only screaming.
Eris continued the beating.
Raining down punches.
Beating him like a drum.
But eventually even those strikes began to lose their strength.
She must have grew weary as well.
Wildly mauling her own son.
Suddenly Eris’ face exploded, flinging her back.
Eris juked and stood back up. Her hair burnt. Her face charred.
Ars stood up too.
Face swollen, missing a hand, his legs wobbly, yet he stood.
He picked up Eris’ sword lying by him and attempted to pose, but with his strength leaving him, the sword fell to the ground.
So he dragged the sword, falling and kneeling on several occasions, but always dragging his body back up.
But not towards Eris.
Where he headed, was home.
He moved to the doorstep. On his knees, he desperately tried to lift up the sword. But without any remaining strength, the sword only pointed the ground.
No longer in any condition to fight.
But the eyes under his hair still beamed, beaming at Eris and I.
Those words I wanted to say, but I swallowed them back down.
Eris said she’ll handle this.
So she’ll handle this.
I was to witness it till the end.
“What do you mean by this?”
Eris relaxed from her stance, crossed her arms and peered down.
Fill with remorse, Ars lifted his head at Eris and said.
“Even if it kills me… I won’t let you pass..!”
“Really… As expected of Rudeus’ son.”
Suddenly, Eris raised her head and yelled.
“But that isn’t protecting with everything you got!”
“… I know.”
“Right now you, even if you have the desire, is incapable of protecting her!”
“… I know!”
Eris was unsatisfied.
But that face couldn’t fool me.
Her face frowned, arms crossed, standing upright.
But she’s certainly troubled.
Unable to properly convey what she wished to say, didn’t know what she should say.
While I tried to make up my mind, Roxy stepped up.
She walked towards Ars, until she reached his line of sight, and said.
“You’re saying that you’re willing to give up your life to protect Aisha?”
“Yeah… That’s right!”
“Challenge an opponent you have no hope of defeating, then die. Did you ever consider the feelings of Aisha you left behind?”
“…. But what can I do?”
“Rudeus would have begged.”
What she said so bluntly caused me to freeze up.
“He once challenged the Dragon God, Orsted-sama, losing both his magic armor and cannon in the process. On the edge of defeat, he begged for protection of his family on his hands and knees. That’s what he done before Orsted-sama.”
“… T-that’s a lie. That’s impossible? Father and Orsted-sama were always so close.”
“It wasn’t always that way.”
Ars looked toward me.
Looking back, I nodded.
It’s kind of embarrassing that my son knew of my past begging.
But that did indeed happened.
“And what would you do? Just go ahead and die in battle against Eris? And after your death? You’re just going to ignore what happens to Aisha thereafter?”
She may been lecturing, but there’s a kindness in her voice.
Ars looked at Roxy, at me, then Eris…
The sword fell off Ars’ hand.
It fell on his thighs, then once more on the ground, clattering.
And in that moment tears flooded out of Ars’ eyes, pouring.
Are those tears for recognizing how powerless he was?
Or something else?
And finally, Ars collapsed.
His body leaned forward, and Roxy caught him.
Fallen unconscious from exhaustion, probably.
Blood pooling around his feet.
Seeing my own son collapsed, atop a pool of his own blood, face swollen, yet nary a worry in my mind.
Rather, I want to praise him.
Indeed, Ars is immature.
And still weak.
His critical thinking remains naive.
Even if a battle to the death is not a particularly outlandish idea.
Indeed, he has grown up quite a bit in the past year, but he still has much to learn.
On the other hand, there’re only a handful of people who can best Eris in battle.
Without his dominant hand, and after a straddled beating by Eris, fewer would have the will to continue to fight.
How far Ars was willing to go, I can appreciate that.
The resolution Ars held, was the same I had, when I challenged Orsted.
Until the end, even to death, to protect Aisha.
Perhaps his choices and actions were misguided.
But his heart was in the right place, like I was.
Certain emotions gush from within me on that thought.
This moment, I want to go hug and praise Ars.
Praise him for good fight.
Such an odd feeling.
Shouldn’t I be scolding him right now, for eloping, for causing so much trouble for the family…
But Ars is no longer a child.
He might not yet stand on his two feets, but he has matured.
How happy that thought made me.
I guess I’m a little naive too.
“… Sylphy, can I leave this to you?”
“You don’t have anything to say to Ars?”
Ars, that’s enough.
I heard your thoughts.
I saw your resolution.
Your strength and determination were for all to see.
And Roxy had already said what I wanted to say.
I have no objections.
Even though I may have found Aisha’s and Ars’ relationship instinctively repulsive, I couldn’t blame Ars for that.
There’re many things I need to discuss with him, but that can wait.
The reason I came, wasn’t just to evaluate Ars’ growth.
It was also to talk with Aisha.
“First I need to speak with Aisha. Just the two of us.”
“… Yes. I understand. Leave it to me.”
Sylphy took from me a King Ranked Healing Scroll, retrieved Ars’ severed hand, and headed toward the others.
I looked at Eris, and she turned back.
Hurry and go, her eyes read, tipping her head toward the house.
Roxy also looked at me and nod.
After nodding back, I turned toward the house and went.