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Mushoku Tensei (LN) - Volume 16 - Chapter 10




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The Black Wolf Sword King

GHISLAINE DEDOLDIA’S mornings began before the sun came up. She would change into the day’s clothes, chug a glass of water, do some basic stretches, then leave the inn where she was staying. She’d spend the next hour walking around the city.

It was quiet in the early mornings, but that didn’t mean no one was up and about. People clustered behind large company buildings, in front of the Adventurers’ Guild, and at the city’s entrance, where they sleepily bustled about.

Ghislaine approached the city entrance as a team of adventurers were returning from a mission. They were a large group numbering over twenty, most likely a famous clan. Behind them, a brawny horse pulled a large wagon housing an enormous bovine creature. This beast was a likely sudden mutation that appeared on the outskirts of the city, and this famous clan had accepted the quest to take care of it. Their faces were heavy with exhaustion, which suggested the mission had taken them days to complete. 

Ghislaine watched them for a while, then finally lost interest and turned to leave. After her walk, she returned to the inn, where she practiced with her sword in the courtyard. It was a simple exercise; all she did was swing her weapon over and over. 

She had done the same monotonous routine daily without fail for over a decade. Sword God Gal Falion had ordered her to do this ages ago. She did it while she was at Sword Sanctum. She did it when she became an adventurer. She did it even after Eris and Sauros took her in and she became a bodyguard and instructor in swordplay. She did it when she was teleported to the Conflict Zone during the Displacement Incident, as well as when she made it to the refugee camp in the Fittoa Region where she helped Alphonse out. She continued doing it even after she reunited with Eris and returned to the Sword Sanctum. Even now, as Ariel’s bodyguard, she never skipped a session.

This training gave her a sense of her physical condition and mental state each day. Lately, her mind had been at peace. She’d had two objectives to fulfill: protect Eris and avenge Sauros. Now, one of them was complete. She had safely delivered Eris back to Rudeus. That mission was over. Only one thing was left. Just one.

Ghislaine liked that. Having one goal was straightforward, it was easy to understand, and she didn’t have to strain herself over it. Even better, her path was already laid out before her. Rudeus had introduced her to Ariel, who understood what Ghislaine wanted to accomplish, and she had promised to let Ghislaine do just that.

Finally, everything was simple. All she had to do when the time came was charge forth and cut her enemy down. This simplicity was why she felt so relaxed lately.

That night, Ghislaine visited one of the Sharia’s many pubs. Clamor filled the air, yet it was conspicuously quiet in her immediate vicinity. Despite being past her prime, Ghislaine was still a beauty—a beast woman with tanned skin and impressive musculature. And yet, no one tried to approach her. The dangerous aura she exuded reminded the people of the Berserker Sword King, who was the subject of endless rumors.

The Berserker Sword King—a person who swung their fists indiscriminately and cut people down. A person who lacked all reason and never thought twice before unleashing their fury. Just meeting their gaze could provoke them into a fight, and they were an amazing swordfighter on top of all of that. The mystery surrounding them only stoked more fear, which was why everyone gave Ghislaine a wide berth.

In truth, though Ghislaine was the teacher of this rumored Berserker Sword King, she was not the woman herself. She sat in a seat by the counter, keeping to herself, quieter than any of the other customers as she nursed her drink. That made her even more intimidating, adding weight to the rumors. Of course, Ghislaine wasn’t intentionally trying to be menacing; she was only waiting for her food to come.

Ghislaine knew that this place had procured the meat of the beast those adventurers brought in this morning, which meant they would be serving up thick slices of juicy steak. That was why her gaze was glued to the kitchen, from which the scent of sizzling meat wafted out to tease her. She waited eagerly, salivating at the thought.

The door suddenly swung open and a chime sounded to announce the arrival of a new guest. An elf with gorgeous hair, a beautiful face, and generous breasts strolled in. Her stomach, however, was so swollen, it looked bizarre on her otherwise slender figure—a clear sign she was pregnant.

As soon as other people in the pub spotted her, their faces lit up and they eagerly called out to her.

“Hey, it’s been a while! Not looking for any male partners anymore?”

“Come to think of it, you got hitched, didn’tcha? Come grab a seat, let’s knock back some drinks together!”

The elf woman masterfully rebuffed their invitations, instead heading deeper into the pub, straight for the innermost seat along the counter. There, she took up a spot beside the one person everyone else had been avoiding like the plague. They all watched her and gulped nervously.

“Heya, Ghislaine. Sorry to keep you waiting,” Elinalise said in a singsong voice as she turned to the beastwoman.

“You’re late,” Ghislaine grunted.

“Well, I can’t help that. After all, I’m preg—”

“Wait!” Ghislaine’s sharp voice rang out, cutting Elinalise off mid-sentence. Shocked, Elinalise froze.

The proprietor appeared from the kitchen, carrying an enormous wooden plate. He headed straight over to them and slammed the meal down in front of Ghislaine.

“Is this what you wanted?”

There was an iron plate over the wood, on top of which sat a sizzling steak with steam rising off it. It came with a side of grilled potatoes and assorted vegetables that only further taunted her growling belly.

“Yep.” Ghislaine nodded, too preoccupied staring at the meat to spare the man a single glance. 

“Then take your time and enjoy the meal.”

“Oh, I’d like some water and snacks myself,” Elinalise said, calling after him.

“Sure thing,” the proprietor hollered over his shoulder.

Elinalise sank into her seat. “Ah, I’m completely exhausted. I’ve been through pregnancy countless times before, but it never gets any easier.”

“Uh-huh.”

“But I wonder why it is… I haven’t grown to dislike it after going through it so many times.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Speaking of which, your mating season should be soon, right? Isn’t it about time you found yourself a partner? If you’d like, I’d be happy to pair you up with someone.”

“Uh-huh.”

Ghislaine never so much as glanced at Elinalise. She simply waited with her knife and fork in hand, staring at the slab of steaming meat. Drool dripped down her chin.

“There is no need to wait on my account. Go ahead and eat,” said Elinalise.

“You sure?”

“Of course. It won’t be any good if it gets cold.”

“Meat is always good, even cold.” Even as she said that, Ghislaine began devouring the thick steak. It was a little rare, but it was still cooked through, which was the perfect way to prepare a fresh piece of meat like this.

Ghislaine sawed through it, stabbed into a chunk and tucked it in her mouth. It was slathered in tangy sauce which eliminated the gaminess, giving it a savory smell and flavor. It was rare enough to be a little tender, but that was just right for Ghislaine. She tore into it, letting its natural juices fill her mouth.

This was heaven.

Ghislaine continued cutting her meat and devouring it, letting her cheeks fill with juice as she chewed. Once she swallowed, she was back to cutting another bite. She was silent the whole time, completely ignoring Elinalise’s presence. Elinalise didn’t mind, resting her cheek against her hand and watching. “Is it good?” 

“In that case, I was right to pick this place.”

Elinalise was the one who’d clued Ghislaine in about the steaks here. Since they had the fortune of reuniting after such a long time, Elinalise decided to invite Ghislaine out for dinner for a chat. Naturally, she picked the exact type of pub that Ghislaine loved.

“Here ya go,” announced the proprietor as he arrived with Elinalise’s order.

Ghislaine had already inhaled half of her steak by that point. “How unusual for you,” she commented. “Not going to drink?” Now that her stomach was no longer completely empty, she noticed that Elinalise had only ordered water.

“Yes, alcohol would be the better fit for our happy reunion and the depressing conversation we’re about to have, but alas, I can’t partake,” Elinalise said, lightly tapping her swollen stomach.

“Okay then.” Ghislaine didn’t bother trying to pressure her.

“Recently, I actually tried to have some alcohol myself, but Sylphie stopped me. Treated me like a child, telling me it was a ‘no-no.’” Elinalise wore a vacant expression as she caressed her stomach.

Ghislaine frowned. “Heard you got married, but I never figured you’d be this devoted to one guy.”

“It’s a surprise for me too, but Cliff is a wonderful man. Sure, he’s not very flexible and doesn’t listen, but he’s self-confident and has a strong sense of responsibility. When we have sex, he goes all out. He doesn’t simply focus on his own pleasure, he tries his best to make sure I feel good as well. It’s so utterly adorable… Oh, Ghislaine, you should try to find someone for yourself soon too!”

“I’ll pass.” Ghislaine brushed off the romance talk without a second thought. She had already given up on living as a woman, choosing instead to focus on leading her life as a swordfighter.

“Well, I won’t force you. More importantly…” 

Elinalise paused, lifting her glass and raising it toward Ghislaine. Ghislaine put her knife down and took up her flagon.

“To a fond reunion between friends,” said Elinalise.

“Yeah. Cheers.”

They clinked their cups, a pleasantly resonant sound. The two former members of the Black Wolf Fangs had finally come together again.

“It would have been better if Talhand and Geese were here to join us,” Elinalise murmured.

“…Paul and Zenith, too.”

In an instant, what was supposed to be a joyous meeting turned gloomy. But that was exactly why Elinalise had come here—to have that conversation.

“About Paul…it’s a shame what happened. In a better world, I would have been the first one to go, not him.”

“He lived fast and reckless,” said Ghislaine. “I figured he’d meet his end sooner rather than later.”

“Yeah, I seem to remember you saying something like that a long time ago.”

Ghislaine shook her head. “You’re the one who said it.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yep. But the fact that he’s gone isn’t that surprising to me.”

“Paul went out with a bang though,” said Elinalise. “Care to hear the story?”

“Yeah, tell me.”

Elinalise recounted the story as Ghislaine requested. She started by explaining how Paul got separated from his family and searched desperately for them. How, despite his womanizing ways, he turned temptations away and insisted on remaining loyal to Zenith. She also shared how his reunion with Rudeus went in Begaritt—how the two had talked, and how happy Paul had looked. Finally, she recalled the details of their battle and how Paul died protecting Rudeus.

“Huh.” Ghislaine grunted. “He sure changed. Hard to believe that’s the same man who always did stupid crap with you.”

“Oh? I seem to remember you being the biggest idiot of all, Ghislaine. As I recall, you would wag your tail every time you looked at Paul for a while there.”

“I was delusional. Must have been mating season. Besides, I’m not an Adoldia. My tail doesn’t wag whenever I’m happy.”

“It was a figure of speech,” Elinalise reassured her.

“Hmph.”

“But you really were adorable back then. Always fussing over Paul at every turn…”

“That was a long time ago. Forget about it.”

Elinalise sniggered, popping a sweetly-seasoned bite of meat into her mouth. It wasn’t as tender as Ghislaine’s steak, so she had to chew a bit before swallowing. As Ghislaine watched, she decided to order the same thing.

“Here, you can have this. Let’s order something else instead and split it between us,” Elinalise said, passing her plate over to her friend.

The two feasted, letting the sound of munching fill the air between them for a while.

“Zenith’s condition was a bigger shock to me than Paul’s death,” said Elinalise.

Once the plate was empty, Ghislaine responded, “Yeah. Never would have dreamed I’d see her in such a state.”

“Indeed.”

Ghislaine didn’t respond.

“That’s just how it goes, I guess. We are adventurers. The fact that she’s even alive should be cause for celebration. Besides, Rudeus is looking for a way to heal her. Who knows, maybe she will return to her normal self eventually.”

“Yeah?”

“Well, she may be an old woman by the time that day comes.”

Ghislaine chuckled and drained her flagon. “When that happens, hopefully we can drink together again.”

“I hope so too. We’ll have to call in Geese and Talhand when that day comes and have a huge party.”

“What are those two up to, anyway?”

“Well, after Talhand and I split up…”

The two continued catching up, chatting about various topics. Elinalise talked about what happened after they split from the group, what they did following the Displacement Incident, how she met Rudeus. They even revisited their past adventures, such as the time they went diving into some old ruins trying to find a legendary holy sword. Then there was the time that Geese gambled all their money away and they had to shake down some random people for funds. Another time, when Ghislaine entered her mating season, Paul jumped in to take advantage of the situation, and Elinalise joined him, turning it into a sensual threesome. Most of their memories together were embarrassing, but they were precious, embedded deep within the two women’s hearts.

Elinalise’s eyes were half-crinkled shut as she jabbered away. Ghislaine had guzzled so much alcohol that she was totally smashed, her face vacant as she rested her chin on her hand.

“Oh, dear, oh, dear,” Elinalise said. “I rarely see you drink yourself into oblivion like this. Can you get back to your room on your own?”

“I’m fine. There are no wolves who’d bother coming after me anymore.” Ghislaine shot a look over her shoulder. Even the more rugged adventurers were quick to avert their eyes. “Maybe I should have taken up Lord Philip on his offer after all.”

“Philip? Oh, you mean the one from the Fittoa Region?”

“Yeah. He asked me to become his mistress once.”

“Oh, dear, oh, dear. You missed a prime opportunity there. You could have been set for life if you’d agreed to that,” Elinalise teased.

Ghislaine smiled sadly. “I couldn’t have faced Eris if I had agreed.”

“I’m shocked to hear you worry about such a thing…” Elinalise tilted her head. “Oh?” 

Ghislaine’s eyes were fixed on the wall, burning with fury. “Lord Philip is already dead. He didn’t survive the Displacement Incident. I gave him a proper burial and claimed the heads of the ones who killed him.”

“…Oh, my. I didn’t realize. That is a shame.”

“Lady Eris is married to Rudeus now.” Ghislaine lifted her head, a murderous glint in her eye as she stared up at the ceiling. “All that’s left is to avenge Lord Sauros.”

She exuded such a menacing aura that several of the patrons decided to flee, sensing danger. Elinalise wasn’t shaken by it. She knew Ghislaine was capable of turning vicious on the fly and cutting someone down, but she also knew that she wouldn’t be the beastwoman’s target.

“So that’s why you became Her Highness’s bodyguard,” Elinalise surmised.

“Yep.”

Elinalise sighed and followed Ghislaine’s gaze to the ceiling. “You sure have changed. You didn’t used to be such a fiercely loyal knight.”

Ghislaine froze and dropped her gaze to her glass, catching her own reflection in the amber liquid within. The answer came to her at once.

“I’m a member of the Doldia Tribe. That’s why.” She abruptly stood, her gait so confident that it was hard to believe she was sloshed.

“Where are you going?” Elinalise called after her.

“Home.”

“Oh, dear, oh, dear. You’re as hasty as ever.” Elinalise shrugged and lifted herself from her seat. She pulled out a silver coin from her pocket and slapped it on the counter. Then she hurried after her friend, who had already left the building and was disappearing down the dark street. “Ghislaine!”

Ghislaine paused, ears twitching as she looked over her shoulder.

“While you’re in Asura Kingdom, be sure to protect Rudeus and Sylphie! Those two are my adorable grandchildren, you know!”

“…Yeah, will do.” Ghislaine’s tail perked up as she answered.

With that, Elinalise turned the opposite direction, back to her humble home, where Cliff waited.

Ghislaine stared after her. “Hmph,” she grunted. Her list of things to do had suddenly increased. 

On the other hand, it wasn’t something she had to do. Protecting those two was something she planned to do anyway.

“I’ve gotten wiser,” she realized, pleased with herself. She was in high spirits as she headed back to her inn.


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