Mushoku Tensei (LN) - Volume 25 - Chapter 2

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Chapter 2:

At the Bottom of the Ravine of the Earthwyrm

WHEN I WOKE UP, I was in a white place. My body had reverted to the way it was in my past life, a realization that washed over me with a sense of powerlessness. I hadn’t felt that in a long time. With it, the feeling of defeat. I’d lost. Ruijerd had been the bait, and I’d fallen for it. After beating Vita, I’d let my guard down and contacted the Biheiril Kingdom, which let Geese know where I was. I’d ended up rolling out the welcome mat for the former Sword God and the North God. Thus I’d wound up in that mess alone, with enemies on both sides. It made me sigh just thinking about it.

Geese had been watching closely. I hadn’t expected to lose the use of all my magic once my arms were cut off at the root. He’d chosen the location perfectly, too. Naturally, I couldn’t summon the Version One on the bridge. He must have decided in advance to force the fight in a location like that. Thanks to the system Roxy built, I didn’t need to draw out a magic circle anymore, but Geese didn’t know that…

Well, those two weren’t about to lose to me in the Version Two. It looked like they hadn’t anticipated that the bridge couldn’t withstand the updated Version Two stamping down on it. I suppose there had been an escape route—below me.

So where was Geese? Had he disguised himself as the king of the Biheiril Kingdom? The voice had been different…but we’re talking about Geese here. Imitating a voice was within his abilities. Besides, it’d be a piece of cake with the Man-God’s assistance.

Wait a minute, though. Sandor was suspicious too. His voice and face and physique didn’t resemble Geese, but with a magical implement, or a magic item, he could have changed those. Maybe he’d infiltrated the Asuran Kingdom from the start and tied up the leader of the golden knights or something. The dude was good at getting information—too good—so it was very possible.

Man, it felt like there’d been a lot of these machinations lately. It was the same with Abyssal King Vita using dreams to mount a psychological attack. 

Whoa, are you actually a slime creature? I bet that pixelation filter isn’t to hide your identity. You were actually a slime all this time!

No reply.

Asshole! I’m talking to you. Say something. I look like a dumbass talking to myself. Now that I’ve lost, you could at least show up to gloat while revealing your plans. That’s what the bad guy does, so go for it. Tap me on the shoulder and say, “Nice try, but I win. Too bad, eh? Hur hur.”

Why was he waiting? My fists wanted a final word, at least.

“…Go die in a hole.”

Already did. So what’s the story, Man-God baby? Your pixelated mosaic filter’s not working so well. Feeling down?

“Every time you do something, my future changes.”

Yeah. That’s the idea.

“I can always see my own future. I can see all the way into my future.”

Yep, I know. You have future vision. For three people at max, right…huh? Does that include you? Can your third disciple even see their own future?

“Three? I can see more than that. I just can’t take my eyes off my own future. That’s why only three.”

Meaning…it takes most of your power to see your own future?

“It’s like my future was red. There was a moment where it went dark.”

Whatever. Paint it black.

“At first, it was just Orsted. Orsted’s nothing. He’s not my enemy. I’d never lose to such a simple-minded moron.”

Moron…? Okay, Orsted is a bit thick sometimes. Like when he didn’t say anything about the Superd… Not that I’m one to talk.

“In that moment, a man appeared beside Orsted. A man I didn’t know. Total blank. I think he wasn’t of this world. Since then, things have gotten a little darker.”

Ohh. Are you talking about Nanahoshi’s boyfriend? What’s his name again?

“They soon increased. A girl. Since then, my future has been dark and quiet. Every time you do something, Orsted’s allies increase. Every time, my future grew darker. Now, it’s all black.”

Cool. So what I’ve been doing wasn’t for nothing.

“Oh, it was. I’ll make it nothing.”

That’s nasty. Whatever. If I’m already dead, nothing I can do about it.

“If you die, there’s still time. This created future only came about because of one guy. I can overturn it by killing humans with strong fates. That’s what I’ve done all this time.”

Do you want me to beg for my life…? Press my head to the ground and plead, “Please, just spare my family!” Probably impossible at this stage, though, given the circumstances.

“Just die. Die, die.”

“Die, die.” What are you, eight years old?

“Die in hell, Rudeus.”

Listen to me, damn it!


My eyes opened. I felt terrible. Having someone tell you to go die to your face like that really puts you in a rotten mood. Still, for all that he’d told me to “go die,” he hadn’t said, “I’m gonna kill you.” There’s a lesson in there about how the Man-God relies on people, or…something. He didn’t do his own dirty work; all he did was issue orders from on high. Bastard.


“So I’m alive,” I said. I’d thought I was dead for sure. The Upgraded Magic Armor Version Two was extremely tough, but I was still flesh and blood. I’d blacked out. Jeez, that height. No way could my body have survived the shock of that fall, yet here I was, awake, so I must have survived. Had something cushioned my fall? It didn’t look like there were any trees down here…

Anyway, thank you, Dada Paul and Mama Zenith, for making such a sturdy son.

“Ngh.” I sat up. It was dim around me. Maybe a cave. Something felt weird. Just now, when I’d sat up. What did I do that with? I tensed my core muscles, then pushed up on my elbow…

“Huh? I have arms.”

For some reason, my arms, which I was pretty sure Gall Falion had sliced off, were stuck to my shoulders. I don’t have a self-healing function as far as I know… I thought, staring at my hands.

“Whoa! What the hell…” My hands were black, a lustrous jet black, like obsidian. They moved without any issue, and it felt like all the nerve endings were intact. I ran my eyes along them. The black limbs were affixed to my shoulders like plants rooted in soil. It was a bit icky.

Also, someone had taken me out of the Magic Armor Updated Version Two. The leg sections were gone too. I was down to my undies. My body was wrapped in bandages with blood seeping out the sides. I’d been given first aid. That meant whoever saved me couldn’t use healing magic. I also had this person to thank for the arms…maybe?

“…Ah.” I looked around and saw my clothes in a folded pile. On top of them, if you’ll believe it, someone had tossed a severed arm. Freshly decap—or de-arm-itated, even.

Oh. I guess that was my arm. I could see the Dragon God’s bracelet on it.

“Ow…” When I dragged myself over to my arm, my body was rocked by a wave of pain. I said a quick healing spell to close my wounds, then took the bracelet from my severed arm and put it around my new black arm. It…was working, right?

“Where am I?” I said out loud, tentatively standing up and producing a flame in my palm to illuminate my surroundings. I was in a space about five by four meters. The walls were earth. Going from the presence of a ceiling, I was in a cave, just like I’d thought. Some sort of fabric was spread out at the back of the cave, and I’d been laid down on top of it. That fabric… Was it a cloak?

First, I headed for the cave entrance to ascertain my location. The cave curved, but I quickly saw light. That was the exit. Someone was standing there. Someone with massively broad shoulders and armor to match. As I drew near, he turned around slowly and raised the visor of his helm. A familiar face appeared in the opening.

“Dohga…” I said.


“You saved me?”

“I saw the bridge fall. Jumped in, right away. You were unconscious. Tried to carry you, but the armor was heavy. I took it off. Brought you here. Bound your wounds.”

Dohga had saved me. He’d jumped down to the bottom of this ravine…

Oof. I’m sorry, Dohga, for saying that you didn’t have any presence and you were useless…

“Well, thank you. You saved my life. I’m sorry for going off alone. I should have been more careful.”

“…Mm. Sandor’s orders,” Dohga said with a weak smile. Even if he was just doing what he was told this whole time, Dohga had been looking out for me. What a good guy. I was the moron here, thinking I’d been looking out for those two soldiers.

“Were these arms you too?” I asked, holding up my onyx-black arms. Dohga shook his head.

“When I found you, you were like…a cocoon. I opened it. The cocoon turned into arms.”

Huh? I was a cocoon, and then the cocoon turned into arms? If the arms were the cocoon, what the hell was the cocoon? Was I carrying something that’d make arms attach to me? I looked at my arms. Dohga looked apologetic.

“I found one real arm. I looked. But no other arm. Might have gotten eaten. I’m sorry.”

“Oh no. Don’t sweat it.” I could grow it back with healing magic…if the black ones came off, that is. “Where are we?” I asked.

“Bottom of the ravine. The most deepest bit.”

“Right… How much time has passed?”

“Dunno. No sun here. Two or three days, I think.” Dohga moved to one side and light hit my eyes. It was faint and dim, bluish in hue. What looked like glowing moss and mushrooms were growing thickly outside the cave, illuminating the surrounding area. That wasn’t all I saw, though. Outside the cave, blocking the entrance, were three corpses. They were animals with carapaces like dinosaurs. Earth Dragons. Three whole Earth Dragons lay there, dead.

“…Did you do this?” I asked.

“Uh-huh. To protect Rudeus.” I noticed there was scarlet blood smeared on Dohga’s greataxe. Earth Dragon blood, I guess.

Had he seriously taken them down alone? Way to go, Dohga! I might have underestimated him a tiny bit. The North God Kalman had said as much, actually.

“You’re a North Emperor, is that right?”

“Uh-huh. Still learning. Master says I kill monsters good.”

All right, what dumbass said Dohga was useless? Ariel sent a fighter who knows his business! Fine, it was me, I’m sorry. I underestimated him!

“Right…” I said. “You’re really something.”

“Uh-huh.” He smiled happily at my praise.

If Dohga’s a North Emperor…

“What about Sandor?” I asked.

There was a long pause, and then he said, “…I can’t say.”


Never mind. I had a hunch. I’d grill him when I got back.

“All right. We should get out of here.” Before anything else, we had to get back.

The former Sword God… No, Gall Falion might not be Sword God anymore, but his abilities were intact. I’d keep calling him Sword God. I mean, there were second and third North Gods, and besides, it wasn’t like someone would arrest me for thinking of him as a Sword God. So…the Sword God and the North God. My enemies were powerful, and they were in disguise. It was possible no one knew they’d tried to take me out yet. If they really wanted to hurt me, then a hunting party would be coming to destroy the Superd Village. We could handle the hunting party, even if they came in hundreds, but it was a different story if those two hid inside the crowd.

I had to stop them.

“…First, take me to where I fell. I want to get my armor. There might still be some usable scrolls, too.”

“Uh-huh,” Dohga agreed. He set off walking, and I followed his sturdy and reliable figure.


We reached the Magic Armor relatively quickly, killing two Earth Dragons along the way. Dohga took them both down in one hit.

Yeah, one. Hit.

He stood his ground as the Earth Dragon rushed him, then with one swing of his massive axe, its head went flying off. Now that was a guy you could count on.

Thinking back to the fight with the Invisible Wolves, he seemed to be weak to sneak attacks, but he couldn’t be bested in a battle of sheer strength.

While Dohga was in great shape…

“Hmm…” The Magic Armor was deeply cut up. The Scroll Vernier on the back was ruined, the bundle of scrolls cut clean in two. Not only that, but my blood must have splattered inside the vernier—it was all clogged up. It was useless like this. I guess even the Magic Armor couldn’t protect you when up against Sword God-level enemies. The sword must have been fragile. It had punctured through the armor, then snapped in half. From the blade fragment, it didn’t look like anything special.

Gall Falion was supposed to have lots of magic swords, but he must have left them behind so he’d blend in. If he’d brought a thing like that, Orsted or Cliff would have picked up on it. If he’d had his own sword, the armor wouldn’t have stopped it. I’d have been cut in half. That wasn’t a pleasant thought…

“This is useless now,” I said. It looked like I had no choice but to throw away the Scroll Vernier Roxy had made for me. After she’d worked so hard on it… I’ll come back and get it later.

The armor itself would still move, though. It wasn’t in perfect shape, but it still had one of the arm parts, and the leg parts were undamaged. Even so, not being able to use the summoning scrolls was a blow. I’d be no match for those two without the Magic Armor Version One. When we got back to the Superd Village, I’d have to pop back to the office straight away and bring back the spare. Well, I would if I had that sort of time.

“…Huh?” When I detached the scroll vernier from the Magic Armor, the sword tip impaling it fell to the ground, and with it, a scroll.

Except it wasn’t a scroll. It was a box. There’d happened to be space inside the vernier, so I’d stored that box in it. It was about the size of a dictionary and engraved with devilish patterns. The kind of box that curses you when you open it.

“The box I got from Atofe…” This was the box I’d been told to open if I found myself in a desperate situation. It was when the sword hit this box that it had snapped. I could see the weak indent the blade had left in it. Hesitantly, I opened the box and looked inside. There was nothing there. It was empty.

Wait. There was something written on the inside of the lid.

This black flesh is an offshoot of Immortal Demon King Atofe. When in peril, release it and it shall protect you. Wield with care.

Black flesh… I thought, looking at my arm. …Is that what this arm is? I was pretty sure I hadn’t opened it, but maybe Gall Falion’s attack had put a crack in it, and it had sensed that I was in danger, protected me from the fall, then parasitized my arm and staunched the bleeding…something like that?

Yeah, that had to be it. Facing east, I kowtowed. I thanked the violent demon king from the bottom of my heart. 

“Lady Atofe…” I said aloud, “thank you!” No one replied. 

Atofe would still be on her way, but if we saw each other, I’d give her a nice bottle of something. What was that wine with the dumb name?

“Right, let’s get back,” I said. The fight was approaching. I had to get home fast.


Or at least, that was my big plan. It turned out we couldn’t climb the cliff face. I used earth magic to climb a bit of the way, but we left the area with the luminous mushrooms and moss and everything went totally dark. While we were engulfed in that darkness, what should attack us but a swarm of Earth Dragons? The footholds I’d made with earth magic were unstable, and then in the darkness, more than ten Earth Dragons jumped on us like geckos. One after another, they came at us from either side. They were so massive that we had no choice but to retreat. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they used magic. Why wouldn’t they? Come on! Earth Lances stabbed out from above, below, left, right, and even from the wall itself. Absolute nightmare.

Ugh. Dragons!


I tried all sorts of things. I tried to use a catapult to launch us to the top in one go. I tried using earth magic to hide us while we climbed. Whatever I did, the Earth Dragons messed it up. They intercepted us mid-flight in our catapult launch and found us through my stealth magic. They were unexpectedly clever and relentless. Once they locked on, they chased us until we retreated to the spot where the mushrooms and moss grew. They didn’t seem to like places like that. Maybe it was the mushrooms, or maybe they didn’t see this area as their territory. A few did still pursue us down there, so it wasn’t like they were physically incapable.

“What to do…” I wondered. “You know, Dohga, I’m impressed you made it down here.”

“…Uh-huh. Not many attacked on the way down.”

“Huh… Ah, hang on. That makes sense.”

Earth Dragons’ senses were dull to anything above them but alert to anything below. I knew that, but this was the first time I’d seen it in action. It was relentless, like how a rooster goes on the attack when it spies an enemy. I considered resorting to area-of-effect magic to blast them all away, but all that would do was get us buried in the rubble. The ravine was wide and deep, and the Earth Dragons could use earth magic. Even if I took out dozens, it wouldn’t make a dent in their numbers. I didn’t want to use a huge amount of magic unnecessarily when the fight with Kalman and Gall Falion was still to come.

Ugh, I was dithering. Meanwhile, their assassins’ blades might be bearing down on the Superd Village. They could easily turn those blades in other directions too. Zanoba’s location would be exposed at minimum. They might have already got to him. I was itching to get going…but I had to slow down. Rushing wouldn’t make anything better.

For some reason, when I looked with the Eye of Distant Sight, the Earth Dragons were still watching us after we’d climbed back down.

“Let’s see if there’s somewhere with fewer Earth Dragons, yeah?” I suggested.


With that, we started walking, our path illuminated by the mushrooms and moss. It wasn’t only Earth Dragons that attacked us. We had to contend with bugs as big as people that looked like praying mantises and centipedes. Perhaps the Earth Dragons survived by eating the bugs. An Earth Dragon had grabbed a bug in its jaws right in front of us before clambering off up the cliff. The body of another Earth Dragon came tumbling down—I suppose it died up on the cliff wall?—and got swarmed by bugs. Their prey was down here, and it was rare that anything came from above. It made sense that the Earth Dragons only paid attention to things below them. There was an odd food chain specific to this ravine.

Something occurred to me as we walked.

“This path is easy to walk on, huh?” I said. The path along the bottom of the ravine was unexpectedly smooth. Some areas were blocked off by huge mushrooms or rocks that must have fallen from above, but it was very flat and easy to navigate. I felt like I’d walked a similar path before.

“…Uh-huh. Red Wyrm Jaw’s the same.”


That place! The site of Orsted’s heartwarming, awful memories!

It did feel the same as Red Wyrm’s Upper and Lower Jaws, as well as the road to the Sword Sanctum. The mushrooms and fallen rocks made it hard to tell, but those places had felt like this.

“Does that mean someone made this…?”

There weren’t any monsters on that road. That meant someone had made this path, then called the Earth Dragons… Just a second. Hadn’t it been Laplace who’d called dragons to the central continent? Laplace could have made this path, too.


I had no way of knowing. I was looking for a place to climb up, not for the answer to a historical mystery. There might be a spot with rocky terrain that prevented the Earth Dragons from nesting there. I’d been looking up with the Eye of Distant Sight for a little while now, but the walls of the ravine were so full of holes, I worried about their structural integrity. It was like a city of skyscrapers crammed together without gaps. There wasn’t an Earth Dragon living in every hole, but it was damn close to it. A thousand, maybe two. It was the ones living at the bottom that mostly came down to look for food. I didn’t think there was enough food down here to support such a large number of Earth Dragons, but in this world, it wasn’t unusual to see monsters in numbers that didn’t line up with the amount of prey on offer.

…What if I can use that info to climb to the top of the ravine? But how, exactly? Come on, brain!

It was such a pain getting out after falling in. I had been told not to fall into the Ravine of the Earthwyrm. But did I listen? Noooo…


“Hm? Enemies?” I readied myself for another bug or something to pop up, but Dohga was pointing straight off to one side. There was nothing but a wall there. Wait—not nothing. It was in the shadow of a mushroom, which made it hard to see, but there was a hole. There were holes here and there around the bottom of the ravine, but this hole was a bit different from the others because of the stairs. It had a staircase!

It led downward.

We’re supposed to go down from here?


“Uh?” The next second, my arm moved of its own accord. My right hand pointed at the hole. Like it was telling me to go in.

“Lady Atofe, is this the exit…?”

Atofe’s offshoot didn’t speak, but the arm went on pointing.

“I guess it is.” It didn’t look like we were going to find a place we could climb up no matter how far we walked. The ravine didn’t go on forever, but even if we pressed on for ages, we’d probably just hit a dead end. Turning back to search the other direction would take time too. I might as well investigate everything that caught my notice on the way.

“Shall we see what’s down there?”

“Mm-hmm.” Dohga agreed without hesitation. Maybe he sensed something when he looked at the staircase too. So we set off, down into the dark.


At the bottom of the stairs was a massive altar. Massive altar… How else can I describe it?

It was in a vast space smothered with mushrooms and moss supported by two pillars decorated with engravings. There was a dais of quarried stone, and the wall behind it was adorned with a finely engraved fresco. The thing it depicted might have been a dragon. There were a whole lot of different things crammed into the design, but it was hard to tell in the gloom. Still, I had the feeling I’d seen something like it before. Now, where was that—oh.

“Is this a ruin left behind by the Dragon Clan…?” I asked out loud.

Yeah, that was it. This place looked a lot like the teleportation ruins. What’s more, these carvings looked like things I’d seen at the floating fortress. That meant there might be teleportation ruins here. Even if there were, could I count on them? Where was I going to go, hopping on a teleportation circle that led to who knew where? I just wanted to go straight up.

Hold on, don’t jump to conclusions yet. As far as I could see, there were no rooms other than this one with the altar. The Atofe Hand wasn’t pointing that way—it was pointing toward the fresco, and a small stone shelf below it. Scratch that, the shelf only looked small because the fresco was so big. It wasn’t small at all. Atofe’s hand was pointing that way.

Atofe’s face appeared in my mind’s eye. Could I really follow the lead of a demon king with that awful face? Uncertainty grabbed at me for a second, but my legs were already moving. With the Atofe Hand still pointing, I went over to the shelf. On it, there were several bottles, cloudy and with open lids. There was also a cloudy crystal ball set into the shelf. 

“There’d better not be booze in these,” I muttered, picking up a bottle. It was engraved with a dragon pattern. I bet if I showed it to Zanoba, he’d be able to tell me how much it was worth. Oh, and it was empty.

“Okay… What do I do with this?” I asked the Atofe Hand. It didn’t reply. Instead, it reached out. It went straight past the bottles for the cloudy crystal. It rested on top of the crystal ball, and with that, control returned to me.

What’s this about? I wondered. What was it telling me to do? I had bottles and a crystal and an altar. It was like an adventure-game puzzle. In which case, I’d like a hint.

“Rudeus. There.”

Dohga, now standing behind me, was pointing at something above my head. I looked up and saw a blue glow coming from the top of the great pillars holding up the altar.

No, that wasn’t right. The pillars weren’t glowing—something that glowed blue was seeping down from above them. This crystal sphere—or the whole altar, I guess—was a magical implement. A magical implement that leaked blue water. Only, looking at the light, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the moss and mushrooms around us.

“Okay, so what’s the deal with the water?” I wondered if I was supposed to drink it, though the color didn’t look healthy… Except there were bottles here, so maybe I had to use the water somewhere. Maybe I filled the bottles with the water, then poured them out into some contraption, then the contraption would move, and a door would open, and I’d get a legendary sword. Too bad I didn’t need one of those right now.

“This, maybe?” Dohga was pointing at the fresco. There was a huge image there depicting people and Earth Dragons. Maybe it was set up so that the blue water flowed out when you moved the crystal sphere and activated the magical implement—the blue light threw the whole picture into relief, showing the river of blue water. At the top was the altar and a person was collecting the blue water that came from it in a bottle. Then, the person with the bottle poured it on the people around them, and they all picked up swords and spears and went after the Earth Dragons. They were hunting them.

Well, based on a quick look at the fresco, this water had to help with hunting Earth Dragons. There were letters written in the corner of the picture too, but I couldn’t read them. They looked a little different from the dragon writing I’d seen.

“Oh, hold on…” Something had occurred to me. The Earth Dragons didn’t come down to the floor of the Ravine. We had blue moss, blue mushrooms, and now blue water. Maybe people had lived here once, and those people had used the blue water to drive off the Earth Dragons, who didn’t like some substance in the water. That same substance was in the blue moss and mushrooms. Plus, looking at the fresco, the people attacked the Earth Dragons from behind and went in on an angle from beneath them. From beneath, even though the Earth Dragons were primed to notice that…Was it possible the dragons couldn’t see them? They couldn’t see the things that gave off this blue light? That would explain why they rarely came down to the ravine floor. So, maybe, if we poured this over our bodies, they wouldn’t see us?

I turned back to Dohga and asked, “…Want to try it?” I didn’t explain what I meant.

But Dohga grunted, “Uh-huh,” like it was obvious.


Not long after, we stood at the top of the ravine. We’d escaped. We’d escaped the Ravine of the Earthwyrm.

“Ahh, it feels good to be a free man.”

We’d left the cave covered from head to toe in the blue water. Then, I made an elevator with earth magic and lifted us up slowly. I kept it slow because I was worried the Earth Dragons might notice us if I went too fast.

I was right. The Earth Dragons looked at us, but they didn’t react. Either they couldn’t see us, or we didn’t register as food. They just stayed stuck to the cliff walls, pushing up against one another and not moving. It was barely an hour after that when, after slowly elevating us, I saw the dark sky. It was nighttime.

We stepped off at the edge of the ravine. For some reason, the moonlight was making me emotional.

“We did it,” I said, slapping Dohga on the back.

“Uh-huh!” He nodded happily.

It had taken a little while, but we’d escaped. Now we had to get back to the Superd Village right away and tell them about the two soldiers.

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