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Life in Vain: Jobless Reincarnation (Mushoku Tensei)

It was a freak accident. Someone ran the light at an intersection and before I knew it... my world turned black. But I didn't die then. Instead, I was forced to lament and regret over all of my failures. Lament about how this so-called genius was lower than dirt even at the very end. And that should have been it. After my consciousness faded, I should have disappeared. But I woke up. A different world, another life. A fresh start. This time, for sure...!

HappyVainGlory · Anime & Comics
Not enough ratings
208 Chs

The Expressionless Maid

Lilia watched Rudeus quietly crawl around the office floor and poke at the books on the shelf. As she did, she reflected on her life and how she reached that point.

It was a strange twist of fate. Before becoming the maid for the Greyrat family, she had been serving as a guards-maid for the Asura Kingdom's concubines. A maid who was a maid, but also one who would take up the sword to protect their master if something happened.

And she did her job well... until that 'something' happened.

It was an assassin, targeting a newly-born princess. Because she was careless, Lilia was injured in the leg by the enemy's dagger.

Since it was meant to kill royalty, the blade was coated in a vicious poison without an antidote.

Fortunately, because of quick treatment and doctors trying out various methods to cure her, she lived. Unfortunately, side effects lingered.

Everyday life wasn't an issue. But she would never be able to run or stomp again... which meant she would never be able to fight again.

As a result, she was promptly sacked. But that was expected. Her job required her to be able to fight, and she had lost her qualifications.

She wasn't given compensation money, but the fact that she was saved and not silenced was enough. So she quickly left the capital before that changed.

In the end, she arrived at the Fedoa region near the border, an area filled with farmland. Rolling wheat fields, and scenic grasslands with the only exception being the fortress city of Roa where the ruler lived.

That was where Lilia planned to work.

Lots of things happened, but eventually she came across a recruitment letter in Buina village. A tiny and extremely rural village on the edge of Fedoa.

And one from a man she knew.

Paul Greyrat. Lilia's junior at the dojo where she was learning swordsmanship... and someone who was banished from the dojo after making a mistake. A man who came into and left her life like a storm.

Seven years had passed since then and now he was looking for someone with experience in taking care of children or knowledge of midwifery. Not only that, but the salary was decent, and Paul had become a lower class knight, meaning he had some prestige as well.

A job that was seemingly tailormade for her circumstances. And one where she was received with a warm welcome for helping the young couple through the birth of their first child.

...But there had been a problem.

The child was born without issue. But he didn't cry when he was born. Instead, the child had looked around with an expressionless face. No, not completely expressionless.

Now that Lilia thought back on it, she recalled that it looked more like confusion. Confusion and careful observance, slowly taking into account his surroundings.

Either way, it had been terrifying. And for a while, Lilia thought the child might have been possessed.

She had heard stories of it. Of monsters and demonic spirits possessing children. Lilia had even heard whispers about a prince in a distant kingdom who ripped apart his caretaker with unnatural monstrous strength.

So, when Lilia saw how the child was unnaturally silent and carefully observant, she felt sheer terror. Terror that she too might share that unfortunate caretaker's fate.

But as time passed, Lilia realized that she was mistaken about the child.

He was quiet. Unlike most children, he didn't cry when he was hungry or needed to change. At most, he would wave his tiny arms and look at them. All the while, there would be a strange expression in his eyes. Like he was at a loss about the world around him.

There was no terrifying emotionless gaze. No monstrous or sly look. Instead... It reminded her a bit of herself. Of how she felt after she was forced out of the dojo and had to keep herself afloat in the world of lustful nobles and arrogant people with too much power and far too few repercussions for that power.

The look of someone lost and confused in a brand new world. Someone who didn't know what to do.

At least, that was what Lilia thought. But it was ridiculous. Why would a child, let alone an infant recently born, have such an expression?

Paul and his wife, Zenith, didn't notice. Or rather, they believed that it was the norm. Instead of worrying, they simply thought that the child was quiet.

But Lilia's concerns faded after the child was named.

Rudeus. Rudeus Greyrat. That was the child's name. Chosen by Zenith, of course. As brilliant as Paul might be with the blade, he was never the brightest in other affairs.

And as if that name was a spell, the child started acting like a normal child.

Rudeus still never cried or fussed. However, the silent child was no more. Instead, he turned into a curious and energetic child. Constantly babbling and mimicking the sounds around him, Rudeus's lifeless eyes gained a bit of light and curiosity, taking in the world around him.

And when he learned how to crawl, that curiosity manifested in him energetically crawling around the entire house.

It was a healthy change. A reassuring one as well. But for a while, Lilia was afraid that Rudeus might hurt himself in the process, so she kept a careful eye on him.

And as she did, she realized something strange.

Rudeus was a very careful child. As if he had an innate sense for danger, he was extraordinarily patient and cautious about his movements. While he moved around a lot, each action was deliberate and coordinate... in so far as an infant could be coordinated at least.

Eerie. Even while Lilia wasn't afraid of Rudeus, whenever she met his gaze and saw those clearly analytical eyes stare back, she involuntarily flinched.

But odder still, whenever he made eye contact, that analytical gaze would fade away, replaced with a pure smile and cute babbling.

Abnormal and yet normal.

A child who was curious about the world around him, taking in as much information as he could. One who was very much aware of potential dangers. And yet an innocent child who would reach out to anyone nearby with a sweet smile as well as crawl around until he exhausted himself and went to sleep.

So Lilia reevaluated him.

Rather than a terrifying monster... Rudeus was still terrifying. But in a different way.

And today, Lilia would test her hypothesis.

A soft thud echoed. The sound of a book falling off a shelf.

Lilia looked up, drawn out of her thoughts by the sound. When she did, she saw Rudeus sitting in front of the bookshelf with a book in front of him.

He frowned, furrowing his brows as he stared at the book. After that, he smacked the cover with his hand.

Lilia pretended to not notice and watched him for a little while longer.

Rudeus narrowed his eyes and waved his arms around, trying and failing to grab the corner of the book. The book fluttered a few times, flipped open part way by his actions. But it always slammed shut afterwards.

It was cute. And seeing that, Lilia couldn't help but laugh.

Rudeus paused and turned to look at Lilia. But then he turned back to the book and smacked it. "Ba boo! Ba!"

Lilia hid her mouth with her sleeve and laughed a bit more. But then she walked over and opened the book to the first page. "Here, young master. Does this help?"

Rudeus's eyes lit up and he smiled at Lilia. After that, he turned to look at the book... and then his smile vanished. In its place, a small pout formed. "Bah!" He smacked the book and then crawled away from the bookshelf, slumping down in the middle of the room. As if he was fed up with failing and just decided to stew in misery for a while.

Lilia picked the book up and smiled. After that, she walked over to Rudeus and sat beside him. Holding it up, she said, "Should I read this to you, young master?" She opened the book and flipped through.

It was a simple book. A fable about the three swordsmen who entered a magical labyrinth in the past. The same three who would go on to found the three major sword styles present in the world. A story of swords and magic, monsters and adventure... and a perfect story for a child to listen to.

Rudeus lifted his head and then smiled. After that, he quickly crawled over and reached up with his hands.

Lilia smiled and picked him up, resting Rudeus in her lap. After that, she opened the book and rested it in front of herself and Rudeus so that they could both see the letters. And then she started to read. "Now then... Once upon a time, there were three men who were skilled in the blade..."

"Ooh!"

A genuine excitement. And one too well-timed to be coincidence.

In that case...

Lilia stopped reading.

Rudeus blinked and then turned around to look at Lilia.

Lilia stared back into his light green eyes.

It was a curious gaze. Innocent and childish... but also one that seemed wise beyond his apparent age. And so...

"Young master. Could it be that you understand what we are saying already?"

A casual question. Lilia perfectly kept her tone light, as if she didn't expect an answer. But at the same time, she carefully watched Rudeus's expression.

If he was truly just a simple child, then there would simply be confusion. But if he was not...

Lilia was skilled in reading expressions. She had to be in her former job. And so she was confident in reading Rudeus's expressions. Even more so since his face was naturally so expressive.

And so she saw it.

A faint flicker of fear. A tiny shake of his head that was quickly stopped.

It was impressive. If Lilia hadn't been paying attention, she might not have noticed. Especially since he slowly tilted his head and feigned ignorance with bright wide eyes after that.

But Lilia wasn't fooled. Instead, she lightly patted Rudeus's head and said, "I thought so."

The moment she said those words, Rudeus started to tremble. Without realizing it, his eyes started to tear up as well, genuine fear in his face.

Seeing that, Lilia put on a gentle smile and patted his head. "Worry not. This will be our little secret."

Rudeus paused, tilting his head. It looked like he didn't believe her, since his face still seemed apprehensive.

That only confirmed Lilia's thoughts.

Rudeus was completely aware. No, he was likely born aware of the world around him. Unlike other children, he was completely cognizant. But at the same time, he was also a child.

How terrifying must it have been to be born fully aware of the world around you? To be in a strange place without a name, without thoughts, without knowing a single thing about who or what you are?

Lilia saw it firsthand. When Rudeus had been born, he had been dazed and alert. But he had also seemed lost. And that had persisted until months later. Time where he finally realized that he was safe and protected. That he wasn't among some terrifying strangers.

...Yes. Rudeus was terrifying. But he wasn't terrifying because he was a monster. Instead...

Lilia patted Rudeus's head again and said, "Even if a genius, a child should still be able to play as a child."

...He was a genius. A prodigy born to a pair of talented parents. But a prodigy that was still just a child and barely knew anything of the world around him.

Rudeus blinked. And then he smiled and hugged Lilia. "Dah chu."

"No need to thank me, young master. Now..." She lifted up the book and said, "Where did I leave off?"