The Doting Mother Surpasses The Speed of Light
There is an alchemical magic called Full Metal that covers one’s entire body in steel plated armour. It is a highly advanced form of earth elemental magic that can transmute rock and soil into pure steel encasing the caster’s entire form, hard yet fluid and reactive to its wearer’s movement, and there were very few soldiers in the throng of onlookers watching Shirley’s duel that could pull it off.
But that magic which took incredible effort to master was useless before the strikes of Shirley’s blunt training sword.
Whilst that man stood tall like a golem of metal, Shirley peeled off every layer of steel that surrounded his body as easily as if she was peeling an apple.
Furthermore, steel was the only thing that got torn away. There wasn’t even a single scratch on his clothing, let alone his skin. Moreover, that steel she had peeled away had curled into beautiful rolls after being shorn away by her blade.
Her opponent stood astonished as her incredibly deft and skilled swordsmanship combined with a razor sharp blade reduced his defense to nothing in a mere instant. Then, a shock ran down his spine as something struck the back of his next, and he fell unconscious. Shirley looked down on him with a cold glare, then turned her gaze to the onlooking soldiers who stood around the ring.
“Is there no one else? Or is it already over?”
That expressionless voice could sound quite provocative depending on who you asked. She really was completely uninterested in this whole affair and just wanted to leave, but the way she spoke made her quite easy to misunderstand.
“D-Don’t get cocky, adventurer! I’m up next!”
This time it was a soldier who looked like he was in his mid thirties, with a strong build. As the signal for the fight to begin sounded, the soldier cast a spell at the exact same time that Shirley flew forward and struck him on the base of the neck.
“Hmph… 《Armed Rise》, is it?”
But this time Shirley’s sword strike, which had struck down all of her enemies with a single accurate flash of the blade, wasn’t effective against this soldier whose body shone with magical light.
This was the physical reinforcement magic, Armed Rise. It was magic that strengthened the body and increased its general durability. A derivative of the spell High Rise that Shirley uses on a regular basis to push her body to the utmost limits, this spell instead puts all that magical energy towards pure defense.
“I saw that you dispatched all your previous opponents with a single blow with that sword… The other guy tried to put up barriers around himself but it didn’t work. So, the obvious answer is to strengthen your own body, so that there’s no way you could knock me down with that blunt sword of yours. This feels like a bit of foul play since this is only supposed to be a mock duel, but even if you haven’t actually killed anyone, I’m not taking any chances with that practice sword of yours that’s still somehow cutting through rock like but—”
The soldier fell flat on his face, falling unconscious in the middle of his spiel without a single scratch on him. Needless to say, it was because of Shirley swinging that sword of hers at such a speed none of the onlooking soldiers could perceive the stroke.
“What the—!? What the hell did she just do!?”
“Even protecting his entire body with 《Armed Rise》didn’t work!? Is that sword seriously only a practice weapon!? And even if she used strengthening magic, how the hell could a skinny thing like her break through 《Armed Rise》!?”
“Wait a minute… Maybe, despite how she looks, this gal is actually some kind of ridiculous gorilla woman…?”
It seems like something incredibly rude just got mixed into the throng of voices, but to Shirley the skill she had used was quite a simple thing that she utilized often.
She simply used her eyes to locate the string of her opponent’s consciousness and caused him to faint by cutting it away. Obviously, it was typically impossible for someone to cut something intangible like a state of consciousness, but Shirley’s swordsmanship transcended natural laws and made the impossible possible.
Since it’s a technique that relies on expert finesse, it would usually require a finely sharpened blade… But for an opponent of that level, it didn’t matter quite as much.
“You’re pretty interesting, big sis. Would you mind if I’m your opponent this time?”
“Oohhh! The Kingdom’s Trickster himself…?”
The next person who approached her was a fresh faced young soldier, who barely looked older than a boy. Those impertinent eyes of his that seemed to make a fool of whomever they looked at peered at her cheekily.
“I heard a bunch of rumours about you, big sis. The Demonic White Sword, cutting through monsters at an unreal speed… Honestly, I thought the guild just made it up, but I guess they weren’t joking.”
“Honestly, I don’t care at all about my reputation… But what are you trying to say?”
“It’s nothing much. I just don’t like it, y’know…? Those adventurers who are just all about the glitz and glam.”
Hearing that, Shirley misjudged him to be an honest young man. The only thoughts behind that smile on his face was calculating just how to bridge the gap in power between himself and his opponent and bring her down by whatever means possible.
“Both sides get ready.”
“I’ll tell you this right now: my power ain’t half baked at all…”
“Let the match… Commence!”
“Do your best not to die too quickly!”
In that instant, the young boy soldier disappeared.
“Wha—!? W-Where did he go!?”
Under the gazebo with Alicia and the girls, the young adventurers were shocked.
Even though Shirley often moved faster than they could fathom, it seemed like this boy had managed to match that speed… Actually, he might have exceeded it.
“How’s that!? Are you having fun desperately trying to keep up with those eyes of yours!? This is the gap between us that you can’t ever overcome!”
His voice rang out from all around her, both left and right and in arcs through the air. The speed was obviously even beyond Shirley’s own.
“This is a magic that affects my whole body and my gear, making it faster than the speed of sight! My own original magic, 《Step Light》!”
It was an incredible spell.
There shouldn’t be anything in existence faster than light. It was a speed that Shirley couldn’t ever reach with her power alone.
“‘Demonic White Sword’… Don’t make me laugh! No matter how good your magic or sword skills might be, they’re nothing compared to my speed!”
The boy ran around Shirley impossibly fast as he laughed at her. Delighted with his mockery even though Shirley didn’t show any reaction, he wheeled around and moved to strike at her exposed back.
Flying forward with divine speed, he covered the ground in less than an instant. With his training sword in hand, he traced an arc in his mind toward Shirley’s defenseless neck.
“I’ll finish it with this! Sorry for not giving you much time to think about your excuses for losing, AUNTY!”
He arrived at the back of his opponent in a flash of light, his physical body returning to normal speed as he swung at her. The boy was completely convinced that his attack would reach Shirley.
However, Shirley had disappeared.
As he looked at that sword that trailed through empty air, that boy’s mind raced at a mile a minute trying to figure out what had just happened despite it only being a practice match.
Just now, he was surely attacking Shirley from her blind spot. She wasn’t able to follow his movements at all and she definitely wasn’t guarding from an attack to her rear.
Was it possible that she could move faster than light just like him? That couldn’t be right, since he didn’t sense the release of any magical power that occurs when a spell is cast. Then, just how did she avoid his attack?
“…I’ve given you quite some time to think about it, are you satisfied with your answer yet?”
His heart nearly jumped out of his mouth as he heard that voice behind him.
Had she somehow managed to outpace his speed of light magic with just simple strengthening magic…? Just as he thought that, the young soldier’s vision went dark, as he received a blow to the back of the neck as he tried to activate his Step Light magic once again.
“I hope that I’m wrong, but… Did you think that my sword could not reach you just because you’re moving at the speed of light?”
Her cold eyes shone slightly as she looked down at the unconscious boy.
Those eyes were the catalyst of her extraordinary power to see ‘everything’. Even a few seconds into the future.
To put it simply, she looked into the future and saw when and where the attack would come, calculated just how soon she would have to move and managed to shift herself into her opponent’s blind spot just before the attack fell. That was all there was to it.
Even for magic that moves at the speed of light, he would have to slow down at the point of impact if only to ensure his own safety. Shirley was convinced of that the more he boasted about his impossible speed.
So, when he attacked, he would have to cancel the magic. That was the gap that Shirley aimed for to cut him down.
It was a technique that combined sword skill, body manipulation magic and supernatural power that far surpassed the realm of humans.
“I-Impossible…!? She got behind him even when he was moving at the speed of light!?”
“I didn’t see her use any high tier magic either… Does a swordswoman like this really exist…!?”
The soldiers looked as if they couldn’t comprehend what had happened as reality. However, Shirley didn’t pay it any attention at all, nor was she drunk on the feeling of victory, she was thinking about something else entirely.
(In any case, he said aunty…? …Aunty… Aunt… A mature lady… Mother… In other words, even a complete strange can understand my aura of dignity as a mother…?)
Shirley was always secretly troubled by the fact that her appearance only made her look like she was in her late teens.
She didn’t have that concern ten years ago when she first became a mother, but as Sophie and Tio grew up, she was worried about people not seeing her as their mother.
Clearly, the issue was this appearance of hers that did not match a thirty-year-old woman’s. If she was faced with the issue of proving that she was her daughters’ legal guardian, the first thing she would have to do is prove her identity. Moreover, sometimes when she walked down the street with her daughters people who didn’t know her got strange impressions about the three of them like them all being sisters, Shirley being an irresponsible girl who had children at a very young age or just seen as a pitiful single mother who was abandoned by some awful man.
…Although the last one wasn’t entirely a mistaken impression, just how many times did people mistake Martha as the girls’ mother instead of her because of that overwhelming motherly aura of hers? Because of that, the girls weren’t really looked down on as being “daughters of an abandoned teenage mother” very often by strangers, but it still worried her.
(If that’s the case, then maybe I don’t need to worry about it anymore)
A normal woman would get angry at being called an aunty, but Shirley took it as a compliment from someone who finally saw past her appearance to see her true age.
…The truth was that he had delved into the military’s investigative records to find out her true age and had only said it to provoke her, but perhaps that’s better left out.
“…Wow, she must have thought about something good, huh~?”
“Ahaha… You’re right.”
Meanwhile, as they watched the fight conclude next to Sophie and Tio who were cheering for their mother, the rookie adventuring party looked a little shocked when Shirley raised a triumphant fist in the air all of a sudden.
“MAMAAAA! GOOD LUUUUCK!”
As Sophie cheered as loud as she could for her mother, Shirley turned around to see both her and Tio staring at her with glittering eyes full of admiration. Even though she just considered this entire farce a chore at the beginning, there suddenly seemed to be a lot of motivation as she cut down her challengers one after the other, with a slightly growing look of triumph on her face.
“Y’know… When I first met Shirley, the only thing I could think of was that she was a really mysterious and beautiful person…”
“What a coincidence. I was the same.”
They still hadn’t forgotten that feeling of excitement back then, just how could a human attain that level of beauty and elegance?
Even though they met beauties afterwards like Canary and even her daughters, Sophie and Tio, Shirley’s star never faded in comparison.
“I thought she was cold at first, but she actually is surprisingly gentle when she opens up and talks to you… Even if you put aside her really obvious sword skills, she’s also really smart too, so it’s like she’s the perfect person…is what I thought.”
“Yeah. I thought that too. She was some kind of supreme being… I thought of her like that.”
Although she had been isolated within the guild due to her stand-offish personality before, that had begun to change ever since the battle with the Dragon King, so now as she takes on requests with others willingly for the first time, people are beginning to know her on a personal level as well.
“Actually, even the rookie adventurers who joined the guild after us seem to admire her a whole bunch. There’s even that girl who joined the guild recently that follows Shirley around calling her ‘older sister’ a bunch”
“I didn’t think someone like that had joined up… Nah, that’s not true… It only makes sense that people would want to purely admire Shirley like that. Kyle does as well, not to mention me and Cudd.”
“Weren’t you the first one to say that there’s a thin line between admiration and love?”
“Shut up, idiot.”
Leia glared at Cudd with narrowed eyes.
“…Ahem, well, putting that aside… I do admire her a bunch, and those feelings won’t change… They won’t change, but…”
The three rookies looked at Shirley in the distance.
“Did you see that!? Mama is awesome!” Sophie said from beside them, as that doting parent turned around to look at her daughters for about the fifth time in a minute as she stood over yet another downed opponent.
As they watched that mother obviously doing her best to show off in front of her daughters, the young adventurers’ eyes suddenly glazed over.
“When you really get to know her, it ends up like that.”
“No, don’t get me wrong, it’s fine, okay? Even if she doesn’t act her age, it’s cute in its own way, okay? But…honestly, I kind of wish I could go back to how I used to see her.”
It was fine to be a silly doting mother. But, Kyle and the others wished they could have cherished the old ideal they held of her just a little more before it was shattered.
However, at the time, no one noticed it.
The person who stared at Shirley’s fights from afar. Not just spectating, but observing.
Sorry this was late, I found it hard to really get into a groove translating this chapter. It’s probably good to get ready for chapters to begin being a weekly thing once I catch up anyways.
As an apology, here’s a preview image of MotoMusu v2, which the lovely Spanish translator of this series, Ragnar from HiroLsn, alerted me to.
Edited by: Rin.