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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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Translated by :
- Ice_Occultism, /u/Ice_Occultism
- Jaerek, /u/Jaerek
- Furuta, /u/GracedHarperd
- Ringo, /u/Ringo_17
Fan Art Created by :
- Owari (Twitter Deleted)
- Note to anyone reading this, it’s in the process of retranslation, this was one of my first ever TLs and it’s very poor quality, so I am trying to fix a lot of it.View Here
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Repeatedly, over and over, a scorching heat filled his very being.
His skull, his limbs, his torso, his organs, his flesh and blood. Every single thing in his body was crushed, smashed, twisted and broken. His mind was set alight by the anguish, it was as if every single one of his nerve-endings were being plucked right now, his soul on fire, burning away. The screams he let out were racked with unimaginable fever and a sense of loss.
Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain pain pain pain pain pain pain painpainpainpainpainpainpainpain. He is in pain.
There was only pain. There was just pain. The world around him was filled with pain. Even just thinking this caused more pain to cloud over him.
His thoughts, his very existence were painted with pain. Anxiety, confusion, nervousness, sorrow, anger, despair, all of these emotions were meaningless in front of pain.
They were meaningless, yes, they were meaningless.
Thoughts, actions, pondering, opinions, hopes, memories – they were all equally meaningless. When it came to those things which were the very embodiment of worthlessness, what was there to value when they were crushed, smashed and lost in the end?
Only the endless pain inscribed within his soul makes him aware of his existence. Then suddenly, the never ending pain… started to fade…
He woke up screaming. Right now, even the fact that his screaming throat had been crushed, drowned amidst welling blood, was naught but a memory.
[Subaru: AAAAAAAAAAAAH!! AHHHHHHHHH!!]
Whilst shouting, he tried to protect his body from being crushed using his arms and legs. His arms should be broken, completely unusable – yet they moved. Although they moved, he lost his balance as his body was still overwhelmed by the sensation of weightlessness and he fell and hit the floor.
He tried to speak, yet nothing resembling speech came out. He rolled onto the floor. The feeling of the floor was strange; he felt a sensation which was like that one of a rope against his body. He opened his throat, which was screaming for oxygen, and immediately felt a pungent pain strike it, resulting in a coughing fit. Unable to bear it, he vomited. His stomach had been mostly empty. Foul smelling watery chunks of vomit were spewed out of his acrid mouth onto the floor.
[Subaru: Blurgh, Bgh! Gh, ghrgh! Gbruuuugh!]
Coughing violently, and spitting out a bit of bile, tears and snot caked his crumpled face. Cowering and covering his face, he feebly smacked his forehead against the floor over and over again. Repeating this motion, he finally noticed it.
… That overwhelming pain which he had suffered as his body had been crushed had vanished.
[Subaru: … ah?]
He had been surprised by how suddenly his pain had vanished, that he hadn’t until now realised that someone was gently patting his back.
[???: Is everything better now?]
Reflected in his tear-encrusted eyes he could see the person who had been patting his back. Even with his blurry vision, the image of the girl was quite vivid despite his blurry vision; she had beautiful silver hair and amethyst eyes – on her face was an expression of worry whilst she patted his back. Subaru let out a wheeze.
He twisted his body and shook off the pale hand that had been touching his back. As he did so, a trace of surprise flitted across the girl’s eyes who had until then been patting him. But the one here whose soul had been more seriously damaged was him.
His back. She had been touching his back.
Now and before, someone had touched his back, and after that… agony…
He jumped back, in an attempt to escape her – he felt the hair on his back standing on end. However, his legs crumpled beneath him and he fell flat on his backside. As he fell, his blow was softened by a rough, black presence underneath him.
Looking down, he saw the eyes of the reptilian creature staring back at him as he reacted in fright. Looking at its sharp, long fangs that lined up its mouth, he suddenly realized that they could easily be used as a weapon to chew him up.
Again, he screamed. He tried to escape forward this time. In front of his eyes now, he could see someone’s leg; he didn’t dare to look up and instead pushed away the small silhouette blocking his way.
With a high-pitched shrill, her chiming silver bell voice frantically cried out something, but the meaning did not reach him as he covered his ears up. Immediately, he headed towards the gap which lay in between the foliage of the room. With his legs shaking, he leapt out of the room. Stepping into the stone passageway and without stopping his body crashed into the stone wall. Stopped in his tracks, pain coursed through him. His sight was dyed red, in his mind he imagined an echo of his bones breaking.
His bumped right arm moved as normal. He pounded at the wall to check whether it really did move as normal. He felt pain again. He screamed again. Steadying himself against the wall, he broke out into a tottering run.
[Subaru: Ha… hff… *puff*… *pant*]
He was out of breath, drooling from his mouth, with sweat dripping from his forehead – he continued running down the passageway as fast as he could. Behind, he felt as if someone was following him, and many times he resisted the urge to look behind him. If he had looked back, and decided that someone was following him, it would have been too much to keep a check on his heart that felt like it was about to burst.
He felt as if his heart is about to rupture, as if the blood within his body was rotting, and as if his body was about to shatter from its feet, like a glass sculpture. Whether it was a premonition or the truth, there is one thing that was clear – the absolute, unwavering fact that if this went on, he would die.
People are born to be ruined. Every second you grow older, every second you head towards eventual death, every second you fall towards the end. Though, he wasn’t applying this metaphorical meaning of “Death” to himself right now. “Death” was approaching him with a steady gait. Cornering the unsightly, shameful him, who was struggling to flee, as if making sport of it.
He ran, he ran away. He ran away anyway. “Death” was following him. He would be killed. He would be killed. At this rate, he would be killed. Although he had already been killed, he was going to be killed again. Or, given such sheer agony, could it be possible to not die from it? Was that a mystery of life? That’s rather sickening.
Embellishing it as “mystery” was rather disproportionate. It was a repulsive, unseemly attachment.
Rather, shouldn’t he be dead…?
The beating of his heart felt like an explosion that shook his eardrums; his sight was flickering on and off. Even how he breathed resembled how a baby would take its first breaths. It was completely absurd how he looked like when escaping from his fear of death. Yet, as comical as it is, there was no laughter. Everything to him was something that would cause him fear.
[*All around him*: ………………………]
Almost to the point he was losing track of where he was running through, all of the stone passageways he had been going through looked the same to him. If there was one thing he understood, it was that he should not go back from where he came from. Though, if he continued to escape in this directionless fashion he would gradually lose his way. If he lost his way, someone would catch him. If someone were to catch him, he would lose his life. Why, why his life? Such a question now was useless.
He had no time to wonder whether to go towards the left or towards the right. Whilst escaping from “Death” which may catch up even at this very moment, he placed his right hand on the wall, relying on it, as he frantically panted for air, completely out of breath.
It felt like he was drowning. It’s as if he was struggling to break above the water’s surface even though here on the ground there is no water anywhere.
Drowning, drowning, struggling as he drowns, heading towards the water’s surface, kicking and struggling, kicking and struggling, kicking and struggling, floundering, floundering, floundering, before finally –
[???: YOU, the hell you doin’ here so early in the morning, OY!]
He felt his feet stop as he sensed a monstrously huge presence right in front of his eyes… No, his feet weren’t the only thing that had stopped.
His breathing had stopped, his noisy heartbeat had stopped, and his knees which had been trembling with fear and fatigue had stopped. It felt like all of his vital signs had stopped, grasped by the scruff of the neck.
–– Before his eyes there stood a giant-like being, an illusion like that. But after a few seconds, he slowly began to understand, that even though he was tall there was no chance that the person upon the stage had the constitution that transcended what humans could have. At the same time, the fact remained that there was a human being who could clad himself in such a ferocious, demonic aura.
[???: A person all alone? Yer just a lone small fry that’s not even worth talking to. Small fry, so instead of person, should I go with critter? Even as a critter, yer not even worth considering. Go fetch those people ya were with yesterday, and that sexy girl. Are you listening, hey! You, OY, YOU.]
(TL Note: There’s something that is hard to translate into English in this sentence. Reid first refers to him by: 一人 to say question if he’s by himself, but then thinks better of it, and puts Subaru down by using 一匹 (The counter for person vs. the counter for small animals.)
The figure that was standing still in front of him was rambling on. He showed the signs of being an extremely violent person, and his manner of speaking felt really vulgar, as if each word was being beaten into him.
His breathing which had stopped before, as well as his silenced heartbeat and his trembling knees suddenly started up again.
–– He had entered inside of the ferocious beast’s cage, the very place where he mustn’t tread.
He had just kept running and running for his life.
He had ran along the stone corridors and tried to keep away from any places he had found familiar. He had followed a stairway which he had found within a strange room which had led him upstairs. Maybe he had been told about the staircase yesterday, or was it something like yesterday, maybe some few hours ago? It was all but lost to the oblivion of his memory.
He went up the long, long, long, long, incredibly long stairway, short of breath, up he went, and then… Then, when he reached the end he had found himself being glared at by a most terrible beast.
[???: Are ya even listening to me?]
Suddenly, his breath was knocked out of him and just before his eyes he noticed he was looking right at the other person’s face. He had long, red hair, with a black eye patch covering his left eye. He wore a kimono that exposed one of his shoulders and part of his chest. White linen cloths were wrapped around his exposed chest. Just underneath his nose, this man was jabbing at him a thin, wooden stick. Though the tip of it wasn’t at all sharp, yet he still perceived what was thrusted before him as “Death” too.
[???: Hey, don’t ya fucking ignore me.]
[Subaru: Wha, ah, eh?]
Without hesitating, he had obeyed his instincts and had tried to escape him. But the moment he had tried to run back out of the room, he had crashed straight into the man’s chest. The man had then pushed him down using his wooden stick, causing him to fall down. The back of his head bumped against the floor, bright flashes flew around his vision. Tears of pain started to flow out of his eyes. The pain of bumping against the floor, the pain of his head banging against the floor… it reminded him of the pain of being crushed.
[Subaru: aa, aaa, aaaaaaaaah…]
[???: OYOY, c’mon are ya crying? Why’d ya start crying? Did you fight with yer boyfriend downstairs? Are ya crying ’cause I talked you down?]
[???: Good grief, what a hopeless bastard, OY!]
Whilst lying flat on his back, tears had started to pour out of his eyes as he slowly relived the horror he had experienced. Looking at this spectacle, the long haired man roughly scratched his head. He crouched down beside his head, and,
[???: C’mon, tell me what happened. If you’d like to ask somethin’, then I’m all ears.]
[Subaru: … uh, ah?]
[???: You ran all the way to this place. Must be a real big deal, ya prick.]
He spoke those words with a sigh. The meaning of them was incomprehensible to him, and he simply reacted by blinking rapidly. Just then, he felt like the being who’d seemed vicious beyond compare slowly took on a more definite outline. Not only did it take on the shape of a person, but the emotions of a person and quintessence, began to tie together an actual image.
In his vision blurred by tears, the face of the man looking down in his direction gradually became clearer―
[???: No matter what ya say, yer a fool!]
[Subaru: Gh- gha- aaaaAAAAAA!?]
–– With a cruel appearance, reminiscent of a bloodthirsty shark, the man had shoved the wooden stick right into his chest. He had slid in between his ribs the pointed end of the stick. He poked around and tickled the delicate internal organs behind his bones as if he was making sport of it. Sheer agony pierced his entire body, making him feel like wanting to vomit up blood.
[???: The fuck you doin’ runnin’ away ya prick!? Even worse, what were ya tryna to pull, if before ya made a leg for it, ya came to me, ya prick. I ain’t your guardian, nor yer mate, ya prick. Aren’t ya the one choosin’ who to flock with, ya prick. Do you want to fucking die?]
[Subaru: Gh… Gah… Aaagh… Gghhhgya]
[???: Don’t reckon we have the sort of relationship where we get along by talking to each other, ya prick. If things would end up hunky dory with that, then it’s not like I’d have been called to this place from square one. Come at me like ya feel like killin’ me. I’ll play about with ya. Finally.]
With evident irritation and hostility, the degree of his anger increased with every word he said. The hands of the man that was fiddling with his organs had a certain delicateness to them, and boasted exceptional precision. He had been taught the importance and value of his organs with sharp, unbearable pain, so he well understood that.
If the man had been someone who was on edge and had the tendency to let his emotions get the best of him, or if his arms had been something other than precise and gentle, his guts would’ve exploded a long time ago.
[???: Beat it small fry.]
The poking sensation in his guts faded away, and was quickly followed by the man’s foot violently kicking his side. Rather than having kicked him with the side of his foot, he had punted him like as if he was a football. His body spins and tumbles around mid-air, and emerged out of the large room he had been in. However, what was welcoming him as he was flying out of the room was…
[Subaru: NO WAAAAAaaaay……]
He was tumbling down the stairs. Seeing that scene in his mind, he instinctively dug his nails into the floor. With a terrible screeching noise, the nails of his right hand, belonging to his middle and ring fingers were torn off their root. The nerves behind them became exposed and red blood wet the floor, but somehow he managed to stop himself from falling down.
[Subaru: GH, GHHHHH…..!]
Immediately following the brief moment of relief, as he somehow escaped the fall, he was assaulted by a sensation of scorching heat at the base of his nails. When he looked at the hand with the sharp pain, he saw his fingernails torn off like the open lid of a box; the nail on his little finger was also coming loose as well. Seeing this pain spurred his brain into overdrive.
[Subaru: It hurts… it hurts, it hurts, it hurts…]
Grasping his left hand with his right one, whose nails had been torn off, he applied pressure to ease the pain, even if a little. Coming in drops, the blood flowing from his wounds flowed down his wrists, and left behind a trail of blood on the stairs as he stood himself up.
There was no courage in him to look back behind him anymore. There was no sign that this ferocious beast, was turning its attention over to him. If, to say, he had caught even a glimpse of it, he would have fallen down the stairs this time for sure, unable to put up with it.
He had stopped himself from experiencing the worst situation, but had now settled into the second worst case. So, what was he going do to do now?
Why was he in a place like this?
He’d forgotten how to flee, , his heartbeat engulfed by dread and paralysed, and finally, his mind had turned to the wonders and nonsense of why he was here.
Though he should have been smashed up, he was here. Though he should have been engulfed by scorching heat and vanished, he was still here.
It would have been nice if everything had been a dream or an illusion or the likes of that.
[Subaru: Precognitive… dreams…]
He had assumed that was what he had been experiencing. The spectacle he had seen, the people that he had talked to, the conversations that had proceeded exactly as he remembered them, the events that should have occurred… because they had seen them with his very own eyes.
Thus he’d thought, that he’d try and straighten out a theory as to why it had occurred in his own way.
For sure, in some respects, he’d even thought about it with such vagueness, as if it were none of his business, as if it were no skin off his nose.
He hadn’t known that the way he would be rewarded for such impudence and shallow thinking would have been experiencing such intense pain.
Noticing that he had crouched down on the spot, he could see drops of blood dripping down from him and soaking the stone staircase beneath him with a hue of red.
A feeling of wasted effort, a feeling of loss, a feeling of dismay… generally speaking, a lot of negative thoughts were spinning around his head. Even if he investigated the conclusions which were spinning around in his head, he would find that they would all result in the same thought – He didn’t know why he had experienced such things.
Just a few hours ago, he was comfortably living his boring daily life. There was no danger there, at the worst, he was worrying about his future. There was no one around threatening him, nothing to actually be taken seriously.
–– He had just been in a place where he at most he only needed to face down at his mother and father’s gaze.
Was that so wrong, he wondered.
He had continued to be an inconvenience to his mother and father. He had continued to disappoint them. He hadn’t been a good son. And thus, he had tasted the pain of death. Nevertheless he had been driven to a situation now in which he hadn’t died. The nails which had been peeled off were hurting him, he had been tortured by a strange man, he had been left all alone on this stairway… was he crying?
In retrospect, if he had thought about it… He would have done it more properly.
[Subaru: … I should have at least said “See you later.”]
It had been a life full of regret. Everything had gone wrong, resulting in only failure. If he thought back on it, the things he wanted to redo had once seemed impossible to have been done with his own hands and feet. For the first time it had occurred to him that…
—When I left home, I heard mom’s voice saying “Take care” and I didn’t reply to it. Why?
—Because I didn’t wash the cups left in the kitchen sink.
[Subaru: Gh, ff…]
I didn’t wash the cups. I didn’t care to wash the brown stains that were stuck to them after drinking that hot cocoa. If I’d responded to mom’s voice, if I’d started a conversation with her, I might’ve been told to wash those cups.
I ignored my mom’s words because I didn’t want to wash the cups. I didn’t say anything. I left the house without saying anything and went to the convenience store and spent money that I did not earn. Then I noticed that I had ended up here.
I didn’t say anything to mom or dad, I didn’t wash the cups, and then I ended up here.
Without washing the cups, without even saying a word to my kind-hearted mother, I may die in this place. I will die, having always caused trouble, without giving anything back, without even washing some cups.
Die, I’ll die. I will die. I will most definitely die. If I fall from that height, there’ll be no saving me. I will definitely die.
[Subaru: …I’ll, die.]
I’ll die. Everything that lives eventually dies, and I am going to die here. Alone in this place. Without my mother or father, surrounded by complete strangers, I’ll end up becoming a filthy, bloody lump and die.
[Subaru: I’ll die. I’ll die. I’ll… die. Die, die, die…]
He muttered this. As he muttered so, albeit strange, it felt like it became a little more distant. It was just a temporary peace of mind. He was distracted. When put into words, it’s not like anything would dramatically change.
“Death” would not change, loitering about while smiling so as to catch up with his fate.
Just now, it appeared to be taking the shape of a person. A dark shadow rose up, laughing at him as if it were mocking him.
That face, which was stuck to the dark shadow was a face which seemed familiar. Whose face was it that he recognised in this place? Thinking this, he noticed…
“Death”, with his face on it, was laughing as it pointed at him as he trembled.
[Subaru: Don’t laugh.]
He glared at the shadow, and said this with a dark hatred. The shadow continued to smile. It hadn’t stopped pointing its finger at him.
[Subaru: Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh at me! This is no laughing matter…!]
Standing up and grinding his teeth he approached the shadow that was standing against the wall. The shadow still continued to smile. It still hadn’t stopped pointing its finger at him.
[Subaru: Quit laughing. I will die. But not to you. You will not kill me.]
The facial expression of the embodiment of “Death” changed for the first time. It seemed like it had gotten angry that his own thing hadn’t done as he’d said. It seemed like this was the shadow’s weak point, it is here that he will launch an incessant onslaught against it.
[Subaru: I will not be killed by you. I will die. It’s certain that I will die! I will die! I’m dead! I’m already dead! I died and came back here, but I–]
––won’t be killed by you.
In that moment he had tried to clearly speak those words out loud.
His lips had stopped moving to his will. The next thing he noticed was that his eyes which had been glaring at the shadow seemed frozen, and the sensation of being completely separated from his body. Why, even his ability to question it had been sealed, he had simply just succumbed to this sudden transformation in his body.
He can’t move. His body… No, it isn’t his body that had stopped moving. It was the world around him. The black shadow that had stood in front of him had also stopped moving, its distorted expression of anger remained frozen on its face.
In this world where he couldn’t move, there was only one thing that moved. And that was –
[???: – I love you.]
– It perhaps looked like a woman in black.
Darkness, it was a woman with slender limbs whose whole body was entirely dyed in black. He doesn’t know whether this woman’s figure was made of darkness itself or whether it was a woman that was dressed in black. He wasn’t certain which one it was – it didn’t seem to make any sense to choose one. In any case, it was a woman in black. It was as if she was wearing a black wedding dress, with a black veil that made it impossible to see both into it and out from it. This black veil completely concealed her face.
[???: – I love you.]
However, the words which emerged from the lips of the woman who was shrouded in darkness contained an unimaginably strong emotion. Just how many emotions he could concentrate within, to get close to the words that slipped out from her lips.
In those words there was quality, there was quantity, there was the sensation of time passed, there was weight, there was worth, and that was just the general concept. He doesn’t know approximately how many people have uttered “I love you” in the world – but if you were to take all of those “I love you’s” and put them together then it would surely be akin to this woman’s “I love you”.
And slowly, the woman who had been gently whispering her words of love moved her black arm towards his chest. Slender fingers passed through his chest, his skin, his flesh, right through his bones and caressed his beating heart.
Several minutes, dozens of minutes, he doesn’t know how much time had passed. His heart had been made aware of her presence ever since awakened – but, in that moment he hadn’t ever thought that he found her presence annoying. Because –
[???: – I love you.]
She had caressed his heart with the same passion that was found in her whispers. But suddenly, a great shock passed through him, his body, fearing pain, was completely succumbed by it. His body being crushed by his fall, his soul burning and being scorched out of existence, even the pain of his guilty heart when he had thought back to his mother – all of those pains seemed insignificant compared to this pain.
He wanted her to let him scream. If he could shout himself hoarse, he could alleviate the pain a little. Rather than be faced only with pain, he was able to escape some of the pain by thinking of things other than the pain he was in. Now he couldn’t do that. He could only face his pain.
[???: – I love you.]
Her love will not let go of his heart. It’s like as if she had an everlasting desire to not allow him to turn his attention to things other than herself.
–– It was as if she was envious of everything around him.
[Subaru: – Haa]
He had been suddenly set free.
Gasping, he collapsed on the spot. With tears overflowing from his eyes, he couldn’t keep hold of his continence. He feels a warm, wet feeling around his crotch, and urine starts to drip down the stairway. The dark shadow that had stopped, continued to point at the shameful sight in front of it, and was laughing loudly.
As he watched the figure that was laughing he realizes that he had been deceived. Since he had displayed behaviour which had indicated weakness, he had been deceived into stepping on the tiger’s tail that shouldn’t be stepped on.
He couldn’t continue his words. He was holding his head, completely at his wits end. Blood was still flowing from his wounds where his fingernails had been ripped off. Even his tears and the urine that was dripping from him seemed like punishment for his weakness and stupidity.
–– Just kill me.
He voiced this out inside his head. As for having been killed, would he really be “killed”?
He heard the sounds of footsteps going up the stairs, and the sounds of anxious voices running up to where he was. Until then, he continued to cry like a foolish child, smeared in his own filth and disappointment.
The ruins of Natsuki Subaru kept on crying.