※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
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
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Translated by :
- Ice_Occultism, /u/Ice_Occultism
Fan Art Created by :
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Natsuki Subaru slowly continued up the stairway, stepping firmly as he continued up. With madness filling his eyes, fury raging in his chest, and a knife in one hand, he continued to walk up.
[Subaru: Kill, kill, kill, I’ll kill you. Definitely gonna kill you…]
That whisper, rather like a rasp, were the words of an endless curse. If power dwelled in the might of words, then the sheer amount of curses Subaru was spewing out would indeed bolster his deed.
“Kill”, each time he said it aloud, he felt as if the power lodged in his knife increased.
[Subaru: Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill…]
While muttering this, his sight would occasionally blur over.
Maybe it was a combination of his exhaustion from spending hours crawling around the area beneath the desert, and his fears. For a moment, Subaru’s head felt strangely heavy, making him shake his head a few times.
Now was not the time to collapse in a place like this, after all the place he was in was an environment full of people who were a danger to him. It was the sort of environment where he couldn’t tell between friend or foe. It was already an enemy’s den.
In order to protect himself, Subaru had to kill them. Otherwise, they would come to kill him.
[Subaru: Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill…]
He didn’t want to kill them… he had to kill.
If the langage de l’âme here took the condition of using words correctly, then it was likely that the word “Kill” coming from Subaru’s mouth was not quite right.
If it truly reflected his feelings at heart, then the right word he should be using here wasn’t “Kill”.
――Rather, “I don’t want to die” would be more correct.
That’s why he’d made up his mind that the first thing he would do was kill anyone who appeared before him.
Natsuki Subaru reached the 4th floor of the tower.
And there he laid his eyes on that.
He let out a short gasp.
His knife fell on the hard floor with a shrill clatter. his body was trembling. His fingers were stiff as rocks, unmoving. Subaru shrunk back, able only to shake his head slowly.
The smell of blood brimmed in the air, and the traces of a terrible fight that chilled even him.
The stone walls and floor were broken and smashed up; and standing there in the area that housed the lingering remains of such destruction was Subaru.
He looked at that, frozen in place.
――Shaula, her head crushed, was sprawled down on the floor, with her body a complete sight for sore eyes.
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Shaula’s corpse was in such a terrible state that it made him want to cover his eyes.
Her long brown hair which had been tied up was now was sprawled untidily across the floor. Her limbs were flumped about to her side energylessly, and what’s more, one of her arms had been sliced off at her elbows, the other at her wrist, with the severed parts nowhere in sight.
Her lustrous pale skin bore countless wounds, and a large amount of blood had been splattered nearby. The trail of blood continued further back down the aisleway and ended where she’d met her end, provind that the battle had been long fought and changed places many times.
Most likely it had been the wound to her head that had settled the fight and killed her―― Wound was too light of a word to use; that which had laid waste to her life was a lethal hole.
Maybe it could be said that someone had swung down a great hammer on her head.
He couldn’t think of any other barbaric way that her head would have been smashed in, scattered about, throwing its insides just about everywhere around. A tremendously huge blow from something had smashed up her head.
Shaula’s head had been smashed apart and completely destroyed. Though it had only been for a short while, he remembered how she’d unhesitatingly gotten closer to him and turned her genuine open smile at him…
[Subaru: … Bh]
Subaru sunk to his knees where he was, as he gazed at her remains aghast, in shock, in disbelief. The urge to vomit was unbearable, unable to stop himself, Subaru puked up the contents of his stomach. The contents of his stomach which had turned to gloop, mixed in with his gastric juices, splurged out of his body with an acrid smell to them. They even got onto Shaula’s remains further humiliating her in after-death after having died in such a gruesome manner.
[Subaru: Uu! Ghhh, Ghuuuu, blergh...]
Despite that, Subaru, while hunched over, continued to vomit, having no composure in himself to pay attention to how he was desecrating the dead.
He could do nothing more than let his throat open as wide as it could and spew out the burning sensation that pervaded him as he felt the pain of his stomach tightening and the unceasing feeling of wanting to vomit.
Finally, when he finished puking his guts out, Subaru threw himself down to the floor. He lay spread-eagled, staring up at the ceiling with his hands over his face.
It was the first time he’d seen someone’s death.
It was the first time Subaru had ever come face to face with a person’s corpse.
For most people, the first time they’d encounter someone’s death would be when an elderly relative would pass away. However, Subaru had never been to a funeral before, as his grandparents on both his mother’s and father’s side were still in good health.
He’d never come across anyone’s death in any other case either.
So, seeing someone else’s death like this for the first time was a real shock for Subaru. Even more so when the manner of her death had been so gruesome.
There are people who can have their lives taken away from them as cruelly as this as well, he thought.
[Subaru: Me too, huh]
Subaru muttered this to himself, and lifted his body up. He wiped away the vomit that was caked around his mouth with his sleeve and shook his head as his ears were ringing hard; then, using the wall to steady himself, he slowly stood up.
Subaru had been pushed in the back, knocking him far down the stairs.
His corpse too must have turned into a lump of grizzled meat, one which surely no one could bear to take a second look at. He himself had been unable to see his own corpse, and for that, he was slightly relieved.
There’d probably be no way he’d keep his sanity were he to see his own death with his own eyes, or the like.
The mere realisation of the fact that he had died was enough to shock him to the point where it felt like his heart was about to burst apart and shatter into tiny pieces.
Cutting his train of thought short, Subaru gained belief from the fact that she was dead, all the while trying his utmost to keep Shaula’s remains, who was strewn near him, out of his sight.
The fact was, there was still some terrible strife lurking within the tower. And at the same time, he understood all too well that this strife wasn’t aimed only at him, but also at some of the other members inside of the tower.
He felt sorry for the deceased Shaula, but he could also say this bode good news for him.
Now that he didn’t know who’d been the one that had killed him, Subaru wouldn’t be able to rest until he struck out all the suspects inside the tower. But, with her dying, that allowed him to strike off one of the names from his seven suspects.
Yet at the same time, the one who’d killed him was hostile with someone other than himself – Or at least, he could be sure that they were a dangerous individual who was trying to kill everyone in the tower.
In other words, there was a chance that someone other than him would kill the murderer who’d killed him.
Then all he ought to do is kill everyone who was left; then he’d be able to acquire some peace of mind.
[Subaru: In that sense… The ones in the way are Ram and Echidna, huh. It’d be easier if that damn Julius was dead too…]
With Meili and Beatrice being children, it would be pretty easy to off them, so he didn’t need to think too hard about them.
Emilia and, although she was dead, Shaula as well, should have been easy to catch off guard and kill in the sense that they never had their guards up around him.
However, Ram, who was always contrarian around him, and Echidna with how shrewd she was smelled like more trouble. Even if he did catch them off guard and killed them, those two would be the hardest to aim at: that was the impression he got.
It was tough to say about Julius, but in his case, he was worth his utmost vigilance considering he was the only other man. As cheesy as it was, it was indeed a problem that he carried a sword at his waist.
However on the flip side, there was also a chance that he’d be cornered down were he to take his sword. Subaru did Kendo, so it could perhaps be said that he’d have an advantage assured were he to snatch it away.
[Subaru: Above there… that fucking bastard.]
Subaru shook his head straight away having thought about eliminating that red haired man who was sitting on the upper floor of the tower under the guise of being an examiner.
It would be impossible to eliminate him. That thing was an untouchable superhuman being who lived outside of all reason.
By Natsuki Subaru’s common sense, it would be definitely impossible to beat him.
There were people here too that just couldn’t be killed.
The only saving grace was that it was hard to think that he’d be the being who’d pushed Subaru off. If it was him, he wouldn’t have tried to kill him in such a dull manner; that was the kind of pessimistic faith he had.
Subaru picked up his fallen knife, stepped over Shaula’s remains and turned towards the back.
For a moment, Subaru was at loss at whether to investigate her body for any clues, but he doubted that he would find anything that would be useful hidden inside her clothing as she was very scantily dressed. At the same time, his conscience was screaming at him on the matter of further disgracing the dead.
She was dead. The dead were no longer his enemies. She just had no luck. –That’s all there was to it.
Subaru didn’t even bother doing anything as admirable as clasping his hands together in prayer for her.
He left her behind there, and slowly walked further into the tower, masking his footsteps as he made his way deeper into the Fourth Floor, following the trail of destruction.
The tower had fallen into a deep silence, to point which not one sound could be heard; he however found that stillness rather noisy.
A high-pitched ringing noise was tormenting his mind, and he felt as if he could hear the sound of his blood flowing through his body. But, strangely enough, his heartbeat was steady, as if his initial agitation had been a lie.
Whilst going up the 4th floor, the dark hatred that had boiled inside him still lay stuck to his chest like dirt that wouldn’t come off.
Even now, for the sake of his own survival, his willingness to murder everyone was unshaken.
He’d stab, gouge and take the life of the first person he would lay his eyes on. He was prepared to do that. Yet…
…Just after he turned around the corner, he found Echidna’s corpse with a diagonal slash across it; now he had no idea just how useful his resolve was going to be in this hellscape.
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Echidna’s body bore a wound from her right shoulder to her left side, as if she’d been cut down in one stroke with some sort of large blade.
And as he came to that conclusion, the first thing that popped into his mind was the sword Julius carried.
It was a cheap-looking, likely mass-produced sword, but certainly it ought to be plenty to have slashed through the body of a woman as delicate as Echidna. The question remained, he had no idea what reason Julius would have to kill Echidna.
When he had been introduced to them, Subaru had heard that Echidna and Julius had a relationship quite like one of a master and a dedicated servant. He’d heard there were some complicated circumstances involved, but in any case, they should have been quite close.
Of course, if Julius was some sort of psycho killer who wanted everyone in the tower dead, then perhaps those circumstances meant nothing at all.
[Subaru: Ua… ah… hgh.]
Using the wall to steady himself, Subaru once again succumbed to his stomach’s complaints before then lifting his head up.
The condition of her corpse was somewhat in a better state than Shaula’s. Even so, it was a sight that required nerve to witness without looking away; yet the way she’d died gave off a completely different impression to Shaula’s.
While it had seemed that after Shaula’s death her corpse had been abandoned, Echidna’s body left him with a sense that respect had been carried out towards the deceased.
Putting it bluntly, there was a white cloth that had been placed over her and her eyelids had been closed as well.
Considering the differences between the ways they’d been killed, there was a big discrepancy in the way the deceased had been treated afterwards.
Even just thinking which one of these was more normal in this situation made him feel like he was going to be driven crazy.
[Subaru: Echidna’s gone too…]
Subaru’s breath quivered, his voice went hoarse, and he couldn’t stop his arms and legs from shaking; in that state, he made just a mental note of the facts in front of him and plunged deeper into the tower in search of survivors to kill.
Though perhaps even the reason whether it was the living or the dead he searched for, or for what sake he searched for, had already become nebulous for him; yet, he walked on.
–Further inside the corridor, Subaru found Ram, her body having been blown away from behind.
Her body was in a wretched state, with a gaping hole between the ‘neath of her chest and her lower back. Her wound looked rather similar to that which had killed the Desert-Earthworm.
She’d probably ran down the corridor and been struck in the back as she’d tried to make her way elsewhere. He could sense a hate-tinged curse coming from her dead face, with her lips which were bitten, leaving behind regret.
Subaru vomited again.
In the hall where they’d explained the morning’s situation to him and eaten breakfast lay the dead bodies of Meili and Julius.
The state in which Julius had perished was one of the most striking ones yet. Traces of blows and cuts inflicted by incredible sharpness were plastered around his entire body. His left arm had been blown off at the elbow, and his wound had been crudely wrapped up and treated using a piece of a cloak. He couldn’t find a direct cause to his death. From the wounds across his body, he’d probably died of blood loss.
And had the reason he’d fought so desperately until that been for the sake of the little girl who’d collapsed behind him?
Subaru vomited yet again.
Meili, who had been slumped against the wall, with her hands around her belly, was the only one who had died with a peaceful expression frozen on her face.
On her abdomen which was covered by her small palms was indeed a gash that was wet with bright red blood. Her cause of death was also probably due to blood loss. She’d been wounded, and subsequently lost her life whilst awaiting for salvation in this place.
And yet, the seemingly peaceful look that had adorned her face in death caused him to refuse to understand even a single bit.
Once again, Subaru vomited.
A corpse, another corpse, another corpse, another corpse, and yet another corpse.
There were corpses around. Only corpses. Only corpses lying around.
He couldn’t fathom what was going on.
The truth behind what was going on was unclear.
Ideally speaking, everyone other than Subaru dropping dead should have been the conditions that allowed him some repose. However, he couldn’t fathom why everyone was dead when he hadn’t even been around.
Poor Shaula with her head crushed and her whole body sliced up.
Echidna who’d been sliced from shoulder to side, had fallen due to a terrible blow.
Ram, whose body had been blown off from the back, died leaving behind her regret and curses.
Julius, who’d been left with scars all over his body of the fierce battle that had unfurled, and had eventually lost his life.
Meili, who’d just lost blood from her stomach wound, yielded peacefully to her slow death.
What must have happened for this to occur?
Would he even be able to accept this situation if someone was behind it?
[Subaru: Emilia, and Beatrice…]
He’d found five dead bodies, yet there were two suspects he hadn’t found. Had one of them, or both, conspired to make this happen?
Those two, who’d worried about Subaru when he’d woken up with no memories, at the very beginning; had they concealed killing intent and madness behind their demeanor and thus carried out these acts of murder?
He had found five dead bodies, white sheets covering four of them, with the exception of Shaula.
All of their bodies, bar Shaula’s, had been carefully lain to rest on the floor, and they’d even closed their eyes. Respect towards the dead had been shown there; only Shaula’s body didn’t have that.
In the first place, when the hell could this massacre have taken place?
[Subaru: The blood…]
Had dried up, he thought.
Barely keeping his footing, Subaru looked around for Emilia and Beatrice’s presences, which he’d yet not found in the tower, with each of the circumstances of the dead bodies popping up in his mind as he contemplated.
The choking stench of their blood along with the states each of their corpses had been in came back to him vividly.
It pierced through to the depths of his mind, causing his stomach to heave in pain; however, he was running out of stuff to hurl up. He was so parched that he couldn’t muster any spit to spit out the dregs of vomit inside his mouth and nary even a bead of cold sweat appeared.
Subaru’s body was completely parched ― dry, just like their blood.
There’d been a ton of it, despite blood being harder to dry than water.
It would take blood several, or even dozens of hours to dry, so he could consider that such an amount had passed already since the tragedy broke out. He himself had no idea how much time he’d spent wandering around beneath the desert, but enough time should have passed for that, or well, he wasn’t extremely sure.
Confusion and chaos.
The shackles of his marred awareness screamed at him to do something about this out of control situation.
He needed to earn his repose, he needed to find it; for that, he needed to reduce the number of suspects.
From the remaining two, if any of those criminals who’d brought this situation about were to die, he would be freed.
…He entered the Green Room. The black lizard caught eye of Subaru and gave out a cry.
It was the first time since he had came back to this tower that he had found a living creature.
[Subaru: Huh. What’s with this lizard]
Seeing that the lizard had survived, Subaru let out a parched smile.
He’d hoped that if he was going to meet someone, that it would be a corpse were possible; however, what damned use was it that the survivor he’d met here after all this was the lizard.
He gave a click of his tongue and turned around so to leave the room. He didn’t have anything to do in rooms where only lizards remained. However…
[Subaru: Quit following me!]
The black lizard, having shrunk down its massive body, had tried to follow in Subaru’s wake when he’d left the room.
It was surprisingly large when it stood up, as big as a horse. It plodded along, moving its sharp, clawed feet, following in Subaru’s wake. Unable to bear the tension, Subaru waved his arms and threatening it with spittle flying from his mouth.
[Subaru: It’s not like I’ve got the time to play with you right now! I need to kill all the damn survivors in this tower! If you get in my way…]
Whilst gripping the large knife in his hand, Subaru stared straight at the lizard. The sharp-featured lizard looked at it in his hand, but quickly turned its gaze back towards him.
Subaru’s voice shook at the way they were ignoring his knife and instead were staring at him.
It’s as if they were undaunted by Subaru’s murderous hostilities. And that roused the animosity that had been uncomfortably smouldering inside his chest…
[Subaru: Don’t you fucking screw about with me!!]
Subaru swung his knife up and plunged it into the lizard as he cried out.
The tip of the knife plunged into its jet black scales. Though at first, the knife encountered a bit of resistance, he was able to easily push through it, thrusting it deep into the lizard’s body.
The lizard stood there, unmoving, with the knife stuck through the left side of its body. The blade dug into its flesh all the way to its hilt, with fresh blooding spilling out from its clearly serious wound.
[Subaru: How about…]
Subaru tried to continue by saying “this”, however he involuntarily let out a thin, ragged sigh.
For the first time, he had taken the action to try kill a living being. And although he felt excited by that fact, and the fact that his heart beating wildly had caused that, there’d been a different reason behind why he hadn’t been able to finish what he wanted to say.
[Subaru: Ah… uh…]
Even though the lizard had been stabbed by his knife, it remained unmoving, merely staring at Subaru.
It hadn’t reacted at all at having been stabbed deeply by his blade. Neither in pain, nor surprise. Merely the lizard’s sharp eyes stared at Natsuki Subaru’s handiwork.
Those lizard eyes, which he couldn’t read the emotions therein, were blaming Natsuki Subaru.
[Subaru: Shit… Shitshitshitshitshit! Whatthehellwhatthehellwhatthehell!]
Scratching his head, Subaru couldn’t stand it any longer and lost his shit.
Whilst shouting, Subaru took a step back, forgetting even to retrieve his knife that he’d stuck in the lizard.
–No, he didn’t have the courage to touch that knife. The lizard’s eyes were terrifying.
[Subaru: You, those guys except you… and those corpses! As well as those guys still living! Those guys who I don’t even know if they are alive or dead! What on earth are you all cooking up, what are you trying to do!?]
Despite knowing his words were pointless, Subaru still blurted them out to the lizard standing in front of him.
As he’d wandered throughout the tower, as he’d wandered through the pitch-black darkness of the underground, as he’d anguished at the fact that he’d been thrown into this world where he couldn’t make heads or tails out of it, his gloomy emotions had built up.
[Subaru: I’m gonna kill every single one of these guys who tries to kill me! I’m gonna deny every single one who tries to depend on me! Don’t get me wrong! Don’t push your luck! It ain’t a damn joke… acting like you’re so close to me as you please!]
[Subaru: As if I give a damn about any of you! As if I give a damn about what every single one of you are thinking! Every one of you is pushing their own damned agenda on me…! If you all have your hands full with your ownselves! Then I’ve got my own hands full with myself as well!]
Shouting and screaming, Subaru began to shed tears without him even realising, falling down to his knees on the spot.
In front of him, the lizard wordlessly looked at him as his body shook and let out of ragged gasps. Subaru had crouched down and pressed his head to the floor, unable to see them.
[Subaru: Like just leave me alone… Leave me be by myself…]
Subaru’s choked sobs vacantly echoed through the silent corridor.
How long had he spent like this? Several seconds? Dozens of seconds? Several minutes? He couldn’t find it in himself to move. But it was with his face pressed to the floor that he suddenly noticed – faint, really faint tremors, drawing near to him through the floor.
[Lizard: “–ϡ ϡ“]
Subaru lifted his face a moment later, seeing the lizard’s gaping maw in front of him. Lined with sharped fangs, her maw inched closer towards him. He looked at her, as if it wasn’t him in this situation, wondering whether they were going to chew his head up…
The lizard picked up Subaru by his left shoulder using her mouth, and without wasting a moment, started to run. His body had been forcibly pulled up from the ground and lifted up. The lizard’s sharp fangs had bitten into his shoulder, causing a shriek of pain to escape his mouth.
[Subaru: Gh-, hyaaaaaah!]
They were going to kill him. He was probably going to be killed. Those were its intentions.
However, now that it had practically sunk its fangs into his shoulder, the fear he had towards the pain it brought was readily painted over by a feeling of cheap resignation. He was going to have his shoulder eaten, then his body, chewed up like that, and left to die.
To die being eaten by a living creature was one of the worst deaths Subaru could possibly imagine.
It was just after Subaru’s body began to tremble in fear at that presentiment, that…
The hallway that Subaru had just been in was blown away from beneath by an astonishing amount of black haze.
He hears a heavy impact which causes dust and debris to scatter around, the fog was overrunning the hallway, engulfing the ceiling, the walls, the floor… reaching out towards Subaru and Patrasche as if hunting for prey.
Made up of black shadows, it even looked like it had arms.
[Subaru: Shadowy Arms…]
In his mind, he briefly recalled the shape of the woman who had tormented him by the stairs. A woman who was drenched in shadows, her face was hidden by a black veil, had thoroughly played with his heart, engraving fear in him. The shadows that had been engulfing the room were akin to the ones that the woman wore.
It was laying waste to the tower’s passageway as it pleases―― chasing after the fleeing lizard and Subaru.
The lizard didn’t answer, but with Subaru held in its mouth, it ran through the passageway at full gallop.
Subaru, who was looking in the opposite direction to where they were headed, could not see where they were desperately trying to flee to. Instead, he could only look straight at the menace of the looming shadow, making the blood inside his body freeze.
So it was either be devoured by that shadow, or meet a fate that would be more terrible than death.
Intuitively making his mind up, Subaru pushed himself further into the fangs of the lizard which were digging into his shoulder. His throat quivered in pain, but if he were to be shaken off, he’d be done for.
At this point, his hatred for the lizard, was no more than a pointless obsession.
[Lizard: “–ϡ ϡ“]
They heard the sound of the passageway exploding as the shadow blocked their way.
Taking a snap decision a split second later, the lizard turned back down the aisle, diving into a side-corridor just before they could be swallowed up by the shadow. They galloped at full-speed, trying to shake off the shadow that was surging towards them with the force of a muddy stream.
However, as they kept running away from the shadow, the area that appeared in front of them was…
[Subaru:… tch! The spiral staircase…!]
The huge spiral staircase which connected the fourth and fifth floors of the tower. Subaru was lost for words as they emerged there, in that area.
Naturally, he could see the fifth floor far off down below from the height they were at―― He did feel some of the fear of witnessing the scene where he’d fallen to his death before, but not only that.
Right below him, the staircase was being engulfed by the shadows of black, and was beginning to sink down. Meaning that the lower half of the tower was in the process of being enveloped by these colossal amounts of shadows, sinking it.
[Subaru: There’s no escaping down there… But there’s no escaping behind us as well…]
The bottom of the tower was already under the shadow’s control. The dark, muddy stream was looming towards them from the insides of the passageway that they’d fled from.
They were absolutely, completely cornered. All that was left, was the absurd choice of whether he’d be devoured by the shadows, or killed in some other manner.
For a second, the idea of suicide flitted across his mind.
Wouldn’t it be much better to chose how he died, rather than be swallowed by those shadows. Perhaps for him, there was still possibilities remaining even if he were to die.
[Subaru: Ah, -urgh]
As soon as he thought about taking his own life, Subaru’s body started to tremble.
What if by some chance, choosing to kill himself would it end it here? What would he do then? He did sort of believe now that he was redoing things, but did he really have a guarantee that this would keep holding true?
Or, how could he say that this wasn’t a precognitive dream just like he’d thought at first. All the way up to the last time, he’d had some painful precognitive dreams. So, if this was his last one, then things would end for him here.
Why did he even have to die in the first place? He hadn’t done anything wrong. Why was he paying with his life here? Why he?
[Subaru: NO… I DON’T WANT TO DIE!]
Subaru yelled that out without any shame. There was no one in the tower who could hear him. Only the dead and the missing were here.
So, the only one who heard him was this jet-black lizard, who wasn’t a human being.
[Lizard: “–ϡ ϡ!”]
Whilst holding Subaru by its fangs, the lizard gave a choked, almighty roar.
Immediately, the lizard broke into a fierce sprint and leapt towards the void of the spiral staircase, so to give the muddy stream of tendrils looming behind them the slip.
Naturally, no matter how much momentum the leap carried, they would eventually lose it, with gravity catching them into a free-fall, to be swallowed by the shadows below. However, the lizard had come up with an ingenious idea to overcome this desperate situation.
The lizard dug two of its pointed feet into the tower wall. Of course, even if they were clinging to the wall, sooner or later they would fall… That is, if the wall was vertical.
The lizard ran frantically across the wall, letting out a roar.
The colossal tower was starting to tilt due to the shadows engulfing it from its base. The lizard scaled its way across the wall, which was lurching to its side, practically perpendicular.
[Subaru: N…No way…]
What was going on? Everything was swaying, Subaru could not make sense of what the complete picture here was. However, it was clear that this black lizard was spending its remaining strength trying to survive. He could clearly tell that they were giving it their all for that.
Suddenly, the dark stream of tendrils completely enveloped the place where the lizard had just been. It searched for signs of its prey that it had failed to swallow, and realised that they were running up the wall. It rushed towards them.
The lizard dodged aside a split second later, barely managing to avoid its attack. A violent shockwave and a fierce howling wind accompanied the attack, leaving behind a large hole in the side of the tower.
Without hesitating, the lizard slipped into the hole that had opened up in the wall.
Subaru was violently jolted left and right, losing his sense of balance, no longer able to perceive the world properly. Though, even among all this, he knew that the lizard’s drastic manoeuvres were to make sure that Subaru wasn’t hit by any of the shadow’s attacks. He also knew that they weren’t showing any consideration to the fact that their own body was being whittled away by the shadow.
They came out of the large hole. A sandy breeze immediately greeted him after, with darkness filling his field of view. He could feel the outside air against him. Had they have jumped out of the tower? Once again, the lizard ran up the tilting tower wall, frantically, frantically trying to escape from the shadow…
[Subaru: … Uwa!?]
The lizard’s thin neck was stooped over, and the next moment, a strong breeze buffeted them.
The lizard let go of Subaru, pulling its fangs out of his shoulders. Subaru’s eyes flashed in pain as he felt the sensation of the fangs being removed from his flesh. However, he ignored his pain, as well as the strong wind which was blowing against him. His body had been struck by something hard.
After being bumped around, tumbled about and thrown down, letting out a winded breath, Subaru opened his eyes.
He caught a glimpse of the night sky flickering in front of him.
[Subaru: Ah, Eh…?]
Subaru lifted himself up from the floor in a panic, the view he was seeing was far beyond what his imagination could comprehend.
He looked around at his surroundings. He was in an area that was made from the same stuff as the tower. Despite that, he was definitely outside. ――He could see that this space was attached to the outer wall of the tower, resembling something like a balcony.
They had gone through the hole, rushed up the wall, and thrown him here.
[Subaru: The lizard…!]
Shuddering, Subaru rushed over to where he’d tumbled down and looked beneath him. There, he witnessed the last moments of the lizard, who’d thrown him here.
… The falling lizard was swallowed up by the black shadows, which were even darker than its scales, and vanished from sight.
He had stabbed them with his knife due to his crazed anger, yet they’d not even cared about their pain and fear. They had brought Subaru up to this balcony, only to then be swallowed by the shadow.
Swallowed by those shadows, where a fate worse than death awaited.
[Subaru: What, what the hell]
What the hell. What the hell. What the hell.
Subaru had no idea what was going on anymore.
He watched the bottom of the tower gradually get engulfed by the shadows, up on the balcony. Suddenly, a white bird perched itself at the edge of the balcony beside him.
The white bird looked at Subaru with unfeeling eyes– At the presence of the large bird, Subaru gasped out a “ha”.
The suspects who had died, the suspects who were nowhere to be seen, the lizard that had helped him at the cost of their life, and now, a white bird had suddenly appeared in this place―― Little by little, the tower was being swallowed by the shadow, disappearing in front of his eyes.
Feeling that the end was approaching, Subaru sat down in exhaustion.
He now understood that the lizard had been ever so desperately trying to save him. Even so, their expectations had been in vain… They’d just bought him a little more time before death dawned on him.
Still slumped down, Subaru suddenly lifted his head up. There was someone behind him. It wasn’t the bird, or the lizard, or the shadow.
The sign of someone living was standing there.
[Subaru: …The hell are you?]
Subaru asked this in a very faint tone of voice, having nary even the strength to look back behind.
The one who stood behind him laughed in response. Then, in a voice he’d never heard before,
[?: … next, try guessing, hero.]
For a second, Subaru heard a whooshing noise. Then his field of vision jumped up, and started to spin rapidly in front of him.
His body felt awfully light. He was soaring up into the sky like a bird. And then he realised what had happened.
The someone from behind had decapitated him.
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
[Emilia: … Subaru! Hey, Subaru, are you okay?]
The connection between his head, that should have been lopped off, and the change in his consciousnesses happened in an instant.
Subaru woke up on a soft ivy bed. He was greeted by the chiming voice of a silver bell, along with its owner, having not found her, no matter how hard he’d searched.
[Subaru: Emi… lia…]
[Emilia: Oh, Subaru, thank goodness. You woke up. I was reaaally worried about you.]
Subaru opened his eyes slightly. In front of him, there was Emilia, a relieved expression resting on her face. She had her hand to her chest seeing Subaru wake up, with a smile grooved in her lips.
He looked at Emilia, her beautiful, slender neck was frightfully dazzling.
Feeling rather parched, Subaru wordlessly stretched out his hands over, around Emilia’s slender neck. It easily fit between Subaru’s hands.
[Emilia: Subaru, what’s the matter?]
Emilia was staring blankly, her eyes widened in surprise, with her neck having been grabbed by Subaru.
She was surprised by Subaru’s reaction, but she didn’t make any movements to try and get him off her. If he’d felt like it, he could have definitely ended up breaking her neck with ease, were he to just put some muscle into it.
Even though her life was held within Subaru’s grasp, Emilia’s reaction was awfully slow, moreover-
[Beatrice: Emilia, apparently it seems that Subaru is still half-asleep, I suppose. He’s acting all easy regardless of worrying us, in fact]
Subaru let go of Emilia’s neck immediately as a voice called out to him from right beside him.
He glanced over, his eyes meeting Beatrice’s as she folded her short arms together by his bedside, her nostrils flaring in absolute shock. Emilia gave her a strained smile, and said, “Yeah,”
[Emilia: Though, it’s better for you to be half-asleep than it being anything else more serious. When I found you collapsed on the ground, Beatrice was nearly in tears.]
[Beatrice: You didn’t have to go and say that, I suppose!]
Beatrice’s face grew red, angered by Emilia’s unmalicious comment.
The two of them locked in that exchange had absolutely no idea what kind of urge had caught hold of Subaru just a moment ago. Before that, they’d shown no recognition of the situation being dangerous.
This was also evident in their attitude towards Subaru–,
[Subaru: …Meaning that I’m…]
Immediately after Subaru, after “Natsuki Subaru” had lost his memories―― That’s to say, as soon as Natsuki Subaru had realised that he’d been summoned to another world, he’d came back to this very place.
And, at the same time…
[Subaru: …! It’s you…]
Subaru hastily turned around at the sound of her whinny and breath, her figure coming into view.
Sitting docilely in one corner of the Green Room, was a large black creature―― The lizard, who’d done so much for him as he’d been on the verge of being swallowed by the shadow was sitting there, cool as you like.
[Beatrice: …I’m a little unsatisfied, in fact. Finding you should have been mine and Emilia’s exploit, I suppose.]
[Emilia: Hehe, no need to sulk about it. It’s great, isn’t it? Subaru and Patrasche get on reaaaally well.]
Behind him, Subaru could hear Beatrice and Emilia talking to one another.
Subaru did not care to join in; he was too busy tightly embracing the large body of the lizard in front of him, immensely thankful that they were here.
He was eternally grateful that back then they’d been the only one who had not tried to hurt Subaru.
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※