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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
Fan Art Created by :
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–– His consciousness returns, the first thing he feels is a difficulty in his breathing.
[Subaru: *Cough, cough, hack*]
Feeling something unpleasant collected in his mouth, he coughs violently – spitting out sand and forcing open his heavy eyelids. He had lost consciousness.
He feels sand trapped within his eyelashes. While fighting against that, Subaru wonders what had happened and tries to recall what had occurred to him just before.
If he remembers correctly, there had been a terrible confusion, and after that he had attempted to leave the tower. There was no doubt that he had managed to leave the tower without being disturbed by anyone, but –
[Subaru: The earthworm… the white flash of… light…]
Recalling the terrifying incident that had happened just after that, and recalling how the impacts had continued to rain down – one after the other – Subaru seemed quite suspicious at whether he was actually alive. Had it only been down to luck that he had survived all of these abnormal events that he had been dragged into? However, even if he were to die, it was doubtful that he’d truly remain dead. Though that was how the current Natsuki Subaru was, an unwanted foreign being.
[Subaru: After the stingers, I fell right into the termite nest…]
He remembers that the ground beneath him had collapsed and he, along with the earthworm’s gigantic carcass, had been swallowed by the Earth. He had managed to stretch out his head to secure some oxygen, however even his head had been swallowed up by the sand, and he had faded out of consciousness. It seemed as if he should have died of suffocation, but that hadn’t been the case.
[Subaru: This place… is this underground area beneath the desert?]
Looking around, he couldn’t find a source of light in this room; the darkness was so thick that he could barely see anything nearby. Opening his heavy eyelids, he takes the palm of his hand out of the sand and pushes it forwards in front of him. Only barely can he see that it’s there. The world around him was too vague to let him see the existence of this life line.
–– It really seems as if he just barely remains in the world of the living.
[Subaru: …This ain’t appealing, damn idiot.]
Thinking that much, Subaru tries to slowly move his arms and legs in an attempt to release his body, which was trapped in the sand, from the heavy pressure around him. The feeling that he couldn’t breathe was due to the bed of sand that had swallowed him from his waist down. He was quite lucky that his upper body hadn’t been buried. You could say that this process of extraction could be likened to trying to raise up a flag on a sand dune without causing the flag to fall over. Subaru carefully extracted himself out from the sand, moving it away, making sure not to make any poor movements to avoid burying himself in the sand again.
After barely escaping from the sand, he felt a great sense of fatigue overpower him. It was likely because his body temperature had been sapped by the cold sand along with the continuous pressure it had exerted on him. The fact that he couldn’t grasp how long he had been out cold was horrible.
[Subaru: Guess I was lucky that when I was out cold another earthworm didn’t come and munch on me…]
Whilst speaking, Subaru becomes aware that his throat is parched, and he moves his hand to his waist. When he had escaped from the tower, he had fastened some leather pouches containing enough water to cross the desert there. But, his fingers which had been trying to grab that water closed around thin air. Despite fumbling around several times for them, he couldn’t find the leather pouches.
[Subaru: I should have expected this, considering I was buried from my waist down…]
It seemed like the water pouches had come off when he had been swallowed by the sand. As well as that, it looked like the bags filled with his emergency rations had also come away. Although it indicated he was in a fatal situation, he remained calm at heart. Already, his heart had been paralyzed by this cruel situation; it was perhaps becoming absurd to react every single time like this.
[Subaru: At least, it’s gotta be nearby… eh?]
Getting on his knees, he fumbles around the bank of the sand mound that he had just gotten out of. It is quite a large amount of sand. He didn’t expect to find it, but as if it was just mere consolation, he feels something soft exactly where his body had slipped out of. Confirming it with his fingers, he was surprised to find that it was the leather pouch that he had been looking for. But,
[Subaru: It’s empty, so why am I even surprised by this again…?]
Feeling the pouch with his hands and gauging its weight, he realizes the contents are empty. Just in case, he places the opening of the leather pouch to his lips, but only a few drops trickle onto the tip of his tongue. Even if it was just a little bit of water, now every drop of it was precious. He was thirsty for more. Subaru places the leather pouch to his waist and decides that he will feel around his surroundings again.
If he had found his drinking pouch, there could also be a chance that he’d find his food. But such an expectation had been betrayed, just like when he had found his water.
–– His food had fallen out and was now scattered all around the mound of sand he had been buried in, almost as if it had messily eaten it up.
Due to it being dark, he can’t see around the sand-bed properly. However, he can recognize that the food that he had brought now lies scattered around it. The crumbling pieces left on top of his palm have not maintained their original shape – if he were to speak truthfully, he recognizes that the food is now inedible and leaves it scattered there.
Gulping, Subaru’s throat ached in thirst. Subaru’s food was scattered around his surroundings. This fact clawed at Subaru’s mind, as if it was scratching him with nails, as he desperately tried to remain calm. Subaru starts to sweat profusely, wasting precious water, as fear fills his hearts as he thinks of being preyed on by earthworms.
Originally, this huge earthworm had crawled out of here, so to speak this was the monster’s habitat. The earthworm who must have been the chief among them had died; but it would be no surprise to him if there were other monsters inhabiting this passageway which it had cohabited with.
[Subaru: I need to leave this place…]
As soon as possible.
However, he knows that he can’t see his surroundings well. He starts to crawl using his hands and knees, relying on feeling his way using the ground beneath him, nevermind even the walls. He could merely flee crawling on his hands and knees, making sure to check for ground, walls, a path, his own being.
[Subaru: Ow, it hurts… shit, ouchhhh…]
His right ear had been grazed by the white stinger, the fingernails on his right hand were still halfway through regenerating, and the organs in his body were still aching him. While suffering from all this pain, Subaru was crawling out, trying to escape this place. Even if beforehand he didn’t know exactly what the heck he was running away from, now, he must do anything to get away from this strange being.
Anyway, in order to get away from this unfamiliar being which inspired such fear in him now, he had no choice but to continue his escape.
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Smelling something, Subaru moves his hands and feet forward towards it, as if he was being guided by it. The smell gradually became stronger, eventually becoming strong enough to be regarded as a reliable sense. It guides Subaru deeper within.
–– It had been a little over an hour since Subaru had begun to crawl out of this place.
Whilst escaping, Subaru had accidentally slid down the sand-bed quite a few times and had also been obstructed by walls in his way on this trackless path. Sometimes, sand had rained down from above which had caused him to react by rolling over in fright.
Whilst doing that, Subaru realises that he’s within a cave underneath the desert. Although it hadn’t really been any great salvation that he had noticed this, it did bode an omen to its real meaning.
–– A strange, yet alluring scent suddenly drifted into his nostrils.
By no means could he call such a strange thing sweet-smelling.
In a typical situation, smells are generally considered to be of lower priority and have less value when trying to figure out a situation. However, considering that his sight was sealed by darkness, and he couldn’t tell what was happening in the world around him, this sudden stench felt extremely fresh to him.
Therefore, Subaru started to crawl using the wall to feel his way towards the source of the scent, it looked just like when a young child first starts to learn how to walk using walls. Sniffing with his nose, he looked exactly like a dog who was following a trail towards the depths of the cave – No, to the depths, or maybe the entrance of the cave, he cannot be sure where this scent is leading him to.
[Subaru: *Pant* *Pant* Pant*…]
Without even noticing, Subaru had stuck his tongue out and had started to pant heavily, exactly like a dog would.
He had heard that dogs would stick their tongues out and pant in an attempt to cool their body down, but Subaru didn’t really equate this comparison to his current gesture. The reason why Subaru had lolled his tongue out, imitating something that a dog would do, was because he wanted to increase the amount of knowledge he could obtain from his surroundings by sensing the flow of the air on his tongue.
In just a few hours Subaru had applied the methods that creatures use to move about in the dark. Naturally, his half-baked attempt was completely different to how it occurs in reality. The darkness was unchanging and didn’t provide Subaru with any hints of what was around him. In this lonely area, all he can hear is his own breathing and the faint scratching noises of himself paddling across the sand – But, this felt comfortable to Subaru now.
–– It was terrifying, it was horrible, but one way or another he must manage it.
It was the first time he had naturally embraced this natural human feeling. Right now, Subaru loved this silence and this darkness and this “Lonely” space where no one was around.
Right here, no one would hurt him. Right here, all he needed to do was keep floundering around to try and escape. Right here, even if he needn’t think about anything, there were things to do.
A feeling of complacency, similar to the feeling you would get if you let a muddy river sweep you along, embraces Subaru’s heart.
If he could just melt away into it, that’d be no problem, wouldn’t it.
–– In this manner, he had submerged himself in thought about it whilst escaping from his fatigue and habit.
[Subaru: Damn it, what is this…]
Subaru had steadily crawled through the dark cave. On his way, he had come across a fork in the road with a path going left and the other one right. He anxiously deliberated on which path to choose, in the end he decided on the right path. From then on, there was a long, long journey whereby he followed the scent. Would there be a place where he could find relief at the end? Would he reach somewhere which had light? Even though such a prospect was not necessarily true, Subaru pushed forward without any concern for this. However –
[Subaru: There’s a dead-end right here…]
The path that he had followed had steadily narrowed. After going up a slope, Subaru had found a narrow path awaiting him which could only be traversed by literally crawling; at the end of it was a wall of sand – ultimately, it was also where the source of the scent ended.
[Subaru: Why did I even come all the way here… No, wait a sec.]
Angry at the blockage in his path, Subaru had been about to strike the wall of sand, but caught himself. He racked his brains at the current contradiction in front of him, having followed the scent all the way here.
Subaru had unmistakably arrived here by following the scent which was lingering in the air. The scent had been wafted in by a draft and had certainly arrived all the way to Subaru who had been quite far below. In other words, if the drafts had flowed from here, it meant that this wall of sand could not be a dead end. The draft had surely flowed into the cave from the outside.
[Subaru: If that’s so…!]
Frantically palming his surroundings, Subaru shuffles back a bit. He fumbles around the dead-end path for anything. He hadn’t missed anything on the left, right, front or bottom. Then, where had he not looked?
–– He had been abandoned by the stars, had he been afraid to look up?
[Subaru: ––There it is.]
After more than an hour of backtracking, his hand that had been touching the ceiling brushes against the air and Subaru’s eyes sparkled. Standing up, he puts his arms up, and even when he puts his shoulders up they don’t hit the ceiling. There is a hole. The hole is more than twice as large as Subaru’s waist, and his body would fit through it easily. In other words, if he were to push up using his back and legs, he should be able to climb out.
A gentle breeze was flowing into the hole. Until now, Subaru had clung on only to the target that he had been pursuing: that is, the scent. It was flowing in from the wind above to the underground area below that he was in. There was no choice now but to climb up as Subaru had sniffed to make sure of it.
[Subaru: Ghh… Nhhh.. Fffff.]
Placing his body by the hole, he pushes his back against the wall. Of course, because the wall was made up of sand, if he makes even a slight mistake in the angle in which he applies his body weight, he risks the wall collapsing and his plan failing. Being careful not to do just that, he places his feet against the wall too. Subaru thrusts his feet and buttocks up, and slowly starts to climb out of the hole.
Fortunately for him, the wall has some grooves embedded within it in some places, which to an extent help Subaru support himself as he makes his solitary climb. Perhaps, if you happened to be a person possessing superhuman physical ability, you could simply put your feet on one of the grooves and get out of the hole just by jumping.
But, Subaru does not possess such physical abilities, thus he has no choice but to continue steadily climbing up. Still, it seemed like his body had been trained in the time which was unknown to him and was suited to withstand activities like this. He gradually adapts to his body having a new engine, just like as if he was getting used to driving a new car. He had gotten the hang of it by the time he had managed to pull half of himself out of the hole, and had established that he was a pretty good climber.
However, before being able to show the full extent of his strength–
[Subaru: –– I’m out.]
He doesn’t know roughly how many metres he had climbed up the wall, but if he were to take a look, he had climbed up to such a height that if he were to fall down he would die from the resulting fall. Finally, Subaru had succeeded in climbing up the wall.
He didn’t feel any great emotion about it as he thought he would have. That wasn’t down to him thinking anything tedious like “When you go and do it, this is how it is.”
“Climbing all the way up the wall was a piece of cake when faced with this”, that’s all he thought.
Pulling himself out of the hole, treading onto the fresh sand, Subaru stands up. And, taken aback, he mutters a brief word about the majestic structure that was standing in front of him.
[Subaru: –– A door.]
–– Right there in front of him, there was only a strange door standing there without relying on anything else for support.
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––Subaru was at loss at what to do about the door that was standing right in front of him.
[Subaru: I can see it.]
It seemed that the hole Subaru had gone through did not lead towards the surface. He was most likely still inside the cave – if there were different tiers to the cave, then the place he had probably dropped down to was B2F, and now he was at B1F. Rather than it being a large-scale area, the room was hidden by the means of something that you could call a stopgap. The room had nothing that resembled walls or floors, it only had a single door which was standing there stock still.
Could there be anyone at all who could fathom what this meant…?
[Subaru: –Other than me, that is.]
Whilst looking at the door, Subaru announces this with extreme arrogance. Placing his hand on his chest, and widening his eyes, he was clearly aware of what the door he had suddenly encountered was – it was his door.
He had a strange confidence about it. He was confident that this door was his own.
The draft that had flowed to the underground area he had been in, the scent that had been carried in by the breeze, he had followed it all the way here. Everything was bringing Natsuki Subaru to this place.
And now, the door that stood in front of his eyes was glowing. Even in the darkness it was asserting its presence; it was longing for the moment when Natsuki Subaru’s hand would open it.
Subaru walks up to the door with a spring in his step, as if he was about to go and caress something beloved, like a sweetheart. It looked like a set of wooden double-doors that were about twice as high as Subaru. Straining his eyes, he can see that at the centre of the double-doors there was a doorknob that allowed it to be opened. He can also see a strange pattern in that particular area.
–– He can see seven jewels there.
Whilst looking at the jewels, Subaru touched the door. And just as he did, the jewels on the door started to shine – four of them.
Four of the seven jewels were shining brightly, welcoming Natsuki Subaru’s visit –
–– The door’s master did not admit the visit of those who didn’t possess the keys.
(TL Note: Unclear if Keys is plural or not. Based off context, it likely is plural.)
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–– In the wink of an eye, after he blinked, Subaru did not know where he was.
Breathing a sigh like as if he was stunned, Subaru looks down at his hands. He can see. Of course. There was light here, there was colour. He can see where he is standing. He is standing on a stone floor – there’s stone, on the floor.
Subaru’s body stiffens as he looks around his surroundings in confusion. In his surroundings, there are reddish-brown walls, walls, walls – they were the walls of the circular tower. The huge door behind him leads to the outside. He was inside the tower – he was on the fifth floor of the Pleiades watchtower.
He had come back to the very place that he had tried to leave with determination.
…no way. He can’t continue. His words never come out. It must have happened just after he had blinked. In a split second, Subaru had ended up standing stock still in this place. He cannot break out of his shock, he feels dizzy and his feet start to wobble. He was barefoot, his shoes had come off. Subaru grinded his teeth together.
It isn’t the case that he is completely stunned by this place. He could run away right now – No.
[Subaru: Why should I run away?]
Subaru looked up above him with extreme fury, murky feelings were boiling up inside him. A burning hate like molten magma was zealously whirling inside Subaru without him even being aware of it.
His time alone had ended, the peaceful darkness had ended, clinging to that scent had ended – His hatred was one without rhyme or reason, towards the fact that everything he’d had there, had been wrenched away from him.
Why does Subaru have to run away? Someone plans to kill him and had once, no twice taken his life. Why would he want to be in place, where they shamelessly masquerade as good people, hiding that fact under a guise of tranquility.
–– There are only suspects inside this tower.
Does he want the culprit to be inside? Did he escape because he couldn’t do it? He had been an idiot, he had been an idiot, he had been an idiot; he didn’t know anything.
––If whichever one of the suspects was the right one, then he could just crush them all until he found the right one.
Luckily, all of those bastards were careless around Subaru. He would find out whether it was only the culprit that would show caution around Subaru – though, the culprit has no way of knowing that he is suspected by Subaru. That is the advantage Subaru has here, having once died.
Once he had realized that he had died, he knew that someone was trying to kill him. The only thing he has to do is kill them before they commit that act of murder again.
A wicked smile appears on his face, and Subaru covers his mouth with his hand, stifling his laughter. The idea for his gratification had just suddenly leapt out from inside his head. Subaru had received a blessing from the heavens to pick up and rescue himself.
Then he needed some sort of weapon to set things straight swiftly.
Subaru rushes down the spiral staircase – he was going down towards the sixth floor below him.
The sixth floor was fuzzy in his memory, but he recalls that it is the lowermost floor of this tower. When Subaru and the others – No, when the original “Natsuki Subaru” and the others had come to the tower, they had borrowed on the strength of lizards to cross the desert, using things that looked rather like horse-drawn carriages. Of course, if there are such things lying about, they may come in useful for an “emergency.”
Subaru, had arrived at the lowermost floor and found the carriage he was looking for, however his feet had stopped there. The reason that he had reacted like that was because just beside the carriage – collapsed there was a huge lizard, already dead.
Its head was missing. Its body from the neck down was lying on the floor. Had the blow that had decapitated it been that powerful? The head that had been blown off was nowhere to be seen nearby. Instead, blood had flowed out of its huge body, staining the ground below. He found that a considerable amount of time had passed since this tragedy had occurred, since the blood had dried already.
[Subaru: –– the stingers.]
What Subaru had thought about in this moment was that it looked a lot like how the mysterious white stingers had blown up the head of the earthworm which had battled against him immediately after he had left the tower. This impression was consistent with the remains of the lizard that had collapsed here. Then that attack was from someone inside the tower – it was highly likely that it was one of the suspect’s attacks. Thus, the lizards themselves had been treated just like cattle, in their pitiful lack of burial too–
[Subaru: ––Does this mean they are not trying to hide their true colours anymore?]
It seemed like his opponent had been quick tempered, and rather than giving Subaru a chance to escape, they had instead delivered a decisive blow. Whilst trembling at this fact, Subaru went inside an intact carriage – it showed signs that it had been used as a place to sleep. Tearing through the inside, Subaru finds a big knife inside one of the baggage.
Dare he say it had some purpose; was it something similar to a survival knife? Rather than it being an all-out weapon, the large knife was probably good for cutting through obstacles – but, in this situation, it would still be a splendid weapon that would fulfil Subaru’s aims.
[Subaru: I don’t know who the enemy is, but…]
––He will show them.
With his body burning with dark feelings, Natsuki Subaru heads upstairs, knife in hand. A twisted smile curves across his cheeks, boosted by his hatred. If he wants to be saved, if he wants to escape, he must believe that anything he murders is justified; with that, he will go forward.
––Below his smiling cheeks, he doesn’t notice the tears of fear that are streaming down his face.
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