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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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A voice which seemed to summon Subaru, who had crashed through the entrance of the church and sprinted inside.
It belonged to Emilia, who stood in front of an altar, clad in a wedding dress.
Dressed in a snow white dress, her long hair coiled in a braid on her head, she was too beautiful; lovely to a truly dazzling degree. In the right circumstance, Subaru, more than anyone else, would have wanted to admire Emilia’s bridal attire.
Subaru: “I’ll sort out my thoughts on E·M·T later. Seems like we crashed this wedding here.”
Reinhardt. “The ceremony was already going awry, it seems. Though we’ll still be regarded as the intruders here.”
From a ways away, Reinhardt snuck a glance at Emilia and Regulus as they glared at each other, and agreed with Subaru’s mutters. The ceremony seemed to be proceeding poorly, offering them a perfect opportunity to intrude.
Upon hearing their words, Regulus’s already impatient face reddened with rage. He yanked at the front of his suit as his mouth twisted in a vicious pout.
Regulus: “Sorry, though I feel for uninvited guests such as yourselves, this wedding will soon become a funeral anyway. The emotional preparation for such a joyous event to become one of lament… ah, right, you needn’t consider such matters anyway. Since you’ll soon go from the ones bidding farewell to the ones who should be bid farewell to.”
Subaru: “Hey now, what are you going on about when you were rejected right before the wedding? And the bride is so fed up with you she’s taking a Narita divorce. Show me a little shame here. Besides, didn’t you hear me when I introduced this guy beside me?”
Regarding Regulus’s murderous rambling, Subaru taunted him as he eyed Reinhardt. Surprised, Regulus exhaled an “ah” between his teeth.
Regulus: “Who, the Sword Saint? I think I’ve heard of him once. Isn’t that the moniker of some guy who knows of nothing but swinging a sword? What are you planning to do with that kind of guy? Could it be that you thought of him as some trump card? Ahah, that’s rich. Whether it be reputation from history or glory from the bloodline or whatnot, all that is nothing but old-fashioned traditionalism. Notions like that, when struck by a wave of progress, should crumble to ash. Isn’t that just nature at work? You two, are you here to demonstrate?”
Reinhardt: “Knows of nothing but swinging a sword, huh. It’s funny that you’d say that. In truth, many expectations of my roles all stem from that one fact. But, there’s a slight problem here.”
Even faced with such arrogance, Reinhardt showed not a trace of annoyance. As he spoke, his hand crept quietly toward his waist.
Sheathed there was a celestial sword, with engravings traced by the claws of the dragon itself, which Reinhardt always carried. However, as he clenched his palm around the hilt, he shook his head.
Subaru: “What’s wrong, Reinhardt?”
Reinhardt: “The [Dragon Sword] is a unparalleled blade which has been passed down since the start of the Astrea line, but it does have one flaw. It refuses to be unsheathed in the presence of any enemy it deems unworthy.”
Subaru: “Which means?”
Reinhardt: “It seems that the sword has concluded that this enemy isn’t worthy of being drawn against.”
Regardless of whether Reinhardt meant it this way, Regulus had received a rather humiliating evaluation. But Subaru had personally witnessed how, during a confrontation with Elsa, the sword hadn’t made its appearance, and so he understood what Reinhardt meant.
But, even with that in mind, Regulus’s unflattering appraisal remained.
Regulus: “A Sword Saint who can’t even draw his sword, why should I even bother with you? Know your place, scum. In the first place, I’m not even on the same level as you; you, who struggle with your ugliness and unfettered excuses, can’t even be compared to one who has already achieved perfection. A fool who can’t assure his self-worth without comparing himself to others has no right to face my divine self.”
Subaru: “Sounds like, you really do think you’re all that.”
Facing the burning obscenity in Regulus’s eyes, Subaru found himself genuinely surprised.
Ignoring all his threats, and listening to only the heart of his speech—
Subaru: “Hypocrisy is your forte, isn’t it? Claiming to have achieved perfection, when you fall short in every comparison to anyone you find?”
Regulus: “—hk! You lowlife, don’t you condescend to preach to my flawless self!”
Infuriated by Subaru’s jeers, Regulus finally put his threats into action.
With murderous intent, he slammed the ground in front of the altar; instantly, the paved floor shattered with astonishing force. The torrent of destruction pummeled straight ahead, sweeping shards of wood and stone into its overwhelming embrace and shattering them even further.
Reinhardt: “Subaru, over here.”
Just as the destructive wave neared him, someone caught him by the neck and yanked him to safety.
A sudden gust of wind freed Subaru from the shackles of that torrent; this was Reinhardt’s doing. With one hand, he’d pulled Subaru to his side as he evaded the attack.
Gently depositing Subaru back on the ground, Reinhardt spun around, preparing to face Regulus. However—
Regulus: “Don’t move! Dare to try anything, and they’ll all be dead in an instant.”
Glaring at Reinhardt, who stood at attention, Regulus placed his hands on the walls of the church.
Rows of elaborately dressed women watched him impassively. Clearly, they recognized the intent of his actions and the severity of the situation, but they only stood in their lines, indifferently accepting the surrounding chaos.
Subaru: “On that note, though I’d rather not look too far into it, who are these women?”
Regulus: “All of them are my dear beloved wives. Lovely princesses who cherish and are cherished by me. Could you bear to allow such innocents to die? How could you be so cruel!?”
Subaru: “Goddamn, I had a slight suspicion, but I can’t establish a conversation at all.”
Had there ever any we he could? Regulus’s rhetoric was completely illogical.
To hold these women hostage, and yet to declare that they were his wives, existed in no realm of reason. The worst of it was that both the proclamation of [innocence] and the notion that [Regulus would kill them] were undoubtedly true.
This illogical battle of hostages was indeed an extremely effective tactic.
Regulus: “It’s not like I want them to die, or anything. Even so, if you still resist further, I’ll have no choice. I’ll start at the beginning and go in order. Isn’t forcing me to do something so awful just heartless?”
Subaru: “Not like that makes any sense at all, but I don’t remember pushing you to that point?”
Regulus: “Don’t nitpick! Maybe I’d be the one directly killing them. But you ignited this fuse. Your murderous intent would be the true weapon. You’re using me as a prop. You’re the real murderers! Don’t evade responsibility. You heartless wife-murderers…!”
Obscenities burned in Regulus’s eyes as he gnashed his teeth. The murderer who spouted his twisted rhetoric seemed not disturbed in the least by his revolting statements.
While trying to buy time with dialogue, Subaru snuck a meaningful glance at Reinhardt. However, their volatile opponent held about fifty hostages in his grasp. If both walls collapsed at the same time, even Reinhardt wouldn’t be able to prevent any casualties.
If it went on like this, they’d be stuck in stalemate— no, this was developing exactly the way Regulus hoped it would.
However, the moment that he thought so,
Emilia: “Have you forgotten about me already?”
Celeste lights began to dance from beside Regulus.
In one instant, the light enveloped the entire church; in the next, a sharp sound was born. The light and sound chained into each other, intertwined and resonating, a simple, clear melody filling the temple.
At the same time, a grand enchantment of ice shone in the center of the room.
That celeste enchantment centered itself on the altar, forming a sanctuary of ice around the women who Regulus had taken hostage.
In addition, the ice had frozen Regulus’s legs to the ground, and a frozen sword pressed itself against his bare neck— a sword which extended from Emilia’s hand.
Emilia: “You were far too careless there. Even I can’t expect to just jump into a fight with you, so I prepared long and hard to freeze you like that. You lost.”
Regulus: “… I say, you’re truly incapable of reading the atmosphere, aren’t you? Right now, aren’t I about to force them to back down? This is an important scene, showing that I’m righteously capable of facing despicable enemies with resolve. And my wives too, everyone clearly believes in and prays for my victory… who do you think you are?”
Emilia: “Free all of us this instant. Although no one’s said it, some of them only stay with you because they’re afraid. Even so, you should cherish them, since they’re the ones who go out of their way to help you…”
Regulus: “—Really, who do you think you’re talking to? Looks like not making you a wife was wise indeed.”
Subaru: “Emilia, no! It’s not enough to stop him!”
Normally, this would be the finale of the act. Emilia’s judgement wasn’t off.
However, her opponent simply [exceeded the limits of humanity].
With a sigh, Regulus began twisting his frozen limbs; that slight motion began to disintegrate the ice trapping his legs.
As the rest of the ice began melting off, the frozen prison shattered to dust. Faced with this reversal, Emilia had nary the time to even draw breath before Regulus seized her by the neck, and allowed her to dangle, suspended by only his hand.
Regulus: “Such arrogance, without even knowing how to keep yourself decent for a man. It doesn’t matter that you’re physically and mentally a virgin, your impure spirit defines you. You whore. You filthy slut. As if toying with my innocent heart weren’t enough, you took it a step further, and tried to force my hand. Never have I seen such an unforgivable woman.”
Emilia: “Kuu, huu… uuu…”
Regulus: “Your cute face, just how many men has it deceived? Just a brief smile, and you’d warm all their hearts. Just a small sound, and you’d win all their attention. Just a gentle touch, and they’d pour gift upon gift onto you. Ah, ah, what a dirty woman.”
Subaru: “Stop! Take your hands off her, you fucker!”
Sighing to himself, Regulus’s voice was filled with disdain as he spoke to Emilia, still caught in his grasp. His eyes, cold and inhuman, cut through Subaru’s outrage at those unspeakable words.
Regulus: “How stupid are you, that you can’t work this situation out? Or are you one of those fools who’ve already given up on understanding? Here am I, ceaselessly trying to explain, but people like you, who thinks no thoughts of self-improvement and abandons all conscious thought, don’t you think you’re too wasteful of generosity? Do your best to to stand in someone else’s shoes, can’t you even do that? Still playing cards like that, isn’t your skill in interaction just too outrageous?”
Reinhardt: “Let Emilia-sama go, and I’ll hear out your requests.”
From beside Subaru, who found himself speechless with rage, Reinhardt spoke to Regulus.
Hearing that, savage raised his eyebrows. Seemingly judging that conversation could come to flow more smoothly with Reinhardt than with the seething Subaru, Regulus
Regulus: “Not bad, not bad, that modest attitude. Precisely because people have all sorts of means of communication, if they want a topic to flow in the direction which they desire, they have to learn to use these methods effectively. Those who don’t understand this, the majority, can only rely on brute force to see a message through. How off-putting. Shouldn’t it be clear that matters which can be settled through negotiation don’t require a show of strength? Well, people like that aren’t impressive in the least. Fellows like those stand no chance against a pacifist like me, isn’t that just nature?”
Reinhardt: “No need to spin it so dramatically. Allow me to listen to your request. Witnessing Emilia-sama’s suffering is painful for both me and my friend.”
Regulus: “Alright. Then I’ll say it straightforwardly. —Drop that sheathe from your waist and come stand in front of the altar.”
As Emilia’s face turned ashen, Regulus, in a deliberate motion, hoisted her higher. Her feet dangled in midair, and her sword of ice clattered to the found.
Faced with that display, Reinhardt hesitated no longer. He freed the Dragon Sword from his waist and handed it to Subaru.
Subaru: “… If this were a play, I’d really have loved to draw this sword and end that bastard.”
Reinhardt: “That’s quite the idea, but, regrettably, I doubt you’d be able to unsheathe it either. Rest assured, I will rescue Emilia-sama.”
Concluding their whispered conversation, Reinhardt complied with Regulus’s orders.
The Sword Saint stood, unarmed, in the middle of the temple, stopping when Regulus commanded, “stop here”. There were only about five meters left between the two; a distance which Reinhardt could cross in an instant.
And yet, the issue lay in how Regulus currently held Emilia in his hands, and would obliterate her the second Reinhardt drew near. And the true nature of Regulus’s invincibility had yet to be solved, even with the hints they possessed.
Freeing himself from Emilia’s prison, and setting off a path of destruction. Somewhere in those actions lay the principle behind his [invincibility].
Holding his breath, Subaru monitored Reinhardt’s movements carefully.
At this moment, unable to find an opportunity to break the stalemate, he could only rely on Reinhardt. Eager as he was to leap into action, he knew that he nothing he did would solve it.
Reinhardt: “As you wish, I’ll stop here. What next?”
Regulus: “Let me kill you. Isn’t it easy? It’s a little cliche, I think so too. But are you here for my wives, or for this slut? I can’t feel any sincerity in your thoughts. It’s not that I want to force your hand. I just don’t want to be misunderstood as a selfish and self-centered person. I’m just a normal man, satisfied with the simple joys of my everyday life. I do hope you fully understand.”
Regulus: “So, there’s only one condition for me to free the hostages. You stand in this place, and bear one strike from me. No defending yourself, and no evasion. As long as you do this, I’ll free everyone. Won’t your unfair attack on me be forgiven, that way?”
Reinhardt: “One strike, yes?”
Faced with Regulus’s proposal, Reinhardt stroked his chin as he mediated upon it.
Watching his thoughtful figure, Subaru mentally shook his head desperately at the absurdity of the proposal. Regardless of how Regulus appeared, the power behind his attacks were obvious.
An obscene power which could disintegrate seemingly anything; even Reinhardt wouldn’t be able to withstand such a strike. Even if he barely clung to his life, if he were left indisposed, this battle couldn’t possibly continue.
Reinhardt: “I understand. I accept.”
However, contrary to Subaru’s internal fracas, Reinhardt accepted the condition easily. Stunned, Subaru watched Regulus nod with approval.
Regulus: ”A wise epiphany, I see. You have my respect. Although you’re an enemy who tried to kill my wives, you seem to have at least some basic human humility.”
Subaru: “Hanging onto hostages even as some invincible person, and he doesn’t feel as if he’s in the wrong…”
At a glimpse, Regulus and his mellifluous, flowery words were truly disgusting. However, it seemed that Regulus didn’t hear Subaru’s spite, for he kept his hand laid on Emilia’s neck as he turned his right hand to face Reinhardt.
Subaru: “R-Reinhardt, you… what are you thinking?”
Reinhardt: “Subaru, as promised. Where I’m lacking, you’ll find a way to fill in the gaps, right?”
Subaru: “Quit being so discouraging…”
Even the hardest battle has a chance of being won, was the answer that Subaru had been hoping to hear. However, before he had time to respond, Regulus waved an arm at Reinhardt.
He couldn’t see. Fingertips sliced through the air, as if tossing something at Reinhardt; however, the projectile was invisible. That attack might well very have been something like an [Unseen Hand].
Whether or not the speculation was true was left unanswered.
Reinhardt’s figure, which had been standing in front of Subaru, collapsed into a splatter of blood.
His bisected body toppled to the ground, as if stuck by an oblique sniper, completely absent of its normal refined temperament.
Blood flowed forth from Reinhardt’s fallen corpse, dying the crimson carpet a shade of aubergine. His body trembled like a spring, convulsing in its death throes.
Finally, the moment came where even those movements subsided, and the corpse entered the realm of true death.
This was Reinhardt van Astrea’s certain demise.
Regulus: “No matter how a person acted in life, death is a simple matter. Those who have accomplished great feats, those who have committed great sins; death treats them equally, stealing their lives in the same way. In this gravely unjust world, it’s one of the few truly just parts of life.”
Having killed Reinhardt with only a wave of his hands, Regulus, simply shook his head.
The murderer wore a serene look, as if this had nothing to do with his own actions.
Regulus: “Precisely because they know that the end will inevitably come, the living shouldn’t pursue too much happiness while they live. Therefore, I am extremely satisfied with the low threshold of my happiness. And if I am [Greed], it’s only because I’m always eager to appreciate what I do have, and what I will come to have. If I were never satisfied myself with the amount I have, I would never be happy in my lifetime. But fortunately, I was born with a unique gift. The sensibility of finding satisfaction in simple joys.”
Holding the arm which had killed Reinhardt to his chest, Regulus began to laugh.
Regulus: “My satisfied self wants to know, are you satisfied with death? If so, congratulations on your death. If not, then those are the words of fate.”
Before the echo of Regulus’s ridiculous words had even faded, Subaru sprung into action with a roar.
He grabbed a chair and flung it at Regulus. Facing the projectile, Regulus swept it away with a single swipe, as if it were a mere insect. To say that the impact shattered the chair would be an understatement, and Regulus stepped away wearing an unpleasant expression.
Regulus: “Compared to that graceful one, you really are really both noisy and crude.”
Subaru: “Being a knight without a trace of knightliness happens to be my specialty!”
Treading on the carpet stained with Reinhardt’s blood, Subaru unclasped his whip from his waist, and directed the tip toward Regulus.
In response, Regulus simply made a show of tightening his grip on Emilia’s neck as he lifted her.
Regulus: “Are your eyes just for decoration? Can’t you see that I have leverage here?”
Reinhardt: “—This is all very strange. According to what you promised, you should have liberated the hostages.”
The instant he heard that sound, Regulus’s face became stricken with horror.
Tearing his gaze away from the center of the church, Subaru saw a slender, bloodstained figure, and felt his throat close with shock.
Reinhardt: “—The『Divine Protection of The Phoenix』.”
With brevity, Reinhardt responded to the wavering Regulus, and three figures moved as one.
Subaru leapt toward the altar, allowing his whip to yank a blonde-haired woman to safety.
Even as her throat was being choked, Emilia kicked her sword of ice over to Reinhardt.
Reinhardt, who had appeared out of nowhere, caught the sword and pointed it at Regulus.
With the women shielded from the line of fire, the wielder of that blade hesitated no longer.
In the next instant, sound vanished from the world— a brilliant blue light accompanied the shockwave that engulfed the church.