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Translated by :
- Ice_Occultism, /u/Ice_Occultism
With Contributions by:
- Jaerek, /u/Jaerek
- Shifty, /u/Shiftyfish87
- Frusty, /u/TheFrustratedMan
- Furuta, /u/GracedHarperd
Fan Art Created by :
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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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Gradually, he becomes aware of a sensation of numbness coming from his arm. Slowly but steadily, the scratch marks of Meili’s dying throes were starting to vanish and heal. Realizing that he was being healed, Subaru turned his eyes away from his sleeve.
Subaru:「…Well, this room was certainly the big deal it was made out to be.」
The spirit that he had been told of, one which dwells in this room full of ivy, healing the wounds of the living, definitely resided here. Although, as far as Subaru is concerned, he hadn’t experienced this efficacy when he had visited the room in the past, so up until now he had doubted how effective it was. He was made to regret having been suspicious of that thing in this room, but now he relished in the sensation of his wounds being healed.
Meili:『Despite my precious words spoken from beyond the grave, Onii-san is sti~ll being disobedient. 』
Meili:『But, Beatrice-chan’s poor judgement has saved you, ri~ght? Thanks to her, the evidence left around your wrists will disappea~r.』
The shade of the little girl who is incessantly speaking inside his head annoys him. Her constant yammering felt quite gross to him. He can’t say when it was that the little girls’ remarks, that did not reflect on what he truly thought, had started to wrench open his mind.
He doesn’t know whether this little girl’s shade is running rampant due to being part of Subaru, or whether it had been because of her ghost literally possessing him after reading her『Book of the Dead.』
Whatever the reason may be, he mustn’t bend his ear to what the little girl is saying. He mustn’t listen to her. The only issue was that she was irritating him.
Thus, Subaru consciously closes his mind to the sound of these incessant hallucinations. However, the more Subaru tries to seclude himself in his own shell, the louder and more talkative her shade becomes, growing more impish in poking fun at Subaru. The most annoying thing about―
Meili:『Right now, you don’t have Beatrice beside you anymore, do yo~u? Since there’s no one in your way, why don’t you just get rid of that sleeping gi~rl?』
Meili:『Hehe… don’t start looking like you’re about to cry. I know you’re trying to ignore me, but you can’t, ah, Onii-san’s such an adorable guy! 』
The little girl’s voice, which had no corporeal presence, was heard by Subaru as if it was a whisper in his ear. If he closes his eyes, it feels like the little girl’s gently leaning on his back, her figure spitting out these sweet words to his ears accompanied by sweet sighs; it almost feels like he is able to see her hallucination.
She had been brought to the spirit’s room for rest, and once again Subaru was presented with the same choice as when he had held the『Book of the Dead.』Beatrice was on her way to tell Emilia and the others that Subaru had left the Taygeta library and that she had brought him to this room. Right now, Subaru had procured some time where no-one would be able to see what was going on. And, right in front of him lay the girl who is sleeping on the ivy bed just as if she were an offering to him… all alone―
Even if he tries to say the name of the comatose girl out loud, no emotions rise within Subaru. He has no memories known of her, he only knows her name. All he knows is that she’s Ram’s twin sister, and that she was one of Emilia’s companions. And that they had come to this tower looking for a way to wake her up from her long slumber.
―Beyond that, he wants to know what happened.
Meili:『There’s no other way around it. It’s either you do it or you don’t do i~t.』
The sweet girl’s temptation reminds Subaru, whether he is willing or not, about the『Books of the Dead』plan. Even though now she had fallen into a deep sleep, there must certainly have been a relation of some sort with Subaru around the time when she had been in good health. By borrowing the powers of her『Book of the Dead』, he can find out what kind of relationship and feelings she had towards Subaru.
Above all, he would be able to take that life far more easily than Meili’s. The likes of this girl who is in a comatose state could even be suffocated by just smothering her face with a damp cloth. He must do it quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly…
Subaru:「… Am I being stupid? No, I’m definitely being stupid.」
Restraining the feeling of impatience brimming in his arm, Subaru rethinks his foolish idea. Immediately carrying something out like that wouldn’t be good. His eyes had been covetously attracted by the spot right in front of him… it would be pointless to carry this out later.
Killing is the method. Subaru desires to find out what everyone truly thinks of him. As far as it comes to achieving that result, this was also a good moment to screw up how he’d do it, and rush the killings.
Even at the Taygeta Library, hadn’t he thought the same way? If he is to carry out his『Book of the Dead』plan, he needs to carefully choose the right order to eliminate them in.
Subaru:「Julius, Emilia, Shaula, Ram, Echidna, Beatrice, Rem…」
Counting them on his fingers, Subaru lists the people who remain inside the tower, excluding Meili ― namely, the order in which he’d prefer to get their『Book of the Dead』if at all possible. This order should enumerate who’d become most likely to become a hindrance to his execution of the『Book of the Dead』plan. If he did the opposite of what he says, unless he followed this hit-list he had come up with, if he were rush into it and act then it wouldn’t work out ― he doesn’t want to screw up.
Meili:『If you don’t, then you’ll end up at a disadvantage when killing. That’s scary.』
He keeps his silence with the talkative shade. She seemed to give off quite a strong hint of displeasure towards him. Nevertheless, even if he tries to speak to her, her behaviour doesn’t change. It remains the same.
Subaru doesn’t necessarily want to kill Emilia and the others. But still, if he has to kill them, he wants to go through with that once. Only once, only once is perfect. And only if he has a complete plan.
And thus, with that in mind, Subaru sighs as piercing yellow eyes gaze at him. Noticing them, the gaze came from the figure sitting right next to the sleeping girl in this spirit room ― the gaze had come from his jet black Earth Dragon, Patrasche.
Patrasche’s gaze seems like it’s filled with worry and gloom as she looks towards the exhausted Subaru. She may have worked out that before leaving this place for a while, Beatrice had said「Keep an eye on Subaru」to her. As long as Patrasche’s eyes are focused on him, no matter how frustrated he gets, he will be unable to commit any violence towards the sleeping girl. In that respect, he would like to thank Patrasche for having made him not make a premature decision in this matter.
But, after reading the『Book of the Dead』, Subaru was becoming unable to direct solid trust towards anyone, even to Patrasche who he was supposed to feel a great deal of affection to.
Subaru:「…I wonder… is this all going to your plan,『Natsuki Subaru』?」
He wants to believe in them. The more he ponders about their true intentions, the more Natsuki Subaru isolates himself within this different world where he has no one to turn to. Isn’t this clearly because of the game presented by the wicked『Natsuki Subaru』?
Bit by bit, the scratches that had been caused by Meili continue healing. Whilst savouring the feeling of his aches and pains fading away, Subaru rolls up his sleeve to where the painful scars showing『Natsuki Subaru was here』were carved in. He traces his nails above the scabs, and realises they are also being healed.
He doesn’t mind that the scratches which served as proof of his horrible criminal acts were fading― No, not his, he hadn’t been “himself” then. However, he cannot let the knowledge that it hadn’t been himself be erased.
Subaru:「This message as well.」
The wound that had been carved into his left arm, and the one in his right arm too, had both been scratched in a similar manner. On his still unfamiliar black arm which is mottled by black spots, there is a wound that at first had not been there. He had carved this wound there as if he was returning the favour for the wound that had been carved into his left arm by his other self.
――『Who are you?』He holds that question engraved into him as a wound.
Subaru had not given a single care when wounding his own flesh without abandon.
Patrasche gazes pitifully at the wound left behind on Subaru’s arm, as a result of his own self harm. Even if the scratches she had given him were to disappear, if they were to look at Meili’s own hands, they would find it clear that she had died trying to put up a fight trying to desperately ward off the one who had killed her. The logic of thinking that he had concealed Meili’s murder from everyone was based entirely on his terribly sloppy cleanup afterwards.
All it would take is for one gear to collapse to set everything into motion. He feels like a marionette being dangled from the top of this tower, standing on thin ice, turning his face away from the root of his problems, an amusing clown desperately fighting to keep his balance… that is what Subaru has become.
However, this amusing clown’s performance will finally earn itself a curtain call without encountering any more obstacles in his way. And that is because―
Luckily for him, Meili Portroute’s corpse『had not been found』anywhere.
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The atmosphere around the dinner table is awfully heavy, matching the gloomy expressions everyone wore. This was due to the dangerous circumstances that they had found themselves in― half of them had recognized that their desperate search for Meili’s body had been fruitless and that they had already been far too late.
Although they had all been way too fraught with anxiety to call their search an “All out frontal assault”, they had still split into groups and mobilised everyone so that they could search for her. As a result, they had spent almost half a day trying to find her without even finding a trace of her. The feeling that it had all been for nothing had grown, it was understandable that many of them were experiencing immense levels of stress.
Ram:「Everything’s just been going wrong since we came to this tower, huh?」
Subaru:「…even if I think that, I clearly didn’t say it out loud!」
Whilst munching on his dinner which consisted of things such as dry bread, he mumbles this, staring at Ram, with a growing feeling of lethargy. Receiving Subaru’s protests, Ram shrugs her shoulders, a blank look adorning her face. However, even for her usual calm and composed self, an aura of fatigue was coming off from her. And it wasn’t just Ram, everyone in the tower was in the same state as her.
Emilia:「More or less… I first went to ask Reid about her, but he said he hadn’t seen her. He said that no one had come there since yesterday and that he was getting bored… I don’t think he was lying. Since Meili had seen what Reid’s like, I don’t think she’d have gone there alone…」
Beatrice:「It’s hard to imagine that even that arrogant man would harm such a little girl… though, I can’t say that for sure in this scary place. But, Betty ultimately agrees with Emilia’s thoughts, in fact.」
Emilia and Beatrice exchange words between them regarding the red haired, eye patch clad man who guards the second floor. Although in his mind that man had done nothing but cause him great torment, Emilia had faced him and more or less heard him out safely. It seems like she had managed to come back unharmed. Feeling a sense of relief, Subaru shook his head.
There’s no reason for him to feel such a sense of relief, rather, he has no right to considering what had transpired before. He doesn’t know if he even has the right to comfort Emilia.
Echidna:「―Can I mention one thing? It may sound cruel, but I want to propose something, and I am prepared that I may end up being shouted at because of it.」
Draining her bowl of soup, completely indifferent to its taste, Echidna raises her hand as she finishes her meager dinner. Whilst facing everyone around the dinner table, she narrows her turquoise eyes, and says:
Echidna:「Searching for that little girl… I think we should stop for today… and from tomorrow, we should focus on trying to capture this tower again. What are your thoughts about that?」
Emilia:「―hk! We will do no such thing! What on earth would Meili think of us!?」
Echidna:「It is already too late, she has no way to think or feel anything. That was proved by Natsuki-kun’s confirmation after he read her『Book of the Dead.』I am against further searching for her.」
Emilia had been the first to oppose Echidna’s proposal, which could be said to have been both realistic and level headed. However, Echidna’s expression didn’t waver when hearing Emilia’s argument that had come purely from her emotions. However, on behalf of Emilia who was at a complete loss for words, Beatrice spoke in her place:「Wait, I suppose」
Beatrice:「Your point at first seems to make sense, in fact. But, it seems quite sudden for you to mention it, I suppose. Why is it that you want to stop the search for Meili?」
Echidna:「―. I guess it was a strange thing to say, right? In this tower, the food supplies we brought in are limited, and as more days pass by, it will likely become more burdensome for everyone in each camp to stay here. If our stay greatly drags on, then you ought to think that a search party will be sent out to look for us.」
Ram:「Naturally. Emilia-sama and Anastasia-sama… well, what’s inside of her now is different, but both of you are esteemed candidates for the royal selection. You both shouldn’t even be in this tower in the desert.」
Echidna’s proposal had been more rational, level-headed opinion. The mood at the dinner table was brimming with tension.
Shaula:「Gee~ This isn’t much fun. If you’re going to squabble, I’d rather you did it away from Master and I. But I don’t mind either way, as for meee, I’ll build a happy family with Master, just the two of us. A girl first, and then a boy!」1
He doesn’t deign to reply to Shaula, who had slipped into the seat right next to him as she babbled on, sticking her tongue out at the tense atmosphere around her. She’d also shown this kind of attitude back at the library. Shaula had pressed Subaru for a choice back at the library; what was it that she had wanted Subaru to say back to her? If she refers to Subaru as her Master and completely idolises him, then how far would she go for him? ―How far would she obey him, if Subaru were to give her a command?
Julius:「We should stop arguing.」
Julius, with anguish etched across his handsome face breaks the tense mood around them. He places his arm in front of Echidna and looks at Beatrice and Ram.
Julius:「Beatrice-sama, Miss Ram. As a member of her camp, I deeply apologise for Echidna’s careless words. However, don’t misunderstand what she meant to say. She didn’t make such a proposal with only rationalism in mind, with no other meaning to it.」
Echidna:「Julius, stop. That speech was」
Julius:「We may have lost the little girl that accompanied us here from Emilia-sama’s camp. That pain can be felt there. If possible, we should be more understanding in this situation.」
Hearing Julius’ sincere remarks, Echidna stops herself from saying any more. Julius then turns to face Beatrice once again.
Julius:「For now, Anastasia-sama’s body has been pretty much taken over by Echidna’s spirit. It’s true that in her current state we can’t find a way to get Anastasia-sama back… but, there are other issues as well. ―Echidna is with every passing moment consuming Anastasia-sama’s Od.」
Emilia:「Her Od… is diminishing? Is it still happening because we can’t get Anastasia back?」
Julius:「…Indeed. I imagine that’s why she wants to hurry to borrow the『Sage’s』wisdom by capturing this tower.」
The rest of them react in shock at hearing Echidna’s secret being spoken out loud by Julius. Echidna’s secret had been revealed by her own camp member, shrugging her shoulders at the people staring at her, she says:「Ah!」
Echidna:「No point in trying to gloss over this. It is as Julius said. I, I don’t think it’s a good idea to consume so much of Ana’s Od like this, which isn’t really abundant in the first place. If I can, I want to return this body back to Ana as soon as possible!」
Emilia:「You can’t get free until you are released from her human body?」
Echidna:「Even though I am able to move around freely using Ana’s body, I’m pretty much stuck being bound to her body. I don’t know how much I can trust you with what I’m saying, but…」
Echidna paused for a moment, and then continued her speech.
Echidna:「Essentially, my being should ideally stay within its original vessel. Even borrowing her body, though it may look like her, doesn’t have any of her contents. It’s unnatural. ―It’s honestly dreadful.」
Everyone in the room simply looked on in stunned silence.
Casting his eyes down, Subaru felt as if Echidna’s speech had cast a spell on him. Her story had struck Subaru’s heart to its very core. A borrowed body, lacking substance, and having only its exterior appearance remaining ― this similarity pierces his heavy heart.
Echidna:「Anyways, that is why I want to hurry up and capture this tower. By all means, if you don’t believe what I have said, you can let someone like Beatrice poke around this body just to make sure. I suppose they will immediately see how distorted I am as a spirit and how much Od I have consumed.」
Echidna leaves to the others the proof of her own situation without noticing the turmoil brimming inside of Subaru, brought upon him by her words. In fact, after being nominated, Beatrice takes Echidna’s arm and probes into what in principal is her body; it seemed like Echidna’s words were proven to be true. And, receiving that result―
Emilia:「…Okay. I understand the difficult circumstances that Echidn― Anastasia-san is in. It’s no wonder you want to hurry up and climb all the way up to the top of the tower…」
Anastasia:「I do not know if this will bring you peace of mind, but if it is as is it is said and the『Sage』in this tower is omniscient, possessing esoteric wisdoms, then it is possible that he may also know the whereabouts of where the little girl disappeared. Putting it in another manner, I am fully aware it is the cowardly option.」
Emilia:「Nono, thank you. It’s better than having no hope left at all… you’re also looking out for me, and Meili too, aren’t you?」
Echidna:「Hmm. Maybe. Or maybe it is just that my― Ana’s body is far too cute?」
Echidna, her face showing traces of embarrassment and unsease, turns away from Emilia who seemed prepared to agree with her opinion. Emilia narrowed her amethyst eyes seeing Echidna react like this.Taking a deep breath, she once again spoke:
Emilia:「I am reaaallly worried about Meili. But, I also get Echidna’s point. So, starting from tomorrow again, let’s do our best to try and get to the top of the tower. Of course, I will keep looking for Meili as much as I possibly can, but…」
Julius:「Remember to not neglect the importance of capturing the tower, Emilia-sama.」
Emilia:「I know. ―What’s important, is that sometimes, I don’t have to think about everything all by myself.」
Putting her hand on her cheek, Emilia chastises herself, a firm resolve grows deep in her irises. Turning back, she look towards Subaru, who had been observing the exchange as if he was a spectator. For a moment, the intensity in her gaze overpowered him, but the words Emilia continued with did not scathe into him.
Emilia:「Is that okay with you too, Subaru?」
Subaru:「I-I guess that’s okay. That way Meili can also rest in peace… No, I guess we all need to move forward… No, no that… uh, why are you asking me?」
Emilia:「Because Subaru read Meili’s book, mhm? When I saw Subaru’s reaction immediately after reading it, I…. that’s why I think the one who is the most worried about Meili should be Subaru.」
Emilia reminded him about it. Hearing her words, Subaru held his breath. It wasn’t just Emilia who was looking at him. Beatrice, Ram, Echidna and Julius… everyone was looking at Subaru.
What sort of intention is present in those gazes? He can’t hazard a guess. Without even realising it, Subaru moves his lips in accordance to the treacherous spirit inside of him.
Subaru:「―I’m definitely worried. But, I think Meili also would have wanted us to go on.」
Perhaps, he is just the best in the world when it comes to uttering such shallow words.
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―Late at night, Subaru springs himself into action, finally having the time to freely act without anyone interfering.
After the group resolved to wrack each other’s brains for ideas on how to capture the second floor, and after having established a firm plan for tomorrow, the meeting at the dinner table ended. They then proceeded to get ready for bed. It was a night in which unforeseen problems had occurred to one of their companions. Naturally, they recommended that they put all their bedding together in one room and sleep together. So, more or less, they gathered together in one room and made an improvised partition across the room using a blanket to act as a curtain between the male and female sides.
However, Subaru had insisted on sleeping inside the spirit room.
The after-effects from reading the『Book of the Dead』, was most of his excuse. Practically, after having experienced what followed Subaru reading the『Book of the Dead』, no one had tried to argue with him. Of course, Beatrice had shown particularly strong disapproval at letting Subaru sleep alone, but the spirit room has a fixed capacity limit. Sick with worry, Subaru’s voice had trembled, but Beatrice had to withdraw her opposition to it.
Rather than it being a boon of Subaru’s acting prowess, it had likely been his awfully pale face that had influenced them. Honestly, it was a miracle that he hadn’t collapsed, he was aware that he was in a terrible state.
Meili:『I think Meili also would have wanted us to go on. ―What an actor you are, e~h? 』
Meili:『Fufu, don’t get mad no~w. It isn’t sarcasm. I truly think that, and I admire i~t.』
He had thought she had been surprisingly quiet during the meeting at the dinner table. He wonders if she had something to do with the barefaced lie he had told at the end. Even if he refuses to listen to this troublesome hallucination, blocking his ears to her voice has no effect. That sweet voice continues to cause him discomfort just like the sound of scratching a chalkboard with nails.
Meili:『H~mm, so, tonight you’re not going to take care of the blue haired Onee-san’s neck?』
Her shade kept repeatedly hinting to Subaru, who had waited for the evening to grow dark to take action, about the existence of the sleeping beauty in the room. To the same shade’s temptation from several hours ago, Subaru’s answer remained the same as before.
Subaru:「It isn’t her turn yet.」
Saying that, Subaru leaves the room without even looking at the sleeping beauty’s face. At that moment, his eyes met with Patrasche’s, who had slightly opened her eyes. He handles the situation by bringing his finger to his lips, shushing her, a gesture that indicated to her to keep it a secret. He did not know to what extent the intention has been transmitted to his reptilian companion, but at the same time it feels like Patrasche is more clever than creatures like dogs or horses. Whether or not she is, it would be nice if she remained silent.
After ensuring he had made it so he ended up being left alone, the reason why Subaru started to move in the dead of night— wasn’t to take the lives of his sleeping companions and to put the plan of the『Book of the Dead』into practice.
Of course, he had carefully considered that scheme too. With Subaru’s abilities, it would be best for that plan to be realized with surprise attacks, and you could say that while they’re sleeping would be the best opportunity. However, it is still too early. It is a last resort, a deed that goes against humanity, that he shouldn’t do unless they force his hand.
Then, for what purpose had Subaru started acting in the dead of night? It was because of―,
Meili:『―My corpse, what are you going to do about it?』
Realizing where Subaru was going, the voice of the little girl, as if standing behind him, poses him that question. Subaru doesn’t reply to her, but, the direction he was walking towards was just as good as a confirmation to her question.
―Subaru is acting to dispose of of Meili’s still hidden corpse.
Whether you can call this a ridiculous story or a lucky situation or whatever, in any case, he had no other choice. That today, Emilia and the others hadn’t found Meili’s remains should be called nothing more than a devil’s plot, rather than God’s plan.
Thinking back on it, in regards to the situation, holes were appearing in his cover-up operation. It’s up to himself to curse his own poor thinking. Unexpected as it was, she hadn’t been found. That had saved him. However, from tomorrow, whilst committing himself to capturing the tower, he would not leave whether they find her or not down to guesswork.
At least, he expects that Emilia will not abandon searching for Meili. Seeing that she is a girl without any troubles of her own, her heart will not give in until the situation is resolved, it’s easy to imagine that she’ll continue to look for the little girl that had vanished.
Therefore, it was necessary for Subaru to have peace of mind. If he can’t have peace of mind, he wouldn’t be able to lay the groundwork for his success. Unless he lays the groundwork, he won’t be able to build his castle on top of it, in the future. If the groundwork can’t be built, he will not be able to achieve his future.
To Natsuki Subaru’s peace, the existence of Meili Portroute is an obstacle.
Meili:『I guess it kind of feels like you’re being… even more restless now inside your he~ad』
He turns a deaf ear to her. He had just made his affirmation clear, she would not get in his way. He firmly refuses to let that happen.
As Subaru travels stealthily through the night, making sure not to draw any attention to himself, he arrives at the room where he had hid Meili’s corpse. Although the rooms in this area all looked the same, you can see discoloration in the stone wall near the entrance of this one, making it so that the room is easy to identify via this landmark.
Subaru:「Honestly, this is going to leave a bad aftertaste…」
Taking her out from the tower’s entrance into the desert and burying her in the sand would be for the best. She would continue to decay if she was left for a few more days inside the building. And although the temperature aren’t too high or too low. A body, after ceasing biological functions, cannot be expected to avoid rotting.
Indeed, if he wanted to never have to see it again. The best would be to do something somewhat impossible and leave it far from the tower. Outside where it would become food for the prowling witch beasts. However, He imagined how that would weigh on his heart. No matter what, It was an impossible decision.
At the back of the dim room, was enshrined a square lump of rock. On the opposite side of it, her corpse was hidden. You couldn’t overlook it if you consciously looked at it. It was an awfully childish manner of hiding. While he was feeling pathetic at losing his head, Subaru went around to the other side of the stone.
There, Meili’s approximately half a day old remains――
Without thinking, his voice leaks out. His head renounced grasping the view before him.
On the other side of that stone, was absolutely nothing. At the very least, he had made arrangements for the little girl’s corpse, closing her eyes, crossing her arms together on top of her chest. The bruises adorning her pale neck, even the corpse of the poor little girl… they were nowhere to be found.
Subaru:「Wh-…y…I was sure… I left it here…」
It was supposed to be here. He couldn’t have possibly mistaken the room. He didn’t make such a fundamental mistake when coming here. He didn’t. So if he didnt, where was the dead body which had to be here?
―Where did Meili Portroute’s remains disappear to?
???:「―What are you sneaking about to search for this late at night, Barusu?」
Astounded, the voice coming from behind him made his body go stiff, and Subaru fearfully turned around. Paling, within his field of vision, at the entrance of the not so small room, stood a single silhouette.
Bobbed pink hair, sharp, light pink irises; with crossed arms, her imposing yet lovely features staring in his direction with coldness. With that out-of-place feeling in her chest, while staring at the petrified Subaru, the girl― Ram, gazed at his pupils and with an absolutely cold tone of voice said,
Ram:「Or I guess I should call you a fake. A worthless excuse of a Barusu― of Natsuki Subaru」
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-  I would like to credit /u/WintryOne for basing my translation of Shaula’s dialogue using their translation as the basis, which you can find here.
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