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- Ice (/u/Ice_Occultism)
- Furuta (/u/GracedHarperd)
Contributions By :
Fan Art Source
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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: JAPANESE WEB NOVEL SOURCE
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―Amid the dregs of murky darkness, there was consciousness.
It had been a long time since Natsuki Subaru visited this place. Like the several previous times, it was a dark world where sky and earth had no end, and only darkness resided. It felt like he had been forcibly summoned to this place just like when he『Returned by Death』.
If he were to think about it, this too was a truly mysterious place. At any rate, it wasn’t like Subaru could pull out his memories of this place, and bring them to the outside. Despite it not being his first time visiting this place, he would forget entering it after leaving.
A transient feeling, just like as if he was a mere bubble floating by in a dream.
Within this pale darkness, in the narrow gaps of his faint recollections, the consciousness known as Natsuki Subaru on the outside floundered through the air, and slowly swam amidst the jet black darkness.
With only his consciousness, he rose to the surface; of course when it came to his body he had gotten used to the feeling of not having his limbs, his eyes, his ears, his mouth. As well as that, the fact that he didn’t know what was top, bottom left or right, and the anxiety towards not being able to see anything, including the depths below. All of that didn’t matter to his consciousness, which was dominated by just one thing.
There was an unbearable, unending passion at the core of his consciousness, or perhaps within the formation of his consciousness itself― no, more so, it was dear love, adoration, deep unconditional love.
When he comes here, he can be with the source of this love. His consciousness had learnt just this thing, and he was delighted that he could visit this place once again. Before he began to even relish that long awaited encounter, the feeling pounded in his rightfully nonexistent chest was one of such joy that he wanted to open his rightfully nonexistent lips to sing.
However, the passion of his consciousness was―
Mysterious Voice 1:「He seems to have arrived in… HIGH SPIRITS.」
Mysterious Voice 2:「It’s really nothing to joke about. Acting all smug due to just a bit of luck. Have some restraint, even shamelessness can go so far, how unbearable. Do take a long, objective look at yourself; maybe then, you will see just how far your impudence has gone.」
Suddenly, he heard them; he was disturbed by voices which by all rights he should not be able to hear.
His consciousness turned to look behind. If neither face nor body exist in this directionless world, then what’s the significance in the act of looking behind, was there any? It was not to find a meaning in this, rather it was an act for the sake of giving meaning to it. You needed a body to look behind. If he consciously thought so, and acted, then the jet black darkness has no choice but to give that to the nothingness that was Natsuki Subaru.
Thus, the consciousness which looks back became Natsuki Subaru, now bestowed with vision so he could look around his surroundings, and a body which he could turn back around with. Yet, that alone was still insufficient, and his body was far off from being complete. This Subaru was an imperfect recreation; the real Natsuki Subaru couldn’t be reproduced at all.
Would it be better if he had hands, or legs, or perhaps a nose and mouth? ―No, making and manifesting a human being out of nothing was not that easy.
Natsuki Subaru didn’t know nearly enough about himself to recreate himself. It wasn’t easy for Natsuki Subaru to complete himself using only his own memories and knowledge.
Therefore, it was impossible currently to make Natsuki Subaru more than this. However, in that lacking state, the incomplete Natsuki Subaru wasn’t even able to recognise this. And that was why the incomplete Natsuki Subaru who’d only gave his transient body some transient eyes, whilst existing in a state in which he can’t even place a foot down onto the ground, spun around to look at his surroundings, and noticed something.
There was something other than the “consciousness” of Natsuki Subaru coming to the fore within the depths of the darkness.
Mysterious Voice 1:「Disgusting and shameful, nothing more than the result of self… CONCEIT. Yes, how very sinful, how dirty you are! Just so so so so worthy of… DISDAIN!」
Mysterious Voice 2:「Subpar, way off from a human, we could say we have the ultimate imperfection here, doesn’t it feel like that? What were they even thinking, that a guy like this would kick the satisfied me to the curb? Shouldn’t it have been obvious from the beginning if you knew your place? Who are you to stand in my way, a nuisance! A hindrance! Pretty much everything! So lacking! Not enough! Liiike, if you think like a logical, human being…! Even with you being a subhuman, liike the likes of human cattle.」
His “Consciousness” rose to the fore in the darkness, where jeers rained down upon the very much imperfect Natsuki Subaru. On one side was insanity, and on the other was annoyance, both respectively venting out their hatred towards Natsuki Subaru.
However, unfortunately for Natsuki Subaru, being a mere speck of consciousness, he could not comprehend that hatred.
The heart, the brain of this Natsuki Subaru were not prepared at all to comprehend it. If he were to try and gain an understanding of those words which the “consciousnesses” uttered, then just like he materialised some flesh, and just like he created a sense of sight, he had to create organs to allow him to understand them.
―But, somehow, those organs felt unnecessary.
At least, in order to grasp what those two “consciousnesses” were saying, the meaning behind trying to produce such a thing was weak, above all, he didn’t feel the urge to do so. It was not easy to drag out the material from the immaterial. At the very least, if Natsuki Subaru’s consciousness didn’t truly wish for it, then he could neither create nor acquire it.
So as things were right now, he couldn’t help but to postpone bringing forth a mind to understand them, as well as words to reply to the “consciousness” of those two. No, actually, there was no ulterior motive behind it.
Mysterious Voice 1:「What insolence! What contempt! What disdain! Here I am, preaching with such diligence, and yet you don’t even bother to consider… CONTEMPLATING IT. How very… how very, aah, aah, aaah… ! Slothful. You are truly… slothful!」
Mysterious Voice 2:「How far will you go in making a fool out of others until you’re satisfied, damned human cattle…! Listen well, just who do you think I am? I am the most satisfied man in the world, one who worries about nothing and only wishes to pursue his simple joys and live a fulfilling life, undisturbed and free of greed, and yet you would interfere with that? This is a violation of my rights. An act of wickedness. One such as you, who would crush the dreams of others so easily, must be stopped…!」
Feeling that he wasn’t making any progress, he turned his back to the “consciousnesses” of the two. It was convenient, having this body, to indicate that he has no intention of talking to them. Behind the scenes, he felt that their abusive words would still echo, but he didn’t mind because if he showed that he cared, it would be plain enough to them.
His sense of vision worked without even needing to turn back. Right now, what he would probably need was not “A sense of vision”, but “eyeballs”. Should the chance present itself, he would remember to make them.
However, right now, he had no time to deal with such trifles.
Because, right in front of of Natsuki Subaru’s consciousness, the shadow whom he aimed for was showing herself.
In the jet black darkness, where nothing should have been visible, the silhouette clad in deeper black than the midst of the darkness he was in was far more vivid.
Sometimes, she would freeze Natsuki Subaru’s heart, with those arms with such graceful fingers would dangle loosely. Though slender, those limbs possessed such tenderness, garbed in a dark dress. As usual, her features are unclear, as everything above her neck was covered by a thick mist. But, Natsuki Subaru understood deep within his soul that there was “someone” there that inspired such deep emotions of love.
Her appearance was far more clear than the previous encounter, and he was far closer to her, distance-wise. In his previous encounter with her, only her arms and body could be seen, a silhouette, but now she was wearing a dress, and he could see up until her bare feet peeking out from underneath the hem of her long dress. Nearly all of her body was perfectly reproduced; what wasn’t visible to Natsuki Subaru was just her face hidden by the darkness.
How irritating. But for now, that was okay. Stronger than before, he felt her presence ever nearer. However, Natsuki Subaru, though clearer she may be, was not yet prepared to go out and meet her.
Right now, he should simply rejoice that he was so close to her. One day, he would definitely reach out and touch her fingers, embrace her slender waist, and make love with her.
???:『―I love you』
Faced with this confession, Natsuki Subaru gave his newly manufactured chin a nod in response. Through that mere action, the shadow’s delight could be felt; accompanying it, an apologetic feeling sprang up.
Next time, a “Mouth” and “Tongue” would be necessary so that he could express his words of love from there. While feeling these profound emotions, Natsuki Subaru’s consciousness started to leave this shadow garden, and―
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Though Subaru knew he was good at getting up from sleep, on the flipside, he also knew that he found it hard to get asleep.
For Subaru, waking up from sleep felt as if he were raising his face above the water’s surface. No matter who may be submerged underwater, if their face breaks up to the water’s surface, they will not forget how to breathe. For Subaru, that breathing signifies the waking of his consciousness, it’s fairly natural that he can “breathe” when waking up.
Emilia:「Ooh, you get up so well, I’m jealous. I… am reaaaaaaally bad at getting up.」
This had been Emilia’s comment from when they had this conversation before. Incidentally, when it came to Emilia getting up, there was no exaggeration or humility when she said these words, it really was that bad. Just as you would imagine, Emilia did have very low blood pressure, it took her about an hour to wake up and get herself out of bed.
When she wakes up in her bed in the mornings, in her drowsiness she waits for to get back to her senses and then finally gets out of the Futon, washes her face and fixes her hair― that’s her style. And on the other hand, unlike Subaru, she slept as well as a child. A stark contrast.
Emilia:「When I was in the forest, and I only had Puck beside me, since Puck didn’t come out much at night… I could only do stuff like sleeping…」
This had been Emilia’s comment from when they had this conversation before. And regarding the details of how Subaru had replied to this, he would leave those turned over. But now that she has someone to keep her company late at night, she should forget about how the past was.
In any case, Subaru was honestly quite envious of her quality of sleep. No matter what, when Subaru gets into bed and closes his eyes in the middle of the night, he can’t stop thinking about all kinds of stuff. In particular, what he thinks about includes all the things he could have done differently, and all the regrets he has. Whether it was about what happened during that day, and sometimes as well what happened days long before, regret torments Subaru without any heed for either time nor means. When fighting with stuff like that, he can’t fall asleep at all. That’s the source behind his poor quality of sleep.
―So, even the events which happened beneath the sand sea became a newly planted seed of regret as far as it concerned Subaru. It’s practically assured that this would become something that would greatly disturb Subaru’s sleeping quality from now on.
Subaru:「…where… am I?」
At the moment he woke up, Subaru understood that his waking had differed to the usual one from『Return by Death.』First of all, there was light in the surroundings. Quite unlike the underground area beneath the sand sea that he had awoken in submerged by darkness, the fact that he can look around his surroundings serves as evidence of things having changed. In addition to that, the chilliness had also faded, and his body was embraced by a feeling quite different to that of lying on top of the sand. The soft feeling against his back was perhaps that of a bed. Below his head there was also something like a pillow there, in other words, Subaru was―
Subaru:「I’m lying down in a bed…」
If he were to check and say it out loud, resting on top of his body was a white cotton blanket. The feeling of a bed with a pillow was not a feeling he wasn’t familiar with if he were to really check. Rather, he was really familiar with it, he immediately realised that it was the bedding that came from the dragon carriage. Thus here, he was inside the dragon carriage that they had used in their attempt to seize the Pleiades Watchtower.
Subaru:「What’s this doing here…!?」
Subaru sat himself up, understanding that he had been laid down within the dragon carriage that was supposed to have veered off course. In that moment, he noticed that someone was clutching his right hand. If he were to turn to face his right hand side― there was a young lady kneeling on the floor right next to the bed, her body sprawled out across the bed, sleeping. It was the silver-haired Emilia who was clutching Subaru’s hand, with somewhat of a look of relief on her face.
Softly breathing, with warmth radiating from the palm of her hand. Subaru let out an exhausted, hoarse breath seeing that she was definitely here.
Subaru:「Ah, ahhhhh…Emilia, that’s you right? Safe and sound…」
Emilia’s form, nestled beside him, left Subaru puzzled, with it not having sunk in yet. Since his right hand was being held, he stretched out his left hand and placed it against her cheeks. Her pale cheeks were hot, as if she was developing a fever; her skin was absurdly soft and smooth. Just by touching them, it felt like love and affection are about to burst out of them, touching them as much as he dared, just to make sure.
Subaru:「Oooh, there’s no doubt, it’s Emilia… Cute, delicate, warm.」
???:「―You wouldn’t be happening to be doing something inappropriate, in fact. Emilia was terribly worried for you, I suppose. She didn’t sleep for two days, in fact.」
When stroking Emilia’s cheeks, having his fill of her soft breathing, Subaru had reflexively flinched at the voice that had abruptly interrupted him. And in a panic he tried to turn his head around; standing by the door which connected this living space with the bed he found the little girl leaning on it, with a look of disgust on her face.
Beatrice:「Shhhhh, I suppose. I dislike this unreasonable Subaru, in fact.」
Instinctively, he had almost raised his voice, delighted in seeing her again, but he had been interrupted by Beatrice just before. Subaru placed his hand over his mouth, and quietly looked down below at the still sleeping Emilia. Whilst letting him chew on his words, her stiff expression loosened, leading her to look somewhat more happy.
Subaru:「That sure was a close one…Beako. Come over here. Let me hug you.」
Beatrice:「What a foolish thing to say…well, it can’t be helped, I suppose.」
If he can’t show his happiness at this reunion using words, then he has no choice but to show his happiness at this reunion using actions. With Subaru beckoning her, Beatrice sighed and drew closer to him. The little girl was indifferently playing with her drill curls, and when she came beside him, Subaru hugged her with his free left arm, firmly embracing her against his chest.
Subaru:「Thank goodness… seriously, thank goodness. I was really really worried.」
Beatrice:「…That’s Betty’s words, in fact. We couldn’t find Subaru or the older sister anywhere, and we were all frightened to the core, I suppose. We feared you weren’t alive, I suppose.」
Subaru:「Is that so. Were you worried to death about me?」
Beatrice:「Not entirely like that… I suppose. That’s right, I was worried, I suppose. Really, really… really… 」
While embracing Beatrice’s light body, the little girl cast her gaze down and her words faltered mid-sentence. He continued to stroke Beatrice’s hair who nuzzled her head against his chest and cherished her reunion with him in silence for a moment. And after a little bit of time, the silence was broken; Beatrice moved her face up away from Subaru’s chest, with a feeling of relief traced across her features and hopped off of the bed with a boing.
Beatrice:「Anyway, other than to the sleepyhead Emilia, we’ve got to tell everyone that you’ve woken up, in fact. We were all worried, thinking it was your last, I suppose.」
Subaru:「Everyone… Oh yeah, is everyone safe? Even those who got separated from me, and those who were with me?」
Beatrice:「You can rest assured, in fact. Everyone is safe and sound, I suppose.」
Subaru:「I see… I seee!」
Subaru’s unease faded as he heard Beatrice’s guarantee. He had heard that everyone was safe, her unexpected answer had set his heart at ease. But, straight afterwards, Subaru jerked his head up, an unpleasant feeling of deja vu resounding from that guarantee.
Subaru:「Wait, Beako. I’m sorry for how short-lived my happiness is. But, is everyone really all right?」
Beatrice:「Gnh, it’s upsetting being doubted by Subaru, in fact. There would be no sense in Betty deceiving Subaru like this, I suppose. I am not joking, in fact.」
Subaru:「I get that you’re in a huff, but this isn’t the reason why I am doubting you. Even if you weren’t looking to deceive me, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been fooled, …didn’t we just experience that rather painfully in Pristella?」
Hearing this, Beatrice seemed to notice the source of Subaru’s concern. Even in the battle against the Witch Cult in Pristella, after their battle Subaru had received an identical report. He had been told that everyone was safe, in fact, that been a correct presumption to make, but―
Subaru:「Let’s confirm it. There’s me, Emilia and Beatrice. In addition there’s Rem, Ram and Patrasche. Anastasia, Meili, Gyan, and finally… Julius. This is everyone.」
Subaru:「You’re saying that everyone… that everyone is here?」
Beatrice:「Don’t worry, I suppose. That’s everyone, in fact. There’s no one that I’ve forgotten, and that Subaru only hasn’t, I suppose.]
Subaru:「I see… I see. Then I guess I can really be delighted by it…」
Having confirmed that everything that was necessary, Subaru carefully thinks about whether there are any more pitfalls remaining. He determined that he hadn’t overlooked anything, and finally he found strength in those words which had said that everyone was safe.
Subaru:「Thank goodness. Oh, thank goodness…!」
Beatrice:「Good grief, you sure like to over-exaggerate, in fact. In the first place, when we found out that you, the most likely to attract danger, was okay, we guessed that everyone else was too, I suppose.」
Subaru:「Idiot! That’s not always true y’know! Even if I know that’s so, anxiety is still anxiety, and worry is still worry. You were crying after finding out I was safe, no?」
Beatrice:「I wasn’t crying or anything, in fact. Just because Betty was pressing her face against your chest, it doesn’t mean you should look at it like that, I suppose. You can’t prove it, in fact.」
With a hmph, Beatrice puffed out her delicate chest, however her words seemed to be brimming with emotion to the contrary. On top of that, there were traces left on the bed that someone other than him had slept there at a space of the lower part of the bed which took up about half of its size― Subaru pointed at it and said:
Subaru:「There’s evidence right here that someone crawled in next to me and fell asleep, but even with seeing this dead giveaway are you still going to say that you weren’t worried? 」
Beatrice:「That wasn’t Betty, I suppose! This is completely a false accusation, in fact. I have no idea what you’re talking about, I suppose.」
Subaru:「No one but you would act like this! Don’t feel embarrassed.」
Beatrice:「You’re wrong, in fact! Ahh, jeez, we’re gonna wake up Emilia, I suppose.」
Beatrice forced a change of subject as they exchanged such frivolous conversations in their usual manner While giving a wry smile at her flushed face, Subaru let out a long, truly long, deep sigh.
Everyone was safe, he was relieved for now to hear those words. When they were at the sand dunes, they had been pursued by a herd of Witchbeasts and they had split up, Subaru had repeatedly『Returned by Death』in the underground area of the sand sea. He had no clue how Emilia and the others were doing and what would have happened if he couldn’t have undone it―
Subaru:「…now that you mention it, it’s like feeling suspicious about everything will only raise bogies, is that what it is?」
Looking dumbfounded, Beatrice cocked her head at Subaru who had placed his left hand on his head. For Beatrice, the meaning of that behaviour felt cryptic, but to Subaru there was a meaning to it. No, there was no meaning to this behaviour itself, but it could be said that the subjectiveness of it all was the greatest factor.
Subaru:「Beako… you’re the same as always, Beako. Emilia as well is as cute as always.」
Beatrice:「What are you even saying…」
Although she fixed him with a deadpan gaze, Subaru felt no extraordinary sense of discomfort or irritation at her words. Toward the sleeping Emilia as well, he felt nothing but trusting love to the two of them. Not a trace of the inexplicable hatred that had tormented him underground was left.
Subaru:「Guess I’m alright now, since I’m far away from the miasma. Though it makes me sick to even leave such a strange thing, of unknown cause and treatment, as is…」
Beatrice:「Subaru, if you still aren’t feeling well or you feel anxious about your health, it would be better for you to lie down, I suppose. There’s no need for you to get up all in a hurry for now, in fact. In one way or another, just Betty and everyone else will manage to undertake the trials, I suppose.」
Placing her hand against his forehead, Beatrice had showed concern at Subaru, his eyes downcast. Amidst the concern in those words, was something that he hadn’t heard before. Subaru interrupted her without thinking.
Subaru:「What did you just say now?」
Beatrice:「So you can rest, I suppose. It’s not like you’re taking the day off with no good reason, Betty won’t get mad at you when it’s about you not feeling well, in fact.」
Subaru:「Though I remember saying such terrific stuff in this feverish talk, it wasn’t that part I was referring to y’know? After that… you said something about a trial?」
Beatrice:「Ahhh, yeah, I did say that I suppose.」
At having heard Subaru hounding her, Beatrice slipped out a「Damnit」in response. It’s not like she had really wanted to hide it from Subaru, rather, it more so came from her concern from worrying about wanting Subaru to rest for a bit. However, it wasn’t enough to make him have peace of mind, having heard that much, since Subaru was not much of an obedient person, and Beatrice knew that well enough.
Beatrice:「I know. I will give you a proper explanation, I suppose. Really, I thought that it’d be better to talk about it after you settled down… despite that, my mouth slipped.」
Subaru:「It’s one of your cute points that you can’t hide stuff like this. ―In the first place, I’ve looked the other way on stuff that I ought to have asked you from the start.」
He flashed a faint bittersweet smile at Beatrice who had admitted defeat, though the smile quickly disappeared from his face. Subaru more or less lowered his voice and opened his mouth, and naturally questioned her with:
Subaru:「Where are we? And don’t go butting in saying something silly like inside the dragon carriage.」
Beatrice:「Subaru, I think it’s no long stretch of the imagination for you too, I suppose」
Beatrice gave a weary sigh, putting her arms together. And so, with a click of her heels, she looked up to the other side of the room― the little girl looked up to the ceiling.
Beatrice:「The watchtower at the end of those sand dunes, we are in it, I suppose.」
And that was what she said.
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He carefully let go of Emilia’s hand; she was lying down on the bed, fast asleep since she had stayed up for two days. Subaru slipped out of the dragon carriage after giving her forehead a quick stroke.
Within the dragon carriage which they’d spent over a month in, it seemed like there were no changes to it from before it had veered off course. Without so much of a scratch on its body, it looked just as if it was new.
Beatrice:「Unlike those who were with Subaru, the ones who were with Betty, swallowed up by the『Sand Wind』chasm were safe, I suppose. We were hurled away to a different place from that flower garden… everyone with us turned pale when we realised that Subaru and some of the rest had been separated from us, in fact.」
Subaru:「You as well?」
Beatrice:「Emilia and Julius too, I suppose. Betty isn’t the only one, in fact.」
With a hmph, Beatrice pouted and turned her eyes away from him; she opened the door that led to the outside of the dragon carriage. The sensation of the wind outside felt rather like the one present in the sand dunes, the darkness outside was close to that of the one in the underground area of the sand sea. However, unlike back at the sand dunes, there’s no sand mixed in with the wind, and the darkness was less profound when compared to the underground area. The cause of this came from some magical lamps which had been installed all the way around the area, as well as some densely packed luminous moss which lined the walls around them. The moss near him certainly reminded him of the kind he had seen inside『Sanctuary’s』graveyard. It grows quite superflously wherever he may go, it’s certainly quite a handy piece of vegetation to have around.
Subaru:「This place is…」
Beatrice:「The sixth floor of the Pleiades Watchtower… well, the lowermost floor, I suppose. From looking at the tower from the sand sea, it looks like the sixth floor seems to be partially buried beneath the tower, in fact. The fifth floor is above the sand… although you might say it’s hard to tell, I suppose.」
Looking over the circular area, Subaru widened his eyes at hearing Beatrice’s explanation. The reason why he can’t really get the gist of her explanation was probably because Subaru was completely unfamiliar with the interior and the structure of the Pleiades Watchtower.
As far as he can see, the inside of the Pleiades Watchtower was fairly vast and spacious. In the place Beatrice had mentioned as being called the sixth floor, the floor was on one side made of stone, and right in the middle of it rested the dragon carriage. The circular area that spreads itself around from where the dragon carriage stood was probably about 200 or 300 metres in radius. If the tower was built exactly in the shape of a circle, rather than something more crude like an ellipsis, then he can hardly believe it, mouth agape, at the enormity of the handiwork it would have taken to construct it.
Subaru:「…Thinking about the pointless work done back in the olden days, doesn’t this remind you of stuff like the pyramids? It’s such a massive waste for just one person’s tomb. Hmm, wait, no, I’ve heard some stuff about how they were kinda used as public enterprise, and the unemployed being super grateful for them…」
Beatrice:「I really don’t get what you’re muttering about again, in fact.」
Subaru:「I’m talking about tombstones. Even burying people alive was once popular, thinking they were taking preventative measures about what would happen to them after death, that’s how they thought back in olden times, the idea is similar」
Beatrice:「…Stories about what happens after death aren’t good omens, I suppose. Ridiculous, in fact.」
Hearing Subaru’s thoughtless remarks, Beatrice turned her eyes away from Subaru, as if in a sulk. Stroking his cheek, Subaru realised that he had said something he shouldn’t have, and so he started petting Beatrice’s hair. Suddenly, he wrapped back around to the front of the dragon carriage, as if having remembered something.
Subaru:「Ohh, Gyan! You’re also safe and sound! Gyan, you aren’t dead!」
(TN: Subaru makes a lame pun in the way he tells Gyan he isn’t dead, by using his name, which sounds like the negative in Japanese, and it’s impossible to translate into English well. So I skipped it.)
Beatrice:「Why are you saying such inane things all of a sudden, I suppose!?」
Subaru:「Huh, no, I just felt like I needed to do it. But, I am really glad that he’s safe heh.」
At the front of the dragon carriage, reined to the carriage itself, was the reliable earth dragon, Gyan. Of the Gyrus species which are adapted for the desert, resilience was their strong suit. Gyan had splendidly managed to survive the difficult circumstances, showing a particularly shameless obstinance to those words.
Subaru:「That said, disregarding the others, you’re the first one confirmed alive! 」
Subaru:「Oyoy, don’t make such a long face. I said I’m glad. Hey, I will give you a larger share of food later, so cut me some slack.」
Subaru:「What is it? Look, I’m a money-on-hand kind of guy.」
Beatrice:「It’d be high time for you to calm your little act down any time now, in fact. He’s tired, so we’re heading off, I suppose.」
The look on Beatrice’s face was one indicating she didn’t want to have anything to do with this, as Subaru had his little joke alongside Gyan. In response to Beatrice’s reaction, Subaru with a twist of his neck said「My bad, my bad.」
Subaru:「Come now, I didn’t mean to embarrass you, but there’s something I wanted to check. 」
Beatrice:「What is it?」
Subaru:「Well… even though Gyan’s here, Patrasche is still nowhere to be seen.」
His fellow earth dragon, Patrasche, it would be normal for her to be reined here to the carriage if she was safe. However, even when he checked the other side of the dragon carriage her jet-black beautiful figure could not be seen anywhere. Subaru was uneasy at the fact that her figure, which should be there, wasn’t, but,
Beatrice:「Don’t jump quickly to conclusions, I suppose. That earth dragon… Patrasche, as we couldn’t keep her on the sixth floor, she’s on the fourth floor, in fact.」
Subaru:「Fourth floor? Is that above? Why?」
Beatrice:「She’s getting treatment for her wounds, I suppose. The younger of those sisters… Rem’s figure shouldn’t be there in the dragon carriage either, in fact. Everyone in a poor state was brought up to the fourth floor, I suppose.」
Subaru:「Getting treatment… will… Rem be cured!?」
Subaru jumped at Beatrice’s unexpected words. A faint look of surprise flitted across Beatrice’s face as she saw how forcefully Subaru had reacted, but she kept him at bay by pinching his nose as he drew near to her.
Beatrice:「Ca… calm down, in fact! Don’t be so impatient, I suppose!」
Subaru:「As if this is the time to be calm! Will… Rem be cured? Also, you said Patrasche is getting treatment as well, what sort of state is she in?」
Beatrice:「Let me start from the beginning! I can’t just say everything all at once, in fact. Just, we put her in place that is better than just laying her down, I suppose! The earth dragon is like so, too, in fact!」
Subaru:「…Ohh, I see」
Subaru, having tried to press for answers, hung his head down despondently, seeing the energy sap out of him, even Beatrice gave him a sad look. But, the little girl clenched her small fist, and said:
Beatrice:「Look, this isn’t a situation where you should feel down, I suppose. Surely, there has to be a way to manage it, in fact. In order to check that, everyone will challenge the trials of the watchtower now, I suppose.」
In order to cheer up the downcast Subaru, Beatrice clumsily attempts to urge him into rousing his spirit. Seeing her attempt, Subaru was taken aback, and he jerked his chin up with a:「That’s right」
Subaru:「My bad, I’m really sorry in retrospect. I’m sorry about worrying you.」
Beatrice:「 If this worry is from Subaru, then for you I’ll allow it, in fact. But at least let me worry in a place where Betty can keep an eye on you, that’d be a great help, I suppose」
Subaru:「I’ll consider it.」
Subaru ruffled Beatrice’s hair and expressed his gratitude at hearing her sympathetic words. Beatrice’s hairdo was completely unyielding, and even his attempts at ruffling and disturbing it in this manner were in vain, such was its strength. In any case, under the encouragement of Beatrice, Subaru turned his eyes towards the top of the tower.
Subaru:「This is the sixth floor… at any rate, we can just go up, right?」
Beatrice:「Perhaps, Julius and the others are in the middle of the trial right now. So, beforehand, it’s best if we meet with the『Sage』face-to-face and ask them for some more details, I suppose.」
Subaru:「Sage…? Huh, now that you mention it…」
In the middle of Beatrice’s words, Subaru caught hold onto the word,『Sage.』In spite of in the first place having come to this watchtower to meet with the『Sage』, Beatrice hadn’t mentioned anything to do with the『Sage』up until now.
Subaru:「Beako, I guess you already met the Sage? What sort of guy was he? Did you talk to him and complain about the white light beams which zinged towards us?」
Beatrice:「…I don’t really want to talk about the Sage too much, in fact. Well, no, I suppose. Perhaps, when it comes to the sage, it’ll be simpler if you met them in person, I suppose」
Subaru:「Y’know… I don’t remember ever having met face to face with any normal guy with the way you’re speaking about them. If I recall, I feel like I was told something similar by Emilia-tan when I first met with Roswaal.」
It had already been more than a year ago, but he remembered the conversation back then vividly. He remembered that she had explained it like this:『I think meeting and talking to him will be easier to understand him than talking to each other about him』in relation to Roswaal. In reality, she thought that he wouldn’t have received the impact unless he met with him in person, and he’d be on the same wavelength if they spoke, but, well, it was far too late now for what happened back then.
Beatrice:「If you meet them, you’ll understand, in fact.」
Subaru:「…Understood. In any case, we should go and try and meet them. How do we get above?」
Beatrice:「Stairs, I suppose. If you look closely, there are stairs by the wall, in fact.」
If he squinted his eyes to where Beatrice’s words had pointed him to, he can just about make out that there’s something like steps― a staircase, on the outer edge of the circular room indeed. However, there were a huge amount of steps forming a spiral staircase that wound its way around the big, circular tower.
Subaru:「Eh…? Does this lead up?」
Beatrice:「Climb up this, I suppose. If you keep going up, it won’t take too long, in fact.」
Subaru:「Even if you say to keep going up… how many steps is it until the top!?」
Subaru shrieked this out, as it looked likely that he’d be made to get some heavy exercise, being made to go up and down all over again. His voice echoed around the tower in vain, most likely it echoed all the way up until to the top before sorrowfully fading away. Beatrice shrugged her shoulders uttering a『Good Grief』at Subaru’s lamenting.
Beatrice:「It can’t be helped, I suppose. If we could use something like a bit of magic for this, it may be possible to fly upstairs in some shape or form, but…well, Subaru you have no other choice, in fact.」
Subaru:「No, look, we can like use Murak here. How about we use something like that to climb all the way up to the very top without stopping with ease?」
Beatrice:「It’s not like we can’t, but when push comes to shove, I feel we’d be in danger… like of running out of mana, in fact.」
Subaru:「Even if we go up the stairs normally, when push comes to shove, won’t we be running out of steam, physically!?」
Even though Subaru’s physical strength compared to back when he had been a hikikomori was stronger, he was still a feeble boy who still has some ways to go before he reaches the standards of strength of this other world, and thus he can’t escape from it. He didn’t know how high above the fifth floor was from the lowermost floor, i.e. the sixth floor, but at least when he looked above at he couldn’t even see a ceiling. With how high he thought it is, climbing up would be a deed on the level of mountain climbing.
Subaru:「Damn it! Even so I have to go up and make sure that the likes of Rem and Patrasche are safe. I have to. Ah, goddamnit.」
Beatrice:「That’s the spirit, I suppose. Good luck, in fact. Betty will cheer you on, I suppose. It’d be really helpful if you call out to me when you reach the top, in fact.」
Subaru:「A shortcut!? I ain’t gonna let you! You come along too with me. Walk! Break into a sweat!」
Beatrice:「I’m sorry, but Betty is a cute spirit and sweating would be―」
Subaru steeled his resolve to tackle the stairs, left with no choice, as Beatrice almost dampened his enthusiasm. But, in the middle of their argument, Beatrice suddenly broke off mid-sentence, and looked up overhead.
Beatrice:「Oh no, I suppose. Subaru, get down in fact―!」
With her sudden change in attitude, Subaru’s voice trailed off, as both Beatrice’s expression changed as well as coming to jump up to him. Catching Beatrice by her chest, he lifted her up into his arms. And, Beatrice was open-mouthed, and then she beat at Subaru’s chest.
Beatrice:「Idiot! That doesn’t mean you can pick me up like a baby, I suppose! Get down, in fact!」
Subaru:「It was just on the spur of the moment…」
As he held Beatrice within his arms, Subaru gently leaned his body back. He doesn’t know what’s happening, Beatrice’s alertness was the only thing he had to work from. In preparation for that, he tried to think, but it was too late.
―Immediately afterwards, a terrible sense of pressure emanated from above them; Subaru held his breath.
The source of that pressure came ever closer with ferocity, and in the next moment something blasted towards Subaru, right in front of his eyes― a violent quake shook the enormous tower, Subaru was almost blown away by the shockwave which raised sand and dust up. He would have probably been thrown about over and over if not for Gyan’s enormous frame just behind them. Protected by the weight of the earth dragon and the dragon carriage, Subaru desperately pushed his eyes open in the midst of the sandstorm that was blowing against him.
And then, on the other side of the smoke plume, from where the impact had been which had been, the cloud of sand and dust that had risen up abruptly cleared. Something like a gust of wind tore through the smoke, and soon after from the other side, a majestic figure of a person could be seen. Tearing through the dense sandy haze which had enveloped them, the person’s figure started to become visible. Subaru’s cheeks stiffened, he was frozen in place.
That figure, their appearance, he recognised it.
A tall woman was walking briskly across the hard floor, stepping ever closer to him. Her brown, moreso black, hair was tied up into a ponytail, she was marching forward boldly, her limbs, belly and back were exposed by her clothing, it’s safe to say that she was half-naked. Her chest and crotch area were just barely covered up, and she donned a black mantle over her clothes. She was a person who wore rather odd clothing.
In Subaru-speak, she looked like a nympho who was donning her mantle over a black bikini top and hot pants.
Long, slender, white arms and legs, along with large breasts which were liberally swinging about. She was around the same height as Subaru, maybe a little taller. A handsome face sat on top of her white shoulders, she was quite the looker, with eyes that albeit languid, were rather striking.
―That was definitely the last thing he saw before he had lost consciousness.
She was the one who had attacked and slaughtered the centaur without mercy. And those countless flashes of light that she had launched towards the centaur was something Subaru knew only too well.
Subaru:「…Are you the『Sage』？」
Feeling how parched his throat was, Subaru hoarsely raised this question to the woman who was approaching him in silence,. However, the woman did not deign to answer Subaru until she came right up to where he was stood, she stopped herself in her tracks at a spot where if Subaru were to stretch out his arm he’d be able to touch her, she was just… looking at him intently.
Her gaze felt as if she was scrutinising his entire body, honestly, it made Subaru feel quite uneasy. He hadn’t even heard the voice of this person, but her strength was such that she had made short work in burying the centaur that had attacked him, it was at an inhumane level.Make one bad move and this peculiar person would instantly turn you into nothing more than charcoal. He can’t really figure out what her attitude was showing, all he knew from that was that the only emotion he can feel about her right now was fear.
In Subaru’s arms, Beatrice’s body remained unchanging, as she clung onto him tightly. Even in her, anxiety starts to seep throughout her small body. At least, he was lucky enough for the circumstances to have allowed him to come across Beatrice. In the worst case, it wouldn’t be impossible that they’d have to get into another fight. Of course, there was no need to come to the point of initiating a fight for the sake of it. He shouldn’t be all willy-nilly about such an exertion.
Subaru:「Are- Are you… listening? Hey, um, I heard my friends are being looked after, you don’t intend to become hostile or stuff to us… right?」
Subaru:「Um, your silence is making me anxious, if you could say something… or perhaps do you communicate with something like telepathy, rather than words? If it’s that, that’s gonna be a bother! Hahaha.」
Staring at him, the presumed『Sage』did not reply to Subaru’s words, she just continued to stare. He felt extremely uneasy. The extent to Subaru’s bewilderment and confusion could be seen from the confusion in his way of speaking. If things stay like this, they’d end up being killed by the uneasiness itself.
―Suddenly though, Subaru’s anxiety was torn away.
While staring at Subaru, the woman suddenly muttered something that way. Her voice was a little husky, but if he could continue to listen to it, he could probably say that the huskiness in her voice was quite beautiful. However, it was relatively mysterious, with unreadable emotions coming from the voice of the woman who stood in front of his eyes; he thought there was a faint charm to it. In front of Subaru, the woman sighed quietly,
???:「Well, that’s no problem. More importantly, I found you.」
Swiftly, the woman’s expression changed, and she blurted out something. Her serious attitude had looked, until then, as if she was trying to peer inside of Subaru, but slowly, and steadily, time passed, as if it something frozen was melting away. The woman’s lips then spread to the sides, forming a shape which you could call a smile. The woman stared at Subaru and said…
She uttered a word which he had never heard being said to him before, and emotions which seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere. Subaru turned to look behind him, in mute astonishment at her unexpected outburst. As expected, there was only Gyan’s figure there. Then… was Gyan the aforementioned Master?
Subaru:「Did you come here to suddenly setup important character flags!?」
Beatrice:「I don’t think it’s that, I suppose! Look at the facts, in fact!」
Subaru drew nearer to Gyan as Beatrice grew angrier, still in his arms. Even though her words were reasonable, Subaru couldn’t wrap his head around it. Instead, he turned around to face the woman, still standing there as if nothing had happened, without having a clue what had been said,
Subaru:「Wait, no, my bad, but perhaps you’re mistaking me for someone else or something like that… mmmmph!?」
???:「Master! Jeeeeeeeez! I have beeeen waiting~!」
In the middle of his words, the woman jumps emotionally and embraces him with her arms. Rather than receiving her tackle in full as she came barging in, he was pushed down. Letting out a shriek,「Mkyaaaa」, Beatrice fell from his back, onto the floor. The woman, bouncing in joy, doesn’t detach herself from Subaru, who was darting his eyes back and forth in confusion.
The woman swished her long ponytail about, and while hugging Subaru with unnatural strength, she kept repeating over and over with delight in her voice:
???:「Master! Master! It has been so long! I missed you so much! I thought that my life was gonna be just meee shooting those approaching here!」
Subaru:「W-Wait! Wait wait! What!? What are you talking about!?」
Shaula:「How crueeel! Master ordered me, no? You said to stop anyone from getting near to the shrine… well, as for the means, well, that’s a different matter, buuuut」
Subaru:「Not that… I’m your Master…? What are you insinuating!?」
He was pressed against her soft skin, but he had no time to enjoy that lucky lewd encounter. Subaru desperately tried to escape from her clutches. However, there’s a saying that goes that women will always be women after all, and she doesn’t let go of Subaru. As a result, Beatrice ended up being sandwiched between Subaru and the woman on the floor.
Subaru:「Anyways, let go of me, you… This is ridiculous…!」
???:「No way! There’s absolutely no waaaaaay! As soon as you say that, you’ll disappear again as soon as I lose sight of you! Master hasn’t chaaanged at all!」
Subaru:「I don’t know what you’re on about!!」
The stubborn woman clung to Subaru as if she had gone through some sort of trauma. Whilst he roughly pushed her face away, trying to keep her away, Subaru snapped back at her.
Subaru:「In the first place, who are you?! What’s with all this!」
Shaula:「What are you even saying?! I’m Shaulaaa! The Star-Keeper of the Pleiades Watchtower! I am Master’s cute apprentice, Shaulaaa!」
Subaru:「I don’t remember you what so ever―!」
A woman―called Shaula, who’s name was supposed to be that of the『Sage』of the tower. The great so called『Sage』in the Pleiades Watchtower could not be such a strange woman who doesn’t know such thing. Subaru firmly objected to this idea. However, in this place where there was no such thing as progress, a sudden interruption came about. That was…
Emilia:「―Oh no! Oh no! When I woke up Subaru wasn’t there! I need to hurry and tell everyone, we have to go look for him…」
Having said that, a sleepy-looking Emilia jumped out of the dragon carriage’s door. Exiting the carriage she found Subaru and Shaula entwined with each other. Of course, Beatrice was there too, her eyes widened as she saw the two.
Subaru:「Emilia…Tan! Thank goodness you woke up! This is actually…」
Subaru:「That hurts!? Emilia-tan, what was that kick for!?」
Emilia:「I really am not sure, but I was reaaaaaally upset there!」
With Emilia awake, the shouting and yelling continued for a while―. Eventually, when Julius noticed the noise and joined up with them, the hard battle with the (assumed)『Sage』of the Pleiades Watchtower continued.