Arc 5 – Chapter 37, “Regroup”

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All rights belong to Tappei Nagatsuki, the original author of the Re:Zero series. This is an English translation of the free web novel which is available at:

http://ncode.syosetu.com/N2267BE/

This is not a professional translation. Some mistakes, both grammatical and logical, are inevitable. Also, be advised that translators have a predisposition for personal preference and the names and terminology may differ at times from what was used in the anime or is used in the fandom at large. Think of these documents as an extremely
detailed “summary” (even though they basically include everything).

  • Credit to Discount Anon or u/Nanashi-tan.
  • Art Source (modified by Furuta)

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A distant, distant echo.

Unfamiliar voices. Or were they familiar voices?

Were they masculine? Feminine? Did they come from above or below? Everything about that was unknown.

???: “——”

An angry voice. And a sighing voice.

And also something like an accusing voice. And was that a crying voice?

Sound.

A waterfall of sound poured down, its rough waves an ensnaring whirlpool.

As if someone had been kind enough to answer a question deeply rooted in his heart. His turbid identity was swept away, lost to the tides.

Hands and feet, head, bottom, chest, back. Melting, mixing, blending together.

Even his own existence, incomprehensible as it was, was swallowed up by the waterfall of sound, flowing away as if lost forever.

All he knew was the black haze that swallowed the world he could perceive.

It was thus that he realized that the dark haze was disintegrating his body, allowing it no form of resistance, ushering in a steady end.

But an untieable knot was, at this very moment, resisting that erosion.

Even being dismantled, even being shriveled, even being denied, that knot refused to shrink back.

By no means had all of him succumbed to the haze in his body, by no means had all of him surrendered to that dark battlefield.

And finally, finally…

???: “——”

The first noise that flooded into his ears was someone’s enraged roar.

While hearing that sharp voice, he opened his eyes to be greeted by a white ceiling. At the same time, he realized that he was lying spread eagled on a hard surface.

???: “—useless!”

His newly regained consciousness brought that angry cursing in with a clearly sound.

It seemed to encompass an outbreak of feelings, and was displayed with some specific action. He heard the distinct sound of a hand slapping against skin.

???: “Stop it! You should understand that the responsibility for that blame doesn’t lie with anyone here.”

???: “Shut up! I don’t want to hear those empty platitudes! An outsider shouldn’t interrupt!”

Accusatory voices and unquenchable anger.

From what he could hear, allies seemed to be arguing in a spacious room. He stretched out his left hand, trying to support himself with the wall as he got up.

But, halfway through, a nail encountered his skull, and his breathing suddenly stopped. His eyes felt as if they were sticks of combusting dynamite, and his field of vision was suddenly stained a vivid blood red.

As the impact of the pain ravaged him, he finally pulled his upper body upright, taking in the scene of the quarrel.

—Three men and women quarreled in the middle of a room… or, rather, all three of them were men.

A tearful Ferris was hitting Wilhelm with his fists, while a desperate Julius tried to stop him. The sound that he had just heard was the voice of Ferris fanning to the cheek of Wilhelm. The red-faced old man had bowed his head in shame.

Wilhelm: “From the bottom of my heart, I apologize.”

Ferris: “At least give an excuse! Give me a reason that I can accept it! Just your apology is useless!”

Julius: “Ferris, you’re creating a pointless commotion! Calm down! Can’t you see that Wilhelm-sama is incredibly remorseful?”

Ferris: “Remorse…!? What’s remorse going to do? Useless! Pointless! Everybody, everybody… why this hell is this…? Why couldn’t you all think to rescue Crusch-sama!?”

Ferris exploded toward Wilhelm and Julius with another fit of rage, but almost immediately sank to the floor, defeated and weak.

And as the crying Ferris issued a condemnation, the two men could say nothing. Ferris slammed his gloved hands on the ground contemptuously.

Ferris: “Am I supposed to be Blue? … I can’t even do anything right now… useless, useless, useless useless useless…”

Ferris sobbed as he continued to curse angrily.

This time, however, his anger was directed at himself.

That was another option he could take. After all, no one could interfere with the lament he’d directed toward himself.

Julius: “——”

Ferris’s sobs and Julius’s sighs intertwined. Wilhelm remained silent. The crushing atmosphere shrouded the room around them.

Garfiel: “Yo, Captain. Finally up?”

Garfiel appeared in the doorless doorway, spotting Subaru, who the other three had missed. Julius followed Garfiel’s gaze and noticed the awakened Subaru, wearing an expression of relief.

Julius: “Excellent. Ferris, Subaru’s finally awake.”

Ferris: “…right.”

At Julius’s call, Ferris swiped at his face with his sleeve as he stood. His disgraceful attitude

vanished as he examined Subaru’s body before firmly fixing his eyes on Subaru’s.

Ferris: “Well, you seem to be fine. Your mind is clear, right? Do you know your name and place of birth?”

Subaru: “I’m Natsuki Subaru, from Japan.”

Ferris: “A hometown I’ve never heard of… I was born in Crusch-sama’s territories.”

Ferris’s expression revealed that he believed Subaru’s answer to be a pointless joke. He stood and immediately turned to leave. No one was willing to throw accusatory words at him, and so everyone watched in silence.

Only Wilhelm chased after Ferris. Before he left, the elderly man turned to give Subaru a ceremonious bow.

After the two left, the tense atmosphere in the room finally thinned.

But, at the same time, another oppressive feeling grew stronger and stronger.

Garfiel: “Captain, even if y’can get up, ya shouldn’t be forcin’ yerself t’do anythin’ right now.”

Subaru: “…those are my lines, you look like you’re in terrible shape.”

Leaning against the wall, Garfiel greeted Subaru, who responded to the haggard looking teenager with his own greeting.

His cheeks and blond hair were saturated with blood, and his clothing was torn in too many places to count. His pallor was just as awful as when he’d first carried Mimi to the shelter.

As he considered this, Subaru’s own sluggish thoughts finally caught up.

Subaru: “We’re alive, huh.”

Garfiel: “Right. My amazin’ self and Captain survived, so that’s all good ‘n well, but we can’t even celebrate it. Fuck!”

Affirming Subaru’s mutter, Garfiel grinded his teeth down bitterly.

As he watched Garfiel, Subaru once again confirmed his own survival — that is, he understood that Return by Death hadn’t triggered, and that he hadn’t witnessed the end of this struggle in the City Hall.

Of course, since he was still alive, he had to have been rescued, but…”

Subaru: “What’s going on in the City Hall? How did I get here?”

Julius: “We’re still in the City Hall right now. The Witch Cult conceded it, and we took back our target. Looking just at that result, we could call the operation a success, but…”

Julius knelt next to Subaru as he began to answer his questions.

Upon closer inspection, the Knight of Knights looked awful. His hair was uncharacteristically messy, and his face and neck were covered with wounds. His knight’s uniform was also dirtied with blood, bringing no peace of mind.

But, most importantly, his normally graceful features were currently twisted with remorse and humiliation.

Julius: “First and foremost, it’s good to see you up again. If anything had happened to you, we would have lost our source of morale.”

Subaru: “… don’t say useless shit like that. What happened? The Witch Cult chose to abandon the building, exactly how did that come about?”

Julius: “As we’ve established, the Witch Cult abandoned the building, and we took back the City Hall. But the hostages that were turned into inhuman things, and the devils who caused all this managed to escape after everything they’d done. This can hardly be called a good result.”

Compared to the anxious Subaru, Julius stated the situation in mellow tones.

However, that stiff tone and those drooping eyes… it was obvious that Julius was explaining their circumstances with irrefutable indignation in his voice.

And, Subaru couldn’t ignore what he’d just been told.

Subaru: “Inhuman things, meaning…”

Julius: “You should have seen that unending, nightmarish sight when you were on the upper floor.”

Shaking his head, Julius affirmed that cruel reality.

Subaru vividly remembered the shiny red compound eyes and the sound of the wings desperately beating out a cry for help. His nausea was held in check by the knowledge that they’d been looking to him, another human, for aid.

His heart seemed to tighten with a pain that was neither truly sympathy nor fear.

The Witch Cult’s Sin Archbishop of Lust, Capella, was a truly despicable monster who trampled freely on human dignity and values, all while spitting her brand of ridicule.

What that monster played with was neither the human spirit nor the human heart, but something even more sacred.

Julius: “The entire square, from the highest floor to the exterior premises. After our division of labor to gain time, the Witch Cult had too much of an upper hand.… They could have easily, little by little, killed us all. The reason why that didn’t happened was your keen judgment and the black dragon who fought his hardest.”

Subaru: “My… judgment?”

Julius: “The conversation mirror was activated before you made a move on the top floor, and, as a result, the status of the City Hall was successfully communicated to Anastasia and Ferris. The prompt arrival of our reinforcements, the Iron Fang and Ferris, was all due to your actions.”

Subaru: “Did you think those kinds of words would bring me comfort?”

Julius: “…that wasn’t my intent. I was merely stating the truth. Facts, as it were.”

Subaru was irritated by Julius’s poised answer. However, Julius’s cold reply was also evidence that he himself wasn’t calm either.

Confirming that neither’s mental state was great, Subaru took a deep breath.

Subaru: “One more thing about what you said just now, what happened to the black dragon?”

Julius: “This happened on the top floor, so I may not know any more than you do… but Lust’s power is transformation, right? And surprisingly enough, a man who had been turned into a black dragon made his way to the top of the building, even as he was on the verge of death, to battle with Lust. We were only able to save you thanks to him.”

The one who Julius was referring to was no doubt the dragon that Subaru and Crusch had so fiercely attacked.

Since Capella’s power was variation and transformation, then that black dragon was more than likely one of the hostages in the City Hall. And Subaru had disregarded his call for help, abandoning that man.

And under such circumstances, with the fighting still ongoing,

Subaru: “The one who was turned into a black dragon, is he…”

Garfiel: “He can’t die.”

As Subaru fretted, Garfiel suddenly interrupted with a calm voice.

He wouldn’t meet Subaru’s gaze, instead staring directly up at the ceiling.

Garfiel: “My amazin’ self won’t let him die. It’s absolutely impossible for’em t’die here, from such a thing. He must be saved… otherwise…”

Julius: “He’s been like that. The dragon seems to be someone he knows. Although his scent has changed, Garfiel seemed to recognize him from his actions. In any case, his healing is now complete. He’s fine, although a little anxious, but some rest would help that.”

Subaru: “An acquaintance? Garfiel, is this someone you know from the city?”

Garfiel: “——”

Garfiel’s choice to remain silent came as a surprise to Subaru, who couldn’t catch his gaze.

In any case, he was grateful for the safety of their savior, the black dragon. But the others, the flies, they…

Julius: “The others can be loosely said to be okay, but at least their safety has been assured. Ferris has made his diagnoses, but…”

Subaru: “That is to say, even Ferris can’t fix them? Damnit!”

Unable to help hitting the floor with his hand, Subaru pondered the feelings of those who had lost their bodies.

Exactly how strong of a sense of loss would they be feeling? They’d been turned into something inhuman, a horror and cruelty that is different from the loss of life.

Loss of life simply meant the end of an identity and an existence.

But the loss of human form meant the loss of an identity… while existence had yet to come to an end.

Those who were tortured by that incurable curses were packed into the small office

Were they above him? Or below? Regretting that he couldn’t even remember how many were suffering that fate, Subaru could only think of other things that needed to be confirmed.

Since he knew he was still alive, the next question that emerged was a natural one.

Subaru: “Are you and Garfiel both uninjured?”

Julius: “As you can see, both Garfiel and myself were not significantly injured, and neither was Ricardo, although we can certainly say we were humiliated… but that’s an afterthought.”

Subaru: “——”

Even as he said so, Julius’s teeth clenched down on his lip, his voice laced with shame. Seeing his anger, Subaru was consumed by his own sense of frustrated hatred.

Julius fought against the detestable Gluttony, Alphard.

In honesty, Subaru wanted nothing more than to destroy that one archbishop. But even supposing that Subaru had stayed to fight him, his escape would have been completely inevitable.

But he couldn’t remain calm, knowing that his sworn enemy had escaped.

Subaru: “…sorry that I couldn’t finish the task assigned to me.”

Julius: “If you insist on saying so, I can’t refute you… they achieved their broadcast, it seems.”

Subaru: “Right, and that applies doubly for Lust. And… right, I’m sure they discussed some kind of requests or negotiations in their latest broadcast.”

And, from Julius’s expression, Subaru could tell that Lust’s request hadn’t been anything proper. Although he didn’t want to hear it, blocking it out would be pointless. He’d have to learn it sooner or later. But, before that…

Subaru: “Broadcast aside… what happened to Crusch-san?”

Julius: “——”

Subaru: “She also went to the top floor with me… and she ended up in a worse position than me, suffering at the hands of Lust for much longer…”

An image of Crusch spitting up blood, with only the white of her eyes showing, flashed through Subaru’s mind.

Her external injuries were severe, and the damage was appalling. Presumably, something life- threatening must have happened.

And Ferris’s anguished cries. Although he didn’t want to believe the worst, the most obvious conclusion was…

Subaru: “Ferris… said something unfortunate sounding, so…”

Julius: “It’s certainly true that Crusch-sama is still alive, but…”

Subaru: “Don’t phrase it with those implications!”

In that brief moment, Subaru felt a small light of hope in his chest. However, it vanished as soon as he saw Julius’s expression.

That was an intolerable expression which expressed not the peace of mind at finally saving a life, but one which conveyed terror of a even worse fate.

Julius: “Ferris was overreacting slightly, but this situation is certainly an undesirable one.”

Subaru: “Undesirable… What the hell is going on? Crusch-san… if Ferris can’t do anything, why aren’t we putting our heads together and trying to help!?”

Julius: “Calm down! No matter how worked up you get, the situation won’t change. So calm down already.”

Julius snapped sharply at Subaru’s disgraceful outburst.

But his calmness would only serve to fuel the present Subaru’s rage.

Subaru: “Bastard, how the hell can you be so calm! We lost so soundly, to that lot! How can you not be angry!?”

Julius: “—Of course I’m also boiling with rage!”

Julius sharply swatted aside the arm that Subaru had stretch forward. Subaru fell silent as he saw Julius’s gaze waver while he roared.

Julius: “…Apologies for my unbecoming anger. It seems that I’m yet to be mature enough to control myself.”

Julius reached out a hand to Subaru, who had lost his balance after his arm had been forcefully blocked. Although he’d clearly understood Julius’s feelings, Subaru had deliberately attacked his attitude, and he felt ashamed as he heard Julius’s apology.

Subaru: “Crusch-san, she…”

Julius: “…was attacked by Lust, right? A foreign agent has contaminated her body and is currently wreaking havoc. Ferris’s reaction is almost appallingly overwhelming.”

As Julius spoke, Subaru recalled a clear image of Crusch’s incredible pain in the last moments of his memory.

That ultimate pain, where her body had been infiltrated by a monster, which siphoned away her own flesh, blood, bones and even soul. That pain was one which no one should ever bear.

But she had, and Subaru immediately placed this as the reason for Ferris’s attitude earlier.

Before and after Subaru’s awakening, Ferris seemed to blame Wilhelm. Presumably, he held the old swordsman accountable for being unable to protect their master on the battlefield.

In fact, he was only searching for someone to carry the blame. Both the accusing Ferris and the accused Wilhelm understood this.

So Wilhelm remained silent after Ferris had attacked him, which Ferris secretly cried over his own weakness.

The two men who had just left the room were with their suffering master now.

Thinking about that trio, the sense of failure in Subaru’s heart only grew stronger and stronger. Julius interrupted Subaru’s melancholy.

Julius: “—Subaru, there’s something that I have to confirm.”

Subaru: “What is it?”

Julius: “Although it’s rather difficult for me to point this out… it seems that you haven’t noticed yet.”

Subaru felt a wave of doubt at Julius’s careful euphemism. His eyes narrowed slightly as Julius raised a hand to his leg.

Unsure of what Julius was doing, he looked down carefully… to where Julius’s hand traced a line from Subaru’s thigh to his right foot.

Subaru also involuntarily followed with his eyes.

Subaru had inadvertently only recalled his memories of Crusch at the top floor of the City Hall, and had completely forgotten about his own injuries.

What had happened before he’d lost consciousness?

He’d unconsciously understood and accepted the presence of Return by Death — but that feeling of death hadn’t come. He should have been relieved, but…

Subaru: “What? This is—!?”

His breath suddenly catching in his frozen throat, Subaru couldn’t help but doubt his own eyes. His eyes were telling him that his right foot was still attached, but…

Where his foot had been detached was a seam of black, ugly, charred looking skin. And that darkened skin had spread throughout his right foot.

Julius: “It wasn’t Ferris who fixed it, nor was it any type of healing magic. Your foot… the one which had been torn apart… fixed itself. And it doesn’t even look as if it hurts.”

Subaru: “——”

It was as Julius had said.

His ugly right foot felt neither pain nor a sense violation. His first instinct was to wonder if it only maintained the illusion of being connected, but he could freely bend his knees and move his toes.

Every wound on his foot had turned black, and the blackness ran visible in his blood vessels, stretching across the upper and lower parts of his right foot.

Julius: “Subaru, I’ll have to confirm it with you again.”

Subaru: “……”

After seeing the dramatic changes in one’s own feet, Subaru could not even speak. For Julius’s question, Subaru can only slowly lift his head, and then …

Julius: “Is it really… completely fine?”

 

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The most terrifying thing about the reattachment of his right foot was… there was no obstacle preventing him from standing and walking as he pleased.

Garfiel: “Th’ nee-san named Ferris said that Captain’s foot was neither injured nor sick, so even ‘f my amazin’ self tried to use healin’ megic, nothin’ would happen. It wasn’t supposed to be somethin’ curable.”

Rolling up the leg of his pants, Subaru would see that his leg was laced with black blood vessels. The embroidered patterns appeared to be flexible to the touch. If he ignored the color, he could call the skin normal, but…

Julius: “Did you reattach it yourself? … That’s the only thing that would assure me right now.”

Needless to say, however, Subaru possessed no regenerative powers. This was the second time he’d lost that foot, and his own memory told him that the first time it had happened, his foot had shown no signs of repairing itself.

Of course, the proper line of thought to follow was to figure out what had caused this, but Subaru could think of only one thing.

Subaru: “Is it because that bitch Capella dripped blood onto my leg…?”

He’d descended into a realm of confusion after his foot had been taken off.

For that reason, his memories were blurred, and he couldn’t conclude for certain that this was indeed the case. However, Subaru had no doubt that he’d seen Capella her cut into her own wrist and scatter drops of blood about.

At that time, she had also mentioned something incredibly concerning. Yes, it was…

Subaru: “Crusch-san… she suffered the same thing that I did.”

Julius: “That being… having blood dripped into her wounds? It’s an unpleasant act. Maybe it has some significance as a ritual… leaving behind an immediate impact? Or perhaps it’s a curse, which doesn’t operate under the laws of regular magic.”

Subaru: “Curse… yes, curse sounds right. The curse of blood… no, it was something different… something like… dragon’s blood? Right, it’s the blood of the dragon. That’s what she said!”

As Subaru gazed at a puzzled Julius, he sifted through his foggy memories, and couldn’t help but clap his hands together at his success.

That bastard Capella had indeed mentioned, while torturing Subaru with her blood, that her own blood was mixed with dragon’s blood.

That hadn’t seemed to be a jest, a bluff, or a lie. And it provided several clues.

Julius: “Blood of the Dragon… does that mean that she received it from the royal family?”

Subaru: “I don’t know of the details, but is there something that convenient really on hand?”

Julius: “It was one of the treasures granted by the contract with the dragon Volcanica, famous for being potent enough to even turn barren soils fertile again.”

Subaru: “The almighty dragon’s blood… I don’t know how relevant it is, or what it implies.”

Considering that Capella had called herself a Lugunica, this was an object of concern, especially, as Wilhelm had said, due to Emerada Lugunica being a real historical figure.

She couldn’t really be of royalty, could she? But the dragon’s blood being mixed with her blood stirred questions.

Julius: “Anyway, it’s good news to know that it might be blood-related, Ferris might be able to help her with that information.”

Subaru: “Ah, that’s right. Let’s hurry…”

Garfiel: “Wait, Captain. Don’t go with him.”

Finally, there was information that may lead to a turnaround.

Subaru wanted to rush to share that information, but Garfiel, arms crossed as he leaned on the wall, had poured a metaphorical bucket of ice cold water over his head. In response to Subaru’s accusatory glare, Garfiel dropped his gaze.

Garfiel: “Captain hasn’t seen it yet, ‘n the fewer people see, th’better.”

Subaru: “…what does that mean?”

Garfiel: “It means what ya think it means. That pretty nee-san won’t like it’f ya see her.”

Garfiel turned away from Subaru’s probing gaze.

Growing increasingly uneasy, Subaru instead turned to Julius, who, like Garfiel, only shook his head.

Julius: “In fact, I’m afraid that Crusch-sama is very much hoping to avoid the gaze of others right now. Because she’s a noble person, so she doesn’t want anyone to see her in such a weakened state.”

Subaru: “Is it… really just because she’s weak right now?”

Julius: “——”

Julius says nothing.

He merely quietly turned his gaze from Subaru. And just that one small action answered everything.

Subaru: “…it’s all my fault.”

Julius: “Subaru, that’s—”

Subaru: “It’s all my fault! I… obviously, I should have known better than anyone else how underhanded they can be! I should have foreseen at least some of this!”

What was happening to Crusch? The more he tried to imagine, the more horrified he became.

And the intense self-reproach those thoughts brought to Subaru… those were a product of his anger at his own incompetence, as well as of their own anger, as well as courage and regret to go to challenge.

The Witch Cultists… Subaru knew of their awful natures, right down to his bone marrow.

And it wasn’t just Petelgeuse. Before entering the City Hall, Subaru met Sirius and Regulus firsthand, in rapid succession. After those encounters, how could he have underestimated Capella?

Was it his arrogance in deciding to fight back even at a disadvantage? This had all happened because of his judgment.

Subaru: “A-All mine…”

???: “—That’s enough. Whether you’re cryin’ or complainin’ it’s really becomin’ quite bothersome, so would ya mind stoppin’?”

Subaru, bearing all the blame, was about to sink deeply into the sea of self-loathing.

At this moment, however, it was not a gentle voice who guided his from those dark thoughts, but a cold, apathetic one which was accompanied by a frigid gaze.

Subaru: “——”

His turned to the the entrance of the large room.

Standing there with her hands clasped together, under the gaze of everyone in the room, was a purple-haired businesswoman with a gentle face.

However, the lethal glare she fixed on Subaru was completely out of character for those gentle features.

Subaru: “Anastasia…”

Anastasia: “I don’t misunderstand disappointment after a defeat on the battlefield, but if all ya do is mope and complain, you’ll disturb those around you like a fool. Even if you do all that, the losses you’ve taken won’t return to ya.”

Anastasia’ reprimands were directed toward Subaru, who had been crushed by defeat.

For a second, Subaru was too stunned to understand. As he began to react, he found his mind swimming with rage, but,

Julius: “Anastasia-sama, please retract your statement. Subaru was the one who had the most direct contact with the sinners of the Witch Cult. Even if he’s moping or sighing…”

Anastasia: “How unlike ya, Julius. You can usually focus on the issue at hand, but right now you’re being so precocious… if you came here just to play with your friends, you might find that Joshua suits you a lil’ better.”

Julius: “……”

Julius, who had attempted to defend Subaru, withered under that frosty sight. Subaru’s white-hot rage cooled somewhat, but he still felt incredibly confused about Anastasia’s attitude.

Then, looking at the antagonized Subaru, Anastasia fiddled with the fox-fur scarf around her neck and spoke to the other two occupants of the room.

Anastasia: “…Hey, Julius, things with Crusch-san seem kinda busy right now, don’t they? Why don’t you see if you can go and help? And, blond child over there, would you mind accompanying him?”

Urging Julius and Garfiel from the room, Anastasia fixed her eyes on Subaru.

If two of the four people in the room left, a confrontation between only Subaru and Anastasia would happen.

Anastasia: “Don’t worry, I won’t do anythin’ untoward.”

Anastasia promised so with a decidedly uncute smile.

Julius bowed and left, and Garfiel trailed behind him, a cautious light in his eyes. Until the very end, he kept his concerned gaze trained on Subaru, before giving him a nod and leaving.

Anastasia: “Garfiel-kun seems to be quite the dutiful boy. Until the very end, his worried gaze was fixed on Natsuki-kun. He seems like he takes good care of people.”

Subaru: “…I’m sure you didn’t get me alone just to gossip.”

Anastasia began quietly chattering about Garfiel as he left. This had happened in a previous interaction, where she’d been intending to catch Subaru off of his guard.

Subaru turned to see Anastasia stroking her hair as she surveyed the half-destroyed room, before lifting a chair and seating herself.

Anastasia: “My, having a leisurely chat like this with Natsuki-kun really takes me back… all the way to the eve of the battle with the White Whale.”

Subaru: “Back then, we were scheming a plan for success. This time, nothing like that is in sight… Even though we recaptured the City Hall, the situation hasn’t improved at all…”

Anastasia: “Yes, nothing has changed. Everything’s gotten worse, and we have no optimal course of action to follow…”

Subaru realized that her carefree voice had, for a second, honed itself into the razor sharp blade of a knife.

He couldn’t help but straighten his back, while Anastasia glanced at his foot.

Anastasia: “Is there no problem with your feet? Last I heard, it had been shredded.”

Subaru: “Fortunately, I can run and jump just find, although this looks kind of gross.”

Anastasia: “Well, being able to run and jump right now is what matters most. After that, there’ll be a lot to do, but until then…”

Anastasia let the conversation drift lightly toward Subaru’s injury, before inhaling sharply.

Subaru realized that she was finally arriving at the point and frowned. She pointed her hand at the ceiling— no, through it.

Anastasia: “Did ya ever end up hearin’ the third broadcast?”

Subaru: “No, I didn’t, what did they say? … it was probably some kind of request right?”

Anastasia: “Natsuki-kun missed two of the three broadcasts, how careless.”

Anastasia giggled softly, holding a hand to her mouth, and Subaru put on a unhappy pout. Even so, she kept her hand over her mouth, and narrowed her eyes.

Anastasia: ‘The demand that was given— it seems that only Natsuki-kun and I could understand it.”

Subaru: “Only me… and Anastasia-san?”

What exactly did that mean? Subaru’s mind swam with questions.

He’d never felt that they particularly held anything in common. After all, this was their first time engaging in such an interaction.

With such a shallow relationship, what exactly did they…

???: “— My my, Ana, there are times when your manner of speech is demoralizing. Sometimes it ends up only serving to annoy others, you know. Isn’t that exactly the case here?”

Subaru: “——!?”

The voice of a third person suddenly echoed in Subaru’s ears.

This voice belong to neither Subaru nor Anastasia. Instead, it felt lighter and more neutral.

Subaru toured the room with confused eyes, but there was not a single unknown figure in their surroundings. Julius and Garfiel had left, and showed no signs of reapproaching.

Where in the world had that voice come from?

Anastasia: “Ya say that, but don’t ya do the same thing I do? Look at poor Natsuki-kun. He’s in such a chaotic state of confusion right now.”

???: “Oh, that won’t do at all.”

Subaru: “That, who is…!?”

Anastasia spoke to the third voice as if all were natural.

Rather than relieving Subaru’s frenzy, he verged on hyperventilating as he demanded “what’s going on?”

???: “You do seem quite frightened, my apologies.”

Subaru: “——”

His eyes fell upon it.

Suddenly, the owner of the other voice intruded loudly into this scene.

No, that third voice hadn’t intruded. It had been in this room since the very beginning. In fact, it had entered the room with Anastasia.

Echidna: “I’m Echidna. Well, I say that, but what I really am is an artificial spirit.”

Subaru: “Echi—!?”

“It” smiled deftly at Subaru, who was busy being swept away by shock.

Lips curling up on both sides, eyes narrowing slightly. That should… probably, be something like the imitation of a smile.

—Wrapped around Anastasia’s neck, her scarf of what appeared to be faux fox fur beamed. The witch whose name he couldn’t forget had just revealed herself to be a spirit.

 

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