Arc 5 – Chapter 39, “Knightliness and the Tardy Man”

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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

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After reaffirming their determination, Subaru and Anastasia made their way downstairs, toward the reception hall.

They had been conversing on the the third out of five floors, which seemed to normally function as a conference room.

Anastasia: “Since the fifth floor was completely destroyed by the dragon, the fourth floor is technically the top floor now. All of [Lust]’s victims are restin’ there.”

Subaru: “… what happened to the magic radio when the fifth floor burned down?”

Anastasia: “No worries, it’s been dismantled and put in safekeeping. The magical instrument itself is just in the shape of a large metal box, so it’s easy ta move. It seems that the sound is gathered into the box itself and then amplified through the city.”

An antenna… or perhaps a loudspeaker?

Metal boxes or loudspeaker, whatever the case, the magic device had been recovered safely, along with the hostages. Those were perhaps the only pieces of good news Subaru had heard upon waking.

The magic radio would almost certainly prove useful later, and the knowledge the the hostages were safe gave an immense boost to morale.

Subaru: “Did you say that Capella’s victims are gathered on the fourth floor?”

Anastasia: “Even though they’re all flies or a dragon, their minds are still human, so they understand what we’re sayin’ and follow directions… although I can’t really say if that’s actually a good thing.”

Subaru: “……”

Subaru also couldn’t decide whether or not he should be glad the the transformed people had retained their human consciousness.

To be aware of being an entirely different creature, a worm, no less, must have come with a saddening, disorienting sense of loss.

However, even losing their flesh, they could still survive in another state. Was this also called a loss of self? This answer, presumably, could only be known by those who had experienced it.

Anastasia: “They can also move normally. Thankfully, there haven’t been any suicide attempts yet. Things happened too abruptly, and most people haven’t really had a chance ta react yet… In short, if we can fix everythin’ before the dust settles, things should turn out just fine.”

Subaru: “Suicide…?”

Anastasia: “Don’t ya think that it’s a concern?”

Subaru: “——”

That was a question Subaru couldn’t afford to answer rashly.

Compared to Subaru, Anastasia seems to be be taking the twisted situation fairly well.

Anastasia: “As long as there’s life, there’s hope, but without a will to live, that hope diminishes. Just havin’ a breathin’ body isn’t enough. It’s the will to live that we can’t afford to lose.”

Although he couldn’t see Anastasia’s face, he heard the conviction in her voice as she strode forward.

Subaru wholeheartedly agreed with her perseverance in regard to life and death. Living was necessary.

And as long as there was life, there was a chance to resist. To that end…

Julius: “Anastasia-sama.”

As Subaru and Anastasia made their way downstairs, the first to notice their reappearance was Julius, who called the name of his master.

Originally, Subaru had barely given the first floor’s reception hall a passing glance. Even so, upon sight, the traces of a valiant struggle were obvious.

Overturned tables and chairs, walls scored with gouges and scorched with magic, omnipresent splatters of blood that had been hurriedly wiped away.

Although Julius had been so regretful of Gluttony’s escape, he had evidently not wavered for a second during their battle.

Julius: “How was your discussion with Subaru?”

Anastasia: “It was lil’ bit lengthy, but it came ta a smooth conclusion. Just like us, Natsuki-kun is very determined.”

Anastasia nodded in response to Julius’s inquiries. After a brief moment of lightheartedness, she cast her gaze in another direction.

Across from the stairs from which Subaru had descended, Ricardo’s burly form appeared in front of the lobby’s entrance. He recalled that Anastasia had mentioned that Ricardo was outside, looking for survivors.

Anastasia: “Ricardo, welcome back. How’s the situation?”

Ricardo: “Miss, you look really spirited… it’s generally poor, and is still worsening with time. Those bastards are experienced at creating trouble.”

Ricardo frowned with an annoyed sigh at the results of his inspection.

While rubbing his beast head, he gestured a series of instructions to various members of the [Iron Fang]. A few of the left to stand guard, while others went to rest further down the hall.

Subaru: “The witch teaches those guys what’s the trouble? No, I do not think it’s any more troublesome than that … is that anything else?”

Garfiel: “Th’ broadcast, Captain. That scummy cult gave a discouragin’ broadcast.”

Garfiel, coming down of the stairs, answered Subaru’s puzzled question.

As he crunched down with his fangs in frustration, Subaru prompted someone to elaborate.

Subaru: “The broadcast… of their requests? Did they say anything else?”

Julius: “It was nothing too exaggerated, they spread the news that they’d crushed the force trying to retake the City Hall. But the way that Archbishop of [Lust] phrased it was poisonous indeed.”

Ricardo: “Thanks to her, the people in the many shelters I visited had almost no fighting spirit left to regain their city with. It’s difficult to estimate how much they can recover.”

Julius closed his eyes, and Ricardo was wrinkled his nose.

After hearing their answer, Subaru immediately understood what the Witch Cult had wanted.

Earlier, before their successful takeover of the City Hall, Capella had made the broadcast with a list of demands.

The ordinary citizens, who had no capacity for combat, were completely discouraged by what they had thought to be a loss. And those who could fight would understand the harsher implications.

They would know that any attempt to retake the City Hall would have meant a full scale invasion, which made that supposed failure all the more disheartening.

In other words, Capella’s broadcast was an attempt to defang any mounting resistance in the other shelters.

Ricardo: “Thanks to the records in the city hall, I found all the shelters in the city, and visited the nearby ones one by one, but…”

Ricardo spread his hands, confirming Subaru’s fears.

The problem resided in the hearts of the people. Rather than being a failure to motivate them on Ricardo’s part, the blame could only be placed on the Witch Cult, which was rancorous to the point of being impressive.

Anastasia: “Without determination, we won’t have courage. The next fight will be dangerous indeed…”

In contrast to Subaru’s fury, Anastasia was quietly contemplative.

Hearing her soft voice, Subaru raised his head. Anastasia turned to him with an “Isn’t that right?”.

Anastasia: “‘Even if we fight, we have no chance of winning.’ —Puttin’ this thought into everyone’s mind encourages them ta give up without a fight. What do ya think’ll happen?”

Subaru: “They’ll give up in anguished despair… is that the answer you want from me?”

Anastasia: “If they just wanna hug their knees and cry, that’d be almost childishly endearin’, don’t ya think? But that won’t be the case. They won’t have the option of fightin’, but their will ta live won’t vanish. So, what’s left?”

Subaru: “… So you’re saying that…”

Fundamentally, Subaru was pretty sure he understood what she was getting at.

However, the notion that the Witch Cult had deliberately attempted to create this situation brought with it an unspeakable amount of disgust.

As if to encourage the tremor growing within Subaru, Anastasia clapped her hands together. And said…

Anastasia: “The answer to their salvation has already been given, in the form of a request, no less. The most reasonable course of action in such a desperate situation is, of course, ta follow the request. So, the [Book of Wisdom] and the contractors of the [artificial spirits] won’t be safe, will they? And even the [couples who love each other] might become sacrifices.”

Subaru: “But not everyone would go to those extremes, right!?”

Anastasia: “Certainly not. There are some who would refuse to trade their survival for the lives of others, and would instead seek a way to flee the city. No matter what, there’ll be plenty of panic, and we won’t be able to get anything done in the confusion.”

Once the contagion of panic spread, with a single misstep, the already precarious situation would entirely collapse. It hurt to imagine the city in that state, where the Witch Cult had taken full control through fear. As if they were the puppet-masters, pulling strings as they willed.

Subaru: “So… could we somehow visit everyone and motivate them?”

Anastasia: “That’s not very realistic, is it?”

Subaru: “Then this situation becomes too damn pessimistic!”

Panic came naturally when everyone was uneasy.

And the only way to fight this inevitable panic was to provide hope.

Subaru: “‘We’re preparing on mounting a counteroffensive’ —Saying even that much would give the little bit of hope needed to stave off much of the panic, wouldn’t it?”

Anastasia: “I think that we should take the path of minimum sacrifice. Every resource we spend poorly gives the other side yet another advantage.”

Subaru: “Wait, wait, Anastasia-san. That doesn’t sound like what I have in mind.”

Anastasia’s remark stung, and Subaru couldn’t help but scowl, prompting a tired sigh from her.

Anastasia: “Natsuki-kun’s ideal of refusin’ to sacrifice anyone— although admirable, it’s not realistic in the slightest. Our forces have taken too much damage in the openin’ stages of the battle, and we won’t be able ta pull through without taking some losses. Isn’t that the obvious truth?”

Subaru: “The first two times… that was indeed the case. But this time, we can’t just take losses as they come… in fact, that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid!”

Anastasia: “If we were about to launch one final, victorious strike, I’d agree with ya. But it’s not possible in our situation. Think of it like naval warfare. Of course we’ll help those brave soldiers who swim from their sunken ship to our still sturdy one… but it wouldn’t be reasonable for us ta try and rescue those who just give up and choose to drown.”

Subaru: “——! But even if we win, that’s—!”

Anastasia: “And if we lose, all of us drown! If you don’t care about winning or losing, then are you prepared die? Or do you want to live!? Natsuki-kun, your philosophy of taking no losses is really too naive!”

Anastasia’s building anger only served to fan the flames of Subaru’s own rage.

Raising a warning arm, Julius stopped Subaru from approaching. However, his careful gaze was trained not on Subaru, but on Anastasia, almost as if he were standing on Subaru’s side. He sighed lightly and closed his eyes.

Julius: “Anastasia-sama, I understand your feelings, but I must also agree with Subaru. Preventing Anastasia-sama’s worries is indeed impossible. But accepting the sacrifices of innocents certainly pains you as well. And damaging our morale… that is exactly the Witch Cult’s plan.”

Subaru: “J-Julius!”

Julius’s support of Subaru, even at the expense of defying his own master, tempered Subaru’s anger with surprise, and he even felt a surge of renewed confidence.

If Julius, paragon of righteousness, the renowned Knight of Knights, shared Subaru’s opinion, then Subaru himself couldn’t have been wrong.

However, Anastasia only turned to Julius, caressing her scarf.

Anastasia: “Do you think I enjoy talkin’ so loosely about takin’ losses? I don’t even know for a fact that the other shelters will fall to chaos! Ultimately, it’s just a possibility. Even so, there’s no way we can deal with every troublesome possibility one by one!”

Julius: “But…”

Anastasia: “Ya aren’t little kid anymore, so you understand, don’t ya? With how limited our resources are, the only way to handle the Witch Cut effectively is to put everything into offense. And even then, there’s only so much we can do. If we spread ourselves too thin, there’s no way we can maximize our scope of influence.”

Anastasia’s words must have sounded cold and relentless to Julius, who was biting his lip resentfully, like a scolded child. At the same time, they also addressed Subaru, who was the one who had originally proposed the idea.

Of course, Subaru understood Anastasia’s perspective perfectly. The weight of even one life was such a heavy burden.

To save even one person was endlessly difficult. And the more people that needed to be saved, the more difficult it would become to save them all. Saving as many people as Subaru wanted to was nigh impossible.

Of course, even children could draw this conclusion.

The more apples a child’s tiny, fragile hands wanted to hold, the more swiftly the child’s strength would give out. And, eventually, the child would be left with nothing.

Anastasia: “In order to win, we need to compromise as adults, instead of railin’ on like spoiled children. As a knight, shouldn’t ya be able ta see the difference?”

Julius: “——”

Julius closed his eyes, as if affirming Anastasia’s statement.

As he lowered his head, Subaru could see that his fists were clenched behind his back. Even so, it was clear that Julius was unwilling to object further.

However,

Subaru: “Giving up here means being unworthy of being called a knight.”

Anastasia: “… Hey, Natsuki-kun, have ya been listening at all? Aren’t ya acting just the way ya did in the capitol back then? Through whatever twists and turns, you’ve become a knight too, ya know.”

Subaru: “Yes, I’m also a knight now. And because I’m a knight, I’ll never give in!”

The more apples you held, the more likely they were to topple to the floor.

But Subaru and Julius were knights, and, rather than holding apples, they were holding something far more precious.

Rather than holding fruits that could be dropped without consequence, they held in their hands lives; lives which screamed and sobbed and mattered.

Subaru: “This is something that’s mattered to me from the very beginning. I still act at the mercy of that ideal. The morals of this world haven’t affected me that much yet!”

Anastasia: “You’re sayin’ somethin’ mysterious again… But the fact of the matter is, during the battle against the White Whale, and the battle with the Witch Cult afterward… people died. As long as there’s a struggle, casualties are inevitable. Natsuki-kun, having seen this with your own eyes, do ya really mean what ya say?”

Subaru: “Don’t underestimate those people, Anastasia. Their deaths were tragic, but they were soldiers who sacrificed themselves in battle. They understood what they were doing. These innocent people people who are about to be sacrificed, they don’t have that awareness. That’s the fundamental difference!”

He understood that this notion was unreasonable, and that it might be completely illogical.

However, this was what Subaru believed. That awareness was what mattered to him in a life or death situation.

Subaru: “The citizens of this city are just civilians. There was never any obligation for them to take up a soldier’s awareness. The Witch Cult arbitrarily forced them into a battlefield. Leaving them behind because of that is wrong.”

Anastasia: “Even if it’s wrong, they were arbitrarily drawn into a battlefield. Awareness is being forced upon them. They expect to be attacked, don’t they? And they have to fight for themselves, just as we do.”

Subaru: “But it’s neither fair nor reasonable for unprepared defenders to be attacked by prepared attackers. But that’s what knights are for. It’s their duty to protect those who aren’t prepared to protect themselves. That’s the knight I idealize. That’s the dashing knight I pretended to be, in front of those defenseless village kids.”

Having accepting the accolades of a knight, Subaru found himself able to live his dream. It was only natural that he’d think in this way.

These ideals came from the village children, who looked at him with admiration shining in their eyes whenever Subaru said something valiant and dashing. Subaru wanted to do his best for them.

Of course, it helped that Emilia, when she listened in, would look at his with those same bright, shining eyes.

Subaru: “As Emilia’s knight, I’ll fight for Emilia, but that doesn’t mean that no one but Emilia matters. Anastasia-san, as your knight, Julius fights, above all, for you. But he doesn’t stop there. That’s the nature of a knight; they’d stop at nothing to look more dashing and valiant.”

Anastasia: “——”

Subaru: “Julius especially. He could be on the verge of death and still be putting on that cool act of his, because this asshole is the [Knight of Knights]. In other words, he wants to look way cooler than anyone else.”

As Anastasia gaped at him, Subaru gestured toward Julius with his thumb, who promptly fell into an embarrassed, awkward silence.

A speechless Anastasia and a stunned Julius were so rarely seen that Subaru could help but grin.

Subaru: “Defeating the bad guys is a simple enough goal. But deciding to live with the guilt of making sacrifices is ridiculous. Everyone must be saved, every villain must be defeated. Even if you don’t succeed, you have to set out with that idea, right?”

Losing like that bore the same results as being resigned to loss from the beginning, but there was a vital difference in how that loss would affect you.

Of course, it would be easy to interpret that as selfishness, but…

???: “— To live for one’s own ego is the best way of living. I completely agree with you, bro.”

Subaru: “——!”

As Subaru elaborated upon his naïve ideals, a new voice inserted itself into the scene.

Everyone spun to face the entrance of the lobby. Having caught everyone’s attention, the man there looked back and forth, seeming unhappy.

???: “Hey, looking at me with such enthusiasm is a little off putting. I know that my seductiveness isn’t at its prime, so I don’t know how well I’d meet all your expectations.”

Subaru: “—— Al?”

Dressed in dark helmet, speaking with lighthearted jests and no trace of hostility; this man was one of Subaru’s acquaintances who had disappeared after leaving the hotel that morning— Al.

He glanced back and forth at the people crowding the room again.

Al: “Where are all the familiar faces? Weren’t there more this morning?”

Subaru: “They’re upstairs with Crusch-san. Why are you here?”

Al: “Well, when the commotion started, I decided to turn ass and find a place to hide for a bit. When things started settling down, I took a peek outside, and heard the broadcast about the City Hall. My first thought was that you were probably involved, and, if not, I’d at least be able to find someone who knows what’s happening.”

Although he spoke through the tinny filter of his helmet with his usual absurd optimism, everyone felt more than a little displeased at his answer.

After all, he was one of the few people who was capable of fighting, yet he chose to prioritize his own safety.

Al: “C’mon, don’t look at me like that. I feel a little bad, but can you really say missing that last fight completely my fault? Besides, I don’t think the results would have changed based on my presence alone.

Garfiel: “Hey, captain, ‘s this guy tryin’ t’ provoke us?”

Al’s casual demeanor had infuriated Garfiel from the very beginning.

Thinking back on it, Al and Garfiel had never actually met. When Priscilla had crashed the nice breakfast at the hotel, Garfiel had been absent.

From his point of view, Al was a strange and potentially dangerous man.

Subaru: “Wait, wait, Garfiel, this guy’s involved in the Royal Election. He’s Al, Priscilla’s knight, although he hasn’t officially met you yet. I don’t know if you know, but all five candidates are in the city right now.”

Al: “Technically I’m just the princess’s subordinate, and not actually a knight. I could be so excessively proper. Oh, by the way, I don’t mean anything rude about you, bro.”

Although Subaru had stopped Garfiel from overreacting, Al responded to his introduction with a note of irony. His attitude had Garfiel gnash his fangs together in rage again.

Anastasia: “Alright, enough, enough! Shush! You’re all being seriously too annoyin’.”

With a loud clap, she diffused the swiftly escalating tension.

Her round eyes fixed themselves on Al.

Anastasia: “Aren’t ya just like your master, appearin’ so suddenly and makin’ a mess or the atmosphere? How uncouth. Causin’ a fight’ll rub people the wrong way, so how about you drop it for now?”

Al: “Wow, you’re really honest. Unfortunately, this is just the way I am. Everyone says that I tick people off and disrupt their rhythms. Well, it works as a survival technique.”

Al stuck a finger into the gap between his head and his helmet, scratching his neck sheepishly. Anastasia turned to Subaru with a small sigh.

Anastasia: “Although things seem to have been complicated somewhat, my policy won’t change. If the path to victory requires sacrifices, then I’ll make them. If Natsuki-kun refuses ta take any losses, then work hard ta think of a plan. I’d also like ta avoid any sacrifices if at all possible.”

Subaru: “Then, you won’t stop me from visiting all the other shelters?”

Anastasia: “… If you can do it on your own time, then go for it. Anyway, we do need more combat power. If you find anyone at all who can fight, try to recruit them to our side.”

Although she still disagreed, Anastasia still withdrew her earlier rejection of Subaru’s idea. Convincing her to change her mind entirely would have been impossible; as such, Subaru would not complain about the leeway he’d been granted.

Anastasia: “Take the conversation mirror. For the time bein’, let’s set your time limit ta six hours. I’ll contact ya if we need ya back. Be careful, and try your best not ta mess anythin’ up.”

Subaru: “Time limit… right, I haven’t asked yet. What time is it?”

Julius: “It’s still the same day, at about midnight— we’ll set out nine hours from now.”

This time, Julius was the one to supply the information.

If they wanted to hold a conference at 6 o’clock, then Subaru only had around three hours to sway Anastasia to his side.

On top of that, before this time limit, he also needed to find a way to defeat Witch Cult and save the city… but no, even that wasn’t enough.

He also needed to rescue Emilia and retrieve Rem’s memories from [Gluttony], and to restore those who had been mutated by [Lust]. Only by achieving all of these goals could he say that they’d claimed a complete victory.

Subaru: “There is not much time left, do you have a map of where the shelters are?”

Anastasia: “Yup, we’ve got several. Here’s a map of where all Ricardo’s boys from the [Iron Fang] went, and where’re they’re goin’ now.”

She give him Ricardo’s map, showed the the [Iron Fang] had set out for the farthest shelters. Conveniently, this left the nearby shelters to Subaru, who had to travel by foot.

It was almost as if someone had set this situation up.

Julius: “Subaru, I’ll come with you.”

Subaru: “Julius? No, you shouldn’t. You’d be a huge help, but we’d be in trouble if we didn’t leave enough fighters in the City Hall.”

Ricardo was stationed to patrol outside, and Subaru intended to take Garfiel with him as well. Although Wilhelm was upstairs, giving him the responsibility of defending the entire City Hall would be too heavy a burden.

And even if that weren’t the case, the Crusch camp was currently ensconced in gloom. Upon hearing Subaru’s reply, Julius nodded, albeit reluctantly.

He seemed to be far less calm than usual, and his impulsiveness was a rare sight indeed. Subaru gave his shoulder a light pat, then tapped his chin and gestured to Garfiel.

Subaru: “Garfiel, come with me. We’ll go visit the other shelters and look for people who can fight. We have to find a way to end this prolonged restlessness.”

Garfiel: “… right, got it. Leave it t’ my amazin’ self.”

Although Garfiel’s response to Subaru’s request came a beat late, he agreed in the end. With that, Subaru examined the map in his hand, looking for shelters near the City Hall.

His top priority was securing combat power —in that case, locating Reinhardt would be his best course of action.

Al: “Maybe go to the shelter near the hotel first? I don’t think the princess would have wandered far from there.”

Subaru: “In that case, if we follow this path… wait a second.”

Subaru halted, his finger still lingering on the map. As Al, who had inserted his own plans into Subaru’s quite frankly, tilted his head inquisitively, Subaru asked,

Subaru: “You’re… coming with me too?”

Al: “Yep. After all, going alone would be really troublesome, and not finding the princess would also be really troublesome. Since you already know so much, I’ll probably have the best chance if I go with you. In a mess like this, not finding the princess would be kinda terrifying.”

Subaru: “… What a picture perfect master-servant relationship.”

Although the situation gave him kind of an odd feeling, that thankfully left Subaru with more company. Garfiel, on the other hand, pricked with explicit disgust when he heard that Al would accompany them. After all, at this critical juncture, he’d certainly keep one eye open around unfamiliar people.

Anyway, although Al was somewhat annoying, he did seem to genuinely want to find Priscilla.

Subaru: “Speaking of Priscilla, I last saw her in the park on First Street fifteen minutes before the attacks happened. If she didn’t leave, she should be in a shelter near there.”

Al: “Really? That’s super helpful info, bro. Then let’s start from there.”

Delighted at this news, Al pounded Subaru back several times.

Then Subaru, with a pleased Al and an incensed Garfiel in tow, left the City Hall for the nearby shelters.

And, seeing them off was—

Echidna: “Ouch, you were totally treated like the bad guy there, weren’t you?”

Anastasia: “Quiet, ya scarf fox. It’s not like I haven’t worked it out already. If Natsuki-kun can still speak with such conviction when he returns, then he’s really bad at learnin’.”

Anastasia spoke with a slightly helpless expression, and the scarf rustled slightly on her neck. And no one else noticed this short conversation.

 

 

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