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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI
THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO
THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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Arc 6 – “Hall of Memories”
Chapter 28 – “Julius Euculius”
――I am afraid, that no one would believe it.
『My name is Natsuki Subaru！Servant of the Roswaal Manor―― and Royal Election Candidate Emilia-sama’s Best Knight!』
At that moment, almost everyone in the Royal Hall turned their heads towards the self-proclaimed knight.
The one speaking, unable to hide his tendency to get swept up by the flow and by his somewhat fickle emotions, had stated thus―― And upon hearing it, there had been a single person, a single man who had been deeply moved.
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Picking up the Sword of Selection from the ground, he felt it fit so perfectly in the palm of his hand, very much so that the urge to break into tears arose within him for some reason. It was almost as if he truly were under the delusion that the sword had selected him in particular.
Even though, in this instant, there was absolutely no reason for him to be feeling so proud in such a manner, within his own self.
Compared to his broken beloved sword, his new blade felt a smidgeon thicker, the tip heavier. However, if he based himself on that and swung the blade, he would be able to more or less get used to the differences immediately.
Not all battles could be handled with only the usage of a weapon one was accustomed to. It was a source of pride for him, that he had trained himself to imagine all possible situations, and that he was able to do battle with any sword at hand.
Reid:「Really boring, haa, you」
His sharp thrust was carried by said pride, and it was aimed right between the yawning man’s brows. However, the man just tilted his head, the tip of the blade merely coming close to its target. As soon as the red haired man noticed a few hairs having been severed, he jumped back.
He pressed his weight hard against the ground and jumped back, thanks to his heels remaining hot due to the footwork.
He formed some distance between the two of them.
In a battle, evaluating the sword skills of your opponent is not the only essential thing. Neither is it about just the sword in the hands. The rhythm of the feet and the pace of the legs are also extremely crucial.
Of course, the swordplay matters as well. To get the optimum position, to get the fastest pace, in order to maximize your potential, you musn’t just use your hands and legs; instead you have to use every part of your body.
Therefore, it’s imperative that beginners in the art of swordplay learn proper footwork first.
Truly, he believed he was fortunate to be blessed with a great teacher. Although that teacher’s skills were now below his current skills, this was due to age, a factor that no one was able to circumvent.
Nevertheless, there was no doubt that he was quite a skillful person in teaching things to his students even beyond their own strength.
It wasn’t just putting practice into his sword art, but also where those arts had come from, and in what form they had been passed down. He was a well-liked person who spoke about such things.
Naturally, he too enjoyed listening to tales of others about it, and he deemed it an honor to be able to practice it.
Catching up towards him with a leap, he aimed his sword down to where he was about to land.
Up, down, left, right. Three of those directions were guarded, and the one with the highest probability to deliver the killing blow was from below.
Reid:「You, this again?!」
Julius’ sword, which swung towards the man’s chest from below, was parried with ease by the man’s stick. The stick was unbelievably sturdy, and easily deflected his sword.
The sword swing took less than a second; even if he saw it coming, to be able to do that meant he was exceedingly skilled and had fine-grained control over his power to the extent that he could even thread a needle with ease.
Julius gasped in surprise as his heavy swing brought his sword over his head. It created a small opening as he stumbled slightly and broke posture. he thought to use a blade of wind, but right now he didn’t have that choice.
The magic which he could use as a diversion, did not release.
Instead, he just created a gap between them.
He ate a front kick to his side, and the barefoot’s nails dug into the gaps between his organs inside his body. In the moment where he felt that his body couldn’t take any more pressure and would break, the foot that had been stuck inside him twisted, causing him excruciating pain from inside.
He was blown away. In an instant, he went flying from the impact, seemingly defying inertia.
However, even that wasn’t enough to absorb the force of that kick. As his surroundings spun, the impact he received on his body reverberated to his head and made him want to vomit. Even so, he kept his eyes on his opponent and slammed his feet on the ground as he landed, maintaining his posture.
His breathing was rough.
It would take him some time to recover and catch his breath.
Julius emptied out the contents of his body, and after having done so, he forcibly reminded his body to breath slowly to calm his ragged breath.
He spat, and spat it all out.
After that, he would continue the battle, because he had to continue this fight.
About ten meters in front of him, he saw the red-haired man standing with a smile plastered on his smug face.
Again, he dashed forward, towards the grinning man. The edges of the wooden chopsticks and the steel blade collided, everything to peel that calm smile off his face. From there, the real battle――,
Reid:「So pretentious. You, there are truths and lies in a battle. Are ya really readin’ it out of a picture book?!」
The distance between him and the man shrunk in the blink of an eye. The man’s incredible speed left him stunned.
To be precise, it all actually happened in the blink of an eye. The man closed the distance of ten meters in a mere moment. A simple stick appeared in front of his eyes. In order to protect himself, he immediately raised his blade, though while making that important action, he left the rest of his body unguarded. This resulted in the man delivering two blows against him with his sticks, one in the side of his head and one to the chest.
A piercing shock hit him. The sharpness of that blow would make his consciousness fade faster than the actual pain. He clenched his teeth and stomped the ground vigorously, so he could desperately scrape back together his own fading consciousness.
The scream he uttered left him hoarse, and he swung his sword down in a crescent-form arc towards the man. The man jumped up, as if he was avoiding the graceful dance until death and struck his side with his elbow.
His consciousness was shaken again. He was shaken off his feet, and his fighting spirit was curbed by the pain that gradually spread out in his soles.
The simultaneous chants of fire and water, and the three way attack of the sword――all missed their mark.
Unrelated to the fire and water, this was only an artistic mistake which he had repeatedly made when he was training to become the『Greatest Knight』. If his opponent was to be a normal one, this surely would have had sufficient to bring him down.
The highest peak of a Knight’s sword art, it was easily blown away by the chopsticks in the hands of the man.
The sticks struck his knee, and stabbed his stomach, making him vomit up gastric juice; it was quite the unpleasant sight. His body was about to collapse, as it has been continuously struck down by the stick from all directions.
He fell down instead of forward, and kept his body up by quickly extending out his arm. Taking advantage of this moment, he swung to the rear with astonishing momentum. The man left out a sound out because he did not expect it, and jumped back.
He continued to move backwards, and opened up a greater distance between the two of them. Blood started to pour out of his nose.. Hewiped his bleeding nose with his white sleeve. His uniform was stained by bright, crimson red paint.
He did not care. He let out a sharp breath and put his whole spirit into the blade in his hand..
To reach it, is to keep going for it.
To be strong, is to stay strong.
Reid:「Yer fucking pathetic, you. Can you even lift ya sword? You. I haven’t lifted my sword for anything other than three months straight, you. I’ve cut light down, what the fuck have you cut down?」
Julius:「You, right here, right now――」
Reid:「You, the fuck does that mean!? The fuck can you do to me? You can’t do shit. No swinging at it ‘till you reach it. Don’t swing at it ‘till you reach it. ’till you can, no swinging. Don’t swing ‘till you can. Stop talking ‘bout all the shit ya wanna do when you can’t even do ‘em, you.」
Instead of a refutation, he utterly destroyed the sword’s blow with immense, immense strength.
As a response to this action, the man struck ten more blows down onto him.
His consciousness was swaying, but he was not falling. Why wasn’t he falling?
Reid:「You lackin’. You ain’t enough. This ain’t a place for you to be comin’ to. Yer outta yer element. You ain’t the one for the job. You weren’t invited.」
He just has to be strong. He just has to prove it with his sword.
A name, a house, a family, a master, a companion, a friend, spirits bound to his soul, he lost all of it.
The only thing that is left for him is this. All that he has left, is himself.
What he himself accumulated, shapeless, that’s all that remained.
This was the only proof of his sole, own being.
Reid:「Disgusting, you. Are you tryna put up a front? you? Are ya satisfied just bein’ a cheap imitation of others, you? You and your sword are both fuckin’ boring.」
There was a time that he aimed for the peak of swordsmanship.
He wondered if he could aim for that place, it was something that was stuck on his mind.
Soon, he realized that the bar was too high, and gave up.
When he saw him, that man with hair of crimson, the boy gripping a sword in his hand, he discovered he carried something so selflessly grand as to inspire admiration.
Reid:「Ain’t nobody looking at you. Ain’t nobody got expectations on you. Yer naive if you thinkin’ I’m playin ‘round. yer punches ‘n kicks are easy, you.」
He too had once yearned for it, for his life to be filled with tales of grandeur.
To stand shoulder to shoulder with those people, was not to be for his current lacking self.
That is the reason why he must risk his life. So desperately, wretchedly, that dream which he had then cast aside, he remembered.
His blue eye, not covered by the eyepatch, along with his disheveled long hair of flame, overlapped with the youth who had been the impetus behind him desisting of his dream once before, as well as with one of his many aspirations he held thereafter.
Diligently endeavoring in the hopes of one day reaching it, that was how he believed his life to have been spent.
Reid:「Ain’t enough , you. You ain’t enough at all――Have you been skippin’ life day?」
His yearning towards that what he craved for, was knocked out from him by the beating of the stick.
He couldn’t do it by swinging his sword; it was impossible to hit the one facing him with a sword. The efforts to keep fighting were meaningless. The blood and sweat that were shed were worthless. In the life of his, the life that was collapsing… There was one thing. But even that one thing he believed in―― was trampled down.
Slowly, something was welling withinside him.
That thing, it completely eliminated that what was emerging from his heart.
Reid:「Gggrr! Can ya bear this? You, I’m getting more and more bored.」
Along with a click of his lips, a light gushed out and pierced through his limbs. He collapsed like a marionette who had its strings cut. However, violence did not allow that.
The wooden sticks struck into his chest, resulting in the oxygen in his lungs being drained to the verge of asphyxiation. Then, he was grabbed by his hair and swung around like a ragdoll. He was slammed to the ground, and the moment that he bounced back up, he received a kick to the face and was blown away.
In this matter he slid across the ground as if he were a Frisbee, spinning endlessly in this white world with no boundaries
He was knocked to the ground.
His body jumped up and looked at the direction where he received the kick from. But then, the man, who suddenly dashed like a gale towards him, hit him in the face with his knee. In the moment of the impact, the knee clashed against his forehead, and as his forehead split; he was flicked away.
A gap between them was formed.
Reorganizing his posture―― that’s what he should have done, but, his body did not stir.
His whole body was screaming like a siren, especially as the damage to his head was very serious. Even the consciousness inside his own skull was in a state of fluctuation. He was afraid that if he would relax, if only for a little, he would lose his consciousness that very next moment.
The sword… Where was the sword? As if to ascertain it, he made his own strength flow into his own right hand and tried to slowly touch it.
There, there was indeed the touch of the hilt. He felt relief.
He couldn’t let go. It’s only this. He doesn’t know what there is left to lose if he even loses the sword.
――In other words, what was in his hand was something else in the shape of a sword『Sword』just now.
He did not make any mistakes in his own state of life. He always believed that it was him being on his own path.
He was so convinced, even now.
Even now, to be able to change this, he had supposed would be impossible in his life.
Henceforth, the problem here was not finding a solution for all the things that had slipped out of his hands and disappeared.
――Or… Was it simply a mistake?
He lost his own way, he walked down the wrong path… all because he misunderstood what he believed in?
His name, his house, his family, his master, a companion, a friend, spirits bound to his soul, he lost all of them.
What if, what was only left with him now, was just a make-believe, incapable of offering any actual help, incapable of relying upon, incapable of any support.
――He would maintain his strength; that’s what he swore to his Master.
――He would remember his strength; that’s what his last remaining friend told him.
In a world where everything is lost, there’s only『Strength』which would assist him.
Although, this『Strength』was the only thing his frail and fragile self was『Certain』 wouldn’t disappear.
Reid:「――You! The hesitation is finally gone from yer sword!」
How much time was wasted by asking himself how to answer that question? Probably not even a second. However, for a man― for a『Sword Saint』, such gap in the moment is like having the chance of killing the enemy.
He was desperate to raise his sword, to defend himself against this rapid, impending attack. A very sharp, shrill noise rang out. The only way of knowing that the sword’s steel edge crashed upon the floor, was by actually seeing it happen.
Finally, he was parted from even the sword that slipped out from his own hands.
Losing my name, losing my reputation… Now that I even lost the sword, is there any reason for me to still stand here?
Reid:「Ya lack the qualifications to reach the Heavenly Sword. ――Ya prick, ya wouldn’t even be fit to be my follower」
The parched voice coldly announced that, and the『Sword Saint』held his sticks out forward, bending his knees down.
――For the first time, the『Sword Saint』put out an attacking posture.
Then, the stick was raised, and a strike―― There was no way for it to be mistaken, it was a Sword Attack.
He released an absolute sword strike, and he was wrapped in the powerful shockwave of the strike, and blown away.
Whether it was punching or kicking, this blow was completely different from all the attacks so far. This wasn’t an attack. This was the zenith of the sword, the highest peak the sword can reach, the true『Power』capable of a sword.
Engulfed by the light, his consciousness was blown away. Did he see death? Did he see something that surpassed death? He didn’t understand it at all.
However, at the moment of being blown away, he heard a faint voice.
A voice was screaming, it was full of melancholy. Desperately, the voice had dashed up the long staircase, as if just to witness this decisive moment alone. Since there was a voice calling for him, a very untimely smile was formed on his face.
The『Greatest Knight』from the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica. A Royal Guard of the Kingdom’s Knights. The eldest son and the heir of the Euculius family. The Knight of the Royal Election Candidate, Anastasia Hoshin.
I wonder, am I even worthy of being called by that name anymore?
Finally, with such doubts on his mind, Julius’ consciousness, interrupted with a swoosh, was thus swallowed by the light.
(TL Note: Something interesting that has been found: throughout his named chapter, Julius’s name is never used in narration until the very end. May be a subtle nod to the fact he’s having his named Chapter while he remains in a Name-eaten state.)