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Translated By :
- Ice_Occultism (/u/Ice_Occultism)
Proofread By :
- Gracedharperd (/u/Gracedharperd)
Art Source (Edited by Gracedharperd)
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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 20 – “Shaula ≠ Sage = Flugel”
――The eminent “Great Erudite” Flugel.
As soon as Shaula had mentioned his name with a proud puff of her ample chest as she gave them an open-looking smile, Subaru and the others had exchanged looks with each other, wrapped up by an uncomfortable feeling in the air.
Shaula: “Huh? What’s up with that response? Did I say something weeeeird?”
Subaru: “No, it’s because, what the?”
Shaula widened her eyes blankly on hearing Subaru and the others’ dismal response. He felt bad for her, who was the very picture of confidence, as if to say that there was nothing mysterious to her words. However, the emotions that Subaru and the others harboured towards the name of that “Flugel” were rather complex.
“The Great Erudite” Flugel.
Though the title she’d given him was unfortunately different, Subaru was familiar with that name.
It was the name of that individual whom he’d crossed fates with just once ever since he’d been summoned into this different world. However, he didn’t have any acquaintanceship with that individual, he only had a one-sided “Debt” with him.
In any case, the reason he knew his name was down to the fact that he’d had an experience where his life had been saved thanks to that individual’s deed.
Subaru: ”Flugel’s Great Tree…..That Flugel-san, right?”
Everyone except Shaula gave a curt nod at the keyword that slipped out from Subaru’s mouth. Although, Meili had inclined her head in doubt as if she didn’t know, saying: “Wh~at’s that?”
Meili: ”I’ve never hea~rd that term before. “Great Tree”, does it just mean tree?”
(TL Note: Right, フリューゲルの大樹 is of course “Flugel’s Tree” or more accurately “Flugel’s Great Tree” when translated in English in the anime/other translations. But because of Meili’s confusion, this passage may not make complete sense. So I will just explain it here. Meili doesn’t understand the term 大樹, and because of the anime/other TLs always using “Tree” I can’t really just change it to Subaru saying it in Latin, or something. So when you read that passage keep in mind that it’s like as if Subaru was using a very fancy word Japanese that your average Loli wouldn’t understand.
Also, a very interesting point about that word, which is read as: タイジュ, it shares a homophone with the word: 大儒 which means “Great Scholar/Erudite”. I am too lazy to look into the etymology of how these words originated but I think this double meaning is important.)
Subaru: ”Yeah. Right, there’s a damn huge tree that grew on the Lifaus Plains in the Kingdom of Lugnica, and it was called Flugel’s Great Tree. It’s so huge that it’s said that it may have almost reached past the clouds; it was something that could really tickle at your male instincts.”
Meili: “Heeh, I se~e. When you say it like that, I’d very much li~ke to see it.”
Subaru: ”Sorry. About that, I cut it down.”
Meili: “Onii-san’s so mean!”
He’d ended up swiftly shattering Meili’s wish, and as a result, treated as something less than human.
Strictly speaking, cutting down the tree hadn’t been Subaru’s responsibility. However, it had been Subaru who’d proposed cutting it down and using it, so when it came to talking about who was the most responsible, Subaru was the one.
――Flugel’s Great Tree had ended up being his trump card a year ago during the “Battle to Subjugate the White Whale”.
The Great Tree’s existence had been cardinally important in subjugating that Witchbeast of “Fog”, the White Whale, considering that the tree was larger in size than that colossal beast. In the end, he could say that they’d cut down the Great Tree, pinned the White Whale underneath it so it couldn’t move, and finally delivered to it its finishing blow.
Subaru: ”I do feel bad for Flugel-san, who they say planted it, but….. In no shape or form did I ever think I’d hear his name in a place like this.”
Emilia: “It’s the spot where you can see the stump where the negotiations that followed the subjugation of the White Whale took place, right? I’ve heard that they used the chopped tree for various stuff, though…..”
Julius: “At the present, only the stump is left there known as the “Vestiges of Flugel’s Great Tree”. It’s in a status-quo where it’s protected as an important historical landmark, but after several 100s of years, it ought to go back to how it was before, one should think.”
Emilia and Julius replied about what had happened after following Subaru’s wonderment.
Straight after the subjugation of the White Whale, they’d subjugated “Sloth” as well, and the attack of the Sin Archbishops that had dragged Crusch and Rem into it had overlapped with that. And to make matters worse, straight after he’d joined back up with the Emilia Camp, there had been that commotion that he’d ended up right in the middle of in the “Sanctuary”. However, after all these unfortunate series of events, the spoils of war negotiations had taken place.
There, a discussion regarding the great deeds against the “White Whale” and Sloth” had been the pièce de résistance, but naturally they’d also ended up discussing compensation for the damage they’d incurred. One of the matters they’d discussed was Flugel’s Great Tree, namely taking care of the remaining stump and effective uses of the felled tree itself.
Incidentally, they’d deemed the White Whale as having no practical use, so its huge carcass had been cleaved up by a bunch of people and incinerated. Only its skull had been presented to the Royal Castle as evidence of its subjugation.
In any case, setting aside the Great Tree’s treatment, and moving back to the more crucial Flugel-san.
Subaru: “Come to think on it, I’ve definitely heard him referred to as the “Sage” Flugel.”
Beatrice: “But, he’s a “Sage” who no one really knows what he’s done, in fact….. So, speaking of strange to begin with, it’s strange that he’s being treated as a “Sage”, I suppose.”
Ram: “When you consider his achievements alone, it’s true that his accomplishments pale in comparison to the title of “Sage”. Perhaps he liked to toot his horn too much on his achievements….. A guy just like Barusu, eh?”
Subaru: “When have I ever exaggerated my achievements!?”
Subaru grew rather sullen at having received that unexpected evaluation. However, Ram’s faced remained nonchalant.
And whilst listening to that exchange, Anastasia spoke out with an: “I see.” She was the only one whose face showed some understanding,
Anastasia: ”Certainly, from what the story that circulates aroun’ says, Flugel-san may be lackin’ in bein’ called a “Sage”, but….. I wonder if things ended up bein’ like what I suspect now that Shaula-san, whose been treated as the real “Sage”, turned out to be a person like this.”
Emilia: “What do you mean by “Things ended up being like what you suspect?””
Anastasia: “The achievements that are circulated are the opposite…… Hmm, no that ain’t right I suppose. They’re weighted ta one side, rather than bein’ the opposite. I reckon it may be very likely that they were more or less pushed onto her on purpose.”
Emilia: “So, in other words, you mean that it was made to look like Shaula-san did those things that Flugel-san actually did?”
Emilia opened her eyes in surprise as she heard Anastasia’s hypothesis. After Anastasia nodded at her understanding, she turned around to face Shaula once again.
Anastasia: “I’ve got my suspicions about this, but Shaula-san, what do ya think? I wonder, was yer Master the sort ta try ‘n do these sorts of things, Shaula-san?”
Shaula: “Yeah~, though I don’t quite understand this difficult talk.”
Subaru: “You better not be……”
Shaula: “Nonononono! You’re jumping to conclusions! Let me continue properly with what I was going to say!”
Right after Subaru narrowed his eyes at her vague reply, Shaula shook her head as if in fright. And then, she lifted both of her hands up and as she nonsensically blinked her palms open and closed, she said,
Shaula: “If I’mmmm being honest, there’s much that I don’t understand about Master’s thinking. But, when it comes to Master, he was a person who didn’t really like to stand out. So, I think~ it’s quite like Master to aim the brunt of the annoying gossip onto meeeee and run away.”
Subaru: “I don’t think a person who didn’t want to stand out would’ve planted a tree called the Flugel’s Great Tree, though…..”
Julius: “Subaru, you’ve got the wrong idea. It’s not like Flugel’s Great tree was a Great Tree from the moment it was planted. Many months and years passed by, until finally it attained its majestic appearance from its growth into full bloom. Given that the name of the person who planted it was left behind, it’s not that strange that future generations began to call it like that.”
Subaru: “……I don’t even know what to say to that.”
Subaru’s face grew sour as he comprehended Julius’ explanation.
Indeed, back then, it would have been one of many, but after many long years, it had ended up growing into a magnificent Great Tree. They’d probably wanted to give it a name, and when they came to do so, they’d gone with the: “Then, let’s name it after the person who planted it“ option. That felt like what would’ve been natural.
If that was the case, then he felt like it had been an oversight of Flugel’s to have left his name behind.
Subaru: “If he feels like hiding, then I feel like he should’ve avoided leaving the name Flugel behind in the first place. Isn’t there something missing here?”
Julius: “I read this in a book, but if I’m not mistaken, the reason why we know Flugel-san’s name is… because “Flugel was here” was carved onto that Great Tree, right?”
Subaru: “As if there’s something missing! He’s like a student on a field trip!?”
Subaru was taken aback by this episode where it seemed like he had craved the limelight more than expected.
He recalled that he’d wanted to do something similar back when he’d been standing next to the Great Tree, however when it came to him actually putting that into motion, well, that was another story. When Flugel would have carved it in, the Great Tree still shouldn’t have been a Great Tree in the first place.
Julius: “That name stood alone, and thus, the “Sage” Flugel ended up being passed down in legend as an enigmatic historical figure that has next to no information about him other than having planted the tree.”
Subaru: “So, isn’t the belief that Flugel was the one who planted the tree unclear too!?”
Julius: “With that, time passed, and it was verified as being correct from the mouth of a different “Sage”. Now that I think about it…. Hmmm. We’re standing in a place which is chock full of missing history, doesn’t it make your heart leap just a little?”
Subaru: “Don’t start talking as if you’re a history otaku…..”
Being acquainted with obscure historical facts from several centuries, Julius was deeply moved.
Julius had the tendency to speak too much when explaining things regarding magic rather than him having deep insight into it, however perhaps he did have a knowledgeable otaku side to him here.
Emilia: “But, even though I get that the “Sage” of antiquity was actually Flugel in reality….. this still doesn’t change much, right?”
When their opinions came to match each other in regards to Flugel doing that, Emilia diffidently glanced over everyone’s faces. Receiving her gaze, Subaru nodded his head in agreement.
As Emilia said, the fact that it had actually been Flugel who’d really been behind the legendary exploits of the past didn’t hold much meaning for them at the present. ――No, that wasn’t true at all.
Subaru: “Nope, Emilia-tan. This fact is a pretty big problem.”
Subaru: “I mean, shouldn’t it be? Our purpose from the start was to come here to hear various things from the famed “Sage-san” who is said to be omniscient. But, since the “Sage-san” from the rumours has turned out to be a different person, and all he’s left behind is this obviously air-headed girl, we……”
Shaula: “Oooh, Master~, I want you to not shake my head. You’re making it go clatter-clatter.”
Shaula gave off that reaction, full of jest, as he shook her shoulders.
If he put it without mincing his words, she was far off being omniscient by any stretch of the imagination.
Subaru: “To start with, our original purpose can’t be fulfilled. ――If the “Sage” isn’t here, then it means we came all the way here for nothing.”
Emilia and the others kept their mouths shut at Subaru’s conclusion. Subaru gritted his back teeth at his own conclusion whilst he looked at everyone’s reactions.
Over a month had passed, and Subaru had already died four times.
Only a guardsman who was a “Sage” in name only had been left behind in the Pleiades Watchtower, which they’d surmounted so much hardship to get to. They wouldn’t be able to bring back any results due to this.
The reality of history, the true state of the “Sage”. Those things weren’t of any value to him.
Since Subaru only desired for a way to save the people important to him.
Subaru: “Shaula. This may be a long shot, but just tell me this. Your Master….. The one who should be the real “Sage”, Flugel, where is he?”
Shaula: “Right now, If I were to answer with… “Right in front of myyyy eyes”, I get the feeling you’d be mad at me! But, I gotta answer it! The one right in front of myyyy eyes is my Master, Flugel!”
Subaru: “I thought you’d say that.”
Subaru could merely sigh at Shaula’s undiscouraged response.
In fact, Subaru’s current feelings were similar to that of a barren wasteland, overwhelming any urge he had in wanting to burst out in anger at the upbeat Shaula. Their circumstances were such that they could say their leads had come to nothing.
The glimmer of hope which had been the “Sage” had blinked out, and it looked like things would just go back to them fumbling around blindly. However, the subsequent darkness that came after they had seen a dazzling glimmer once in the dark had a different weight to it.
Hope gave people the strength to step forward, but perhaps the dark when hope covered it was something which dyed people’s vision in black, rather than always being in the darkness.
Either way, for Subaru it meant that――
Emilia: “Subaru, listen. It may surely be like that, but in truth it doesn’t mean that we’re at an impasse.”
Emilia placed her hand on Subaru’s shoulder and spoke out to him from the side of his face, which had been drooping down gloomily. Turning his face to look at her, he saw that Emilia’s amethyst eyes were full of unwavering hope.
Giving Subaru a short nod whilst she still touched his shoulder, Emilia continued speaking, saying “Isn’t that right?” to Shaula.
Emilia: “Although you’d barely spoken anything to us until a little while ago, the current you should be able to speak to us in a quite a bit more detail, right?”
Shaula: “Sure thing. I dislike it when Master’s feeling down tooo, but also I was all alone for such a long time, so I’d love to chat.”
Shaula replied to Emilia’s meaningful questioning with a genial look to her, keeping her attitude unchanged. She sat cross-legged, swaying back and forth; then, she moved her right hand up, and pointed it up overhead.
Shaula: “I said a bit of this to the others, but we’re on the bottomost floor of the tower here. This is the Sixth Floor, “Asterope”. As you go up, there’s the Fifth Floor “Celaeno”, then the Fourth Floor “Alcyone”, and at the tippy-top there’s the First Floor “Maia”.”
Subaru: “You named each of the floors? Wasn’t that a hassle?”
Shaula: “Didn’t you name them Master?”
Subaru: “I ain’t got such bad taste, but I don’t want to talk about that right now. So?”
There was hope in Emilia’s eyes, and Subaru’s mood grew in impatience at the flow of Shaula’s conversation that promoted that. Shaula broke into a delighted smile as if she’d perceived that change in his expression.
Still pointing up above, she stuck out her other hand, her left hand, and showed him her five fingers,
Shaula: ”The Fifth Floor “Celaeno” is straight above, on that floor you’ll find the doorway that leads outside. The Sixth Floor “Asterope” is underneath it, so in fact it connects straight to the underground area. If you hit it in the wrong place, you’ll end up buried alive, so It’d be best that you don’t do anything reckless like trying to break the wall.”
Julius: “Incidentally, the wall and floor seem to look like they’re made out of stone when you first look at them, but they have an unusual strength to them. Let me just say now that they wouldn’t be chipped even a bit with either Emilia-sama’s magic, or mine of course.”
Of course that probably didn’t mean he’d tried to destroy them, but Julius nevertheless supplemented Shaula’s explanation. He didn’t have any intentions of destroying the tower at all, but he nodded with an “I see”, just to be safe.
Subaru: “So, I get that the Fifth Floor has the doorway, but what about above that?”
Shaula: ”The Fourth Floor “Alcyone” is like myyyy dwelling area, a simple place for my ins ‘n outs. I like to leave it messy, so I’m gonna get embarrassed if you look at it too hard~”
Shaula: “Master, your eyes look serious. How scary……U-Usually I stand watch over the Sand Dunes from here. And, then I take aim and fire fire fire at anyone who gets near to the tower!”
Subaru: “So it indeed was you then.”
He’d already half-guessed it before, but he could be fully convinced now thanks to her testimony. White light from that Pleiades Watchtower had killed Subaru twice in the Sand Dunes, and it had also been the cause behind their team being separated into two after―― The culprit had been, as he’d thought, Shaula.
Subaru: “We went through so much suffering thanks to that, how the hell do you plan to make up for that?”
Shaula: “Sorrysorry, I was juuuust following Master’s instructions, when you say that, you’re just fussing about what I’ve been doing here for the past hundreds of years~”
Subaru glared at her, speaking in a harsh tone, causing Shaula to quiver back, her face growing dishevelled. There was no ill will showing on her face, and moreover, she showed no signs of remorse either.
Rather than lacking in a sense of guilt, she didn’t seem to have one in the first place.
It wasn’t an issue where she lacked emotions, but rather…
Beatrice: “Subaru, there’s no use in this, no matter what you say, in fact. There’s no sense of remorse or guilt in this one, I suppose. They just do as ordered…..It doesn’t make sense to ask a tool their uses, in fact.”
Shaula: “Yepyep, I’mmmm Master’s tool! The lil’ ankle biter says it well!”
Shaula had a big smile which said “That’s exactly what I thought” all over her face as she heard Beatrice’s savage opinion.
Her moods and facial expressions changed fickly, and with that, his understanding of her current way of being―― Perhaps Shaula just had different values. That was probably why they seemed to keep conversing as if they were on different wavelengths.
In other words,
Subaru: “It’s getting real tiring talking with you.”
Shaula: “You used to say that all the time before! It’s been aaaages.”
Subaru: “Is that so? Y’know I used to say that all the time, donkey years ago.”
He felt like he still did now, but Subaru brushed aside that point.
In any case, he understood that the white light that had come from the Watchtower had been Shaula’s doing, as well as that he’d never get any kind of apology or remorse from her.
In that case, there was no meaning in cutting their conversation short. He’d just have to move the conversation forward.
Subaru: “About the Fourth Floor, your dwelling area…… Like, your living quarters. What’s above that?”
Shaula: “The examination hall from the Third Floor “Taygeta”. ――To test one’s rights to enter the library.”
Subaru: “……The library?”
Subaru frowned, repeating the word back to her as a question. Shaula calmly nodded back at him saying “Yeah” without paying heed to Subaru’s change in attitude.
Shaula: “A library. From the Third Floor “Taygeta” and up, there’s trials, and each one has a corresponding library. If you fulfill the conditions to enter the library, then you can read the books inside at your leissssure.”
Subaru: “What’s written in those “books inside”?”
It was frustrating that she’d finished with an “Errrrr” considering that she’d told him this much whilst assuming an air of importance. Shaula reluctantly shook her head, along with her hair, at the frowning Subaru, and said: “It’s because~”
Shaula: “I can’t read the books ‘n stuff, I’ve not been told more than to guard the tower.”
Subaru: “Was that from your Master….. From Flugel as well?”
It would be impossible for Subaru to answer, regardless of how she had put it so proudly.
Though Subaru had only inclined his head in doubt at Shaula’s words, Emilia and the others’ still kept serious looks on their faces, the hope they held in their eyes was still there.
Beatrice: “Subaru, what lies inside the books of the library is knowledge, I suppose.”
Subaru: “By “knowledge” you don’t mean it in a literal sense, right?”
Subaru asked the obvious back after he heard Beatrice’s expression.
Typically, what was written down in books was knowledge, barring fiction of course. What you got out of books was either a wealth of knowledge, or deep, moving impressions.
But that probably wasn’t the meaning behind what Beatrice was trying to say.
Beatrice shook her head on top of Subaru’s lap.
Her long drill curls traced her head’s movement, she spoke out to Subaru, who was following that motion with his eyes.
Beatrice: “This is the place where the knowledge written down by the “Sage” known as being omniscient sleeps. I’ve heard that the Pleiades Watchtower is a name used in the outside, in fact.”
Shaula: “Yeah. Since Master’s came back inside, the tower will go back to its original role. A Great Library where you can search for anything you like, be it something you want to know or something you’d like to be aware of―― You can do that in Pleiades.”
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Subaru: “So that means the Third Floor is at a Beginner Level. The Second Floor is at an Intermediate Level. And that you can get access to the top class information on the First Floor, I think. So it must mean that the Trials are Qualifications Trials to obtain the clearances, right?”
Shaula: “Ohhh, as expected of Master! Even I keep getting more and more confused with what you’re talking about! But perhaps it’s Mucho mejor that you keep it simple.”
――The Great Library Pleiades.
The name of the Watchtower had gone from something quite affable to something quite suspicious. Subaru and the others, line astern, had left the Sixth Floor and had started climbing the stairs up towards the upper floors.
The spiral staircase carried Subaru and the others up towards the upper floors, coiling around circularly within the tower. However, since there was no manner of railing, the higher he got, the more his blood ran cold.
Subaru: “This is scary.”
Emilia: “Subaru, if you’re scared, then hold my hand? Since you still haven’t fully recovered, and you’re unsteady on your feet, you might actually fall off.….”
The ground of the Sixth Floor was getting far in the distance, and Gyan along with the Dragon Carriage looked pretty small down there. Emilia called that out to Subaru, who had looked down below, holding his breath.
To tell the truth, he wanted to take her hand and enjoy the feeling of her pale fingers, but…
Subaru: “Thanks, Emilia-tan. But, I’m alright right now. For the time being it doesn’t seem like I’ll fall off since the stars are fairly wide, that, and I’m also still full of vim and vigour, don’t you think?”
Emilia: “Really? But, if you think it’s getting tough, you’ll tell me straight away, right? I can carry you on my back if it comes down to it.”
Subaru: “Is that so…… Then I won’t make it come down to that.”
The impression of being carried up the stairs on Emilia’s back was as expected too horrifying. He would rather make that loan out to Julius, were he to make such an unmanly move.
Julius: “What is it?”
Subaru: “That’d just be the worst way too though. Oh, it’s nothing in particular. Keep moving, keep moving!”
Noticing Julius’ eyes on him, who’d just turned his head around, Subaru shook his hand at him. He shrugged his shoulders and continued to lead them up the stairs, still holding Anastasia’s hand.
Right now, they had their eyes set on the upper floors of the tower, progressing on foot. They weren’t in a rush, so they went about it at a leisurely pace, which contrasted their feelings of apprehension. Julius and Anastasia were at the front, then after them came Ram and Emilia line astern, with Subaru and Beatrice walking behind them. And finally, Shaula and Meili were bringing up the rear.
Meili: “Who~a there, naked Onee-san, don’t shake about so much.”
Shaula: “Huuuuh, you sure are a bossy lil’ ankle-biter for someone whose riding on my shoulders~”
Meili: “Be~cause, I’m sle~epy. We’ve been wa~lking for ages, and I can’t make it up and down the stairs with how many stairs there a~re.”
Shaula: “Yes, but why do I have to carry you..….! Quit pulling on my hair!”
Fussy as she may be, there was no sharpness in their exchange.
The Shaula/Meili group bringing up the rear was, rather incredibly, such that Shaula was carrying Meili on her shoulders as they climbed the stairs. Initially, when they’d decided to move up, Meili had taken the opportunity to complain that her feet were tired. However it had been Shaula herself who had said she’d be okay with carrying her on her back, so he’d left it down to her.
Subaru: “When it comes to actual physical strength, it looks like Shaula is likely the strongest…”
Beatrice: “That’s for sure, I suppose. ――Subaru, don’t let your guard down, in fact. Despite her appearance, we don’t know when she’ll show her fangs, I suppose.”
Subaru: “This woman? You get that impression from her?”
Beatrice: “We don’t know how she will react if it comes to light that you’re not Flugel, in fact.”
Subaru ended up stammering his words as he heard Beatrice’s reponse, her having urged him caution in a low voice.
It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about it, but he didn’t think it was a problem if he left it at the edge of his thoughts. In fact, Shaula was acting pretty friendly towards his group――No, towards Subaru, and that was only because she kept mistaking him as being her Master.
And, Subaru and the rest knew that his relation with him was something she was completely misunderstanding. He’d denied it to her many times till now, but Shaula would just smile and disregard it. Actually rather than disregarding it, it was more like she didn’t care at all no matter how many times she heard it. But, in any case, it hadn’t gotten through to her.
Therefore, Shaula’s attitude hadn’t changed, and he could even consider it a security――
Subaru: “That means that we won’t know what trigger will bring everything crumbling down.”
Beatrice: “There’s no doubt that things will end up quite worrisome if she were to become hostile, I suppose. We’d have no choice but to combine mine and your strength, as well as Emilia and that knight’s….. Julius’, in fact.”
Subaru: “Shaula’s strength, huh?”
He took a quick glance back at Shaula messing about with Meili.
She had a friendly, and defenceless look to her improper appearance―― Ever since their first encounter, all the way to their conversations afterwards, she had been an individual that had been difficult to judge in every manner.
However, although Subaru currently couldn’t decide what attitude to hold against Shaula, there wasn’t any harboured animosity which stood out in her, that much is what it looked like.
Although she was acting friendly to them due to mistaking him for someone else, and although they’d been met with such an unguarded reception from her, it was more difficult to dislike her than be bewildered by her.
However, he mustn’t confuse such touchy-feely emotions with there being a lack of looming danger.
Turning his eyes at their defenceless limbs whilst sneaking glances at Shaula’s condition, Subaru broke into thought.
She’d confessed that it had been her who’d set her aim on Subaru and the others back at the sand dunes and thrown those flashes of light at them from the tower. The speed of those flashes of light, along with the accuracy of their aim had been unnatural, they’d been plenty enough to give him an impression of the height of Shaula’s true strength. Right now, Subaru didn’t even know whether those things had been magic or not.
And to add on top of that, there’d been those final moments back at the underground area of the sand dunes.
That which remained in his awfully turbid consciousness, just before he had lost it, must have been Shaula who had come to blows with that repulsive-looking Centaur.
That monster was one which could only be thought of as being either the embodiment of absurdity or outrageousness was abruptly torn to pieces by a more powerful force, and he witnessed it being blown away out of existence with his own eyes.
He didn’t want to admit it, but if he ended up in direct combat against Shaula, any visions of being able to win against her were all but gone.
Regulus, Petelgeuse and such had been far easier opponents.
Subaru: “….Urgh I don’t know why I start to pretty repulsed whenever I recall those guys. No, feeling that is perfectly reasonable, but it’s a familiar repulsed feeling that I’m getting.”
Beatrice: “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but we need to be careful, I suppose.”
Subaru: “Yeah. If that’s the case…, then I guess asking her is quicker.”
Beatrice: “Huh? In fact.”
Straight after Beatrice replied in confusion, Subaru turned both himself and her around at the same time. Whilst swivelling his feet around on the stairs so they faced back, Subaru faced straight towards the double-stacked Shaula and Meili.
Shaula stopped in her tracks and tilted her head.
Shaula: “What’s up Master? It couldn’t be that Master’s also tired right? It wouldn’t be an issue for me to carry you, but my back is already taken by this girl who acts like a little princess, you know?”
Subaru: “That in itself would make quite an impression, so I’ll pass. Ah, though I’m sorry to get in between you happily playing with your ponytail with Meili….”
Shaula: “It’s not a ponytail, it’s a scorpiontail.”
Shaula: “It’s a scorpiontail.”
Shaula repeated herself to the taciturn Subaru as if she was a broken record.
Grabbing ahold of one of her ponytail’s tufts, Shaula readily moved it in front of her face, and said,
Shaula: “A scorpiontail…..”
Subaru: “I understand! What’s up with this insistence! Anyways, I’m sorry to get in between you making friends with Meili, but there’s something I want to ask you.”
Shaula: “Mhm! If it’s something Master has to say, I will listen to anything! I’mmmm glad that you’re speaking to me like this, Master~”
Shaula swung her ponytail… Er, rather, her scorpiontail about delightedly.
As a result of that, Meili, who was on her shoulders, was hit by one of the tail’s swishes. Subaru had already experienced that unexpectedly soft, good feeling tail, but putting that aside,
Subaru: “You’ll listen to what I say right?”
Shaula: “Not lewd stuff, right?”
Subaru: “Don’t even begin to go there. What are you braindead?”
Shaula: “It’s pretty dumb of Master to say so, isn’t it? Now we’re even!”
Subaru was left floored as he couldn’t keep up pace with Shaula who’d had a comeback to spare. Usually, most people ended up getting thrown quite out of sync when they mixed in with the pace of Subaru’s conversations. Because of that, suitably finding a thread to start a conversation came down to Subaru, but it would be tough to do this time.
The difficulty in this line of approach would still be different than with aberrations like the Sin Archbishops. In their case, it was difficult to establish a conversation with them in the first place, but it was different in Shaula’s case.
He felt a delay in proportion to not understanding his opponent whatsoever, whilst she understood him.
Truly as if Flugel, Subaru, and god knows who else had a lot of points in common.
Subaru: “Anyways, I have a question and a request. I need you to answer them as honestly, and obediently as possible.”
Shaula: “That doesn’t seem like a request. They could be an order, though.”
Subaru: “I ain’t that bossy. So, about the question….. You attacked us from the tower, right? What the hell was that?”
Shaula: “It was Hell’s Snipe, a sniping attack used so that pesky flies don’t get near to the tower.”
Shaula: “Hell’s Snipe.”
With her having said it in English whilst beaming, Subaru’s face grew sullen.
Well, uhm, it was a name he knew.
Shaula: “Thooough, if I think about it now, I’m so glad that Hell’s Snipe didn’t hit Master. If the Dimension Gate didn’t get lifted, I may’ve flung blow after blow until they struck Master.”
Subaru: “Waitwaitwaitwait, there’s too much new vocab! Dimension?”
Shaula: “Dimension Gate. It’s a trick to prevent people from reaching the tower.”
From Shaula’s way of talking, Subaru grasped that this Dimension Gate, and whatever else, had cut off their path to the Flower Meadow thanks to that “Sand Time”, but even so, the space distortion had been lifted by the efforts of E・M・T in the end.
Shaula: “But, thanks to that, I knew that Master was actually Master, so everything turned a’ight in the end. If Master’d been struck, Master would definitely have been mad at meeee, wouldn’t he?”
Subaru: “Uh huh, yeah, probably. I hope you’d get away with just me being mad at you.”
In actual fact, he had been struck and died twice, so he was uneasy about whether he could even get up to those anger levels.
It was rare for his anger to not spike up rapidly when meeting the culprits who killed him. Part of the reason why it hadn’t now was because he understood that it had been some kind of accident, and that it was pointless even to pursue Shaula’s responsibility.
Meili: “Bu~t, if you’d managed to strike him, Onii-san would’ve ended up dead, wouldn’t h~e? If that happened, then I don’t think we’d be talking about getting mad or not he~re.”
Perched on Shaula’s back, Meili interjected into the conversation in place of Subaru, who was half embroiled in his forgiveness. Upon hearing her words, Shaula let out a fit of rather unlady-like, uncontrollable laughter.
Shaula: “What are ya saying lil’ ankle biter? There’s no way myyyy Master would die from something like that? Cuz’ from the start, Master’s always been someone who you can never tell whether he’s dead or not dead.”
Meili: “Butbu~t, Sandworm-chan got hit so much, and he ended up dying, s~o….”
Shaula: “I don’t really give a damn about stuff like Worms or Bears ya know. Myyy Master wouldn’t die, that is what’s important. ――If he’d died, then it’d just mean he’s not my Master.”
Smiling absentmindedly, Shaula gazed at Subaru with delighted looking eyes. Subaru’s spine shivered when she’d turned her innocent, smiling face towards him.
Innocence like that of a child’s, and faith tantamount to defencelessness. That which she put into Flugel was an ideal that she’d rigidly built up at her core more than he’d dared to imagine.
In accordance with Beatrice’s worries, if there ever came a time where she’d come into disagreement with the current Subaru, then…
Shaula: “I apologise that I was late in picking you up from the Sand Palace afterwards. Whilst I let in the other group into the tower, Master and the rest with him ended up advancing into its depths, so I was all in a fluster.”
Subaru: “Aah, no, it’s fine…. Though, wait, you said “Sand Palace”?”
(TL Note: 砂宮 – Could mean either Sand Palace or Sand Shrine in English. It does not use the same Kanji as the Shrine where the Witch is sealed, which is: 祠, but there may be an etymological relation between them if anyone feels like researching.)
Shaula: “Indeed. It’s really dangerous over there, so it’s better if you don’t go into it. It’s reckless to approach without having all the keys, even if it’s you Master. There are Hungry Horse Kings prowling about there too.”
Subaru: “Hungry Horse Kings…..You mean those horse-like monsters?”
Sand Palace, Keys, Hungry Horse Kings. There were a lot of words which were weighing on his mind, but his mind wandered to the last one of them, the Hungry Horse Kings.
Perhaps it referred to that Centaur.
Shaula nodded at his question.
Shaula: “Those things weren’t here around the time Master was here, so I thought you’d be surprised. In essence, they just prowl about inside of the Sand Palace, so you won’t come across them unless you go to there. But once in a while one of those guys will venture outside, so I go and destroy them without any mercy.”
Subaru: “Is there a lot of them?”
Shaula: “There’s tons and tons.”
Subaru felt truly revulsed from the bottom of his heart hearing Shaula confirm that without any hesitation.
The Centaur = Hungry Horse King’s fighting strength, and of course it’s appearance and ecology were all things which brought feelings of indescribable unpleasantness. He’d hoped that there’d been just one specimen of them if possible, but that didn’t look like it was the case. She’d told him that from using the expression “tons and tons”.
Meili: “Hungry Horse King….. I’m also not familiar with that na~me. I’d like to see one, ma~ybe.”
Subaru: “Stop it! That’s not something a kid needs to see…..”
Subaru gave Meili a very stern warning, who’d spoken out those rash words. Maybe those words had tugged on Meili’s heartstring who was something like a Witchbeast Collector, but he wouldn’t recommend her trying to get in contact with them to fill them in for a picture book.
Shaula nodded in agreement at Subaru’s words.
Shaula: “I think it’s best not to. The Hungry Horse Kings are a Witchbeast with the concept that their horns can regenerate over and over again, so you can’t make arrangements with them like with other Witchbeasts. Kill all enemies on sight, this is their justice.”
Meili: “Blegh, I understa~nd.”
Pouting with a gesture appropriate of her age, Meili retracted her curiosity.
Whilst feeling relived by that situation, Shaula once again spoke out to Subaru, saying “So,”
Shaula: “Master, was that all you wanted to talk about?”
Subaru: “Aah, for now that’s a-….. No, wait, that’s not all.”
With her head still inclined, Shaula prepared to receive his question with a “Bring it on!” attitude. Considering that she had opened her heart to them till now, it was quite insincere of him to continue keeping his guard up. But sometimes you had to steel your heart no matter how painful it was.
If he could change something by just saying one thing in preparation for the future, then doing so would be fortuitous.
Subaru: “Shaula, this is my request. Don’t cause me, or my companions any harm.”
Subaru: “Your Master’s order was to attack anyone who approached the tower….So I would think? Since we’re inside, we are not covered by that. So, there’s no need for you to attack us anymore. Don’t cause us any harm. Absolutely none.”
Shaula narrowed her eyes at Subaru, who’d repeated his words once more to make absolutely sure.
As he looked on at her narrowed eyes, he saw that their colour was of a deep green hue. Shaula, whose expression had been pretty much all smiles since they’d met her, had stopped smiling as if she was in deep thought for the first time.
For a while, there was silence. Subaru, who’d been holding his breath due to this strange tension, couldn’t stand it any longer, and let out his breath. Then,
Shaula: “Mhm, OK. I’veee memorised it word for word as a new command from Master~”
Immediately after she decided to accept it, Shaula’s features changed, turning back to her frivolousness. Shaula brought her face super close to Subaru’s, whose eyes had widened without following her sudden change in attitude.
Their eyes stared at each other’s at point blank range, but he couldn’t find any deception or dishonesty in her green eyes. At least, as far as Subaru could see.
Subaru: “Is it okay with you?”
Shaula: “I have no choice. It’s what Master’s said. It’s not particularly hard. Non-violence, non-obedience.”
Subaru: “Since you’re going to follow the order, don’t you mean that you’ll obey?”
Shaula: “Even if you could do as you pleased with my body, I wouldn’t let you snatch away my heart!”
Subaru: “What a pain in the ass you are…..!”
He prodded Shaula in the forehead, whose face had tensed up, so to make her take a step back. Shaula fell back letting out an “AAUUUUH”, causing Meili to panic on her back, even though she was safe.
In any case, Subaru’s request somehow looked like it had been readily accepted. It wasn’t clear how effective it was going to be, but, at least….
Subaru: “Like, as long as I don’t let her down, the promise should be kept.”
Beatrice: “If that’s the only requirement, then things will be fine, in fact. You expect to let her down, but you won’t, I suppose.”
Subaru: “I’m really grateful for being held to that high esteem, but in this case, isn’t that part of your expectations where you think I won’t let her down being far too optimistic? What would Flugel do? Should I grow wings? He sounds like he’s German.”
On that topic, to Subaru it felt like Flugel was a German word that meant “Wings”.
He’d never expected that he’d be pulling stuff out from there, but that was suspicious as well. At any rate, this Flugel, altogether with Shaula’s name smelled fishy as hell.
Subaru: “That’s right, Shaula. I’ve got just one last question to ask you.”
Shaula: “What is it~?”
Shaula’s cheeks were getting pinched by Meili, her face looked completely vapid.
With his back still turned to Shaula, Subaru spoke with a casual gesture,
Subaru: “Maia, Electra, Taygeta, Alcyone, Celaeno, Asterope.”
Beatrice, who was beside Subaru, had a puzzled look on her face as she heard Subaru reciting those words out.
They were just a string of words which should have no meaning when hearing only their sounds.
Of course, they had just heard about four of those words a while ago, but they wouldn’t be words which were so easy to remember as to recite them from memory. ――Given that they were unfamiliar words.
Subaru: “All of those, in order from top to bottom, are this Pleiades Watchtower’s…..Err, I mean this Great Library Pleiades’ floor names right?”
Subaru: “So, where’s Merope?”
Shaula once again kept her silence on hearing Subaru’s question. However, this silence was different to the one before, it was a silence of surprise like she’d been caught completely unaware.
You could faintly hear the sound of her breath being taken away; Subaru deemed that he’d managed to touch on the truth.
Beatrice: “Subaru, what did you ask her, in fact? What does Merope mean, I suppose.”
Subaru: “It’s the name of the last one of the seven sisters. It’d be strange to not have seven in Pleiades.”
The floors had been allocated six names from the first floor to the sixth. However, the names that followed that motif were from the start, the seven sisters―― A floor with the seventh name attached to it should exist.
Subaru: “If it’s not the Seventh Floor….., then I guess it would be a Floor Zero.”
Shaula: “There’s a Floor Zero. Master named them, so it’s natural…… However, the place was made after Master left, so you shouldn’t know where it is.”
Shaula replied to Subaru’s guesswork with a hoarse voice. Subaru felt Beatrice beside him startle in surprise, but he licked his parched lips and narrowed his eyes.
He felt no sense of achievement at having found something hidden. After all, it was because it wasn’t something that was hidden for Subaru.
Subaru “If the First Floor is the highest floor, then Floor Zero must be the super-highest floor? In regards to entering it, h-………”
Shaula quickly interrupted Subaru’s words, who was about to ask her how to enter it. Feeling the strength in the tone of her voice, Subaru took a quick glimpse back at her. When he did, he saw that Shaula’s facial expression hadn’t changed.
She was still smiling with a look of honesty about her. However, there was a faint look of loneliness plastered around her eyes.
Shaula: “You haven’t fulfilled the conditions yet. Master came back to see me in the middle of his journey, and I’m satisfied with that. That’s why Floor Zero is a No.”
Though her tone of voice still hadn’t changed, it instead felt like a firm wall to the point that it felt queer.
The promise they’d exchanged a few minutes ago, and the pervading danger that was quite capable of shaking him even at his core, strongly appealed to him of the sense of danger that was drifting off her.
Thus, Subaru gave up on inquiring her further about this place.
Subaru: “Gotcha. I won’t speak such nonsense anymore. We’ll just keep to our earlier promise.”
Shaula: “Roger Roger~ I shall keep it~ I shall super-keep it~”
Shaula broke into a broad smile, in high spirits as if she’d forgotten their current exchange. Subaru let out a deep sigh as he listened to her upbeat voice from behind him.
Beatrice: “Subaru, if it gets too much, you’ll say so, right?”
Subaru: “Mhm, it’s alright. Just so much stuff is on my mind.”
He gave a weak smile as he heard Beatrice’s words of worry, before then affectionately patting her head. When he did so, Beatrice couldn’t say anything, but this was also a rite for Subaru to settle himself down.
Flugel’s abnormalness had become apparent in his conversation with Shaula. It was no big deal. He too was the same as Subaru.
Subaru, Al, Hoshin, and Flugel.
A person who’d craved the limelight who’d brought knowledge that shouldn’t be in this world, and ostentatiously left it behind. He had no more doubt, Flugel was a person from the same place as him.
Subaru: “Centuries ago, huh?”
After reflecting back on that for a long, long time, Subaru violently scratched his head.
What had he felt in this different world, what had he thought, what had he aimed for, what had he sought for――.
What had this man, who seemed to have renounced the name “Sage” and planted the tree, desired?
Whilst he thought about those kinds of things, he wondered whether he still lived on in this world.
Then, coming from Subaru’s back, was――,
Shaula called out to him casually. Without stopping in his tracks, Subaru just turned his face around to glance at her. Shaula looked up at Subaru looking a little bashful.
Her expression was adorned by a truly delightful looking smile,
Shaula: “Welcome home again, Master. ――This Shaula has been awaiting the “Great Erudite” Flugel’s return with all her heart.”