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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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――There was a woman, all by herself.
Oppressed was the woman; by her family, her clan, by her race who should have loved her. All saw her with disdain, all ostracized her.
Prior to being born, expectations were laid upon that woman. Alas, her birth turned her traitor to them.
What remained was dejection and disappointment, what bestowed upon her was only scorn and ridicule. Those were the sole possessions of the woman.
There existed a dearest wish of her clan. To bring back the symbol of their former glory and prosperity, the second coming of their founder whom they called god.
All kinds of secret arts and all types of inhumane atrocities, unfathomable, the number of taboos committed, all of its fruits was the woman.
However, the birth of that woman betrayed their dearest wish, and the clan abandoned the woman with disappointment and despair.
Clansmen: “Go somewhere and live and die. For that is your sin.”
Abandoned by her family, by her race, she was released into the fields as a child.
Cast away with no means of survival, the child was not supposed to survive.
However, even if she lacked means of survival, she possessed the strength to survive.
Ironically enough, it was the feast of what betrayed the dearest wish of the clan, the taboos and offences they had committed.
Unknown to words, lacking all wisdom, merely abiding by her instincts, the woman survived to live a long life in the fields.
Killing beasts, sipping on their lifeblood, crawling on the earth, tasting muddy water.
Before a long time passed, the child became a young girl, the young girl became a woman, and it became difficult to live in the fields.
Hearing the rumours of a woman laying waste to the mountains as if it were a beast, men aimed for that life, and the woman was captured.
The captured woman appeared beautiful, the men abstained from taking away her life, and the woman was proceeded to be kept by them.
While becoming a yes―man of the men, gradually the woman’s consciousness descended onto a human environment from the fields.
Losing the indispensability of struggling to survive, exposed to the desires of the men, days of merely living.
Eventually the woman, upon the bed, came to acquire things unacquainted from the men.
Words, wisdom, way of life, and emotions.
Eventually her treatment altered, conferred with things to adorn her body, the woman was treated like a precious jewel.
Among those days, the woman embraced queer thoughts for the men.
Whether that was something resembling gratitude or obligation, the woman then had no lead to understand that.
While embracing those thoughts, the woman snapped the necks of all the men dwelling in the residence.
Easily, in one breath, without making them suffer, in an instant, grouping them all together, she consigned them to oblivion.
Sneaking away from the residence, proceeding towards the fields, lacking all doubt, the woman returned to her own hometown.
The woman attained queer thoughts regarding the race residing there, the clan possessing the same blood as her, the people who had bodies distantly larger than hers.
That they were feelings of hatred and desire for revenge, the woman then did not realise.
Merely, their weeps and wails, voices begging for forgiveness were quite thrilling. For the first time, the woman smiled from her heart.
Woman: “Fall apart here and die an unsightly death. ーーBecause that is your sin, you see.”
For the sake of attaining that felicity, from one after the other, the woman pulverised the dearest wish of her race, her blood relatives, her clan by herself.
Politely and courteously, not leaving a single one, not sparing a single one, taking her time, one by one, with certainty.
Before long, when all of her race died out, when anything and everything had come to an end, the woman returned to the residence where she had lived with the men.
Though she had abandoned the corpses of her race, she buried all of the corpses of the men courteously.
And once merely she alone was left in the residence, the woman took a deep, deep breath.
That was relaxation, tranquility, the woman, for the first time, experienced utter bliss.
Nobody would interfere with her now. Thinking and taking action, both lay in futility, so she will merely fall asleep.
――The 『Witch of Sloth』 continued to indulge in everlasting inactivity, untiring peace.
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――The stairway that led to the 2nd Floor『Electra』ought to be called the Great Stairway, because of its grand presence.
Compared to the spiral stairway used to get from the 6th Floor to the 5th Floor and furthermore to the 4th, the Great Stairway was much much wider, and much much longer.
As it took the space of an entire room, the intimidating feel it gave off was a given.
What was supposed to be an empty room, was now the Great Stairway.
With it in front, Subaru folded his arms and sighed. Then――,
Subaru: “It kinda feels like it’s been a long time since we last came here.”
Emilia: “Eh? We just found the stairway. What’s wrong all of a sudden?”
Emilia’s eyes widened with surprise at Subaru’s remark.
Subaru shook his head and turned to his companions, with whom together they had experienced the general nastiness the creator of the Tower gave off.
He recollected a bit of peace at the sight of their unchanged faces.
Beatrice: “――? Subaru, why are you wrapping your fingers around Betty’s?”
Subaru: “Kinda wanted to feel like I’m really here… Ahem, I’m good. My bad.”
Faced with a rising suspicion in her face, Subaru forced a smile at Beatrice, but still kept her hand in his.
Then, he turned around and pointed to the Great Stairway.
Subaru: “Now then, getting back on track… The Great Stairway was always here, and no one just really noticed, is not what the case is here, right?”
Julius: “I believe it is quite unthinkable to have not noticed such an obvious spectacle.―― However, if it were to be limited to only this room, then I cannot deny that possibility.”
Subaru: “Say what?”
Anastasia: “That uncertainty in the middle of exploration, huh? I get that.”
Taking Subaru’s doubt in stride, the Master-Servant duo of Anastasia and Julius nodded in agreement. Seeing that, Subaru tilted his head slightly, while Emilia raised her hand,
Emilia: “About back when Subaru was still sleeping, we all gathered at the 4th Floor. Rem and Patrasche were resting in the Green Room, and we were challenging the puzzle on the 3rd Floor, so, we were walking around to see where we could put our luggage…”
Beatrice: “We were all unconsciously avoiding this room. Looking back…”
Subaru: “So maybe, something from the outside was blocking this room out of our minds, or something like that?”
What Emilia started was continued by Beatrice, while Subaru brought it to its conclusion. Both Emilia and Beatrice nodded to that theory, and Anastasia and Julius agreed to it.
Once the Great Stairway was discovered, everyone thought about the room, and noticed the mind block―― If that were the case, then maybe the Great Stairway was always present in this room, and there was some kind of magic that camouflaged it so it could not be noticed.
Subaru: “Well, if not for that, when we finished solving the slab puzzle of the 3rd Floor, if there was anyone in this room, they might’ve gotten flattened by the sudden appearance of the stairs.”
Julius: “Subaru, it is not a slab, but a monolith. Let us refer to it the same way. I would like to avoid confusion.”
Subaru: “Monolith monolith monolith! Satisfied? Let’s continue.”
Although Julius looked dissatisfied with Subaru’s apathetic response, Subaru was fed up with it, so he ignored him. He turned to the two who had not taken part in the conversation till now―― Shaula, who was playing around beside the stairway, and Meili, who was on her back.
Shaula: “Mn? Something up, Master? Ah! Could it be, it’s my turn to useful!? I’ll do anything for Master! I’ll even become your co-endorser!”
Subaru: “You, you don’t get what you’re saying at all, do you! That’s not something you should become, even if it’s your mom, dad, sibling or even friend telling you to do it. Just in case, I’ll ask, so, did you know…”
Shaula: “Definitely, I’ve been living here for a few hundred years now, but this is the first time I’m seeing these stairs!”
Subaru: “Meili, it’s fine to play around. Pull on the scorpion tail hard.”
Meili: “I’d do it even if you don’t tell me, onii-san.”
Shaula: “It hurts it hurts it hurtsss”
As usual, Shaula was useless when it came to conquering the Tower. Leaving it to Meili to punish her accordingly, Subaru looked up to the Great Stairway again.
Unlike the pair that led up to the 4th Floor, the Great Stairway was not spiral-shaped. Normally, a stairway would be a singular path leading up to the next floor. However, for this particular one to cross the 3rd Floor, and lead directly to the 2nd, was something that would look weird for the Tower, given its shape. One would think that, subsequently, the structure would cause the floor to protrude outside of the Tower――
Subaru: “Maybe it’s making up for that using the power of mystery…”
Emilia: “Or maybe it just looks like it leads up to the 2nd Floor, but it goes to a completely different place… Would that be too mean?”
Subaru: “I’m scared that Emilia-tan’s pureness will get tainted by the Tower creator’s awful personality. I wanna conquer this place faster.”
Emilia tilted her head to the side, not quite understanding. However, it was Emilia who found this Great Stairway, and it was also her who uncovered an important hint in solving the mystery of the 3rd Floor.
The building called Watchtower Pleiades, or rather, Great Library Pleiades, had a number of very nasty gimmicks that reflected the designer’s personality.
While being very reliable with her solving obstacles one after another, Subaru, who wanted to spend his days in peace with her, worried that her personality might get twisted because of this.
Subaru: “Saying that, our pace’s been pretty nice so far. I cleared the 3rd Floor’s『Trial』on my first try, and we’re already 1/3rd done with conquering the Tower in under just three days too.”
Beatrice: “Compared to how there was no progress in 400 years, this would be a great pace, I suppose.”
Subaru: “It’s pretty damn lit, thinking that way… But then, I’m the kinda amazing guy who’s moving forward history that’s been stalling for the past hundreds of years. As a history-mover, my power word game’s strong.”
In the recent past, he had gathered the participants in the『White Whale』subjugation, crushed the Witch Cult’s Archbishop of Sin『Sloth』 and annihilated the『Great Rabbit』, helped partly in clearing the『Ordeal』at the tomb of the『Witch of Greed』, defeated the Archbishop of Sin『Greed』, and finally, set foot on the never before explored Watchtower Pleiades, cleared one of it’s never before challenged 『Trials』and was now on the way to challenging the second of those『Trials』――.
Subaru: “If I’m just listing all my achievements and skip the process, I’ll only look like an idiot…”
He had died several times to accomplish all that, so at the same time, he could not exactly puff his chest. Despite that, history had indeed advanced a bit too far in the past year.
He had not intended this, but at the very least, he had to settle things with Archbishops 『Gluttony』and『Lust』, so the world better be prepared for it―― Is how he felt about the matter.
Subaru:“Whe― what? What’s up, Emilia-tan, holding my hand suddenly. Something wrong?”
“Emilia: …no, no. It’s just, I think Subaru should be a little, little bit more nicer to himself.”
Subaru: “Yeah, no, you’ll have a hard time finding someone who’s as soft on himself as me. It’s enough with Emilia-tan and Beako, any more’s just too much.”
Rem would be added to that list, whenever she wakes up. She would be a bit strict, but kind nonetheless.
And adding Petra, Patrasche, Garfiel and even Otto to that would leave no room for Subaru to go easy on himself.
Emilia’s lips shook faintly, as if trying to search for some way to respond to him, but she only kept on looking at Subaru.
Lightening his grip on her hand, Subaru cocked his head.
Anastasia: “At this point, I think this here’s a problem of the root of Natsuki-kun’s being. It’s not something that’ll get better in a day or two. I suppose it depends on how Emilia-san goes about it, though.”
Breaking into the conversation with a clap of her hands, Anastasia shot a glance at Emilia. Emilia looked back, her expression earnest, but it seemed to not be the reaction she had intended, so,
Anastasia: “――My, I feel like there’s very little hope for that. Not that it’d suit you.”
Emilia: “――? I don’t think I understand, but if you show me how, I’ll try my best?”
Anastasia: “I’m afraid I’ll have to refuse… I’m not too fond of getting kicked by an Earth Dragon.”
Subaru: “Getting kicked by an Earth Dragon… I wonder if it means something like getting kicked by a horse.”
Setting aside Garfiel’s weird phrases, Subaru added in a new phrase that might be common in this isekai.
In any case, for Subaru, that was not the end of the confusing info being thrown around in Emilia and Anastasia’s conversation. At one point, he and Emilia both kept tilting their heads at every other line, to the point that Anastasia sighed, and pointed to the Great Stairway.
Anastasia: “Heey, when are we going to quit dawdling and go up? Whatever’s waiting might be harder than the 3rd Floor… Or maybe Natsuki-kun will end up clearing it right away.”
Subaru: “To tell you the truth, if it’s something as annoying as the puzzle on the 3rd Floor, I’m not feeling too hot about it.”
To be honest, the only reason Subaru was able to clear the 3rd Floor『Taygeta』’s『Trial』was because knowledge about stars and constellations was critical to clearing it.
Constellations―― That too, knowledge from Subaru’s original world, was required to solve the puzzle. In fact, Subaru believed that the constructor of this Tower was from another world, modern times at that too, just like him.
In that respect, it was highly likely that the 2nd Floor’s『Trial』required modern knowledge as well, where Subaru’s presence would prove useful, but――
Subaru: “Things might be different compared to the 3rd Floor, I mean, I can’t do much if it’s something I don’t know. The name Flugel’s Germanic, and I dunno much about Germany’s history anyway.”
A vague anxiety swirled in him, but he could not voice it, so to keep everyone’s expectations. In both Emilia and Beatrice’s eyes, Subaru was weak.
Thus, he wanted to do whatever was possible by dragging out whatever little knowledge he had of Germany.
Subaru: “Can’t help it. The stairs up are literally right in front. I can’t call myself a man if I step back now. Let’s just pop in there and breeze through the challenge.”
Julius: “Unfortunately, aside from you and I, there are only women here.”
Subaru: “It’s just a saying, don’t put a damper on it, you! Alright, let’s go, Beako!”
Beatrice: “Ngyah- in fact!”
Julius dowsed the burning spirit Subaru had in his clenched fist, but Subaru simply stuck his tongue out to him and pulled Beatrice into his arms and ran straight up the stairs.
Emilia: “Ah, Subaru, wait!”
Seeing his enthusiastic jump up, Emilia clambered behind him, while Julius and Anastasia slumped their shoulders in unison, and followed after.
Meili: “Barely-clothed Onee-san? Aren’t you going?”
Shaula: “Yap it with the barely clothed already, ankle-biter number two. I’m properly clothed, you see. I’ve got an ero-kawaii thing going on, see. Master chose this for me, so stop complaining about it.”
Meili: “I’m not really complaining, you know~ Just hurry up, come on, come on, or we’ll get left behind.”
Shaula: “You’re really bossy even though you’re just riding on my bad, ankle-biter. I’ll tell on you to Master later! Actually, I want to just teach you some manners myself~!”
Shaula put her foot on the stairs as she shook her reddened face, scorpion tail flailing about. With vigor unseeming for a person carrying someone on their back, she jumped from the first step of the Great Stairway, to the fifth, and kept running.
Ignoring what was happening behind, Subaru kept on running up the stairs with Beatrice in his arms. In the middle of it, Beatrice had skillfully changed her position to that of a princess carry and narrowed her blue eyes at Subaru.
Beatrice: “As I thought, there is something tweaking the sense of space here I suppose. We haven’t gotten out of the Tower even though we came so far in a straight line, in fact.”
Subaru: “Maybe we couldn’t just tell from the outside, but the Tower might really be shaped like that too.”
Beatrice: “For just this one stairway to be jutting out? If that was so, then there needs to be something that makes the Tower look tower-like. Otherwise, there is no point in hiding the stairway, in fact.”
Subaru: “I guess so. I just felt like saying it out loud.”
Subaru sighed as he agreed with Beatrice’s reasoning and looked overhead.
Strangely enough, even though he was running up the stairs, the floor above seemed no closer than before. No matter how much he ran, it felt like he was going up using a down escalator.
Subaru: “No way, to think that the harassment Emilia was talking about would actually happen…”
That there was only a stairway prepared, and it actually did not connect to the 2nd Floor―― As Subaru gave this theory more thought, the space overhead opened up at the same time.
Subaru: “Oh, oooh――!?”
Faced with sudden bright light in the poorly lit stone-cut stairway, Subaru and Beatrice shouted at the same time.
At some point, while continuously moving forward, the stairs had ended, and they had stepped onto a new floor.
Subaru: “A white room… again, huh.”
Beatrice: “I suppose.”
He stopped and carefully put Beatrice down from his arms.
It was a surprisingly long climb up the stairs. Despite his stamina having improve, he could not stop himself from crouching over his knees and breathing heavily.
While stroking his back, Beatrice tapped the floor with the tip of her toe and looked around the room. Subaru gulped and did the same.
To the two who had reached the top of the stairs first, the room was a spitting image of the 3rd Floor『Taygeta』’s『Trial』, a white expanse. A mysterious structure where both the floor and the ceiling extended far beyond the reach of the eye, and the basis of distance itself seemed to be skewed.
No doubt the only reason this white space was registered as a place was only because of the small space with the stairs that was open on the ground leading to the floor below, just like it was on the 3rd Floor.
Emilia: “Ah, this room again?”
And from that same open space popped up Emilia and the others, all bearing similar reactions to the scenery of white, and all dropped their shoulders in dejection.
It was obvious with the presentation, that another『Trial』was about to commence.
Subaru: “Any chance we just came to the 3rd Floor again by mistake?”
Emilia: “I don’t think so. There were 54 steps in the stairway between the 4th and 3rd Floors. This one here had 444 steps. That’s almost ten times more steps we needed to get here, right?”
Subaru: “You, you were counting, Emilia-tan?”
Emilia: “Fufu~, the truth is, counting the number of steps is a secret hobby I recently picked up… Why are you patting my head?”
Subaru and the others took turns in patting Emilia’s head after she boasted about her hobby. Even Julius and Meili, who refrained from doing so, looked on with delicate pity.
Emilia: “It feels kinda, reeally weird, you know…”
Subaru: “W-we really couldn’t have done it without Emilia-tan. Thanks to you, we know we’ve gone up ten times higher than the 3rd Floor. Kinda makes you think if we’ve just jumped way up to the 1st Floor. I’d like to go with that, but, for now, I think we should consider that this is the 2nd Floor….”
Beatrice: “The『Trial』is supposed to begin, in fact. That over there might be how, I suppose.”
Putting away Emilia’s doubts for later, Subaru looked to where Beatrice pointed―― Straight ahead from coming up the stairs, there was a spectacle that caught one’s eye.
Even on the 3rd Floor『Taygeta』, there was something similar in the centre of the room. And upon touching it, the『Trial』would commence. If the case was the same here as well, then――,
Julius: “It’s not a Monolith, but――― A sword.”
Narrowing his golden eyes, Julius spoke as he gazed upon『It』, which stuck out of the ground.
Exactly as he stated, within the white expanse stood not a Monolith like the 3rd Floor, but『It』.
―――『It』was a sword.
Without sheath, it stood straight, tip pierced into the white floor.
The way it stood absolutely straight, hilt facing up, was a terrifying beauty that reflected in Subaru’s eyes.
It was not as if there gorgeous decorations, nor did Subaru know its material was of high quality.
Only that, in its non-decorative simpleness, in its making of minimal use of steel, there was something beautiful.
Subaru: “From the looks of it, it’s supposed to work like a『Sword of Selection』….”
Subaru: “Yes, yes, you were really patient. Good boy, good boy.”
Julius held back his words when he noticed the picturesque scene of Subaru whispering to a sword. Putting aside Anatasia’s silent praise for Julius who was watching, Subaru set his eyes on Shaula. She had her arms crossed and her chest puffed, face brimming with confidence.
The kind that read, ‘You can ask me whatever you want, I’m completely ready to say I have no clue!’ So, Subaru, without having asked a word, was forced to finally stepped towards the sword.
Subaru: “I think it’s fine. It’s not a trap that casts Instant-Death on you, if it’s anything like the 3rd Floor.”
Nodding his head to a distressed Emilia, Subaru took a step towards the Sword of Selection. Of course, Emilia and Beatrice tagged along naturally. The rest remained on stand-by at the mouth of the stairs, ready to react in case anything happened.
Subaru: “Careful about making a get-away road for Anastasia. It’s a pretty long way down, so if she trips, she’ll keep on rolling till she dies.”
Julius: “I will keep it in mind. Rather, you ought to be more mindful of Emilia-sama and Beatrice-sama’s warnings.”
Emilia: “It’s okay. I’ll protect Subaru.”
Subaru: “Ahh, alright, I’ll let myself be protected.”
Watching Subaru flashing a thumbs up to a very enthusiastic Emilia, Julius sighed. After seeing it through, Subaru faced the Sword of Selection in front.
A distance where if he just reached out, he could touch it. At that point, the presence of the sword brought out a certain sense of reality. That, like the Monolith, there was no mysterious feel to it.
Subaru: “That said, it’s a sword that has been stuck here since the tower was built. That there’s not even a speck of rust on it is itself pretty weird.”
Subaru whispered in front of the Sword of Selection, then took a light breath―― breathed out―― then stretched his hand towards the handle.
Wrapping his fingers neatly around it, he felt it was slightly resisting him, but he still put strength into pulling it up.
For a moment, doubt flashed in everyone’s minds about whether Subaru would be able to pull it out, if it truly were the『Sword of Selection』――but, the thought turned out to be in vain.
Upon applying the slightest bit of strength, the sharp edge that was stuck in the floor came out easily.
It truly was with as elegance as a sword could have, as if it were thrust out of its sheath.
At that immediate moment, it echoed.
『――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.』
A voice that bore through eardrums and resonated directly in their skulls told them of the details of the『Trial』.
It was an expected turn of events, so he had not done something as unsavory as dropping the sword, it was nonetheless an unpleasant experience.
After all, the voice that echoed in his head was very much like『Himself』.
Subaru: “Feels like getting car-sick… I guess everyone feels that way too…”
Did everyone hear, or was it limited to Subaru, who had pulled out the sword? Everyone had heard the voice when someone touched the Monolith.
So, this time too―― Subaru turned around with that thought, and noticed.
――That everyone’s breaths were caught, and they were looking at a single point.
Following their line of sight, Subaru also looked. The place they were all looking at was a point further ahead of the Sword of Selection―― At a place that coincidentally equalled the distance between the sword and staircase.
And at that place, the shadowy silhouette of a person had appeared.
Voice: “――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
A voice that was supposed to be whispering, suddenly sounded very loud to Subaru.
A voice that repeated the same words he had heard when he pulled out the sword. However, it was nothing like his own voice that echoed in his head, but undoubtedly was being spoken by the silhouette with a different voice.
Voice: “――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
The voice, as if it were an idiot taught to repeat only one sentence, spun the same words again.
Whether the voice seemed mechanical, automatic or even instinctual, could not be determined.
The subtle tremble of the voice was apparent in the repetition of those eerie words. They were terribly direct, as if an edge of a sword were tickling the silhouette’s heart.
Whether the tremble was from fear, or from passion, or from pleasure, or from grief, could also not be determined. For it to play around with others emotions so well, was proof that there was a distinct gap between it, and a living creature.
At this distance, from just being a voice, it played with lives.
“――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
――It was a man with simple yet long, red hair, that flowed down his back.
He was quite tall. A full head above Subaru, the man’s body was adorned with thick muscles befitting his height.
He wore not armor, but a casual crimson robe that contributed nothing in protection―― From his right side down to his arm, his chest lay exposed, and his waist was bound with a white sash.
His flaming red hair reached up to the middle of his back, and his left eye was covered by a shoddy black eye-patch. Finally, the right eye that remained uncovered, was a blue reflection of an unreachable sky.
Surely, it was such a well-ordered beauty that would make anyone and everyone turn around and take a look, a sight fit for a painting―― That savage, cruel smile filled with insanity, spoiled it all.
It was a most exceedingly beautiful, ferocious beast.
The most beautiful beast that existed in this world―― To the point that Subaru forgot to breathe in its presence.
The illusion of the stillness of time was broken by a soft whisper.
Swiftly he heard a girl’s voice squeak out a ”Kyaa-”. At the edge of his eyes, he saw the figure of the girl whose black hair reached her backside, at his side―― Shaula dropped to the floor, while Meili’s eyes darted around, confused.
Shaula: “Hii, hiii….”
If anything, Shaula was so upset that she could be incontinent.
With her eyes open wide, her face twisted in a way unbefitting a girl as beautiful as her, the depth fear she madness of the fear she felt was expressed clearly.
If it were possible, she would have left the room according to her instincts.
Only, her trembling legs did not permit it.
――The very Shaula who utterly destroyed the Centaur creature, was stiff with fear?
Man: “――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
Even with the frightened Shaula in sight, the voice continued repeating those words.
At first glance, it seemed to be a situation that rose in eeriness levels―― However, there was something else he noticed.
The man did not move a single step, only ever exerting pressure from where he stood. ――No, the man did not even try to exude pressure. He simply stood still.
Just by being there, his existence gave off the same presence as that of a『Witch』.
Holding his breath, he forced his eyelids, that had forgotten to blink, to close and took a moment to calm down.
And then, without taking his eyes off the man for even a second, Subaru took a step backward. In his right hand was the Sword of Selection, in his left was Beatrice’s hand held firm, he pulled her stiff form back.
Subaru: “Eh, Emilia…”
Emilia: “I, I know.”
Knowing he could not leave her behind, Subaru called out Emilia’s name, knowing she was still petrified. Even so, Emilia nodded in response. Matching his movements with her shaking knees, Subaru shrunk away slowly.
Man: “――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
The distance widened. Even so, the man remained unmoving. Only, he repeated the same words.
Man: “――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
He poured his all into his nerves, and finally arrived at where Shaula was lying. Shaula’s face was stiff with fear as usual, and Meili had grabbed onto her arm, unable to move.
To take the girls and retreat from this place. Would that even be possible? Subaru’s hands, both the one that held the sword, and the other that held Beatrice’s hand, were stiff, with no signs of being able to move them. He could not even imagine being able to force up Shaula and Meili by grabbing their arms. In the first place, would that man allow that? What was that man’s objective? What was the trial for, and what purpose did the sword have――,
Man: “―――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
The words that were being repeated, the phrase, that was the proposal of the 2nd Floor『Electra』’s『Trial』.
What meaning could there be in the man repeating those words. The contents of the『Trial』he had heard about the moment he pulled out the sword, the man who repeated those words, the fool, and forgiveness, what exactly――
Man: “――gain, forgiveness… heavenly sword… fool…”
Quickening his thoughts, the feeling that something terrible is going to happen kept rising in Subaru, and at the same time, the man whose voice kept resonating without stop, came to a swift halt.
Subaru instinctively groaned, a careless act that made Emilia and Beatrice a bit more nervous, but that had no effect on the change taking place.
―――More than that, the changes the man underwent were becoming much clearer.
Man: “Heavenly Sword, fool… his forgiveness… o, ooh, oooh, oh―, oh―”
Subaru: “Whu-what? What what, what’s gonna happen?”
Man: “Ah, ah, aaaaahh――!!”
Stopping was far from it.
Rather, there was a strange string of sounds at the end of the standing man’s words, and in the next moment, the man put a hand on his hair, began scratching, and pelted an explosive shout.
Suddenly unable to stand it, Shaula squealed like a pig and leapt to Subaru. Naturally, he could not keep standing. Her arms coiled around him with all her strength, and unable to take evasive action, Subaru tumbled to the floor with her.
In the instant of the explosion, sparks flew in his eyes, while both the man’s shout and Shaula’s incessant crying, who still clung to his waist, pounded his eardrums.
Shaula: “Hyaaaaa! Mastermastermaster heeeelp! I don’t wannaa! Help meee!”
Subaru: “W-what’s with you for the past few minutes――”
Man: “――Shut up already!! My head’s already killin’ me as it is! Stop shoutin’!”
Right before his words of comfort could reach, Shaula’s spirit crumbled.
Despite having been thrashing about for some reason, she quietly stuck to Subaru’s waist and stopped moving, and losing her consciousness, she collapsed to the floor.
“No way, you….”
Shaula swiftly and gracefully departed from the battlefront via fainting. Although help from her when it came to conquering the Tower was close to nil, even from the examiner’s point of view, this was supposed to be completely unexpected.
For a woman, whose brute strength deserved a certificate, if nothing else――― To be this afraid of this man, things would certainly be precarious,
Julius: “I take it that you are by no means, a simple existence.”
The man groaned in displeasure when a footstep echoed.
With a clack of his pair of white shoes, stepped forward the Excellent Knight―― Julius twirled around and picked up the sword Subaru had dropped.
Watching him, the man’s lips curved down, a scowl plastered his face.
Man: “Hell’s up, you. And what’s with this place? Ya fuckin’ around here, you?”
Julius: “No, we are doing nothing of the sort. We too, are of a similarly confused standing. You appeared here all of a sudden―― We cannot help but be on guard, is what I would like to convey.”
Man: “Hell’s up with you. Don’t be talkin’ weird, you. Don’t ya be talkin’ like my follower, you. Ya my follower? Ya ain’t, right? Since ya ain’t, don’t be talkin’ like him, making all this shit confusing.”
The man’s mood kept turning sour each time Julius spoke with an expected respectful yet careful tone.
Though it was becoming clearer that the man was human, whether conversation with him could be established, was an entirely different topic.
Man: “―― pretty lookin’, pretty lookin’, hot stuff, runt, runt, follower, small fry.”
Julius: “Unfortunately, I am not your follower.”
Man: “ Kah! The way ya talk, it’s just how my follower talks. Stop copyin’ it.”
The man belched out a good humored laugh at Julius’ objection.
Coupling unusually white teeth with an oddly handsome face, his shark-like smile reeked of madness.
Finally, a bit of humanity was found within the smiling man. Or rather, finding out that the man was an intelligent being capable of conversation, would be more appropriate.
Man: “Oi, you. Explain what’s happenin’ here, you. The hell’d ya do to me, you. Don’t ya be hidin’ stuff, you. Get to it, you.”
Subaru: “Appearing out of nowhere, acting like you’re hot shit…. What’s up with that.”
The man thrust his hand into the open part of his bare chest and scratched carelessly. Subaru, who finally raised his body, squeezed out what words he could muster and spat them at the man.
He simply glared at Subaru with his right eye, who was lying on the floor and,
Man: “Hell’s with ya. Why’re you sleeping, you. Ain’t that a real nice place, you. Getting that hot a woman to be ya meat bed, you. Switch up with me, you.”
Subaru: “Sadly, with respect to the person herself, I refuse…”
Somewhat stopping his shaking feet, Subaru stood. At the same time, he pried the clinging Shaula off. It was a careless act that made her fall to the floor face-first, but there was no time to consider that.
Man: “Anh-, anh-, aahn? What, it’s you. You doin that? Fucking ‘round, you?”
Subaru: “…the hell yous pulling that rude shit for, you.”
The man bit clenched his molars and roared a hearty yet violent laughter.
Ignoring Subaru who was clearly confused, the man looked over the white room and nodded to himself, “Oh- ohh- righty,” then spoke again,
Man: “Gotcha. ――So then, let’s start.”
Subaru: “Start… Wait! Why do you keep on running the conversation all by yourself!? It’s really too much to take!”
Man: “Zip it, you. Keepin on yappin over and over, already explained while I was sleep-talkin, didn’t I? Pay attention to what I’m sayin, you.”
Subaru: “What’s with this for the past few minutes…”
Man: “Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.”
Unable to keep up with the situation, Subaru’s eyes darted around, while Emilia repeatedly whispered the sentence, word for word, to herself.
Slowly, the girl started de-petrifying. Following Julius and Subaru, out came Emilia and Beatrice from the stillness of time, and Anastasia and Meili right afterwards.”
Only Shaula remained unconscious, however―――,
Man: “Kah! That beauty over there’s different from this here small fry. If I’d been alive, I’d be bedding you tonight, you…. Looking close, ya real sweet, you. What’s with that face. Ya real damn frizzlin’, you.”
Subaru: “Hey, you! You’re the guy! You’re the examiner here, right?”
From looking at Emilia, a lust awakened in his eyes. Putting himself between those two, Subaru stood and pointed at the man.
The man smiled like a shark at the statement and,
Man: “――No clue. Ain’t interested in some title someone’s put on themselves. I’m me, you’s you. Nothin’ more to it than that. Ya wanna talk with me proper? Get me to move even a step from here, you.”
They were the words of a man standing defenselessly, calmly.
As for why he had not laughed it off, it was the very condition that needed to be fulfilled to clear the『Trial』. Thus, it was a task worthy of being called as such.
――Gain his forgiveness, by hand of the Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword.
If the man who stood in front were to be this 『Fool who has reached the Heavenly Sword』, then the method to get it was clear. What was left was to see if that method was indeed even possible.
Julius: “Knight of the Imperial Order of the Kingdom of Lugunica, Julius Euculius.”
Before the fight――― nay, the『Trial』began, Julius offered his name as an act of courtesy.
It was an act of the greatest honor, declaring the other as their equal, regardless of position or gender.
In response, the man’s one blue eye narrowed with excitement, and brought forth an unusual sword spirit and,
Man: ”Ain’t got no name worth givin’ ya, just a mere『Stick Swinger』, I am.”
Trial of the 2nd Floor『Electra』of the Great Library Pleiades:
Time Limit『Condition: Unlimited』
Number of Challenge Attempts『Condition: Unlimited』