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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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ーーThat is that, this is this.
Ending their conversation with that, Subaru and Julius both experienced a strange sensation.
The truth was, he did not know if he had managed to reach close to Julius’ complicated heart. What he ended up thinking of was whether there could’ve been better words, a more perfect way of action, a further beautiful way of connection.
A way of action which could’ve overwritten this absurd reality, instead of reaching a reckless conclusion like “that is that, this is this”.
Julius: “But, it is very befitting of you. Both for better and worse, you see.”
Subaru: “……Is that so, eh. You know, how much of what befits me overlaps with the me until yesterday, actually quite concerns with my present self’s identity.”
Julius: “In terms of the establishment of one’s self, my former self was very much greatly shaken as well. As one who’s already tasted the same crisis, let me give you some advice. ーーThat is that, this is this.”
Subaru: “Oh shut up!”
Subaru howled in response to Julius’ ridicule of their earlier banter. Julius shrugged his shoulders at his objection and seemingly had an air of composure.
Indeed, seems like he seriously did manage to make his heart stand up once again a bit. Although they had been words quite immature and maladroit, it was all thanks to the listener being apt.
Regardless, whilst the two of them interacted in that fashionーー,
Shaula: “Master-sama~, are you done~?”
Subaru: “Oh? Shaula?”
Behind them, peeking from the top of the staircase leading to the third layer was Shaula, calling out to him.
With her black braid dangling down as she peeked down to the lower floor, she was looking at them with her voluptuous chest touching the floor.
Subaru: “Why so well-behaved? Were you that kind of a character?”
Shaula: “Well, when Master-sama’s talking to someone one-to-one then that’s when it’s some real solid talk, isn’t it. So I was told before to stay away cause I break the mood if I’m there, so I’m just abiding by that…… oh right, Master-sama has forgotten everything!”
Subaru: “Solid talk and breaking the mood, eh……”
Subaru furrowed his eyebrows in response to Shaula, who was laughing earnestly and openly. Seeing Subaru, Shaula then jumped and descended from the staircase in one breath.
Jumping over two hundred stairs, Shaula made a silent landing onto the floor. She then proceeded to stand beside Subaru and grab his arm into her chest.
Subaru: “I’ve told you several times already, stop doing this kind of stuff. Emilia-chan will misunderstand.”
Julius: “Hmm, Emilia-sama huh?”
Subaru: “Don’t hmm me. There’s just that small possibility, you know. Even if it’s a possibility as absurd as finding a needle in a desert, it’s still a possibility.”
Saying so, Subaru forcefully unfastened Shaula’s arms. Upon that gesture, Shaula said “A~h” and pouted with a dissatisfied expression,
Shaula: “Master-sama is so mean. Treating me like this when I’m thirsting for warmth.”
Subaru: “If you’re thirsting for warmth then go hug Meili or Beatrice. Both of their body temperatures are pretty warm since they’re kids…… Beatrice, she’s pretty warm for being four hundred years old.”
Bringing that to light by connecting the shocking truth had been confirmed earlier and the truth he had confirmed several times, Subaru was shaken by Beatrice’s little girl energy.
The conclusion, she’ll always remain a little girl no matter how many years she may live.
Shaula: “Boo. I won’t report anything to the cold Master-sama. It’s the disciple’s strike. The manager is to listen to the voice of the workers.”
Subaru: “Ah, geez, I get it I get it. I’ll positively handle and improve the labour conditions, so let us hear your report. Did something happen?”
Shaula: “It’s suspicious whether you’ll really improve them. But but, I’m an obedient, cute disciple so I’ll answer! ーーReid’s book has been found.”
So said Shaula as she distanced her braid and shoulders away.
Subaru widened his eyes upon how unexpected those words were. Julius also widened his eyes just as much.
Julius: “Miss Shaula, what did you say just now?”
Shaula: “Li~ke I~ sai~d, I’m saying Reid’s book has been found. Something like the book which has that scum’s name on it, I personally think it’d be better to just burn it and throw it away. You think so too, right, Master-sama?”
Subaru: “Ha, ha, ha……”
Shaula: “Hahaha? Master-sama, is that a laugh?”
Lowering her hips, Shaula looked at Subaru’s face from below. Looking back into her black eyes teeming with rustic simplicity and naivete, Subaru opened his mouth.
Subaru: “ーーThat should be the first thing you say!!”
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Emilia: “Ah! Look, Subaru! We found Reid’s book!”
Said Emilia with a wide smile and voice like the chime of a silver bell, noticing Subaru climb up the staircase.
What she pointed towards with her hand was the bulky book Ram was carrying in her arms. It seems that was Reid’s『Book of the Dead』. It got found rather quickly.
The library, filled with a vast amount of books no matter where one lookedーー it was unknown from which age this existed, but if this recorded all of the dead in this world, then the amount of books was rather suitable.
Subaru: “Good job finding the book we aimed for amongst all of this. While I was busy with Julius’ counselling…… therapy? Aromatherapy? Something like that.”
Emilia: “Caoonselliing……? Ah, I don’t really get it but, hehehe, isn’t it quite something. But, I’m not the one who found it.”
Emilia, with her chest puffed up, stated the achievement wasn’t her’s.
What that implied was immediately made clear by her subsequent actions. Emilia gently pushed forward the dark blue haired young girl who had embraced her by the waist,
Emilia: “Meili is the one who found it. Isn’t it meritorious?”
Subaru: “Who says meritorious in this day and age…… but that aside, so Meili found it! That’s certainly meritorious! Good work.”
Accepting Emilia’s words, Subaru then automatically commended the achiever as well.
With her arms around Emilia’s slim waist, and whilst she was being caressed by her, Meili averted her eyes out of embarrassment in response to Subaru’s words.
Meili: “N-Not really. It was a book that just caught my eye, and I just happened to mention it. It got found just slightly quickly, so I don’t think it’s anything grea~t.”
Subaru: “Don’t be stupid. You can brag about what you did well just fine! Really good, Meili. You’ve nullified the negative of trying to push me back to zero right away, huh!”
Meili: “By something this si~mple!?”
Meili widened her eyes in surprise, as Subaru forcefully brushed her head. Meili didn’t take a liking to it, saying “My hair will get dishevele~d!” but that simply made Subaru relax his cheeks.
Subaru: “It’s fine. It was just an attempt anyway, and you compensated for it with a big achievement, let’s agree to that.”
Subaru: “So, Reid’s book…… nobody has seen it yet, right?”
Meili tried saying something in response to the smiling Subaru, but remained with her mouth closed.
Whilst keeping Meili’s faltering within his vision, Subaru turned his attention to the book for the moment, which was the root subject.
The book Ram was carryingーー the patterns drawn at its back cover, those were characters Subaru couldn’t read.
Neither did it possess a bizarre feeling like giving Reid’s vibes upon a single glance.
Subaru: “No matter how unconventional the actual person himself may be, the book recording that isn’t like that, huh.”
Ram: “If the binding was meaninglessly over the top, or if the title aggressively self-asserted itself then it would’ve been easier to find. It’s helpful that Meili made up for that and found it.”
Subaru: “See, look, Meili! Even Ram is complimenting you! That one and only Ram! This Ram! You really can be glad about it…… ghe~gh.”
Ram: “Kindly shut up.”
With his side gouged by her fingers, Subaru collapsed in agony at the same spot. And after quietening Subaru, Ram lightly shook the book in her arms,
Ram: “There’s what happened with Barusu. It’d be a disaster if one did something rash and lost memories like Barusu did. That is why, it’s been shown to nobody.”
Subaru: “W-We, haven’t confirmed if the reason for my memory loss, is that, book……”
The comment, which didn’t convince him alone, was slashed down by Ram’s laugh.
The truth was, it was nearly impossible that his memory loss and the『Book of the Dead』were unrelated. Even if they’ve found the book they aimed to, it was only natural that they would have disputes over how it was to be utilised.
Beatrice: “So, the book has properly been found, in fact. What remains is using it, I suppose.”
So remarked Beatrice, having the same train of thought as Subaru.
Receiving her words, everyone’s joy for having discovered the book was then coated with nervousness. This one book was capable of causing memory loss should its usage be mistaken. That was the same as gulping down a medicine of unknown identity. Reluctance was natural.
Echidna: “So should we, discuss and conjecture the dangers?”
Subaru: “Discuss and conjecture the dangers…… is that even possible, Echidna?”
Echidna: “Conjecture is possible only on the basis of events that have already occurred and bits and pieces of information, though.”
Saying so, Echidna raised her hands and shrugged.
Afterwards she raised her index finger,
Echidna: “First, the riskiness of the『Book of the Dead』…… just as what Natsuki-kun’s present condition indicates, there exists the possibility of losing one’s memories. From what Natsuki-kun said, the memories which spill and fall out are rather in fragments…… though I suppose, in this case it would be better to call the remaining memories to be in fragments?”
The portion which spilled over and the portion which remained, the amount of the former was overwhelmingly greater. What Echidna said was correct.
However, what slightly deviated from the truth here was that Subaru used memory loss and its remnants as camouflage in order to hide『Return by Death』.
The truth was, around the first time when he had lost memories in its truest sense, Subaru had lost memories of everythingーー after arriving in the different world, rather.
Henceforth, it would be better to think that the amnesia made no considerations. Right now, the only actual precedent set was that Subaru merely did not lose himself due to the memory loss.
Had he lost not only episodic memories, but also his own self.
When he thought about that, he shuddered.
ーーAt the same time, why did he not lose memories of just the different world but those of the former world as well, that question also posed within Subaru’s mind.
Echidna: “The reason for the amnesia is also possible to speculate about. First, memories are erased as indemnification for reading the『Book of the Dead』. That is difficult to consider, keeping in mind the differences in cases of Natsuki-kun and Julius, who’ve both read the books.”
Beatrice: “Don’t really want to think about it, but…… there is also the possibility of losing a small bit of memories, in fact. If what’s being read and the memories that get erased are proportional in amount, then that induction would also be logical, I suppose.”
Julius: “I agree. In other words, the reason why Subaru’s and my circumstances are different, is due to the difference in the amount of books read…… it would coincide with the Subaru whom Miss Meili had witnessed last night.”
Beatrice objected to Echidna’s inference, which was then affirmed by Julius.
Listening to his intelligent party members converse, Subaru nodded in response.
Subaru: “In order words, the voluminousness of the books read possibly has something to do with the loss of memories?”
Echidna: “It means that would also be a possible way of interpretation. In the case of this inference being affirmed, the ones who should force their eyes through Reid’s『Book of the Dead』are us, who haven’t read a single『Book of the Dead』before. It may be dangerous for Natsuki-kun and Julius, who’ve already read them.”
The view that the one with experience should read it and the view that one without experience should read it ran counter to each other.
Both sides were logical, and it was difficult to conceive either side as wrong. However, what made him curious then wasーー,
Subaru: “Then, what about me, who’s already lost memories once? If the condition for losing memories is to accumulate information from『Books of the Dead』, have I been reset? Or not?”
Ram: “That is quite a grave issue. If Barusu’s memories are lost again, and everything has to be explained again…… even the thought of it makes one shudder.”
Subaru: “Your language made me shudder too!”
Emilia: “Mm…… I’m also rea~lly worried, about that. I don’t want Subaru to forget all sorts of things, again.”
Emilia and Ram affirmed the concern Subaru wielded in their own ways.
To be honest, the questions had no end to them. It was unknown whether reading a large number of people made them disappear, or if a smaller number of people was dangerous.
He couldn’t say it openly, but Subaru also possessed the memories of reading Meili’s『Book of the Dead』in the previous loop. Would that count as having read one book this time as well.
Meili: “Wha~t? Does that look in your eyes say that you’re thinking of just making me read as expiation, e~h? That hu~rt.”
Subaru: “There’s no way I would be. If you say stupid stuff, you’ll be grounded.”
Meili: “It’s abu~se. Isn’t the way you treat prisoners even more mean than back when we were in the mansion, hu~h.”
Subaru scolded in response to Meili’s ill humoured joke which she had said upon accepting his gaze. Subsequently, Meili pouted her cheeks, grabbed Shaula and Emilia’s hands and hid behind them.
Though quite self-interested, that is how cute children should be. Subaru smiled wryly before Meili’s attitude, and then turned back towards Echidna.
Subaru: “So, do you have any other ideas?”
Echidna: “Let’s see. Whether we, who have the leeway of a single book more than Julius, are to read it or if Julius, who’s already experienced it, is to read it or if Natsuki-kun, whose memories have already possibly overflown once, is to read it……”
Subaru: “Can I make a comment really convenient to me? ーーI think it’s best if I read it.”
Echidna brought up the list of candidates, and Beatrice grasped Subaru’s hand when he responded. Subaru winked whilst looking into her gaze, tinted with a deeper colour of concern that one of unease.
Beatrice: “This is no time for bad jokes, in fact. His own memories, Subaru will……”
Subaru: “No, I don’t want to lose my memories, of course. But this is the appropriate judgement in terms of risk management. No matter how you look at it, I’m the person with the least possibility of putting everyone in danger by losing memories. I’m the weakest one out of all of us, after all.”
Well, he did want to say he wasn’t weaker than at least Meili, but it was a well-known fact that he couldn’t win against any of the others.
He would be easy to subdue, and since he had already lost memories once, the way to cope with it would also be simple.
The issue was, Subaru had already accumulated memories of four laps which mustn’t be forgotten.
That is whyーー,
Subaru: “I’m not throwing down the gauntlet with the intention to forget. But, we are a team. Everyone needs to bear some sort of responsibility for the sake of everyone.”
Subaru: “Julius is charged with fighting, Echidna is charged with intellect, Ram is charged with having a wicked tongue, Meili is charged with being cute, Beatrice is charged with being cute, Emilia-chan is charged with being the beautiful heroine, Shaula is charged with photogenic scenes, if you think about it that way then I should be the one charged with this.”
Beatrice: “For some reason, it feels like there are way too many useless positions……”
Shaula: “Not at all! When the plot takes a turn for the worse, romantic scenes are important! If it’s for art and Master-sama then I’ll take off my clothes!”
Subaru: “No, if you take any more clothes off then I’ll pull out, so you don’t have to do your best.”
Shaula: “The ladder slipped!”
Everyone here knew, that this was Subaru’s way of comforting them. In response to Subaru’s speech and conduct whilst he presumed upon that, the first one to sigh was Beatrice, who still had his hand gripped.
She took a deep inhale and then turned her eyes towards Subaru.
Beatrice: “Geez, if things take this sort of a turn then Subaru will never budge no matter what, I suppose. That part of you haven’t changed even after losing memories, in fact. That is already a well-known fact seeing what happened with Meili, I suppose.”
Subaru: “E~h, but, you love me with all my qualities, right? I’ll blush.”
Beatrice: “Don’t get cocky, in fact!”
He spanked the blushing Beatrice around her hips.
However, her words did not possess the nuance of denial. And it seems the same went for the rest of the members as well.
Ram: “You’ll get mashed if you forget your promise with Ram.”
Subaru: “What’s that, right when I was having such a nice monologue!?”
Ram: “What indeed.”
Snorting her nose, Ram then turned the book she held in her arms to Subaru.
Profoundly tasting the heavy sensation of the book with his arms, Subaru smiled bitterly.
Emilia: “Even if we tell you to not be reckless, Subaru will still be reckless, isn’t it…… I think that part of you is rea~lly unfair. I’m always worried.”
Subaru: “I have nothing to say but apologise for that. But, just as how much Emilia-chan is worried, I’m worried about you the same amount…… what do you think. Would that be presumptuous?”
Emilia: “It makes me happy that Subaru would think that way. That’s why, I’m rea~lly complicated. Come back no matter what…… even if we make a promise like that, Subaru will break it anyways so I won’t make that promise.”
Subaru: “The fact that the me until yesterday couldn’t be trusted this much instead gets my heart throbbing. I wonder what the hell he did.”
Shrugging his shoulders upon Emilia’s pleasant words, Subaru asked “Am I right?” to those surrounding them. And upon that, he noticed everyone but Shaula and Meili had all averted their eyes away.
Regardless of Beatrice and Ram, who were in the same camp as him, it seemed that Subaru’s breaking of promises had reached even Julius and Echidna.
Subaru: “I’ll read it, no objections, right?”
Echidna: “……In the end, I am unable to come up with any inference or suspicion. Though if possible, I wanted to opt for the eyes which would be the least endangered out of everyone here.”
Echidna apologetically lowered her eyebrows before Subaru, who was lightly holding the book.
What she said was true, and the fact that she had been concerned for everyone was unquestionable. That is why, Subaru was able to respond earnestly to her saying “Don’t let it bother you”.
Subaru: “Well, for now, I’ll dive into it. If I lose my memories, then put me down with ice and explain everything to me gently.”
Beatrice: “Nobody, is going to perform such a violent act, in fact……”
Subaru: “I know. Because you’re kind.”
Caressing the perturbed Beatrice on her head, he gently pressed her wide forehead. Beatrice pouted with a discontent expression, and took a single step backwards.
And with everyone’s gazes focusing on him, Subaru sat down on the spot, crossed his legs, and took an immensely deep inhale.
ーーAtop his knees, Reid Astrea’s『Book of the Dead』.
Upon being conscious of it, there definitely was certain ominousness being emitted from the book.
A similar sensation also existed back when he read Meili’s, her『Book of the Dead』, but the sense of intimidation this book had was far greater. Perhaps what the reader could feel changed depending on whose book was taken. ーーJust what kind of a life, would he be made to read, he wondered.
And, would Subaru’s memories be able to withstand it.
Putting his hand on the front cover of the book, Subaru, for only once, looked towards everyone who was watching over him.
Beatrice, Meili, Ram, Echidna, Julius, Shaula, were watching him.
Subaru: “Well then, I’ll be leaving. I may get late coming back, so you can go ahead and have dinner.”
Seen off by that smile of Emilia’s, Subaru turned the front cover of the『Book of the Dead』over.
Upon that instant, the characters written on the book glowed, and Subaru was made to undergo a hallucination as if information was being struck into his brain from his eyeballs.
And in but a moment, his consciousness was taken in towards the bookーー,
ーーHis consciousness, was detached from the library, and propelled towards darkness.
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ーーWhat he felt when he read Meili’s『Book of the Dead』, had become quite amorphous now.
The spectacles he had witnessed, the life she had walked, the paths she had tread were distinct in their own ways.
However, his memories of witnessing those spectacles, tangibly speaking, becoming one with whose name was the title of the 『Book of the Dead』, and being made to personally experience those subjective thoughts, sights.
To summarize, the journey of treading through the content of the『Book of the Dead』, was to assimilate into that person.
In those moments, the Natsuki Subaru witnessing the contents of the book was『Meili Portroute』.
That is precisely why, it could be believed that queer self consciousness which bore the presence of Meili, as『Me』, constantly shadowed Subaru’s consciousness from close vicinity.
If that was the potency of the『Book of the Dead』, then right now, what Subaru was supposed to be laying his eyes on was the life of Reid Astrea, his subjective world within his incomprehensible thinking.
What he thought, what he liked, what he disliked, what he loved, what he despised, what he achieved.
He was supposed to become one with the philosophy of Reid Astrea, and be shown his life.
Thus, Subaru noticed the abnormality at once.
ーーThe place where he was, right now, definitely was not that past of Reid Astrea’s.
He stood in a white, white location.
His environs, unduly spacious, white, ambiguous space of no visible end stretched across, and without knowing where his self was, Subaru was exhausted of reason.
He could see his hands. He could see his legs. Upon turning his neck, his torso and hips were also there.
In other words, Subaru’s body was here. This did not coincide with the phenomena that had occured in Meili’s『Book of the Dead』. Unable to concur, he was thrown into an unnatural circumstance.
From what he could see, Subaru’s attire was the same as when he decided to read the『Book of the Dead』.
Whether that was due to Subaru recognising that he would look like this in this『Present Condition』, or the will of something else, like the work of the library’s will, hence reconstructing Subaru in that form.
He did not want to consider that the moment he read the book, his entire body got captured inーー,
???: “ーーWell well? Oh onii-san, you’ve come here again?”
Suddenly, Subaru’s shoulders sprang up upon hearing a voice which wasn’t his own, but that of another.
The voice came from behind, Subaru spontaneously jumped ahead and subsequently turned around, making a circle, remaining to be on his guard. In response to Subaru’s spasmodic conduct, the personage behind rounded eyes.
Subaru: “ーーWho are you.”
Looking at that person, Subaru whispered openly, with perplexity and bafflement.
That was his encounter with someone, completely unexpected and unknown to Subaru.
The one standing there, was a young girl Subaru had never seen before.
Pale toned, with hair lengthy, truly lengthy, like transparent gold threads. They spanned across the white floor, submerging underfoot her standing self like a sea of golden.
Large, round, blue eyes, limbs like transparent porcelain. On the other hand, she wore unshapely clothes on her body, seemingly crude, pale cloths attached together, hurting her beautiful impression.
A young girl he had never seen before. That was how it was supposed to be.
However, before that young girl’s form, Subaru narrowed his eyes and rubbed his eyelids with the back of his hand. A gesture to seemingly recover the field of vision from haze, but her visible form didn’t change.
Even after looking at her yet again, she remained a young girl whom he was unacquainted with. ーーHe felt his memories, throb faintly.
???: “Did you calm down a bit, onii-san?”
Subaru: “What’s this place…… no, who are you? Which one should I ask first?”
???: “How covetous, onii-san. But, the quality of vomiting out the honest emotion of wanting to ask both is certainly not bad. We, love covetous people, you see.”
Saying so, in response to the baffled Subaru, the young girl cleaved her lips sideways and smiled.
Yes, she smiled, and that was the only befitting expression for describing that smile.
The young girl was thirteen to fourteen years of age, but gave the impression of being even younger.
Coupled with her well-featured physical appearance, unquestionably, a smile would suit the young girl, and yet.
In Subaru’s eyes, her smile, seemed ominous.
His instincts guessed, as if, the soul of this young girl, had belittled a great number of lives.
And whilst Subaru shuddered, before him, the young girl reported.
???: “This place is, lonesome white, the final destination of the soul. The cradle of Od Lagna. ーーThe Hall of Memories.”
Subaru: “Hall of, Memories……?”
???: “Yes yes, the Hall of Memories. Andーー”
Subaru widened his eyes upon hearing the term unheard of.
Whilst making a satisfied expression upon seeing Subaru’s reaction, the young girl, spoke.
Whilst smiling, the malice, which had taken the shape of a young girl, said.
Louis: “ーーWe are, Witch Cult Sin Archbishop representing『Gluttony』, Louis Arneb.”
Louis: “Pretty sure it’ll be for a short while again, but please be caring, onii-san.”