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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As the white world peeled away, the harlequin world which lied beyond to the other side was slowly reformed.
The enormous, rough and overwhelming paintbrush of god daubed colours to the world.
It was an exotic sensation, as if witnessing the world being painted with colours from a confined, colourless space.
He had heard the legend of god creating the world in seven days, but it did not seem like god had necessarily assembled the building blocks of the world within seven days, it rather felt as if God had painted it out on the colourless canvas.
ーーThe cradle of Od Lagna. Or, the『Hall of Memories』.
Natsuki Subaru’s existence was being extracted out from a seemingly different dimension.
Being separated from that unfamiliar space into the former world, the fragments of his consciousness gradually tied up, and bit by bit, his self was being reconstructedーー,
Hearing that voice, Subaru opened his eyes and was immediately struck upon by thirst.
As he blinked over and over again in this world with unclear vision, he realised that his back and hips felt something hard and cold. He was perhaps lying against a wall somewhere.
Immediately after that, he noticed signs of an existence before his eyes.
In front of Subaru was an anxious girl with a peculiar pattern in her eyesーー it was Beatrice, with a flamboyant dress and a cute appearance.
Subaru realised that he had returned from the『Hall of Memories』to the former world, to the watchtower, to despair and apprehension.
Beatrice: “How’s your consciousness, in fact? Are you alright, I suppose? It should be confirmed that you didn’t accidentally lose your memories, in fact. First up, do you know Betty?”
Blinking her eyes, Beatrice touched Subaru’s face and chest in the weighty environment.
Though she knew that it wasn’t something she could confirm by touching him, to someone who’s worried, it served as reassurance. With his cheek being touched, Subaru answered and said “I’m fine, I’ll be alright”, adhering to the mood.
Subaru: “No problems at all. I do remember. My memories are safe, you…… Beatrice, I haven’t forgotten about you. Of course, that goes for everyone else as well.”
Beatrice: “……We~ll, you’ll get praise for calling Betty’s name the first, in fact.”
Having touched Subaru’s cheeks, Beatrice let out a sigh of relief and relaxed her eyes upon witnessing him call her name. At her reaction Subaru also loosened his lips and stroked her head without any hesitation.
As he felt Beatrice accept his palm with narrowed eyes, he took a deep breath and Subaru reaffirmed his memories, their safety.
Although he had asserted “I remember” before Beatrice, it was something difficult to affirm.
The encounter he had had immediately previously with the Sin Archbishop of『Gluttony』, Louis Arneb.
She was unquestionably a monster who had eaten countless『Names』and『Memories』, but to Subaru that ability of her’s of apparently eating memories yet remained undetermined.
It was uncertain whether actually biting was needed, or just to declare『Eating』, or if it was a further complex procedure. ーーThe greater the constraints and commitments, the more complex the requirements, the greater the power granted to one’s hands is how it goes. He wanted to deduce it.
Regardless, Subaru had no idea whether or not those conditions had been fulfilled in the『Hall of Memories』in the first place. The truth was he did indeed make physical contact, was bitten in the arm and had gotten licked. If they were the conditions, then he had completely been swept away by the mood and been defeated.
Therefore, the possibility of his memories being worm eaten despite showing no conscious symptoms was sufficiently probable, butーー,
Subaru: “ーーIt’s probably fine. The promises and feelings of love, are all still within this heart of mine.”
His heartbeats rose when he thought of Emilia, and felt the desire to caress Beatrice upon being worried. It was proof that he wished for the safety of his comrades, and dubiety disappeared from his mind.
He need not proceed alone, at the very least, and he shan’t experience those horrors again that way.
???: “ーーNatsuki-kun, have you come back?”
A voice stroked Subaru’s eardrums whilst he reaffirmed the presence of his memories in his mind.
Raising his face, he saw Echidna with her light purple hair fluttering, with Beatrice beside him. After seeing her step up, Subaru made a belated realisation.
Subaru: “…….What about Emilia-chan, and the others?”
Echidna: “Good, seems you haven’t lost the ability to look around. Do you remember what you had been attempting to do just previously?”
Seeing Echidna ask pompous queries, Subaru glared back into her pale cerulean eyes and looked at the shadows he sought at the other sideーー he comprehended that a few of his comrades were missing.
It couldn’t possibly be something cute that they were hiding behind the various bookshelves within the library. Touching the thick black cover closed on his knee, Subaru exhaled.
Right now the members present here wereーー,
Subaru: “Beatrice and Echidna, and Meili……?”
Meili: “Onii-san, so you’re finally u~p? You really had us on the edge, it seems you even overslee~p.”
Subaru: “Oversleep you say……”
Whilst Meili had her hands on her hips and reprimanded him, Subaru scratched his head.
Calming his heart down, Subaru tried determining the situation.
He could not see Emilia, Ram, Julius or Shaula in this room.
Only the aforementioned three were here, and all four of them happened to be non-combatants. Plenty strange in this situation, but what was further strange wasーー,
Subaru: “It can’t be that I woke up right after opening the book, right? How much time was I unconscious for?”
Beatrice: “ーー. About an hour, I suppose. Till now the books got finished in a few seconds, so there was concern whether something happened to Subaru, in fact.”
Subaru: “One hour……”
Thanks to Beatrice’s answer, Subaru figured out the time lag between the『Hall of Memories』and reality wasn’t large.
The challenge he faced now truly was different from what would’ve happened had he read the 『Book of the Dead』normally. That『Hall of Memories』really did exist somewhere, and the time he spent there seemed to be legitimate as well.
He encountered Louis, had his heart tormented, licked by Louis, and tried strangle her throat and deny『Natsuki Subaru』ーーand, was made to refuse that with gently harsh words.
There was nothing wrong with the thought that all that time could have been some convenient dream seen by Subaru. However, it couldn’t be ignored that a finite amount of time had passed as a matter of fact.
Subaru: “Why are Emilia-chan and the others, not with you?”
Echidna: “While you were, quite literally, immersed in that book, some abnormalities came up here as well, you see. The four not present here are going around, dealing with them.”
Echidna: “The first one to notice the abnormalities was Shaula. It could perhaps be said that it was expected of the one who holds the position of defending this watchtower.”
Although the content she spoke seemed calm, her tone wasn’t. Echidna responded to Subaru’s words with a voice into which her repressed sense of urgency was getting leaked.
She pointed to the entrance of the room, the staircase which led downstairs,
Echidna: “Shaula said that something was approaching the tower from the outside. She was being quite sharp then. In order to confirm the reason behind the abnormalities, she rushed out giving nobody the time to even stop her……”
Meili: “The cool onii-san then went after he~r. Meanwhile, the silver-haired onee-san and the maid onee-san went to see the sleeping younger sister.”
Subaru: “So that left all four of us in this place. ーーTo be honest, though it makes me feel a bit lonely, it was the correct answer. Especially in this situation, I don’t want anyone amongst us to have unknown whereabouts.”
Responding to Echidna and Meili’s report, Subaru sighed in response to this situation of utter disarray.
Subaru was thankful to Shaula, who noticed the concerning matter, to Julius, who followed her, and to Emilia and Ram for their actions as well.
If the body of the blue-haired girl, Rem, could be safeguarded, then he could crush all his worries one by one.
ーーIn face of the emergencies that shall occur hereafter.
Echidna: “ーーThat reaction, Natsuki-kun, do you happen to be aware of something?”
Echidna asked the abrupt question seeing Subaru’s subtle expressions. Targeted by that mindful gaze, Subaru tried to respond that very second, as he shook his head.
There was no need for him to mix up or complicate matters further. All he had to do was to speak those vexing words as they were and let his comrades worry.
Subaru: “I’ll tell you what happened starting from the conclusion. ーーThe plan of reading Reid’s book and seeing through his past failed. I couldn’t see his past, and there’s no time for that now.”
Beatrice: “You could not see his past, I suppose? What in the world does that mean, in fact?”
Subaru: “Something got in the way. ーーThe Sin Archbishop, of『Gluttony』.”
Finally he managed to convey those words.
Hearing the words that came from Subaru’s mouth, Beatrice blinked her eyes in astonishment. Though Subaru had heard of the words Sin Archbishop for the first time by Louis, it perhaps wasn’t the same for them.
Echidna: “Though it’s quite difficult to conceive, the Sin Archbishop of『Gluttony』is in the book…… in this situation, saying that it was in the book has room to be doubted, but you’re saying it was in it and?”
Echidna furrowed her eyebrows and folded her arms, pondering with a strained face. In her eyes levitated doubt, but even greater unease. On top of that, unease directed toward Subaru.
It was obvious that her unease directly pointed towards Subaru’s memories such that it could be ascertained without words.
Subaru: “Though Beatrice had said the same earlier, I didn’t lose my memories…… that’s what I mean. I haven’t forgotten the faces of my friends, and my love for Patrasche is still genuine.”
Meili: “I don’t know why dragon-chan’s name was mentioned there tho~ugh……”
Puffing up her cheeks, Meili expressed irritation upon the mention of Subaru’s dragon.
Her anger was befitting. The truth was, Subaru had the criminal record of losing his memories once already. The presence or absence of his memories was uncertain, and nobody could prove the unconscious, asymptomatic loss of memories.
ーーHowever, only the Subaru present here at this place, instead declared that wasn’t the case.
Subaru: “It makes me happy that you’re all so worried, but I haven’t forgotten anything. I give the stamp of approval.”
Echidna: “I am very doubtful of the existence of that stamp of approval right now…… but if you possess such confidence, then I’m sure you must have some basis for it, yes?”
Subaru: “ーーBecause when I was completely cornered by『Gluttony』, Rem saved me, you see.”
The potency of the name he had mentioned echoed merely within Beatrice.
That’s why, whilst Echidna and Meili remained to have a puzzled expression, Beatrice on the other hand was completely astonished, with her eyes twinkling.
Subaru nodded in response to that Beatrice. ーーNo matter how trivial a memory, the only reason Subaru could boast around having not gotten them stolen by Louis was solely her existence.
In that place, when Subaru’s heart was on the verge of shattering, the young girl encouraged him and made him stand up.
Her existence did not allow for such an opening to be given to『Gluttony』, was what he believed.
Beatrice: “Subaru, let’s have a detailed explanation, I suppose. That too……”
Looking directly into Subaru’s black eyes, Beatrice asked for a detailed explanation. However, by the ending of the young girl’s words, a deathly quakeーー shook the tower, and the shaking sensations repeated.
Though it was obvious that the bookshelves would shake, the shaking of the tower itself was obviously unnatural. This was probably because of the emergency that Shaula went to take care of.
Henceforth, Beatrice blinked merely once.
Beatrice: “As briefly as possible, in fact.”
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Subaru: “ーーWhen I dove into the『Book of the Dead』, I was brought to a white, empty place instead of Reid’s past. That’s where the girl who’s the Sin Archbishop…… of『Gluttony』was, she named herself as Louis. According to what that Louis said, that place was something like Od Lagna’s cradle, the『Hall of Memories』 is how it seems.”
Inside the tower, with continued tremors pursuing the soles of their feet, Subaru commenced explaining what he had seen in the『Book of the Dead』.
The reality of his encounter with the girl in the white space, and that place being called as the『Hall of Memories』. The interposition of a supernatural existence possessing overwhelming strength, Od Lagna.
Though they were just an unknown bunch of words and phenomena to Subaru, they must be worthwhile information for those who were aware of both the common knowledge and absurdities of this world.
In response to what Subaru had explained, Beatrice thoughtfully muttered “Od Lagna……”.
Subaru: “Louis, said it was a mechanism to keep the world from breaking or something. Do you have any idea about it?”
Beatrice: “Betty isn’t well-knowledgeable regarding that either, I suppose. But, just that it is the core point of this world…… the place where all the mana returns to, is what it’s said, in fact.”
Shaking her head in response to the doubt, such was Beatrice’s response. Putting her finger on her sliding drills, she continued fidgeting with her soft hair.
Beatrice: “All mana returns to Od Lagna, and gets circulated…… In other words, Od Lagna is an existence heavily tied with the death and resuscitation of spirits. That’s why, it can’t be stated as something unrelated to Betty and the others.”
Echidna: “However, we are special due to our origins. Our existence does not go by way of Od Lagna. In that sense, unlike other normal spirits we are able to hold an objective view at Od Lagna, I suppose.”
Subaru: “Unlike normal spirits, you say…… Is that so. So I guess that’s behind you all living for long despite your appearance.”
Echidna took over Beatrice’s words, and Subaru was convinced by what she said.
Though the topic of conversation itself had gotten deviated, it seemed it was true that Beatrice and Echidna had lived for several hundreds of years.
The reason for the longevity of their lives was perhaps their origin of being spirits.
Subaru: “If you ask me, I think Beatrice’s cuteness makes her more of a fairy than a spirit.”
Beatrice: “……That, Subaru said that once before too, I suppose. It seems stupid Subaru doesn’t know, but fairy is not a compliment here, in fact. That’s why, we~ll, Betty can’t feel either straightforwardly happy or be angry for being insulted, so it’s just weird, I suppose.”
Subaru: “Hmm, is that so. Apologies for my rudeness, then.”
Certainly, he had heard that in foreign places home to fantasy, the image of fairies deceiving and harming humans was quite common.
If that thought applied to this world as well, then it was natural that calling someone a fairy won’t be considered a compliment.
Subaru: “Sorry. I meant that you’re so cute that I want to eat you up.”
Beatrice: “The feeling of wanting to eat being complementary to cuteness is what is strange, in fact!”
Subaru: “Huh, is that so? Don’t you kinda just feel like putting cute stuff inside your mouth?”
Meili: “That reminds me, bad animal-chan’s carefully take their babies in their mouth and then crunch them to death, isn’t i~t.”
Beatrice shivered in response to Meili’s unnecessary remark.
Regardless, the topic had deviated once again. What was crucial here wasーー,
Echidna: “ーーThat, cradle of Od Lagna. What kind of a place is the『Hall of Memories』?”
Subaru: “The place where souls are filtered, it’s even been given that rank, did you know?”
Echidna: “Filtering souls…… in the sense of filtering and cleansing them? Thinking that the role Od Lagna played was to circulate mana isn’t even a laughing matter in front of that.”
Subaru yet again agreed to Echidna’s views.
Having witnessed that actual space, Subaru couldn’t laugh at it and call it an exaggeration.
All of the souls of the dead arrive at the『Hall of Memories』and get circulated.
Afterwards, the soul is washed off of its indelible stains like memories or history collected over the stretch of life, becoming a pure existence and gains a novel life once again.
Subaru: “I actually think it’s a pretty good explanation. The system reuses the souls of the dead…… and the『Memories』which get washed over there, become books called the 『Books of the Dead』 in this library.”
Echidna: “So you say that they don’t disappear to someplace, but instead as a matter of fact the world keeps the dead in memory. Looking at these bookshelves, it’s not possible to jokingly call you a budding poet either.”
These bookshelves, banished by this world, recorded everything that reached the『Hall of Memories』.
In other words, the『Hall of Memories』was a place for compiling and creating the『Books of the Dead』. A system whereby the memories, having been prepared in the form of books, got placed as『Books of the Dead』in these bookshelves.
And,『Gluttony』was acting selfishly with respect to how the memories and history of individuals should originally be, thus putting evil to work.
ーーThat was precisely the identity of the power endowed upon『Gluttony』.
Subaru: “If that’s true, then the function of filtering souls that Od Lagna was originally supposed to do, is arbitrarily being done by them on their own. That way, they gulp down the chipped off『Memories』into their stomachs, and have been literally eating the『Lives』of others.”
When put into words, it could be understood how viscous a deed that was.
Much less, Louis had declared it to be the『Trial and Error for Becoming Happy』. That she would snitch and eat every possible life, and select a joyful life suitable to her from them.
It was the equivalent to continually attempting to win a lottery till ultimately hitting victory.
As a result of having gained the right to draw the lot boundlessly, Louis, her elder brothers chose the path of turning others into food and thus forth grasping happiness. ーーThat was frightening and dreadful in Subaru’s perspective.
Not Louis and the others’ judgement. But the fact that their thought was not something special, something abnormal.
Should one gain the right to draw the lot boundlessly, anyone would draw until hitting victory.
That’s why the actions of Louis Arneb, were a desire exceedingly, respectably, wholly humanーー,
Beatrice: “Even if that’s the case, you’re not supposed to continue drawing the lot knowing others will be sacrificed, I suppose.”
Beatrice: “Knowing that there will be sacrifices but still continuing to draw the lot, is not the way a sane person would think, in fact. That’s why, there exists no room for sympathy for a Sin Archbishop, I suppose.”
Reading into Subaru’s idea, Beatrice declared flatly.
That was an extremely clear distinction, being trapped in the thought itself was unworthy of compassion. Beatrice was well aware of Subaru’s true thoughts and had merely said the words Subaru himself was unable to say.
Yes, there was no room for sympathy.
The persons themselves may not be responsible for the situation they were placed in, or for lacking a place to belong. Even so, misstepping the very first step and thereafter continuing to travel down the wrong path is the persons’ choice.
No matter who, they must get the fruit for their actions.
Meili: “But, it’s pretty stra~nge. Why did the book, despite knowing the details of when he was alive, connected to that unknown place, hu~h?”
Subaru: “That’s…… because the soul of a dead person is recycled in the『Hall of Memories』, so the book sold in wholesale connected directly to its producer…… No, that explanation is incomplete.”
Subaru was unable to clearly clarify Meili’s doubts.
Why, did Reid’s『Book of the Dead』connect to the『Hall of Memories』.
At the very least, the Subaru prior to losing memories was supposed to have read a『Book of the Dead』at least once. He had heard that Julius also read one at the same timing, and he had even already experienced reading Meili’s book in a former loop.
But within those experiences, there was no record of the reader being thrown into that space.
Then they should perhaps consider it to be Louis’ interference.
Subaru: “But, it looked like『Gluttony』didn’t intend to summon me. It felt like my arrival was out of calculations for even her…… so she’s not supposed to have used some tactic on Reid’s『Book of the Dead』.”
Beatrice: “ーーBetty has one hypothesis, in fact.”
In front of Subaru, who was drowned in his thoughts, said Beatrice with a finger raised.
Looking at her fingertip, Subaru said “Hypothesis?” and asked her to continue.
Subaru: “Tell us. What possibilities can you think of?”
Beatrice: “The『Books of the Dead』in the library record the memories that get stripped away from souls in the『Hall of Memories』, I suppose. The normal mechanism is to read them in the form of a book……. But, what do you think will happen if that record will be used for other purposes, in fact?”
Subaru: “Using the memories of the dead in a way other than『Books of the Dead』? But, how else can they be used aside from being『Books of the Dead』……”
Echidna: “ーーAh, I see, is that so. Intelligent indeed, Beatrice.”
Subaru furrowed his eyebrows in response to Beatrice’s words. But Echidna interjected with seeming comprehension. Not just that, following up with Echidna, even Meili put her fingers on her mouth, and said.
Meili: “Could it, refer to that?”
Subaru: “Wait wait, don’t make a face as if you understand. You really hate losing huh. It’s nice finding a new part of yourself like that, but just honestly saying you don’t understand what you don’t, like a child, is perfectly forgiven, that’s the position you’re in.”
Meili: “Isn’t onii-san the one here who hates losing, hu~h? Even I can properly understand when I put my thoughts to it and then say that I do~…… The redhead onii-san above, is like that, isn’t he~.”
Brushing Subaru aside with her hands, Meili confirmed to Beatrice. Subsequently, Beatrice let out a sigh,
Beatrice: “Meili’s idea is correct, I suppose…… Reid is, like that, in fact.”
Subaru: “Um, that means?”
Echidna: “Reid’s past could not be referred to through his『Book of the Dead』. That is because there is no record of Reid Astrea actually in it. Reid’s record right now is being used differently, ーーIn order to reconstruct Reid Astrea in this tower, as the trial taker.”
Hearing Echidna’s explanation, Subaru finally came to understand as well.
It was convincing if that were indeed the case. It did not contradict what all happened as a result of Subaru reading the『Book of the Dead』.
Beatrice: “Reid’s memories are being utilised not for being read but for reconstruction, I suppose. It can be conjectured why Subaru couldn’t read them earlier, in fact.”
Subaru: “Along with that, it also explains how the me of yesterday got memories eaten by Louis at the『Hall of Memories』.”
It was beyond doubt that the Subaru who was there until yesterday had noticed the same way of capturing Reid as the current Subaru. The fact that as a result of trying it out, he read Reid’s book in the library, and was sent to that white world, as well.
The truth was, Louis herself had said that this was her second meeting Subaru since last night. She ate Subaru’s memories upon their first contact, and tried to consume even the leftovers when they met the second time.
Subaru: “But, if you take that into consideration, then this book can never be used as Reid’s capture book, huh…… No, forget about that, this is a dangerous book that would send you straight to an unwished one-on-one confrontation with『Gluttony』.”
Echidna: “I suppose so. Regardless, though unexpected, it is fortunate that we figured out the reason behind Natsuki-kun’s memory loss. Taking memories away was not a function of the tower…… Because for the moment, the tower likely didn’t aim to create a trap which led to contact with『Gluttony』.”
Subaru: “That’s, we~ll, I guess that’s true.”
It was unknown whether the creator of the tower had taken into account the transition to being before an instantaneous death. It was perhaps only incidental that it ended up like this, is what he’d like to believe.
Otherwise, the personage who prepared the installations in this tower possessed an extremely destructive way of thinking, or possessed a personality nasty like a demon.
Though Subaru had no memories of it, Shaula referred to them as Master-sama and claimed them to be the same person as Subaru, so he currently feared greater damage caused by gossip.
Subaru: “Reid was reconstructed, the book was one which was『Empty』. That’s why that『Book of the Dead』connected directly to Od Lagna…… would that be correct?”
Beatrice: “That’s the only hypothesis as of now, I suppose. It’s still a mystery why one of『Gluttony』was hidden and lurking in there, in fact. But, the one thing that can be said is……”
The series of inexplicable events that happened around Reid’s『Book of the Dead』.
There was one hypothesis around that. Naturally, questions whose answers were yet undiscovered remain unanswered. However, unfortunately, Subaru and the others did not have the time to ponder over that question.
Its proof beingーー,
???: “ーーEchidna! Is everyone alright!?”
Rushing up the stairs, a solitary knight arrived in this archive of『Taygeta』. Echidna quickly turned her head backwards and rounded her eyes.
Echidna: “Julius, you seem in quite the hurry, don’t you?”
Julius: “Unexpected matters have come up. I want to hear everyone’s thoughts, as soon as possible…… hm.”
The good-looking young man, Julius, approached them whilst answering Echidna’s question.
He had stiffened his cheeks with faint nervousness and vigilance, but upon seeing Subaru eye to eye sitting on the floor, his yellow eyes slightly widened.
Julius: “So you have woken up, Subaru. That is indeed very fortunate. Do you know who I am?”
Subaru: “I guess so, that worry comes first. Um, so you are……?”
Julius: “ーーI knew it.”
Subaru: “I’m lying! I’m joking! You are Julius Juukulius! What’s up with that I knew it with that serious face of yours! I came back all well and good!”
Julius: “Hmph. I was also joking. Think of it as payback for your incurable childishness. ーーNow I shall be telling you something which slightly isn’t laughable.”
Subaru made a strained expression, having gotten cornered in the argument. Snorting in response to Subaru’s reaction, Julius subsequently braced his expression without any delay.
Just as what he said, he perhaps intended to report something which wasn’t something to laugh at.
Julius: “While I would like to hear Subaru’s report back from the『Book of the Dead』, this is an emergency. ーーThe abnormalities Miss Shaula noticed have been confirmed outside of the tower.”
Subaru: “I can’t see that Shaula anywhere though……”
Julius: “She, is dealing with the threat from the outer wall of the tower at this very moment. However, that will surely not suffice.”
Subaru glared at Julius, gesturing the roundabout nature of his words. Receiving that sharp gaze, Julius let out a short sigh and commenced by saying “Apologies”.
Julius: “You all must have also noticed that there are slight tremors. They are, footsteps.”
Subaru and the others tilted their heads upon the unexpected word, and seeing them, Julius inhaled for a second and resumed.
Julius: “ーーThe Witch Beasts which existed in various parts of Augria Sand Dunes are charging towards this tower all at once. Although Miss Shaula is fighting them back, it is only a matter of time before they manage to break through inside.”