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It’s with great thanks to an anonymous commissioner who has allowed WCT to use his commission that we can provide this chapter for you all to read! For now, as Ringo is still working on Chapter 77, you can read Trueamericaaron’s Chapter 77.
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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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Subaru: […Are you ready? The tower’s in pretty bad shape right now. If I were to go out and say how bad it is, it’s nearly as bad as playing Othello with all four of its corners taken away from you.]
Ram: [That… must be pretty bad.]
Ram’s expression clouded over as Subaru launched into his explanation, holding one of his fingers up in the air. Quite the solemn look had appeared on the latter’s face. Albeit, Ram wasn’t the only one who was taking this seriously. Emilia and Beatrice, who were listening in as well, were like that too.
Othello ― more commonly referred to by the name Reversi ― was a board game in which two players competed on an 8×8 = 64 board using black and white pieces.
Naturally this was knowledge Subaru had brought with him from his original world. But since it had been relatively easy to recreate the game here, he’d introduced it to the Roswaal mansion fairly early on. It brought a huge stir, with it being extremely well received, especially from Emilia.
That’s why he was able to properly convey the gravity of the current situation to them. Having all four of your corners taken away from you in Othello meant that you were already completely lost.
Furthermore, though she hadn’t partaken in it much, Ram had literally been as strong as an Oni in the few occasions she’d played, as one would expect from her.
In any case…
Beatrice: [Losing all four corners, an utterly outrageous situation, I suppose… That’s going too far, even as a handicap, in fact.]
Emilia: [I guess even I’d end up becoming as busy as a bee and winning if I got ahold of so many of them…]
Subaru: [Who even says “busy as a bee” these days…]
Emilia: […! Subaru, can you say that again?]
Subaru: [I will, but later. Later.]
Emilia snapped onto Subaru’s traditional retort, looking somewhat dejected at having her request denied. Although he felt a bit guilty seeing her like that, the flirting would have to wait until later, just like he’d said many times.
Their first priority was to find a way out of the situation they were in. And for that…
Subaru: [The four corners… They’re the two “Gluttonies” inside the tower, as well as the swarm of Witchbeasts they’ve called with them. Also, it pains me to say this, but our companion… Oh yeah, I guess it’s sorta debatable if I can call them that…]
Subaru had been about to mention the fourth corner, but for a split second he’d faltered on what to say next.
Namely because not even he had come up with an answer that would both be simple to understand and properly describe the woman who unintentionally stood in their way as the fourth corner.
He wasn’t so distant with her to call her an acquaintance. That, and their connection wasn’t weak enough to be called bitter enemies either. But, did they share enough of a destiny such that he could call her a companion? At the very least, he could perhaps leave it at them having sort of like a clueless, but very much unsanctioned teacher and student relationship.
Still, how did Emilia and the rest of them view her?
But, as Subaru fell prey to his hesitation…
Emilia: [You said companion right? What’s happened to Shaula?]
Emilia: […? Subaru?]
Subaru: [No, it’s nothing. That’s right, I do mean Shaula.]
Subaru immediately acted like nothing was up and nodded back at Emilia. It hadn’t been just her; Beatrice and Ram also hadn’t seen anything wrong with how Emilia had recognised her.
The way they’d perceived her had been the same as Emilia, regardless of whether they had memories of the latter or not. In other words, it served as proof that they viewed Shaula as someone friendly to them.
Subaru: [Was I being an idiot…? Yeah, of course I was.]
Stumbling over the obvious was a bad habit of Natsuki Subaru. Yet, he would reflect hard on things, leveraging them so that he could give it his all; and this, was one of his strengths.
A compliment, for each time he put himself down. Ideally he would give himself a hundred for each time he did.
That much would do. Though the true ideal would be giving himself ten thousand compliments without putting himself down even once.
Subaru: [Anyways, about Shaula… Well before that, do you remember the tower rules? The ones that mustn’t be broken. They were explained before, right?]
Ram: [Yes, they were. We can’t leave without completing the Trials, we can’t break the rules of the Trials, we can’t disrespect the libraries, we can’t damage the tower… I think those were all the violations.]
Subaru: [Yeah, precisely.]
Subaru snapped his fingers at Ram after she’d readily laid them out. Then he pointed down at his feet and swung his arm around, indicating the entire tower.
Subaru: [So, with those rules… The fourth corner shows up when one of them is broken. I don’t know which one specifically, but one of them will. Then, after that…]
Ram: [She’ll bare her fangs at us, just like she said. ――How annoying.]
Ram, assuming her typical pose with her arms crossed together, batted one of her eyes shut as she imagined the worst.
Shaula’s insane combat prowess was well known to Subaru of course, considering he’d gone through many loops where she’d killed him. But other than him, the rest of them were also well aware of it after they’d been showered by sniper-fire from afar, back in the sand sea.
Beatrice: [That vapid girl is quite strong when she uses those things of hers, I suppose. Even if we’re better off than before, where we couldn’t do a thing due to being attacked from afar, it’s not going to change the fact that things are going to get grim if she turns into our enemy, in fact.]
With their arms folded, both Beatrice and Ram frowned, their brows wrinkling up.
The fact that they were so quick on the uptake was a huge help, since he could cut down the time he spent explaining. From all those sullen faces, it was only Emilia that raised her hand. Her face, which was the cutest in the whole-wide world, was still free of wrinkles,
Emilia: [But we’d be going up against Shaula, no? Can’t we somehow persuade her by talking to her? Shaula’s suuuuper attached to Subaru, so if he tried his hardest, maybe…]
Subaru: [I’d love a peaceful resolution to this, but getting Shaula to the negotiating table seems like a tall order. In regards to her being attached to me…, I guess nothing about that’s changed, in a broad sense.]
Ram: [Meaning she’s going to be primarily targeting you, Barusu. The fact that she’s got her targets narrowed down is going to be extremely useful.]
It could be perceived as her targeting the weaker members in their camp, but regardless, Subaru agreed with Ram’s thoughts.
Rather than facing a situation where they wouldn’t know who’d be targeted by the enemies indiscriminately lurking in the tower, it would be easier to come up with a plan of counterattack that involved having Subaru recklessly targeted.
So, putting the issues they were facing in a nutshell…
Beatrice: […The four corners are: the two Gluttonies, their swarm of Witchbeasts, as well as Shaula, who’ll come to attack us, I suppose.]
Subaru: [Though two of these corners are already being dealt with. All thanks to Beako taking command.]
During the time Subaru had spent cowering in the “Taygeta” Library, the smart and adorable Beatrice had taken everyone with her in turn, and got them busy dealing with the damage that had struck the tower.
She’d sent Meili to the balcony, where she could overlook the swarm of Witchbeasts. Then, as part of that, she’d also joined up with Ram and Emilia after they’d taken Rem out of the Green Room―― Unfortunately though, they’d encountered Ley en-route, which had led to them falling into this situation where Emilia’s name had been taken away from her.
Emilia: [Mhmnh, it’s okay. Subaru still remembers me, so I’m completely fine with it. Even though he often ends up forgetting about our promises, it still makes me reaaaaally happy that he remembers me properly.]
Subaru: [Nnh, what’s with stabbing me in the back all of a sudden?]
Beatrice: [It looks to me like it’s just her usual, in fact. That girl seems to know you well too, I suppose. Though not as well as I do.]
Subaru: [No need to fight over me my sweethearts.]
Subaru gave a few nods as he stroked Beatrice’s head, basking in their affection for him. Then, while still steeped in emotion, Ram called out to him with a “Barusu”,
Ram: [You said that two of the corners are being dealt with, right? I know that one of them is Meili holding back the swarm of Witchbeasts, but what about the other one?]
Subaru grabbed his chest in reply to Ram and turned his attention to the beating of his heart.
His “Cor Leonis” power was still going strong. He was naturally taking Ram’s burdens from her. Also, the whereabouts of his companions were being broadcasted to him in real-time.
From those, there was a light that definitely seemed to correspond to Julius. And the place he was at was…
Subaru: […He’s on the second floor, locked in battle with the enemy.]
Emilia: [The second floor… you can’t mean that…]
Subaru: [Yeah, I do.]
He nodded back at Emilia as she quickly turned pale, before sneaking a furtive glance up above.
He couldn’t see it firsthand, since the ceiling was in the way, but he could most definitely feel the signs of the furious fight that was taking place beyond his gaze.
――Julius Euculius and Reid Astrea’s rematch had begun.
In the end, it looked like he hadn’t been able to avoid a conclusion to it.
After Subaru had fallen to his knees earlier, unable to pick himself back up, Beatrice had taken charge of their companions. The opponent Julius had ended up waging battle with had been Reid Astrea, even under Beatrice’s command.
That naturally had been influenced by the fact Roy Alphard ― Or rather, Reid, who’d taken over the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony’s body and gained his freedom, actively sought its conclusion.
Nevertheless, Subaru had gone through many “deaths” and crossed through many possibilities whether he’d wanted to or not. And that had made him understand something.
――As annoying as it was, fate existed.
No matter what road you followed, the firm, unchangeable reality that lay there was called fate.
The fluctuations of history were so unyielding, to the point it really made you believe things were predetermined. It was almost like the results had already been determined by fate, with all the branches converging there.
That had been the outcome of all of their wills coming together to try and achieve their respective goals. However, precisely because of that, they’d become so closely entwined with each other, that they’d never come apart.
Yet, couldn’t it also be said that meant there was no hope ahead?
Considering that the conclusion between Julius Euculius and Reid Astrea was inevitable, it could only mean that…
Subaru: [Reid should have assimilated with one of the Gluttonies, his take-over should be almost done. Though we’ll let Julius settle things with Reid. We’re going to deal with the remaining three.]
Ram: [Is that really going to be okay, Barusu?]
Subaru: […? What do you mean?]
Subaru cocked his head earnestly in response to Ram’s question. But on seeing him react like that she just muttered out a brief: “Nevermind,”
Ram: [I already know how Barusu goes about things. Looks like I’m losing my edge as well. I suppose we have no choice but to rely on Barusu’s proposal.]
Subaru: [I don’t really fully get what you mean, but you do know I can tell you’re making fun of me?]
Emilia: [Huh? No, no, she’s just complimenting you. Ram’s saying that she relies on you a loooot, Subaru. Hehe, now I’m gonna need to work hard.]
Ram: […I will be having a word with you later, Emilia.]
Emilia replied back to the mortified Ram with a “Yessir”, a slightly happy trill in her voice.
Despite the situation they were in, Emilia was most likely glad, and found it refreshing that Ram wasn’t using honorifics to address her. Now that their master-servant connection was gone, the attitude she was showing Emilia was one of perhaps friends, or maybe a little sister that was always quite a handful.
Ram didn’t have the opportunity anymore to play the part of the capable big sister now that her actual little sister didn’t require much to handle. Nevertheless, she seemed that way now thanks to the bizarrely happy-go-lucky Emilia.
Subaru: [Anyways, that’s it for what’s going on in the tower. What we need to do next is sort out the best people for each place. This sorting business is where Natsuki Subaru really shines!]
Ram: [You sure are really humble…]
Subaru: [Humble or not, it’s still important work! This is what they mean when they talk about unsung heroes! This is something only I… That’s right, this is something only I can do! This is my battle… Owowowow!!]
Ram: [Just hurry up and start sorting.]
Ram slapped his face for spending too long on the preambles. Feeling the pain of the damage he’d received, Subaru looked around at all three of their faces―― as well as the earth dragon’s, and said: “Are you all ready?”
From here on out, it would be all out war, in its truest sense. It barely made any difference whether you were a human or earth dragon; and in the first place, Patrasche was typically far more useful than Subaru himself.
But if you added Super-Subaru into the mix, their possibilities would explode ten-fold, and then double.
(TL Note: The bit above seems to be a reference to the Japanese Quiz Show: Quiz Derby.)
Subaru: [One for all, all for one. All for one, one for all. We can’t win without having everyone on board. We can’t have even one of us missing. We will start winning if we’ve got everyone, because we…]
(TL Note: Subaru says the first sentence which I italicised in Engrish before repeating the Japanese equivalent.)
Emilia: […Because we came to this tower to get back what was taken from us, we won’t allow ourselves to lose them.]
Subaru gave Emilia a nod with a snap of his fingers before regaining his composure.
Subaru: [So, first things first, Ley Batenkaitos’ opponent shall be…]
They began to head to their posts after they’d finished their discussion. However, someone grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and forced him to a halt before he could. Though, there hadn’t been enough force in it to throttle him.
There’d probably been a reason why they’d shown such consideration.
Subaru: [It’s really not like you to care enough to not hurt me, nee-sama.]
Ram: [It’s not like I would bother using too much of my strength when looking at a fly trapped in the palm of my hand. This is the same as that… Though, it’s not like I would purposely put one there. That’d be disgusting.]
Subaru: [Don’t just say it and then deny it!]
Subaru shrugged his shoulders at Ram’s Ram-like phrasing. Standing in front of him, Ram softly clenched and unclenched the palm of her hand, checking its feel a few times.
Her gestures carried faint traces of bewilderment in them. This was quite the rare sight for Subaru, so used was he in seeing Ram always acting aloof.
It was quite a perk to witness her acting so perplexed and unsure of herself. It was only thanks to this that he could put up with the levels of exhaustion that were threatening to crush his entire body.
Ram’s body was constantly tormented by the burden of being “Hornless”. Subaru took over this burden when he used his Cor Leonis, which in turn gave her the extra strength that let her operate to her fullest. Cor Leonis was one of their most essential tricks for beating this tower.
Subaru had already given Ram a brief summary of what was happening to her, albeit setting aside the fine details.
Simply put, Ram’s burdens were flowing into him, making Ram’s body a lot lighter in those respects. However, since it strained him terribly, he desired a speedy settlement to the situation they were in. That was it, more or less.
Ram: [Now that I think about it, since it’s just going to be you who’s suffering Barusu, I don’t really care how long it’ll last.]
Subaru: [But this is a joint effort between you and me, nee-sama. You must want to get this over as soon as possible when you think about it like that, right?]
Ram: [Yeah. You repulse me.]
Subaru: [Don’t you think using repulse is going a little too far…]
Though, well, throwing abuse at me is so typical of her.
Subaru accepted that, all the while suppressing the urge to vomit. Ram stared at him, assuming her familiar pose with her arms folded in front of him.
Ram: […Barusu. I won’t be taking it easy.]
Naturally, the more Ram moved using the full capabilities of her body, the greater the burden he would need to take, acting as its counterbalance. Even so, if he wanted to keep Ram in this state, he’d need to be prepared to take on all of that extra burden.
Just her standing there breathing was already plenty to make him groan. And that was just the pain she experienced in her typical daily life.
Subaru: [Nee-sama is too kind, huh.]
That was how the still sleeping Rem would frequently assess her. He hadn’t really gotten it back then, but now he finally understood what she’d meant.
If he were to let himself preface it in typical Ram fashion, it’d be something like: “That’s how Ram goes about things”.
Subaru: [It’s nothing. ――Definitely don’t take it easy of course. I can tell whether you’re in serious-mode or not by how much pain I’m in. What torture it is.]
Ram: [So, you’re saying your plan is the kind where the better I feel, the more you’ll suffer?]
Subaru: [I feel like I’ve just handed the switch to the nukes to the one person I shouldn’t have.]
Then again, if Subaru was going to hand over the switch to the nukes to one of his compatriots, Ram was the only one he’d consider for it.
Subaru: [Otto would be a good bet as well, if not for the fact I’d worry he’d probably slip and accidentally push it… You’re the most reliable in the sense of who’d use it properly nee-sama.]
Ram: [Hah! Flattery will get you nowhere… Listen, take good care of Emilia and Beatrice-sama. I don’t care what happens to you Barusu, since I know you’re always a mess whatever the case.]
Subaru: [Yeah Yeah, I know. And about Rem…]
Ram: [――The one who cares the most about Rem in this world, is me.]
Ram declared that as if she were stating a matter of course. Her crimson eyes narrowed as Subaru’s breath was taken away by the sheer intensity of her words.
Ram: [Let’s just say that it’s enough that you, in your own Barusu-like way, are the person who cares about her the second-most in the world. Leaving it at that shouldn’t unsettle even a single hair on Rem’s head.]
Subaru: […Yeah, or it’d make me want to die.]
Ram turned her back on Subaru after they’d exchanged their feelings.
There were probably so many things that she wanted to say, words that she wanted to leave him, but she’d quickly changed her attitude, putting an end to them there.
That was truly how Ram went about things.
Ram: [Kindly take care of yourself as much as possible, Barusu. Otherwise, if you die, you won’t be able to see Rem again.]
Subaru: [Yeah, love you too.]
Subaru likewise replied jokingly to Ram’s facetious concerns.
And so, Subaru watched her run off into the distance saying nary a word, before then planting his feet firmly down onto the corridor and regrouping with Emilia and Beatrice who were waiting for him.
Subaru: [Sorry to keep you waiting. Let’s head out as well.]
Emilia: [Yeah, let’s do that. Will Ram be okay?]
Subaru: [Yeah, most likely; she’s Ram after all, so she’ll be fine… If I’d told her to do something really dumb, there’d be no way she wouldn’t have said anything about it.]
Beatrice: [You’ve gone and put a lot of trust in Ram again, I suppose.]
Subaru: [I trust you just as much, and on top of that, I love you way more. Don’t pout.]
Beatrice puffed out her cheeks as if she were saying: “I’m not pouting, in fact!”. Subaru took her outstretched hand and then looked over at Emilia, standing by his side. He wondered if she was worried about Ram going out on her own; however, her face in profile looked only slightly anxious.
Emilia: [No, it’s nothing. I just find that reaaaally reassuring.]
Subaru: [――. Coincidence as it may be, I actually feel the same.]
Emilia’s words didn’t really have any foundation to them, but for Subaru her words served as a great boost.
Their expectations far surpassed their anxieties. It was far more reassuring to have someone you could entrust, rather than have someone trusting in you. You could better face up against what lay ahead by believing, rather than clinging. Though it wasn’t like they’d solved any of their problems yet.
Subaru: [It’s only natural to believe in your companions; what’s more, you can believe in yourselves relying on them as well. Now’s the clearest our view’s gotten ever since we came to this sand-filled tower.]
Beatrice: [――That look of yours, it’s my favorite kind of Subaru, I suppose.]
Beatrice looked at Subaru, who’d encouragingly taken over things, and gave him an audacious smile. And then at Beatrice’s comment, Emilia brought a hand to her lips with a “Hehe“, causing Beatrice to point out Emilia’s reaction with a “What’s up with that, in fact.”
Emilia shook her head and then spoke up:
Emilia: [It doesn’t look like you remember, Beatrice, but I was thinking the exact same thing as you.]
A huge creature was caught by its hind-legs and savagely swung around before being smashed against the walls and floor without relent.
This creature, that was on the receiving end of these monstrous, unfathomable blows let out a hideous wail. A cacophony grated through the air that sounded like the wails of countless babies.
???: [――ϡ ϡ]
What was letting off those wretched cries was a repulsive, bizarre-looking Witchbeast―― One, which in accordance with his own knowledge, Natsuki Subaru had called the Centaur. However, that girl who’d been well acquainted with this kind of Witchbeast had once called it by a different name. ――The Hungry Horse King.
The Hungry Horse King: [――ϡ ϡ]
The Hungry Horse King’s massive body was hurled away, causing it to somersault through the sand-tower’s balcony. Having been knocked about by the impacts, the King of the Sand Sea instantly picked itself back up with flames spewing from its mane.
Its human upper-half brought forth two swords wreathed in flame. Using this completely un-Witchbeastlike dual-wielding sword art, the Horse King tried to fire off a scorching red blow at the being that had been piling on attacks at it.
A white ray of light pierced the Hungry Horse King as it tried to swing its swords of flame, its fiery mane billowing. The impact caused this massive creature to falter back a fair few steps. However, it withstood it. It had withstood it. And just like that, the Horse King stepped forward again, preparing to launch its counterattack. ――But the very next moment, the white ray of light exploded inside its body.
The ray of white light turned into a plethora of white rays that shot out of the Horse King in all directions from the inside out
No matter how resilient a creature was, it could not escape death if all of its vital organs were destroyed within. The Hungry Horse King was no exception to this rule as it brutally perished to the white rays of light.
The slaughter of the woman who’d been behind its death ― Shaula ― didn’t stop there.
Swinging her braided brown hair about, Shaula powerfully kicked off the floor and leaped across the balcony floor. With light coming from her outstretched hands, she grabbed ahold of two enemies that were obstructing her path ― they were Witchbeasts that had lizard scales over their ape-like bodies. From there, the light coming from her hands welled forth.
If Subaru would have seen her blow, he would have probably dubbed it a Pile Bunker. The heads of the two monkeys she’d grabbed by the face were obliterated by the white light she’d shot, not even giving them a chance to fight back. She followed up by spinning around on the spot and using her long legs to knock down the monkeys that were bounding towards her. Her toes slammed into their faces, whacking them down to the floor with their heads caved in.
The stage where the battle between Shaula and the Witchbeasts was taking place was the fourth floor of the Pleiades Watchtower. Although the outer-wall balcony was built hundreds of metres above the ground, there were quite a few Witchbeasts there that had wings, or could easily climb the wall.
She shot down the ones climbing one by one, the balcony soon becoming a sea of blood.
Even after carrying out so much carnage, Shaula wasn’t the least bit out of breath.
The total number of Witchbeasts that were swarming towards the Pleiades Watchtower was so massive, that it’d be pointless to count them. However, the fact that the tower hadn’t succumbed to their avalanche was in no doubt thanks to her overwhelming fighting strength.
Even so, the precarious equilibrium that Shaula was keeping was about to…
A shrill voice called out her name, but she didn’t answer back. With her face contorted in pain, she grabbed a winged Witchbeast that was flying towards her and smashed it down at her feet.
She followed up by piercing it with a white ray of light, giving bloom to flowers of red mid-air, successfully putting an end to its pursuit. However, the state Shaula was in didn’t change as she drove them away. She clutched at her own face and stamped her feet down onto the floor.
Through the gap between her fingers―― Her large-pupiled eyes were beginning to split apart and pulse a brilliant red. Her compound eyes were making their appearance, meaning Shaula was transforming.
Shaula: [Someone… Someone broke a rule…]
With her face covered by the palm of her hands, she met the looming Witchbeasts in this destitute state. She fought off their attacks with her long legs, pulverising their bodies with sharp back-kicks.
???: [This is bad. She’s at her limit. Meili! How’s it looking on your end…]
Meili: [It’s exactly how it looks, I’ve got my ha~nds full dealing with these flying young’uns! If my naked onee-san becomes unable to fight too, we’ll definitely, definitely be running short of ha~nds!]
???: [Guess so. This is looking fairly grim.]
Gazing at Shaula’s anguish, was a girl with wavy light-purple hair sporting a bleak look on her face; Anastasia ― Or rather, Echidna, who was currently borrowing her body. Standing beside her was Meili as well. Her dark blue ponytail was swaying about as she somehow kept the scales tipped in their favour by using her Divine Protection.
The trio of Shaula, Echidna and Meili were the team resisting with all their might to keep the Witchbeasts from approaching the Pleiades Watchtower. However, unlike Meili with her Divine Protection of Magic Manipulation and Shaula with her predisposition for pure firepower, Echidna’s presence was pretty much worthless.
(TL Note: The Wiki translates Meili’s Divine Protection as “Magic Manipulation” but this is a bit literal. The 魔 character in 魔操 is most likely referring to the character in 魔獣 rather than the more generic “magic” or “demon” nuance it has. Translating it in English is tricky due to language limitations, and the fact that everyone but the Anime calls Mabeasts Witchbeasts. I’ve used the Wiki translation for it, but I think there’s a lot of merits to explaining this issue here.)
She was reluctant to go back to Taygeta, but at the same time, she wanted to avoid retreating further into the tower which was in a state of unease, where she’d only end up being an unnecessary burden.
Echidna: [Calm down, now’s not the time for that…]
She moved her slender fingers and focused her awareness at the Od inside her ― Though strictly speaking it was the Od inside Anastasia’s body. Anastasia’s Gate had a defect in it, where it couldn’t take in any mana. That’s why she could only cast magic with her natural Od.
In other words, it was tantamount to cutting Anastasia’s lifespan. Therefore, a measure that not even Echidna wanted to take, other than when her life was truly in danger.
But better to take action than just sit around waiting for death. At least, that’s what the Anastasia she knew would think.
Everyone had to use the cards they were dealt with, and thus, victory was determined by the way you played your cards.
The change afflicting Shaula was most likely due to something that was rooted in her core. Something that definitely couldn’t be overturned, existing as a kind of shackle on her. As an Artificial Spirit, Echidna understood that all too well, considering she was in similar shoes. There wasn’t anything anyone could do about one’s force of will.
If what she’d said before was true, then the rules of the Pleiades Watchtower had been broken. She needed to act as the Watchtower’s keeper to remedy that.
The reason she was resisting so hard was because, in the depths of her heart, she didn’t actually want to harm them―― Or rather, she probably didn’t want to harm Natsuki Subaru.
Echidna: […It’s ironic.]
Thanks to her staying on as the keeper of this Watchtower, she’d been able to reunite with the one person she’d wanted to meet. Yet because of her continued presence as its keeper, she couldn’t go against the orders to harm him. ――Truly the sorrow of being a creation.
In its truest sense, Echidna thought that probably only she and Beatrice, with her also being a creation, could comprehend the pain she was in.
That was why she…
Echidna caught a glimpse of the silhouette of a person leaping out from the corridor that led from the balcony to the tower, letting out a vigorous yell. Her eyes mutely widened in surprise, her breath taken away from her.
Subaru felt shocked the moment he’d leapt out onto the balcony, witnessing the differences between what it usually looked like and now. He immediately realised that a fierce battle was taking place here.
The fourth floor balcony had turned into a sea of blood, with countless Witchbeast cadavers scattered about.
This best seat in the house, where you could enjoy an unbroken view of the sand sea, was now dyed in blood thanks to the countless Witchbeasts ceaselessly charging at it. If left unchecked, they’d get into the tower and mayhem would ensue.
And, the biggest contributor in preventing this damage from spreading was…
Shaula turned around at the sound of Subaru’s yell ― Her eyes were about to split apart and divide into her six compound eyes; three on the left, three on the right.
He’d already witnessed this transformation process of hers with his own eyes. It meant that the rules of the Pleiades Watchtower had been broken and Shaula’s time had come to take up her duty as the watchtower’s keeper.
This would culminate in Shaula transforming into the giant scorpion against her will, where she’d then set about annihilating the challengers inside the tower ― i.e. Subaru and his group.
Shaula: [Master… Please… Please order me…!]
Shaula: [Someone broke the rules. At this rate… Master… I’ll… end up ki…! If you can’t, you know, before I do that, I’ll… I’ll…]
Shaula clutched her body tightly as she sought Subaru’s orders with a look of desperation set on her face.
Her capacity for self-suicide seemed to have been instinctively robbed from her. What she was beseeching for here was one final push to kill her.
Shaula would throw away her life without any hesitation if Subaru were to say it. You could safely say that the threat of the giant scorpion would be gone, so long as he gave the command.
Thus, Subaru nodded his head firmly,
Shaula: [Y…es… If it’s for you Master, I’ll…]
Subaru: [I’m getting sick of telling you this, but I ain’t got a clue why you’re calling me Master.]
The instant Subaru replied back to her, Shaula’s compound eyes became tinged with despair.
After four hundred years of waiting in vain, she’d finally been able to meet him again. But to have that denied by him, and after all that, even have her last wish trampled on, led to her feeling as frightened as a child.
Subaru took a deep breath, and then let it out as he gazed on at her trepidation.
Subaru: [That’s why we’ll talk about whether I’m your Master or not later, as well as if I’ll admit to it.]
Subaru: [I’m not going to tell you to die. There’s no way I’m going to let you keep crying. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to let your four hundred years end here.]
He’d spent quite some time scraping up the “Memories” he’d temporarily lost, so he knew all too well.
The patience people had in this world was insane. Four hundred years they’d spend waiting in earnest for someone. He really needed to drag out these people they wanted to meet, even if it meant grabbing them by the scruff of their necks.
Subaru: [I’ll just do it myself! As if I’m going to willingly do what someone else tells me! Bring it on, oh inevitable fate!]
Subaru raised his fist up above him while he firmly declared that, leaving Shaula speechless. Yet at the same time, the unbearable urge going on inside her seemed to be about to burst.
But, at least in that precise moment for her, that which mattered weren’t the rules of the tower or the explosive urge to swell up from within.
Shaula: [Master… I love you.]
Such it would seem were her emotions of uncontrollable love she held for the person she’d longed for all these four hundred years.
Shaula’s transformation truly began straight after she’d proclaimed her love.
Her pale, slender hands swelled up, and morphed into giant pincers. Her feminine, voluptuous body burst open, scattering flesh and blood which then formed back, like the rewind on a tape, re-moulding her body anew. A jet-black shell grew there as her bright red compound eyes glared down at the world. Her many legs pierced into the floor, and so the warden of the sand-tower was completed――.
Shaula: [――ϡ ϡ]
The foreboding figure of the giant scorpion let out a shrill warning cry at the rule-breakers who’d violated the tower rules. The first thing its compound eyes settled on was, ironically enough, the black-haired young man that the previous version had obsessed over.
It aimed at him, ready to unleash its devastating blow…
――Yet a thunderous flying kick drove into the giant scorpion’s body from the side.
The kick carried a tremendous amount of power, enough to lift the giant scorpion’s huge body up from the floor and blow it back. It hurtled across the stone floor, collecting Witchbeasts on its way, before flying off the edge of the balcony out into the skies over the sand sea.
However, the giant scorpion wasn’t going to just do nothing about it. She hurriedly thrust her outstretched stinger into the wall of the watchtower, tossing its massive body up, twisting its body midair as it desperately tried to get back to the balcony.
A single chanted word was what prevented it from making its way back.
This direction-imbued mana interfered with the reality around them, bringing about effects into the world that wouldn’t normally occur on their own. This time, its effect had been to block the giant scorpion’s return.
The scorpion was caught by a gust of wind as it desperately tried to land on the balcony. Its body was swept back by the sandy breeze, sending it far off trajectory.
How strong a turbulence would it have to be to blow away the scorpion’s colossal body? It was utterly massive, weighing at least several hundred kilos. Though, things weren’t like it seemed.
Murak was a kind of Yin Magic that changed the gravity of its target.
To put it briefly, it was quite natural that its body had ended up unable to move as it normally did, considering it now weighed as much as a speck of dust. That’s all there was to it.
Shaula: [――ϡ ϡ]
The giant scorpion let out a pained cry before being thrown back once again from the balcony. It quickly swung its stinger in an attempt to snipe those in the tower, having given up on getting back.
But that came a step too late.
(TL Note: Hanemogura literally means Winged Mole. I opted to just use the romaji to represent the Witchbeast name like the Wiki does.)
The girl’s imposing command gave way to a rush of blows that hurtled towards the giant scorpion as it blew away in the breeze. Witchbeasts, with what seemed to be bird feathers sprouting from them and most of their heads morphed into a horn, dove towards her.
One by one, they shot themselves straight at the scorpion’s shell. And although they didn’t damage it, they were still able to push her further and further away with each impact, keeping her away from the tower.
Even as great of a scorpion as she was, she wasn’t going to be able to shift her body weight around without something to support her. Just like that, after the wind had blown her away, the magic was canceled, making her fall head over heels towards the ground.
They were hundreds of metres up from the ground, but she wasn’t the kind of opponent who’d be done in by something like that. Though, it sufficed as a means for buying time, thus he would make use of this brief reprieve.
Subaru: [Meili! Echidna!]
Echidna: [Natsuki-kun! You’ve pulled yourself together… yeah?]
Echidna looked up with a frown as Subaru rushed over to her. Then with a pensive look adorning Anastasia’s face, she continued her words,
Echidna: [Have you perchance gotten your memories back?]
Subaru: [This is going to save me a lot of time! Though how did you know?]
Echidna: [It’s obvious. Otherwise Beatrice wouldn’t be sporting such a proud look next to you.]
Echidna jerked her chin at Beatrice, who was looking rather smug as she held Subaru’s hand.
Indeed, it was plain as day that Beatrice’s mood had lifted for the better. Plus, the fact that she couldn’t hide this show of emotion of hers was really lovely.
Of course Echidna’s insight was superb as well, make no mistake about that. Following from it, she shifted her gaze to look behind Subaru ― at Emilia ― who’d given the giant scorpion a flying kick earlier.
Echidna: [And this girl I don’t recognise is…?]
Subaru: [It’s due to Gluttony’s authority. She’s a victim to it, just like Julius is… They’re all forgotten, other than by the person themselves. Her name is Emilia. My tough yet adorable princess.]
Echidna: [I appreciate you getting me up to speed so quickly, even so, the tower, both inside and outside, is an utter mess. Would you mind if I were to ask you what we’re going to do about it?]
Subaru: [You can, I’ve already got an answer ready for that.]
Subaru gave her a deep nod. Behind him, Emilia spread her arms out and sent countless shards of ice up into the air. She waited a moment and then unleashed them all, their ferocious power tearing through the Witchbeasts soaring through the skies, as well as those on the ground.
Although Subaru couldn’t see it from where he was, they must have also pierced into the giant scorpion who’d fallen beneath. Yet her attack had only been a drop in the ocean with all these Witchbeasts they had in front of them…
Subaru: [Echidna, you’re going to take over inside! First, you’re going to meet back up with Julius on the second floor where he’s fighting! I’ve told Emilia what to do after that!]
Echidna: [――. I have no issues leaving together with her, but what are you and Beatrice going to do?]
Beatrice: [Our role is already set, in fact.]
Echidna hesitated for a moment before giving her answer. Beatrice replied back to her before raising her eyes up in admiration to look at Subaru’s face in profile, firmly giving his hand a squeeze.
Beatrice: [We’re going to deal with that giant scorpion here, I suppose. We’re going to have to go easy on her, so that we don’t accidentally kill her. Jeez, what a bother, in fact.]
Subaru: [She sure talks big doesn’t she. That’s my Beako for you.]
Beatrice: [Thbptttttttt, I suppose.]
After voicing out her boasts, as if trying to rouse both herself and her contractor, Beatrice stuck her tongue out.
Echidna’s eyes grew wider as she witnessed their exchange, followed by a shake of her head. Rather than wasting time arguing, it’d better for her to believe that this was the best way to go about things, and commit to it.
Indeed, it was so typical of Anastasia to have that instinct that allowed her to make split second decisions.
Echidna: [There’s no doubting that your opinions have come as a great help for us pretty much everywhere inside this tower. That’s why… it seems to me that handing this place over to you would give us our best chances of winning.]
Subaru: [I feel honoured. Though I can’t help but feel bad that you’ve ended up with Echidna’s name.]
Echidna: [Regarding the matter of the deep influence my Creator has, I’d like to find an opportunity to have a proper discussion about this after we settle things. …Is there anything you want me to pass on to Julius?]
Echidna tacked that question onto the end, just before she turned her back to leave.
Subaru could still sense Julius fighting a floor above them using the effects of Cor Leonis ― Now that he thought about it, this meant that he’d met back up with all of his friends inside the tower, bar him.
Given that Julius had also been really worried about him when he’d lost his memories, Subaru wondered whether he needed to tell him that he’d gotten them back. However…
Subaru: [Nope, not really.]
He had no words that he needed to tell Julius Euculius who lay locked in combat with Reid Astrea.
After all, Subaru’s plan had been to assign the best people to their most suitable posts amidst this dismal state of affairs. That’s why he’d gone around talking to them, after all he’d needed to reshuffle their roles. However, he didn’t need to do that for Julius.
…Because his post lay nowhere else but against Reid Astrea.
Subaru: [At this point, I can literally only say attaboy to him. He’d still end up going to Reid, even if I didn’t mention anything.]
Thanks to that he’d been able to talk with Shaula before transforming into the giant scorpion.
The familiar words of love she’d uttered in the end had provided Subaru with a boundless strength. A fire had been lit in his heart when he’d told her that he’d definitely, definitely help her.
So, that was why…
Subaru: […Everything I needed to say has already been said by the previous me, as well as the me a little before that. I don’t have anything else to add now. He is Julius Euculius after all.]
Natsuki Subaru fully acknowledged that an unyielding fate existed in this world.
The many problems shrouding the watchtower were impossible to avoid, they would always rear their ugly heads at them. But, being unavoidable and unsurmountable were two completely different stories.
If it was fate for Reid Astrea to stand against Julius, then what came beyond that was also inevitable.
The one who was going to slay Reid Astrea reborn was Julius Euculius.
Echidna: [――. I see. I’ll just tell him as it is then.]
Subaru: [Oh wait, there is something. Since everyone’s having a hard time here, tell him to hurry his ass and settle things there, then come give back up to the others.]
(TL Note: Subaru uses フォロー in this chapter for “help/back up”, which Echidna wouldn’t understand properly since it’s an English loanword. The reason I’ve put a TL note here is because it becomes slightly relevant in the next chapter.)
Subaru waved at Echidna as she began to rush off to her duties with a strained smile on her face. After seeing her off, he turned towards Emilia, who was busy cutting down a pair of Witchbeasts with a sword of ice, over by where Echidna was heading to.
Subaru: [Emilia-tan! It’s going to be just as we discussed! I’m counting on you Emilia-tan!]
Emilia: [Mhm, leave it to me! You’re the one who mustn’t die here Subaru!]
Subaru: [Of course I won’t!]
Emilia’s words were only natural, however, they’d made Subaru raise his fist, feeling more overwhelmed than usual.
He didn’t want to die. ――The reason for that remained unchanged, but now he had more of them why he needed to avoid it at all costs. The dangers of Returning by Death in this situation were nigh unspeakable.
If his restart point hadn’t changed, then he’d go back to the stage before he’d separated Louis Arneb, along with her Witch Factor, from himself. As for what kind of trouble that would bring, neither he, nor anyone else, could know.
Would Louis vanish from Subaru’s body or not? The Hall of Memories lay somewhat out of the normal scheme of things, so he didn’t know whether it would avoid the effects of his Return by Death. Everything was so unclear.
So, that meant…
Subaru: […This time, we’re going to settle things here!]
Following Subaru’s affirmation, Emilia grabbed ahold of Echidna and left the balcony. The girls would be going to their respective field of battle, and likewise, so would Subaru and his group.
Meili: [Wha~t now? All of that sounded like gibberish to m~e, any chance you could explain things to me pro~perly?]
Meili had been patient and not interrupted his conversation with Echidna. But she’d called out to him when she’d noticed that only he and Beatrice had remained on the balcony.
Subaru gave her a thumbs up and flashed her a devilish smile, showing all of his teeth.
There’d been only one reason why Subaru hadn’t called out to Meili in these last moments ― Like Julius, she was already in her ideal field of battle.
Subaru: [I’m sorry Meili, but you’re going to be joining us. Me, you and Beako are going to be holding down two of these corners ― the giant scorpion and the swarm of Witchbeasts!]
Meili: [That’s really not much of an expla~nation!]
Beatrice: […She’s coming, in fact!]
He didn’t have the time to give Meili a more detailed explanation as she gave a swing of her braided hair with a puff of her cheeks. The very next instant, a massive creature jumped up from the outer-wall of the tower, onto the balcony, as if in response to what Beatrice had said.
The creature had a jet-black shell, red compounded eyes and ferocious looking pincers…
Subaru: [So, you’re a four hundred year old hikikomori, yeah?]
Subaru let out a quick sigh before nimbly picking Beatrice up from his side, and snuggling her into his arms. Then, along with Meili who’d rushed over to join them, they came face to face with the giant scorpion.
Faced with their enemy who was still silently glaring at them, he gave a small smile,
Subaru: [This is a hikikomori showdown. Her over there clocks in at four hundred years, whereas us two over here clock in at four hundred and one.]
Meili: [Isn’t four hundred and two more co~rrect when you count all three of us?]
Subaru: [In other words, we’re gonna win!]
Beatrice: [I don’t get what any of this means, other than the part you said about winning, I suppose!!]
Held within his arms, Beatrice shouted at Subaru and Meili for joking about together. And just like that, surrounded by just the right amount of tension, he glared at the giant scorpion and let out a sigh.
Now things had shaped up to become his foreseen match-ups. All that was left now…
Subaru: […I’m seriously counting on you, Emilia-tan. You’re the key to everything.]
…The battle against the Four Corners enclosing the Pleiades Watchtower had officially begun.
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