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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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…As soon as the plume of smoke cleared up, Ram felt a rare sense of helplessness.
She opened her pale crimson eyes, straining them as she peered into the room which still had smoke hovering over it. However, even as she did so, searching for something amongst the emptiness, the ones which she was seeking were nowhere to be seen.
She looked for those people in the room where a large hole had appeared, someone moving, or someone in black, along with the adorable blue one; however, they were nowhere to be found…
Ram’s shoulder was grabbed from behind as she’d tried to take a step forward, bringing her back to her senses. She realised that she’d been about to step through a cracked bit of the floor. If she hadn’t been stopped in her tracks, she might have fallen.
How clumsy of her, to literally not even see what was beneath her feet.
???: [I’m glad you’re safe Ram… And Patrasche-chan, are you okay as well?]
Ram: [Emilia… sama…]
Ram bit her lip. Meanwhile, the one who’d grabbed her by the shoulder was Emilia, who should have been on the upper floors. While panting slightly, Emilia checked to make sure Ram was okay, as well as how the black Earth Dragon, Patrasche, who was crouched down behind them, was getting on.
Finally, while looking at them, Ram regained enough of her composure to take in the state of her surroundings.
The corridor in what should have been a robust stone tower had collapsed, with the floor and ceiling both smashed to pieces. She could see the sky and sand of the sand-sea from across the wall, which now had a hole in it; a parched breeze was blowing in as a result.
However, the place that had gotten damaged the most was the room where Ram, Patrasche and co. had been staying in until just before ― That’s to say, the room they’d so dubbed the “Green Room”.
The room had been chock-full of grass and ivy, covering the walls, floor, and even going up all the way to the ceiling. Nevertheless, the room was now unrecognizable from its original state, with its natural erosion of many, many years torn up root and branch.
That included its beds, which were woven from grass and ivy, as well as the faint light the Spirit’s presence gave off; all of it.
That, and their biggest problem was…
Emilia: [Ram… Where did Subaru and Rem go? They’re safe, right?]
Standing by Ram’s side, Emilia peered into the area where the Green Room had previously stood. Ram wasn’t able to answer her question straight away, even though she knew that her painful silence itself served as an answer.
???: […First of all, let’s try ‘n sort out what happened. We’re not gonna be able ta talk about things calmly unless we do tha’.]
Looking around at everyone who’d gathered within the room as she said that, Anastasia took charge of the situation.
Anastasia’s white fox scarf ― Echidna ― was still wrapped around her. She brushed her fingers through her slightly dusty fur as she spoke.
Anastasia: [So, about that black shadow that attacked the tower jus’ before…]
Julius: [It’s gone, at least for now. Thanks to the power of the Divine Dragon, Volcanica, I’d say.]
Echidna: [Both the Dragon and the shadow’s movements were so sudden, it made us really wonder what the heck was happening, huh.]
Inside the tower, the ones who’d come back safe and sound began to share what had happened, starting first with Anastasia, and then Julius and Echidna following her lead.
Much like Anastasia and Echidna, Julius’ white knight garb was also covered in grime. However, that wasn’t just because of the heated battle that had taken place in the tower, it was also heavily due to the effects of the aforementioned event.
Nevertheless, none of these three had ended up with any extra injuries; on that point itself, you could say it was a relief.
That in itself was thanks to the achievement wrought by the Divine Dragon, Volcanica, on the top-most floor of the tower.
Beatrice: [Volcanica cleaved the looming shadow with its breath, I suppose. If not for that, we would have probably been in for a world of hurt, in fact.]
Anastasia gave Beatrice a nod in response to what she’d said, as the latter folded her short arms together.
In all honesty, when Volcanica had unleashed its breath so suddenly, Anastasia had uncharacteristically resigned herself for death. Things had happened so quickly, that there hadn’t been any way to deal with it.
Though of course she couldn’t say that she’d completely relaxed her guard just because of that single breath.
Julius: [The Divine Dragon’s response to the crisis dawning upon us was simply magnificent, but even so, the state it’s in isn’t great, that remains unchanged still… Currently though, it seems to be keeping itself quite obedient and following Emilia-sama’s instructions.]
Anastasia: [Out of consideration for Julius, I’mma try ‘n avoid callin’ ‘em “senile”… But, ‘tis all the same as the Divine Dragon-san bein’ a scary‘un. Anyways, as for what happened, it’s exactly as Beatrice-chan says.]
Beatrice: [I suppose.]
The only one who could have dealt with a situation as abrupt as that was Volcanica. What would have become of them now, had the Dragon not blown away the looming shadow for them.
Yet, they couldn’t start jumping around in joy…
???: [There was a to~n of ‘em. But, they all went towards Onii-san and stuff…]
Meili: […Ah, my apo~logies.]
Meili didn’t take care with her word choice, almost as if she were upset, and for that, Anastasia chided her. Meili gave her a sincere apology as she looked towards Ram and Emilia, both having kept their silence.
In hindsight, the ones who’d received the damage from that shadow had been the two from the Emilia Camp ― Subaru and Rem ― Thus, the damage the Anastasia Camp had suffered was practically zilch.
Anastasia: [Though it’s not like I can actually say that, we’re all travellin’ together after all.]
Anastasia muttered that to herself before then catching a glimpse of Julius and Echidna. They had been working together with Emilia’s group during the time she’d traded places with Echidna, when she’d been sleeping at the depths of her own consciousness.
It went without saying for Echidna, whom she’d known for around ten years, but even the practically brand spanking new Julius, at least as far as her memories were concerned, could easily tell that she was shook.
On that point, it was quite the surprise to Anastasia that Beatrice, who should have been quite close to them, had come to this meeting.
Anastasia: [Beatrice-chan, are ya alright? Ah wait, no, it ain’t propa’ of me to use a word like “Alright”. But still, ya haven’ gotten ya’self into a panic, no?]
Beatrice: […Betty panicking wouldn’t mean it’d bring back Subaru and Rem, in fact. Right now, the main issue in question is messing up our first move due to panic, I suppose. I’d specifically like to avoid that, in fact.]
Anastasia: [First move? By that, do you mean…]
Emilia: […Bringing back Subaru and Rem. Taking action for that, yeah?]
Anastasia raised her eyebrows quizzically as she tried to question Beatrice. However Emilia interrupted her, still while supporting Ram by her shoulder.
Emilia’s amethyst eyes pierced right through Anastasia, her eyes widening in surprise a tad at the intensity of her glare. She wet her lips with her tongue.
Anastasia: [Dang, I thought you were gonna be dejected as heck, but that’s one helluva’ look you’ve got in your eyes. What d’ya mean?]
Emilia: [It’s really nothing complicated. Subaru and Rem ended up being swallowed by that shadow and taken away from us… Volcanica did drive it away, but he was just a tad too slow. Even so…]
Ram: [They didn’t die from it. I’m sure of it.]
While still being propped up by Emilia, Ram opened her eyes and replied. Then she gently touched the part of her on her forehead ― the part where presumably her Oni Clan Horn had been ― as she let out an exhausted sigh. It was what served as the basis of her words, which felt full of conviction.
Anastasia: [The Oni Tribe’s… Ah, wouldn’t that be the sisters’ synesthesia? So you’re saying that you’re linked with Rem-san?]
Ram: [Yep, that’s right. Rem is alive… No clue about Barusu.]
Beatrice: [Subaru’s alright as well, I suppose! Betty can guarantee that, in fact!]
Beatrice shouted in anger, almost red in the face, in response to Ram’s very Ram-like words. After all, she was Beatrice, the Spirit who’d made a contract with Subaru. Her words did have some credibility to them.
In other words, it meant that the two of them who had vanished had been confirmed to be alive from separate angles.
Julius: [In regards to Subaru, we have his connection with Beatrice-sama’s contract, and in regards to Miss Rem, we have Miss Ram’s synesthesia… Both of those are worth believing in. Besides, I too would like to hope.]
Anastasia: [Quite the honesty there… Well, either way, I too would rather prefer that Natsuki-kun ‘n Rem-san were safe ‘n sound.]
Anastasia stroked her scarf after Julius replied, as if to say getting too close to them would be a problem.
They were working with Emilia’s group as collaborators for the time being ― But the fact that they were competing with each other in the Royal Selection hadn’t changed. She didn’t want them to get the wrong idea about that and add to their troubles.
Nevertheless, it was precisely because they were fighting each other that they ought to repay their debts without fail.
Meili: [We~ll then? Like, it’s super-duper good that Onii-san ‘n stuff are alive, bu~t, where are they?]
Failing to read the mood positively, Meili asked them that while playing around with the Tiny Crimson Scorpion balanced on her head. Julius opened his mouth in reaction to her question, and began to speak,
Julius: [Well, though I wouldn’t be able to explain them in great detail, that shadow was the product of Yin Magic… Or at the very least, the Yin Attribute. It should be the same sort that’s sealing the likes of the Witch of Envy in her shrine, and Roy Alphard in the Dragon Carriage. If we presume this to be the case, then as for our resident expert…]
Beatrice: […That would be Betty, I suppose. My prognosis isn’t all that different from Julius’ either, in fact. That thing was a clump of Yin, I suppose. It’s close to a Shamac that’s been given direction, in fact.]
Echidna: [Shamac? Isn’t that the basic magic of the Yin Attribute? How was it then so powerful?]
Beatrice: […I knew there was going to be quite a few humans who’d misunderstand since there are hardly any users of it. However, it’s troubling that even you think of it like that, when you’re a Spirit like me, in fact.]
Echidna, who had taken up her white-fox form, was stared at reproachfully by Beatrice, causing her to cower her head. Giving a sigh at her reaction, Beatrice raised one of her fingers and said: “May I, I suppose?”
Beatrice: [Shamac’s special quality is in “Separation”, in fact. A low-grade Shamac separates one’s body from their awareness, whereas a high-grade Shamac rends space from itself, I suppose. Betty’s Door Crossing is one such application, linking two rooms together, and achieving something close to teleportation, in fact.]
Ram: [That was the contraption Beatrice-sama had set up in the previous mansion. It was a real pain having to call her for mealtimes, so to be quite honest, I’d gotten fed up with it.]
Beatrice: [It really upsets Betty that you’d say that so honestly right here, right now, I suppose. I do believe I am sorry about it, but the apologies can wait until later… Anyways, Shamac, in essence, can separate space from space if so inclined; as well as that, it can separate objects, no matter how strong they are. It’s the Witch of Envy’s speciality, in fact.]
Anastasia: [From your explanation, aren’t you saying that Natsuki-kun and Rem-san have been scattered into pieces?]
If that shadow was as deadly as that, then what she’d said felt just like something that branded Subaru and Rem’s survival, who’d been swallowed by it, as being hopeless.
Beatrice however shook her head at Anastasia’s question.
Beatrice: [What I mentioned right now was an allegory, I suppose. At least, that shadow wasn’t something that was set to chop Subaru and Rem into pieces, in fact. But it was going to take them within and whisk them away somewhere, I suppose.]
Echidna: [Somewhere… Across space… In this situation, I imagine it would be to where she is?]
Ram: […After all, there’s the matter of Barusu’s miasma.]
Echidna broke down Beatrice’s exposition into simpler terms, and at the end of that, Ram provided the reason why.
The miasma that enveloped Subaru, which had greatly agitated the Witchbeasts en-route to the Watchtower, was now a well-known fact amongst the Royal Selection Candidates.
Regarding this miasma thing, both its cause, and its finer details, were unknowns.
Ram: [All I know about the miasma is that it attracts Witchbeasts to it, and that the people who are connected with the Witch Cult often emanate it in spades… That’s pretty much it.]
Emilia: [Hm, although Subaru’s been chased by Witchbeasts quite a few times, he’s got nothing to do with the Witch Cult. I get that it’s preeeeetty suspicious, but…]
Anastasia: [No need ta fret, don’ worry, I ain’t castin’ doubt on that now, Emilia-san.]
Emilia: [Oh? Thank goodness. Subaru is a good boy, so…]
Emilia patted her chest in relief, however, the issue was still very much there.
Just like Anastasia had said, the thread of thought regarding Subaru being connected to the Witch Cult was no longer inside her. Nevertheless, the fact that they didn’t know Subaru’s origins still brought forth doubts within her.
She didn’t think that Subaru was someone with ill intent. However, ill intent that one wasn’t conscious to was a thing too.
There was a chance that, behind all of his good intent, Subaru’s existence was a ticking time-bomb in itself.
Anastasia: [Yeah Yeah, so your concern is unnecessary, I got that much from how ya started the sentence off. The shadow that swallowed Natsuki-kun and Rem-san up was the one that whisked ‘em away ta somewhere. The real question is, where ta?]
Echidna: [As well as what happened due to Volcanica’s breath having interfered with it.]
Beatrice and Ram, who were linked with the two of Subaru and Rem respectively, probably had a rough idea of their whereabouts.
Searching for them was going to be a tall order, if all they knew was that they were alive, without knowing exactly where they’d been hurtled off to. ――At the very least, the option of not searching for them was not available to anyone in this place.
Emilia: [Please, you two, where are Subaru and Rem? Tell me please.]
Beatrice and Ram exchanged looks, having turned towards Emilia’s sincere appeal. Then after a few seconds of silence from the both of them…
Beatrice: […He’s south, in fact.]
Ram: [Ram too senses that she’s in that same direction. I’m not sure of her exact position, but I think she’s fairly far away.]
Emilia: [South? South from here we have the uhh….]
Emilia furrowed her well-defined eyebrows straight after Beatrice and Ram had both mentioned they were south. Though she must have been giving it her all to envision the map of the world in her mind, Anastasia raised her hand in her stead.
Currently they were in the Augria Sand Dunes situated in the easternmost part of the world map. As far as south from here went, Picoutatte or Flanders, of the five great cities, were the most likely, however…
Julius: [In regards to that alone, the state of the two is inscrutable.]
Seemingly having arrived at the same idea, Julius spoke Anastasia’s mind for her.
From the way he got into sync with the speed of her thoughts, Anastasia valued him as being ideal as her knight even more, all while batting one of her eyes shut and saying: “Indeed.”
Anastasia: [‘Tis quite the distance, but if they find themselves aroun’ those parts, then we can say that the damage incurred would be negligible. Yet, despite that, both of yer faces look pale… Do ya both mean ta say he’s way more south?]
Emilia: [Way more south, you can’t mean…]
Meili: […They ended up going all the way down to the Vollachian Empire in the sou~th?]
Meili’s surprise was minimal compared to how shocked Emilia was. But it was safe to say that Meili’s reaction was down to the fact that she hadn’t comprehended the scale of things. Given that, Beatrice and the others’ reactions were all perfectly understandable.
If Subaru and Rem had crossed through the country… And if they’d crossed into the Southern Empire, they had a real problem at hand.
Anastasia: [If I’m not mistaken… The Kingdom of Lugunica ‘n the Vollachian Empire in the south signed a nonaggression pact that would last for the entire Royal Selection. Isn’ that right, Julius?]
Julius: [That’s correct. I imagine you wouldn’t know about this, but I also went there to tie down the agreement. Me, Reinhardt, Felis and such met the Emperor in person.]
Emilia: [From what I’d heard, we were on reaaaally bad terms with the Empire; but, if you did that, then are we okay with them now? So if we were to go and search for Subaru and Rem…]
Julius: […No, that’s not going to fly.]
Julius lowered his brows with a shake of his head in response to Emilia’s timid question. He softly cast his yellow eyes down, which glittered like jewels, emblazoned on his handsome features,
Julius: [The Empire has forbidden travel between itself and the Kingdom since several months ago, for the time being. Due to the Royal Selection, the same thing happened with the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko in the north, however they’ve already rescinded their ban…]
Echidna: [I guess that means the one the Empire set hasn’t been rescinded. Though we did travel to the Watchtower, so because of that we don’t have the latest information… So if the situation there hasn’t changed…]
Emilia: [Going there to help Subaru and Rem is going to be tough?]
Julius: [Yes, unfortunately.]
Though they exchanged various thoughts about it, Julius concluded with these mere words of regret.
Anastasia too, could only come to the same conclusion as Julius. It would be impossible to break in from the front where entering the Vollachian Empire was concerned.
They’d have no choice but to look for a secret way in, and in addition to that, they’d also need to find the time and contacts for it.
There’d be no quick and easy way here. Surely Emilia would be in an absolute hurry when thinking about the two people who’s status remained unknown…
Emilia: […We need to move quickly. We’ll receive Volcanica’s blood and bring it back to Pristella… Then we’ll take the Gluttony we captured to the Royal Capital, yeah?]
Emilia: [I know Beatrice. I can’t help but feel reaaally, reaaally impatient. But we won’t be able to help Subaru and Rem out, even if we rush things here… We’ve gotta remain calm.]
However, Emilia’s calm decision surprised Anastasia, just as it seemed she would have gotten into a panic. She gave a resolute nod at Beatrice, also similarly surprised. Her eyes were quivering, her voice was shaking a bit, yet she was giving it her all to keep a grip of herself.
It was just like she was saying I’m not going to fold my arms together and sit back for even a second, if it means getting Subaru and Rem back.
Emilia: [You two, Subaru and Rem must be together, right?]
Ram: […I just double-checked with Beatrice-sama, we think they probably are.]
Emilia: [Alrighty… Then if that’s the case, I’m sure Subaru will go to great lengths to protect Rem. That’s why we needn’t worry about Rem. Even though Subaru’s a lil’ scary.]
Though her belief in Subaru was strong, in regards to the same kind of worries, Anastasia did agree as well.
Natsuki Subaru had lost his memories for a bit in the tower, as a result of being left to his own devices. That boy with a propensity for self-punishment had a bad habit of making light of himself in order to protect the people precious to him.
Just as it sometimes would encourage others, it also similarly served as a cause for concern.
Anastasia: [That said, guess all we can really do is count on Natsuki-kun’s quick wits. Emilia-san is right, what we can’t do is stay here grumblin’ ‘n moanin’ inside the tower. We gotta get a move on.]
Julius: [Understood loud and clear… Beatrice-sama, do inform us if there are any elements of concern.]
Beatrice: […Subaru’s body, I suppose. Subaru’s gate can’t expel mana out on its own since it’s broken, in fact. If we leave him alone for too long, then it’s going to burst due to a mana blockage, I suppose.]
Anastasia: [I see. I’m sorta in the same boat, so I can really get on the same level as Natsuki-kun there.]
Anastasia’s gate was defective by birth. She was unable to take in mana properly; such, for example, would be a critical defect for a mage. Nevertheless, this had no effect on the luck and knack for business needed for a merchant, so it didn’t really bother her much.
Anastasia: [I know, I know. In regards to our problems, ain’t we gonna talk about ‘em separately a bit later… That aside, it doesn’ look like we’ve got any time ta slack off.]
Anastasia clapped her hands together, with everyone else nodding back at her signal.
Their objective was to search for the whereabouts of Subaru and Rem, who’d both disappeared. For that, they would need to return from the Pleiades Watchtower as soon as possible, in order to muster a search party as well.
On top of that, they needed to fulfill one of the primary objectives that they’d come to the tower for.
Meili: [Things are so hectic, to the point that I almost feel like I’m gonna pass ou~t…]
Emilia: [I know right. Still, Subaru and Rem must be having it way more tough.]
Emilia firmly clenched her fist, thinking of Subaru, who’d been hurtled off to somewhere faraway. Seeing her face in profile, Meili, with the Tiny Crimson Scorpion plopped on her head, narrowed her eyes and said “Yeah, of course” with a shrug of her shoulders.
And just like that, the group began to busy themselves to get their preparations done ― Or so, they were about to.
Meili: [Come to thi~nk of it, Ram Onee-san, did you tell ‘em about th~at thing?]
Ram: [… I still haven’t.]
Anastasia and the others: […? That thing?]
Ram’s face turned sour at Meili’s rather abrupt question. All of their gazes turned towards Ram, clearly having not heard anything about it.
With them all looking at her, Ram paused for a brief moment, and after that said,
Ram: [Emilia-sama, although I’m still not one-hundred percent sure about this… The ones swallowed by the shadow and hurtled away to the Empire may not just be only Barusu and Rem.]
Emilia: [Not only the two of them… But you, Patrasche-chan, and Meili are all accounted for, so shouldn’t that be everyone who was in the Green Room?]
Meili: [Well, a girl appeared all of a sudden, before that shadow came kinda kerplowing i~n. And what’s more, according to Oniisan, it was the third Gluttony or some~thing.]
Anastasia and the others: [The third Gluttony!?]
Anastasia and the others were taken completely aback after being told this tidbit they really could not disregard.
And so, the discussion grew in intensity, regarding whether they should amend their actions going forward and getting the details which Ram had kept under wraps regarding this matter out of her.
As that went on, within the now turned bedlam of the Pleiades Watchtower, Emilia clasped her hands in prayer in front of her chest, all the while looking out of the huge hole where the Green Room had once stood.
Emilia: [Please, Subaru… I really hope you’ll be alright with Rem.]
――As Emilia’s small prayer drowned in the parched skies overhead the sea of sand, at the same time far, far away,
Subaru: [―――― ]
Sitting atop an open meadow, caressed gently by a wandering breeze was a boy, and in his embrace, a girl.
The boy had black hair, and his eyes sharp as the edge of a dagger, with the whites being quite pronounced, ala the very known sanpakugan; eyes that made his face to appear in a permanent scowl, a glare rumored to be all that is needed to kill a man.
However, at that moment, his lips curved up ever so softly, and the corners of those eyes were wet. It took all he had to not break into a complete bawl.
It was a natural outcome, of course.
He’d waited for this very moment for so long. The memories of each day he passed in wait, in grief, none would allow him to look away for even the briefest of moments from the girl in front of him.
The girl, embraced so dearly, looked at him through the locks of her bright, blue hair.
Her eyes widened, though the strength to resist was barely present on her adorable face. It was as if she had woken from sleep, and was still caught up in her drowsiness.
To be fair, that was indeed the truth of the matter. She’d finally woken up from a long, long slumber, so she’d quite obviously feel a disconnect from reality.
Rem: [……Ah… um… ]
Her lips moved, as if mulling over what he’d spoken of moments ago.
As he watched, the boy――Natsuki Subaru nodded vigorously.
Subaru: [Yeah, exactly, that’s exactly it, Rem. I’m your Hero. I’ve been waiting for so long for… ]
Rem: [―――― ]
Subaru: [Rem? ]
Trying to stifle the tremble of his own voice, he desperately tried to pick up on Rem’s.
Perhaps due to being thirsty or something of the sort, though as her lips moved and her tongue flicked, her throat would not produce sound. Even so, he put his ear near her mouth, attempting to glean even a sliver of what Rem was trying to communicate to him.
Her meagre attempts to convey anything filled him with immense joy.
Rem: […m. ]
Subaru: [I’m listening, there’s no need to rush it, okay? Rem, what are you trying to… ]
Tell me, as he would’ve said, but was ultimately cut off.
Once he’d drawn his ears close enough to listen to her, his trail of thought was halted as a hand pushed against his head and chin.
Following that flow, he felt himself be turned over and fall to the ground.
Subaru: [……Re…Rem? ]
Subaru found himself with his back on the grass, and Rem straddled on top of him.
Bewildered, he remained stiff in place. Staring down at him, Rem’s eyes scanned him from top to bottom.
She then released a quiet sigh and,
Rem: [What’s your aim here? Tell me what you intend to do to me right now! ]
Subaru: [―――― ]
Rem: [Calling yourself some Hero out of the blue and…… Who’s Rem? Tell me right now! ]
Knees pressed down over Subaru’s shoulders, her hands shot to his neck. With her weight bearing down on him, Subaru struggled to move, his legs twitching restlessly.
However, the skill with which Rem had restrained him was somewhat aweing. She’d left no room for him to regain his freedom.
Subaru: [Gu… ah… ghk…… ]
Rem: [If you refuse to speak, I will simply continue until you desire to do so. Please do not prolong your own suffering. Speak. What exactly are you… ]
Subaru: [――Gha. ]
He knew not whether it was involuntary or on purpose, but the strength with which Rem used to press against his neck left him no room to answer her with.
As his mind dimmed due to the lack of oxygen, he realized letting this go on would result in his death.
It had been so long, and even if it were a one-sided reunion, Subaru could allow it to end with Rem strangling him. Not like this.
Even if nothing of Subaru remains in her memories.
Subaru: [A- Ah…… ]
Rem: [Are you feeling like speaking now? If so, I will, in good faith―― ]
Just then, as Rem frowned while looking at the signs of strained struggle on his face,
Louis: [Ah-! Ooh-! ]
Rem: [――Kya-!? ]
Suddenly, a petite shadow slammed into Rem’s body from the side―― Or rather, it leapt onto Rem and became entangled with her on the grass.
With the weight gone, he rolled over and began coughing, then looked towards Rem with clouded, wet eyes. There, he saw the figure of a little girl struggling with Rem.
Louis: [Uuuー! Uuuuー! ]
Rem: [W-what are you doing… Stop it, please! This isn’t the time to be… ]
Her blonde hair covering all of Rem, the little girl bared her teeth on her flushed red face as she howled. Subaru stopped, unable to form any thoughts upon witnessing this sight.
Subaru took a breath and rushed to the two.
Subaru: [Oi! Get away from Rem, right now! ]
Louis: [Ahー, Uuuー!! ]
Subaru pushed off the little girl who had been trying to pull on Rem’s hair――Archbishop Louis Arneb, and held her down with her hands behind her back.
The light bodied『Gluttony』attempted to struggle, but only in vain. The best she could currently do was kick about. Twists and groans were thrown in, but nothing more beyond that.
Louis: [Auー! Uuuー, Uuuuー!! ]
Subaru: [God damnit, you……! Stop struggling……Just stay put! Rem, are you okay!? Did she do anything to you!? ]
Rem: [N-no, I’m fine. More than that, I keep asking you over and over… ]
Subaru yelled as he held Louis down, to which Rem answered with crooked brows. With her eyes fixed on him, she attempted to stand on her feet――,
Rem: [――Eh? ]
And thumped back onto the ground, her knees having given away.
Her strange way of falling down raised questions in Subaru’s mind. Yet unaware she was being observed, she pushed on her knees and tried to stand up once more. However――,
Rem: [……My legs won’t… ]
Subaru: [Wait, you can’t stand up? ]
Rem: [N..no, that’s not… Not true… It’s not true at all… ]
Her voice trembled as she attempted to refute his strong claim. However, no amount of willpower allowed her to stand up. Far from being able to balance herself, she couldn’t even put any power into her feet at all.
Subaru: [Are you feeling weak because you’ve been asleep for so long? Wait, that can’t be right. Wouldn’t call the strength you used to push me over just now that of someone who’s been bedridden as long as you. ]
There was often talk of how one would eventually grow weaker over their long stay at the hospital, likely due to a lack of exercise.
It was quite a well-known fact that those people require rehabilitation to stand and walk again, but would that truly end at the legs?
It wasn’t as if Rem had been moving her upper body during her ‘hospitalization period’. She’d been asleep for over a year, so it would only make sense for her to feel weak overall, and not just in her legs.
And yet, this disconnect existed in her, in Rem’s body. Likely, this was due to――,
Subaru: [――Wait, could it be because of the feedback she took from Nee-sama’s fight? ]
As his mind sifted through the possible reasons as to why Rem’s body would behave like this, that was the conclusion he had reached.
He’d heard from Ram in the『Green Room』about how her death-battle against『Gluttony』went down. Due to Subaru’s worsening condition, Ram needed to change things to avoid being cornered. So she’d chosen to share her ‘burden’ with Rem as her trump card.
As a result, the majority of Ram’s burden of pain, who was said to be the strongest of the Oni Clan, flowed into Rem. Subaru remembered having that conversation.
If that were the case, then――,
Subaru: [……It’s all my fault. ]
He’d uttered a phrase he’d surely be rebuked by Ram for.
However, as it stood, Subaru had been unable to fulfil the duty he himself had taken on himself, resulting in Ram needing to push herself further, which consequently affected Rem. It all went back to being Subaru’s fault.
Steeped in this situation, having none of his friends around that he could rely on, where only he, Rem, and Louis, who was continuing to act weird for god knows what reason, the responsibility he bore was all the more heavy.
Rem: [All your fault you say… Did you do something to me!?]
Subaru: [Not at all, it was just a figure of speech; however…]
Rem: [First things first! Who are you!? And who am I!?]
Giving the legs that wouldn’t obey her will properly a firm whack, Rem glared at Subaru with a tempest of fury in her eyes. Subaru felt something rather bitter, that his unpleasant guess had become reality, hearing Rem’s heartbreaking complaint, which had felt like she was going to lose her temper.
…Rem had said: “Who am I”?
“Who are you” was still way better. However, her asking about who she was, was still something extremely gut-wrenching for Subaru, considering he’d been waiting so long to see Rem again.
He’d had an inkling this would be the case, from the fact that she was referring to herself using “I” instead of “Rem”.
(TL Note: In the Japanese Rem is using the first person pronoun 私 instead of calling herself by her own name, Rem, which she did pre-amnesia.)
Subaru: [I guess she must be in the same state as Crusch-san…]
Rem had had her name and memories taken away from her, resulting in her continued slumber.
There were two other patterns found in the victims of Gluttony; namely, the ones found with Julius, who’d had his name taken away from him, thus forgotten by the people around him, as well as with Crusch, who’d had her memories taken away, having lost herself.
When Rem had woken up, she’d done so having lost her own memories; in an amnesiac state.
Her confusion was perfectly natural when you considered she was stuck in a situation this incomprehensible, along with a boy with mean-looking eyes to him, a girl who could do nothing but groan and her own legs not working as she wished.
Without even realising that Louis had grown quiet, as if she’d tired herself out from struggling around, she dropped from the exhausted Subaru’s arms, and fell down on her backside, letting out a screech.
She began to roll about, while rubbing her backside. Subaru didn’t bother to give her any attention, instead he slowly made his way over to Rem’s side.
As Subaru drew closer to her, Rem kept an eye on him, all the while keeping her guard up strongly.
Seeing that look in her eyes, he was reminded of the first time Rem had turned this hostility against him.
It was easy to forget, because they’d gotten quite close after they’d warmed up to each other, but Rem originally was quite reserved, and was a rather difficult girl to get close enough to.
In that respect, it was way easier with Ram, since she never changed how she interacted with him, both before and after they became closer.
The scary part in fact though, was that according to one theory, there was even the chance that they didn’t get along.
Subaru: [Anyways, the matter of nee-sama aside… Hey, you know…]
Rem: [W-What is it? Just so you know, if you’re planning on doing anything to me, I’ll…]
Rem’s tense expression turned into one of being taken by surprise. Subaru stopped in his tracks as he made his way over, keeping enough distance between them, so he’d be more than a step out of her reach,
Subaru: [It’s Rem. That’s your name.]
Once again, he called out her name.
Rem sunk into silence, unable to hide her bewilderment, having had that gently poured against her. Nevertheless, she shifted her red tongue, which was barely visible behind her lips, and repeated “Rem” as if making sure of it.
It was like she was making herself familiar with her own name anew.
Subaru: [In all honesty, I don’t really know properly what happened either. Just that we got separated from our friends, and we’re here, in this place which is god knows where. You should be able to understand that’s quite the mess, right?]
Rem: [Well, I…]
While still very bewildered, Rem’s eyes examined the grassland in their surroundings rather than Subaru.
A breeze rustled through the grassland, the sun was high up in the sky, and he felt humidity against his skin. A muggy sensation that felt different to the parched air of the Augria Sand Dunes.
He was in a place that was so different that the sensation he felt from the air had changed.
In other words…
Subaru: [We can’t expect to be helped immediately. We’re gonna need to take the necessary actions to help ourselves from here, somehow or other. That’s why…]
Rem: [That’s why what? What are you going to tell me to do? Me, and my legs which can hardly move and all.]
Subaru: […I imagine you’ll get all suspicious again once I say this sort of stuff, but I’d be just content with you being here for me. Breathing, talking to me, looking around the surroundings with your eyes; I’d be content with only that.]
Rem: […? You mean looking around with my eyes, and telling you whether the coast is clear?]
Subaru: [No quite like that, though, that too would be fine.]
He was very much just content with Rem waking up, breathing, and speaking to him.
Even though it was something rather unselfish, what Subaru had implored in regards to Rem having woken up, was only that she’d be in good health, thus these were, no word of exaggeration, his true intentions.
Of course, he needed to solve the issue of her missing memories. That, and Emilia, Beatrice, Ram and everyone who’d been left behind in the tower with the matter of Subaru and his group having gotten separated from them, ought to be quite worried.
He wanted to join up with them as quickly as possible. ――He wanted to get Ram to meet Rem, since she’d felt such love for her little sister, whom she didn’t remember.
Subaru: [Please, won’t you trust me here? Even if I were to give up my life in exchange… No, it means squat were I to give up my life, so I shall protect you at all cost. I swear it. That’s why…
Rem: [――. And say I take you up on your offer, then what will you do?]
Subaru: [Ah, right. Would be pointless to act with no-plan, so when it comes to one…]
Receiving Rem’s prudent question, Subaru sought for the information needed to draw up a plan.
As aforementioned, Subaru and the others were in a vast grassland, however, they could see large trees growing close to each other, encircling the grassland.
Seeing they were intercepted by the canopies of the trees before they reached the horizon, the trees surrounding them at a 360 degree angle, it seemed like they were in an open grassland, a place such as that inside of a forest.
Truthfully, it was nothing but dangerous to venture into a forest on a land he was completely unfamiliar with, but――,
Subaru: [Firstly, the unbreakable rule when one gets lost in a forest is to let his allies know his location, using a GPS, but……]
Subaru: [I know. Nothing like that exists…… It’s just that Beako has the connection she has with me, so there’s a possibility she could pinpoint my whereabouts with something similar. In a way, you could say my existence itself is a GPS.]
Depending on the situation, there was also the possibility that Ram’s Synesthesia would detect Rem’s location. In that sense, both Subaru and Rem were fulfilling their roles as a GPS that connected them to their allies.
Subaru: [What’s left is securing a source of water……. It’s important to get a hold of water, no matter what. It’s probably better if we chose our base camp, and start widening our field of search from there. Edible grass and fruits are…… ahh, I was right to learn it from Clind-san. Gotta thank my mentor……]
During the process in which he learned parkour and how to handle a whip, Clind had hammered various techniques and knowledge into his head. There were times he nearly whined about giving up on the teachings of the versatile steward, but thanks to it being beneficial to him, Subaru could keep his guiding principle with him despite being in this situation.
Subaru: [There’s a lot of other stuff as well, but it’s not like I’m trying to take action without a plan. Are you able to understand now?]
Rem: [……To an extent. Even if I wanted to resist, I’m in this condition, so……]
Subaru: [……That’s a remark that I can get a glimpse of your honest thoughts from.]
Subaru tested a smile, trying to reassure her, but her reaction wasn’t as good as he thought it would be.
Having lost her “memories”, there was no foundation for Rem to build her trust for Subaru on. If she could move her legs freely, then she might’ve already escaped from him long ago.
Though, he didn’t want to think of the misfortune that happened to her as something fortunate.
Subaru: [Your legs. I hope you can start moving around on them soon.]
Rem: [――hk, even if you told me that, I don’t know. What are you going to do?]
Subaru: [I told you. Firstly, I’m planning on searching for water. There’s the thing with your legs, so I’m thankful if you wouldn’t act against me if you could……]
Saying that, Subaru closed the final step between him and Rem, crouching down and turning his back to her.
If she looked at his posture, even Rem would know what he was trying to do.
Rem: [Are you planning to bring me with you on your back?]
Subaru: [There’s also the choice to princess carry you, but I won’t last very long if I do that. If you would let me carry you on my back, I guess it’s very helpful, personally.]
She fell silent for a while, staring at Subaru’s pitiful expression. After that, she slowly blew out a sigh, and tentatively reached for his back.
Rem’s slender arms slunk above his shoulders, interlocking in front of his chest. Feeling the tender weight on his back, Subaru took his time in standing up, making sure he wouldn’t shake Rem, who was clinging onto him.
He felt her weight. However, what he thought while carrying her on his back was that she was light.
During this one year, he had many opportunities to carry the slumbering Rem, but every time he did, he experienced how difficult it was to carry an unconscious person firsthand.
The sensation wasn’t there with the Rem who was holding onto him of her own accord.
Rem: [――? Is something the matter?]
Subaru: [No, it’s just that it was deeply moving, oddly enough. So, it’s about the search for water, but,]
Rem: [Before that…… what will we do about that girl?]
Looking ahead of the place where Rem indicated by jerking her chin over his shoulder, Subaru remembered the problem.
On the grassland, splayed out on the grass while patting her bottom, the area she had hit on the ground, was Louis, who was tangled up in her own long, blond hair. ――What should he do about this Sin Archbishop that was acting strangely?
Even Subaru knew Louis’s current state was unnatural.
She was an opponent with a mental structure that couldn’t be declared as decent, but it was because of her knavishness, not because he could see her previously hidden side of infantile regression.
In fact, she was quite intelligent for her age, and she also had the room to ponder over her devilish thoughts, something that was similar to swiping her tongue across the splinters in one’s heart.
What about the behavior of the current Louis?
Louis: [Aah, aauuh―]
Having been licking Subaru’s face at the time he woke up, growling like a toddler that didn’t know how to speak, and throwing a tantrum like an infant as a result.
There was no mistake that something immeasurable had occurred within her mind.
Subaru: [Will that become a reason for me to pity her?]
She was abhorrently evil. That truth would always be unwavering.
Louis, who he had faced at the last scene in the “Hall of Memories”, had been traumatized from experiencing “Return by Death”, becoming frightened of not only Subaru, but everything that existed in this world.
At that point, she had already become enough of a poor, miserable girl.
However, Subaru didn’t save her. He didn’t even think about wanting to save her.
Despite having many different options held in front of them, they continuously picked the choices that went against humanity, ultimately losing the opportunity to correct those, and cut off their own way out of it. The Sin Archbishops were those kinds of people.
Her two older brothers, as well as Louis herself, weren’t exceptions, either.
Committing unforgivable evils, Louis Arneb had turned into a degenerate deserving of being damned to hell.
――Why did Subaru have to save someone like that?
Rem: [You won’t help her?]
Subaru: [……It’s complicated. I was in the same place as her, but she’s not really my ally. In fact, she’s on the opposite side of an ally. My heart won’t ache, even if I left her here.]
Behind him, he heard Rem’s breath catching in her throat, but it was a reaction that couldn’t be helped.
From Rem, who didn’t know of Subaru’s circumstances, Louis probably only appeared to her as a young, helpless girl, just as what she looked like. Even if her true identity was one of the desecrators that toyed with a great number of lives.
That’s why Subaru had one choice.
Subaru: [We’re leaving her there…… We can’t bring a dangerous element with us, much less a burden.]
Picking up Louis from the advancing shadows was an error of misjudgement that he made in the tower. Perhaps, if Subaru had abandoned her then and there, there could’ve been the possibility this wouldn’t have happened between him and Rem.
It was certainly what people called it as causing a hundred problems and bringing forth not a single profit.
Rem: [Is…… that so.]
Subaru: [Yeah, that’s right. I can’t say I had a pleasant time waking up either, but……]
Subaru’s topmost priority was Rem, and then himself. He would never be confused about it.
With that intention, Subaru ignored Louis, who was lying down on the grass, and headed towards the forest on the opposite side to――,
Rem: [――As I thought, even if I were to be empty, I was right to believe in myself.]
It was said with a terribly icy, cutting tone.
Having that voice murmured by his ear close by, Subaru released a breath with an, “Eh?”. However, forbidding him from reacting any further, a pair of slender arms snaked themselves around his neck.
――Rem, who was being carried on Subaru’s back, was strangling him from behind.
Rem: [Saying things that sound pleasant to my ears before inviting me to come with you, and then abandoning the girl. How could I believe someone like that, telling me to put my trust in him? Stop messing around with me.]
The strength in the arms wrapped around his neck was certainly the strength of an oni, unlike her physically handicapped legs.
Unable to peel her arms away, Subaru’s breathing was blocked completely. Bending himself backwards, he wasn’t aiming to do so, but he fell onto the grassland on his back.
However, in spite of being crushed underneath him, Rem refused to remove her arms from his neck. Since she was behind him, he couldn’t flail his arms to free himself from her.
Why? The doubts and questions filled up the inside of his head.
He shouldn’t be asking “Why?”, because Rem had already provided the answer to that. In front of her, who didn’t know anything, Subaru had made too much haste out of his panicking feelings.
He was receiving retribution for that, like this――,
Rem: [Letting such a wicked stench drift around yourself, and saying you’re not scheming anything is a bare-faced lie in itself!]
A wicked stench. Subaru recalled his memories as he heard that.
During the time he had just gotten to meet Rem, the biggest reason she doubted him and regarded him as dangerous, was by no means the bad impression he gave during their first meeting, nor the shape of the eyes he was born with.
――The Witch’s miasma.
Having lost her “memories”, even if Rem didn’t have anything left other than herself, she was still able to perceive it.
That was the largest factor that bought him Rem’s suspicions.
He was too late in remembering it, much less even noticing it, and――,
Thrashing and twisting his body around, Subaru attempted to make an excuse for his actions, but it was impossible.
Like that, Subaru’s consciousness fell into the deep abyss of the darkness, slowly and gradually.
The last thing he wanted was to be killed by Rem like this. He shouted that out with desperation.
His voice was silent, unable to be heard.
Subaru: [–~hk, Rem!?]
The abrupt awakening of his consciousness, woke up Subaru’s upper body as though crashing into him.
At that instant, coughing violently due to the pouncing ache of his throat, whilst spitting out the phlegm stuck there, Subaru somehow raised his body and looked around.
The location was the meadow Subaru had been thrown into; those were his circumstances.
Though he was in a state of awakening he had remembrance of, he immediately discerned that this spectacle was not one yielded by “Return by Death”.
–Because, neither Rem’s form nor Louis’ form were to be found anywhere in his environs.
Subaru: [This place…… is undoubtedly, someplace I was hurled to. I……]
Recalling the preceding moments, the instant he touched his neck, the pain regurgitated repulsive memories.
His throat strangled by Rem whom he was carrying, and just like that, he was robbed of his life. –No, that was not the case.
Subaru: [My throat, hurts…… that means, Rem didn’t kill me.]
She did strangle him, but did not go as far as to kill him.
Astonished by the judgement of Rem, who’d spoken with such an icy voice, Subaru spilled an exhale of relief and then immediately admonished himself that this was no time to be taking relief.
He did not die. In other words, the world was resuming onward from the earlier worst possible turn of events.
He had Rem doubt his humanity due to the scent of the Witch, and she had disappeared with the worst possible impression of him maintained. –The reason why those two were not here must be because they sought to run away from Subaru.
In the end, Rem was repulsed by Subaru’s judgement of seeking to leave Louis behind.
Casting aside a young child in an unknown meadow, he must have seemed as a truly cold-hearted man.
Subaru: [I’m telling you that’s a misunderstanding, though she probably won’t trust me even if I tell her……!]
Whilst lamenting his consecutive misjudgements, Subaru straightened his cheeks and stood up.
Upon looking at the sky, he could tell from the position of the sun that not much time had passed. He did not wish to call this as good fortune, but Rem’s legs were not in a condition wherein they were at complete liberty either.
With her legs in that condition, she shan’t be able to run too far off. It’s proof–,
Subaru: [There are drag marks on the grass……! Now I can run after them!]
Should he pursue the two who ran into the forest spread wide in 360 degrees around him without any clues, then that would mark the beginning of a game of tag with an impossible level of difficulty.
However, should he follow the traces left on the grass then he would be able to grasp where those two entered the forest from. Though being able to further pursue them from there was the gamble,
Subaru: [When it comes to unfavorable gambles, I’ve taken them on for innumerable times!]
Shouting what was unbefitting of commendation, Subaru fiercely pursued the traces on the grass. With his feet’s ability, Subaru was able to immediately discern the position the two entered the forest from.
With exuberant foliage and trees, it somewhat matched Subaru’s impression of tropical rainforests.
For an instant he was reminded of watching information on the television that the Amazon Forest meant the point of death for humans as a matter of course–,
Subaru: [If Rem has entered into such a place, then that’s all the more reason for me to not overlook it.]
Both Subaru and Rem were here in a completely unprepared state for entering a forest.
When he thought of Rem, who had escaped into the forest with impaired legs in desperation, he regretted why he did something so foolish, and cursed every single bit of his judgements.
Subaru: [–Rem! Come out! Please! I was the one at fault!]
Within the forest, whilst walking over the soft ground and tall grass, Subaru called with a loud voice. Of course, it was possible that his voice would in turn buy Rem and the other’s anxiety, and make them keep their distance.
But still, it was far better than wandering around aimlessly in the forest, possessing no clues, possessing nothing to rely on.
Above all, he must undertake action he deemed as searching for Rem, or it felt like his chest would burst apart due to guilt and self-hatred.
Even though so many people made so many efforts for the sake of Rem, should something happen to her, just what would he be able to do in order to apologize.
Even though it was not even possible for him to apologize by giving up on his life.
Subaru: [Rem–! Where are you! Please respond! Please, don’t leave my side!!]
Thinking that he would not mind even should his voice run dry, within the obstructive trees of the dense jungle, he raised his voice.
And his limbs, as he passed through the forest, felt heavy accompanied with tremendous exhaustion. Now that he thought about it, Subaru’s body had overcome the fierce skirmishes that occured in Pleiades Watchtower, and had gotten only a few hours of sleep.
Even if his recovery was augmented by the healing of the spirit of the “Green Room”, it was bound to eventually fail him.
Should he be untactful, then he may collapse out of relief upon finding Rem.
His guard up against that absurd possibility, Subaru aimlessly walked through the forest–,
Subaru: [Rem! Please respo~nd! I beg you, I’m sorry!]
His hands by his mouth, Subaru resumed with a loud voice.
A call from the bottom of his heart, yet the absence of any response whatsoever from her made his heart stand a foot away from crumbling.
With things remaining as is, pursuing Rem’s vanished form, he desperately darted his eyes around the dense trees of the forest–,
When he once again widely opened his mouth seeking to call Rem’s name, something entered the vicinity of his field of vision.
That was a slight change peeking through the gaps of the dense trees beyond the fallen leaves. Seeing it move differently from grass swaying in the wind–,
It was the instant he embraced hope and turned towards that direction.
–The impact charging with tremendous velocity, captured Subaru’s chest from the immediate front.
Unable to shriek, his legs lost balance due to the impact, and Subaru’s body flew backwards.
Subaru: [Gah…… wh, at….. hk!?]
His thoughts thrown into chaos by the impact from the gaps through the trees directly ahead which he had seen, he darted his eyes around.
However, upon thinking about the impact he had received, he immediately understood that it was an attack. Thus, before he could even get his thoughts straight, Subaru tried to leap away from that place.
However, he failed to leap. Because–,
Because, the thick arrow piercing through Subaru’s chest, had pinned him to the gigantic tree behind him.
Subaru: [Guh, bhugh….. hk.]
The moment he directed his awareness to it, he vomited blood overflowing through his throat at once.
Stabbed through, massive quantities of blood from ruptured organs or otherwise flowed out, without cease. Vomiting blood instead of exhaling air, Subaru suffered whilst breathing once again.
Whilst suffering, he grabbed the arrow in his chest and tried to pull it out.
He couldn’t, not in the slightest bit. The arrow had firmly pierced through both Subaru and the tree, disabling all movement.
What was this arrow.
Hopeless, abnormal, a blow by a thick, mighty arrow. A truly tightly drawn bow, the body pierced by it was stitched and rendered immobile like a bug, only to flounder unsightly.
Subaru: [Egh, raegh, eem, gh……]
Through the gaps of the overflowing blood, he called the name of she who was yet in this forest.
What the call unable to vocalise words was charged with, was the evocation of caution towards the menace lurking in the forest.
Wielding a bow and arrow, someone lurking in the forest had aimed for him.
And, in this unseemly manner, unable to reach Rem, unable to accomplish anything, Subaru–,
What the hell is going on. Where is this place, what should he do.
Welling up fever and pain he took notice of after a delay, spread through his entire body, and blood streamed out of Subaru’s eyes, nose, and ears as well.
Tasting the sensation of the disappearance of oneself and becoming empty, whilst feeling icy “Death” draw close to him, Subaru strained his eyes, made his throat tremble, and called her name until the end.
–Called her name, until the end.
Smeared in blood.
Until the very end of the end, he called, called, kept calling her name.
Kept calling her name–,