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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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The grip he had on his whip was wrenched away, just as he felt a sharp blow to his right hand.
He immediately tried to resist it, exerting his strength into his hand, but it was no match against the force snatching away his whip. On top of that, he was pulled forwards and fell down, flipped upside down onto the ground with an, “Abeshi!”. 
???: [The only way to improve, is to dedicate yourself to trying your best everyday. It seems like you still have an insufficient amount of training. Very poor.]
Subaru: [I don’t have anything to say to that……]
Subaru flopped down onto the bare ground, grimacing as his lack of skill was harshly pointed out to him. He sat up slowly, his gaze clashing with the intelligent, handsome man.
The man had a sharp look in his eyes that reminded Subaru of reptiles, and he also had deep blue hair, cut and arranged evenly. Just like the impression he gave off, with his butler outfit and the monocle on one of his eyes, he was a formal, proper, and smart professional.
His name was――,
???: [――Clind! How could you do such a disrespectful thing to Subaru-sama!]
The young man, called Clind, wordlessly turned his gaze to the side. As he did so, the figure of a tall woman, lumbering towards them, jumped into his field of vision.
She was a stylish and beautiful woman with exquisite green eyes, her long, blonde hair swaying from side to side. Clothed in a maid outfit with black as its main color, she passed by Clind and walked towards Subaru, who was still on the ground, and gently held out a white towel to him.
Woman: [Are you alright, Subaru-sama? From what I can see, you fell onto the ground face-first……]
Subaru: [Yeah, I’m fine, Frederica. My clothes got a little mud on them, but that usually happens.]
The beautiful woman ― Frederica gave Subaru a worried stare, standing her ground with a, “But……” as he accepted the towel gratefully, using it to wipe his face.
However, Clind was the person to shrug his shoulders out of exasperation at Frederica’s words.
Clind: [Just as Subaru-sama himself said, it’s a normal occurrence during his training. If anything, aren’t you the one who’s embarrassing him by making a big deal out of it? Meddlesome.]
Her face reddening from Clind’s choice of words, Frederica glowered at him, putting her sharp teeth on display.
Caught between the two who had started glaring at each other, Subaru felt like holding his head in his hands, muttering out a, “There they go again……”
――Clind and Frederica.
In butler and maid outfits respectively, both were in the position of servants who worked under the Mathers family. Although Subaru heard they’ve known each other for a long time, they didn’t have a very good relationship.
Usually, both were capable servants who were simultaneously polite and attentive, but when they came into contact with each other like this, arguments would immediately break out with every opportunity they had.
If their arguments consisted of exchanging their opinions on Roswaal’s political affairs, a deed that was quite highly advanced for servants, then trivial disputes over something as simple as making way for each other in the hallways also occurred.
In short, they were apparently incompatible with each other, but――,
Subaru: [Frederica, I’m happy you’re worried for me, but I’m fine, really.]
Frederica: [No, I’m not particularly worried about you. It’s only that this man’s fake expression and composed attitude, as well as his inconsiderate remarks, they are so infuriating……!]
Subaru: [Oh, you weren’t worried about me! I’m embarrassed!]
Frederica: [Ah, that isn’t…! It’s not as if I wasn’t worried! Of course, I’m concerned for your well-being, Subaru-sama. Not only me, but Petra as well.]
Frederica seemed like she accidentally blurted out her honest thoughts, and Subaru could only give her a wry smile as he scratched his cheek with a finger, hearing the mention of Petra’s name from her mouth.
He was causing the women in the mansion, barring Ram, to be worried about him ― especially Petra.
Regarding the current situation, what had likely happened was that Frederica had been asked to check up on Subaru on the behalf of Petra, who had her hands full.
Subaru: [But, I was the one who asked him. I was already prepared for it to be this Spartan…… No matter what it takes, I need to break out of my shell before he returns to Annerose’s place.]
Clind: [――You are splendidly determined. It makes me more enthusiastic in tutoring you. Inspired.]
Listening to Subaru’s answer, Clind swung his arm, the ivory-colored whip in his hand bending as it created a sound reminiscent of the air bursting apart.
Using the same weapon, Clind was helping Subaru learn the way of the whip. Because he respected Clind’s technique and position, Subaru referred to him as “Teacher”.
Subaru: [Really, learning by myself would only get me so far, I would have hit a limit if I weren’t mentored by another person. It’s nice if there’s someone who can use a whip near you. Thanks for the help.]
Clind: [I’m honored to be of help. Delighted. However, if it comes to people who are able to use a whip aside from me, there is another. Candidate.]
Subaru: [Eh, someone else can use a whip? It’s not Ram in the sense of handling the whip of words, right?]
Frederica: [Subaru-sama, that idea of yours is…… no, I can’t deny it if what you’re saying about Ram.]
A displeased look settled on Frederica’s face as Subaru cracked a joke, picking up his whip from where he dropped it, and carrying it in his hand. Clind looked at their faces, comparing their behavior before closing his monocle-side eye,
Clind: [It’s simple enough. I’m referring to Master. Versatile.]
Subaru: [Well then, I absolutely don’t want to be taught by him!]
While he spoke, Subaru stomped the option that was as good as nothing into the ground, and lashed out his whip.
It flew at top speed, its velocity having the potential to exceed the speed of sound if Subaru was serious about it. The tip of the whip made a deep, hollow sound as it aimed for Clind ― actually, not him, but the piece of wood set on top of the tree stump between him and Subaru.
Entangling and capturing the wood positioned atop the round stump with the whip.
It was the assignment given to Subaru by Clind, and it was a high enough hurdle that he wasn’t able to overcome even once until today.
It’s not exclusively because Subaru was unable to capture the wood with his whip due to his technique lacking experience and skill.
Clind: [Your aim is transparently obvious. Impede.]
With a terrifying amount of precision, Clind’s whip repelled the pointed end of the whip Subaru had released.
The requirement of completing the assignment was to overcome this form of obstruction, and pull the piece of wood into his hands with his own whip. This was why exactly Subaru wasn’t able to cross the hurdle even a single time.
Clind: [Striking the area you are aiming for, entangling the entity you are aiming to capture, and displaying the results you are aiming for. Instead of relying on a sword or a spear, if you cannot fulfill the reason why you chose the whip… Worthless.]
Subaru: [Dah! Deh! Doh! Damn! You’re warding me off like it’s no big deal! I know, I don’t have to be told! This is the only path I have to make use of my crafty mi……ndah!?]
He attempted to draw back the whip that was forced away, but its tip was caught by Clind’s once again.
It was too late when Subaru realized it. The next moment, his sense of balance was disoriented, and Subaru was easily pulled down onto the ground by Clind, who wasn’t even putting that much strength into his weapon.
Subaru: [Wagh! Sound Pillar!] 
Clind: [You fell rather flamboyantly. Breaking your fall is important as well. Caution.]
Frederica: [Su, Subaru-sama!]
Subaru fell from the front and collapsed onto the ground yet again, and Frederica hurriedly rushed to his side. This time, he hit the ground face-first, and blood was trickling out of his nose.
She hastily held it down with the towel, and then,
Frederica: [Clind! No matter how you look at it, this is too much!]
Clind: [It’s inevitable, considering Subaru-sama’s position. Necessary. You shouldn’t really get in the way of a man’s rise to action as well. Understand.]
Frederica: [A man’s rise to action……?]
She made a face as if she were saying, I can’t believe it, but Clind shook his head at her. And then, with his sharp eyes, he gazed at Subaru who was wiping his nosebleed,
Clind: [Subaru-sama, I think highly of your attitude of asking for guidance. Admirable. As long as you stand by Emilia-sama’s side as her knight, you need strength. The strength to protect Emilia-sama and yourself to the very end. Indispensable.]
Subaru: [……Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m thankful that you’re this strict with me.]
Although he was snorting and his voice was muffled, Subaru’s spirit refused to crack.
Looking at him, Frederica drew her lips tightly against her teeth.
Frederica: [You two gentlemen are as dumb as Garf……]
Subaru: [It would be super helpful if my strength, instead of just my dumbness, was enough to stand side by side with him as well, but it seems like that’s not gonna happen, so……]
Holding his nose, with blood spurting out of both of his nostrils, Subaru forcefully stopped his nosebleed.
As Subaru stood up after doing so, Clind looked at him, tucking his chin in and straightening his posture.
Clind: [Facing the front and refusing to stop…… Your attitude is truly pleasant. Long-awaited.]
Subaru: [Thanks a lot…… If my handling of the whip gets better, then I’ll have more options to choose from. If I get more choices, then the people around me will also have more moves to make, not just me.]
Clind: [Yes. However, please do not place too much confidence in that. I believe there will not be many occasions where you have to fight alone. Support.]
Clind jerked his chin, pointing towards Frederica.
Beginning with her, Subaru had people such as Garfiel and Otto around him, and Beatrice stood the closest to him, more than anything else. If it was a fight in order to protect, then of course, Emilia stood alongside them as well.
That’s why Clind’s statement was correct.
In Subaru’s battles, it wasn’t as if Subaru himself would snatch a hard-earned victory. His battles were brought to fruition by making the most out of everyone else’s abilities.
Subaru: [By the way, what if I accidentally find myself in a situation where there’s only me and no one else?]
Clind: [You ought to run. Full speed.]
Subaru said that, half-intending for it to be a joke, but Clind didn’t smile at it.
It was a situation that was extremely unlikely to happen, but it didn’t mean it was impossible. In a set of circumstances in which he would be chased and driven into a corner, with his back to the wall, Clind’s advice went straight to the point.
Clind: [You must run, Subaru-sama. Put every last drop of effort into running away, as fast as your legs could carry you, disgracefully, and with no regard to how you appear in doing so. That is the wisest course of action. The only one.]
Subaru: [If that’s how you ended your sentence, then it sounds like there’s no other decision I could make, instead of it being a better choice.]
Clind didn’t answer, his expression unchanging at Subaru’s words.
There was no need to answer. Was his wordlessness the proof of it being just as Subaru had deduced, after all?
Subaru: [Jeez, my mentor really has no mercy!]
Frederica: [That man has been like that since a long time ago. Being strict with those who show promise and training them…… but, he quits and throws that out of the window when he loses interest in doing so. Icily, and cruelly.]
Subaru: [Derica-san? Uh, your voice is becoming kinda icy?]
Feeling something lethal in her voice, as if it would slice him upon touching it, Subaru hesitantly questioned her, who turned her face away in a sullen mood, muttering, “Don’t ask me!”
Frederica: [I’ve decided. I will also be rooting for your success with your training. Please embarrass Clind, make him contort that nonchalant face of his, and make him cry.]
Subaru: [That’s a pretty tough request……!]
Frederica: [Oh, the person who demands and desires for Emilia-sama to become King says that?]
As expected of a capable maid, even her taunts were top notch, although Subaru provoked her into doing so.
Subaru widened his eyes at her words, then nodded with an evil smile, replying, “You’re right.” After that, he assumed a fierce stance with his whip,
Subaru: [It’ll hurt my honor as a man if I can’t achieve it, despite being told all that! Watch me, I’m gonna do it!]
Alongside a courageous shout, Subaru swung his whip, lashing it out with all his might.
It drew a sharp trajectory, the tip whizzing through the air as it aimed straight for the tree stump――,
Clind: [Your enthusiasm is admirable, but your skill is poor. Inadequate.]
Subaru: [Guh, gwaaaaaaaahh――!!]
Frederica: [Su, Subaru-sama――!!]
Yet again, Subaru was pulled down and was slammed onto the ground face-first.
The hulking tree broke in half overhead, its resulting shockwave buffeting Subaru’s entire body. With his back battered by that, he spat out the rust-tinged blood that had accumulated inside of his mouth.
Rem’s soft, warm body was wrapped inside his arms.
His own hands and feet were still there too, and it looked like he’d managed to avoid the arrow. As soon as he became cognizant of that, this moment was a pass mark.
Rem: [W-What are you doing all of a sudden…]
Subaru: [Shut up! Or you’ll end up biting that tongue of yours!]
Rem had been slow in her reaction, due to how sudden things had been; however, Subaru paid no attention to her complaints. So as to pull her body up, having first fallen forward, he then tumbled backwards, rolling around as much as he could while still clutching Rem close to him.
Wrapped inside his arms, he could feel Rem stifling the urge to scream; yet that was interrupted by a far louder sound ― Namely, the roar of the broken, hulking tree coming crashing down.
The spot where Subaru and Rem had been lying in just a moment ago was flattened, with the other trees caught in its fall spreading the deforestation around.
As someone quite in tune with nature, that fact made his heart pang quite a bit, however…
Subaru: […Right now, we’re more important!]
Using the dust unsettled by the fallen tree as a diversion, Subaru didn’t stop rolling. There was some resistance from Rem, but despite that, he let his adrenaline rush take over and pulled her in towards him with all the strength he could muster.
They kept rolling, and rolling and rolling, until the ground before them suddenly disappeared.
For a moment, it felt like they were floating, however the ground stopped their fall in their tracks straight afterwards.
A large hole full of many a fallen tree and heaps of earth and sand ― Namely, it was the pitfall that Rem had constructed to trap Subaru. By taking it upon himself to roll into it, he’d cut off the line of sight away from his opponent.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t like he’d paid nothing in return for that.
Subaru: [Gh, gkh… Damn, Oh no you didn’t…!]
His left arm had been frantically wrapped around Rem, and some of that arm’s fingers, that she had kept a hold on, were broken. His middle finger, his ring finger, and his little finger; all of them, except for his thumb and index finger, were kaput.
Having fallen into the same large hole as Subaru had, Rem crawled away, keeping her distance from Subaru. He was in agony, trying his best to not to look at his fingers, which were pointed in strange directions.
Rem: [What did you expect! Doing that so suddenly… What the hell is going on!?]
Subaru: […I failed to mention it, but just so you know, there’s a dangerous hunter knocking about in this forest. Though, this pretty much eliminated the chance that they were hunting game and missed their target… Dzaah]
As cold sweat beaded down his forehead, Subaru straightened out his three broken fingers. For the time being, he’d fix them in place using a towel, with a branch as a splint.
It was a small mercy that the fingers that he’d broken were the ones on his left hand. Had it been the ones on his right hand, his dominant hand, which handled his whip, then his ability to take action would have dropped down to that of a primary school kid.
Rem: [A dangerous hunter… They’re not your ally?]
Subaru: [Would an ally be providing covering fire with this kind of force? And in general, why would they be providing covering fire… Uwoa!?]
A tree exploded in front of his eyes the moment he’d gingerly stuck his head out of the hole to try and get a glimpse of the situation outside.
It seemed like the hunter had started to prioritise clearing up their field of vision first, so that they could aim and shoot at Subaru and Rem. They must have seen that they didn’t possess any means to attack from distance.
Subaru: [The theory usually goes that sharpshooters change their positions when their presence becomes exposed…Shit, they’re making light of us. Can’t say anything back to that though.]
Rem: [――. This is the power of a bow and arrow? I can’t believe that. This isn’t normal.]
Subaru: [Mhm, I agree with you! Like for sure you’re gonna end up with a huge airhole in your chest if you get shot by it!]
In fact, last time, he’d ended up being pierced by one of their arrows, and dying like a trapped insect, pinned to a tree. However, there were yet strange points about it. ――Last time, Subaru had come to the opposite side of the forest.
Subaru: [Why the fuck did you come here…?]
The pain coursing through from his broken fingers bored through his mind intensely. Subaru gritted his back teeth, almost to the point of cracking them from his anguish, and frantically plunged into thought.
It was difficult to imagine that this hunter and the hunter who killed Subaru were two different people. Both of them had come to attack Subaru, plus, their weapon of choice was the same strongbow. Thus the question remained on whether their attack was an accidental one or not.
Whichever it was, the amount of questions regarding why Subaru was being targeted right now were endless. Subaru and Rem had confronted each other, and while it was true that the former had frozen up at her rejection, he didn’t really think that would mean it would make it easier to aim at him than before.
Furthermore, if they were actively targeting him, then the possibility that they were following him grew larger.
What had happened to them was still rather vague, but what was beyond their grasp was how they’d been hurled away from the Pleiades Watchtower. There was always the chance that, perhaps, they’d flown through the sky like a shooting star and crashed down onto the grassland.
Naturally, if that were the case, even disregarding Rem, there’d be no explanation as to why Subaru’s weak body hadn’t ended up in smithereens; so it was a reasonable assumption that what happened to them was something else.
Subaru: [They’re aiming for the dodgy ‘uns who dropped down there, or something…]
Or perhaps this was private property, so they were trying to chase off anyone who trespassed in an extreme manner. In opposition to the accuracy of their bow, should they perhaps take it as the hunter sucking at going easy on others?
Subaru: [In that case, can’t I just talk things out with them! Hey! I mean no harm! It’s just mere coincidence that we’re in this forest, so…]
Rem: [Wait a second! When you say “we”, are you counting me and that girl as well? I don’t want us to be lumped in with you!]
Subaru: [Now’s not the time to be saying that sort of stuf―― Dwhaa!?]
A single arrow that punched into the ground came as the reply to Subaru’s call for a ceasefire. This magisterial power, enough even to extinguish his quarrel with Rem halfway through, was probably going to make short work of all the obstacles in their field of view soon and turn its bared fangs over to Subaru and Rem in the large hole.
Rem: [It seems like they’re not the sort of person you can get through to…]
Subaru: [When you’re facing arrows, you’ve gotta assume there’s a chance they could hit you with an arcing shot… If they can hold their position for hours and hours, just like a sniper that means business… No, considering we’re talking about a bow and arrow here, then it is indeed different to looking through a scope. So… does it make it impossible to keep that up for such a long time?]
In stuff like movies and manga, you’d often get scenes like the sniper waiting for hours on end while staring at their prey with their sniper rifles. However, with a bow and arrow, it would indeed be a completely different kettle of fish.
Unlike rifles, which only require a trigger to be fired, arrows need to be notched to the bow, before then drawing its string. There were limits even to those who possessed supernatural strength in the different world.
Then, with the enemy hunter aiming at them, it too was…
Subaru: […A short-term battle]
Predicting that their opponent would make some kind of move soonish, Subaru set himself a time-limit, given that he couldn’t afford to think too long here.
They wouldn’t be able to avoid a fight so long as their enemy wasn’t going to acquiesce to talking things out. And even though they wouldn’t be able to avoid one, the aces they had up their sleeve were way too meager.
Subaru: [Just like what my mentor taught me, the only way is to run.]
Thankfully, their enemy couldn’t catch eye of Subaru and Rem’s position thanks to them jumping into this large hole. If they climbed out from the opposite side and ran away while keeping close to the ground, they could perhaps escape into the thicket.
Rem: […? What’s with you shutting your gob all of a sudden? Weren’t you coming up with an escape plan right now?]
Subaru: […We’re really in a huge pickle here, and what’s more, it seems like you’re finally listening to what I have to say, huh.]
Rem furrowed her well-shaped eyebrows as she sat down on the ground, a disgruntled look on her face. However, it seemed like she understood that she couldn’t afford to argue with Subaru, so long as she didn’t come and attack him immediately.
It would save them a lot of time if she could rein in her hostility for the time being, and call a temporary truce.
Subaru: [Listen to me, Rem. I’m going to jump out and attract their attention. While I do that, you’re going to climb over the other side of the hole and flee for cover.]
Subaru: [Though the power behind their arrows is frightenin’ as heck, you’re going to be spoilt for choice for somewhere to find cover in the greenery of mother nature. So I’ll give it my all to somehow buy you time, that way you can run away.]
It was either take Rem with him and run away, or let Rem run away ahead of him.
Subaru thought the option had the biggest chance of success was probably the latter. No matter how much of an expert their enemy was with the bow, they were in a forest chock full of trees. Thus, Subaru had played his cards, taking into consideration the possibility of arrows flying towards them. They probably wouldn’t pierce through all of that so easily.
Subaru: [I’ll make a run for it as well, after I’ve bought you enough time. However, I don’t want to become separated from you, after you’ve ran away, so if you can, please leave me some markers. Though it may be hard for you to understand this, in my hometown we have a symbol called an arrow, it gives you a general sense of direction towards…]
Rem: […Can you please stop spouting out whatever you feel like.]
Subaru had briskly told Rem about his plans for her escape, however, she interrupted his explanation and glared at him very sharply.
With his breath knocked out of him by how sharp her expression was, Subaru was perplexed as to what was up with her. And Rem looked even more irritated by his perplexion.
Rem: [You decide everything, absolutely everything, on your own… And after all of that, you’re telling me to run away? You’re telling me, who’s angry with you because you tried to abandon a child?]
She refused Subaru’s proposal for the same reason she had rejected Subaru in the beginning.
It was perfectly reasonable. You could probably say it was an answer born out of being a good human being. However, Subaru hadn’t thought she’d decide that she wouldn’t let him abandon them in this situation.
Subaru: [But… well, I…]
Rem: [I’ll pass on the excuses. There’s no time for that. Still, as for your instructions telling me, and only me, to run away, I refuse them. I can’t leave that child behind in the first place.]
Shifting her gaze away from Subaru, who was unable to hide his surprise, Rem turned her attention to the outside of the hole.
She’d turned her attention to the hulking tree that the first arrow had blown apart ― and after that, to another large tree a little bit away from it.
Subaru: [And just when I was thinking she wasn’t here; is she hiding over there? How can she be so quiet despite all of this commotion…]
Rem: […Taking her along with me was a real pain, so I knocked her out. I don’t think she’ll be waking up for a while.]
Even now, Louis had become a burden towards Subaru and Rem’s withdrawal. The resentment that had been beginning to sprout regarding that was shattered the moment he heard her typical Rem-like answer.
He could only describe that rather extreme snap decision as being truly like Rem.
Rem: […I know it wasn’t a good move as well.]
Subaru: [Nah, I reckon it’s a fine move given how things are. ――Just between us, you wouldn’t leave her behind and have us running away together, right?]
Rem: [Even though I have no idea who I am, I’d rather bite my tongue and die than do something like that.]
Subaru doubted that she’d really die from something of that degree, but he sure didn’t want Rem to do anything like that, even if she was just testing.
In all honesty, the best choice for Subaru would be to leave Louis behind here and leave with Rem, however Rem herself wasn’t about to let that happen.
Subaru: [God damned me, for showing my benevolent side before we were swallowed by the shadow…]
He’d ended up carrying not just Rem’s body, but Louis’ as well when the Green Room had been swallowed by the shadow. And that had brought forth this situation. Albeit a setting which he couldn’t re-do again anymore, he could say loud and clear that he’d made the wrong choice back there.
Rem: [So what shall you do?]
Subaru: […I’ll do it. I’ll come and bring her. That tree there, right?]
Rem: [――. Correct. She’s fast asleep inside the hollow of the tree. Do you stand any chance of making it?]
Subaru: [Well, my mentor told me to run away without wasting a moment whenever I’m up against a strong foe.]
He wasn’t talking about gauging the difference in strengths between the two sides, and so on and so forth.
After all, in this world, the majority of Subaru’s opponents were stronger than him. Thus, the optimal way to defend himself was to assume in advance that everyone he met would be better ranking than him.
It was precisely for that reason that he’d prioritise running away. However, in cases where he couldn’t…
Subaru: [I will make use of everything I can. Rem, you probably don’t want to, but please lend me your hand.]
Rem: [――. If it’s for helping her out.]
Rem gazed at the hand offered out to her, but she didn’t take it.
She merely nodded at Subaru, quite begrudgingly, with him having worked out a plan of action.
Subaru gave his left arm a strong swing, checking the condition his three broken fingers were in.
They hurt. And so, while feeling this pain, that would not fade no matter what, as if it were digging its talons into his mind, Subaru steeled himself so that it wouldn’t become a hindrance to him running over.
Putting some muscle into it, he pushed a small-ish fallen tree from the large hole up to the ground above.
The very next moment, an arrow that had come towards them at insane speeds pierced into the fallen tree that he’d pushed up. The impact wrenched it away from his arms, forcefully buffeting him backwards.
Looking at that from the corner of his eyes, Subaru crawled out of the large hole and stepped firmly on the rough ground. There were limits to how quick the hunter could fire off their bow, no matter how confident they were with their archery. Unlike with guns, you have to notch the arrow, draw the bowstring, and then take aim.
This timelag gave Subaru the merest ray of hope for survival…
Rem: […It’s coming faster!!]
She said that the moment he’d crawled out of the large hole and kicked out his first step.
Time-wise, only two seconds had passed since the first arrow had blown away the fallen tree he’d used as a decoy ― Nevertheless, for a skilled hunter, those two seconds were plenty sufficient for them to fire off their next one.
The ground behind Subaru exploded straight after he heard Rem’s voice ringing out.
The fact he had tensed up in place and hadn’t gone into a defensive stance at her call proved to be the right course of action. More specifically, his nerves weren’t quite in tune enough to be able to respond to her call; however, that turned out to be alright in the end.
And just like that, arrows came flying towards Subaru, as he ran to his tree, one after the other ― Each in the space of less than two seconds.
If any of them had made it to him, he would have been turned into a hedgehog in the blink of an eye.
Rem: [I won’t allow that to happen――!]
The hunter’s next attack was interrupted by a clump of dirt which Rem had flung out, along with her valiant cry.
With her back against the slope of the large hole, it had been something thrown by Rem ― No, it had been a ferocious attack which you could even call a bombardment, made from a large stone covered in dirt.
Subaru: [Though, it would have been best if she knew how to use her magic…]
When they’d been confirming how much she could fight, Rem had shown her disapproval for using the power of her Oni horn, magic and such. To be more exact though, in truth, she couldn’t remember how to use them.
Nevertheless, they couldn’t waste time trying to get her to remember those techniques. For that reason, what Subaru had suggested to her instead, was her physical strength, which she still had in her, even if she didn’t have her techniques…
Getting in their way via some rather primitive violence, using the physicality intrinsic to the Oni Tribe by birth; an attack borne of that struck at the hunter, who had maintained their position, dismissing Subaru and Rem as weaklings.
Subaru: [You know that saying, a cornered rat will bite the cat! Then get a load of this!!]
Subaru leapt over the shockwave which the arrow had produced right under his feet as he let out a bellow. Meanwhile, in his field of view, a large stone thrown by Rem went flying towards the direction that the hunter had loosed their arrow from.
When face to face with an enemy, Rem didn’t know how to go easy on them. And that was Rem’s best feature.
She’d gathered those stones just to be safe, yet, they quickly became extremely dangerous weapons from just the act of throwing them from her slender arms.
Subaru: [Well, while Rem’s buying me time, I’mma――!]
While Rem smashed up the sniper fire with her bombardment, leveraging the use of her appropriate weaponry, Subaru made it to the tree in question.
As that raged on, he walked around to the back of the large tree. There the figure of Louis flew into his sight, sleeping in a bed of her own golden hair inside the rotten hollow.
He caught sight of her rosy-red cheeks, as well as her chest gently heaving up and down, confirming that she was alive and well.
And so, as he tried to reach his arms around her body, Subaru felt a strong sense of rejection within himself. Even though he’d tried to act without bringing personal feelings into it, his soul, rather than his mind, rejected Louis.
This was a Sin Archbishop, even if now it was an innocent sleeping face she was showing. She was a traitor that was beyond forgiveness…
Rem: [Stop dawdling please!!]
His indecision was shattered by Rem urging him on.
The moment he heard that, Subaru somehow bit down his sense of rejection and picked Louis up. And then, while having a hold of her light body, he jumped out of the tree’s hollow and started to make his way back to Rem…
When suddenly, a black shadow blocked his path, having leapt out right in front of his eyes.
The assumption was, that he’d take the same path to get back to the large hole. Subaru hadn’t imagined that something like this would be on his way there; he looked up at the shadow that had so suddenly made its presence known here. ――And then, he was lost for words.
This gargantuan shadow had slipped through the forest, making nary a sound, and was now blocking Subaru’s way. It was a huge snake, probably around ten metres in length. Its entire body was covered in tightly-packed green scales, and its eyes were yellow. Spotting the twisted white horn on their sudden intruder’s forehead, Subaru realised what its identity was.
Subaru: [A Witchbeast――!!]
Faced with its imposing appearance ever so near to him, Subaru rued his foolish oversight.
Subaru himself should have taken note of this; of the fact that, as he was right now, he was letting off the Witch’s lingering scent the strongest ever since he was summoned into this different world.
So it was inevitable that Subaru would be attracting Witchbeasts to him, just as it had happened in the Augria Sand Dunes, and just as it had happened in so many places up until now.
He should have known that the inside of a dingy forest like this, which had few people going in and out of it, would have been an ideal dwelling for them.
Snake Witchbeast: [――ϡϡ!!]
The huge snake opened its gaping mouth wide, settling its aim on Subaru.
Its gaping mouth seemed plenty big enough to swallow not just Subaru himself, but Louis as well, whom he was carrying in his arms. Seeing it drawing near to him, Subaru’s perception of time crawled to a halt.
…Oh, this is bad.
Subaru felt like he was feeling these things as someone else entirely.
Seeing the world flickering ever so slowly and languidly was something close to the times where you’d see your life flashing before your life, so to speak. In regards to this topic, there were theories along the lines of it being the mind’s way of looking for a solution using what has been experienced in life up to this point, as death looms.
But, when it came to Subaru, no matter how much he racked his mind, he couldn’t find anything like having narrowly escaped from being gobbled up by a huge snake. If he forced himself, the closest he could find involved the swarm of rabbits; but that was one memory he wished to reject, even when it came to his life flashing before his eyes.
Having wasted a few brief moments on such pointless thoughts, Subaru’s shoulders then slumped.
As he cursed his body for having stirred into action to protect Louis so quickly, they were about to be swallowed, head-first, into the huge snake’s gaping mouth――
Snake Witchbeast: [――ϡϡ!?]
Subaru reflexively closed his eyes, when something dripping wet poured down on top of his head. An unpleasant thought ran through this mind, that for sure, it was the type that sprayed its digestive juices out before its meals. However, that was not the case. What caked Subaru’s entire body was darkish blood that had been sprayed everywhere.
It was a tremendous amount of blood that the huge snake had spat from its jaws, having had its body pierced by a sharp arrow.
 – “Abeshi!” = Fist of the North Star reference.
 – Demon Slayer reference.