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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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???: [Kyah! Subaru-sama, I’m sorry!]
Splashing and splattering, Subaru was showered by water that cascaded down from above his head. As he let out a cry of alarm, wondering what the heck was going on, an apology from a high-pitched voice flew towards him.
When Subaru glanced up while shaking his head, he saw the curtains swaying from an opened window, and his gaze mingled with a girl’s ― Petra’s, who was looking down at him from above.
It seemed like it was right when Petra threw some water out of the window on the second floor.
Of course, she wouldn’t do anything ill-behaved, such as dumping water onto the garden. She threw the water onto the edge of the flowerbed to make sure no one would be splashed by it.
Subaru: [And yet, unluckily, I was gardening right there……]
Petra: [I-I’m sorry, Subaru-sama! I’ll bring a change of clothes straight away……]
Subaru: [Ahh, you don’t have to do that much. Getting drenched was the only thing that happened, and…… it freaking stinks! Getting drenched wasn’t the only thing that happened!?]
Petra: [Because it’s the water I was using to clean the room, and…… anyway! I’ll get going right now, wait for me at the watering place!]
Petra said to Subaru, who was astounded by the smell of the dirty water poured all over him. Like that, her adorable face was withdrawn into the other side of the window, and she started running to fetch him extra clothes, her footsteps pattering against the floor.
Subaru smiled wryly at the panicking Petra, deepening due to his own rotten luck, and he headed towards the watering place at the garden of the mansion, just as Petra had told him to do.
Subaru: [Well, I was planning on changing my clothes once I’ve finished gardening, anyway……]
Subaru consoled himself with the fact his plans were only brought forward by a tiny bit.
If Petra was going to bring a change of clothes, then he should wash the dirt off himself first. Before drawing up water from the well, he flung off his shirt with haste――,
???: [――Hm, you’re quite daring, getting undressed so suddenly.]
Subaru: [Wait…… kyaaaaaa!?]
???: [Woah, to think you would let out a scream comparable to a girl’s…… Normally, wouldn’t you think our positions would be reversed?]
Saying that and staring at the screaming Subaru was a pink-haired girl ― old woman Ryuzu, who was sitting on a garden rock next to the watering place.
She looked at Subaru, who covered the exposed upper half of his body by hugging his shirt to his chest, her intellectual eyes shimmering in contrast to her awfully young appearance,
Ryuzu: [You don’t have to hide it like that. I’ve gotten used to seeing the naked body of a boy. I used to live with Ga-bo, you know.]
Subaru: [Well, you might be right, but what’s embarrassing is embarrassing, right?]
Ryuzu: [There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Besides, your physique is not too bad as well, Su-bo. It’s quite pleasing to the eye. Pleasing to the eye, indeed.]
Subaru: [It’s embarrassing, after all! Ryuzu-san, aren’t you acting out of character!?]
Ryuzu was characterized by her behavior that didn’t match up with her appearance, like her calm and relaxed manner of speech, but she left a strong impression on Subaru with how everything about her, except for her looks, were faithful to the role she was entrusted with.
It was why he was surprised when she poked fun at Subaru, referring to the naked half of his body.
Subaru: [Am I right in guessing this is mostly because you were released from the heavy responsibility of being the leader of the Sanctuary?]
Ryuzu: [I suppose there’s that aspect to a considerable degree. Although I went outside of the Sanctuary, I moved onto the land Ros-bo had prepared, and a similar position was handed over to me. So, if I would ask myself if a load was lifted off my shoulders, then……]
Ryuzu said, directing her narrowed eyes behind her ― towards the mansion.
Specifically, she wasn’t looking at the mansion, but she was looking at the people living inside of it. To be even more specific, she was probably gazing at the siblings consisting of an older sister and younger brother, who she both loved as if they were her own grandchildren.
With the reconciliation between Garfiel and Frederica having been finished, Garfiel was also freed from the cross he had been bearing for ages. Though, Subaru was surprised he turned into a brat that was mischievous beyond his expectations, as a result of being freed from his burdens,
Subaru: [Do you feel lonely, living separately from Garfiel and Frederica?]
Ryuzu: [Nn…… what got into you all of a sudden?]
Subaru: [Was it too sudden? But, I thought about it. Of course, it would be a great help if they stayed in the mansion together for Emilia-tan’s Royal Selection. But……]
Ryuzu: [It can’t be helped. In order to live in the mansion, there are many problems for me, of course, and also for the other clones…… my sisters. I don’t think we can be of use as well.]
Ryuzu answered him with a small laugh, and Subaru closed his mouth as he heard her speak.
I wasn’t talking about being useful or useless, the emotional side of Subaru wanted to shout.
However, the details of this couldn’t be reasoned with anything like a child’s tantrum.
In the current Roswaal Mansion, the people who were permitted to stay were only those that actively took on a role, and could fulfill their responsibilities. During times like these, it was necessary to have severe regulations to that extent.
Subaru: [……Still, Garfiel is fourteen. He’s still a kid.]
Ryuzu: [――. You’re a kind one. Are you worried about Ga-bo?]
Subaru: [Well, yeah…… When I myself was fourteen, I was an immature, stupid brat. Even now, the “stupid brat” part hasn’t changed, but I used to be worse. To the point I would be fed up with myself, because I think I wouldn’t even be able to do anything if I got separated from my parents.]
Of course, in direct opposition to the norm in this world, Subaru had experienced a loose and lenient daily life, something peaceful that was as good as being rocked from side to side in a cradle.
Garfiel’s was fourteen years old ― even if he was around the age of a middle schooler, it didn’t apply to this world, and Garfiel was far more mature than when Subaru was his age.
Subaru: [What others did for you, could also be done for them as well… is what I think……]
Ryuzu: [Fufu, let me rephrase what I said. Not only are you kind, but you’re soft and green, too.]
Subaru: [I know a famous passage of writing that says men should not only be strong, but also be kind…… huh? Going by this logic, I’m not a man because I’m not strong…? What am I?]
Seeing Subaru unable to defend himself from what he had brought upon himself, the sound of laughter rumbled in Ryuzu’s throat. Subaru thought of her reaction as something unexpected, and she wiped the corners of her eyes with a finger, saying, “Sorry, sorry.”
Ryuzu: [I understand what you want to say. I’ll drop by from time to time to make sure Ga-bo and Frederica won’t feel lonely. Is that alright?]
Subaru: [Sorry. It probably seemed like an outsider was pestering you about it.]
Ryuzu: [You have nothing to apologize for…… It’s just, if it’s about a very young child, who hadn’t reached the age of maturity yet, leaving their parents, there’s someone younger than Ga-bo in this mansion, isn’t there?]
Subaru: [Are you……]
Right after Subaru made a guess about who Ryuzu was referring to, a set of footsteps approached them. When he and Ryuzu turned their eyes to the direction of the sound, they saw Petra running towards them.
Petra held a pair of extra clothes for Subaru in her hands, calling out, “Subaru-sama~!” as she rushed over to him, seemingly full of energy. However, she stopped immediately before setting foot on the watering place.
Petra: [Wah! Kya! Subaru! Why are you naked!?]
Subaru: [Ah, shoot. I was planning on bathing, but I got too focused in this deep conversation.]
Petra blushed, commenting on Subaru’s half-naked body while covering her face with both her hands. However, she was staring at him from the space between the fingers that hid her face, with Subaru noting it as a common turn of events, something he often saw in mediums such as anime and manga.
Even Petra’s ears were a bright red color as she cried out, “Wah, wah!” rather excitedly.
Subaru: [Look, Ryuzu-san. This is what you call an adolescent girl’s cute reaction.]
Ryuzu: [You’re being fairly greedy, telling me to act like that…… It’s no use even if I do that in the first place. I’m an elderly person.]
Subaru: [You don’t really feel like an elderly person, aside from your mature way of speaking……]
Responding to Ryuzu’s easy-going voice, Subaru heaved up a pail of water from the well. He then dumped the ice-cold water onto his head, exclaiming, “Agh! Cold!”
Subaru: [Anyway, that reaction of yours is pretty adult-like for your age, Petra.]
Petra: [Ah, Subaru-sama, you’re still treating me like a child, aren’t you? I’m just saying, but I recently became thirteen years old. A one year difference with Garf-san!]
Subaru: [Even if it had to do with their birthdays, the fact that there’s a one year difference between Petra and Garfiel feels kinda amusing to me……]
There was Garfiel, whose combat strength and appearance didn’t really seem like a fourteen year-old’s, yet his personality did. Then there was Petra, who was like a bud that was gradually trying to bloom into a flower, retaining her young and adorable looks.
It was the natural course of things because time flew by and it couldn’t be stopped either, but the concept of growth was a precious notion.
Subaru: [I’m, well, eighteen, and Emilia-tan and Beako don’t go through any changes in their appearance. In that regard, I feel a great amount of potential from Petra……]
Ryuzu: [Su-bo, Su-bo. Is it alright for a teenager to look at things from a perspective like that?]
Subaru: [Even if you tell me that…… oh, thanks for the extra clothes, Petra. They fell out of your hands while you were staring at me, though.]
Shaking his head to get the water out of his hair, Subaru picked up the shirt discarded by Petra’s feet, and wore it after brushing the specks of soil off it. Petra seemed to have realized she dropped his change of clothes just now, uttering a, “Wah!” as she flushed at her own blunder.
Petra: [Uu~, I’m sorry. I’m sorry about your extra clothes, and the water from before……]
Subaru: [Nah, it’s just a cute little mistake. Setting the topic of my clothes aside, I got soaked because I was unlucky. And, because of that, I showed an unseemly side of myself to two maidens.]
Ryuzu: [You counted me in as a maiden…… Well, well, you’re good at flirting with the elderly.]
Subaru laughed wryly at Ryuzu, who gave a slow shake of her head, her behavior the same as usual. After that, he gently patted Petra on the head, who was still reflecting upon herself, smiling at her with a, “It’s okay.”
Subaru: [Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, and it’s not like anyone got injured by it. There’s no problem, no problem at all.]
Petra: [……Yes, I understand. I’ll make sure to write it in today’s entry for my diary.]
Subaru: [You’re writing a diary? That’s great. I’m the type of person that’s good at keeping at it little by little everyday, but my diaries never last no matter what I do.]
He was able to make his daily workouts and jogging into a habit for every single day, but strangely enough, his diaries didn’t last long. He thought it was possibly because the contents of what he wrote everyday weren’t consistent.
Adding to that, his days of truancy were monotonous and boring, so he had nothing to write back then.
Subaru: [Though, my Beako Lovely Diary is still ongoing……]
Petra: [Are you going to show it to Beatrice-chan later?]
Subaru: [Yeah, I want to show off how much I’m spoiling her with tenderness on a daily basis to her.]
Not only that, but Beatrice’s reactions were dramatic and adorable. If it meant being affectionate towards Beako, then Subaru would gladly challenge himself to overcome his own weakness of not being able to continue writing his diaries.
Petra: [So, what were you two talking about?]
Subaru: [Ahh, just some idle talk? Something like, “Aren’t you lonely to be separated from Garfiel?” and stuff like that…… but, you’re also far away from your dad and mom. You don’t get homesick or anything?]
Petra: [“Homesick”…… are you asking me if I miss my home?]
Placing a finger to her lips, Petra furrowed her brow as she decoded and made sense of Subaru’s words. She looked to be in deep thought, mumbling, “Hmmm, let me think…” before,
Petra: [Sometimes, I do feel lonely. But it’s what I’ve decided I want to do, and I’m doing it right now. I can’t be whining.]
Subaru: [Woah, so mature…… did you hear, Ryuzu-san?]
Ryuzu: [I heard it, I heard it. Gee, you look as if you’re proud of her, eh?]
Ryuzu nodded at Subaru, who turned around, genuinely proud of Petra’s confident answer.
It was just as Petra had said.
He was also in the middle of trying to accomplish what he resolved to do. If so, instead of making feeble complaints, he needed to raise his head and smile, even if he were to be in agony and in pain.
Petra: [Subaru-sama, was my answer alright?]
Subaru: [――. Yeah, of course. As expected of Petra! It’s the answer I wanted!]
In response to the question from the worried-looking Petra, Subaru lifted up her body in his arms.
It was the same feeling as when he did it to Beako, but Petra was heavier compared to her ― it was because she was undergoing growth.
Subaru: [You’re not at the age where I can carry you anymore, huh……]
Petra: [That’s obvious! ……But, if you’re gonna have such a saddened face, I guess I can keep you company.]
Subaru: [Oh, thanks!]
Although she turned her face away from him, she was allowing him to be selfish. Taking advantage of Petra’s kindness, Subaru spent some more time lamenting over parting ways with her childhood.
Gazing at the two of them was,
Ryuzu: [Well, well, I’m clueless about which one is the child.]
Ryuzu, who murmured that out with her young visage, in the manner of an elderly person.
――Splashing and splattering, Subaru was showered by blackish blood from his head, and the shifting scenes of his life flashing before his eyes ended abruptly.
The one thing in common between the scene and reality was liquid being poured over his head, but if he told Petra that memory fragment involving her was remembered at this very moment, he imagined the situation rolling out into her being furious with him over it.
However, in order to be chastised like that, Subaru couldn’t afford to stop in his tracks here.
Subaru: [Why did the hunter’s arrow hit the snake……!?]
What obstructed his grand escapade, with Louis reluctantly held in his arms, was the huge snake that was hiding itself inside of the forest.
Right as its gaping jaws were about to swallow Subaru whole, a powerful obstruction was wedged itself between the two, and he was fortunate to have an extremely narrow escape from death.
What perforated the snake’s body, thick as three Subarus bunched up together, was an arrow fired by the hunter, who had been tormenting him and Rem, giving them a hard time until this moment.
He thought of the likelihood that the hunter had unexpectedly missed their mark, but since the arrow had gone through the very center of the snake, he felt like the possibility of a misfire was terribly low.
Subaru: [They saved me……!?]
Although he couldn’t understand it at all, no other answer came to his mind.
He was sure the hunter didn’t act on a whim, and it was also difficult to imagine the situation suddenly unraveling into a shounen manga-like development, such as, “I’ll be the one who’ll kill you!”.
However, if Subaru only considered what had occurred, then he was rescued by the hunter. And adding to that, the effect of the single strike wasn’t limited to halting the huge snake’s impending fangs during this moment.
Snake Witchbeast: [――――ϡϡ!!]
Its body pierced through by the arrow, the bleeding snake let out a shriek that made the sky tremble, sounding like it two things were grated against one another to produce an ear-splitting screech.
Like that, instead of chasing after Subaru, who was trying to get away from it, the snake turned in the direction the arrow came flying from ― setting its sights on the bowman that plowed through its body, beginning to slither through the forest, uncaring of how many plants it damaged along its way.
It was overwhelming to see a ten-meter long snake crawling on the forest floor, drawing closer to its prey.
Without giving off the feeling of being sluggish in spite of its gigantic body, the sight of it moving on the ground as if gliding across the surface, felt like the ground that supported the forest itself was in motion.
The hunter counterattacked the snake’s approach with an arrow, but it didn’t connect.
Snake Witchbeast: [――――ϡϡ!!]
Baring its fangs, saliva dripping from them, the huge snake aimed for the hunter as it pounced onto them.
Jumping out of the way, the hunter avoided it, firing an arrow at point-blank range, going in for the kill.
A violent battle between man and Witchbeast, in an attempt to kill each other, was unfolding beyond the trees.
In midst of the sounds of crashes and blasts being scattered all over the place, courtesy of the ongoing fight where both the hunter and snake weren’t budging an inch, Subaru dashed back to the large hole Rem was at, keeping Louis held firmly in his arms.
Subaru: [Rem, give me your hand! We’re using the opportunity to run!]
Rem: [――hk, is the girl safe?]
Subaru: [Yeah, she’s sound asleep to the point it’s getting on my nerves! Here, hurry up!]
He reached a hand out to Rem, who was leaning against the wall inside of the large hole. However, Rem glanced at his hand, before shaking her head with a “No.” and set her hands on the edge of the hole by herself.
It was a gesture out of stubbornness, saying she wouldn’t take the hand Subaru had extended to her. If that was the case, then that was fine. Subaru withdrew his hand, pulling his whip out instead and using it to tie Louis to his back.
If Subaru threw her out, then conflict would arise between him and Rem once again. He wanted to avoid such a thing.
Subaru: [In addition to that――!]
After he fixed Louis’s body to his back tightly, checking to see if he wouldn’t drop her, Subaru forcefully scooped Rem, who crawled out of the large hole, into his arms.
With it resulting in her being princess carried, Rem hardened her expression from Subaru’s unanticipated move.
Subaru: [Think! Me or the hunter or the snake, which one is more preferable right now!?]
Rem: [……If I could communicate with it, then it’s the snake.]
Subaru: [You can’t, so please bear with me, the runner-up! Let’s go!]
Subaru turned his eyes away from Rem, who was unable to prevent her inner turmoil from showing up on her face, although he believed their priorities were rather obvious. Glancing at the continuous battle between the hunter and the snake from the corner of his eye, Subaru broke away from the battlefield, running with all his might.
Whether the victor was the hunter or the huge snake, Subaru expected them to start chasing after him and Rem as soon as the fight was over. He didn’t know when exactly would it end, or if it would be settled sooner or later, but he wanted to keep a distance from them to the best of his ability.
Rem: [――What are you going to do?]
Subaru: [Both of them are really accustomed to the forest, compared to us……! We need a way to throw them off their pursuit, but it’s hopeless to escape from the snake because of my body odor. So……]
He wanted to pray for the hunter to be victorious.
If the hunter was a pursuer with no connection to the Witch’s miasma that surrounded him, then the methods to throw them off their tracks would be worth putting into practice.
Subaru: [Choosing the path where I won’t leave too many footprints, erasing the tracks as much as possible, and after that is……]
Rem: [Leaving traces in a separate direction, isn’t that right?]
Rem said as she snapped off a twig that nearly made contact with her body, tossing it far away and letting it scratch the trees that were positioned at a different direction from their escape route.
If the tracks were distributed into two places, one being the broken twig, and the other being the mark on the tree, would their opponent be puzzled by those?
As Subaru continued to run with Rem in his arms, a deep emotion, unsuitable for the occasion, somewhat feeling like nostalgia, crossed his mind. Long ago, he had the experience of racing through the forest while being chased by Witchbeasts, similar to the current situation.
However, the person he had been carrying wasn’t Rem, but it was Ram.
Subaru: [Nee-sama has also forgotten, so it’s only me… ha… who, remembers it, but……]
Rem: [You’re running out of breath. They will catch up if this goes on.]
Subaru: [I know! Damn, both of you sisters… ha… really have no shred of mercy……!]
The person in his arms wasn’t Ram, but the harshness of her words was practically identical to her sister.
A strong emotion coursed through him upon recognizing their similarities, and it gave an encouraging push to his back. Subaru urged himself to keep running despite his breathlessness, entrusting the role of monitoring whatever was happening behind them to Rem, and desperately rushed across the forest.
Anyhow, Subaru had been running around all day today.
He was exhausted, worn out physically and mentally, and he wanted to sprawl across the ground if possible. Actually, he was going to do that once he lost his pursuer. He would sleep for eight hours straight.
Subaru: [So, please put up with it until I can do that, dear body――!!]
Rem: [――hk, wait!]
Subaru: [Owowowow!? What the heck was that for!?]
While Subaru was spurring himself to action by shouting at his body to move, Rem, who was carried in his arms, gave his ear a sharp tug. As he frowned from the pain, Rem pointed towards a direction straying off the path they were on,
Rem: [I can hear the sound of water. A flowing…… river? Perhaps you could erase your tracks with it? Also, you were saying you needed water as well.]
Subaru: [You were actually listening to me talking about my survival knowledge…… I’m touched, but that can wait. You’re right, it’d be great if there’s a river! If we crossed the river for the time being, they surely can’t chase after us without any difficulty……!]
Unfortunately, the sound of running water wasn’t audible to Subaru, due to the bothersome noise caused by his rapid heartbeat and breathing, but he had no reason to doubt Rem’s hearing at this place, during this time.
Obeying Rem, who pointed her finger towards the direction, saying “That way.”, Subaru changed courses, dashing through the forest while he searched for the river.
And then, as he passed by the clump of trees and leapt over the patches of grass, just as the road opened up into――,
Subaru: [――A river! ……B~u~t~?]
The moment the forest cleared up and his field of view was broadened, Subaru was finally able to hear the sound of running water at a tremendous volume ― yes, a tremendous volume.
Of course a sound like that would reach his ears, since its source was a great river. As far as Subaru and Rem could see, gazing down at it, the water was gushing down a cliff nearly ten meters tall.
Rem: [No matter how you look at it, this is……]
Inside of his arms, Rem stifled a gasp, gazing at the humongous river below them.
Taking the raging momentum of the water and the height of the cliff into account, it was natural for her to be dismayed at the sight. She was probably also reproaching herself for leading them here, all because she relied on her instincts.
However, there was no time to blame her for what she was already regretting, nor was there time to do the opposite and comfort her.
Subaru: [――Shit, is the fight over!?]
From the forest behind him, a distant, ferocious roar thundered into the sky.
It sounded like the cry of the huge snake, brimming with some sort of emotion. Whether it was a sign of victory or a sign of defeat, the one who survived would come after Subaru and Rem.
Subaru: [Before that happens, we gotta……]
Rem: [――Leave me.]
As Subaru thought about the need to depart from the area, Rem, still held close to his chest area, declared that.
Hearing her strained voice, Subaru blew out a short breath, and,
Rem: [Leave me. It’s my fault I made you take an unnecessary detour. A single moment can’t be lost. I will try to tie down the enemy in one way or another, so……]
Subaru: [D-don’t be ridiculous! Leaving you is something I can’t……]
Rem: [Then, what the hell are you going to do!? How can you, who brought a child and a woman who can’t move her legs, out of breath and your knees shaking, do anything more than this!?]
Rem snapped at him in close proximity, her face flushing with anger. It wasn’t as if Subaru was overwhelmed by the intensity of her words, but he was unable to make an immediate retort.
Subaru wasn’t smart enough to instantly propose an alternative plan upon being asked.
However, because he wasn’t smart, he could come up with an answer that didn’t require it.
Subaru: [――No, that wouldn’t do. I won’t leave you here.]
Rem: [――fh, that stubbornness of yours……]
Subaru: [Which one of us is being more stubborn, huh!? I understand you feel responsible for it! But, you know, you’re demonstrating your sense of responsibility at the wrong place in the wrong time! I can’t just leave you behind!”
Subaru: [It’s meaningless if you aren’t there with me! If you’re going to die, it’s better if I died instead. What can I do to make you understand it!?]
Subaru spoke his mind earnestly, trying to withdraw Rem’s idea from the table.
His words came from his heart. Of course, Subaru didn’t want to die as well. Even if “Return by Death” granted him an opportunity, he didn’t want to die. That’s why it was only about being stuck in a dilemma, seeking out the best option between the worst choice and the most unwanted choice.
Subaru: [I’ll pick the method that won’t get either of us killed.]
Rem: [……What are you going to do about that girl on your back?]
Subaru: [I would like to use her as bait if I were allowed to, but it’s going to be a problem getting complaints directed at me for doing so. So, for now, I’ll be on the run while also bringing her with me.]
Anyway, it was getting under his skin with how Louis was always getting caught in the problems between him and Rem.
However, if he threw Louis out right now, his relationship with Rem would be damaged beyond repair. That choice was off the table. That’s why, no matter how loathsome she was, Subaru couldn’t abandon her.
Listening to Subaru’s words that came from his resolute will, Rem widened her eyes, falling silent.
Even now, Subaru could catch a glimpse of Rem’s inner conflict, unable to comprehend how she should judge him, who was engulfed in a wicked scent that she couldn’t bear to take in.
Keeping her uncertain expression in the corner of his eye, Subaru surveyed his surroundings, searching for an escape route.
However, a path leading to their survival wasn’t something that could be found so conveniently. Subaru could see that the situation provided enough of a reason for Rem to start telling him to use her as a decoy.
If so, their remaining option was――,
Subaru: [――To fly.]
Rem: [Wha…… Wa-wait! That’s what you call being reckless! Do you understand the situation we’re in!?]
Subaru: [There’s me, who’s exhausted from the weight strapped against my back, who’s carrying Rem who can’t move her legs, who has three of my fingers broken, and who’s ribcage is in a state that’s a bit suspicious……]
Rem: [About your fingers…… Anyway! It’s absurd to try something like that in your condition! From this height…… the moment you jump in, you’re only going to fall unconscious and drown!]
Pointing at the gigantic river below them, Rem stated her realistic disagreements to Subaru’s plan.
The height was ten meters, and they were in a position where the injured person had to look after two people who couldn’t even move around properly. If they had to somehow reach the opposite bank while braving through the violent waters, it was natural to think of it as a suicidal act.
Subaru: [But, it’s not suicide. Even if it was, when we die, we’ll die together.]
Rem: [Absolutely not!]
Rem gave him a splendid slap across his smile that showed his gleaming teeth. His neck twisted to the side from the power put into the blow, and while he uttered a, “Ow ow,” the cheek where he had gotten slapped reddening in color, and,
Subaru: [I got it. Since you’re saying that, I won’t die.]
Subaru: [I’m the one who’ll grant your wish. ――Because, I’m your hero.]
Hearing his words, Rem stared at him, wide-eyed.
It wasn’t because her memories had unconsciously throbbed, but it was out of surprise at the fact that Subaru had shamelessly repeated the same, untrustworthy declaration he had made right after she awakened, without learning from the disaster it resulted in.
But, that was alright.
He didn’t necessarily want to make Rem listen to what he said just now. ――All he wanted to do was to cast a spell on the man reflected in Rem’s light blue eyes, who concealed his patheticness behind a bluff.
Subaru: [Hold on tight.]
Subaru exhaled as he said that, sensing danger drawing near them.
Rem was attempting to resist even as of now, but Subaru had already pushed off against the ground with his feet, while he was carefully selecting the words to get her to stop. Bracing herself for the fall, Rem grabbed onto Subaru’s clothes firmly with her hand.
Rem: [――I won’t forgive you if you die!]
“Ahh, I can’t die if you say so,” Subaru laughed wryly as he gave a strong kick against the cliff.
A column of water rose into the air from the impact, his body swallowed by a vicious force, and he spun around, round and round.
Because he managed to plunge into the water feet-first, he kept the damage he received from the fall to a minimum.
However, its power was enough to cause him to receive minimal damage, and for Subaru, whose health bar was already in the red zone, he couldn’t erase the impression that he had clenched his teeth and rode it out with his meager amount of willpower.
Although, there was no need to erase it.
Subaru: [Gah, bh,]
Without needing to wipe away such an impression, Subaru’s whole body was soaking wet. He was tossed about by the rushing water’s momentum, as if he was a towel being stirred inside of a washing machine.
He wanted to somehow rise up to the surface of the water, and breathe. Yet, he did not have the freedom to do so. Even if he wanted to flail his limbs around in an attempt to float, he couldn’t do that because he was carrying what was dear to him in his arms.
He was being squeezed and crumpled up by the water, but he felt the targets of his affection and hatred in his arms and on his back respectively. Neither the whip fastened to himself, nor his arms that strongly embraced the girl, were coming apart.
Subaru: [Gabh… gabh…]
Due to the impact from diving into the water, most of the air he had breathed in before jumping had escaped from his lungs.
He wasn’t going to swim, but he needed both stamina and oxygen to retain his sanity. Since both of them were on the verge of depletion, he couldn’t stay leisurely and take things easy.
Subaru: [Gabh, gabh……]
Water flowed into his mouth from his nose, and he felt like it was also spilling into his eyes and ears as well.
His floundering feet paddled the water meaninglessly, and he also felt as if he was powerless to do anything as he was being transported into the stomach of a giant creature’s esophagus ― which could be said to be the humongous river. Once he arrived “there”, it would not be possible to undo it.
Before he made it there, he needed to do something.
Subaru: [Gabh… gabh…]
When he desperately fumbled around in the water, many unnecessary thoughts wriggled around in his head.
Just like how he remembered Petra and Ryuzu when he was showered with blood, just like how he remembered carrying Ram while he ran around the forest, many things crossed his mind.
Are Emilia, Beatrice, Ram, and Meili safe? What are Julius, Anastasia, and Echidna doing? Everyone would feel at ease if Patrasche was there. If Patrasche was here, she would’ve rescued him. Saving and getting saved. He had repeated that cycle many times, and Rem was supposed to be the person he had repeated it with the most, but she broke his fingers. He didn’t think of it until now, but he did a good job in not crying out, even though it really hurt. Well done. He didn’t want to do anything dumb in front of Rem. In front of Emilia, in front of Beatrice, and in front of Petra and Garfiel as well. Otto, Clind, and Frederica knew how pathetic he was, so it didn’t matter with them. Things would take a wrong turn into something frightening if Roswaal knew about it, so he needed to continue hiding it somehow. He needed to return to Pristella quickly, help the people who were in dire need of it, the Royal Selection, tomorrow, everyone――,
Subaru: [Gabuh… gabh……]
Reaching his hand out with all his might, Subaru pulled himself close to the branch he managed to grab onto. He took a hold of it with his left hand, and excruciating pain shot through his three crippled fingers, but he wasn’t bothered by it.
His whole body was chilled to the bone, and his senses were distant and dull. There was a possibility that instead of three fingers, every finger on his left hand was broken, but he had little to no interest in that matter.
Subaru: [Oergh, bhleh,]
He broke out into a coughing fit, vomiting large amounts of the water that had filled his stomach.
While doing so, he was able to draw the heaviness in his right arm closer to himself, making it so her face appeared above the surface of the water. Staring at her unconscious face from the side, he rushed to crawl up the bank, relying on the branch.
Subaru: [Gaghk, urgh,]
On the bank he finally made it to, he left it to his nausea to make him spew out an enormous volume of water. And then, fighting the sensation of having water left inside his body still, he laid the girl he dragged out of the water onto the ground.
Bringing his ear near her mouth, he checked her breathing. There was no reaction. He bit his lip, pushing against her chest area with force, carrying out CPR on her.
However, she didn’t come back to life. Right as he bent over, his face coming near her as he wondered if he should perform artificial respiration, she threw up some water along with a small cough. Tilting her face to the side, Subaru let her expel the water from her body.
Subaru: [Hah, ha……]
Enduring the fatigue that spread across his entire body, he unfastened the whip he tied against himself, lowering the weight on his back. Perhaps the fact that she was unconscious from the beginning proved to be fortunate, as the lowered weight was letting out weak breaths.
That meant… everyone was… safe――,
Subaru: [S… a… fe……]
His head swayed to the side, in midst of his dizziness, and he collapsed on the spot.
He thought he had to somehow leave the bank and at least hide in the thickets and bushes, but his body wasn’t listening to him at all. His stamina had been completely emptied.
Unable to move a single finger, his consciousness gradually fell deep into the darkness.
As if he had been trapped in an ant lion’s pit, descending into the dark, obscure world, forever and ever.
What he wished for before he passed out, was for neither the hunter nor the snake, but for someone else to――,
Subaru: [Save… Rem……]
There was only one wish, for someone to at least save Rem, even if it was just her.
Slowly, his consciousness was pulled out of the depths of the cold, bitter darkness.
Silently, he remembered he had forgotten how to breathe, then he gulped and ingested air into his empty body. More, more. He desired more oxygen as if he had been drowning, opening his mouth wide――,
???: [――Shut it with your wheezing and panting, you.]
Something was forcefully thrusted into his open jaws, and he was bathed in verbal abuse.
He widened his eyes, unable to grasp the situation, but he wasn’t able to see anything. It seemed like something had been wrapped around his face, covering his eyes. However, he knew some wild fellow had shoved something into his mouth.
The taste of soil and earth, and a large, solid texture ― he could immediately guess that it was a shoe.
Someone was digging the tip of his shoe into Subaru’s mouth.
Subaru: [Oergh! Bweh! Wha, what…… guweh!]
???: [Why the hell are you defying me? Don’t you understand the position you’re in?]
Subaru: [Ghurgh, gargh,]
Subaru was struck in his solar plexus with a good, hard kick delivered by the tip of the man’s shoe, after Subaru had spat it out without thinking. As his breath caught in his throat from the impact, followed by a bout of coughing, the wild fellow spat on him.
While the man was doing that, Subaru’s mind was jumbled up in a great deal of confusion.
He couldn’t see and he was utterly befuddled, yet violence had been inflicted onto him.
Adding to that, even if he tried to rub his aching chest, he couldn’t do that because his arms were tied behind his back. His legs were bound as well, so it was impossible to stand up and escape.
Subaru: [Wh-wha… what’s……]
???: [Aah? How long are you gonna be fooling ar……]
????: [――Hey, hey, chill out! He’s completely clueless! It can’t be helped! Rather than that, here! Let’s take off his blindfold!]
Two men seemed to be having an argument in front of Subaru, who was curled up on the ground with saliva spilling out of his mouth. The man that arrived later had persuaded the violent man, and Subaru sensed that the rough, boorish presence had distanced himself from the area.
After that, the voice of the composed man reached his ears with a, “Well,”
????: [Sorry that was done to you right after you woke up. I think you’re probably feeling muddled and all, but I’ll just take off your blindfold, okay? Though, I can’t remove the rope around your hands and feet, so you gotta bear with it.]
As Subaru remained silent, the man gently placed his hands on his head, unfastening the blindfold that was tightly wrapped around his head. He felt the air against his skin, along with a tiny prick of pain, and waited for his vision to return as he took in a deep breath, withstanding the throbbing ache in his chest.
Subaru: [――Where… the hell is this.]
In his newly-recovered field of view, the clearing was dotted with many tents and campfires. Along with those, there were men equipped with swords and armor, giving off a fierce feeling, and restlessly going to and fro around the area.
Rendered completely speechless, Subaru thought of the most appropriate picture that would be representing the sight at hand in his mind――,
Subaru: [……I’ve seen something like this in a long-running TV series.]
The reason he thought of it wasn’t because he had encountered a gigantic river right before all of this, but what crossed his mind was a scene from one of those TV series ― the camp of a military unit, busied by preparations before the official battle began. 
It was as if the sight in front of him was a replica of ― no, it wasn’t.
????: [We found you right as we went out to fetch some water, yeah. Sorry, but you’ve been captured. You’re our prisoner.]
Was the person who walked in front of him the man that took off his blindfold?
Putting a hand to his hip, he spoke to Subaru with a genuine-looking, troubled expression.
――Natsuki Subaru had been taken prisoner.
 – 大河ドラマ (Taiga drama) = Long-running TV series.
大河 (Taiga) = A huge river.
Very punny, Subaru.