Translated By :
- Erifuru (KotodamaTranslation) – Make sure to check out his Re: Zero Translations!
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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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???: [Hey, what’s the worst thing that’s happened to you as a traveling merchant?]
???: [And there it is. Yet another unpleasant question…]
In his room, Otto was staring at documents, when Subaru presented this question, causing him to frown.
Wrinkles were already present in-between his brows, but thanks to the question they leveled up to one hundred.
Subaru: [You see, Garfiel and I were having a little chat about one-man journeys. I guess it’s a bit different in your case, but you were a traveling merchant, so you’re familiar with that sort of thing, right?]
Otto: [I would not say you are wrong, but I had Frufoo with me, at the very least. Thanks to my Divine Protection, I always had someone I could talk to, so it did not really feel like I was traveling alone.]
As he spoke, Otto rubbed his eyes and placed the documents on the desk. Then, in front of the desk where the mountain of papers rested, he directed his gaze towards the two guests who sat on the sofa with a Shatranj board spread between them ―― Subaru and Garfiel.
Although it was Subaru who had the upper hand in this game, each move that he made kept alternately securing or endangering his position.
Otto: […Garfiel, move the merchant two squares forward.]
Subaru: [Hey! Otto, you bastard!]
Garfiel: [Hm? Ooooh! So that’s it! Ya really bailed me outta this one, Otto-bro!]
With just a quick glance, Otto discerned the most advantageous move to make, receiving two different reactions from Subaru and Garfiel respectively. Ignoring how Subaru struggled in the situation that he was instantly put into, “Still,” Otto muttered,
Otto: [Garfiel, are you interested in traveling alone?]
Garfiel: [If I’m interested, ya say? ‘Course I am. But ya kno’, I spent a whole lotta time stuck in tha ‘Sanctuary’, so I neve’ got to travel or anythin’.]
Otto: [Ah, I see. You really are interested, are you not? Well, with your self-sufficiency and self-defense skills as high as they are, I think you would do just fine. Unlike Natsuki-san.]
Subaru: [Hey hey, don’t you underestimate me like that. My mentor’s been praising my progress a lot lately, just so you know.]
Otto: [It seems like he decided to use praise to motivate you. It is hard to be sure if praise or scolding works better with you, after all.]
Otto’s comments were so soft towards Garfiel, yet so hard towards Subaru.
However, considering how strict Garfiel was with himself, and how prone Subaru was to get carried away, it was probably the correct approach.
But that aside――,
Subaru: [Anyway, what’s that worst moment you’ve had as a traveling merchant?]
Otto: [Why are you so insistent on knowing that?]
Garfiel: [Tha Captain may just be askin’ outta curiosity, but I’m seriously interested here, Otto-bro. Knowin’ ya’re such a tough guy, I imagine ya’d be fine unless ya encountered a huge dragon or somethin’.]
Otto: [Garfiel, don’t you think your expectations of me are way too high?!]
It would take an emergency of such grandiosity to truly place Otto in a tight spot.
Garfiel’s strong trust in Otto led him to harbor such conception, which was, albeit slightly exaggerated, not all that different from Subaru’s assessment of Otto’s crisis response capabilities.
If one were to ask the members of the faction who the most dangerous person was, it was undoubted that they all would unanimously reply saying Otto’s name.
Subaru: [Well, I can’t really see something like that happening anyway…]
Otto: [What are you grumbling about? ……I have been in several risky situations during my life indeed, but I would say the worst one was that one time I was held captive by a certain dangerous group.]
Garfiel: [Whatcha mean, dangerous guys? Were ya attacked by bandits or somethin’?]
Otto: [――. Well, something similar to that. They separated me from Frufoo and my carriage, and then left me wrapped up in a mat, without any weapons or tools at hand; and so, I prepared myself to die.]
Otto murmured, a distant look on his eyes. As they listened, Subaru and Garfiel turned to look at each other.
The fear that he had experienced was surely no little matter. Otto’s words carried a weight that was not typical of him.
Garfiel: [A dead end, huh. Guess that’s what it’s like ta be ‘forsaken on the Decou Plateau,’ ain’t it.]
Otto: [It really was like that. If it were not for some kind people that happened to come across me by chance, I would have lost my life that day. ――And that, I will never forget.]
Subaru: [I see. Everyone’s got their own story, after all.]
Arms crossed, Subaru nodded as he reflected on Otto’s adversities.
Tied by bandits, stripped of his belongings, his very right to live or die completely subject to somebody else’s whim: such circumstances were not something that Subaru faced often, yet also not something that he was a stranger to.
Subaru: [Still, it’s thanks to their help that our Otto is here with us now. Those guys who found you deserve a proper thanks, don’t you think?]
Otto: [――. Yes, you are right.]
Subaru: [――? What’s with the lukewarm reply? You’re making me uneasy, man.]
Subaru scowled at Otto’s unexpected reaction. Despite Subaru’s response, Otto stayed oddly calm and composed, his posture like that of a deity.
While Subaru felt shivers going down his spine, Garfiel clenched his fist with a “But hey,”
Garfiel: [Now I know all the stuff you’ve gone thru, Otto-bro. But rest assured. Ya’d better believe I won’t be lettin’ that stuff happen ta ya ever again, a’ight?]
Otto: [Oh, really? Well, I do know I can depend on you, Garfiel. Natsuki-san, on the other hand…]
Subaru: [You can’t just compare me with Garfiel in terms of combat strength! You’ll make me feel like all the hard work I’ve done so far isn’t worth a damn!]
Subaru moved his empty hand as if he brandished a whip with it. With a gesture of his own, Garfiel pretended to crush it with his fangs, making his opponent aware of his powerlessness.
“Ugh……!” Subaru groaned as Garfiel’s victory made him openly display joy; while witnessing the two, a despondent “Ha” escaped Otto’s mouth,
Otto: [Garfiel, move the merchant diagonally to the right. Let us show him what we merchants are made of.]
Subaru: [Argh! D-damn it, Otto, you jerk!]
Garfiel: [Hm? Ooooh! Look, it’s a checkmate! Captain, what a weaklin’ y’are!!]
Subaru: [You didn’t do it alone, though!!]
Surrounding the Shatranj board, Subaru cried out along with his cornered army. From the moment the alliance between Garfiel and Otto was formed, there was only one thing that he would be given the chance to do ―― to retreat as he bawled like the sore loser he was.
――A prisoner of war.
As soon as he heard those words, what coursed through Subaru’s mind was the chatter of nights like those. He’d had his weapons and tools taken away from him,along with his freedom, held captive by someone he did not know. It was pretty much like Otto had said, this was a natural situation to resign yourself to “death”.
The place where Subaru was being held captive looked quite like encampments raised for war that he’d seen in stuff like a Taiga Drama. 
He could see many a tent lined up, along with rows of armour and weapons waiting to be equipped. Men with a heavy atmosphere about them went by, and it seemed like their forces contained both humans and demi-humans.
Subaru was sitting atop some solid ground, with nothing but a barebones curtain fixed at that place to ward off the wind. His hands were tied behind his back, and his feet were restrained as well, making him unable to move.
However, to Subaru, what mattered a lot more was…
Subaru: [Rem… There should have been a girl with me. What happened to her?]
???: [Oh, so we tell you you’re our prisoner of war, and the first thing that pops into your head are girls? Am I right to think that this means these girls are important to you?]
The man who’d been crouching down just before ― Namely, the young man who seemed to have stopped the violent man who’d shoved his shoe in Subaru’s mouth ― batted one of his eyes shut in response to his muted question.
The youth had bright orange hair, and looked to be just a little older than Subaru. He was smiling quite amiably, but that didn’t put him at ease, given that the situation was what it was.
He wasn’t clad in a full suit of armour per se, but since he was wearing some light garb as his armour, he was probably one of the warriors in the encampment as well. ――A warrior, not a knight.
He’d managed to somehow spend over a year in this other world, and several times he’d been blessed with the opportunities to eye the differences between warriors and knights. Of course they had differences in their positions or their influence, but there were visible differences between them, which weren’t only those practical ones.
Knights were glitzy, whereas warriors were coarse ― Not in the bad sense. They just differed in what was required.
Of course, knights abounded in skill, yet they needed to be able to procure the reassurance of people’s hearts. On that point, it was necessary for them to be noble of appearance. People like Julius or Reinhardt were testaments to this.
On the flipside, what was needed from a warrior was only the strength to fight.
Thus, the men gathered in this encampment were warriors, the youth in front of him was no exception either.
Subaru: […I’m going to ask you again. Where’s the girl I was with?]
Orange Haired Youth: [So darn stubborn. Though, not like I dislike that… She’s safe and sound. Both of them are full of vim and vigour. A little too full of if you ask me.]
Subaru: […! For real!?]
Subaru grabbed onto the youth’s answer as the latter gave him a strained smile. He leaned forward so he could hear the answer he wanted to, however the youth pushed him back by the forehead, letting out a “Whoa there”, preventing him from leaning any closer.
Orange Haired Youth: [Both your hands and feet are tied up. Won’t you fall over and bite your tongue if you work yourself up that much? Oh, don’t look at me like that. Both of them are safe and sound, I’m not lying.]
Subaru: [Both of them my ass; quit giving me half-assed answers. I’m happy so long as the blue-haired girl is safe and sound.]
Orange Haired Youth: [That’s an awfully cruel answer, wouldn’t you say!?]
No word of exaggeration, those were his true feelings, however there’d probably be no point telling that to the youth.
In any case, he would believe what the youth had said, for the time being. The next issue at hand was Subaru and Rem’s position. Earlier, he’d said he’d taken Subaru as a prisoner of war…
Subaru: [I find it difficult to accept being a prisoner of war, but let’s say I do… why am I being kept away from them?]
Orange Haired Youth: [If you wanna see them, I’ll let you do so afterwards. If you answer our questions honestly… Right now, those girls are in the slammer.]
Subaru: [In jail!? Why would you do that!?]
The harsh conditions associated with that flashed through his mind straight after he heard the word slammer. However, as he tried to get more details about it, his three broken fingers on his left hand cried out in pain.
Gghha…! Subaru saw stars in his eyes, making him clench his teeth. Behind him, the man sporting an eyepatch over one of his eyes had stomped his shoe on his injured fingers, whereby his hands were tied behind his back.
The man brutely stomped Subaru’s broken fingers, and said,
Man with an Eyepatch: [If you were paying attention before, you’re a guy who fuckin’ lacks the self-awareness of being a prisoner. You just need to answer the questions you’re asked, or am I wrong here? Huh?]
Orange Haired Youth: [Jamal, knock it off! You’re gonna end up making him faint again!]
Jamal: [Really fuckin’ boils my blood that he doesn’t get the position he’s in. So long as his neck ‘n above are fine, he can talk. Anyways, if three of ‘em are broken, what harm would there be in havin’ two more…]
Orange Haired Youth: […Jamal.]
The man who’d given Subaru’s hand a kick ― Jamal ― leered at him wickedly as he declared that. But as he did, the youth abruptly called out his name in a hushed tone of voice.
Hearing that caused Jamal’s breath to hitch, and so, he reluctantly moved his foot away with an “Alright then.”
Subaru: [Ghh, ghkk…!]
Jamal: [Tsk. You owe your thanks to Todd. Makes me wanna hurl.]
With the burden removed from his broken fingers, Subaru was able to breathe again, to which Jamal spat at him. And with that said and done, Jamal turned his back away and left the tent in a huff.
When the sound of his footsteps was far off in the distance, the youth ― Todd ― gave his head a scratch.
Todd: [Dear oh dear. I’m sorry about that. That Jamal dude is quite prickly. After all it was his unit that found you people by the riverbank; but…]
Todd: [Well, apparently the girl accompanying you put up quite the fight. The people in his unit were half wrecked, and he, being the commander, lost face.]
Having now gotten a rough idea about what had happened, Subaru too wanted to hold his head in exasperation.
This probably happened after Subaru had crawled up the riverbank and lost consciousness. Having woken up before him, Rem had given Jamal, along with his men, a beating when they turned up. That’s why Jamal was in a foul mood.
Rem would have looked like a sweet girl who couldn’t move her legs at a glance, so there was no reason to blame Jamal and his men for having allowed her to get in the first strike. And even though there was no reason…
Subaru: [I… hate… that guy…]
Todd: [Haha, what a coincidence! I don’t like him much either. That said, we’re getting off-topic. How are your fingers?]
Subaru: [They’re broken… Though the pain’s gotten better.]
Even so, the tattoo of the pounding pain was relentless. Yet, Subaru firmly gritted his teeth together and shut out the weaknesses of groaning in pain for the time being. He would, time permitting, face the pain-debt that would have accumulated up later. Right now, he had the things in front of him to face…
Subaru: [Todd, right?]
Todd: [Oh? So you were paying proper attention. Yeah, the name’s Todd. And here’s a question from your local Todd-san. I did say this before, but…]
Subaru: [That I should answer honestly I guess… What is it that you want to hear?]
In the end, he was nothing more than just the Other Worlder Natsuki Subaru.
He had no clue about anything like the means whereby he crossed worlds, nor did he unfortunately have the expertise to use knowledge cheats which were so conventional with Isekai stuff. Zip, zilch, nada. Made him cry when he really thought about it.
Subaru: [What can I, with that kind of lot in life, really answer for you?]
Todd: [What sort of obsequious display is that? Anyways, it’s a shot in the dark, but there’s just one thing I’d like to ask you. ――Are you one of the Shudraq?]
That was the imperious youth’s ― Todd’s ― question, but Subaru had never heard this word before.
Nevertheless, as soon as Todd heard Subaru responding by flipping the question back at him, he brought one of his hands to his forehead and said:
Todd: [See, I knew it. I could tell by your reaction that you’ve got nothing to do with them.]
Subaru: [Heyhey, wait up. I still haven’t answered anything. Aren’t you just being too hasty here…]
Todd: [Not at all. No one would lie when they’re asked about their own warrior clan. Even those who’ve never heard of ‘em before. So, like that, even if you tell us you’re “Shudraqian”, no one’s gonna believe you.] 
Though his words felt conclusive, they didn’t sound like a bluff.
Even Subaru couldn’t refuse them; the way Todd had put it, full of conviction, was that persuasive. But in that case…
Subaru: [Just what are these Shudraqians?]
Todd: [They’re the people we’re searching for. They’re somewhere in that huge forest… In the Buddheim Jungle.]
Todd answered Subaru’s question and pointed behind him. However, Subaru’s hands and feet were tied up, so he couldn’t look back that easily. Todd then put his hand on Subaru’s shoulder with a “There’s no helping that”, and turned him around.
Subaru: […The Buddheim Jungle.]
Todd: [The whole place from here is forest. It’s going to take many years, or whatever, to search it well and good.]
Though Todd muttered those words unenergetically, what he was saying was understandable. This was quite the vast forest.
The greenery continued on to the ends of the horizon both on his left and right, as seen from the encampment where Subaru was being held captive. If its depth was like that to boot, then metaphors aside, it could be on the same level as the Amazon.
And they had to find these Shudraqians or whatever he’d called them, in such a vast forest.
Subaru: […Isn’t that going to be practically impossible? To say the least.]
Todd: [You reckon so too? Well, nah, I’ve really thrown in the towel here. If it takes me years to go back home, my fiancée will end up turning away from me ya know.]
The sorrows of a soldier who’d been taken away from his lover and sent to the field of battle.
Todd’s words made Subaru feel something similar to that, evoking a little sympathy out of him. However, his sympathy didn’t last long either, since currently he was separated from the person he cherished. And other than that, the problem he had at hand was way more of a big deal.
Subaru: [Hey, Todd-san. In your view, I think I’ve answered honestly. So, I’d really like it if you kept your promise as well.]
Todd: [You’re asking me to let you see a woman, even though there’s a person who’s ruing the fact they can’t see their fiancée? What a heart of stone you have.]
Subaru: [No way I want to hear that coming from the companion of a guy who steps on an injured guy’s broken fingers.]
Todd: [Haha, that’s for sure.]
Although Subaru’s answer was quite the bold one, Todd burst out in laughter rather than anger. He then crouched down by his side and loosened the ropes that had been tightly binding Subaru’s feet, enough so he could walk.
Todd: [You should be able to at least walk by taking short steps. I’ll take you over to the jail.]
Todd brought his hands under Subaru’s armpits and lifted him up in one go. As soon as he stood up, his legs could move freely, albeit about only half of his usual step.
He could walk like this. Thank god for having short legs. If his legs had been as long as a model’s, then he would have been thrown out of balance quite a bit.
Subaru: [Well then, please guide me there.]
Todd: [How very impudent of you… You must be a noble, right?]
With a wry smile on his face, Todd gave Subaru a clap on the back as the latter began to walk out, taking small steps.
He felt the inquisitive looks of the men around them, looking at Subaru walking along bit by bit, being led out of the tent that housed prisoners of war. He could see some of them looking like they were sneering, but Subaru cared not a fig about them. Rather, on the flip-side, it was he who observed them.
It was just as he’d thought. He could see an encampment prepared for war.
They’d covered the perimeters of the encampment with impromptu-made wooden fencing and stuff. There appeared to be over a hundred men here. Nevertheless, searching the entire forest with a hundred men was practically impossible. Subaru could understand why Todd was bemoaning that.
With that said, Subaru had expressed his sympathies both to Todd, who was in that state, and his fiancée. Yet, posed towards him was…
Todd: [Oh, talking of nobles, I just remembered… Where did you get that knife that popped up when we fished through your belongings?]
Subaru’s brows furrowed for a moment when he heard Todd’s suddenly remembered question; then he instantly recalled the knife in question.
He’d received the knife from the masked man in the forest. It had really helped him get through the many obstacles posed by the forest, as well as the traps Rem had set. ――It was too late for that now, but perhaps that masked man had been one of the Shudraqians they were searching for.
If it was like that, then telling them about him would only be tantamount to a betrayal of his benefactor.
Todd: [What’s up?]
Subaru: [No, nothing…]
Though Todd was suspicious of his silence, Subaru was also stuck between a rock and a hard place, internally.
Given that he’d been taken as a prisoner of war, Todd was treating him in a relatively reasonable manner. But make no mistake, he was still perceived as a prisoner of war. He was someone Subaru would find difficult to describe as being friendly.
On the other hand, it was pretty likely that he’d never see the masked man again. However, not only had he given him some effective advice on the matter of searching for Rem, he’d also given him that knife to boot. He was someone high in the benefactor level.
Todd: [Hey, what’s up?]
Subaru: [――. That knife is something from my family. It’s a family heirloom.]
Todd: [Is that so? Heyhey, then you must be quite the something, right?]
He decided to protect his benefactor in his mind, after mulling it over.
Todd’s voice raised a bit in surprise in response, with Subaru having lied with those thoughts in mind. Subaru didn’t know why it had, but nevertheless, Todd continued,
Todd: [After all, your knife’s got our national emblem, the Sword Wolf, on it. From what I’ve heard, those sorts of things are given personally from the Emperor to his retainers. Meaning, you must be from a family of honour as well?]
Subaru: […Wait just a sec.]
Todd’s voice grew excited. Meanwhile, Subaru’s breath hitched after he heard what he’d said.
The backstory behind the knife he’d received was good enough in all. He would put that matter to one side for the time being, even though there seemed to be an anecdote well worth of his surprise there.
The Sword Wolf, and the Emperor.
Subaru stopped in his tracks, his lips still pursed together as he looked around his surroundings once again.
There he could see many a tent, bonfires, sneering men, the humongous forest… And a blue flag fluttering in the wind, right next to a large tent.
…Painted smack dab in the middle of this blue flag, was a black wolf pierced by swords.
Over a year had passed for Subaru as well, since he’d come to this other world. The opportunities in which he’d be introduced as Emilia’s one and only knight were increasing, thus he was in the middle of studying stuff such as what passed as common knowledge in this world, such that he wouldn’t sit cross-legged as an other worlder forever.
The fruits of his studies matched with this flag of a wolf pierced by swords―― the Sword Wolf.
Subaru: […The Sacred Vollachian Empire.]
The national emblem of the Empire that bordered the south of the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica.
It was right now that Subaru first realised that they’d crossed the border between the Kingdom and Empire, having been hurled into a foreign country.
――The Sacred Vollachian Empire.
That was the name of the land ― No, the name of the country where Subaru was being held prisoner.
The impression Subaru had towards Vollachia was, as a result of his isekai studies, something like: “It’s like that in games or whatever, Empires kinda tend to be like lairs of evil.”
Just like the Kingdom of Lugunica, the Vollachian Empire was one of the four great countries that conserved the balance of power in the world. It was the one that held the largest amount of land, holding its dominion over the south of the world map.
Vollachia was blessed with richer soils compared to Gusteko in the north and Kararagi in the west, along with fertile lands and a warm climate. Apparently, a system of “The Survival of the Fittest” had taken shape there, as if it were a matter of course.
Many tribes and races were mixed in together, with the strong gaining everything and the weak parting with their possessions, the latter opressed by the former.
Such brutality went unpunished in the Vollachian Empire ― In other words, this was a land with people that had the worst compatibility possible for Natsuki Subaru.
Subaru: […The Sacred Vollachian Empire.]
Those words slipped out from him without even realising on the very moment he’d set his eyes on the flag swaying beside the tent. Hearing Subaru’s shocked mutter, Todd raised his brows a bit, and then,
Todd: […Long live Vollachia!]
A voice suddenly boomed from right behind him, taking Subaru aback. He sprang back in surprise, causing Todd to laugh at his reaction.
Todd: [Hahaha. What’s with that reaction. You’re the one who brought it up.]
Subaru: [Long live Vollachia?]
Todd: [Long live Vollachia.]
Though those were accusations he had no awareness of, he kind of understood them.
Whenever you said The Sacred Vollachian Empire out loud, they would answer with: “Long Live Vollachia.” That was what they were used to, a part of their national creed.
And so, there was one more thing which Subaru now knew.
Subaru: […I cannot carelessly reveal that I’m a Lugunican.]
That was a really huge blow for him.
Subaru’s position right now was as Emilia’s one and only knight, she being one of the candidates in the Royal Selection that was taking place in the Kingdom of Lugunica. Subaru had been officially knighted under Roswaal’s patronage, and thus was actually, for a limited amount of time, part of the Lugunican nobility.
Regardless of that, there shouldn’t be anyone in the Kingdom of Lugunica who didn’t know about the matter of the Royal Selection.
Thus, if he were to reveal his position, he would have been in a position to ask for a favour. ――At the very least, he’d imagined he would have talked about it to Todd once Rem’s safety had been assured, given that words got through to him.
But, it was a different matter altogether provided they were currently in the Vollachian Empire.
Having read the history books of this world, Subaru knew all too well about the poor relations between the Kingdom of Lugunica and the Vollachian Empire.
More than four hundred years ago, both countries had waged many great wars between them over territory. Ever since the Kingdom of Lugunica made a covenant with the Divine Dragon four hundred years ago, the two countries have strayed away from any major conflicts.
However, some small-scale, sporadic battles had broken out since then, and even now, there was no shadow of a doubt the two countries were in a state of cold war. He’d heard that before the start of the Royal Selection was announced, arrangements were made so that the Empire would not take advantage to lay war on them.
What would become of him were he to tell them he was part of the Lugunican nobility, right here inside the Vollachian Empire.
Maybe this would be possible if it were an Imperial noble with some common sense, but the place they were in was an encampment at the edge of a battlefield.
Todd aside, could he really hope to be treated as a guest of the nation by so many of these impulsive lot like Jamal?
Subaru: [That’s a definite no-go.]
Meaning that Subaru could not carelessly divulge his position.
Now that things were like this, the fact that he was here with Rem, who had forgotten even Subaru’s position, was a blessing in disguise ― Truly a small blessing amongst a sea of misfortune.
Todd: [Hey, what’s the actual matter? Are your legs useless, as well as your fingers?]
Subaru: [Nah, that’s not it. It’s just that when I heard you say “Long live Vollachia”, I couldn’t contain the shudders of awe welling up from deep inside my chest…]
Todd: [Oh, I see. No helpin’ that. ‘Tis only natural that you’d be struck at heart by how the Empire is, given that you’re connected to the Imperial nobility. I was the one who lacked consideration.]
Subaru: [Haha, well, hahaha.]
He would have scratched his head if he could, yet he could only let out a forced laugh at Todd’s answer.
This was the “Empire” indeed, even though his world view on it came only from literature.
The mantra of the Empire permeated all the way down to run-of-the-mill soldiers like Todd. Realising that it was showing in the man’s behaviour right now, Subaru gritted his teeth.
His trump card of sorts, as in, revealing his social standing and returning back to the Mathers Domain, could safely be assumed to have been blocked.
Or maybe a sensible citizen of the Empire would respect his position, but…
Subaru: […The odds would be stacked against me a little too much, were I to gamble on those two choices.]
Todd: [What are you grumbling about? Looky here, your long-awaited meeting.]
Subaru, who’d been shuffling along, was pushed by his back, before then receiving a clap on the shoulder.
He lifted his head up straight after Todd told him that. And when he did, he’d been brought along to some iron cells situated near one edge of the encampment. Within one of those iron cells, all of them lined up neat and tidy, a girl sat flumped down.
Rem: [――hk, it’s you.]
Having found the figure of the girl he was searching for, Subaru flew over to the cell. Rem took notice of him and frowned, all the while glaring at him with the same hostility.
Yet, he didn’t care. So long as, first of all, he could check that she was alright…
Subaru: [Oh, thank goodness. Did they do anything to you? Are you in any pa… Hbwaah!]
Todd: [Whoa, whoa, that looks like it’s gonna hurt.]
Since Subaru had been shuffling along quickly, his feet got tangled up, making him fall forward. He couldn’t use his hands to support himself of course, so he crashed face-first into the iron cell.
And just like that, Subaru let out a groan as he fell over backwards.
Rem: [Wai… What’s with that all of a sudden!?]
Subaru: [Ah nothing, my bad… I… I didn’t mean to scare you…]
Rem: [As if I would be! Stop looking down on me please… Were your nose and teeth and stuff alright?]
Subaru: [Huh!? Are you worried about me?]
Rem: [Wha? No?]
Subaru managed to lift his body up, in the way a caterpillar would, and sniffled. The answer he got from Rem was glacial.
Nevertheless, as he was gazed at by those light-blue eyes, Subaru let out a sigh of relief. However, this caused Rem’s face to tense up even more, still inside her cell.
Todd: [Alrighty then, I get that this is quite the emotional meeting, but you two ain’t quite on the same page, no? Lemme see then, so, um, you must be Rem, right?]
Rem: [――. Who knows.]
Todd: [Heyhey, what a pain. Like, there’s got to be a limit to how stubborn you can get.]
Todd butted in between Subaru and Rem’s unexpected meeting, sporting a sullen look on his face.
Rem tsunishly turned her face away, however, it seemed like her cold attitude wasn’t just limited to Subaru. It seemed to also be consistently pointed towards the encampment ― against the people of the Empire, Todd included.
Though all things said, you could say this was really typical of Rem and her bossy at home, yet timid on the streets temperament.
Subaru: [If you’re going to be snapping at whoever comes by, they’re gonna nickname you with stuff like “Mad Dog”.]
Rem: [And now he has the absolute cheek of calling me a dog. Not only do you stink, but you’re also quite the rude person, aren’t you?]
Subaru: [What are you trying to say, me stinking is being rude? Like, you mean I lack in the cleanliness department? Even so, cleanliness is something which I’ve never really properly grasped.]
There was a saying that went something like: When you hate someone, you come to hate everything related to the person. Rem’s manner of interactions with Subaru matched that sort of stuff to a T. 
The fact he had ended up coming to a place like this, while still unable to shake off that poor first impression he gave, was a real bummer.
Subaru: [Anyways, she is indeed called Rem. Thanks for helping me out… Though, that said, it’s hard for me to express my gratitude when I see how she’s been put in this cell.]
Todd: [Didn’t I tell you? The people in Jamal’s unit were beaten up. If I didn’t let myself do at least this, then even I would lose face. Either way, it’s not like we’re gonna hurt her.]
Subaru: […Can I really trust you on that?]
Todd: [We have the credence of the Imperial Nobility here after all. Even Jamal can’t complain about that.]
Todd rifled through his bosom and pulled out that knife while saying that. Subaru’s eyes swung wide open as Todd unsheathed it and cut away the rope around his hands and feet.
Feeling himself freed from his restraints, Subaru let out an exhale with an “Oh.”
Subaru: [You’re just going to let me go?]
Todd: [I wanna say “Yeah, and take your girl wherever”… But I can’t.]
Todd: [Don’t give me such a scary look. It’s not like I’m doing you a disservice. As you’ve gathered, we’ve prepared our ranks to fight the Shudraqians in the forest. But, it’s not just us who’ve been deployed. If you wander around all willy-nilly, then you’re gonna get captured by the guys at some other encampment.]
In other words, there were several encampments scattered around the land, waiting to raid the vast forest.
Were Subaru and his party to carelessly intrude into another encampment, they would most likely be captured and questioned, just like it had happened here.
But even worse――,
Subaru: [With so many Jamals in these encampments, I might even be forced to eat another damn shoe.]
Todd: [I don’t mean to brag, but in the Imperial Army you’d be hard-pressed to find many like myself. I really dislike violence, so if there’s a chance for dialogue, I’ll always go with that first, you see.]
Rem: [So we should expect most of them to be as abusive as that rude gentleman, is what you are saying?]
Todd: [Well, he did offend you, so he kinda deserves it, I guess.]
An intense hatred could be heard in Rem’s voice as she firmly spoke.
She could not bring herself to like Subaru either, but her first meeting with Jamal had been simply awful. Judging from the fact that Todd, despite knowing the situation, was not on Jamal’s side either, it could be inferred that not even his allies could defend his actions.
Subaru: [Todd-san, I get that you’re worried about our safety. But what should we do? Just like you, I really don’t want to stay put until they’re done raiding the forest.]
Todd: [I know, plus we’re gonna get shouted at if we let outsiders stay at our encampment for too long. But no matter what we do, a supply convoy will set out for a nearby town in some days from now. If y’all leave the encampment along with them, you’ll probably be able to get out without causing any unneeded ruckus.]
Subaru: [I see, a supply convoy…]
It was a no-brainer, you needed the appropriate amount of food and water to feed all of these people. There was no way they could provide that using the land around them, and so the units that brought in supplies were as important as the troops set out for combat.
That’s why Todd had recommended them to go with the people charged with providing such things for the encampments.
Subaru: [Then is it okay if we depend on you for a little while longer…?]
Todd: [I reckon so. The battle shouldn’t progress any time soon… So just make sure you don’t go near that damn Jamal. Unless you wanna be forced to eat another shoe.]
Subaru: [Yeah, I really feel that… Rem, are you alright with his plan?]
Rem gave him no reply, her face still tsunishly turned away from him.
Nevertheless, she did not reject it to his face, so she probably didn’t have any objections or alternatives in mind. He would just take it as being a cute act of defiance from her.
Todd: [You two have a weird relationship though. What sort of people are you?]
Subaru: [Uhm, you can think of us as wanderers or travellers. Rem’s my beloved girl, and the other girl we were with is someone I don’t know.]
Rem: [You’re still saying that stuff…]
Upon hearing Todd’s question, Rem’s distrust grew stronger. Subaru too thought he’d messed up, but on the other hand, he absolutely didn’t want to recognise Louis as being one of their companions.
In all honesty, he’d be all for the Empire taking her from them.
Subaru: [Which reminds me, she hasn’t been thrown into a cell along with Rem. Where did she go?]
Rem: [――. She was taken away for treatment. It seems she cut her forehead somewhere when we recklessly jumped into the river.]
Subaru: [Treatment… Treatment?]
Subaru reacted in astonishment when he heard Rem’s answer, who’d averted her gaze away. Then his expression turned serious, and he jumped towards the cell.
Subaru: [Did you say treatment!?]
Rem: [W-What? Indeed I did. Or are you saying you don’t want that girl you detest to even get treatment for her injuries?]
Subaru: [You’re not wrong there either, but that’s not the issue. Hey, Todd-san! Where’s that damned Louis getting treated? Which tent!?]
Subaru had turned around, making Todd react with a surprised “Wha?” in response to his threatening attitude. However, he did not understand the gravity of the situation one bit. Subaru grabbed him by the shoulders and asked once again: “Where is she?”
Todd: [If she’s receiving treatment, she’ll be in that tent with a red flag. But what’s going on with you so suddenly?]
Subaru: [Just like whatever, everyone’s going to die!]
Subaru pushed Todd’s shoulder away, the latter’s eyes peeled wide open, as the former hurried over to the tent with the red flag. Rem and Todd unconsciously exchanged looks with one another seeing the vigour that drove Subaru.
Todd: [What the…? Well, whatever, I’ll go after him, but…]
Rem: [Please do. He’s probably going to do something rash unless you stop him.]
Todd: [Though, why do you have to be the one to tell me that…]
Todd scratched his head and hurriedly went after Subaru, as the latter rushed forward.
And, as soon as she couldn’t see Subaru anymore,
Rem: [Like what the hell? That guy’s just been acting as he pleases with me all this time.]
Rem muttered that under her breath.
And on the other hand, having heard what Todd had said earlier, Subaru was looking around, searching for the red tent. Hearing Louis was receiving treatment; the worst possibility swept across Subaru‘s mind.
Namely, the possibility that Louis, who seemed to have lost her mind somehow, would turn back to normal with treatment and be re-established as one of the Sin Archbishops of Gluttony.
In that case, both Subaru, and of course the amnesiac Rem, would not be able to contend with her. Even if Todd, Jamal and the people of the Empire in this encampment got together, there would probably be many, many casualties.
He wasn’t going to let that happen. Impatience filled Subaru’s mind, as if saying, That must never happen.
Then, he turned towards a red tent that had caught his eyes and he quickly made his way over to it…
Subaru: [I’m sorry! Is there a vile golden haired kid here――]
A golden bullet came hurtling out from the inside at terrific speed the moment he’d tried to open the tent’s flap.
True to its aim, it scored a direct hit under his nose ― right against the centre of his body, causing both his consciousness and upper body to jolt unsteadily. And just like that, he fell down flat on his ass.
As a result, he ended up putting down his left hand on the ground, in an instant move. ――His left hand, where three of his fingers were broken.
Louis: [Ahh! Ahh! Uaaah!]
Subaru’s consciousness flickered from the fierce pain. Present was a demon, making merry, squealing happily while straddled over Subaru, who was writing in agony. ――Louis.
She was still the same as the time when she’d woken Subaru up in that grassy plain. There was a smile plastered on her face, a smile that looked just like the very manifestation of innocent evil, as she snuggled up to his chest.
He really wanted to brush her away, but his consciousness, scorching with pain, didn’t let him do so.
Subaru: [Gh, khh, a-ahh…!]
Todd: [Whoa there, you used your left hand? Well that’s, damn, pretty rough… But from what I can see, this girl looks back to her usual. Like, the wound on her forehead’s been patched up too.]
Todd caught up to Subaru, who was writhing in agony, and gently lifted the happy Louis up from his chest. Louis flapped her arms and legs while letting out an “Auuh”, however, Todd paid her no heed.
Just like Todd had said, there was a bandage wrapped around Louis’ head. It looked like they had given her some treatment for her forehead cut. Not with magic though, but with simple first-aid techniques.
Subaru: [Kh, ah… I-Is that so? So that’s what you meant by treating her head…]
He’d been so sure they were going to heal her wound with magic, so he’d gotten all panicky. However, with the method they had resorted to, there would be no way its healing would treat any aspects he didn’t wish to be treated.
It looked like Subaru’s fears had ended up being needless, for now.
Todd: [You treat this girl who’s so attached to you as someone you don’t know, yet the girl you hold as being so precious treats you so coldly… I don’t really get it, but that sounds like a dang mess.]
Subaru: […Can’t deny that. There’s hardly anyone around who finds themselves in as many messes as I do.]
If there were a limit to the amount of hardships a person went through in their life, then was this just a lifetime worth of hardships closing in on him? Or was the count reset with each Return by Death? Would a time when he would be able to feel at ease never ever come?
Just the thought of that was terrifying. And although it was terrifying…
Subaru: [I’m alive for now. That’s what matters.]
Todd: [Sure feels like you set your targets low… So, what will you do? Are we okay to go along with you guys accompanying the supply convoy in a few days time?]
Subaru: [Oh, yeah, yes please. My apologies though, for having to stay in your care.]
Todd: [Mhm? Then no need to fret, since I ain’t gonna be leaving y’all to mooch off us.]
Subaru, who was sitting cross-legged, raised his face at Todd’s words and said: “Huh?” Following that, Todd brought Louis back to the ground as she flapped her legs around, and placed one of his hands to his hips.
After that, he pointed to the Empire’s encampment that stretched out behind him, and said,
Todd: [This is quite the encampment. No matter how many hands we have on deck, it’s never enough. There’s tons of work, so I’m gonna have to get you to help out with some stuff.]
Subaru: […He who does not work, shall not eat, I guess that’s what you’re saying?]
Subaru quietly murmured those words, causing Todd to repeat them back as soon as he heard them.
Todd: [He who does not work… Yes indeed. That’s spot on. You sure know some good words.]
Todd nodded his head, and to his side, Louis nodded as well, as if copying him.
Subaru loudly cracked his neck bones while looking up at the two of them.
Subaru: […I guess this is way better than being told “Don’t do anything”, or being forced to eat a shoe, huh.]
 – Taiga drama is the name NHK gives to the annual year-long historical drama television series it broadcasts in Japan.
 – Todd uses the word shizoku specifically, which can have broader connotations in reference to Japanese History. I think Tappei is just using the term broadly, to refer to warrior tribes/families/classes, but in case you feel like going down a rabbit hole: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shizoku
 – The Japanese idiom is literally closer to: If you hate monks, you will even hate their robe.