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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 Seventy-Seventh Emperor of the Sacred Vollachian Empire.
Hearing Abel give his title, Subaru’s mind went blank.
The reason was not because he was unable to take in the meaning of the words, nor that he was afraid to square off against royalty.
Certainly, in this other world he was in, this was the first time Subaru had met royalty in person.
By the time when Subaru had been summoned to another world, all members of the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Lugunica had succumbed to illness. Felt was suspected of being a surviving royal, but Felt didn’t recognize herself as such, and since she had nary a trace of anything like royalness, she didn’t count.
In that respect, of all the people Subaru had met in this world, the ones of the highest station were the people he happened to see at the place of the Royal Selection, the dignitaries of the Council of Wise Men, or perhaps the Duchess Crusch.
Roswaal was also a Margrave of a remote region, which in itself was a high position. ――Actually, as Emilia was a Royal Candidate in the selection of the next sovereign, what kind of position did that correspond to?
Subaru: […Wait, this isn’t time to be running away from reality.]
Subaru restrained himself before his thoughts could become scattered and chaotic.
In any case, the important thing was that Abel had revealed himself to be the Emperor. Ever since he came across him on the jungle plain, Subaru had a feeling he was no ordinary person.
Still, he would never have imagined that this person actually held the position of Emperor.
Subaru: [Well, if it’s actually true.]
Abel: [You doubt my word?]
Subaru: [It’s only natural to doubt it. How is it in the middle of a forest I just happen to get stuck with the most preeminent person in the country? I can easily believe your brazenness is Emperor-class, but…]
Then, Subaru paused, and scowled directly at the fiendish face Abel wore.
From Abel’s side, only the sharpness of his gaze could be felt as they stood facing each other, which was not fair. Certainly, there was a strength of will in Abel’s voice that only a person of importance could possess.
Having come in contact with people of various stations in this world, Subaru’s intuition verified that. ――Still, that was not what this was about.
Subaru: [It’s like I said before. How the hell am I supposed to trust a guy who doesn’t even show his face, huh?]
Opposite the open fire, through the flickering flames, Abel considered Subaru’s words.
Subaru glared harshly at Abel’s masked visage, referring to the words they had exchanged while he watched the burning encampment in a daze.
Abel’s face had been concealed by old rags rather than a mask then, but he had said the same thing to him.
And finally, having heard that, Abel had undone the binds and revealed his face of his own accord.
Abel: [You are a tiresome man, going on and on about inconsequential matters.]
While saying that, he set the mask to the side, in that same moment.
Abel: [What is with that insolent look? There is nothing about me that is exceptionally different from you.]
Subaru: […That’s true, in part. I’m sensing God’s spite in the arrangement.]
Staring fixedly at Abel’s face, the irony of it struck Subaru.
It could be said that Abel and Subaru were similar. However, that was only speaking in broad terms. When broken down to a finer degree, they were different on a grand scale.
Glossy black hair, an imposing sharp-eyed look. It was an overbearingly powerful impression, but his devilish face had a peculiar charm that was difficult to look away from――,
That was the countenance of the Emperor of the Sacred Vollachian Empire.
Nevertheless, Subaru had no recognition of that face. From his position as a Knight of the Royal Selection Candidate Emilia, he had, somehow, also become involved in national affairs of a neighboring country.
Subaru: [Is that how it is? Even though you’re at the top of the nation, your face is…]
Abel: [There is no reason you would know it. From the beginning, my face has not been seen outside of the Imperial Capital. The reason being there are far too many in this country aiming for my head.]
Subaru: [So it’s for self-defense? You must’ve really stirred up people’s resentment, huh.]
Abel: [No. It is because being powerful is the creed of the citizens of the Empire. The weak-willed must die, the frail must die, and the cowardly must die… because the strong deserve to have it all.]
Abel: [The position of the Emperor is also no exception. It is the grounds for the Empire’s unparalleled strength as a nation.]
Resting his chin on his own knees, Abel spoke of Vollachia’s extreme ideology, leaving Subaru at a loss.
His words were not false. Having spent a few days at the Imperial Soldiers’ camp, Subaru knew it too. Todd and the other imperial soldiers would likely greatly approve of Abel’s words just now.
Them included, the citizens of the Empire earnestly believed in the notion that victory would balance out everything.
The way they existed was the embodiment of, “Long live the Empire”.
If they could fulfil that, then they would not hesitate to burn down the jungle to exterminate a tribe.
If they could fulfil that, launching a surprise attack on their fellow countrymen and massacring the soldiers was also――,
Subaru: [――Wait, that doesn’t make any sense.]
Abel: [What is it?]
Subaru: [For example… For example, if you were really the Emperor, then why did you attack the Imperial Soldiers’ camp? If you just walked over there and spoke with the camp’s higher-up, then…]
Abel: [Fool. How could I saunter over there with such nonchalance? I do not have a desire to end my own life. Do not lump me in with yourself.]
Subaru: [I don’t have a death wish either. But, suicide…?]
Subaru did not understand the reason as to why an Emperor interacting with his country’s soldiers would be referred to as a suicidal act.
To Abel, all of those Imperial Soldiers should be his subordinates. It was unreasonable to consider it as a suicidal act to interact with them. ――No, there was a way to rationalize it.
Subaru: [If I haven’t misheard it, then… Did you say you were ousted from the position of the Emperor?]
Abel: [It seems like you did not fail to hear it. However, I have also announced that I will not repeat myself.]
Subaru: [Don’t joke around! It’s an important section, isn’t it. Uh, is it true that you’ve really been kicked out of the Emperor’s…]
With Abel’s unchanging expression, Subaru started to doubt whether he was a human like Subaru himself, or not.
Because if Abel’s circumstances were just as Subaru had predicted, then he must be in a situation that was practically hopeless.
The thought made Subaru hesitate to continue his words.
Abel: [Your way of thinking is correct.]
However, Abel nodded, stepping over Subaru’s hesitation with ease.
In front of Subaru, who was holding his breath, Abel’s gaze was lowered ever so slightly, staring at the burning fire. The wood crackled amidst the flames, and the faint noise sounded as if they were throes of death.
Abel closed one eye whilst listening to it,
Abel: [The group of Imperial Soldiers that had been deployed outside of Buddheim were dispatched by my political opponents, in order to dispose of me. To be precise, you have become embroiled in this.]
Subaru: [But… but, the people at the camp didn’t say anything about that. They said their objective was to negotiate with the People of Shudraq in the forest.]
It was not like Subaru had the ability to see through someone’s lies.
Even with that, he thought it unrealistic to consider that everyone, in a place where dozens of people had been crowded together, had coordinated their stories to match each other’s, all just to deceive the outsiders who were Subaru and Rem.
That was why the Imperial Soldiers ― Todd and his group had believed they were after the People of Shudraq.
Subaru: [Though, capturing you being their true objective is…]
Abel: [Do not beat around the bush. They were plotting an attack. You are the one who said that. And then, in order to protect yourself and the woman, you have weighed the Shudraqians and the Imperial Soldiers on a scale.]
Abel: [I am not mistaken. What has already occured cannot be changed. Those soldiers will not come back to life. The dead will not speak of anything, nor are they able to exert their influence upon the living.]
――The dead will not come back to life.
Subaru squeezed his eyes shut, struck by Abel’s fierce words.
How dare he say whatever as he pleased, when he knew absolutely nothing?
――There was a way to revive the dead.
The method was the one and only Authority, which only Subaru was capable of holding.
If he were to Return by Death, then there was a possibility he could go back to the time before the encampment was wiped out.
Once he did that, Subaru could warn the Imperial Soldiers and save them from their deadly fate, perhaps. However, if he did that, then the safety of the People of Shudraq would be put in jeopardy.
He was trapped in a dilemma of choosing which side would be left standing at the cost of the other side. It was difficult to save both of them, when they stood diametrically opposed to each other.
More than anything――,
Subaru did not have the courage to Return by Death for them.
Even if he did redo it, how much of a chance did he have at being even more successful? This time, the fact that Subaru and Rem were safe could be referred to as second best, rather than the very best.
Asking for anything more than that was equivalent to confronting an endless challenge.
In order to do that, letting his own life wear down would be――,
Abel: [You are a foolish man, bearing enigmatic woes.]
As Subaru asked and answered his own question, Abel’s words had abruptly disturbed his ear drums.
Subaru’s eyes flew open out of astonishment, unable to comprehend what Abel had said to him for a moment. Abel was staring at Subaru from the front, on the other side of the flickering flames.
It was almost as if Abel was pitying him with that gaze of his.
Abel: [Why would you always desire to curry favor with others?]
Subaru: [Curry favor? You’re saying… I do that?]
Abel: [You are always gazing at others. You have intentionally constructed yourself to be that way. Similar to how a warrior would hone their skills, you have concealed your own heart with a deception called charity.]
Subaru: [――hk, it’s none of your business!]
Intense rage coursed through Subaru as Abel spoke as if he understood him.
To someone who did not know anything about Subaru himself, nor about Return by Death, it was impossible for him to understand even a fraction of what Subaru was saddled with.
There was no reason for Subaru to be lectured, nor pitied.
Subaru: [You haven’t answered my question at all! The Imperial Soldiers were after the People of Shudraq. They never mentioned anything about y…]
Abel: [It is a topic that is not disclosed to the foot soldiers. I suppose even the Commander is unaware. The Emperor having left his position… Is not something that could afford to be leaked out of the Empire. Neither do I, nor those who have deposed me, wish for the Empire to be shaken.]
Abel: [Additionally, it was inevitable that they would target the Shudraqians. Forced out of the Emperor’s throne, the only hand an Emperor can take after escaping the capital are the Shudraqians. ――Therefore, killing the People of Shudraq is equivalent to cutting my hands and feet and sinking me to the bottom of water when I am already half-drowning.]
Letting Abel’s nonchalant explanation sink in, Subaru’s questions melted away.
Why Todd and the rest of the Imperial soldiers surrounded the jungle? Why they sought to negotiate with the People of Shudraq to demilitarise them or otherwise exterminate them? Only now did he understand the reason for it all.
Subaru: [… Why are the Shudraqians the only ones you can rely on?]
Abel: [An Emperor of Vollachia has saved Shudraq from a predicament in times past. Shudraqians never forget their debts. There is also the Lifeblood Ritual. They are my path to victory.]
The old debt that the tribe pridefully owed to the Emperor, and the way the Shudraqians respected their rituals.
Driven away from the Imperial Capital, Abel bet on that and attempted contact with the People of Shudraq. Consequently, Abel’s political opponents tried to prevent him from doing so, by dispatching Imperial soldiers to the jungle to try and entomb the Emperor.
It was a bet with terrible odds, but one could say that he had won that gamble.
Superbly defying the opponent’s expectations, he repelled the enemy’s first wave that was meant to corner him. However, even Subaru knew. ――The opponent would not stay their hand here.
Subaru: [You, and your enemy’s battle hasn’t ended.]
Abel: [Of course. ――It would end if I were to die. However, I still draw breath. Therefore, to take back my things, I shall use my utmost power to go and reclaim them.]
That was the Emperor of Vollachia, Abel―― Vincent Abellux’s choice.
To Subaru, the word “things” that Abel had used seemed like it had an asterisk next to it, with a note saying “this actually means country”. The scale in which Abel looked at things was too big for Subaru.
At the same time as being overwhelmed by his absurdity, Subaru came to realise something far too late.
Subaru: [So, you’re planning to… start a war using the People of Shudraq!?]
Abel: [Correct. I have made them promise cooperation. The results of the Lifeblood Ritual and the pact they made with the Emperor before. People who extol pride are easy to manipulate. They will undoubtedly fight with me.]
Subaru: [You’re saying… It wasn’t enough after doing all that!?]
Retaking the Emperor’s throne. To do that, there would inevitably be more battles to come.
Resulting in war―― War, a fierce battle where humans would fight other humans, with their lives on the line.
The Imperial Camp, which had been burnt to the ground. As far as Subaru knew, there had been at least a hundred Imperial Soldiers there.
If Abel and the Shudraqians had only attacked that one encampment, even if there were some who managed to escape, there had been over a hundred casualties. If not, it was probably safe to say casualties had not reached a thousand.
――During the few hours Subaru spent unconscious, over a hundred lives had been lost.
Subaru: [Just because of that…]
Throughout the days he had lived in another world, this was the experience with the most casualties.
There had been victims at the White Whale subjugation and at the fight with Petelgeuse. There were people he could not save at the fights in Priestella, and even more in times now gone.
Compared to those unpreventable casualties, the number of lives lost here was greater.
Additionally, the enemies fought were not Witchbeasts nor were they evil entities. They were human beings.
They were not people who could not be reasoned with. They were people who could come to an understanding with dialogue.
Subaru: [Why… did they have to be killed…]
Abel: [There was no other method. That is all.]
Subaru: [… Is that really true? Did you seriously try and find another way? Before all your options were snatched away by murdering them, did you try to find another option until the very end?]
Abel narrowed his eyes at Subaru’s feeble grievances.
His look told Subaru that, instead of carefully considering Subaru’s opinion, he was questioning as to why he had to do something like that. He was questioning the fundamental part of Subaru’s argument.
It was not like he did not understand the words exchanged, nor was it that he was unwilling to partake in discourse.
The reason they could not come to an understanding despite this, was because Abel’s ethics were terrifyingly secluded from his own.
Fortunately for Natsuki Subaru, until now, he had not fallen into a situation where he had to build a relationship with someone whose values greatly differed from his.
The majority of people he had encountered in this other world were rational. They lent their ears to Subaru and interacted with him, while communicating their own opinions. Once upon a time, an idiotic Subaru had failed to understand this and was thus unable to notice their tact, resulting in him throwing all that away. Even so, he managed until now.
The people he had been unable to come to an understanding, because of their different sets of values, were mostly either Witches or Sin Archbishops.
However, by defining them as “different” beings, Subaru could continue going on without having to knock morals with them.
But Abel was different. The People of Shudraq and the Imperial Soldiers were also different.
They held no ill will, they did not toy with life and death, and they did not wield tremendous power for selfish reasons.
Excluding their base principles, they were humans, just like Subaru.
But even then――,
Subaru: [… I, just want to bring Rem home.]
The battle to retake Abel’s throne was going to commence.
If this were another person’s affair, or if it was a past event detailed in a biography or something similar, Subaru would eagerly turn those pages with excitement.
This was reality, however.
In a foreign country, where there was no one to rely on, a fierce internal struggle that would shake the very foundation of the country was about to take place. To intervene in this situation and try to change history, there were no plans to even entertain that thought, in Subaru.
The objective was to bring Rem and return to the Kingdom of Lugunica.
He needed to reunite with Emilia and Beatrice, his friends at Roswaal’s mansion as soon as possible. They had to celebrate Rem’s awakening, and discuss what to do moving forward.
Any issues other than that, he could not keep up with.
Subaru: [――Tell me the location of the nearest town or village. I’ll find a way back from there.]
Tapping his cheeks with both his hands, Subaru stated his single-minded goal.
Receiving that, Abel responded with a small sigh,
Abel: [Hoh, that makes sense. Nevertheless, it will not be a simple path.]
Subaru: [Easy or difficult, if it is necessary, I will walk that path. A paved path though, if possible.]
Standing up in front of the snorting Abel, Subaru strongly bit the inside of his cheek.
Stimulating his brain with the pain, he struck down his rising doubts and faced forward. He looked towards Abel, who remained unmoving.
The lonely Emperor had one of his eyes closed, his gaze crossing over with Subaru.
Subaru: [I still haven’t thanked you. Putting aside the method in which you did it, thank you for rescuing Rem. I’m grateful for that.]
Abel: [It was not only the girl, another one was rescued too.]
Subaru: [That was unnecessary… Thanks to you, my worries will stay as-is for a while.]
Of course, even in the case Louis had been lost in the Imperial Camp, it did not mean that the problems Subaru held would be neatly resolved. If one were to narrow it down to just his problems with Rem, there was a rather high chance that his relationship with her would become more strained.
He did not know which was better. And because he did not know――,
Subaru: [I will pick the path that I agree with. I have mixed feelings about it but… you do the best you can do. But, the People of Shudraq…]
Abel: [Are you saying I should not involve them? Either way, if you and I did not intervene, a scorched jungle was what awaited them. This is already their fight too.]
There was no room for denial.
They were already in a position where they were forced to fight to protect themselves.
Subaru: [It’s impossible for me… I don’t think I will ever be able to become like you.]
Shaking his head, Subaru muttered while looking at Abel.
Abel had one of his eyes closed―― The closed eyelid was opposite of the one before. To explain further, Abel’s blinking was unique. He would blink one eye at a time, never letting both eyes be closed at the same time.
Subaru recognised that this was done so that both eyes would never be closed even for an instant.
Subaru feared the Vollachian Emperor, who lived in a world where habits like that were formed just to survive as the one on the apex of the Sword Wolf’s Empire. He feared in reverence.
Listening to his mutterings, Abel, unsurprisingly with one eye closed,
Abel: [Naturally. You, nor anyone else would be fit to be my substitute.]
Leaving the People of Shudraq, Subaru and his group would be heading to the town closest to the Buddheim Jungle.
Such a decision had been made by Subaru. After the people surrounding him had listened to it, their reaction was unexpectedly mild.
???: [I see. It’s unfortunate, but if that is my comrade’s decision, it can’t be helped.]
That was Mizelda’s reaction after hearing what Subaru had to say.
She regarded his decision with respect, her dignified face tinted with sadness to some degree, just as what her words suggested.
Truthfully, Subaru had made his declaration whilst bracing himself against verbal abuse, such as, “You’re not a warrior if you don’t fight!”, so he felt all the more regretful because of her thoughtfulness.
Once Subaru had obtained permission from the chief, no one could stand in the way of his decision.
The existence of Utakata, who appeared to be more dejected than Mizelda, made Subaru feel reluctant to leave, as if something was tugging at the back of his hair. However, it would not become a reason for him to stay here.
Utakata: [Suu is going somewhere. Uu feels sad…]
Subaru: [Yeah, I’m sorry… Hey, do you know what’s going to happen from now on?]
Subaru asked her, caressing the girl’s head as she pinched his sleeve.
Not a single doubt was held against the values and their sense of unity, and there was no mistaking the fact that Mizelda’s decision was the tribe’s decision, but Utakata was still young.
If she had been pulled by the flow of the people around her without understanding anything――,
Utakata: [――? A battle’s going to start now. Uu will fight together with Mii, Taa, and everyone.]
Subaru: […I see.]
As Utakata said that, showing off the bow she had equipped on her back, Subaru blew out a sigh.
He wanted young children to remain ignorant. As expected, such deceit was a facile idea that did not apply to this jungle.
In the first place, Utakata had once achieved putting Subaru to death by shooting him with a poisoned arrow.
Even if she did not look like it, she was definitely one of the People of Shudraq. She possessed the resolve to fight, as well as the resolve to kill her opponent.
Subaru: [Don’t die, Utakata.]
Utakata: [Uu won’t die! Make sure you don’t die, too. And do your best.]
Although he attempted to cheer her on, a larger voice of encouragement was returned to him, causing Subaru to choke up, managing to respond to her by putting on a feeble smile.
In all honesty, Subaru could not imagine how much of a chance at victory that Abel and the Shudraqians would have in their battle.
Targeting Abel, who had been deprived of his status as an Emperor, their opponents had dispatched a subjugation force to the Buddheim Jungle.
That meant the enemy was in a state where they were able to move around the forces that made up the fighting strength of the Empire at their own discretion. Meanwhile, the only force that Abel held were the Shudraqians, and they were a small group of less than a hundred people.
Of course, there was a possibility that Abel would consecutively stack victory after victory, by utilizing an otherworldly, unfathomable plan similar to the one he had used to launch a one-sided assault on the Empire’s Camp, forcing them to retreat, but――,
???: [――Everything is all set.]
While Subaru had been controlled by the very thoughts he had supposedly casted away by changing his mindset, someone called out to him from the side, like that.
Subaru immediately turned around, his shoulders jolting, and the person also widened her eyes from his momentum.
???: [――? What’s the matter? Why are you so surprised?]
The person looking at the stiff-faced Subaru was Rem, who had said that.
With a wooden stick in one hand and carrying a small amount of baggage on her back, Rem appeared to have finished getting ready to leave the forest, just like Subaru.
――Yes, when Subaru had informed her that he had chosen to leave the forest, the person who had reacted to it in the most unexpected way had been none other than Rem.
To be honest, Subaru had thought she would oppose him stubbornly, therefore creating a need for him to persuade her.
In the worst case, he would forcefully take Rem outside while she was asleep, having steeled himself to part ways with the Shudraqians’ village with the momentum of an escape under the cover of night.
However, Rem’s reaction towards Subaru, who had revealed their circumstances to her with the expectation of being rejected, had been surprisingly simple.
Rem: [――. I understand. I will finish making preparations by tomorrow.]
That was why, even when Subaru looked at Rem once she had finished making preparations for travel, he could not really accept it as something that had actually occurred.
Subaru: [Ah! No, sorry, I’m alright. Yeah, your preparations look great, too. Cute, cute.]
Subaru: [I mean, you’re reliable! Thank you. With you being such a responsible person, I’m such a fortunate guy.]
His reply was awkward to the point Rem stared at him with a doubtful look.
It was not like he wished to curry favor with Rem. Since he was in a condition where he would be saved by Rem’s lack of resistance, of course, so maintaining their current relationship was the most desirable.
Ideally, he wanted her to warm up to him, however.
He could test that out again when he had a calmer state of mind.
For now, his honest opinion was that he wished to distance himself from the presence of war, which hung densely in the air, as soon as possible.
Rem: [So, have you finished your preparations? It seemed like you had the time to be reluctant about leaving, but…]
Subaru: [Yeah, it’s all good. I didn’t have much baggage to begin with, and you’re going to be carrying most of them.]
Rem: […But, you’re going to be carrying me.]
With a drop in the tone of her voice, Rem snuck a glance at the handmade, wooden framework that had been placed in the clearing.
It was a wooden rack that had been assembled for Subaru to carry Rem on his back while travelling, weaved out of a combination of thick branches and vines.
Rem was able to walk with some difficulty by use of her cane, but the journey from this place to the nearest town would take a few days.
In the meantime, he did not know how time-consuming it would be if he were to walk at the same speed as Rem. Because of that, the wooden frame had been created through the cooperation of Subaru and the Shudraqians.
Subaru: [It feels pretty handmade, but there should be no issues with its durability. I already tested it out with Taritta-san, who’s heavier than you, so…]
Rem: [I’m not really concerned about heaviness or lightness, but I think you’re being rude to Taritta-san.]
Incurring Rem’s displeasure once again, Subaru scratched his cheek with a dry laugh.
And then, he directed his gaze behind Rem―― towards Louis, their fellow traveling companion. It went without saying, but if Subaru were to bring Rem with him, then Louis would also be accompanying them.
Subaru: [There’s no way I could force a bomb onto everyone of the Shudraq, after all…]
Even if that was not the case, taking his eyes off a Sin Archbishop was purely preposterous.
There had been many instances where he had looked away from Louis, and that meant she had had plenty of opportunities to reveal her true nature, but he did not want to let her do that from now on.
Even if he had started to believe that Louis’s behavior was not an act, but actually genuine.
Louis: [Aah, uuu.]
The girl in question had her long hair tied behind her head, and also had her white clothes mended, her attire giving her a wholly different impression.
Apparently, the Shudraqians had been fond of Louis in their village, and her repaired clothes were a gift from them.
Subaru: [Sorry for making your tribe do pretty much everything for us.]
Mizelda: [Don’t worry about it, Subaru. You have overcome the Lifeblood Ritual, displaying the brightness of your soul. The fact that we’re lending our strength to you is obviously to honor our comrade.]
Subaru dropped his eyes at Mizelda’s words, as she came over to see him off, her arms crossed.
He could not face Mizelda, who has been referring to him as her comrade with such friendliness. After all, he knew that a harsh battle was looming upon them, and he was aware of being one of the very people who had involved the People of Shudraq into that, yet he was trying to flee from this place.
Would something like that be what a fellow comrade, dignified and honorable just as the tribe had described him, actually do?
Mizelda: [Don’t trouble yourself about it, Subaru.]
However, Mizelda said that as if she had deciphered his inner thoughts.
Mizelda: [We fight to prove our worth. However, we create our future by protecting those dear to us until the end. It’s way of thinking that’s necessary in order to protect our tribe.]
Mizelda: [Protect Rem and Louis. That is the honor we expect from our comrade.]
Subaru felt the corners of his eyes grow hot from Mizelda’s straightforward words.
He did not feel like correcting Mizelda, saying she had misunderstood about Louis. He had to at least fulfil that role, to answer to the trust Mizelda and the others had put in him.
Or, although he would never meet the Shudraqians ever again――.
???: [We’re ready~. Now is a good opportunity to take our leave~.]
Right as Subaru had been spurred by Mizelda, a woman with yellow-tipped hair, waving her hand exaggeratedly ― Holly, called over to him with a wide grin.
Next to her was Kuna, who had a slender build, her hair dyed green. The cheerful Holly and in contrast, the reticent-looking Kuna. Those two were the guardians of Subaru’s group.
Arrangements had been made so that the two Shudraqians would be protecting Subaru, Rem, and Louis, ensuring they would not be attacked by anything on their way to Guaral ― the nearest town.
Subaru: [I’m super grateful for bodyguards, but I also feel like it’s too much. Even though…]
This was a foreign country, and Subaru had already died multiple times in the mere span of a few days.
He could not deny it was a unique situation, but it was the safest to take precautions. Subaru himself did not have enough prowess as a fighter to be confident in his own abilities, and it was fruitless to depend on Rem and Louis.
He could say nothing regarding Kuna, but he had also seen Holly lift a boulder effortlessly with his own eyes. They were more than reliable as the group’s bodyguards during their journey.
Subaru: [――Rem, does it hurt anywhere?]
Subaru asked Rem over his shoulder, while pulling up the wooden rack.
Since they would be positioned back-to-back with the handmade frame between them, Subaru could not see Rem’s face from where he was. He had tried packing in soft leaves and fabric to secure her body, but there would be a few inconveniences considering they would be traveling for a long time.
Rem: [I’m fine… Are you okay with this?]
Subaru: [I’ve been training myself moderately… at least. My stamina hasn’t completely returned, but I want to prevent Holly and Kuna’s hands from being full, in the case of emergency.]
In the first place, he was immensely thankful towards the two Shudraqians for being their escorts, but making them carry Rem on top of that was something he could never dare to ask for.
Subaru, demonstrating his stubbornness, Rem, carried by him, and Louis had lined up as a group. Accompanying them were Holly and Kuna, having finished their preparations despite being lightly dressed, and they all stood together.
Then, the People of Shudraq began crowding around the entrance of the village.
Mizelda: [Well then, may the tranquility and objective of our fellow comrade, Natsuki Subaru, be fulfilled.]
People of Shudraq: [――May it be fulfilled!]
Mizelda called out, standing in the front, and the other Shudraqians followed in unison.
Experiencing an illusion of feeling like the wind had blown, filling up the area, Subaru made sure to return their spirit with a, “Yeah!”, along with a smiling face.
Subaru: [Thank you, everyone. Take care of yourselves and stay happy!]
As soon as he had said it, he realized that was a greeting terribly filled with deceit.
Thinking about the turbulent path that awaited the tribe after this, “stay happy” were two words that sounded far too hollow and meaningless.
However, he could not say anything more than that. He could not wish for anything more than that.
He hoped for the pleasant, refreshing women to stay happy as they continued to live their lives.
While wishing for that, Subaru searched for the man with the wicked mask among the line of people who had come to see his group off.
However, it was only natural that the man could not be found anywhere.
He was not someone who would send them off, nor did the relationship between him and Subaru involve something like that.
Even if Subaru were to spot the man, he would not have any words to tell him.
That was why――,
Subaru: [――We’re heading off!]
As Subaru said that, almost in a desperate way, Louis’s loud voice overlapped with his words.
And then, Subaru and his group split themselves from the People of Shudraq, departing for Guaral, the nearest town, in an effort to escape from the war that would take place hereafter, taking their first step in doing so.