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Subaru’s eyes widened as a strong arm grabbed him by the shoulders, making him turn around.
The iron helmet staring his way―― Or rather, Al’s attitude, was rather unexpected.
Ignoring the force of the arm that had seized his shoulder was somewhat difficult. His intent to halt Subaru from banging his head against the wall and harming himself could be keenly felt.
Al: [You should stop that.]
Their gazes met, and a breath escaped as the words of restraint were repeated.
Immediately, Subaru felt a pang of shame well up from the bottom of his stomach, as if he had been blamed for his eccentric behavior. It was as if he were a character in a game being made to run against a wall.
Looked like it was exactly like that, including the part where he had not thought anything about it.
Al: [Don’t come crying to me if you end up an idiot after doing that. No, rather, it’s because I couldn’t leave you like that, that I came to stop you.]
Subaru: […Sorry for the inconvenience.]
Al: [Why so formal? Also, your voice is so raspy it’s scaring me.]
With Al pointing out that Subaru’s voice was surprisingly hoarse, he once again ridiculed himself.
The one who had suffered from a complete mental breakdown and the one whose shameful behavior had forced him into this broken state of mind, was none other than himself.
It was natural. After all, it was none other than Rem who had told Subaru――,
Al: [――Was it so painful for you to hear what that girl said?]
Al: [Oh, scary! Don’t look at me like that. I’m gonna get nervous if you keep staring at me looking like that.]
Subaru looked up as if he had been hit by a bullet, meanwhile Al shrugged his shoulders as if jesting.
His glare had caused Al to step back, but Subaru closed the distance between them, and directly tackled Al’s earlier statement.
Subaru: [You, were you listening…!]
Al: [I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, you know. You just happened to be in the middle of an important conversation when I went to call you, bro. I just thought it’d be wrong to interrupt.]
Al: [Even if you look at me with those distrustful eyes, I ain’t lying. Well, after that, bro, you started walking like it was the end of the world, so I got worried and followed you. And sure enough…]
As he said this, Al pointed to the front part of his helmet.
And as he had expected, his fears were right on the mark. It was not like Al was paying particularly close attention, but it was more that Subaru’s desperation was clear as day.
The pain from his forehead, which he had been hitting right at the spot Al had pointed at, came back, causing Subaru to cast his eyes downward awkwardly.
Subaru: [That’s right, what happened with Rem? I mean, after she talked to me…]
Al: [Whoa, whoa, don’t tell me the shock you got because of what that girl said made you lose your memories? Please gimme a break. If you get amnesia, bro, I’ll lose my only buddy.]
Al answered Subaru’s question while fiddling with the metal clasp of his helmet with his hand around his head.
Unfortunately, what Al had feared would happen had already come to pass. That said, for Subaru it was something equally grave compared to amnesia, so it was inevitable that his mental balance would be disturbed.
Perhaps seeing Subaru’s anxiety in his expression, Al prefaced with “Don’t worry about it”,
Al: [Even after you turned pale, you were still giving decent answers, bro. So I think the girl didn’t suspect anything, yeah?]
Subaru: [Ah, I see…]
After receiving Al’s guarantee, Subaru felt the faintest of the faintest senses of relief.
Apparently, Subaru’s disgraceful behavior had started only after he had left Rem’s presence. If he managed to keep up appearances around Rem, he would not have worried her.
In any case――,
Subaru: [Al, about what you just said… What did you mean?]
Al: [Just said?]
Subaru: […About understanding my feeling of wanting to die, or something.]
With his hand on his aching forehead, Subaru asked the truth behind Al’s words.
Al: [I understand the feeling of wanting to die. But no matter how many times you do that, there’s gonna be no end to that sorta thing.]
The statement that he understood the feeling of wanting to die, and that there was no end to it, no matter what one did.
To be honest, he thought that it was not an expression that would bother him much. But at the same time, it was an expression too meaningful to be telling Subaru in this situation.
Rather, that statement seemed as if Al also wished to make Subaru believe that he perhaps knew about Subaru’s peculiarity, his Authority.
Al: [――. Oh, that.]
Subaru: [Yeah, that. It was… It was a very meaningful thing to say. You…]
――You know something about it, right?
Subaru sent Al a gaze shrouded with suspicion. Even if he strained his eyes, he was unable to peer into the eyes and the emotions hidden behind the cold steel helmet.
And with that, his expression and eyes hidden, Al snorted and spoke,
Al: [I don’t wanna say this, but I’ve been getting along in years, right? I’ve been in the same kind of mess as you, bro. ――I’ve even acted lame in front of a pretty girl.]
Al: [What’s with that “ah”? Stuff like making a big fool of yourself and then wanting to die’s a road any man has walked. If you ask me, even at my age, I do it quite often. When I do it, the Princess looks at me like I’m a bug.]
With a chuckle, Al patted Subaru on the shoulder and gave him a lesson typical of a senior.
Taking in that content and his demeanor, Subaru stared back at Al, trying to determine if he was being deceptive or serious.
Al: [Hmm? What’s up, bro?]
Subaru: […No, it’s nothing.]
However, even if Subaru attempted to uncover Al’s true intentions, he would be incapable of doing so, as his view was obstructed by black iron.
Till this moment, he had always dismissed Al’s outfit as nothing more than one of his eccentricities. But when confronting him, attempting to ascertain his true intentions, he became aware that it was a protection much more potent than expected.
But, at the same time, he also reflected on getting too nervous.
Subaru: [There’s no way he knows, huh…]
It was just a coincidence that Al’s comment had caught Subaru’s attention.
If Al knew about Return by Death, he would have tried to show it to Subaru in a way that was easier to understand. ――The very existence of that Authority, of Return by Death, was a perilous affair.
Were he to be aware of it, he would not keep himself from alluding to it, much like Roswaal.
Subaru: [――I guess not everyone who gets summoned to another world gets some kind of power.]
He was not in the know regarding the details of Al’s situation, but he thought it safe to assume this.
Because, if Al possessed some kind of special power dwelling inside him, it seemed to him―― that the loss of his left arm could have been prevented.
For example, if Subaru were to lose one of his arms in similar fashion, then he could utilize his Authority to prevent the loss of his left arm before it happened, by――,
With that thought in mind, Subaru stared at his left arm intently.
It was merely hypothetical, but very possible. In the first place, the only reason Subaru had been able to survive with all his body parts intact so far, was because he had been able to make full use of Return by Death.
Many times, among the loops in which he had been robbed of his life, he had suffered the loss of an arm or a leg.
Had he been able to survive without Return by Death, he would have been plenty able to live with missing body parts.
――Subaru had decided that he would never fully rely on Return By Death.
But then, to what extent should he rely on it?
How many of his arms, legs, fingers, and eyes would he have to forfeit before he decided to rely on it? Above all, what if it was not his own limbs, but those of Emilia or Rem?
In the Watergate City of Pristella, Subaru had not Returned by Death for the sake of Ricardo’s lost arm. Today as well, he had not Returned by Death because Mizelda had lost her leg.
Even though he knew that, via the use of his Authority, he might have been able to procure better results.
Even though he was aware that the number of those who had lost arms or legs, with the paths they had taken so far cut off, could be reduced.
Subaru: [I’m a hypocrite.]
Conscious that the Authority he had been bestowed with was a mighty one, he was unable to take a decisive step.
Natsuki Subaru was far too impotent and selfish.
Subaru: [Rem too… Zuah?!]
Al: [You’re in a bad loop, bro.]
He had ended up allowing Rem to speak those decisive words.
Right before he was about to fall into depression, Subaru’s forehead was struck by a powerful finger flick. The strong pain brought tears to eyes, and while uttering “Wha, wha…”, he looked at Al.
Al: [Oh, that made a pretty good sound. Wait, did I hit you right where you slammed your forehead? Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to.]
Subaru: [It’s fine… Not, what the hell was that!]
Al: [That was a finger flick. So, the questioning power shifts to me, and I’ll ask the questions now.]
Al pointed the flicked finger at Subaru, whose surprise overrode the pain. Upon having that finger thrust at his nose, Subaru involuntarily backed away and kept his mouth shut.
Then, Al continued with a “Listen”,
Al: [How unsettled are you by that girl’s words? It’s a shame, just because she told you something. Don’t you think so yourself?]
Subaru: [Well, I…]
Al: [I don’t want you to get woozy over something like that. I’m embarrassed to say this, but… I got expectations for you, bro.]
Subaru was simply surprised to be given a talk that he had never expected.
Seeing Subaru’s reaction, Al gave a deep nod, and said, “Yes, that’s right”,
Al: [You remember that speech you gave at Pristella, right bro?]
Subaru: [Oh, yeah, I do, but …]
Al: [I’m pretty sure that, back then, I told you that that broadcast would mean that you’d have to carry “heroic reveries”, bro.]
It had been a tense situation, with the city being assaulted by the Sin Archbishops, and many people in dire straits.
Subaru recalled the words Al had given him upon being requested to play a role in that situation, yet been unable to take the next step: those were the “heroic reveries”.
He was an existence burdened with the expectations and hopes of many people. He could not be allowed to lose.
He was carrying the “reverie” of being the “hero” everyone wished for there to be.
And at that time, Subaru responded way too relaxedly.
――It was the same as it had always been.
Al: [It’s the same here. One person denies you, so what? It’s not like it’s going to change what you’ve done, bro, or turn your resolve inside out.]
Al: [Don’t break, bro. Go get ‘em, bro. ――Live up to expectations, bro.]
Al, who knew about Subaru’s achievements in the Watergate City, patted him on the back.
Neither Rem, who had forgotten everything, nor Louis, who had regressed to an infant, and obviously, neither Abel, Flop, Medium, nor the People of Shudraq, were cognizant of Subaru’s achievement.
Priscilla also knew, but he doubted she would remember about it in the first place.
Al: [I haven’t forgotten. And I’m sorry, I’m not letting go of it, bro.]
Subaru: [Not letting go of it, you say…]
Al: [You’ve started it. I’m telling you, that’s a reputation you gotta keep up until you die.]
Subaru’s breath was taken away yet again, due to Al’s critical words.
He knew that the broadcast in the Watergate City had spread not only to the people in that city, nearly consumed by anxiety and fear, but also to the rest of the world.
He had to maintain that reputation until he died.
And unfortunately, “death” would never come to Subaru.
Therefore, he had no choice but to keep fighting.
At Al’s words, a voice leaked out of Subaru’s mouth as he covered his face with both hands, and shut his eyes.
Echoing in his head this whole time were the deadly words spoken by Rem. Those devastating words had shredded Subaru’s heart to bits, making him drown in his own stream of blood.
Rem: [――Because, you’re not a hero.]
Subaru: [I’ve been relying on a single thing Rem said, all this time.]
Rem: [――Because, you’re not a hero.]
Subaru: [Rem believed in me, and that’s why I didn’t falter. It was the same in Sanctuary, in Pristella, in Pleiades Watchtower…]
Rem: [――Because, you’re not a hero.]
Subaru: [Rem woke up without her memory, but I was still happy… I’m one step closer to getting it all back, and this is the time when I need to hold on the hardest.]
Rem: [――Because, you’re not a hero.]
Subaru: [Those were the magic words that roused my spirit.]
He was a hero, Rem had told him so.
They had stopped Subaru from giving up on everything and running away; they had not allowed his knees to buckle because Rem had fallen into slumber; they had let him challenge the obstruction of the Sanctuary and the difficult problems at the mansion; they had played a role in his efforts to save the Watergate City of Pristella that had fallen into enemy hands; and they had rocked the soul of a Natsuki Subaru that had lost his “memories”, and enabled him to conquer the Pleiades Watchtower.
Rem: [Because Subaru-kun is Rem’s hero.]
Because of those words, because of that trust and support, he had been capable of making it to this day.
To take those away, for Natsuki Subaru, that meant――
Al: [Then, you just gotta get them back.]
With his face covered, Subaru was in the midst of drowning in a darkness too deep to be called the back of his eyelids when he gasped due to Al’s statement, raising his face.
Right in front of him, was Al’s face, causing him to take a step backwards. However Al was the one to move forward this time, in a mirrored image of the previous scene.
Subaru’s back immediately made contact with the wall. He could not move back any further. As if to push Subaru, unable to retreat, Al extended his arm and blocked his escape.
Al: [We’re gonna get them back. Both that girl’s expectations and your confidence, bro.]
Subaru: [Expectations and confidence…]
Al: [You gotta maintain your reputation. You gotta fight. And if you can’t afford to keep losing, then you got no choice but to keep on winning just like you wish. That’s how we’re going to win and get them back.]
Al: [The expectations and reputation you lost can only be regained with better results. That’s something you too should know, because you’ve experienced it many times.]
Suddenly he brought his face closer and the cold iron helmet hit his forehead.
However, Al appealed to Subaru so strongly and sincerely that the latter did not even notice that their foreheads were touching. This had bore a great impact on Subaru. Most importantly, Al seemed to have a point or two.
Lost expectations and reputation―― the most bitter of Subaru’s memories was, of course, his blunder at the Royal Castle.
At that time, Subaru had lost Emilia’s trust and expectations, and his valuation amidst the Royal Candidates dropped. The reason why he had been able to regain their trust afterwards were his actions.
For sure, not because he was banging his forehead against a wall in utter devastation.
Subaru: […Am I an idiot? No, I am an idiot.]
Wasn’t it like though nothing had changed from when he made that blunder at the Royal Castle?
At that time as well, Subaru had attempted to disregard a massive hole, by pretense of asking Wilhelm to train him, in order to escape from the immense pain in front of him.
But now, Subaru could not afford to be so weak.
He had to protect Rem and bring her home. In contrast to that time, there was no one else he could turn to for that purpose. ――For Rem, there was only Subaru.
And in order to reassure Rem, surrounded by anxiety and gone without memories, he could not display even a little bit of a pathetic appearance in front of her any longer.
Even if Rem, who had forgotten everything, had stated that Subaru was not a hero.
Even if the words that had so strongly supported Subaru’s back were retracted by that same face and voice.
Subaru: [――I’m Rem’s hero.]
Yes, wasn’t Natsuki Subaru’s true nature to keep his head up?
Al: […Got a tad of your energy back?]
Hearing Subaru’s determination, the harshness vanished from Al’s voice. Replying to his words with a “Yeah”, Subaru directed his eyes towards Al from up-close, and,
Subaru: [It’s gotten much better. But back off, move away! What the hell’s up with this kabe-don?] 
Al: [Right! Bro’s crossdressing, and I’m a forty-year-old man missing an arm!]
Laughing heartily, Al pulled his hand from the wall and stepped back.
As Subaru’s field of view opened up, Subaru felt as if not just what was in front of him, but he felt like he was able to expand his horizon much more.
――In all honesty, Al’s words had only acted as first aid, and the fatal wound had not been closed completely.
He was not sure that his legs would not tremble in case he met Rem, that he would not be afraid of her repeating her previous words once he regarded her once again.
He had not been able to reach an answer thus far, as to how much and for what purpose he would exercise the Authority named Return by Death.
He was sure that even if he mulled it over in his head, he would be incapable of arriving at a conclusion until that moment came.
But he could say it clearly.
This prideful Authority in Natsuki Subaru’s possession, was indispensable to materialize the “heroic reveries” that he must bear on his back. 
Henceforth, he was certain he would continue to be confused on the manner to deal with it in the times to come.
Al: [Ohh, right bro, I just wanted to ask.]
As Subaru stared downward at his hands in the process of renewing his mind, Al suddenly spoke up in an uncomfortable manner, his gaze directed toward Subaru.
Subaru wondered about Al’s attitude, as he had not shown any sign of reservation up till this point.
Subaru: [What’s the big deal now? If you have something to ask me, ask.]
Al: [Then, I’ll feel free to ask… What’s your relationship with that Rem girl?]
Al uttered that question with his head cocked in puzzlement. The question was one that seemed weird to ask at this point.
But it was only when Al asked this, that Subaru realized that he had given no explanation.
Al: [She’s your companion, bro, that you brought all the way to the Empire. She ain’t that half-elf girl or that contracted loli. On top of that, you’re treating her like a wife, right?]
Subaru: [I do that as a matter of convenience, and she herself doesn’t like it.]
Al: [But that girl’s words are tearing you to pieces, bro. ――The hell’s up with that?]
Al lowered his voice slightly and asked in a very serious manner.
In response to his words, Subaru frowned and searched his memories to make sure that there was no acquaintance between Al and Rem―― at least not in this timeline.
In the first place, he had never even brought up the subject of Rem in front of Al. It was only natural that he did not know about her. But still, there was something peculiar about his question.
The reason was probably Al’s attitude as he made that inquiry.
His expression could not be seen. But he could feel the heat in his gaze.
Subaru sensed that it was a sign of seriousness and urgency. He was bewildered by the unfamiliar sides of Al he had been shown in such a short period of time, the previous exchange included.
He was his sole compatriot, one who had survived in this other world with his aloof, carefree, and unserious attitude.
As he felt his impression of Al morphing within him,
Subaru: [Rem’s my… one of our companions. However, she fell victim to the Archbishop of Gluttony. Because of that, she’s gone from everyone’s memories. She doesn’t even remember herself.]
Al: [――. So that’s what happened. I see, I see, that makes sense.]
With Subaru having simply stated the truth, Al put his hand on his chin and nodded repeatedly.
Subaru’s head tilted due to the words that had leaked from his mouth, which prompted a “Right” from Al,
Al: [There were a few things that were bothering me. It was supposed to be a girl I didn’t… know, but it looked like a girl I did know. It was kinda asserting itself like the small bone of a fish stuck somewhere.]
Subaru: [You don’t know her, but you know her… Are you talking about Ram?]
Al: [Oh, yes, yes.]
Al’s voice fluttered as Subaru blinked at the unexpected connection that had popped up.
But that was enough to convince Subaru of Al’s attitude.
Thanks to everyone in the Emilia Camp, he was well-aware of how someone would react when one of the two, Ram and Rem, were to be forgotten.
Even Roswaal and Frederica, who had known her for a long time, had completely lost track of her existence until laying eyes on the real Rem, and once they met her face-to-face, they had never doubted the fact that she and Ram were twin sisters.
Aside from their personalities and qualities, Ram and Rem were really very similar. ――No, surprisingly, as of late he found himself wondering that they might be similar in nature as well.
Anyway, he now understood what Al’s strange feeling had been.
Knowing Ram, it would be confusing to see a Rem who looked exactly like her.
Subaru: [But I’ve never heard of you and Ram knowing each other.]
Al: [It’s not like we know each other. We ain’t really acquaintances, it’s just like, we got a bit of a connection, somehow. It’s not so much that we know each other. ――Twin sisters, huh? So you wanna reunite them.]
Subaru: […Mhm, that’s right.]
The top priority was to reunite Rem with Ram.
After that, Subaru’s main goal was to bring Rem back to where she belonged, and have everyone in the Emilia Camp, along with him, welcome her. To do so, he could not afford to lose Rem’s trust.
He must do whatever it took to regain her trust and get her to take his hand.
Al: [――Aight, okay. I’ll help you, bro.]
Subaru hardened his fists as he once again focused on the big goal, when Al, still at his front, having mulled over the circumstances that had been relayed to him, nodded and spoke those words.
Unintentionally, Subaru let out a dumb-sounding “Aeh?”,
Al: [Bro, did you just make the dumbest squeal ever?]
Subaru: [Leave me alone! I mean, what did you say? Do you want to help? Help who?]
Al: [I’ll do it for you, bro. And I’m sure the Princess’s gonna have a lotta stuff to say about that, but she can do whatever she wants with that. Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m gonna support you.]
Al: [But I only got one arm’s worth of shoulder to put into it.]
Subaru: [That’s not funny.]
He’d stated that with annoying enthusiasm, and Subaru was puzzled even as he replied swiftly back.
That was probably true. He did not know what in the world tugged at Al’s heartstrings.
Subaru: […Because you know Ram, that’s why you’re going to help me?]
Al: [It’s not like that. It’s you I’m rooting for, bro. ――In any case, if you gonna be a hero, the girl can’t be left out. That’s what I’m talking about.]
Subaru: [It’s not like I’m trying to be a hero…]
Al: [――You will be. Natsuki Subaru will become a hero.]
It was a way of interrupting that did not allow him to say no.
It was a strong, quiet statement, and the heat that it held within scorched Subaru’s heart.
Al: […Just kidding.]
However, the intense fervor dissipated at the sound of Al’s jesting voice.
With Subaru at the mercy of the sudden change of situation, Al waved his hand and said ”Sorry, sorry”,
Al: [But let’s keep that kinda spirit, bro. It’s better for lazy people like me and you bro, to bluff our way out a little.]
As he said this, Al turned away and walked off with a jaunty gait.
Lagging behind his stately steps, Subaru beckoned him.
Subaru: [Al. That just now was…]
Al: [Whoa, let’s not go off on a tangent here. After all, as I recall, I came to call you to the conference hall, bro. I’m pretty sure the Princess’s gonna gimme a hard time.]
Al: [Com’on, let’s hurry up. There’s always gonna be a chance to talk it out.]
With that, Al turned his head and shrugged his shoulders, gesturing for him to start running. Subaru, hastened by his gesture, had no choice but to retract his concern.
How much of what Al just said should be taken seriously, he did not know.
Even so, declaring his willingness to “cooperate” outright, gave Subaru considerably more energy to be optimistic.
Even if it was forced, Subaru had to be optimistic.
And so, he must keep his chest up, his back straight, and his legs wide apart as he walked.
――Hero, because he had lost the person who saw him in such a manner.
???: [――”Heroic reveries”, huh?]
As he dashed, a murmur echoed only inside his steel helmet.
He closed his eyes, uttering in a voice that could not be heard outside, only to be heard by himself.
And so, with his eyes closed, he let it echo in the darkness behind his eyelids.
Al: [I’ll have you become a hero, bro. ――No, Natsuki Subaru.]
 Kabe-don is the act of “slamming one’s hand onto the wall in front of someone”, where “kabe” (壁) means “wall”, and “don” (ドン) is supposed to represent a bang or thump. A common trope in anime.
 Given the similarities, some of you may be wondering why this is translated as “prideful Authority” and not “Authority of Pride”. The expression used here is “傲慢な権能”, being that the particle “な” is converting the noun “傲慢” into an adjective. “Authority of Pride” would be written as “傲慢の権能”, in which “の” is employed as a particle that means that the latter term “belongs” to the former.<