Arc 7, Chapter 41 – “A Chat Over Tea”

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This an edited Machine Translation, which has been checked by at least one Japanese-English Human Translator for quality. This is expected to have a quality dip in accuracy, therefore, if you read this chapter you must take into consideration the tradeoffs between speed and quality. A proper, higher-quality translation for this chapter is in the works by our team, so if you would prefer to wait for it, then feel free to check back at a later date, keeping an eye out on our social media for updates.

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Subaru: [——Strategy meeting!]

In a room so quiet a pin being dropped could be heard, Subaru raised his short arm along with this suggestion.

There was no rebuttal to that remark. They all felt the need to discuss their situation. 

The topic of discussion was, of course, the matter of making an appearance at the Crimson Lapis Castle.

Subaru: [Abel, who wrote the letter, and us, who went to the Castle yesterday, are indispensable…]

Looking down at his clothes with their sleeves and hems wrinkled, Subaru ruminated on the request from Yorna that had been left behind by Tanza, who had come as an envoy; a frown formed between his brows.

He was willing to accept the risk of sending Abel directly to the Castle, but his biggest concern was the condition that he should be accompanied by the messengers from the previous day.

Would Yorna appreciate it if he took along the shrunken Subaru, Al and Medium, he wondered. Worst-case scenario, there was a good chance that it would be considered a prank. 

Alternatively, there was the option of telling Yorna all about their situation and appealing to her heart with sincerity, but——,

Abel: [It is completely devoid of reason to show your hand when you do not know the future actions of your opponent.]

Subaru: [I see… I can’t say for sure Yorna’d even listen to me either, considering yesterday’s exchange…]

Abel refused to reveal all his cards, and Subaru agreed with him on that point. 

Although he had avoided saying so yesterday, if Subaru wished to describe the impression he had of Yorna, the expression “evil woman” would be a valid choice. The way she spoke and acted like a courtesan seemed to Subaru to be that of a temptress with excellent skills in toying with men in the palm of her hand.

The danger posed by Yorna went without saying, as, in addition to her position as the Lord of the Demon City, she possessed the aptness to be bestowed the title of Divine General. 

She was the one they had first set their sights on as a potential ally among all of the Nine Divine Generals, however, as Abel had warned, she was not the kind of person to whom they could easily disclose their situation to. 

Al: [If we spammed her full with our circumstances and she then asked about you, we’d be screwed. Considering the cross-dressing and all that, what should we do if she asks something like “You dare lie to me?”.]

Subaru: [I don’t want to think I’ll be blamed like that, but if that’s the case, why don’t I just pretend to be Natsumi Schwartz in loli form…?]

Taritta: [Wait, please wait. I’m afraid I’ll get more and more confused too…]

The dilemma of making up a lie to cover up another one was a common one, but the dilemma of having to cover up cross-dressing by still crossdressing after being “infantilized” would probably be unprecedented. 

Unlike Al’s helmet, the size of the wig could be adjusted, so cross-dressing itself was possible, but whether it was necessary to go that far depended on how the story proceeded.

Medium: [So, what are we gonna do? The bell of Fire Time’s in about three hours, remember?]

Subaru: […Pretty sure we should go to the Crimson Lapis Castle.]

Medium tilted her head and asked, having hold Louis in her arms while listening. 

While the two of them were the same size, and Louis was tilting her head to match Medium’s, Subaru had to consult with his inner scales.

Taritta: [First of all, we don’t have the option of not accepting Yorna’s invitation, do we?]

Al: [Well, we went to a lotta trouble to have the letter read. If we don’t accept it, the meaning of yesterday’s hard work and us here having been shrunken would all disappear.]

Taritta: [If anything, all that’d be left would be the damage incurred…]

Nodding at Al and Taritta’s words, Subaru believed that retreat was not out of the question.

Not returning home until the money spent was recouped; this kind of mindset was a cliché for people losing everything through gambling. Cutting one’s losses would be important, in some cases.

However, what would be lost in this “loss-cutting”, was Subaru and the others’ statures.

Subaru: [Should we see this as serious or trivial​…?]

???: [Gettin’ younger’s better than growin’ ol’. Isn’t that like the secret to eternal life?]

Subaru: [Yeah, for sure——]

In a sense, “rejuvenation” meant an increase in chances, just like Return By Death.

If one could return to their childhood holding the knowledge and experience of an adult, they would be capable of training their physique in the most fitting way possible over time, and so, would be able to retry achieving the goals once given up on.

With those as the circumstances, it seemed like they’d found some situations which could be leveraged as an advantage, however——,

???: [——That’d be what you’d think, right? But it’s not that simple, is it? It’s not something that ya can easily use, ya know?]

At that moment, a third party interrupted the discussion, and Subaru’s breath stopped.

——No, Subaru’s was not the only to stop. Everyone present in that room went rigid, unable to move at that moment, and froze at the presence of the owner of the voice.

However, the person in question was unconcerned about the growing tension in the room,

???: [I’ve taken the liberty of makin’ tea for myself, does anyone else want some?]

With that question made in a casual tone, he lifted his steamy teacup.

Taritta: [——Hk!]

Immediately after, Taritta moved with a bouncing motion, like a spring-loaded doll. 

She drew her bow in an instant and aimed her arrow at the person who had just appeared—— Olbart Dunkelkenn. 

Her target was extremely close, there was zero chance she would miss or that he could dodge.

But Olbart shrugged his shoulders with a nonchalant, “Whoa, whoa”.

Olbart: [Don’t do it, don’t do it. I don’t like havin’ pointy things aimed at me. Ya know, ol’ people go ta the bathroom more often than not, and ya wanna scare ‘em into pissin’ their pants? I’m shakin’ in my boots here, yeah?]

Taritta: [You’re kidding me…! Who are you…]

Abel: [——Olbart Dunkelkenn.]

Taritta: [————]

The old man’s hostile but unconcerned stature made Taritta’s face flush with anger. Yet, in response to her question, the man in the oni mask, the one who had called out Olbart’s name, as if to reign her in.

The only one who had not moved at all, Abel, sitting on the sofa while donning his oni mask, exchanged glances with the man. To this, Olbart narrowed his eyes hidden by his thick eyebrows.

Olbart: [Well, I already confirmed yesterday that I’m a celebrity, so I’m not surprised, but ya got a pretty impressive face, ya know. Where’s that souvenir from?]

Abel: [Spare me the nonsense, old tree. What are you here for?]

Olbart: [It’s lonely these days ‘cause young people don’t wanna listen to ol’ people’s idle chatter. The people in my village are gettin’ better and better at ignorin’ me every day… Kakakakka!]

As he talked about the lonely circumstances of his old age, Olbart opened his big mouth and smiled cheerfully. 

At the dialogue between Abel and Olbart, the confusion of Subaru and the others on the sidelines slowly melted away. However, it was impossible for them to completely let their guard down.

Medium: [But, Gramps, how did you get in here? It’s not like we weren’t keeping watch…]

Olbart: [Oh, doesn’t this lil’ thing look just like the dancer from yesterday. So if Gramps has ta answer, that’s just how it is. Ya let the deergirl thro’, right? And I came in with her.]

Medium: [Together? With Tanza-chan?]

Olbart: [Kakakakka! How I got in here’s a secret. Shinobi arts are like my tools of the trade.]

Medium’s simple query was laughed off by Olbart with the purpose of confounding them. 

It was uncertain how serious he was about this, but in any case, the word “shinobi” had been mentioned by him himself, and he seemed to have no intention of hiding his true identity. 

In that case, asking him directly about his true intentions for coming to their camp alone would be faster compared to probing him.

Subaru: [So…]

Olbart: [Hmm?]

Subaru: [So, what are you really doing here?]

Olbart’s gaze turned to Subaru after the latter asked the purpose of his visit. With that, the old man wrinkled his brow as if thinking for a while,

Olbart: [Ah, ya, was that’cha? Were ya the girl in red from yesterday? I couldn’t possibly mistake the dancer-like girl and the one-armed man, so I was really worried.]

So he confessed, he’d had a hard time figuring out who Subaru was.

Hearing this, Subaru look, and Al, casually repositioning himself, sneered. He cleared his throat through his mask, his voice more hushed than usual,

Al: […That’s my bro. Even the shinobi head honcho didn’t know who you were.]

Olbart: [Oh, how impressive, how impressive! I wish the people in my village could learn from that transformation. How ‘bout bein’ a lecturer? You’d be welcome.]

Subaru: [Unfortunately, Natsumi Schwartz’s schedule’s quite full… Maybe I could make some time for you, though.]

Olbart: [Hoho, what’cha mean, “maybe”?]

He moistened his lips at how cross-dressing had unexpectedly landed quite the catch, and then, noticing the sensation of thirst in his throat, Subaru narrowed his eyes.

Regardless of how much he believed in this nonsense, he had to take full advantage of the opportunity to speak directly with Olbart. For the time being, about the abnormal situation that had befallen Subaru and the others. 

As per Abel’s guess, the mastermind behind this phenomenon was none other than the old man in front of him.

Subaru: [If you got any idea who’s the reason we’re like this, be honest…]

Olbart: [Oh, that. I’ve done that myself. They’re interesting, aren’t they, the shinobi arts?]

Subaru: [————]

Without any bargaining, Olbart admitted that he had been the one to do it.

His statement drowning out the rest of his words, Subaru took a small gulp. And the old man laughed viciously as he watched Subaru stiffen,

Olbart: [If I killed’cha by accident, I wouldn’t be able ta hear anythin’ ya got ta say, and I’d be left with a lotta trouble, ya know? That bein’ the case, there are many ways to squeeze info outta someone without killin’. ——Interestin’, isn’t it?]

Olbart bluntly spoke those words, and sipped his warm tea.

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——The “infantilization” that had struck Subaru, Al, and Medium.

From the testimony of the one acquainted with the Nine Divine Generals, Abel, it was almost certain that the offender was Olbart.

However, for it to be affirmed directly by the person himself was a different kind of surprise. Especially if the other party was not offended at all and was proud of it.

Everyone: [————]

Olbart: [Oioi, we shouldn’t look at each other all scary. Didn’t’cha learn that ol’ people are to be cared for, not tortured?]

The tension in the room was rising again, and both Al and Medium, as well as Taritta, who had not lowered her bow from the onset, were gradually changing their positions.

In particular, Al was prepared to block the entrance door and obstruct Olbart’s escape route.

However, Al, with his shrunken body, could not handle his cherished sword at will, and so could not aspire to go far in stopping the shinobi head honcho that was always on the prowl.

Louis: [Uu…]

Olbart: [You’re a lil’ girl who’s got nothin’ ta do with me, aren’t’cha? Then ya lookin’ at me like that’s kinda hurtful. Don’t’cha like the sweet smell of ol’ men?]

Abel: [Do not play games with me, Olbart. I shall ask you once more. What brings you here?]

Abel hurled a few words at the side of Olbart, who was trying to win over the snarling Louis. Taking a glance at Olbart, the latter looking over his shoulder, Abel expressed a sharp spirit that could be transmitted even through the oni mask,

Abel: [You have heard the thoughts of Yorna Mishigure, Lord of this Demon City. She recognized them as envoys. She has made it clear that they shall not be touched.] 

Subaru: [T-that’s right! Don’t touch us, that’s what yesterday’s game was about! We were risking our lives too! And yet, this treatment’s different from what was promised to us!] [1]

Olbart: [Oioi, you’re gettin’ all excited and mixed up, ya know.]

Taking advantage of Abel’s aggressive move, Subaru also reiterated Yorna’s statement from the previous day. It was as Olbart had said, Subaru had gone as far as to even return to the state of mind of yesterday; regardless, that still did not change the truth.

Yorna had recognized Subaru’s group as messengers, and Tanza had made it clear that she would not allow anyone to interfere with them. 

To disregard that, was to express hostility toward Yorna.

Abel: [Of course, if your intent is to destroy the Demon City, you shall not give that the slightest consideration.]

Subaru: […Now that you mention it​.]

With Abel’s additional words, Subaru’s heated blood ran cold.

In fact, the fake Emperor’s faction, to whom Olbart belonged, had given up the right to negotiate with Yorna to Subaru and his party. Should they view it as a bad move, to just flip the table out of anger was also within their possibilities.

In that case, it would be inevitable that he would clash head-on with Yorna, who was esteemed as one of the Nine Divine Generals, in several senses of the meaning——,

Abel: [If you are to challenge it with the intent of destroying it, you shall avoid destruction. Of course, you shall come out of it with some damage.]

Olbart: […Well, that foxgirl can be tricky ta deal with. However, it’s no fun ta have that masked young’un see right through ya.]

Subaru: [Masked, young’un…]

Olbart scratched his chin with his fingers and pretended to be in pain. Overhearing some of his words, Subaru looked at Abel out of the corner of his eye.

Abel’s attitude was unchanged, but Subaru was on the edge of his seat at every step of this exchange. ——After all, Olbart was one of the Nine Divine Generals. 

Of course, they must have seen Vincent Vollachia, aka Abel, many times. 

Even though he was hiding his face with a mask, if Olbart were to exchange words with Abel, who had not changed his speech or tone of voice, it would not be surprising for the former to realize his true identity.

Olbart: [————]

However, Abel, who responded in a dignified manner, did not display any such anxiety.

Olbart, too, showed no signs of having perceived Abel’s true identity. With that as the case, Subaru was unable to identify him, and had no choice but to act by hiding his inner fears.

Anyway——,

Subaru: [I still don’t have your answer, Olbart-san.]

Olbart:  [——. Feels like I’m bein’ treated better like this, compared to bein’ just called an ol’ man. So I’ll let’cha off the hook for pretendin’ ta be a girl.]

Subaru: [Olbart-san!]

Subaru’s gaze sharpened on the old man, who had lost his nerve and dodged the question. Seeing this, Olbart raises his hands and says, “Okay, okay”,

Olbart: [The rewards for yer actions are just as ya said. The foxgirl and His Excellency both have told me ta stay out of it.]

Subaru: [If that’s the case…]

Olbart: [It’s just that, ya know. I poked ya folks before yesterday’s game was over, right? Then ya know what? If ya can’t complain ‘bout dyin’ from a sword wound ya got while fightin’, ya can’t complain ‘bout a shrinkin’ technique ya got hit with while fightin’ me.]

Subaru: [That’s quibbling…!]

Olbart: [Well, is it really quibbling? ——But ya can’t change it, can ya?]

Raising an eyebrow at Olbart, who was laughing at his own cunning, Subaru was at a loss for words.  

Olbart’s argument was quibbling, as he himself had admitted. But on the other hand, his argument was correct as well.

Even if someone lost their life because of a wound inflicted during battle, were the wound inflicted before the negotiation of a ceasefire, it would make no sense to hold someone responsible for the tragedy after the ceasefire began.

However, Subaru had the impression that there was a large difference between a wound, and “infantilization”.

Olbart: [That’s why I think that bringin’ ya back and the foxgirl’s order are two different things. Do ya get me?]

Subaru: [————]

Olbart: [Kakakakka! Don’t look so stern. Yer cute face’s ruined… That pretty face was just a sham made with cosmetics! Ya got me there, hook, line and sinker.]

Olbart played with the teacup with his fingertips and showed some acrobatic skills to keep the contents from spilling. His words themselves could not be easily fought off; they had been chosen with deliberate care attained by experience.

However, even if Taritta, who was becoming more and more nervous, and Al and the others, attempting to block the escape route, were to fight their best, subjugating Olbart by force was nowhere in sight. 

If there was someone here capable of defeating this cunning, it would be——,

Abel: [Do not get carried away, Olbart.]

Indeed, only the man donning the oni mask tried to cut through his brimming ambition and cunning.

Abel, without changing his posture, shot Olbart with a look even sharper and colder, and made him stop playing with his teacup.

Abel: [I have already inquired you as to your purpose. How many more times must I ask until you feel like doing it?]

Olbart: [Whenever there’s a young’un whose expression I can’t see, I can’t help but wanna see the wrinkles between their eyes. I hope ya don’t mind.]

With one eye closed, Olbart mischievously responded to Abel’s domineering spirit. The old man scratched his head and voiced, “You’re a man with no time to spare”,

Olbart: [The foxgirl aside, His Excellency also told me not ta lay a hand on ya folks, so I didn’t come here to deal with’cha. But if we’re gonna be yer enemies anyway, it wouldn’t hurt ta weaken ya a wee bit, would it?]

Al: […That may have been the reason as to why you shrunk us, but you didn’t come all the way here to drink tea.]

Olbart: [Looks like you’re havin’ a hard time now that yer helmet doesn’t fit anymore, boy. Anyhow, guess you’re right about that. Ah well, the reason I’m here’s that I’m here ta listen ta what ya got ta say, honestly.]

Subaru: […What we got to say?]

While fiddling with his ear with the hand not holding the teacup, Olbart nodded to Subaru as the latter ruminated over the question, then spoke, “That’s right”.

With that, he then pointed out the window using the same finger that had been picking at his ear,

Olbart: [That performance at the castle yesterday, darn it if it didn’t make me giddy. But there are a lotta people who’ve tried ta mess with His Excellency, and so far, they’ve all failed. So, I’d like ta ask ya why ya decided ta cross that dangerous bridge as well.]

Subaru: […What are you going to do once you hear it?]

Olbart: [Oh? Obviously I’ll make a decision after hearin’ it. And I’m gonna do somethin’ ta make sure ya can’t lie.]

With Olbart’s mouth open wide as he sent saliva flying along with his hearty laugh, Subaru’s scrunched up into a scowl.

It was easy to dismiss his attitude, as was heard just a while ago, as just bad taste. But it was clear that the conversation could not just be shut down on him. 

He was one of the Nine Divine Generals required to help Abel regain the throne, or to dispel the shinobi technique that had infantilized Subaru and the others.

Rather——,

Subaru: […A chance, is it?] 

The position of the Nine Divine Generals was such that it was difficult to even contact them, nevertheless to get them on their side. 

But presently, for whatever reason, Chaosflame was occupied not only by its Lord, Yorna, but also by Olbart in front of him, and Chisha, who seemed to be posing as a false Emperor. 

Of course, even if cajoling the opposition posed by Chisha, who had taken the initiative, was an impossibility——,

Subaru: [If Abel’s reasoning from yesterday was correct, it doesn’t mean that Olbart-san’s confirmed as an enemy.]

Abel’s view was that hope remained regarding Olbart, who stood as one of the Divine Generals considered to already be the enemy’s pawns. At the moment, Subaru had to say that Abel’s judgment was a correct one, as he had managed to get to the point of negotiating with Yorna.

If they were to believe his speculation, there should be room for negotiating Olbart’s position. 

However, in order to get Olbart on their side here——,

Subaru: [————]

In silence, Subaru glanced at Abel’s profile.

Revealing the identity of the man sporting the oni mask and keeping his dignified stance, Abel—— That was the absolute most important piece of information that they must disclose in order to conquer Olbart.

And frankly, Subaru did not have any further information that could resonate with Olbart.

Subaru: [————]

The oni-masked Abel did not even wince, as he met Subaru’s gaze towards his side. 

His face was hidden behind a mask, making it impossible to observe any of his emotions. However, there was no way that the intelligent man could not have thought of what Subaru had come up with. 

At this juncture, just how much of his own heart could he bare to the other party, Olbart?

Subaru’s thought was that this would be the focal point, but since Abel had not stirred, was he premature in his thinking? Or was he waiting to see what came to pass?

In any case, if they could get Olbart on their side, they would find a way to solve the problem of Subaru’s “infantilization”, their lack of strength, and the battle for the Nine Divine Generals.

Then, this would be the right time to play——,

Olbart: [——Ya know, funny thing is, people’s faces do say more than you’d expect, don’t they?]

Subaru: [Hmm…?]

Olbart: [Yer gaze, the way yer face tenses up, the way yer muscles contract just a little… Ya don’t actually gotta move yer mouth ta talk a lot.]

Thumping his two fingers against his temples, Olbart spoke. The old man nodded as his gaze fell on Subaru, whose breath had been taken. 

Olbart: [For example, the girl who looks like a dancer relies on the girl usin’ the bow. The young’un with the cloth wrapped ‘round his head and the wee one rely on ya. And, as for the one usin’ the bow and ya… Well, both of ya rely on that masked young’un.]

Subaru: [——Hk.]

Olbart: [Ya can see the general direction of each pair of eyes. ——When you’re weak, it’s even more obvious, isn’t it?]

The words of Olbart, who flashed his white teeth as he said them, pierced Subaru’s mind.

And Subaru belatedly realized that he had greatly misjudged Olbart’s fundamental nature, a man who had even appeared seemed to be a good-natured old man. 

Olbart had made it clear that he was the one who had “infantilized” them, and that he had done so in order to talk to Subaru and the others. 

——He had never stated that it was to “negotiate” with Subaru and the others.

Subaru: [Didn’t you come here to, talk…]

Olbart: [Comin’ here ta “talk” and comin’ here ta “listen” are similar but slightly different, aren’t they? I don’t mind chattin’ like this, ya know? But…]

Subaru: [————]

Olbart: [Ya see, I’m also the shinobi head honcho, and I spend my time actin’ as a representative of the people of my village. That’s why… I can’t trust the words of someone I haven’t even tortured, ‘cause it’s too dangerous.]

Without losing the air of an old man with an understanding of what he spoke about, Olbart expressed his thoughts in accordance with the shinobi’s unwritten rules. 

The bleakness and harshness of this world were certainly similar to that of the “ninja” world known to Subaru. 

However, the feeling of enjoying it as a fiction was very unlike the feeling of being exposed to it first-hand in such a manner. 

And——,

Olbart: [So, with his uppity attitude of havin’ no one to rely on, the masked young’un’s the leader, right? Lemme ask ya, what was it that made ya come ta seduce that foxgirl.]

Abel: [——. If that does not work, what will?]

Olbart: [Then you’ll just have ta find another way, won’t’cha? But since I’m forced ta stay out of it, there’s not much I can do ‘bout it.]

Olbart shrugged his shoulders, his gaze and attention were turned towards Abel. Of course, it was hardly believable that Olbart, the head honcho of the shinobi, would not be paying attention to the others. 

Even if his head was not turned, his attention had not been diverted from Al nor Taritta.

However, even though a bow was being pointed towards him, to display any intention of attacking Olbart would be unwise for Subaru and the others surrounding him. 

As per Yorna’s command, they were to be welcomed into Chaosflame as messengers.

Whether this would still apply after causing a disturbance in Chaosflame, and how she would deal with ill-mannered visitors, was a complete unknown. 

In other words, the situation here was a stalemate for both Subaru and Olbart. 

Both had no choice but to stare each other down, declaring their readiness to do harm.

And in such an extreme limbo——,

Subaru: […But, on the other hand, in these conditions, where can I even prepare it?] 

Reflecting on the established situation, Subaru once again cast a question to the white space that had been born within his mind. 

And once again, the thought arose, “Isn’t this an opportunity?”. 

Bound by Yorna and the false Emperor, Olbart was unable to take any additional actions of hostility. 

Subaru was judging which side Olbart was leaning; Supposing he was closer to the enemy’s side, they would have to act on this timing, they would not get any other situation like the one they had here.

Everyone: [————]

At a slow pace, time progressed. 

Along with this tense situation, there was also the matter of the time at which the bell of Fire Time would ring, as presented by Yorna.

Time was precious. ——The more he wasted, the more his life diminished. 

In silence, Taritta’s fingers trembled as she gripped her bow, and Al and Medium too muffled their breaths. Even Louis miraculously was only letting out growls, perhaps instinctively sensing the danger posed by Olbart. 

Perhaps they could not decide to stir. If someone could, it would be——,

Subaru: [——Abel.]

Abel: [————]

Quietly, Subaru called out Abel’s name.

It was visible that his consciousness had turned towards him through the oni mask, upon hearing it. His eyes were invisible, as the oni mask blocked his gaze, but his attention was directed at Subaru.

The feelings there could not be seen. ——However, Subaru could guess its intent, as he had felt it.

Subaru: [This is the Emperor, Vincent Vollachia.]

Olbart: […Ahhn?]

In reply to Abel’s gaze, Subaru made that assertion, prompting Olbart to raise an eyebrow. 

His eyes hidden by his long, rich eyebrows went open wide, as the old man was suspicious of Subaru’s words. It was a natural reaction, but it was far from the reaction he was looking for. 

So, in order to elicit the desired response, they would go deeper.

Subaru: [You want to know who’s the faceless young’un, and what we’re here for. Why did we come to see Yorna? The answer is…]

Olbart: [Oioi, that’s not very funny, is it?]

Subaru: [I wasn’t trying to be funny. ——Abel.]

At a loss for words for an instance, Olbart’s voice was laced with a hint of surprise. 

Perceiving that with clarity, Subaru called out to Abel at the back of the room. This far in the game, Abel did not try to refute Subaru’s words and actions. 

Just inaudibly, his gentle fingers reached for his face. And then——, 

Olbart: [——This is one hell of a thing.]

A concealed visage was revealed in front of Olbart, the latter letting out a voice of astonishment. Before his eyes, the one gazing back at Olbart as his face was tense, was a dark-haired beauty—— none other than the Emperor, Vincent Vollachia.

Olbart: [Your Excellency? But that’s too weird, isn’t it? But then, who’d I come wi——]

Abel: [Let your old wits run wild, Olbart Dunkelkenn. You possess the answers. All that remains is to draw them out.]

Olbart: [With the face of Your Excellency, sayin’ things that sound like Your Excellency… Ah, so that’s it.]

At first he had been taken aback, but the old shinobi soon regained his composure.

Having revealed his face, Abel passed an order as the Emperor, and doing as he had said, Olbart seemed to come to a conclusion of the situation he was in with the information he had.

Olbart put his hand on his chin, and,

Olbart: [Then that’d be Chisha. He’s got it all under control… There’s another matter, tho’. It’s not like ya, Your Excellency, ta let somethin’ like that happen ta ya, is it?

Abel: [You think your eyes can peer into the depths of my mind?] 

Olbart: [Oh, very scary, very scary.]

Waving both his hands in the air, he let out a parched sound at Abel’s answer.

In fact, as Olbart had stated, Abel’s situation was definitely a groggy one, but his overwhelming bluff did not show any of that.

Upon seeing the change in Olbart’s expression, however, the tension left Subaru’s shoulders as well.

Olbart understood the situation.

Abel had been ousted from his position as Emperor, and Vincent, the man he was accompanying, was a false Emperor.

Olbart: [A lotta things that’d been confusin’ me have become clear. No, I was wondering why ya suddenly came ta see the foxgirl in person.]

Subaru: [All of that… was to stifle the actions of our side.]

Olbart: [Hahaa, it’s hard for ol’ people ta keep up with the ideas of ya smart folks, actually. Young, smart, good lookin’, I guess that’s bein’ super-greedy. Don’t’cha think so, too? Don’t’cha think? Since you’re also so young. Oh, that’s because of what I did! Kakakakka.]

Olbart roared with laughter, trying to get a laugh out of them with what he had said, even though it was not funny.

Subaru’s cheeks tightened at the sight, and he exhaled a long breath, suddenly looking at Taritta.

The Shudraq warrior still kept a wary eye, her bow trained on Olbart. He was attempting to get her to break her battle stance, and regain control of the situation.

Subaru: [Taritta-san, you can put your bow down now. Olbart-san’s…]

Olbart: [Oh? No, ya don’t have ta put it down, do ya? I think it’s impossible for that girl ta lower her guard in front of someone she’s not sure isn’t an enemy.]

Subaru: [Huh?]

Olbart himself, the target of Taritta’s bow, was the one to halt Subaru’s effort to get her to lower her guard and talk to him.

The old man took Taritta’s caution as something natural, furthermore he did not do anything to try to deny the “naturalness” that was incomprehensible for Subaru.  ——In other words, the danger stemming from himself had not lessened.

However, then it would be as if——,

Subaru: [Let’s talk about this…]

Olbart: [Didn’t’cha hear me? I said I’d make a decision after I listened ta ya. And I did.]

Subaru: [————]

Subaru’s throat clogged up, yet, faced with that, Olbart’s attitude did not alter.

There was merely a quiet click of the tongue, and,

Abel: [This was one of those cards I did not know which way it would tend towards, but that is what you have decided, huh.]

Olbart: [That doesn’t sound like ya, Your Excellency. No, it’s fatal that you’re seriously outta cards ta play… And ta boot, ya weren’t lucky on the draw here. Ya know, I’ve always wanted ta try it.]

Abel: [Ho, and that would be?]

Olbart’s plan was set, and the shinobi head honcho laughed at the words of the ousted Emperor.

A laugh, suitable for the man holding the title of “Vicious Old Man”,

Olbart: [With me being an ol’ man with not long left ta live, I’ve always wholeheartedly wanted ta try and kill the Emperor, ta have a glorious death.]

Everyone: [——Hk.] 

The moment that vicious wish was spoken, movement occurred amidst that highly-strung environment.

That very moment, Taritta, Al, and Medium all moved to frustrate Olbart’s purpose, overriding the “no fighting” rule given to each one of them.

However——,

Olbart: [Yesterday, I couldn’t understand what trick ya were usin’, one-armed one. But it stopped workin’ since ya turned little, didn’t it?]

Al: [Ka… Hk.]

Olbart: [Can’t use the skills ya learned at a later age when you’re young.]

Having spoken those words, Olbart twisted his neck and swung his hands.

Blood splattered from his fingertips, and a tragedy unfolded in Subaru’s field of vision, his eyes open to their utmost.

Medium and Al, who had stepped in and tried to subdue Olbart, had their necks gouged out and blood spouted out. The blood scattered within the room like a fountain, making a person wonder where had so much blood flowed within a small child’s body.

Al: [Tch, ah… Hk]

Olbart: [Judgin’ from this, looks like ya aren’t able ta use yer last ray of hope. Still, I ended up doin’ ya in before finding out how yer trick works, that’s how it was, huh. I messed up, I messed up.]

Al crouched there, holding the gushing wound. Medium’s eyes went blank and she fell backward, motionless. 

It was obvious that what they had suffered, was a fatal wound that could not be recovered from.

And Taritta, the only one ready to take on Olbart head-on——,

Subaru: [——Ah.]

Subaru had been wondering why a shot had not been loosened from the bow. 

However, the suspicion that the attack that was supposed to take place did not, made Subaru direct his gaze in that direction.

Taritta was pinned to the wall. 

Tall for a woman, Taritta’s slender frame was rested against the wall, her body pinned in place. The reason for her immobilization was a throwing weapon protruding from the center of her cleavage—— a shuriken. [2]

As if some kind of joke, the star-shaped projectile had pierced Taritta’s chest, skewering her back and pinning her to the wall. Her heart had been destroyed, it was clear she had perished instantly.

Abel: [——Even though you were told not to interfere, you could not help yourself.]

Suddenly, a man’s voice echoed in that room rife with death. 

It had come from Abel, standing in a room that had become full of corpses terrifyingly fast. Having left his seat, the man looked down with a penetrating gaze at Olbart, the architect of all this death. 

Bathed in that glare, Olbart wiped the blood splattered on his cheek with his finger, 

Olbart: [Yeah. I wanna set off some big fireworks before I die. I’d be completely satisfied ta murder the greatest Emperor of all time, and be executed for it.]

Abel: [I couldn’t read your destructive tastes. My oversight.]

Olbart: [Kakakakka! No, no, no, if my dreams of growin’ old were known, I’d be so ashamed that I wouldn’t be able ta live.]

Al had ceased moving, and Medium and Taritta had stopped breathing. 

Under such circumstances, that conversation between Emperor and vassal seemed, to Subaru, to be something from another world. However, it was not another world. It was real. Real, overwhelming reality. 

This was the reality that Subaru had arrived at, after making the wrong choice. 

Olbart: [Once I’m done with Your Excellency, I’ll go back ta Chisha. I’m sure he’ll be able ta handle my death just fine.]

Subaru: [Im… Hk.]

Olbart: [Oh? Oh, you’re still there.]

To Subaru, who had spoken up too late, Olbart turned around, the latter plunging into the atmosphere that marked finality. 

The old man turned his neck with a snap to keep Subaru, his own face rigid, in check. Then, pointing to those fallen, Al, Medium and Taritta in turn,

Olbart: [That’s that. These guys tried ta kill me, so I killed ‘em back, but there really isn’t a reason for ya ta die, right? I don’t have the intention ta become a fugitive, so there’s no reason ta silence ya as well.]

Subaru: [Da, ah…]

Olbart: [Oh, guess I went ahead and spoke a lot again. It’s obvious that ya got somethin’ to say, so open yer mouth. I’m an ol’ man with a short life ahead of me, so I can’t wait that long tho’, ya know?]

As Olbart continued to speak leisurely at his own pace, Subaru’s thoughts turned white. —— No, his thoughts were being dyed a bright-red. Whether it was anger or the color of the blood that Al and the others had shed, even Subaru himself could not tell. 

But even so, whatever, at any rate, never, here——,

Abel: [——Fool.]

And so, those contemptuous words came from Abel. 

Currently, his gaze must be piercing the back of Subaru’s head. Feeling the pressure of his sharp gaze, Subaru was made keenly aware of the accuracy of his words. 

There was no point in standing up for Abel now, with this. 

If he had been able to act in such a manner before Al, Medium and Taritta had fallen, perhaps it would have been possible to change something,

Louis: [Uu…!]

Olbart: [Oioi, you’re even usin’ a lil’ girl that’s got no connection to me? Your Excellency’s method of doin’ things must have been somethin’ that women and young children hated for sure.]

In front of Olbart, who was putting his hand on his forehand, stood Louis. ——No, Louis was not standing in front of Olbart, but in front of Subaru. 

Subaru was shielding Abel, and Louis was shielding Subaru, the three of them standing in a straight line. 

It was just some absurd form of a meat shield. 

Olbart: [I thought Your Excellency was supposed ta die alone.]

Abel: [——. Not everything goes according to one’s calculations.]

Olbart: [Kakakakka!]

Abel’s inability to keep his mouth shut at this point was met with a sneer and a loud laugh from Olbart.

Within the eyes of the elderly shinobi, neither Subaru’s nor Louis’s presence were reflected. But he was not so kind as to overlook those who stood before him with hostility. 

Henceforth——,

Subaru: [——I’ll never forgive you.]

Natsuki Subaru’s young body spurted blood and sank into a cold pool of blood, searing into his mind the face of the shinobi as the latter guffawed viciously during his attempt to satisfy his ambition. 

And so——,

△▼△▼△▼△

Blood flowed and a hot sensation gushed from the wound. 

The hotness that overflowed endlessly, however, instantly drained the heat from his body.

That which had flowed out rapidly swallowed him, drowned him, rendered him invisible, and then, after he had sunk to the depths of the ocean, he would, he would——,

Subaru: [————]

Instantly, the lost blood coursed through Subaru’s body, producing a loud noise in his ears.

Accompanying the sensation of having his hearing sharpened to the extreme, came the cacophony of blood flowing through him in a quiet space. While being struck by it over his whole body, Subaru let out a ragged exhalation.

With violence he bit his back teeth, his vision flickering on and off due to the distant pain and sense of loss.

He wished to find out where he had returned to——,

???: [I’ve taken the liberty of makin’ tea for myself, does anyone else want some?]

A moment later, a vicious, unforgettable voice announced the overture of a new battle for Natsuki Subaru.

 

 

Translation notes:

[1] Subaru slips into his Natsumi Schwartz style of speech for a second here.

[2] A shuriken is a concealed weapon originally used as a hidden dagger or as a diversion, used as supplementary weapons. For more information, see here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuriken.

26 thoughts on “Arc 7, Chapter 41 – “A Chat Over Tea””

  1. Olbart has an insanity. Truly vicious. Can’t wait to read what happens next. Thanks for the translation!

  2. I feel like Subaru will not take the option that presents itself to him simply out of hate of the old man. The old man went in there with the intent of seeing if they could be of any use to him fulfilling his dreams of a glories death in battle. I feel like Subaru well not be smart and try to simple kill the general. Hopefully he realizes that the old man can be used. He did the same with Todd back in the first part so maybe there is hope yet.

  3. For all the deaths in this arc thus far it’s been quite some time since we’ve had one, about 20 chapters I think. Most of that has been because they were executing on the bloodless siege plan and negotiating with the Priscilla camp, and then traveling to Chaosflame. But for a death to happen only a few chapters after arriving here, that’s pretty intense. Despite Yorna’s words, they’re clearly not safe in this place, and the deaths could easily start to pile up quickly. We’re picking up speed, with the destination unknown – really excited for the next chapter. Sadly this means that their odds have decreased even further, but I want to bring up something from when they entered the city.
    At the checkpoint, they were asking if Subaru’s group had seen someone matching Cecilus’ description. That means he’s MIA right now, which means he could show up far sooner than we think. If we extrapolate that a bit, if they were asking about it in this city, that means he’s thought to be around this region. There’s a real non-zero chance he could show up in this city or if not, the next one.
    Also, is it just me, or is Return by Death bringing Subaru back in shorter and shorter intervals? Maybe since he’s always on guard in these situations it’s just constantly resetting his checkpoint to where he last felt fairly safe? We don’t know how RBD works, but since it’s an Authority, it should be fairly within his control, subconsciously speaking. There was a theory that it was based on his satisfaction with the outcome, based on the Arc 3 Interlude where he was satisfied with saving Emilia but didn’t know Rem was eaten by that point in time, as well as the battle with the white whale. But in Arc 5 and several times in Arc 7, the checkpoint has been based on impending danger, not satisfaction. That also lines up with Greed IF, where Subaru should have figured out the mechanics after literally millions of deaths, where Subaru and Echidna discuss an oncoming threat because his save point updates. Could the increased danger in this nation be offsetting the threshold for Return by Death to set a new checkpoint? That sounds like a reasonable explanation why he’s been Returning in media res so often. With Todd, now with Dunkell, and even before that his save point was after being choked and later captured by the Vollachian military of all places, which would never be thought of as a “good” place to reset at. RBD is working differently in this nation, but just slightly. And I think by analyzing what changed in the circumstances, we can get a working theory about Return by Death.
    Last note – really the last one this time – Dunkell makes note of Al’s ability in this chapter, which is in itself interesting – but he also says that “abilities you get when you’re old, you can’t use them when you’re young,” which implies that Al can’t use his ability, which operates very similarly to RBD but with key differences. Perhaps his stars were bad, whatever that’s supposed to mean, or perhaps he truly did lose his ability when he got younger. It’s very hard to say. If Al can still use his ability, then that’s that. But if he can’t, then it implies that it isn’t an Authority – specifically that it wouldn’t be the Authority of Pride. I can only assume Al would keep – no, anyone would keep an Authority upon becoming a kid, based on Subaru keeping his own. This could be more white noise, though, since the moment Subaru was brought to this world, he had his Authority. The same is likely not to be said of Al, for various reasons. A version of Subaru without Return by Death doesn’t exist in this world, so maybe that’s why he kept his Authority. On the other hand, it appears that Authorities have something to do with the soul, so . . . I’m trying to draw out a lot of information from very little actual information, but trying to do that is a lot of fun, I think. Sorry for the tangent, but I actually think my theory on Return By Death holds some water. Anyways, thanks a ton for the chapter, and I’m super excited for the next one!

    1. About the RBD, I think it’s a bit more simple than that, Subaru it’s given the right amount of time to prevent his death. For instance to survive the sanctuary he needed a lot of arrangements, but to survive Todd he only needed a clever trick at the moment. This also shows that now Subaru is more competent at using RBD.

    2. RBD was explained in arc 4 with Echidna. Stella gets to pick to the where and when. So long as she loves him he has her power.

      1. You know, if it’s the Witch of Envy that makes sense, but for someone who told Subaru to count himself among the people he wants to save, Satella sure has been giving him some deadly save points. Wasn’t that Echidna’s conjecture about RBD? It’s probably right, but if she has full control of it, she’s making his life a lot harder than it has to be, especially with Todd. Perhaps she’s overestimating him or something. Perhaps it’s foolish to try to understand the heart of a Witch. Anyways, thanks, I think that specific bit was cut from the anime because I think they just say it has probably unlimited uses. I haven’t gotten around to reading the novels for arcs 1-4.

    3. I always thought RBD worked to put him at a point where he can change something to save his life. No one else matters since this is kind of a WoE power, not his to control. The Witch brings him back to keep him alive, not to bring Rem’s memory back or to save his friend. If Subaru is past the danger, but he lost someone, I think that loss would be permanent.

    4. You’re on the right track but it has nothing to do with what area he is in. There are 2 or 3 conditions but the only one I can remember is that if Emilia dies RbD will not move and the same applies to the other one or 2 (Sorry Sloth Subaru but when you die from age you’re about to find yourself right infront of the apple shop). They’re also gonna get a lot shorter.

    5. I am fine with your other theories but I would like to point two things out. First, authorities don’t work the same for everyone, or more accurately not everyone can wield an authority the same way. For example, Subaru already has the authorities of greed and sloth, but can he use them the same way Regulas and Guease could? I think it’s the same for Al’s authority and RBD. Another thing I want to point out is that Subaru probably didn’t get his authority when he arrived in that world but when he promised Emilia that he would save her. That’s probably when he earned Satella’s affection because he thought Emilia was Satella back then and unintentionally promised to save Satella. But this is just my theory so it could be wrong…

      1. Satella was the one that brought him into the world. She had her eyes on him long before he promised anything to Emilia.

    6. Shura, I agree with you. They way they said it though didn’t make it a random thing. I feel like unless they do a better explanation of RBD this story is going to end up with a lot of plot holes.

  4. Am I the only one who thinks this guy Olbart Is the same ninja beastman neighbor who smokes a pipe in Sloth Route?

    1. Sorry bro, but that’s Halibel the admirer you’re thinking of. they are both shinobi warriors, but Halibel’s in Kararagi.

  5. este arco 7 subaru ha recibido golpes muy duros hasta ahora, subaru hasta ahora, bueno que lo diga la descripcion del cap 14 del arc 7 Afortunadamente para Natsuki Subaru, hasta ahora, no había caído en una situación en la que tuviera que construir una relación con alguien cuyos valores diferían mucho de los suyos.

    La mayoría de las personas con las que se había encontrado en este otro mundo eran racionales. Prestaron sus oídos a Subaru e interactuaron con él, mientras comunicaban sus propias opiniones. Érase una vez, un idiota de Subaru no había entendido esto y, por lo tanto, no pudo notar su tacto, lo que provocó que tirara todo eso por la borda. Aun así, se las arregló hasta ahora.

    Las personas a las que no había podido llegar a entender, debido a sus diferentes conjuntos de valores, eran en su mayoría brujas o arzobispos del pecado.

    Sin embargo, al definirlos como seres “diferentes”, Subaru podría continuar sin tener que tocar la moral con ellos.
    pero ahora, desde mi punto de vista, esta conociendo personas con una moral similar a los seres que subaru tuvo que enfrentar(bueno a las brujas no)

  6. Death #9 in Arc 7. We’re already long past any of the first 5 arcs, but we got a long way to go to catch up to 6.

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