Arc 7, Chapter 48 – “Purposes Entangling in the Demon City”

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Focusing on the sheepboy, Subaru’s eyes widened at Abel’s relentless questioning.

That was because the name weaved from his mouth was a far too unexpected one.

Subaru: [That young girl, Tanza…?]

The image of a deergirl in a kimono popped up in Subaru’s bewildered mind.

What was striking about Yorna’s attendant, the girl who’d shown up at the castle tower the previous day, was that she was very composed and unsociable, even though she was still a child.

Abel was asserting that the girl had been the one to plan this.

Subaru: [T-that doesn’t make sense! Why’d she do that to us… Bwha!]

Louis: [Uau!]

Once he raised his voice to hear Abel’s thoughts, Subaru was shocked by an impact and flipped over. Looking over at it, Subaru saw a smiling Louis on his back.

In a tremendous rampage, Louis had knocked down nearly ten opponents in the blink of an eye. Involuntarily, Subaru gulped because of the innocent-looking girl.

――Louis’s strength, during her rampage, was unmistakably the same thing he had seen at the Tower of Sand.

That power was not originally Louis’s, but rather the very power stolen from someone else who had worked hard and honed it. In other words, she had used Gluttony’s――. [1]

Subaru: […G-get off of me.]

Louis: [Au?]

Subaru: [Get the heck off of me!]

Pushing the shoulder of the little girl on his chest, Subaru forcefully raised himself up. And so, his momentum caused Louis to fall onto her butt―― and then, coming into his view, was her stomach, covered in white fabric stained red.

Seeing that, he remembered that she was injured,

Subaru: [You’re wounded! We need to get you treated…!]

Louis: [Au! Aauu!]

In a hurry, he rolled up the girl’s clothes to check the injured area. But, because it felt ticklish to Louis, she lashed out, trying to resist by pushing Subaru’s face and neck.

Ignoring her resistance, he somehow managed to roll up her clothes and check the wound. He found no evident wounds, although there was a trace of oozing blood.

Subaru: [It’s healed…?]

Certainly, there were traces of bleeding but no wounds.

That stumped him completely, and then Louis violently pushed the dumbfounded Subaru’s chest with both hands. The answer to the question of what would happen if Louis struck Subaru for real, however, was demonstrated by the many figures lying on the street.

In any case――,

Abel: [――Answer me. Where is Tanza?]

While Subaru was making sure that Louis was okay, Abel’s interrogation continued.

The terrifying, high-pressure interview seemed to be working not only thanks to Abel’s gaze, but also due to Medium’s blade, as she was standing behind him as a threat. Even without the intention of doing anything, just standing behind Abel would have had an effect.

Indeed, as the boy looked between Abel and Medium in turn, he made a sound from his thin throat.

Sheepboy: [Ah…]

Abel: [This makes it the third time. Answer me. Do not presume that there shall be a fourth.]

It was a cruel tone of voice, so cold that it was as if it chilled Subaru to the bottom of his heart. Hearing that, the boy’s mouth twitched a few times, and then the fire returned to his eyes a little,

Sheepboy: [A-as if you don’t know! If it’s about where Tanza is, then you guys should…!]

Abel: [――――]

Sheepboy: [You guys’ve done something to Tanza… That’s why! We’ve attacked you because of that!]

Following that biting remark, the boy’s arms reached out to Abel in front of him.

With reckless disregard for his own safety, his fingertips tried to grab Abel’s throat and crush it. But before he could reach him, a small palm pressed down on the boy’s forehead, and――,

Louis: [Au!]

Just like that, the back of the boy’s head was slammed into the ground, causing him to faint.

Pitifully, a moan leaked out from the boy and he fainted. Rolling over, and he then let go of his consciousness.

Subaru: [L-Louis…]

Yet again, in the blink of an eye, Louis’s figure disappeared and reappeared elsewhere.

It was something she had demonstrated many times at the Tower of Sand, the short-distance warping used by Gluttony―― watching her mastery of it, Subaru felt as if his heart was going to break.

The fact that she still had that power meant that she was still Louis―― Louis Arneb.

The girl from that white world, who had separated Subaru from his heart, and tried to take away his soul completely.

After having mistakenly thought of his Return by Death ability as a blessing, she had dubbed Subaru as a monster.

Abel: [We need to find Olbart immediately.]

Without regard to the previous exchange that had nearly taken his life or, conversely, saved his life, Abel muttered while slowly standing up.

――Finding Olbart.

Subaru, of course, generally agreed with this approach.

Just, Subaru didn’t know why he had said that once again, at this moment. Plus, it came right after the boy had told them something about Tanza that made no sense.

Medium: [Al-chin, can you stand?]

Al: […Y-yeah.]

Sheathing her weapon, Medium reached out to Al, who was crouching.

Al, his face hidden by a cloth, answered in such a terribly somber voice that, even though Subaru could not make out his expression, he could imagine that he’d gone pale.

Shelving his concern for Al, Subaru finally brushed off the dirt from his butt and stood up. Then he turned his face upward towards Abel,

Subaru: [What did you mean by what you said just now?]

Abel: [What are you asking about?]

Subaru: [That…! That the Tanza girl’s the mastermind, but that we should try to find Olbart-san anyway, and all that stuff! You know what I mean!]

Abel: [Hmm.]

With a tiny snort, Abel touched the cheek of his oni mask in a mocking manner.

Partly out of impatience and partly out of frustration, that gesture really got on Subaru’s nerves. So, Subaru flew into a rage and, taking a nimble leap, ripped the oni mask off Abel’s face.

Then, with a face that had not been exposed in a long time, Abel looked down condescendingly towards Subaru with disapproval.

Abel: [What in the world are you doing?]

Subaru: [That’s what I want to ask you! Don’t just figure it all out by yourself, explain it to me properly! We’re comrades!] [2]

Abel: [――Comrades, you say?]

Subaru: [Uh…]

Subaru’s intensity rapidly decreased, being stared at directly by Abel’s true face.

Although he had called him “comrade” to his face, that expression might have offended Abel. To begin with, Subaru had some qualms about describing Abel as a “comrade”.

He regretted that he’d gone with the flow and spoken that. But he couldn’t voice that reflection, because it would be like apologizing.

Medium: [That’s right, Abel-chin. We’re comrades, so you have to explain it to us.]

Instead of Subaru, the one to speak was the one who’d made Al stand up, Medium.

Putting her hands on her hips, her entire small body was being used to protest against Abel. In response to her straightforward words, Abel’s dark eyes narrowed, and,

Abel: [The assassins at the inn and here, those people are all of horned races.]

Subaru: [Horned… You mean people with horns. And what’s with them?]

Abel: [――. The horned races have a history of persecution. Because the horns resemble those of Witchbeasts, they were shunned in the past.]

Subaru: [Oh…]

Abel’s indifferent narrative caused Subaru to widen his eyes.

Having horns, and a history of being persecuted because of it. ――Such prejudice was very close to Subaru’s heart, and therefore unforgivable.

Emilia had also been discriminated against in the past for similar reasons; because her physical characteristics and origin were similar to the Witch’s, many people had harbored hatred for her.

And demi-humans as well as those of the horned races dealt with a similar past.

Subaru: [But why would those people want to attack us? I know people’ve been scared of their horns, but I don’t get it.]

Abel: [You may be a young child, but you are still required to use your head a little. For those with a history of being persecuted for having horns, this city… The way things are in Chaosflame is their salvation.]

Subaru: [Salvation… that means a “safe haven”, right?]

Abel: [――Yorna Mishigure never lets go of what lies within her bosom. She has even revolted for the sake of one dead deergirl.]

Folding his arms, the Emperor, the target of the rebellion itself, spoke of the circumstances behind it.

The reason why Yorna, someone who had revolted many times in the past, had bared her fangs at the Emperor she served―― was for the sake of one single person.

What Subaru thought upon being told this, was――,

Subaru: [Then, she’s a good person…!]

Abel: [Fool. What a narrow, simple conclusion. ――Yorna Mishigure is a woman devoted to those who love her. And she holds no mercy towards those outside that circle.]

Medium: [Really~, but I think it’s normal to be kind to the people you like!]

Subaru: [I think so too.]

Agreeing with Medium’s and Subaru’s view, Louis raised her hands and voiced an “Au!”. Abel took one look at them with cold eyes, then let out a small sigh,

Abel: [What is paramount is the fact that the horned races, with their past history of being persecuted, have found peace in this city. And the existence of Yorna Mishigure is indispensable for maintaining that peace. In other words――]

Subaru: [In other words?]

Tilting his head, he waited for Abel to continue.

But for a moment, Abel looked at Subaru, his head still tilted, while gathering his words. Subaru did not understand the meaning of this, but Abel took several blinks’ worth of time before continuing.

Abel: [In other words, for those of the horned races, our presence is an intolerable enemy that shall rock the very ground on which they stand, as we seek the support of Yorna Mishigure for a full-scale rebellion against the Imperial Capital.]

Subaru: [Oh…]

After those words, Subaru finally understood the true meaning of the sheepboy’s words and actions.

At the time he grabbed Subaru’s arm as he ran out into the street and threw him, the boy had looked pained―― no, not only the boy, but all those who were attacking them looked pained.

Those were feelings of guilt for driving Subaru and the others away, and of fear that they would lose their place in the world. That was why the boy had apologized at the time he flung Subaru.

Subaru: [So these people have been putting in their utmost effort too…]

Abel: [Is that sympathy, or is it pity? Either way, you have no leeway for that. Don’t forget the fact that these people have turned their hostility against us. Everything that tries to live and everything alive, both possess their own circumstances.]

Medium: [Sheesh~, Abel-chin! The way you’re talking is awful! Also, I still don’t really get it, why did you ask these people about Tanza-chan? Plus, what about finding Gramps?]

Abel: […From the way they were talking earlier, it must be true that they are unaware of Tanza’s whereabouts. For some reason, they suspect that we have concealed her location from them. Why would that be?]

Subaru: [Why, that’s… For what reason?]

Looking down at the unconscious boy, Subaru racked his brains over Abel’s question.

Before Louis knocked him out, the boy had snapped at Abel for asking about Tanza’s whereabouts. To Subaru, it seemed like there were no lies in the boy’s attitude of fury.

So the boy, as well as his group, must have thought that Subaru’s group had done something to Tanza.

Subaru: [So that’s why they attacked us?]

Abel: [That is how it goes. But the fact that we have not harmed Tanza remains. Then where did that girl vanish off to? Moreover, where did the hundred-or-so people from the horned races appear from?]

Subaru: [From where? They were waiting outside, right?]

Abel: [On whose orders?]

And with that immediate response, Subaru was at a loss for words.

Letting his head work, he started to assemble a pillar of answers for Abel’s questions. But before it could be assembled properly,

Al: [――That lil’ miss must’ve instructed them in advance.]

And so, from behind, Al stole the answer.

He had been in a state of being unable to speak just a while before. Subaru turned his head to the direction from which his voice came, calling him out with “Al…”. Al’s mood seemed like it had not returned to its usual state.

Al: [Sorry, bro, for worrying you… Well, things haven’t gotten any better.]

Abel: [Your mood has yet to improve? That too must be the effect of Olbart’s technique.]

Al: […I don’t disagree with that. I’d love to talk about it, but we should finish what we were talking about first. So, let’s talk about Lil’ Miss Tanza.]

Waving his now-small hand, Al answered in a voice that consciously suppressed his emotion.

Al’s condition was worrisome, but he was right, they were in the middle of a conversation. ――It was certain that Tanza had gathered all the people outside in advance.

Subaru: [Uhhh, well, so you’re saying that Tanza gathered her horned comrades around the inn ahead of time and was planning on them attacking us? But, if that’s the case…]

Medium: [Where’d Tanza-chan go?]

The question with which Medium completed Subaru’s words was the answer that had not appeared in him just yet.

Tanza had appeared at the inn to deliver the instructions from Yorna, and should’ve gone straight back. Even though he could understand how she had arranged everything, the reaction of her comrades outside was weird.

At least, that Subaru’s group had done something to Tanza was what the sheepboy had believed.

Al: [So her comrades mustn’t have seen her safe and sound… No, they probably didn’t see her come out of the inn in the first place.]

Abel: [That too is reasonable. It could be that they did not attempt any radical measures until we left the inn, in light of the possibility that Tanza was inside talking to us.]

Medium: [But! Where’s Tanza-chan then――]

Medium, with wide eyes and her head in a state of turmoil, let out something resembling a scream.

However, Subaru could understand Abel’s thoughts once they were so carefully ordered. Perhaps, this was what Abel was thinking.

That was――,

Subaru: [That girl… If Tanza isn’t outside the inn, she’s hiding somewhere. ――And that means Olbart-san’s helping her!?]

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――To take back Tanza, a group of people belonging to horned races had attacked Subaru’s group.

However, since they had been waiting outside the inn since the start, they must’ve had a meeting beforehand on what they should do if something happened to Tanza.

And within that inn, the only possible conspirator for Tanza was――,

Abel: [――None other than Olbart Dunkelkenn.]

Al: […It’s also possible that the inn’s employees worked together to hide her, y’know.]

Abel: [Naturally, I am not blind to that possibility. But I have firm assurance.]

Al: [Firm assurance?]

In response to Al’s questioning voice, Abel nodded deeply.

Why was he convinced that Olbart and Tanza were conspiring together? That would be because――,

Abel: [He took the trouble to challenge us to a mere child’s game of running and hiding. That is the sort of vicious plot the old man is fond of.]

Subaru: [Find me if you can~, like that?]

Abel: [Correct.]

Subaru couldn’t help but make a disgusted face at Abel’s affirmation as he corrected his posture.

Abel’s guess, based on the badness of Olbart’s character, was spot on. Yes, Subaru was also intuitively convinced of the reason for the disgusted look.

The fact that he had suggested “hide-and-seek” was itself a metaphor for hiding Tanza.

Subaru: [But if that’s why we were attacked, then it’s a rule violation!]

Abel: [Are you referring to the rule about not harming each other? He would get away with it by saying, “I did not do anything”. Even more so if Tanza is in league with him.]

Subaru: [Guh… Such an unfair scheme…!]

Abel: [Therefore, the priority shall be to locate Olbart. Then, Tanza’s whereabouts shall be simultaneously disclosed. But if the plan is revealed, the pretext for playing “hide-and-seek” may vanish.]

He had now understood how the fact that Olbart and Tanza could be together had been discovered. But he didn’t understand the part on how that would be the end of the game of “hide-and-seek”.

His eyebrows furrowing, a frown formed on Subaru’s face. Now facing him, Abel snatched the oni mask from Subaru’s hand with violence.

Startled, Subaru exclaimed an “Ah!” as, in front of him, Abel put the oni mask back on,

Abel: [Olbart’s goal is to ascertain if we are worth negotiating with. He is more interested in this than in childish ploys. Therefore, if we can unravel his true intentions, we needn’t go through the trouble of a contrived process.]

Subaru: [Ahh, okay, I think I get it…]

Abel: [――. Is the extent of your intelligence becoming poor in earnest?]

To Subaru, who was barely following his explanation, Abel muttered so with a sigh.

He couldn’t counter Abel’s point. Subaru, too, was aware that his head was clearly out of whack. However, he wasn’t aware of to what extent.

Perhaps his thinking was shoddy, his words didn’t come out right, or he just wasn’t very smart.

Subaru: [I wasn’t even a smart guy to begin with…]

Abel: [As for your case, the issue is that you have lost your ability to comprehend and your creativity. The details of Olbart’s technique are unknown, but one theory would be that the body reflects the ups and downs of its own Od.]

Subaru: [T-the Od’s ups and downs…?]

Abel: [It means that there is a connection between the Od and the body, their growth and decay. So to speak, we can assume that Olbart has meddled with your… or rather, all of your Ods.]

Abel looked over at Subaru, Al, and Medium, whose bodies remained shrunk.

That explanation didn’t ring a bell to Subaru. As was the case with his broken Gate, which was used for magic, he had no real sense of the explanation about Mana and Od, whose existence he had originally been unaware of.

That was only true for Subaru, but not for――,

Al: [――So, it’s because that old man was messing with our bodies.]

Subaru was surprised to hear Al grumble so hatefully.

Looking over to him, Al was touching his mask-covered forehead with trembling fingers. That he was clearly showing to be uncontrollably irritated often was evidence that he, too, was having psychological effects.

The mental capacity which they were able to have as adults was being lost as they became more childish.

Al: [That shitty geezer, I’m gonna get you for this…!]

Abel: [To do that, we need to find where this “abyss with a great view” is located.]

Subaru: [Yeah… Speaking of which, we were going to head for a tavern.]

With Al boiling with anger beside him, Subaru cut off his words there.

As a result of being forced to stay in the street, Taritta was acting as bait with the rest going separate ways. However, no explanation of the true purpose was given.

Why did Abel want to rush to a tavern?

Abel: [The basis of our hunt is numbers. Ideally, it should be someone that knows the land. However, it is possible that all the inhabitants of this city are siding with Tanza. Consequently, it would be better to utilize outsiders.]

Al: [So you’re targeting a bar where strangers might flock together. Sounds like an idea bro’d have.]

Subaru: [Um, that’s…]

He wanted to continue with “wrong”, but then remembered that he’d looked for a bodyguard in Guaral.

That had happened when a man, Todd, had targeted him; just remembering him made Subaru shudder. Among the many ideas he had considered to save himself, he’d headed to a tavern, planning to hire a strong escort.

Unfortunately, the drunken swordsman he had hired that time was soon killed.

Subaru: [But you need money to get help, don’t you? We can’t find that kind of money just anywhere.]

Abel: [That concern is irrelevant. I have a reward.]

Having said that, Abel shook the bag he was carrying.

As he’d called it necessary when carrying it out of the inn, Subaru was curious about what was inside.

In response to the look in his eyes, Abel did not go as far as to open the mouth of his bag, but said,

Abel: [When leaving Guaral, I had Zikr open the City Hall’s treasury. This is the most efficient way to obtain collaborators. Not making use of it will not do.]

Al: […That was a shrewd thing to do.]

Subaru: [But walking around with a lot of money while wearing an oni mask’s dangerous, and will make you stand out… Oh, I see.]

As he was saying this, Abel tapped his finger on the oni mask, reminding Subaru of his misplaced concern.

Since the oni mask had the effect of “cognitive disruption”, the idea that it “stood out” was an incorrect way of thinking to begin with. Since it had no effect on Subaru’s group, the difference between their actual situation and the reactions of the people around them was confusing.

Al: [So, we ain’t changing what we’re gonna do? We’re all gonna go to a tavern and look for someone to help us find that old dude?]

Abel: [――Yes, that was the original idea. However, things have changed somewhat.]

Subaru: [Things have changed, how so?]

Abel: [If Olbart and Tanza were behind this from the onset, they should be able to find a method to increase manpower quickly. While Olbart alone would have no influence in Demon City, Tanza’s addition makes it a whole other matter. That girl has the position of attendant to Yorna Mishigure.]

As Yorna held the highest position in Chaosflame, being Yorna’s attendant would mean that person would be like a secretary. In other words, Tanza was the second most important person in the city, after Yorna.

Or rather, that meant that she could conduct herself as such.

Subaru: [If they really want to keep us reigned in, they’d put people around the taverns.]

Abel: [There is no need to fall into an obvious trap. Though, there may be ways to force our way through.]

During that conversation that made a change of plans necessary, Abel’s gaze turned to the side as he spoke. Subaru followed his line of sight, and his cheeks tensed up.

Louis: [Uau?]

That was because Louis stood, at the place where line of sight of the oni mask was directed too, tilting her head.

Louis, who’d turned the tables on their attackers and at the end mercilessly knocked the sheepboy into unconsciousness, was combing her fingers feverishly through her own blonde hair beside Medium, who’d become attached to her.

Despite her overwhelming fighting power, there was no change in her very attitude of innocence.

This, in turn, sent a cold shiver down Subaru’s spine.

Medium: [Oh, Louis-chan was amazing just now! I’m shocked that you were hiding abilities like that~]

Louis: [Auau.]

Medium: [Hehehe, thanks for saving me.]

In disregard of Subaru’s state of mind, Medium stroked Louis’s head, defenseless. The latter accepted that palm with calm, but Subaru’s heart was pounding.

So Subaru immediately let out a “Wait!”, even grabbing Medium’s wrist.

Medium: [Wah, Subaru-chin?]

Subaru: [Errr, Medium-san, you shouldn’t get close to her…]

Medium: [――? Why? She saved me, right? She even saved you, Subaru-chin.]

Subaru: [Well, that might be true, but… However…]

Subaru was unable to express a reply to Medium’s innocent question.

In fact, her view was honest and correct. Louis had saved Subaru. She had not hesitated in protecting Subaru with her petite body, even at the cost of getting hurt.

Subaru had desperately pleaded, “Don’t die”, as well.

Al: [Come on now, tell us what’s up.]

Seeing Subaru’s clenched teeth, Al spoke in a low voice.

Subaru gasped and looked down at the gloomy eyes through his mask. ――He recalled that a few days ago, during the trip to Chaosflame, he’d kept Louis’s circumstances a secret from Al.

At that time, Subaru could not come to a decision on how to treat Louis, so he had put his answer on hold.

However――,

Al: [Come on, this isn’t a situation that can be overlooked with a smile anymore. It’s not just my concern, but a concern all of us have.]

Subaru: [――――]

Al: [What secret are you keeping about that girl?]

His questioning gaze was so intense that Subaru reflexively sheltered Louis behind him.

It was because he did not know how Louis would react to that gaze, rather than because he was trying to protect Louis―― no, Subaru didn’t know if that was true as well.

If there was one thing he could say, however, it was that he couldn’t deceive them any longer.

And Subaru’s young, deficient brain could not even make up a lie that sounded plausible.

That was why――,

Subaru: [She’s, Louis is… the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony.]

And so, all he could do was to clearly reveal the truth.

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――The true identity of Louis Arneb.

It was a secret that Subaru had kept from Rem, who had lost her memories, and from everyone else they had met ever since being sent to the Vollachian Empire.

Subaru expected that the trouble that would result from the discovery of Louis’s true identity as an Sin Archbishop, both concerning him and others, would be a lot. ――No, it was bound to be much worse than he could’ve expected.

That was why Subaru hid that fact from the world until this very moment――,

???: [――Sin… Archbishop.]

A faltering voice ruminated on the words, the facts that Subaru had revealed.

It would be no wonder if Al and Abel were astonished by that fact. It was only natural to be alarmed, to want to verify the facts, to shout out how ridiculous all that would be.

However, the one whose voice trembled first was neither that of Al, nor that of Abel.

???: [Louis-chan’s, a Sin Archbishop…]

Louis: [Uu?]

Indeed, Medium was the one to let out a shocked voice.

Medium’s blue eyes widened as she gazed motionlessly at Louis. Medium’s gaze caused said Louis to tilt her head and make a silly sound, as if she had no idea what she was talking about.

And that was exactly the reaction that Subaru feared the most.

He’d thought optimistically that perhaps Medium―― No, that perhaps the O’Connell siblings would take it in stride and laugh it off as nothing at all.

However, his optimism had been misplaced, as he came to realize that it had only been an idealistic dream.

Medium: [――――]

That was the unmistakable and certain “fear” that flashed across Medium’s eyes.

Al: [Bro, that joke ain’t funny.]

Subaru: [I-it’s not a joke…]

Al: [If this ain’t a joke, it’s even less funny!]

Subaru, shocked by Medium’s reaction, could not respond adequately to Al’s words that followed.

Raising his voice, Al drew out the Blue Dragon Sword he was carrying on his back with violence. Of course, it was not something that a single tiny arm of a child could hold with ease, so the sword that had been pulled out had buried its tip in the ground.

Still, if he swung it using all his weight, it could still be used. Loaded with that sharp intent, Al’s gaze turned to Subaru and Louis behind him.

Al: [You can’t be right in the head, carrying a Sin Archbishop around. You haven’t forgotten what happened in Pristella, have you?]

Subaru: [T-that’s…]

Al: [Me and Priscilla… No harm was done to the Princess, but that’s just happenstance. Your people and acquaintances got put through hell. One of the reasons why is that right there.]

There was no way to argue with the anger in Al’s voice, who leaned against the Blue Dragon Sword stuck in the ground.

Al was completely right. By all accounts, it was Subaru who was in the wrong. He should not have taken Louis with him, nor should he have let Louis run amok.

He should have revealed her true identity, tied her up, and held her captive, depriving her of her freedom.

But Subaru had not done that. Aside from that――,

Subaru: [A-Abel…?]

He looked at Abel, wondering if the latter agreed with Al in his silence.

Now that Medium was afraid and Al was angry, Abel’s attitude was the last bastion―― and Subaru couldn’t even tell for whom he was a bastion.

However, if everyone at this place chose to be hostile to Louis,

Subaru: [――――]

For certain, Subaru could put a stop to this hesitation and start moving.

Abel: [I know not how they are handled in other nations.]

Just before Subaru as he took a gulp, a man in an oni mask carrying a bag met his gaze head-on.

Black eyes met black eyes, and Subaru’s chest was pierced by the cold gaze. His brain started shutting down, as if rejecting the words he should have waited for, and the content that was to follow.

That voice slowly penetrated into that numb brain of his.

That was――,

Abel: [In the Empire, those who serve the Witch for any reason whatsoever are executed.]

A definitive declaration from an existence that stood at the pinnacle of the Empire, even though he had been ousted from his throne.

It was a verdict of execution that clearly asserted that they would never be able to see eye-to-eye.

The moment he heard this, Subaru tightly shut his eyes――,

Subaru: [――Hk, Louis!]

Medium: [Subaru-chin!]

Just as he emotionally shouted her name, a small pair of hands went around Subaru’s waist.

Immediately after, Medium’s voice echoed like a cry, and Subaru’s legs left the ground and floated up into the air―― no, Louis, who was attached to Subaru’s waist, leaped high up with Subaru.

Why, did he call out Louis’s name, what kind of meaning had been in there; Biting his molars, Subaru held back the tears coming to his eyes for some reason.

It just came to his mind.

Louis: [Uau.]

That he should not abandon this girl now, who was clutching him around the waist and was ooh’ing and aah’ing.

It wasn’t that he had returned the favor and saved her life because she had saved him. It wasn’t that Subaru mistakenly felt something like compassion and a need to protect her. It just came to his mind.

With the shrinking of not only his limbs but also the contents of his head, Subaru regretted that he had given an answer about this girl, who he didn’t know what to think of.

That was Subaru’s problem, something that had nothing to do with Rem or the many people they had met so far.

It was a problem that Natsuki Subaru absolutely had to face with all his might.

Al: [Bro! Get back here! Fucking――!]

Al, looking up, shouted at him, but Louis’s feet did not stop as she kicked off the wall and leapt away.

While hugging Subaru’s back, Louis kicked the wall of the building facing the street and ascended to the rooftop, then moved on to the next street without any trouble, and the next one after that.

In Chaosflame, a city covered with scaffolding, in which jointed paths could be freely created, Louis’s boundless lack of restraint was truly unrivaled.

Subaru: [Bwah!]

After a few more leaps, Subaru dismounted and got down on his hands and knees, taking repeated deep breaths. It was painful, not only to defy gravity so many times, but also to have Louis’s slender arms tighten like a vise around his torso.

Louis, the person in question, peeked at Subaru’s face from the side. The fact that Louis was so energetic was loathsome.

But, this was not the time for him to loath her face.

Subaru: [Shit, Abel and the others…]

That was the result of his own actions. To say that he’d just strayed from the others would be too obvious of a lie.

But had he stayed in that place, who knew what orders Abel would have given; judging from Al’s reaction, he would not have let Louis off peacefully.

He could also say that not much could be expected from Medium’s ability to defuse situations.

That said, he blamed his heart for not obeying and handing Louis over to them.

Louis: [Uau?]

Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, Subaru raised his head and saw Louis’s blue eyes looking at him innocently.

Subaru’s attitude of not caring at all about things such as hostility and fear directed at him made him feel like an idiot, for letting his mind go around in circles like this.

Subaru: [I’m an idiot. No, I am definitely an idiot.]

In fact, he was a big idiot.

Abel aside, it was idiotic to leave Medium and Al behind, and run away with Louis.

He had no idea what they were thinking or what they could do.

Subaru: [Still, if I make the decision now, I might regret it. This isn’t something a little kid should be deciding.]

The life and death of people, and ultimately the future of the Empire, were both very important matters, so he thought.

It was strange that such a big issue should be decided by a child of only about ten years old, subjected to the eyes of a ruthless adult. ――It was wrong.

Subaru: [I’m sure the original me could make the right decision. So…]

He must dispel this “infantilization” as soon as possible, and return from being the little boy Natsuki Subaru to the young man Natsuki Subaru.

That way, he would be able to fret over whether or not to deal with Louis, and give a reasonable answer to the decision his companions had reached, and attain a satisfactory conclusion.

To that end――,

Subaru: [――Let’s find Olbart-san. I’m going to do everything I can, without relying on Abel and the others.]

Louis: [Aa, uu!]

Louis raised her head in response to Subaru, lifting both her hands in the air with a cheerful look on her face.

Looking down on the landscape of the Demon City from scaffolding up high, two small children breathed alongside each other, aspiring to find the shinobi head honcho who’d turned against the residents of Chaosflame and the ousted Emperor.

――Unexpectedly, Subaru and Louis were the Oni in the game of “hide-and-seek” and the ones being chased by the Oni in the game of “tag”. [3]

 

 

Translation notes:

[1] The sentence here cuts off, but given its structure (『暴食』の――), it’s possible that it’s cutting off just before the word “権能”, which is used for “Authority”.

[2] The Japanese word used here is “仲間”, read “nakama”. It has a bit of a complex meaning, somewhere between “friend”, “companion”, and “comrades”.

[3] In the Japanese games of tag, which is normally called “鬼ごっこ” (onigokko) and hide-and-seek, the person who is “it”, or in other words, the one doing the chasing/finding, is called the “鬼” (oni). You may recognize this as the word “鬼” used for Ram and Rem’s race.

45 thoughts on “Arc 7, Chapter 48 – “Purposes Entangling in the Demon City””

  1. oh sht i just thought, the way Louise can heal her self and once helped rem heal others, could it be because she still has Rem’s memories so she’s besically kind of another Rem?

      1. Finally, someone said it. Rem being Louis makes no sense. Louis’s heal was just like the Green Room Spirit’s.

        1. I think the Rem Louis theory is pretty bad, but like Tappei actively removed the bit about the Green Room Spirit disappearing at the same time as Louis appeared, most likely because they’re not connected. In the Light Novel, it’s just never mentioned that the Green Room Spirit dissapears. There’s no way that, in his more polished draft of the story, Tappei would remove pretty much the only evidence for this theory if it was indeed correct.

        2. Then why is Louis so attached to Subaru given the fact that Louis feared Subaru after she experience the hell of RBD?

  2. Wait Wait Wait….
    Is Louis stronger than his brothers? I feel like she can use techniques simultaneously unlike his brothers which needed to swap each time…

      1. Roy isn’t dead, though, only held prisoner. Only Lye is dead, so the Authority of Gluttony would’ve moved from being split into 3 to being split into 2.

    1. She’s definitely not stronger than Lye/Rai was during his fight with Ram when he was using Solar Eclipse.

    2. It’s probably because she’s not scared of using it unlike her brothers who only uses it when they’re trapped in a corner

      You know, they’re afraid that using the memories too much will change their selves

    3. My personal theory is that Louis is the person who actually possesses the authority, but her brothers can borrow her power because she was connected to them.

  3. roy fue capturado con vida, no se si es estupido o no, pero creo que con la muerte de ley, una parte de la autoridad regreso a luis, aunque eso podria ser una contradiccion, pues anteriormente, rem dijo que luis no olia al factor de la bruja , asi que no se si eso es valido

    1. REM no tiene la habilidad de oler el factor de bruja de otros arzobispos de otra forma se hubiera mencionado en los encuentros que tubo con otros 3 arzobispos. Solo funciona con la esencia de la bruja de la envidia en Subaru.

      Por otra parte los nombres no se traducen, esta mal e incluso para algunos es una falta de respeto, ni siquiera la forma pronunciarlos. Por ejemplo, tengo 2 amigos de nombre Jesus en estados unidos, pero diferente pronunciation por que uno se lo pusieron su padres y es de origen latino y el otro no en consecuencia todos en la Universidad los llaman de forma diferente uno Jesus tal y como se lee en español y al otro lo llaman Jesus (Yisus).

      Pd: En todo caso se tendría que traducir a Luisa por ser chica lo cual le quita aun mas sentido al traducirlo. El nombre de Louis es sin genero tanto hombres como mujeres lo tienen.

      Pd2: Es diferente cuando se trata de traducirlos por el fin de no saber leer ciertos caracteres en otros idiomas.

      1. no es asi como funciona, en realidad rem si puede oler otros olores de la bruja ademas de subaru

  4. I wonder if Louis is so close to Sabaru because he has her brothers “authorities” like he got when the other archbishops were defeated

    So she “senses” her brothers in him like that archbishop of wrath is in love with him because he’s her “lover”

      1. Hey everyone, I love theory crafting and the debates within this community, so I decided to take part. My theory is that Louis is in Rem’s body, and that inside Louis’ body is the agglomeration of every soul Louis has ever been given by her brothers. This would include Rem, it would explain so much. In fact there is precedence in regards for how Louis takes possession of another’s body (that isn’t her brother’s) when she attempted it with Subaru. One of those symptoms is the loss of all memories associated in the isekai world Subaru finds himself in. So for a native born individual this would be every memory they have. Two one of her insecurities when doing so is a constant inferiority complex to the individual she has taken over which has happened with both Rem when it came to how well she healed and how well she performed in comparison to the original Natsuki Subaru. Three it has been shown that when she takes over a person she takes over the essence of that person which can be shown in how when she was Subaru she simped over the first “creature” that saved him. So when/if she took over Rem it would be natural that even with a completely blank slate that she would display the original Rem’s hard working personality. The fourth reason I believe this is when the two halves of Louis fought it was subtle, but it said something along the lines of that fight being pointless or something of the same effect. This implies that the conclusion served no purpose, and if one or both half of her souls perished wouldn’t that have plenty of meaning and purpose. For my fifth and must conclusive piece of evidence I look at the dialogue Subaru had with “Rem.” When he got around to discussing Louis’ having the witches smell, and her reply that Louis had NO SUCH SMELL! This alone proves beyond all doubt that Louis is only Louis in body only. The two possibilities being that one that “Rem”(Louis) lied on a subconscious level to insure her bodies survival, or option two and the more likely of the two. That “Rem”(Louis) didn’t smell the sent of the witch because her soul no longer resides in that body. That Rems soul is trapped inside there constantly vying for control. It was only when Subaru said don’t die which as we all should recall is what Rem once said to Subaru that she gained a portion of control of the other souls power and utilized it took protect Subaru and the horned Demi-human from becoming a burned corpse. As I don’t think a emperor character type like Abel has any reason to lie about one of his strength’s.

  5. I forgot to mention one other reason I came to this conclusion, the general Arakiya said she didn’t want to hurt someone like herself. Reminder she is a general who is closely related to souls and utilizing their powers. So in conclusion my theory is practically a scientific theory at this point.

  6. Hmm, Tappei just keeps throwing new questions at us. I like arc 7 and all but like please answer some of the questions we have and stop making things more confusing. Like come on.

  7. I think Subaru has absorbed some of the gluttony lead factor, but because gluttony had 3 representatives, Subaru and Lui are tied. Subaru has 2/3 of the lead factor, so he has control over Louis. It’s also worth understanding that Subaru’s witch factor is invested / distorted

  8. This is most exciting!

    I knew the moment Subaru revealed that about Louis, crap was going to hit the fan.

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