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TL Note: The original title of this chapter is “I know” written in English.
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- Cover: D1desk221B
- Section 1: punibaba
- Section 2: oshi_suko1
- Section 3: k_rezero_fanart
- Section 4: RE_JU_
- Section 5: cortashy
- Section 6: spica59_
- Section 7: punibaba
- Section 8: punibaba
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My utmost gratitude towards Phantaminum, who has given indispensable assistance and support, without him, this translation would not have been possible.
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――In that wretchedly hopeless scene, such a cheerful voice and smile were terribly out of place.
It was evident at first glance that his kimono was violently smoldering, and despite the left half of his face also having been scorched black, Cecilus’s attitude as he gazed at Subaru was the same as it had always been. That was far too abnormal.
It was not just him. ――Right now, those who remained alive upon this island, all of them were abnormal beings.
The people who were upright, all of them had certainly died already.
Cecilus right in front of him, Todd pursuing him, Arakiya on her killing spree, and Subaru, the great sinner.
Every single one of them, because they were not upright, but instead, shameless people, they had been able to survive like this.
That was why――,
Subaru: [Ce, ci…]
Cecilus: [From the looks of things, it seems like you’ve also had a considerably hard time. On that note, lizardman-san’s also died, and at this rate, the lil’ deergirl and your other friends from your Unit are all gonna be annihilated, won’t they?]
Cecilus: [Oh, is it possible you’ve yet to realize that he died?]
Through the tremors of the eyeballs of a trembling Subaru, Cecilus was reading through all of his heartfelt thoughts.
Right then, outrage surged forth. Despite seemingly reading Subaru’s heart like that, why was he completely unable to sympathize with Subaru’s current feelings?
Hiain had died; having been told that, just what would become of Subaru’s feelings. And, just why?
Just why, would he speak of that death so frivolously?
Cecilus: [He really died y’know, absolutely and irrevocably… Only, the face he died with wasn’t too bad.]
Subaru: [Even though, he, died… Hk.]
Cecilus: [Are you thinking it doesn’t matter whether it was good or bad? That seems to just be a difference in opinion, then. If they had a good way of living, then they’d also have a good way of dying. It’s rather tactless for us listeners to butt in with how we feel about it, so let’s stop with that. Lizardman-san had a good death. That face of his is proof of that, y’know.]
Cecilus: [It’s the face of having died after fulfilling one’s duty, I also want to go out like this.]
Subaru did not say a single thing to Cecilus, who incessantly spewed his nonsense.
He had not been cajoled by those words, rather, he thought them to be meaningless. He had not seen the visage Hiain had made upon his demise, so it was utterly unthinkable that he could comprehend Cecilus.
That was why, there was not even a fragment of a reason for Subaru to engage with his point.
Cecilus: [Well then, though we happened upon each other here and have been blathering on, in truth I’m actually quite busy right now. I’m in the middle of a fantastic showdown with the half-naked woman who’s been rampaging around the Island.]
Stretching his crooked back with a jerk, Cecilus continued to speak as he pleased.
The person who had been mentioned in conversation, Subaru knew it to be Arakiya without even needing to think.
Arakiya had commenced a massacre upon being told to do so by Todd. Todd’s lack of outstanding fighting strength had been his only good aspect, but that had disappeared once paired with her, making him an impeccable evil.
He imagined he would not lay eyes on her again after she had begun turning the gladiators’ heads into water balloons, but it seemed like the one who had been keeping her in check was Cecilus.
Even with the latter weakened, could it be that a Divine General was being suppressed by a fellow Divine General?
Cecilus: [But, as you can see I’m in the middle of getting cooked in a close fight. Well, I’m beat, I’m beat. Seems like she’s here, the person who can compete with me toe-to-toe, that is. Though I’d always thought that, without a doubt, the path to reach the Heavenly Sword was something that had to be climbed on one’s own.]
Cecilus: [Pardon? What was that?]
Subaru: [Why, do you seem, like you’re enjoying this…?]
Quite literally, at the end of the agonizing struggle that had seemed to wring out his soul, the venting of his anger rushed forth from his mouth.
Indeed, it was just him venting his anger. In this hellish situation, on this island where Weitz, Tanza, Idra, and Hiain, and just about everyone had died, Cecilus’s smile was revolting.
Why was he smiling? In this situation, just what was so amusing?
Cecilus: [Ah, you’ve got cause and effect backwards. I’m not smiling because it’s enjoyable, I’m smiling to make the situation of this play more enjoyable.]
Cecilus: [In this cruel world, everyone’s in pursuit of their own ideal happiness. The myriads of different people in existence, the philosophies they each follow, that pursuit remains constant in all of them, but whoever it may be, they have to herald a faith that suits them. Thus, the faith I herald, is the reason behind this way of being.]
While he spoke, Cecilus touched his scorched left cheek with his right hand. Though his tattered and charred skin was peeling and flaking away, even in the midst of seemingly unimaginable pain, his smile did not deteriorate.
Without relying on any cheap tricks like not feeling pain, Cecilus kept on smiling.
Cecilus: [I’m the leading actor of this world! Therefore, I’m not going to adhere closely to the script, but instead the script will adhere closely to me. If you ask me why I smile, then that will be my response.]
Cecilus: [For whose sake do I laugh for, it’s for my own sake. ――May it be so that the Observers in the heavens above never feel any shame whenever they might look at me.]
Cecilus: [Well, Basu, what kinda faith do you herald?]
That was Cecilus’s philosophy for maintaining his smile while half of his body was smoldering.
That was something Subaru could not comprehend in the slightest, but as if something were making him hesitate to kick Cecilus for relying on his emotions, he had felt something akin to that peculiar faith.
Observers, Cecilus had once spoken of the same thing before.
That someone, or rather something, of an ethereal nature had been observing them, that seemed like what he had wanted to say.
Even in the situation they were in, he staunchly stuck to that recitation of his, so certainly nobody would be able to bend it.
That was why――,
Cecilus: [Would you look at that, seems the intermission’s over.]
As he said that, even when witnessing Arakiya’s figure descend, coming from the passage of the lower stratum, his smile did not vanish.
Surely nobody among the gladiators would have stood a chance against Arakiya, her whole body clad in flame. And yet, the wooden branch in her hand had snapped, and she had lost the eyepatch that concealed one of her eyes.
Loathing the fact that she was able to see with the eye under that eyepatch, Arakiya was concealing her left eye with her vacant hand, and her face, which had been emotionless in the past, was contorted, expressing utterly complex emotions.
Clenching her teeth as she glared at Cecilus, the woman’s pupils flickered with turmoil and ire.
Having sprouted from her back, wings of flame danced; the force of their blaze wavered as if in tandem with her emotions, immolating, continuing to permeate the passage with terrific heat.
The scent of burning was in the air, the woman proceeding to incinerate everything encompassing her surroundings.
The walls and floor of the passage, the candlesticks and doors, and even Hiain’s collapsed remains――.
Cecilus: [If we all burn to death here, together, would that be proper recompense for the face he died with? That was a pretty uncharacteristic thing for me to say. By all means, do as you wish, feel free to either stay or leave.]
Seeing bits and pieces of Hiain’s body catch fire, Subaru’s expression changed as Cecilus’s voice fell upon him. Firmly, Subaru put his arm to the floor, and little-by-little, tearing his body away from the ground as it began to heat up, he stood up.
His head was aching. His blood was lacking. His chest felt like it was overcome with feelings of powerlessness.
Even so, just why, was Subaru still standing? He would neither burn to death here, nor would he bite down on the “drug” placed behind his molar, just why?
Cecilus: [Then, ‘til we meet again in this life.]
The reason why he had started sprinting unbeknownst to him, Subaru turned his back on the flaming passage.
Running, limping, he was running at far too slow a pace.
Faster, if only he had been able to surpass this speed, would he not have been able to finish things without letting them, Idra and Hiain, Weitz and Tanza, die? And while he lamented such things.
Subaru, still continued to run away.
Cecilus: [――Well now, Basu’s disappeared as well, huh .]
Cecilus: [Dear me, seems like I’m hated an awful lot.]
Feeling the presence of that faltering sprint grow distant, batting one eye shut, Cecilus produced a wry smile.
The woman clad in flames cast him an intense glare; he understood that he himself was the target of her ire, yet he did not quite understand what the source of said ire was.
Only, he felt that it was neither his opposition, nor him interrupting her slaughter of the gladiators, that had originated that rage.
Perhaps, there were other reasons beyond that.
Cecilus: [In general, I do have the special skill of angering the people I come into contact with, but, as is usual in those situations… I don’t have the faintest clue why!]
Arakiya: [――Hk, for how long, will you keep joking around…!]
Cecilus: [Hmm, I’m joking around, huh. May I go as far as to ask what part exactly am I joking around about?]
Arakiya: [That! That… appearance, just what is it…!]
Those red eyes glaring at him, his appearance had been pointed out.
She had asked what was up with it, though it had been none other than her who had cooked him until he was seared on only one side.
Cecilus: [But that’s not what you mean, is it? Is it possible that maybe you and I happen to know each other?]
Arakiya: [Joking around…]
Cecilus: [I’m really not, but that being said, since I can’t provide any evidence for you to believe me, I can do nothing but insist and insist on it. However, I see, if I think about it that way it feels like many things make sense.]
While he spoke, Cecilus whirled around an extended finger of his right-hand, and nodded as he spun the eyepatch he had stolen from her in the midst of battle.
His memories up until the uproar on the Gladiator Island were terribly unclear. That it was in accordance with what Subaru had asked before, this was fact. That he had not paid much heed to it, was also fact. Nonetheless, just when he had thought that some of those were present, the woman before his eyes had made her entrance, her face looking as if she knew him.
If that woman were present within his vanished memories, he felt that was somewhat too good to be true. If she was capable of this much, he had expectations of what could happen.
On the path, to reach the Heavenly Sword――,
Arakiya: [Always like this… Nobody, no one will tell me anything…!]
However, in front of Cecilus as he pondered over, as the woman’s voice trembled with frustration, powerful bitterness began mixing in with her turmoil and fury.
From red to blue, the flames upon her back shifted in hue. They had a graceful charm to them.
As that graceful transfiguration was brought about, the breaths she took seemed strained,
Arakiya: [The Princess, His Excellency as well, are both hiding… I was, always…]
Cecilus: [Are you having painful thoughts about having been left behind?]
As if that brief comment had somehow hit bullseye, her facial expression stiffened.
Witnessing those red eyes wavering as if a deep emotion had throbbed from the faded beyond, ultimately, even if said deep emotion had not throbbed, her relation to him was something he was unsure of.
Cecilus: [Well, it’d be strange for you to try killing me if we had a good relationship, so surely it was a rather harsh relationship. That lines up with this situation perfectly!]
Cecilus: [The audience will get bored from such long-winded dialogue. It’s about time we get this stage moving. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give you any answers whatsoever, but a some small weight may be removed from your chest.]
Slowly concealing the aching half of his body, grasping the spinning eyepatch tightly, he came to face her.
Thereupon ending the conversation, his attitude was thatof wishing for the conversation to not enter the realm of unnecessary words. Then the woman, after remaining silent for a while, slowly lowered her left hand.
Beyond that, was a red eye bereft of all light. Meeting its gaze with his own eyes, Cecilus produced a wry smile.
Cecilus: [Feel free to go all out. ――Every single time, you only cook your fried eggs on one side.]
Cecilus: [Eh? Did something slip out just now?]
Cecilus cocked his head, wondering about the words that had left his mouth as if by reflex.
Albeit, it seemed that had spurred her ire further.
Furiously, the sprouting blue flames proceeded to incinerate the lower stratum of the island as they rose.
Devoid of the leisure to concern himself with his surroundings, as he plunged into the inferno, Cecilus himself became Blue Lightning.
Subaru: [Haaa, haaa…]
Feeling the heat of the inferno on his back, Subaru frantically fled from the lower stratum.
Fled, indeed, he was fleeing. Not resisting, nor struggling, but fleeing.
That it had been a strategic withdrawal, or a valiant escape in order to follow-up next time, he could not make those excuses.
After all, he had nothing at all to follow-up with beyond this point.
Everybody had died, there was no getting anyone back anymore.
Although Weitz and the others had staked their lives so he could escape, he was unable to do anything whatsoever.
Everything, and anything, his intention had been to succeed in both.
In reality, he had intended, by overcoming Sparka on two occasions, helping out the comrades of his Unit as well as Hiain’s comrades, to surmount every hardship.
It had been a terribly mistaken presumption.
To begin with, Subaru had died many times. Even if he died, as long as he had the chance to do everything over, it would turn out well; thus, it could no longer turn out well.
If he really were a capable person, he should have made everything turn out well, dying not even a single time.
Just as though he were that dreadful existence, just as though he were Todd Fang.
Without even possessing the Authority to start over through death, he had the capability to surmount every situation through his own power.
Lacking any outstanding fighting strength, he was identical to Subaru, so then why, why was Subaru unable to do the same things as Todd.
Since he could not do those things, Subaru, had ended up killing a great number of people――.
Subaru: [Damn it… Hk!]
Rushing out of the island’s lower stratum, just as he felt the open air, his vexation swelled unbearably. Bashing the outer wall he leaned against, Subaru cursed himself for his own weakness.
His small fist, his frail body, his non-functioning mind, his useless Authority. Were he to start enumerating the reasons for his defeat, what came to mind was unending.
Rather, just what did he, this shitty brat with scary eyes, possess――.
Subaru, ceasing his footsteps in regret and cursing himself, stifled a scream from his throat at the unexpected sound.
A sound at this place, his whole body trembled violently as he imagined the worst possible thing. Could Todd, who Idra had desperately tried to fend off, have caught up to him?
???: [Schwartz, sama…]
As the sound of the hoarse voice continued, Subaru received a shock, although it had not been one of dread.
Calling out to Subaru through feeble breaths, was the one who had been thrown out of the passage by Todd’s hand, whose safety he had been uncertain of thereafter, Tanza.
The girl’s entire body was drenched as it limped, and having discarded her kimono, she was dressed in her white juban. She was in a battered condition, with one of the two horns sprouting from her head having been broken off. 
But even so――,
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, thank goodness, you are alright…]
As her gentle eyes wavered with relief, Subaru felt an agonizing sensation stemming from the bottom of his heart.
Upon seeing the soaked girl, he understood that she had been thrown into the lake from the upper stratum. The lake was inhabited by aquatic, savage Witchbeasts, her fractured horn serving as proof that they should not be glossed over as anything trivial.
It was a figure one would expect to cling to an adult, crying out “It hurts, It’s painful, help me”.
And yet Tanza had found Subaru, letting out a “Thank goodness” with a content look.
This, Natsuki Subaru, who could not do anything at all, finding him――.
And, it happened the moment he had that thought.
The strength in his legs sapping away, Subaru sank to the floor where he stood. The thread of tension snapped, the insides of his head, which had only been ranting and raving, swiftly grew silent.
That he had become relieved upon coming face-to-face with a living Tanza, was not what had happened.
Neither had he somehow gotten a sense of accomplishment by finding a breakthrough solution, nor had he shaken off his fear directed to Todd.
――Merely, he had run out of patience with himself.
Seeing Subaru fall to his knees, Tanza ran towards him, her expression a changed one.
The way she dashed was odd, perhaps she had sustained an injury to her leg. Looking closely, he could see that the sides of her drenched white juban were slowly being dyed red.
Despite having sustained a wound seemingly of awfully immense pain, she was still worrying about Subaru.
When he realized he could not live up to any of Tanza’s expectations, he lost all strength.
Resignation, had overwhelmed his inner heart.
It was neither pain, nor fear.
That which dealt despair to Natsuki Subaru, was not something as easy-to-understand as hardship.
He had been unable to meet the expectations, the wishes, placed upon him.
That, above everything else, was what brought Natsuki Subaru despair, a despair that had become deadly poison to him.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, compose yourself… The others, Idra-sama and Hiain-sama…]
Arriving at his side, Tanza touched Subaru’s shoulders as she fret over the two people not present.
She had not called out Weitz’s name. That was a matter-of-course. Tanza too, had witnessed Weitz be slain through her very eyes. Then, regarding the two people not present here as well, she had surely felt a bad premonition.
That premonition, was accurate to a hopeless extent.
Subaru: [The two of them… They died…]
Subaru: [Both Idra, and Hiain, protected me…]
Everyone, had died. It was not just that he had not been able to save them, but they had saved him.
Weitz, Idra, and Hiain, all three of them had perished while protecting Subaru. That Tanza was close to death, was also because she had attempted to defend an immobile Subaru.
Everyone dying, was Subaru’s fault.
Everyone being killed, was also Subaru’s fault.
The horrible tragedy that had befallen the Gladiator Island, all of it had been Natsuki Subaru’s fault.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama… Let us leave this place. At once, we must hide somewhere.]
Subaru: [Even if we hide, it’s pointless… No matter what, we’ll be found immediately.]
Tanza: [Even so! Shall you do nothing at all, and wait like this until you are killed? Then for what purpose did everyone in our Unit lose their lives!?]
Shaking her head side-to-side, Tanza let out a frustrated cry directed at Subaru, still unmoving.
Her tearful appeal, however, far from kindling Subaru’s heart, only brought about a cold understanding.
Indeed, Subaru, for whose safety the three had staked their lives, was utterly, completely useless.
In other words, he had let the three of them die in vain. Because, all of them had tried to protect Subaru.
He had not been capable of living up to their expectations. Even though he had gone as far as having lied to them, deceived them.
It would have been better had they not believed that lie. Had he been unable to deceive them to the end of the end, or had there been no gain for Subaru in telling that lie, if they had not believed such a lie.
Had that been the case, then the three of them would have not tried to die in Subaru’s stead.
It had not been for the Emperor’s child’s sake, nor for Natsuki Schwartz’s, but for Natsuki Subaru’s; that, they would never come to know.
And now that he thought about it, there was another person whom he had deceived with the same lie.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama! If you collapse here――]
Subaru: […Everything, all of it was a lie, Tanza.]
Subaru: [Me being the illegitimate child of the Emperor, that’s a downright lie. I’m the child of a praiseworthy, incredible and cool dad… but, I’m nothing of the sort of a child of the Emperor.]
Casting his gaze down, Subaru willingly confessed that he had carelessly tried to rely on that lie and their false expectations.
If only he had done this sooner―― no, he should not have told such a lie to begin with.
As her already-round eyes widened further, Tanza was rendered speechless due to Subaru’s admission.
That was natural. Given the situation, to think he would tell a lie made Subaru himself want to curse his own self. Having been deceived, it would not be strange in the slightest for the girl to surrender herself to anger.
Rather, even if he were to be killed by Tanza’s hand, that was something unavoidable.
The same went for everyone else as well.
The chance to exact rightful punishment on the deceitful Subaru, had been lost by those he had deceived.
So, even if Tanza were to do that.
Tanza: [Quickly, let us move from here. I shall carry you upon my back.]
Subaru, who had shut his eyes in preparation for the fact that whatever came out of her mouth would be only natural, lifted his head upon hearing Tanza’s words.
Pursing her thin lips, Tanza tried to pull on Subaru’s arm. Earnestly, she attempted to take Subaru upon her back and get out of this place; a “Wait” leaked out through his voice at that development.
He had conveyed everything, every single thing. He had said it had been a lie.
Subaru: [You didn’t hear me, did you… I’m…!]
Tanza: [Not the illegitimate child of His Excellency the Emperor, I heard you. We will address that later…]
Subaru: [It’ll be just as shit later, won’t it!? I’m unrelated to the Emperor! And as such, right now, something like a reason to save me is…]
Nonexistent. For pretending that something that did not exist, actually did, had been Subaru’s sin.
That was the very thing that had taken the lives of those three away――.
Tanza: [――Schwartz-sama, is that truly what you believe?]
Having shaken off the small hands touching his shoulders, Subaru ceased his movement.
In front of him, Tanza, crouching, was looking straight into Subaru’s eyes with intent. Unable to take his eyes off of hers, he struggled in understanding the meaning of the words she had stated towards him.
Regardless of what she thought, everything, all of it was just as he had said.
Tanza: [Weitz-sama, Idra-sama, Hiain-sama, the reason everyone put their lives on the line to protect you, Schwartz-sama, was all because of the falsehood you spoke, do you truly believe that?]
Subaru: [A-after all… After all, I said I was the Emperor’s child.]
Tanza: [Myself and everyone else, all of us believed it. Nevertheless, those three… Those people, a scaredy-cat, a coward, and a liar, do you think they would wager their lives out of loyalty and patriotism to the Empire?]
If Subaru were the illegitimate child of the Emperor, he would be known as an Imperial Prince.
That was why, for those three, as people of the Empire, it would have been only natural for them to try to protect Subaru. But, once again, he slowly digested Tanza’s words, pondered them over.
As a scaredy-cat, Hiain had tried to run away so he could save himself.
As a coward, Weitz had struggled to survive by outmaneuvering those around him.
As a liar, Idra had tried to make himself look bigger so as to be able to control everyone.
Not one of them felt like someone he would get along with. Assuredly, the three of them had held similar feelings.
Despite that, in the end those three had staked their lives, standing to defend Subaru. Protected him. Allowed him to escape.
Why had it been so? Because the three of them had believed Subaru to be the illegitimate child of the Emperor.
Though, it was possible. ――It was possible, that if that had not been the case.
Subaru: [Just, why…?]
Tanza: [It is because, Schwartz-sama, you actually got close to those three.]
Tanza: [You engaged in actual conversations with them, answered them, and attempted to actually come to an understanding with them… By doing that, Schwartz-sama, you became close to everyone.]
His understanding lacking, as Subaru voiced that question, Tanza spoke as she looked into his eyes.
What had Subaru done? Why had those three tried to save Subaru? She was trying to inform him as to the answer.
Even so, Subaru did not comprehend the meaning of what Tanza was saying.
Subaru: [That kind of thing, it’s natural. I haven’t done anything even remotely special.]
Conversing with the companions he had been cooperating with, and coming to understand them, had been only natural to him.
Things that he was unable to do certainly existed. Things that he wanted to do, but could not. But, doing something so natural with everybody, getting close to them, that was not such an extraordinary thing.
Tanza: [Personally, I understand how they all felt. I too, was once rescued by Yorna-sama. I was able to grow close to her. Without a doubt, it was the same for those three, with how they felt about you.]
Tanza: [Nonetheless, there was meaning in them staking their lives on just that… There are times when one is made to feel so.]
Unfair, those words had been unfair.
Had she only had her experience with Subaru, it would be impossible for Tanza to say such a thing to his face. But, Tanza spoke of her own experience on what she had received from Yorna.
Yorna Mishigure, the Demon City’s Mistress, a city where many tribes lived―― as far as Subaru knew, she was the kindest woman in the Empire.
Putting him on the same level as Yorna, what an absurd proposition. Even disrespect had its limits.
Tanza had appraised Subaru far too highly.
However, for those three, for Hiain and Weitz and Idra, just how had it been?
In all likelihood, Subaru knew more about those three than they had thought.
Hiain’s self-hatred, Weitz’s false accusations, Idra’s downfall, he knew about all of those.
He knew that, having gone through tough times, having gone through miserable times, having been unable to rely on anyone, they had all been sent to this island.
He had not given much thought to that. Because, surely, all three would have also had their chances.
And despite him having thought that they would die here, to think that that would be their end.
Subaru: [I wanted to save, everyone.]
Tanza: [You have saved them. To the extent that they would stake their lives in order to protect you, Schwartz-sama.]
Subaru: [No, you’re wrong. It’s not like that…]
By some chance, perhaps it was just as Tanza said.
By some possibility, more than Subaru had believed, those three had perhaps thought of Subaru as their comrade.
Subaru had possibly, by some chance, saved the hearts of those three.
But, just their hearts, was not enough.
It would be unthinkable for him to merely save their hearts and leave it at that. What he wanted to save, was everything.
Subaru wished, for those who had kindly taken his side, for those who had treated him well, for everyone, to have their hearts and bodies alike be saved by his own self.
Were he unable to do so, then, he would be no son of Natsuki Keni―― No.
Subaru: [――I, hate it.]
With him hopelessly bawling out, with everything in his surroundings dying out, this world was ending.
Before he knew it, the Gladiator Island had been engulfed in black smoke, burning in spite of being an island floating atop a lake, burning, its tongues of flame spreading, bringing the lives carried within it to an end.
Subaru: [I won’t…]
Permit anything of the sort. I don’t want to allow anything of the sort. I don’t want my knees to buckle because of an end like this, unable to save everyone.
I can’t accept an ending like this, with everyone sacrificing their lives.
I cannot accept it. Therefore――,
Subaru: [――I, don’t want, to lose to you.]
???: [I don’t really care about stuff like winning or losing, though.]
From behind the ascending black smoke, tapping his shoulder with the axe in his hand, the man responded as he tilted his head.
For but a moment, Subaru had mistaken the man, who had made his appearance with relaxation as he carried a bloodstained axe on his shoulder, for someone else.
Missing his trademark bandana, his orange hair hanging down, he lent a vastly different impression from the man Subaru was acquainted with.
However, that pair of eyes―― those green irises, the malice there-in unable to be fully concealed, could not quite falsify his identity.
Todd: [You sure have the devil’s luck. Even though I was chasing you, it took some time to catch up to you since the passage was on fire. I told Arakiya to put her water to use, but…]
Todd: [Somehow, it seems like Arakiya’s got her hands full. She’s useless at the times that are actually important.]
Saying that with bluntness and annoyance, Todd, partly due to his lowered hair, had no hint of positivity. The fabricated aura of a friendly young man from their first meeting had evaporated, and what was present now was only a chilly thirst for violence.
Perhaps even that violence was also a misunderstanding on Subaru’s part, and was possibly another fabrication.
He was a man who would tell only the needed lies if push came to shove, utilizing those around him, a fabrication as was typical of Todd――,
Tanza: [Please, refrain from coming any closer than that…]
Glowering at Todd as he tried to take a step forward, Tanza picked up a nearby rock.
With the arm strength Tanza possessed, power unthinkable for a child, then even an ordinary stone would be enough as a lethal weapon when thrown. In the case Todd was the opponent however, Subaru did not feel like a rock would not have any usefulness beyond being a rock.
And in fact, Todd was no coward, instead narrowing his eyes,
Todd: [Even though you fell in the lake, you’re quite stubborn, little miss. Are you the same as that lot from earlier?]
Tanza: […If you are referring to everyone from the Unit…]
Todd: [That’s a troublesome look in your eyes. I also don’t intend on underestimating just how dangerous that desperation is. If I did, it’d be troublesome, as we’d render each other unable to move.]
As he stated that, Todd ran his hand through his own hair. Transmitted from that gesture, was that the removal of his bandana had been an achievement left behind by Idra.
It was not that he had been able to defeat Todd, nor was it that he had injured Todd, even, it was just that he had snatched Todd’s bandana away.
And that notwithstanding, because Idra had carried out a single retaliation, Todd was exercising caution towards Subaru and Tanza.
Tanza: [What… Just what is it exactly that you desire?]
Todd: [――? I just want to go home to my fiancée, though?]
Having brought his legs to a halt, that was Todd’s reply to Tanza’s question.
Devoid of any apparent hint of jest or sarcasm, Todd vocalized his desire plainly. He just wanted to go home, that was the sole thing he desired. That was what Todd had declared.
Perhaps, then, that had not been a lie of any sort.
Subaru: [Tanza, you don’t need to speak to him anymore. The one to speak to him, will be me.]
Pulling Tanza back, who had cast Todd a stern look, Subaru silently trained his gaze on him.
With the pair of tattered children before him, Todd shrugged his shoulders.
Todd: [I’ve got nothing to talk about, boy.]
Subaru: [I’ll keep you company as you look for an opening. Or could it be that you’re scared of a kid who’s this close to death?]
Todd: [Sure is scary. A brat still trying to provoke me despite the situation, being scared is unavoidable.]
Not letting himself be provoked in the slightest, nor relaxing even a shred of his vigilance, he would not cut corners even if his opponent was a child.
In truth, against an opponent troublesome to no end, he thought it only natural to be driven to a corner like this. Though, he also considered something else. Todd was someone who cautiously used his wits and did not overestimate his own ability, such a way of doing things was――.
Subaru: [You’re someone who tries to manage everything all on your own.]
Todd: [――. It’s impossible to do everything. I know the extent of my own ability.]
Subaru: [Although you came alongside Arakiya as comrades, you really don’t trust her in the slightest.]
He could not feel any consideration towards Arakiya in Todd’s attitude.
Not because he was not confident in Arakiya’s strength, nor because he believed there was no way she would lose, but rather because, regardless of her strength or weakness, Todd simply did not care about Arakiya.
And that was unrestricted to just Arakiya. That way of thought applied to everything in Todd’s vicinity.
That was why, his thoughts, his actions, his ideals, all were fulfilled entirely by his own self.
Subaru: [I don’t want to lose to a guy of that sort.]
Todd: [It’s not about winning or losing. I don’t particularly mind. It’s fine if you win, as long as you die.]
Subaru: [My defeat, won’t just be my defeat. It’ll be Tanza’s, Hiain’s, Weitz’s, Idra’s, everyone in the Unit’s defeat.]
That, was absolutely loathsome.
All together, Subaru and the others had fought, they had resisted, and they headed towards victory. As a Unit.
That was why, they would win. ――With everyone, he would go and win.
Kneeling, his body close to death, Subaru put a hand to his own chest.
Though Todd scowled at those words, he did not heedlessly shift his vigilance away from Tanza. Naturally, were Subaru to attempt any discernible action, Todd would surely move to impede him.
Though, as Subaru remained kneeling on the spot, he did not move. He would not move.
And, he had no need to move. ――There was just one thing, he had to say.
Subaru: [――I can… Return by Death.]
Powering through his slight hesitation, Subaru spoke so.
Prepared for what could happen should he say that, with his hand still upon his own chest, Subaru clearly spoke those words.
After an instant of nothing, because of Subaru’s words, Todd wrinkled his brow, creating deep creases.
Unable to grasp the meaning of those words, Tanza returned signs of doubt all the same. From the reaction of those two, and from the lack of pain hailing from his chest, Subaru discerned the origin of the discrepancy.
Although his body had shrunk, he could not forget those memories of agony.
Were he to speak of that, a disaster should, without fail, befall Subaru. Unbearable pain would be bestowed upon him as punishment for breaking the Taboo, by the black shadows that governed the world of stopped time.
That did not arrive. For what reason? ――The Witch had lost sight of Subaru.
At the tower of the Crimson Lapis Castle, during the Sparka on the Gladiator Island, during the massacre triggered by Todd―― a discrepancy had accompanied the spirals of Death that had occurred at every single one of those scenes.
Instinctively, unconsciously, Subaru had understood that.
Akin to how a bird would not forget how to fly. Akin to how a fish would not forget how to swim.
Natsuki Subaru, would not forget how to use his own Authority.
Was being sent to the Vollachian Empire the reason? Was the onwards march of Infantilization the reason?
Before this, way before this, he could have noticed it.
Even during Sparka, even while the massacre was ongoing, the moment the unleashed Gladiator Beasts―― the Witchbeasts, did not rush towards Subaru, it was made certain that he had been parted from the Witch’s hands.
Henceforth, he shouted.
Subaru: [I can Return by Death!]
Todd: [――Hk, you…]
Subaru: [I… can Return by Death! Return by Death! You understand? Return by Death!]
――Return by Death, was something he must not reveal to anyone.
Because accompanying it was a penalty of unbearable pain, and beyond that, there was a possibility that it could directly lead to despair akin to one’s heart cracking.
To sow the life of those listening by abusing that mechanism, he did not expect anything of the sort.
He did not stop it from reaching Tanza’s ears either. He even bestowed Todd with information he did not want him to hear.
However, the one he truly wanted to hear it was not Todd, nor was it anyone else on the Island.
Subaru: [――I… can Return By Death!]
Raising his eyes to the heavens, Subaru projected his voice towards the same overcast skies black smoke was ascending to.
With his body in tatters, the reverberation of his loud voice brought pain to his viscera. He was near death. Nevertheless, Subaru’s resolve was settled, for the pain he wished for was nothing of this sort.
May it be so the Observers did not feel shame, those were the rambling words left behind by Cecilus.
It was unlikely that Subaru and Cecilus had been envisioning the same thing. In the first place, there was a high probability that it had merely been one of Cecilus’s thoughtless remarks. Yet, those thoughtless remarks had aided him in realizing.
Similar to the Observers Cecilus was aware of, there was something that was supposedly observing Subaru.
That existence which was supposedly observing Subaru, were it watching over Subaru even now, without parting from him, then these loops bereft of hope, bereft of Love, would not come to pass.
Subaru: [――I can Return By Death!]
I’m right here. Come find me.
I know that it’s selfish. But, I want to save everyone.
With my, with Natsuki Subaru’s Authority and nothing more, it just isn’t enough.
Subaru: […Come find me, Satella.]
???: [――I love you.]
It happened the moment that name was called out.
The world abruptly lost color. The loud throbbing that resounded, the ringing in his ears vanished into the distance.
He was incapable of moving his limbs. His tongue became parched and numb. He became unable to both move his eyes and breathe. The force restraining his free will, the threat slowly disrupting the beating of heart, all of that had been, because.
――Donning a dress weaved from jet-black shadows, the Witch he yearned for appeared before his eyes.
???: [I love you.]
As she spoke so, the Witch’s magic hands of black stretched out towards him.
Caressing Subaru’s cheek, tenderly cherishing him as she slid down the back of his neck, tracing his collarbone down towards his solar plexus, to then finally arrive at the place she sought.
???: [I love you. I love you. I love you.]
While she whispered the love his ears had grown accustomed to, her fingers phased through Subaru’s, through that child’s chest, then finally wrapping themselves around the organ where the facilities of life were contained with gentleness.
???: [I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.]
Subaru had somehow managed to do it, that much was certain.
The countless whispers imbued with the power in the word “love”, the fingertips wrapping his heart which seemed to run contrary to that, the ensuing pain that lasted seemingly until the end of this world, he had longed for all of it.
???: [I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.]
――Even if this repulsive world was fully permeated by the power in those words, Natsuki Subaru would not be broken.
As the world regained its color, as his once-vanished tinnitus returned, as the sensation in his limbs and the numbness of his tongue both faded, as he took gruff breaths, the flow of time for everything outside of Subaru was set in motion.
With that, it seemed both Todd and Tanza did not understand what Subaru had meant, the latter with a strong clutch on his chest as he groaned.
Nevertheless, the subsequent change ought to have been noticed by the two of them right away.
Eyes sharpened, his expression stiffening in terror, Todd shifted his focus to his surroundings.
The cause of that was not something visible to the eye, but an approaching, audible report―― in more detail, roars. The Witchbeasts still remaining upon the Gladiator Island were howling in unison, as though they had arranged this beforehand.
Furthermore, having been stimulated by an unordinary trigger, the aura was of such menace that it seemed as if they had lost their senses.
That instant, casting his mind back to the sense of crisis, Todd immediately detected Subaru as the cause.
It seemed that even Todd himself did not know the meaning of that “Return by Death” Subaru had shouted out. But he had no necessity to comprehend it; so casting that aside, he put his intent to kill into practice on the spot.
While remaining vigilant of Tanza’s counterattack, Todd’s body ferociously charged towards Subaru.
Opposing Todd, Tanza hurled the stone in her hand at great velocity. The stone flew true, rocketing towards the very center of Todd’s being.
Letting out a minute grunt, Todd gnawed his molars at the pain originating from his left arm, which had been struck by the stone.
Unable to allow him to dodge, Tanza had set her aim to the largest possible target, his torso. Catching wind of that, Todd had sacrificed his left arm, and thus minimized the damage he had suffered.
Following that, Todd brandished the axe with his right arm, and tried to cut Tanza’s petite form down.
However, Subaru would not permit such a thing.
Her shoulders sent flying due to a thrust from behind, Tanza called that out as she fell on her side.
The one to send her flying had been Subaru, who she had been protecting with that small back of hers just before. Tanza had vanished from the range of the axe’s downswing, but Subaru had entered it in her stead.
For but an instant, Todd’s pupils constricted, however, the momentum of his axe did not cease, his swing being brought to completion.
The blade drew near without haste, it would send Subaru’s head flying―― it happened then.
A firm sound and a weighty impact gave rise to a hollow echo, and Todd’s body flailed around in midair.
Todd, having been blown away, now on his back upon the floor, promptly got back up. And yet, droplets of blood dripped from the grand gash now on his mouth, whereas his knees really seemed to be on the verge of buckling.
Todd: [Guoh… Just now, that…!]
Unsure of what had just occurred, Todd’s eyes darted about.
Thrusting his finger towards that Todd, Subaru――,
Subaru: [――Invisible Providence.]
What the meaning behind that punch to his defenseless jaw was, Subaru politely explained it to him.
Subaru: [Next, I’ll blow your head off.]
Having withdrawn his thrust-out finger, Subaru now erected his middle finger and asserted such.
Perhaps because his jaw was broken, his hemorrhage did not cease; while spitting out blood, Todd suddenly squinted his eyes. With that, he would begin his retaliation over that broken jaw, or so they had thought――,
While quietly training his gaze on Subaru, Todd slowly retreated into the background. His legs backing up to enter the ascending black smoke, without any faltering, he vanished into the fumes.
As soon as he noticed that the situation had become unfavorable to him, discarding just about all of his reluctance, he had chosen to escape.
Subaru: [Well, I thought… he’d do that, but…]
Seeing Todd’s disappearance with her own eyes, Tanza rushed over to Subaru, her facial expression altered. Before he could take Tanza’s hand, Subaru slipped and tumbled down right where he was.
He had already been on the verge of death, even before reaching this place. Most likely, at the time he had descended alongside Idra and Hiain, he had sustained serious wounds of having multiple bones broken.
The Authority of Sloth, which he had not utilized for a long time, was providing a strong stimulus to Subaru’s brain as per usual; blood was trickling out his nose, and yet he was incapable of staunching it.
Though in any case, even if he could staunch it, it would not make much of a difference.
Todd’s axe had pulverized Subaru’s right shoulder with its final blow, and was currently lodged there.
The fact he had not inadvertently lost consciousness, was proof that Subaru’s life had already drifted away, so much so that pain or anything else were already irrelevant.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, Schwartz-sama…!]
Clinging on to a sobbing Tanza, Subaru’s innermost feelings were entirely those of guilt.
With this small body, with earnestness, Subaru nestled closer to her, to the girl who had desperately tried to keep him alive, to whom he must leave something behind.
Subaru: [Take, this…]
Tanza: [――Hk, the curse tool?]
From his pocket, he retrieved the black orb, and entrusted it to Tanza’s hand.
It was not that he’d had some sort of idea. He thought he should at least leave something behind to Tanza, even if he would soon perish.
Subaru: [Ceci, is… over, there, with Arakiya…]
Tanza: [U-understood…! I understand, since I, understand…]
Subaru: [Todd is, already… You don’t… need… to worry.]
As far as Todd’s personality went, Subaru could not imagine that the former would consider challenging him once more after having had an experience that painful. That was a detestable aspect of that man, and yet, simultaneously it was a belief that he could trust on, and make use of.
Like that, whilst enduring tears, Tanza touched Subaru, who was frantically stringing words together.
Until the end of the end, for the sake of Subaru, who was worrying about her, she felt she had to do something, desperately so.
Though, that was wrong.
That order of things, was completely backwards.
Tanza had treated him kindly just before. She had remedied just about all of Subaru’s thoughts.
That Natsuki Subaru was, until the end of the end, someone better off not giving up; she had aided him in remembering so.
Thanks to that, once more, was he still able to fight.
That was why――,
Subaru: [――Next, time.]
Indeed, at a Subaru softly vocalizing his resolve, Tanza widened her eyes.
Still, for the girl, that must have sounded like a final show of obstinacy from a Subaru about to pass away.
As tears accumulated in her eyes, firmly enduring those emotions, Tanza’s small hand, her slender fingers, gently wrapped around Subaru’s minutely trembling hand.
Tanza: [Yes, that is correct, Schwartz-sama. Next time, without a doubt, we will not lose.]
Taking care as to not disgrace Subaru’s final wish, while crying, Tanza uttered that.
Aligned with each other, they did not become. Even so, they were aligned in their desire to save one another.
That was sufficient.
With that sufficient desire, while bearing the feelings of this moment――,
Subaru: [――I will…]
With that resolve in his final moment, the life of Natsuki Subaru burned to ashes――.
――Dark, dark, a world of utmost darkness.
Nothing but darkness existed in this space where light could not flow in, this ultimately distant land a place neither prayers nor wishes could reach.
Always did that place gnaw at his heart, imposing a feeling of helplessness, bringing about grief and sorrow; a cursed land untrodden by any being.
However, this time, this very moment, did his thoughts wish, anticipate this arrival.
The darkness he could not stand a chance against by his lonesome, was engulfing everything, taking away everything.
Even if he was being tortured by that feeling of helplessness, abandoning everything in his vicinity, even himself, the feeling of defeat that originated from being unable to do anything anymore had scorched his body.
???: [――I love you.]
Subaru: [――It may not be everything. But, I know.]
The things he could accomplish by his lonesome, were not that numerous.
He was not a human being ambitious to such an extreme extent. That was why, he could also make mistakes, and why his resolve too could bend.
???: [――I love you.]
Subaru: [I know that as well, I really do. ――I know.]
Having parted ways, it was something he knew at last.
Simultaneously, he became unsure on how he should retain the emotions he’d had up to this point.
Still, as he had indeed been thinking that he wanted to know.
The most important thing, he knew it, he really did.
Subaru: [Thank you. ――I’ll be heading off now.]
To that place, to that land of isolating waters, where all life had been wiped out―― for the sake of losing no longer, for the sake of not allowing those he held dear be trampled upon, once more, Natsuki Subaru would rise.
――Once more, he would rise.
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TL Note: In Volume 31 of the Light Novel, there is an extra section added in between the preceding and following sections. It provides some context regarding the situation. Read it here.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
――Through his buttocks, he felt the Galewind Horse-pulled carriage shake with a rattle.
It had not been too comfortable of a journey.
It was not about how comfortable the ride had been, but rather about how comfortable he had been. In regards to the former, it was likely that this was a rare privilege, even within the Empire. He did not feel overly grateful about that.
As to why he felt so uncomfortable in such a luxurious carriage, was due to the scarcity of windows, and to the fact he was not in control of the reins. Naturally, both left some margin for one to be targeted in exchange, so whichever was preferred varied from person-to-person.
Quite simply, it was just that he hated his response being delayed because he had left things to others.
The horse-led carriage itself had been made quite solid through the protection of earth magic, and when it came to being vigilant towards their surroundings, it was being handled by someone who possessed considerably greater senses than he did.
Man: [It sure does leave nothing to be desired. Apart from it being a journey I hadn’t wished for.]
As expected from the customs of a country that esteemed the strong, the extravagant praise the Generals received was quite an extreme thing.
In other words, considering he was being treated like this, he could even say that it seemed that he had been placed amongst the powerful, but in his true opinion, that in itself was a bothersome kindness.
His personal opinion was that, as long as he was not precisely the summit of the world, he would lose far more than he would gain by being thought of as strong. Being thought of as weak was much, much easier.
It was from this reason, that the discomfort from this treatment had become the logical conclusion.
???: [――Are you bored?]
Suddenly, his closed eyes slowly opened, the voice that had come from atop the roof as a culprit.
The owner of the voice he was hearing was located there; the interior of the coach was empty, himself excluded. The lack of people was rather splendid, as it would be suffocating for him if others were present, but his companion was intolerable, someone unbefitting of being a civilized person.
That notwithstanding, they were not someone who ought to do the talking themselves. He would rather have someone else take charge of both her education and her discipline.
He did not have much intention of engaging with her for long, either. Though she seemed to be empathetic in regards to his intentions to exact revenge, it would be better for him if he made up a story and chose someone at random as his enemy.
???: [Are you listening?]
Man: [I heard you. I was just thinking about something. What about you, do you remember your instructions properly?]
???: [Even I can remember that much.]
Unthinkable, was what he wanted to say, but there was room for doubt as to whether it was something he could believe.
In the first place, he had never heard of a General that delegated full control of their plans to a subordinate, who himself was no more than a Private First-Class, only because they were not very good at thinking. He had been told to stop speaking politely, and he had responded exactly in tandem with her wishes, but what was on her mind was wholly unknown.
Perhaps she had taken to him. If he thought of her as a female version of Jamal, there did not seem to be much of a difference.
Although it seemed more difficult to find a place to abandon her in, than it had been to do so for Jamal, which was bothersome.
???: [The Island, I see it. Are you prepared?]
Man: [As long as I don’t lose the Prime Minister’s letter, all that’s left is to get the Governor-sama we heard about to follow the orders. There’s no need to get in a fight with anyone, it’s an easy job, you know.]
Atop the roof, Arakiya listened as she looked at the coach’s destination, on the other side of the drawbridge it was crossing over.
As he answered, he ascertained the feeling of the letter within his pocket. Indeed, their role was something akin to messengers; as long as they got him to follow the directives, it would be fine.
However, if ordinary messengers really would have been sufficient, there was no reason to bother with sending Arakiya.
That was the sole thing that bothered him.
Man: [It should be an easy job, kinda.]
Arakiya: […The objective is the annihilation of the Island. Is it possible?]
Man: [Provided the Governor agrees to activate the curse rule obediently.]
Governor Gustav Morello, the manager of the Gladiator Island, the place where their goal lay, had imposed an absolute regulation called the “curse rule” for the sake of ruling over the gladiators assembled on the Island.
The curse rule was invoked when someone who had been engraved with the curse mark from Gustav violated the rules. That life would then be taken without any room for argument. It truly was a convenient thing.
A curse tool created by one of the Nine Divine Generals, the Master of Enchanted Items, was serving as the trigger for the curse rule, and the conditions to invoke it were plain and simple――, 
Man: [――At a fixed distance, those who go too far from the curse tool will die.]
Arakiya: […Any concerns about the people of the Island?]
Man: [The safe zone seems to be roughly the whole area of the Island. At any rate, even if they try to slip away covertly, they’ll die if their curse mark hasn’t been removed. It can prevent their escape even if they get frightened into crossing the drawbridge. That ability to restrain them is enough to keep them inside.]
In truth, if they were to let one gladiator die as an example of the curse rule’s effect, then probably, nobody would try and do the same to double-check it. No fools that reckless existed.
It was a curse activated without taking the trouble to look the recipient in the eye, or pressure them in any way. On top of the Island’s special characteristic, he honestly admired how that restraining device was thoroughly drilled into them.
However, were they to realize that the curse rule could not be utilized freely, it would rouse an uprising right away.
Man: [Well, I intend on annihilating them when that time comes, so it’ll be fine to just throw the curse tool into the lake.]
The water surrounding the Gladiator Island was quite deep. Were it not for the large drawbridge, its coast would be unreachable, much like an island amidst isolating waters, but the distance to the bottom of the lake was even deeper.
If the curse tool were to be thrown into the lake, by the time it reached the bottom, they would be in the range of activation of the curse rule.
In the worst-case-scenario, that of the Governor not cooperating, throwing the retrieved curse tool into the lake would also enter the realm of possibility.
Man: [It’s essential to prepare for the absolute worst. The hiding place of the curse tool included.]
For one to untactfully hold pride in their work, it would trouble him should that be a cause for difficulty.
It would be best for him to cooperate in slaughtering all the gladiators, obediently, being reasonable without incident. He wanted to return home as soon as possible, after finishing their task like that, and thus fulfilling the objective of their journey.
Because they had been separated for so long, their short reunion had strengthened his attachment.
It was a cruel action, one akin to spilling a single drop of water into his parched, water-craving throat. He wished to ingest water until his stomach burst. That could perhaps be called a natural emotion for a human being, he thought.
Even if it made it just one second faster, he would finish his task, and return to the Imperial Capital. If it were for that purpose――,
Man: [――I’m completely fine with any sacrifices.]
Indeed, that was when one of the switches within himself flipped towards violence.
Arakiya: [――Todd, something’s strange.]
Called out by his name, the man―― Todd, lifted his head with a “What?”.
Her tone lacked seriousness, but that was the kind of manner she conducted herself with more often than not. Nonetheless, having ascended to the rank of Divine General, her true abilities were nothing to be made light of, and it was also true that a normal person would not be able to guess them.
That which she had pointed out, was their objective, the Gladiator Island, which they were steadily approaching―― they were already nearing halfway through the drawbridge, at a place between the two shores where the coach would cross over to the island half of the bridge. Having been called out precisely just before they entered their opponent’s lair, a bad premonition overcame him.
Todd: [Right now! Stop! Turn back!]
The instant he looked closely at the path outside the window, Todd yelled that out, bewildering the soldier on the driver’s seat.
Clicking his tongue at the slowness of that reaction, Todd immediately climbed onto the driver’s seat, snatched the reins away from the soldier, stopped the carriage, and whipped the Galewind Horse to make it turn around post-haste.
After that, he ignored the befuddled coachman and looked back toward the roof,
Todd: [Arakiya, keep an eye on the Island, be alert! If there’s movement, fire at will.]
Arakiya: [――. Understood.]
Coachman: [Come on now, our responsibility as emissaries from the Prime Minister is…]
Coachman: [Ah, uh…]
Arakiya obeyed without complaint, the coachman voiced his sense of duty. Disregarding the former, and glaring at the nearby latter, who had a poor understanding of things, Todd quietly narrowed his eyes.
At that gaze of Todd’s, the coachman, his spirit withering away, choked on his words and shut his mouth.
That was the right choice. Were he to try to persist on the issue, he would have been pushed off into the lake.
It would be better if they were saved the trouble of not losing their coachman for their return, and that that had happened had been Arakiya’s achievement, who had noticed something abnormal before they finished crossing the drawbridge. ――Seemingly, the situation had already changed.
Todd: [It seems Prime Minister Berstetz’s concerns were valid.]
With that as his response to her short call, Todd turned the Galewind Horse to the opposite direction, retracing the path they had come from.
They could not afford for the drawbridge to be withdrawn on them. Those in control of the drawbridge on the farther shore were not restricted to people not cooperating with their opponents.
At any rate――,
Todd: [――For them to be waiting for us fully prepared, they’re being led by a pretty dangerous person.]
Arakiya: [We can’t win? Even though I’m there?]
Todd: [Yeah, that’s right.]
Quietly, while hearing Arakiya’s voice raise in tension, Todd gave a nod.
With a shudder, as he felt dread run down his back――,
Todd: [――It’s not an opponent we have any chance of beating. At least, for today.]
So he spoke.
???: […I thought that they’d turn back, but that decision to cut their losses seemed way too quick.]
While viewing the coach turn around exactly halfway into the drawbridge, retreating without any hesitation, he vented a sigh.
He had been amazed and impressed by the speed of their judgment, but even so, it had been within range of his expectations. Had he truly intended to perform a surprise attack, he would first quietly lure the opponent onto the Island.
However, that situation would have never been settled with both sides remaining unscathed.
As someone aware of the massacre that would ensue in the case they lured the carriage in, he had been unable to take such a risky gamble.
――That was, because he had already thrown himself head-first into the riskiest gamble available.
???: [Schwartz-sama, the emissaries are…]
Subaru: [Yeah, they ran away. As expected, they thought it strange that we’d just line up to welcome them. Though, that was what I wanted them to think, so it was a bluff.]
???: [Is, that so…? I am relieved that we did not end up making the Second an opponent.]
A girl in a kimono stood next to Subaru, who was shielding his eyes with his hands to his forehead as he gazed towards the drawbridge. Gently patting her own chest, Tanza digested the relief over the plan’s success.
The two horns atop her head were intact and well, and there were no wounds visible on her beautiful and youthful skin whatsoever.
With absolutely no problems at all, she was healthy and well. An admirably perfect Tanza.
Tanza: [――. E-excuse me, Schwartz-sama?]
Tanza: [No, um, I was just wondering why you were patting my head…]
Subaru: [Ah, sorry sorry, it was by reflex.]
At Tanza’s question born of embarrassment, realizing that he had been subconsciously stroking her head, Subaru apologized. But regardless of his apology, he did not stop patting her head.
Then, as Subaru continued to caress her head, Tanza pursed her lips and did not resist.
For her sullen face to appear childlike once again, Subaru thought he would continue patting her head no matter what, as long as he was not shaken off, however――,
???: [――How long are ya gonna do that for!? Is this really the time for brats to be flirtin’ with each other!?]
Just as a vigorous voice came from behind him, Subaru’s hand stopped patting. Parting his hand from Tanza in haste then, Subaru bent his lips in displeasure and turned around.
With Subaru’s line of sight falling upon him, the lizardman―― Hiain, saying “W-what is it…” as he stiffened his face, looked at the two beside him in turns as if asking for help,
Hiain: [Why do ya hafta look at me with those kinda eyes!? Even tho’ I just said somethin’ obvious! Am I wrong!?]
???: [It seems that it’s more about the way you said it, and your timing in saying it was terrible. Though, it isn’t something that I’d say, even if the timing was appropriate.]
???: [He’s a better person than ya… Have some consideration, lizard bastard…]
Betrayed by the two people on his flanks――by Idra and Weitz, Hiain’s eyes darted about in bewilderment.
Due to Hiain’s reaction, Idra produced a wry smile and Weitz gave a snort of his nose. At the figures of those three lining up, Subaru remembered his deep emotions.
In response to Subaru gazing at them like that, Idra frowned and,
Idra: [Schwartz, that somewhat meaningful look in your eyes is unsettling…]
Subaru: [It’s nothing. It’s just, I was thinking about how far I’ve come.]
As Subaru rubbed his finger under his nose, Idra cocked his head in puzzlement. Regardless of Idra’s reaction, right next to him, Weitz crossed his burly arms with a mutter of “I get it…”.
While distorting frightening tattoos on his body, Weitz glared at the other side of the drawbridge, and,
Weitz: [We chased away the messengers from the Imperial Capital… With this, we don’t have a path of retreat. Ain’t that so…?]
Subaru: [――. You’re a little bit off-the-mark, but that’s also true.]
Weitz: [A lil’ bit off-the-mark…!?]
His appearance of looking like he understood the most out of everyone crumbled, and Weitz’s eyes widened in surprise. Producing a sarcastic smile to that reaction, Subaru reflected on how the deep emotions he harbored differed from the impression those three had given off with pride.
Those three―― rather, no one knew anything at all, but that was completely fine.
And Subaru, he would remember every single thing.
???: [――Apparently, their verdict has been passed.]
Turning around due to that weighty and imposing voice, he saw a personage who had been awaiting the emissaries in the vicinity of the drawbridge.
The horse-drawn carriage that the emissaries were riding on had turned back, and having made sure it finished its crossing over to the other shore, he stared seriously at Subaru, with a terrifying expression like that of a demon.
As the giant of a man wielding an intimidating aura slowly approached them, and while having the light impression that Hiain and the others behind him were getting overwhelmed, Subaru shrugged his shoulders, and spoke,
Subaru: [With this, do you believe me?]
???: [No objections. The imperial command bestowed upon me, as the official, by His Excellency the Emperor, the time has come for it to be fulfilled. That is to say――]
Subaru: [That is to say?]
???: [All the gladiators of the Gladiator Island Ginunhive, they are to be placed under your command. ――Your Highness, Schwartz.]
While declaring so, interlocking the hands and fists of his four arms in front of his chest, demonstrating his dignified stance was the Chief of the Gladiator Island, Gustav Morello.
The guards under Gustav, exchanged glances at his statement, and all took an identical stance in unison.
Weitz: [This ain’t pleasing…]
Discontent with the attitudes displayed by Gustav and his group, Weitz muttered.
Subaru looked back, and Weitz jerked his chin as he closed one eye,
Weitz: [I object to ya deciding by yerself that all the gladiators are to obey… Even if yer the Governor and Island Chief…]
Gustav: [Weitz Rogen, keep your opinions within your heart. However, there are things that take precedence over one’s personal intentions. I would be troubled if you forgot that, in my capacity, I have means to have you do as I say.]
Weitz: [Ya wanna fucking go…?]
Weitz gave a snort of his nose, and Gustav also harbored silent intentions within his eyes. With things as they were, it seemed that the two would come to fight each other, and before Subaru could intervene,
Idra: [Governor, please don’t act hastily, Weitz, you lowlife… You never use enough words. Seems to me you were asking for a misunderstanding because of that.]
Weitz: [I don’t mind fighting ‘cause of that in the slightest…]
Hiain: [Others are gonna mind, y’know! Ahh, damnit! Governor, we ain’t gonna do somethin’ as shameful as to obey your orders outta fear!]
As Idra held Weitz back, Hiain stepped forward in his place, and declared so devoid of any shame.
Hiain would not look Gustav in the eye were the situation to be unfavorable to him, but, not letting his lack of nerve show, boldly pointing at Subaru with his hand, he spoke,
Hiain: [Even without that strange threat of yers, we’re goin’ with Schwartz. Hey, ain’t that right, ya assholes! Y’ain’t afraid, are ya!?]
???: [――Don’t make me laugh, lizard bastard!]
???: [Who’s afraid? Who!?]
???: [Aight, aight, let’s go, Your Highness, our Imperial Prince!]
???: [Let’s wrest it away from yer nasty ol’ man, it’s the start of our Empire――!!]
Hiain’s oh-so-loud call was responded to by a crowd of voices.
Rising one after another from all around them―― no, from all throughout the Island, were the voices of the gladiators who had all come together to welcome the emissaries.
Mixed along with the voices of the many men with their blood boiling, were the voices of Hiain’s comrades, Orson and his group, and the voice of Old Man Null, who most unusually was present outside the healing room.
Quite literally, the Gladiator Island Ginunhive had become one.
Subaru: [――Thank you.]
While hearing the cheers from his excited surroundings, Subaru clutched his chest and muttered.
To the comrades in the surroundings, then to himself, and above all else, to the one who had granted him this chance, he was grateful.
Then, Subaru slapped both of his cheeks with his hands, raised his face, its expression cheerful, and,
Subaru: [Well, we’re going now, but what are you going to do, Ceci?]
???: [――Hahaaa, guess you’re right about that.]
As Subaru, having tilted his head, asked a question, a silhouette twirled around as it descended. Having watched over the events as they unfolded from a vantage point up high, Cecilus made a light sound as he landed.
He did not have one side of his body scorched, and his manner was unchanged from the time it had been scorched. Gazing over Subaru as well as the large crowd of people surrounding him,
Cecilus: […As one’d expect of you, you managed a totally unexpected result. No matter how I slice it, I didn’t expect you to get this far, truly, I must say bravo. However, I got just one question.]
Subaru: [Ehhh? What is it?]
Cecilus: [Kindly, carefully, and thoroughly going around back and forth to several places, your ability to win everybody over’s truly superb and praiseworthy. But indeed, that’s just it, y’know. ――Aren’t you going to persuade me?]
His two hands concealed by his sleeves, Cecilus asked that of him with a face that showed curiosity from the bottom of his heart.
Unable to comprehend it, the smile Cecilus always had plastered on his face had disappeared. Seeing that expression, Subaru slightly widened his eyes, then gave a satisfied nod.
That was correct, Subaru had not attempted to persuade Cecilus.
Despite having persuaded Gustav, Hiain and Weitz and Idra, Orson and the others and Old Man Null, as well as Rex and Milzac, as well as Kashew and Moizo, as well as Deeroy and Creegkin, as well as Codroe and Phenmelle, and even that stubborn loner Jawsrough, he had ignored Cecilus.
The reason was――,
Subaru: [――Ceci, I wanted to see you make that face.]
Every single time up until now, the one Subaru had failed in connecting with at the crucial moments had been Cecilus.
He was not enough of a fool to cross a dangerous bridge for revenge, but the result of all his thinking that, for better or worse, this was the best way to have an effect on Cecilus.
And thus, when it came to pass in reality, Cecilus’s eyes went wide upon hearing that, and only then did Subaru give him the announcement.
Subaru: [I’m gonna work you hard if you come with us now, so, are you coming?]
Cecilus: [Ha, hahaha, hahahahaha! Ahh-ha-ha-ha-ha!!]
Shrugging his shoulders, Subaru winked. Just after Cecilus heard that high-handed invitation, he opened his mouth wide, then delivered a round of explosive laughter while bending his back.
Flailing his legs around on the spot, Cecilus was having a hearty laugh. Having had a thorough burst of laughter, he wiped away the tears emerging from the corners of his eyes, and,
Cecilus: [You’re kidding me! You’re kidding me, you’ve got to be kidding me, from this very me! From this very Cecilus Segmunt, the Blue Lightning! From the leading actor of this world! From me, whom you ignored, you ask that!? To please come together with you!? That’s, that’s… completely preposterous, Basu!]
Subaru: […So, what will you do?]
Cecilus: [I’ll go with you, of course! I’d like to say something like “Though it’s annoying to be taken along”, but it’s incredible how you’ve talked me down to think it’s not annoying in the slightest! Ah, incredible! It’s a pleasure!]
While clapping his hands with force, Cecilus got fully on-board, his actions aligned with Subaru’s expectations. While relieved by the merit of that decisiveness, Subaru placed his hand on his chin.
In truth, this was something he had been thinking from the very start, but――,
Subaru: [That way of calling me, Basu, it just doesn’t sit right with me in the slightest, you know.]
Cecilus: [Woah-ho, adverse winds! To rupture things like that just after I answered I’d come along with you, you’re awfully poor at communicating, but then, do you have an alternative I should use to call you?]
Subaru: [Guess you’re right, huh…]
As Cecilus pitched forward, Subaru thought for a bit.
He suddenly thought about how Cecilus’s mouth would have grown accustomed to saying “Basu”. Hitting upon an idea that was, unexpectedly, not so shabby, Subaru smiled with a wicked face, and,
Subaru: [――Boss.] 
Subaru: [From now on, call me Boss.]
He did not intend to be pretentious, but surprisingly, going along with Cecilus’s penchant for being a drama geek didn’t feel so bad.
As Subaru responded in that manner, Cecilus sighed with a “Hoho”,
Cecilus: [Boss, Boss, Boss Boss Boss… It’s got quite a nice ring to it! Though I’ve got no clue whatsoever about its meaning, I don’t dislike it, rather, I quite like it.]
Subaru: [It means leader. Just right, isn’t it?]
Cecilus: [Yes, indeed, Boss! Then, shall we begin!?]
Cheerfully smiling, the words of the high-spirited Cecilus were met with Subaru nodding and letting out a “Yeah”.
Starting with Cecilus, Subaru then looked over at Hiain, Weitz, and Idra, the comrades of his Unit, as well as the other gladiators, after that making eye contact with Gustav and the guards who accompanied him.
As the result of his utmost grand experience, with the comrades who had become one――,
Subaru: [――Let’s go, everyone! Let’s go give my shitty old man in the Imperial Capital a wallop to the cheek!!]
At Subaru’s rousing shout, the people of the Gladiator Island returned that grand reply.
While basking in that intense spirit, so intense it seemed to make the entirety of the island floating on the lake quake, Subaru suddenly noticed Tanza’s gaze trained on him.
Subaru: [Don’t worry, Tanza.]
The one and only person who actually knew that Subaru was not the illegitimate child of the Emperor, giving her a reassuring nod, Subaru resolved himself to head from these western lands towards the Imperial Capital without resting.
As the son of Natsuki Kenichi, with the trust of his comrades, he would push forward.
Therefore, from now on, because he had been summoned to another world――,
Subaru: [――This time, it’s our win.]
――As the strongest existence, Natsuki Subaru would trample upon the Vollachian Empire.
Thank you to everyone who has read this far, both this chapter itself, and the whole phase. It has been a pleasure to work on this chapter, I look forward to continue working on chapters as they release.
 The title of the Divine General, “The Master of Enchanted Items”, and the term “Curse Tool”, both use the same Japanese word 呪具. The difference in translation is because of established convention, but it should be known that they are the same.
 Subaru uses the word “Boss”(ボス) in English since it sounds similar to the name Cecilus had come up with for him “Basu”(バッスー). This is the same way Cecilus refers to Subaru in the Oboreru IF Story.