Machine Translated By:
- Cirdan Lunae
Japanese to English Checking By:
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
???: [――You also came, Rem.]
Rem looked up quietly, as a voice called out to her from her side.
At the connection of the coupled dragon carriage, calling out to Rem, who was leaning her back against the wall of the car, was a silver-haired girl who had opened the door of the next car―― Emilia.
She had a beautiful face with a soft look in her eyes; by her side was a girl holding her hand. It was Beatrice, who had rushed to Subaru during the chaos at the Imperial Capital.
It was a touching sight, but Rem’s feelings toward them were extremely complicated.
Of course, this was partly because these women were related to Rem’s lost Memories that she herself had no knowledge of, but that was not the only reason.
Unlike Ram, who she had instinctively known was her sister, and the other people who had called themselves her companions, these two people were special. ――They were special in that they were deeply connected to Subaru.
Both of them felt a particularly strong connection to him during the situation surrounding the Imperial Capital, during the retreat, and afterwards when they were visiting Subaru while he was unconscious.
Rem did not know why it bothered her so much――.
Rem: [Emilia-san, and Beatrice-chan…]
Beatrice: [Rem is also concerned about where the discussion is going, I suppose.]
Rem: [Concerned… Yes, right, concerned I might be.]
When asked by Beatrice, who had addressed her by name, Rem looked down slightly.
The reason Rem stood in the empty passageway was to watch over the cabin a short distance away―― the cabin assigned to Natsuki Subaru as his sleeping quarters.
Subaru and Abel were now confronting each other in a quiet cabin after the large crowd of visitors had left.
Abel’s face was grim, and when he was seen, he was often wearing an oni mask, so it was refreshing for Rem to see his true face.
However, as far as Rem knew, Abel always had a scowl on his face when unmasked. But today, his already grim face looked even more stiffened than before.
Emilia: [Rem, you’ve been around Subaru and Abel… Err, Emperor Vincent for a while, haven’t you? Are they good friends?]
Rem: [Emperor Vincent, I’m not used to calling him that. And I don’t get the impression that the two are very friendly with each other. I would say that even though they had agreed on some ideas, they didn’t get along…]
Emilia: [Ugh, that’s what I thought…]
Beatrice: [Well, that was predictable, in fact. Abel’s way of thinking and Subaru’s go like oil and water, I suppose. Betty prefers the sentimental way Subaru thinks, in fact.]
Emilia: [Jeez, Beatrice is so quick to spoil Subaru. You have to give Abel’s side of the story a proper listen… Umm, Emperor Vincent’s side of the story rather!]
Emilia’s shoulders slumped at Rem’s answer, but her lips pouted at Beatrice’s subsequent assertion.
In front of Rem, who thought her expression seemed to change from one moment to the next, Emilia added a surprised “Ah” and looked at her.
Emilia: [Oh, and, Rem, since we’re in Vollachia, you have to call me Emily…]
Rem: […Um, is there a point to that?]
Emilia: [Eh, of course there is. No one thinks I’m Emilia. Right, Beatrice?]
Beatrice: [Since Betty also spoils Emilia, to give no answer is a kindness, I suppose.]
Emilia: [Huh!? What does that mean!?]
Emilia’s eyes widened at Beatrice’s kind misdirection as she held her hand.
Rem felt that her feelings were at the mercy of the two as she saw their hard-to-dislike interactions, but she soon grew fond of Emilia and Beatrice.
In the first place, if what she had heard was true, they had risked a lot to come to this country to look for both Rem and Subaru. There was no way she could dislike them.
Rem: [Unlike him, there’s nothing suspicious about them.]
Subaru carried a stench that inspired fierce, instinctive alarm. While a large part of Rem’s hostility was due to that, there was no sign of it in Emilia and the others.
So, like with Louis, the People of Shudraq, Flop, and the others, there was no reason to bother snapping at them.
Rem: […That person’s smell suddenly becoming fainter is also scary.]
She was concerned about Subaru, who had lost his strong stench while they had been separated.
Since she did not know what exactly it was, and since it was better that it did not exist rather than the opposite, she wanted to say that things had improved.
And, as she had been thinking that.
???: [Huuuh~? It’s Rem-chan, Emily-chan, and Beatrice-chan!]
The door of the carriage on the opposite side from where Rem and the others were standing was opened, and the other party who had appeared called out the names of the three in a loud voice.
Waving her hands vigorously, a tall woman strolled towards them―― her long golden hair was freely arranged, her skin was exposed like a dancer’s, and above all, she had fully grown arms and legs appropriate for her age.
Medium: [Yahoo! Perhaps, are you all worried about Abel-chin and Subaru-chin too?]
Emilia: [Yes, that’s right. Medium-chan was as well?]
Medium: [Yeah, yes! See, I finally have a big body again, don’t I? Now, unlike when I was little, I can stop adults from fighting, so I thought I could be useful.]
With her chest puffed out, Medium answered as such―― they had not seen her for long, but like Subaru, she was one of those whose appearance had changed from that of an adult to a child.
The childish Medium was also very endearing, retaining her lively personality, but her charm remained the same regardless of the length of her arms and legs, so the familiar figure calmed Rem down.
It seemed that Medium had also been very frustrated for having become smaller, and she seemed to be enjoying being back to her large body as much as she could.
In any case――,
Rem: [To stop a fight… that is, between that person and Abel-san?]
Medium: [That’s right~? It’s been a while since the two of them talked properly, aren’t they going to go wild?]
Rem: [I don’t know… Setting aside that person, I can’t imagine Abel-san going berserk.]
With a stern face and a harsh voice, she had the impression that Abel was one who would verbalize painful things.
However, unlike Rem, who had frowned at Medium’s concerns, Emilia and Beatrice’s opinions seemed to be closer to Medium’s side,
Beatrice: [Betty agrees with Medium, in fact. At the very least, Subaru has a lot to say to that Emperor, so he will probably snap at him, I suppose.]
Emilia: [That’s true. I, Emily, am a teensy bit worried too. A fight is not only about hitting each other, but also about hurting each other with words.]
Rem: […Is that how it is?]
Certainly, it would not be a scuffle, since there was no indication that Abel would raise his hand, but it was quite possible that Subaru could become emotional, and that the argument could intensify.
Because Abel was rational, Rem felt that he talked circles around Subaru comparatively more often, but Abel may not have much leeway now. She had not exchanged many words with Abel, who had regained his position as Emperor, but she could understand the concern of Medium and Beatrice.
And that speculation was immediately verified to be correct.
???: [――Okay? Anyways, let’s sneak over to Garfiel. If it’s him, he should be able to understand our unavoidable circumstances.]
???: [What, the scandal of how a Knight of the Kingdom raised his hand against the Emperor of the Empire?]
???: [Don’t forget, if that goes to trial, I’ll talk about everything you’ve been up to as a last resort…!]
And so on, the door of the cabin opened as they continued the hushed exchange.
The eyes of those in Rem’s group, who were waiting for the discussion to be concluded, met the black eyes of the two men as they peeked out to see whether there was anyone in the aisle.
Subaru opened his mouth with an “Ah”, while Abel frowned with a “Ugh”.
However, that was not the extent of the reactions of Rem’s group when they saw the state of the two of them. After all, both Subaru and Abel, who showed their faces, were covered in blood.
Medium: [You two were having a much bigger fight than I thought you would!?]
Emilia: [O-oh no! Beatrice! Quickly, heal him…!]
Beatrice: [It’s as you see, in fact! Betty should have been there, I suppose!!]
Subaru and Abel met their gazes at the group of women who had welcomed them with a flurried commotion. Then Abel sighed, and Subaru raised his hands in resignation.
Subaru: [Um, you’re definitely going to get mad, so before that happens I gotta tell you… We’ve made up.]
With a wry smile on his pitiable face, he said that as if he had at least some good news to tell.
――In the end, their injuries were just a small cut on their hands, nothing impressive.
Medium: [But, the cabin’s a mess now and… We don’t have another cabin that we can prepare.]
Subaru: [No, I’m not going to tell you something as self-important as to prepare another cabin. I’ve seriously reflected on what I… Ah! Medium-san! You’re back to normal!]
Medium: [Hehe~, that’s right, Subaru-chin! Ah, no, that’s no good! I’m happy that you said that, but I’m also angry at you. The two of you are hopeless~.]
Saying that, Medium put her hands on her waist and scolded Subaru for his poor attempt to change the topic of the conversation.
Subaru’s shoulders slumped in remorse; however, instead of the depressed Subaru, it was Abel, whom Subaru had fought with, that received the brunt of Medium’s scolding.
Medium: [Abel-chin as well, while Subaru-chin is small, you can’t act immature, okay?]
Vincent: […You, do you understand what you just did? You raised a hand against the Emperor.]
Medium: [Because you’re so great and all that, and no one has ever scolded you, Abel-chin, you’ve grown up to be like this, haven’t you?]
Abel frowned and crossed his arms, meanwhile Medium was giving him a reproachful glare. As one could understand from the exchange that had just happened, surprisingly, Medium had slapped Abel over the head.
Looking at the disastrous state of the cabin, it was reasonable to want to scold Abel for fighting with the young-looking Subaru, but Rem was impressed by the absurd act.
Rem: [If it’s okay with Medium-san, may I also hit him?]
Vincent: [Do not join her. We do not have the leisure to look over each instance of disrespect one-by-one at this time. Do not do something that would make me have to take my time after the war to decide whether I should punish you by comparing it to your achievements.]
Rem: [That’s a shame.]
Of course, she had not expected to receive permission, but for Rem, it was fruitful to hear the words “after the war” come from Abel’s mouth.
At least, Abel was looking towards the future. Although she did not know what had been said during their conversation inside, compared to before he had visited this cabin, it felt like the light and color within his eyes had improved.
Emilia: [――Okay, this is good. But you need to change your clothes or else everyone will worry about you, you can go see everyone after you’re dressed properly, okay?]
Beatrice: [Truly, you’re so troublesome, in fact. You can’t allow Betty to have any peace of mind, I suppose.]
Subaru: [Sorry, sorry. But it’s been a while, it feels so fresh. For a while the only people who worried about me were, except for Tanza, all men.]
Having wiped off the blood on Subaru’s face and hands with the hand towel she carried, Emilia patted him on the head.
Beatrice, with her hands held out and seemingly trying to heal his wounds, shrugged her shoulders, appearing to feel not only a sense of relief, but also a sense of joy.
Both of them seemed to feel happy to be looking after Subaru.
Looking at this, for some reason Rem felt her chest tingle.
Medium: [Hey, hey, Abel-chin, do you think you can manage?]
Not having noticed that which occurred in Rem’s heart, Medium tilted her head as she asked Abel this question.
Abel narrowed his black eyes at her question, and then nodded his head after a moment.
Vincent: [There is no problem. In fact, it is foolish to point at me and question whether I can work hard. Ever since I decided that I would assume the seat of Emperor, I lost the right to act haphazardly.]
Medium: [――? Does that mean that you’re going to continue working hard as the Emperor?]
Vincent: [――. That is a foolish way of saying it, but roughly, yes.]
Medium: [I see! Then I also agree! Let’s work together~!]
Medium’s face suddenly brightened up and she held her hand out towards Abel. Abel glared at Medium’s hand, and proceeded to turn his face away.
At Abel’s cold attitude, Medium withdrew her hand and clapped her hands together, producing a snapping sound.
Medium: [Well, should we go to meet the others? Big bro also wanted to talk with Abel-chin.]
Vincent: [I do not have the time to talk with that thing, but Serena Dracroy’s flying dragon ship should also be back soon. Either way, I need to talk with the main players now.]
Rem: [――Ah, please wait.]
Towards Medium’s urging, Abel drew back his chin.
For Abel, who liked to take care of things quickly, she knew that from now on, important discussions would have to be held to discuss how to deal with the problems occurring in the Imperial Capital.
Naturally, as people who were important to that discussion, it was already decided that Subaru and Emilia would be present, but before that, Rem had something important to say.
Half of the reason Rem stood there was because of her concern about the twisted relationship between Subaru and Abel, but the other half was because of that.
Subaru: [Abel, I also have something that I want to do before I meet everyone… Something that I absolutely must do. So, let me go do that first.]
Stopping the exchange, Rem tried to tell them her reason for coming. However, Subaru interrupted Rem as he began to speak, turning his gaze towards her.
That gaze made her understand that what he absolutely had to do was the same thing as what Rem had tried to say. So, Rem pursed her lips, and nodded.
Subaru: [――Rem, take me to Katya-san.]
???: [What the fuck, brat? This ain’t no place for you.]
When he visited his intended cabin, Subaru’s eyes widened as he was greeted by a vulgar voice.
Standing behind the open door was a man with a rough greeting voice that matched his eye-patched face――for a moment, he had a difficult time opening his memory drawer, but then it hit him.
Subaru: [Jamal… right?]
Jamal: [Oh? How do you know my name? I don’t know you.]
Subaru: [You’re, alive…]
Jamal: [Ain’t’cha a damned rude little brat, huh!?]
The name of the man who had opened his mouth, donning an unexpectedly clean set of teeth, making his throat growl, was Jamal.
When Subaru was blown away to the Vollachian Empire, he was one of the first people he had encountered in the Empire―― the man who had been Todd Fang’s companion.
As far as Subaru knew, in the Fortress City of Guaral, when Todd helped a General First-Class, who had been previously captured, escape, he had certainly been captured as a prisoner of war by the rear guards who remained.
Following that, due to Subaru going through a lot, his safety had honestly slipped his mind.
Subaru: [Why are you in this cabin?]
Jamal: [What’s so weird ’bout me being in my little sister’s cabin?]
Subaru: [Little sister… Ah.]
Hearing the sound of his questions melting away due to the answer, Subaru remembered.
It reminded him, Todd mentioned that his fiancée was Jamal’s younger sister. Meaning that, the people in front of him, Jamal and Katya, were actually siblings.
The delicate Katya and the thuggish and wild Jamal were siblings.
Subaru: [Well, both the color of your hair and its frizziness are similar…?]
Jamal: [I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I do understand that you’re pissing me off. Brat, if you don’t wanna get hurt you should…]
Katya: [――Nii-san! Stop it!]
Perhaps annoyed by Subaru’s attitude, Jamal rolled up his sleeves and showed him a gesture of trying to kick him out by force. But before he could do so, a shrill voice from behind called him to stop.
Looking into the cabin past Jamal’s side, a cabin with a layout similar to the one in which Subaru had been sleeping in, at its far end was a woman was lying on a bed.
That woman was――,
Katya: [You… are finally awake… Y-you’ve been sleeping too much. Seriously, really…]
Katya looked at Subaru from the other side of her brother’s body, who was standing in the way, seeing her sit up on the bed. Then Jamal quickly walked over to her and said, “Oi oi”,
Jamal: [Take it easy! You dunno if you might die or not, so move slowly.]
Katya: [I’m not that fragile! Don’t compare me to a brother who doesn’t even die when he’s supposed to be dead…]
Jamal: [I didn’t die in the first place, but you people would’ve killed me anyway out of your own volition…!]
Jamal, his concern flat out rejected, and now stigmatized as a dead man after so long, slightly shuddered.
It seemed like a lot had happened in the reunion of these siblings, but it was not Subaru’s real intention to delve into that. There had been another reason for his visit.
Rem: [――. Are you okay?]
Subaru looked down slightly and saw that his feet had not moved very far from the entrance into the cabin, and it was Rem, who was with him, who had asked that.
After apologizing to Emilia, Abel, and the others, Subaru had come to visit this cabin alongside Rem.
As Katya’s friend, Rem had every reason to be present here. ――That was because she too had wanted to hear what Subaru was trying to do from here on out.
Subaru: [Yeah, I’m okay.]
Nodding, Subaru stepped into the cabin.
On the bed, Katya and Jamal were still arguing about something, but when Subaru arrived with Rem, Katya closed her mouth.
As she was, she kept her blue eyes, framed by long lashes, downcast,
Katya: […Is your body doing better now?]
Even if it was just a prelude to the main topic, her concern for Subaru’s body was kind.
Her tone was blunt and brusque, but there was no doubt that she was a lovely woman at heart, and that was why she had become close to the unreliable Rem.
To this woman, Subaru had to tell her.
Subaru: [Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks, for worrying about me.]
Katya: […I wasn’t worried or anything. It’s just that this girl seemed anxious.]
With a glance, Subaru looked toward Rem as she stood next to him, her expression stiff.
Knowing roughly what was going to be discussed, he did not overreact to Katya’s words as he normally would.
Although it was something he had anticipated, Subaru admonished his own weakness, which made him want to put off the main topic. Taking a deep breath, he exhaled.
Subaru: [I’m sorry. I… couldn’t bring Todd back.]
And thus, he informed her of the final parting between him and Todd in the Imperial Capital.
Squeezing his small fist tightly, overcome with grief, Subaru let the cruel truth be known.
At the end of the battle in the Imperial Capital, even though Todd had helped them break through the siege of zombies, their clash had been all but inevitable.
Subaru had decided not to kill Todd, a man who hated and abhorred Subaru’s way of thinking and who was determined to get rid of him, and they faced off against each other.
But in the end――,
Subaru: [Umm, he was washed away by the floodwater that swept into the city, but any more than that…]
Subaru: [It’s just that, in the fight against the zombies, he acted as a decoy and suffered a lot of injuries. That’s why…]
Due to Subaru’s report, a hoarse exhale escaped from Katya. As if to overlap with that breath, Subaru described what he saw to Katya in a way that was not exactly as he had seen it.
Subaru could have given Katya hope, had he wished to.
The reality was that, the last time Subaru had laid eyes upon Todd, he had been swallowed up by that muddy current, disappearing. It was supposedly possible to show some hope for his survival, in case his body had gone without being found.
But, Subaru did not do that.
The last time Subaru had laid eyes upon Todd was when the latter’s figure had been encompassed by the flood.
However, the exact description had been left out. To be precise, the last time Subaru had seen Todd, the latter had adopted the form of a werewolf, the latter had taken a deep axe blow to his chest, to then tumble into the rushing waters.
――He had been severely wounded, and in a state of unconsciousness, he had been swallowed up by the muddy current. He could not have escaped harm.
Upon hearing Subaru’s story, the sound of Jamal gritting his teeth hard could be heard echoing throughout the cabin.
For Jamal, Todd was his companion, and, more than that, his future brother-in-law, the person whom he had decided to entrust his sister Katya to.
It was a terribly odd feeling, but Subaru also wanted to hope that Todd had survived, if possible.
Having his expectations seriously betrayed, their relation was that of his life being targeted, and in the world where Subaru actually Returned by Death, Todd was an opponent that had taken his life multiple times.
However, since he had a history of dealing with Todd on many occasions, he understood.
Todd was just an ordinary person with no special powers. The fact that he was a werewolf was not an advantage which could overturn that life-threatening situation.
In a helpless situation where Subaru would die, Todd would also lose his life.
Todd Fang, had been swallowed up by that flood, had perished.
As the person who, in the end, had been the closest witness to the final moment of his life, that was Subaru’s conclusion.
Silence fell upon the cabin.
Gradually, the silence seemed to burn his forehead and the nape of his neck. There was a heartache that he had to live with; it was something he had decided to take on by himself.
So, after a while, as he continued to experience the sensation of his skin being burned――,
Katya: […Y-you didn’t see the crucial part of it, did you? Then, maybe, he’s not dead.]
Her voice, faltering and cracking, caused Subaru to look up.
Not only Subaru, but also Rem and Jamal, all looked at Katya upon the bed. She fiddled with her hair, her blue eyes quivering,
Katya: [What, what if? If you’d seen Todd’s head get smashed in, or his body cut in half, or burned to a crisp, or something like that, you know? If you’d seen it, you might think so, yes, but…]
Katya: [But see, he really, really clings to his life. And besides, when we parted ways, he told me he’d come back soon… Definitely, back to me… He’d never lie. Even when he told me that my brother had died! He just misspoke, that’s all!]
Raising her voice, Katya started clawing at her hair. The sight of it made Rem call out to her, and she cuddled up on the bunk to hold Katya’s head.
Cradling Katya’s head in her chest, Rem caressed her back.
Rem: [Slowly, breathe slowly. I’m right here beside you…]
Katya: [You’re, you’re wrong… he wouldn’t… that easily… right? Right, Rem…?]
Large tears streamed from Katya’s eyes, soaking Rem’s clothes as she hugged her. Without minding that, Rem continued to stroke her sobbing friend’s back.
Subaru’s heart was intensely torn by Katya’s honest reaction.
That Katya would be hurt this way by telling her about Todd. It was a really, really complicated relationship, but Todd’s feelings for Katya were likely genuine. Katya as well, was really cherished by Todd. That was why there were these tears.
That was why Subaru had not mentioned the crueler truth.
It was something that Rem was not even aware of. ――It was Rem who had finished off Todd, who had turned into a werewolf, with an axe.
In order to protect Subaru, Rem had put an end to Todd.
Since Todd had been in his werewolf form at the time, and since he had not undone his beastification until the instant he was submerged, Rem was unaware of this fact. Moreover, Subaru had no intention of enlightening her on the matter.
Subaru did not believe that the truth had any value here.
Todd loved Katya, and Katya loved him back. That was what mattered. There was no reason to destroy those memories and dwell on what really happened.
Subaru: [Todd truly cared about Katya-san. All the way until the very end.]
That was the only motive without any lies that Natsuki Subaru, the target of Todd Fang’s raw murderous intent, could convey to Katya Aurélie.
Katya, sobbing, wrapped her arms around Rem’s back as she hugged her, and one could see her nails digging hard into Rem’s back. It was painful, but Rem took it in silence.
In this cabin echoing with sobs, Rem glanced at Subaru, and shook her head.
Within that gesture, Rem conveyed to leave Katya to her, and her gratitude to Subaru who had come prepared for this outcome.
Jamal: [――. Sorry to make you have to play a nasty role, brat.]
As they left the cabin, leaving Rem and Katya behind, Jamal stated so to Subaru.
With Subaru raising an eyebrow at Jamal’s surprisingly straightforward words, he grimly wrinkled his nose with a, “Y’know”,
Jamal: [It’s a tough role to inform the family of the deceased. No matter how heroically and bravely the person died, there are still those who’re gonna wanna cry.]
Subaru: […How about you?]
Subaru: [Because Todd is your companion, your sister’s fiancé, he’s someone special to you as well, right?]
With cheeks contorted, Jamal pondered Subaru’s question.
After a moment of silence, he touched the eyepatch covering his right eye with his finger,
Jamal: [Dunno. If the bastard had survived, I would’ve laughed it off, being that we both failed to die, but that possibility’s completely gone. Well, if he died fighting, then he did his job as an Imperial Soldier. Tho’ he mocked that hardcore.]
As he said that, Jamal gave a small snort and laughed at the last part.
Subaru could not tell whether it was a laugh at the thought of Todd’s uncharacteristic end, or whether it was a laugh based on some kind of Imperial way that Subaru did not understand.
Whichever the case may be, Subaru did not feel that he could laugh at someone’s death.
Jamal: [It’s just…]
In front of Subaru, who was thinking that, Jamal suddenly followed up.
At the tone of his voice, Subaru opened his eyes wide. For what was in Jamal’s continued voice was not anger nor was it loneliness, but something more akin to anticipation.
And that impression was correct, as Jamal went on to say,
Jamal: [Don’t think that son of a bitch’d die so easily. What Katya said’s true… I haven’t seen him actually die.]
Subaru: [That is… Yeow.]
Jamal: [Clam it, brat. Regardless of what I think, that’s hope for Katya.]
As Subaru was about to involuntarily object, Jamal’s finger flicked the former’s forehead. Having silenced him, Jamal jerked his chin toward the door behind him as he said that.
Subaru could not discern whether the hope Jamal spoke of was a bright one or a cruel one. However, he understood that he was not qualified to interfere.
Only those who were invited and allowed to participate in Katya and Todd’s lives had the right to interfere with their feelings. ――Subaru was not qualified to do so.
Jamal: [Damn, for a guy who hated to fight, you had quite the hot-blooded attitude. And ‘cause of that, you crossed a far more dangerous bridge than I did.]
Looking up at the ceiling of the hallway, Jamal made that critique of Todd.
Even though Jamal did not show his face, even though his voice trembled, Subaru was still not qualified to point this out.
???: [Heeello~, Subaru-kun, you’re looking well, areeen’t~ you? You’ve been looking more youthful, I wooonder~ if it’s thanks to the food of the Empire?]
Subaru: [Amazing. The only person that could make such a gaudy joke after seeing me like this is Roswaal.]
Roswaal: [Oh my, no one else was calm enough to do that, were theeey~? By the way, for the time being, in this place I go by the name Dudley—— From now on, let’s get along, okay?]
With his blue eye closed, leaving his yellow eye winking towards him, it was an expression that Subaru had not seen in a while—— Roswaal’s, that was, and coming face-to-face with him made Subaru break into a smile.
As expected, Roswaal was unphased as he looked at the shrunken-down Subaru, but Subaru decided not to mention that his style differed from his usual clown costume. It was a little vexing, as it reminded him of when he changed his tone of voice and intentionally omitted explaining anything.
After Subaru had informed Katya of Todd’s final moments, Subaru had goneto the middle of the coupled dragon carriages to a larger passenger car that had been prepared for him.
The coupled dragon carriages—— According to Subaru’s prior knowledge, they were similar in structure to electric and railway trains, the likes of which could only be found in the Vollachian Empire, which was flatter than most other countries.
Of course, when it came to who held the larger number of ground dragons, that went to the Kingdom of Lugunica; thus, he decided he would keep in a corner of his mind that it would probably be possible to lay out something similar, provided he chose the right terrain.
Roswaal: [This coupled dragon carriage, I dare say that it appears to be one of the secrets of the Empire. From what I’ve heard, it was invented by a member of the Nine Divine Generals known for their wisdom…]
Subaru: [I knew it. I’ve never seen something like this in the Kingdom… Thinking about it, we’ve seriously seen a lot of the inner workings of the Empire.]
Roswaal: [Hahaha, it’d be disastrous if we’re prevented from returning just because we peeked at the dark side of the Empire too much. From now on, I think it may be wise if we spend some time with our eyes closed.]
Subaru: [That’s, no laughing matter either…]
Roswaal gave a hearty laugh in agreement as Subaru grumbled this. Otto wore a dismayed expression as he overheard their conversation.
The passenger carriage in question was a dining car with a lot of tables, designed with enough space to accommodate roughly twenty people. However, the purpose for all these tables was not for having a meal, but rather for discussions such as assemblies and war councils.
In fact, Subaru and Roswaal were not the only ones there; there were many other faces as well.
Of course, Emilia and Beatrice, who had come here earlier, were sitting at the same table as Ram.
Ram gave a scornful gaze to Subaru, who had come alone.
Ram: [Little Barusu, what happened with Rem? Shouldn’t she be with you?]
Subaru: [You really didn’t need to use that prefix… Right now, Rem is with Katya-san. For this discussion, I don’t think we’ll be seeing her face.]
Ram: [——. Ah, yes.]
Spilling out a sigh, Ram did not dig any further into Subaru’s answer.
At last, Ram had managed to meet her younger sister, Rem, but apparently they were not as clingy with each other as Subaru had thought they would be. From the get-go, he had the impression that the two of them were quite close with one another, so Subaru had hoped that the two sisters would be constantly holding each other’s hands.
Ram: [Ram and Rem are both their own person. Don’t be forcing your own selfish feelings onto us, young Barusu. It’s disgusting.]
Subaru: [Don’t read other people’s minds! I’m not being disgusting!]
Ram: [While Ram couldn’t be around, it was the people around Rem that supported her. Don’t think of belittling those relationships. Shameless, undeveloped Barusu.]
Subaru: [Let’s see how long it takes for you to use up all of your variations of my nickname, nee-sama…!]
As his cheeks twitched at the various things Ram said and did, Subaru took a deep breath.
Ram had a point; it would be no good to rush. First of all, the sisters had been successfully reunited, so they should not rush and should advance forward slowly.
There was no need to worry, as there was a bond between Ram and Rem that no one could get between.
He was able to believe this from the atmosphere that he had felt when they had come to visit Subaru together.
Subaru: [But, are these all our members? What about Petra, Frederica, and Garfiel?]
Emilia: [Petra-chan and Frederica are taking care of the soldiers that are fighting. Garfiel as well, he’s also busy with the wounded.]
Subaru: [The fighting, that’s still ongoing?]
Emilia: [Yes, it is. Subaru, I think you saw a lot of them in the Imperial Capital…]
In regards to the whereabouts of the missing members, Emilia slightly hesitated with her answer.
What she was about to say, Subaru could guess what it would be.
Subaru: [The zombies…]
Otto: [W-what is that, that strange name?]
Subaru: [A dead person that can move around. In my hometown, we call them zombies. I thought it’d be better if they had a name, so I called them that for the sake of convenience.]
Otto: [Do you not have way too many weird things in your hometown, Natsuki-san?]
Otto turned a reproachful look towards Subaru, whose mouth curved into a smile.
In this case, he thought about whether he should argue that this world in which zombies had actually appeared was the stranger one, or whether it was his world, in which zombies were the subject of so many works of fiction, but did not actually exist. Truly an incomprehensible matter of dimensions.
Roswaal: [I see, that’s good, zombies. At least, we can avoid calling them “corpse soldiers”.]
Then, Roswaal cut in between Subaru and Otto’s conversation.
Subaru ruminated on the words “corpse soldiers” that had come from his mouth.
Subaru: [Something like that, it seems like it’s connected to some bad memories, huh?]
Roswaal: [That is indeed the case. It’s one of the memories that I don’t wish to remember.]
Beatrice: [As discussed in the Imperial Capital, it’s safe to say that this is the result of the Sacrament of the Immortal King, I suppose. According to the records, it was used most recently during the Kingdom’s civil war, in fact.]
Subaru: [So that’s why it’s a bad memory.]
At Subaru’s gaze, Roswaal gave a vague smile as he declined to say anything further.
Roswaal had a deep knowledge of the past. Even if he himself had not participated in the civil war, he still might have had a bad experience with the Sacrament of the Immortal King.
Beatrice: [But, as far as Betty knows, that secret art is meant to be an unstable product, I suppose. To create such a great number of zombies and reproduce it so well, it should be impossible, in fact.]
Subaru: [But, they were actually moving and talking, so there must be some reason for it, right?]
Beatrice: […Betty is also scratching her head, I suppose. Dudley, you shouldn’t be slacking off, in fact.]
Roswaal: [My oh my, I’m upset that you think that I’m slacking off. Since this also involves me, there’s no reason for me to cut any corners. Besides, all of your lives are also at stake.]
Beatrice: [Betty doesn’t know how much to trust you, I suppose.]
Roswaal: [I understand. Because your life is also at stake.]
Beatrice: [What do you understand, in fact! You’re just cracking even more jokes, I suppose!]
With his chin resting on his folded hands Roswaal gave this answer, causing Beatrice’s face to become red as she shouted at him.
Beatrice exploded with frustration at the tease from Roswaal, but even Subaru was not sure what Roswaal was truly thinking. However, since Beatrice was Subaru’s partner, he pulled down his eyelid and stuck his tongue out at him.
Emilia: [Well, I’m not really sure of the details, but is it alright if I call them “zombees” like Subaru?]
Otto: [I see no problem with it? It is shorter than saying corpse soldiers.]
Subaru: [That way of agreement is just like Otto…]
And so, just like that, as Subaru’s conversation with the others came to a close,
???: [——Your Excellency, according to a report I received from General Second-Class Kafma, they will remain in the Gairahal Tropics to keep an eye on the stragglers as much as possible.]
???: [Also, from General First-Class Olbart, he is using delaying tactics with the shinobi under his command! However, he said that since their opponent has no need to resupply water or food rations, it seems that what he can do decreases by about half!]
???: [As for Kafma Irulux and Olbart Dunkelkenn, tell them to continue their operations as they have been doing. Serena Dracroy, what of your flying dragon ship?]
???: [It has yet to return. Hopefully the fact that it’s taking longer than anticipated doesn’t mean that the Fortified City has fallen.]
???: […If it performs the purpose it was built to do, the Fortified City should not be unprepared.]
And so, with the flurry of several footsteps and important talk flying around, Abel and three of his retainers—— an old man, a large man, and a beautiful woman, arrived within the carriage.
Subaru did not know any of their names.
Otto: [The old man is the Prime Minister Berstetz Fondalfon, the tall man is General First-Class Goz Ralfon, and that woman is High Countess Serena Dracroy.]
Subaru: [You saved me there… Goz, I think he’s the guy that was arrested for letting Abel escape.]
Otto guessed the reason for Subaru’s frowning profile and made his comment. Among the names Subaru had heard from him, was the name of one of the Nine Divine Generals whose survival was supposed to be uncertain.
He was someone who had been stated of being able to be considered an ally to Abel supposing he had survived, so he was honestly happy to see him actually at Abel’s side.
Vincent: [All of you are here? Good, then we can begin the war council.]
Subaru: [Hey, what about Flop-san and the others?]
Vincent: [If there was a shortage of manpower like at the Fortress City, it would be a different story, but what value would the addition of a peddler provide to this war council?]
Otto: [That is true. I wonder, why am I even here…?]
Beside Subaru, who had tilted his head, Otto also tilted his head at what Abel said.
But the reason for which Otto had tilted his head was not known by the Emilia Camp, Subaru included. It was only natural for Otto to be present here.
He was even laughed at scornfully by Ram with a “Ha”.
Subaru: [And Taritta-san, Mizelda-san, and the others are positioned in the passenger car at the rear, so they won’t be here for this discussion, right?]
Berstetz: [Indeed. That is what we have heard from the People of Shudraq. They have given me a really reassuring reply that when the time comes for them to utilize their power, they will do so fully.]
Goz: [Certainly, I never thought that I would get the opportunity to stand side-by-side with the People of Shudraq, renowned for their bravery and courage! If this were not a struggle for the survival of the Empire, I would be all the more excited! Damn!]
Vincent: [You make too much noise. Keep your mouth closed.]
Abel silenced Goz, causing him to clinch his fists, which were the size of a child’s head, as he restrained himself. It was an inconsiderate remark, but since nobody paid it any attention, it was probably just a typical exchange between them.
At any rate, he now understood why Flop and the People of Shudraq were not present.
Emilia: [Subaru, your friends from the Empire are…]
Subaru: [I’ve already told everyone in the Battalion that I’d speak as their representative. Ummm, there’s something I want to discuss with everyone. Especially with Beako.]
Beatrice: [With Betty…? This doesn’t feel like it’s going to be good, in fact.]
Subaru: [There, there, there.]
For the time being, he had asked his comrades from the Pleiades Battalion to refrain from attending this meeting.
After all, Subaru and Abel were both in the same cabin. With one wrong move, Weitz could have attacked Abel in an attempt to hand over the throne to Subaru.
The lie that Subaru was the illegitimate son of Abel―― of Vincent Vollachia, that he was the black-haired Crown Prince, was still ongoing. He eventually needed to resolve that issue as well.
Subaru: [Though, it would’ve been nice at least if Tanza were here…]
Subaru was the only one attending the meeting as a member of the Battalion. He did not feel comfortable taking her out of her cabin, as she was not looking well.
As was the case when she had visited him, he would definitely have to talk to Tanza later.
Subaru: [Also, I haven’t seen Louis around…]
Ram: [That girl is with Medium and Flop. You seem to have a lot of feelings for her, but what do you intend to do with her, Barusu?]
Subaru: [――. We can talk about that later, too.]
Ram’s light-crimson eyes narrowed, and Subaru felt compelled to reply.
Ram knew that Louis had been present at Pleiades Watchtower right before Subaru and Rem had been sent to the Empire. Naturally, from Ram’s mouth and from Abel’s, Louis’s true identity would have been shared with everyone.
Still, she would like to know who, along with what kind of work and effort, had made it possible for her to be on board this coupled dragon carriage.
In addition, they needed to find the best compromise for Louis.
Vincent: [Now that you have finally caught up, we shall start this war council, Natsuki Subaru.]
Subaru: [You, don’t forget that I’m holding onto an enormous scandal, okay? I mean, I guess it’s like that, but not quite.]
Abel’s attitude had not changed on the surface, even though he vividly remembered him meekly bowing his head. Using disparaging words at his attitude, Subaru put a stop to him.
Still, there was a companion whose movements had not yet been confirmed.
Subaru: [――What about Priscilla? She must have been in Guaral, and wasn’t she also at the Imperial Capital? Besides, Tanza mentioned Yorna.]
Subaru asked this, as if he were saying “she should have been there” while looking at Abel’s face.
Somehow, Priscilla and her merry band of companions had come to the Vollachian Empire. Al had even accompanied him to the Demon City of Chaosflame, so he was sure that they had been involved in the battle for the Imperial Capital of Lupugana.
As for Yorna, Subaru and his group had also received information that she had joined the rebels. Tanza had likewise felt Yorna’s presence in the Imperial Capital.
Naturally, such faces would certainly be on board the coupled dragon carriage as well.
Speaking of a face he had not seen, he also had not seen Cecilus either, but Cecilus’s moodiness was the same as it was before they had left Gladiator Island, so he was not concerned about him――,
However, once Subaru did ask about them, Abel fell silent and closed one eye.
Suspicious of his reaction, Subaru furrowed his brows as he looked around to see that Abel was not the only one who’d had such a reaction.
For some reason, nobody was saying anything about Priscilla’s group’s movements.
If Priscilla and the rest of her group had heartlessly returned to the Kingdom before the siege of the Imperial Capital, then Emilia and the others would have been surprised to hear Priscilla’s name.
That was not the case. And, the answer to this uncomfortable silence was――,
Beatrice: [――Subaru, that was kept secret to avoid agitating you, I suppose.]
Before he could react, Beatrice took action, and squeezed Subaru’s hand. Subaru’s cheeks tightened at Beatrice’s preamble.
Then, Emilia turned her attention towards Subaru, who unconsciously held Beatrice’s hand tightly,
Emilia: [Stay calm and listen to me, Subaru. About Priscilla and Yorna-san…]
She paused for a beat.
Emilia continued with what felt like a drawn-out answer to the anxious Subaru.
Emilia: [When we were all fleeing together from the Imperial Capital, we didn’t find those two. ――But, I want to believe that they’re safe.]
――It was definite proof of the wounds inflicted to their side during the siege of the Imperial Capital.