Arc 6, Chapter 9 – “Break Through Sand Time”

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  • Phantaminum

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The first day of the Augria Sand Dunes conquest finished immediately after sunset.

Once the dead of night arrived, the longest of the three Sand Times that blew per day would arrive. If they forced their way through that Miasma-laden sand, their bodies would be ruined, and there was the possibility of losing their path.

If they were even unable to see the landmark that was the Pleiades Watchtower, then it would be wise to sit back, spending a peaceful night regaining their strength, restoring their spirit for the following day.

???: “Now that I think of think, will the Witchbeast countermeasures work while you’re sleeping too?”

???: “Of cooourse. Having your butt chewed by animals you brought is such a stupid thought that it’s not even fuunny.”

Aware of the menace the Witchbeasts of the Augria Sand Dunes presented, Subaru was somewhat, or rather, quite unsure of them. Laughing at his timidness, Meili was proud.

She appeared to be in a good mood ever since the Sand Earthworm incident, perhaps because she had proved her worth. Subaru understood that getting her in a good mood had benefits to their lives’ safety, so from here on out, he wished to be serious about dealing with that too.

Anyhow, night had fallen.

Subaru and the others had positioned themselves in the middle of the Sand Dunes, in a sandy plain with a good field of view, and had begun the preparations against the sand, with the dragon carriage at the core. Having said that, they did not need that many preparations.

Putting aside how the responsibility weighed on one person, the method really was simple.

Subaru: “Alright, Emilia-tan. Sorry for always relying on you, but please!”

Emilia: “Okay, make sure to move away a bit―― Take this!”

Emilia let out a listless yell and used her magic, just like when she had erected a tower of ice. Then, an wall of frost formed on the east side of the halted dragon carriage as cover, which would act as defense against the Sand Wind, shutting out the sand entirely.

There was no worry about the ice melting, and it would likewise protect them against petty Witchbeasts. It looked and felt cold, but after their eyes were closed, it would work well enough.

Julius: “I cannot help feeling uncomfortable because we are always being spoiled by Emilia-sama’s powers.”

Emilia: “It’s fine. I said it before, didn’t I? Subaru and Julius will be the ones doing their best while we’re on the move. Also, I’ve said this too, but I am in reaaally good condition.”

Subaru: “Seems like you’d usually start to feel chest pain, that sounds dangerous to me.”

Looking at the icy wall, Julius sighed as Emilia flexed her bicep. Gazing at Emilia’s soft, white upper arm by his side the side, Subaru thought that he should pay attention to Emilia’s condition.

In fact, the Miasma-laden air drifting about in the Sand Dunes did have a particular “heaviness” to it.

That heaviness had a vague effect on Subaru’s body, and it seemed to also have an effect on Beatrice and Julius, both taciturn. It could be possible that Anastasia and Ram being quiet inside the dragon carriage was not unrelated.

On other hand, Emilia and Meili seemed to be in good condition, Meili being the same as before.

He did not believe they had common traits, but he should be vigilant for the appearance of any extreme effects. Although, truth was, he wished to get out of the sand dunes as fast as possible.

Julius: “Impatience is forbidden. Although I cannot say I understand why you want to rush over the path.”

Subaru: “――――”

Beckoning a silent Subaru, Julius gazed up at the eastern sky blocked by ice. Subaru felt like he had been seen through, so he snorted his nose and turned away from the ice wall. Then, Patrasche came near Subaru, pressing her snout on his shoulder.

Subaru felt her doing it over and over, and he gave a bitter smile.

Subaru: “So, are you going to try and calm me down, too?”

???: “It’s not like I want to, in fact. It’s not like the initiative has been taken, either, I suppose.”

Beatrice pushed his back and turned away, although previously she had been looking up at him meaningfully.

Subaru scratched his head, wondering if his irritation was plain for all to see. Looking over, Subaru found Emilia, looking at him with kind eyes; as their lines of sight crossed, she waved towards him ever so slightly.

Suddenly embarrassed, Subaru clapped his hands.

Subaru: “Alright, a place to sleep has been secured thanks to Emilia-tan, so let’s get ready for tomorrow. The Sand Time will end at dawn, so until then let’s…”

Emilia: “Before that, Ram needs her treatment.”

Subaru: “Ah, true. That’s right. Okay, then I’ll be depending on Emilia-tan and Beako for that.”

He attempted to go through the topics quickly, and was halted by Emilia, trying to follow the daily routine. Emilia and Beatrice nodded at Subaru’s anticipations, and the treatment began with the men being put outside.

Also, as for why Subaru and Julius had been put outside once the healing begun――

Ram: “――Hmm~.”

One could tell that it had started because of the voice that could be heard faintly, even through the door.

Ram’s enthusiastically quivering voice sounded like she was enduring pain. A faint light arose inside the dragon carriage; the treatment was being administered with the use of Mana that combined four attributes.

Mana was being poured into the wound inflicted from having lost her horn, Ram’s appearance pitiful. On one hand though, it really did feel like something erotic, somehow.

Therefore, after the treatment had been witnessed the first day, they refused to have the men with them during healing.

Subaru: “I don’t get what Roswaal was thinking in wanting you do that repeatedly.”

Julius: “In a way, it is definitely an honorable role. Miss Ram is charming and pretty. However, when I think about the obvious matter of who she has eyes for, I honestly cannot be pleased with it.”

Subaru: “Roswaal should know that too, so I don’t know why would he be doing it still… In that case, why would he still say that about Ram, if she’s so far gone?”

Julius: “People’s relationships, even more so when speaking of a relationship between a man and a woman, cannot be assessed from the outside. To put it another way, I am pretty sure the first time you and I met as not an enjoyable experience. Or at least, I did not think I would be going alongside you on this life-threatening journey.”

Subaru: “…Well, I guess so.”

Hearing the lovely voice from behind him made Subaru’s face faintly turn red as he scratched his nose.

Julius had a nonchalant face, but despite that it was still a very strong stimulus to any innocent youth. But still, they could not get away from there and get sniffed out by dangerous Witchbeasts. They had no choice. It was necessary.

???: “Ya look quite conflicted, Natsuki-kun.”

Subaru: “Uwaaah!?”

While Subaru was quietly listening, the breath that blew against his ears made him jump. He lost his posture, and tumbled onto the sand, then seeing the figure of Anastasia coming around from the other side of the dragon carriage. Julius, who had been alarmed by Subaru’s panic, lost his composure at the sight of Anastasia, and he looked at the rolling figure.

Julius: “You got a little too surprised. It was as if you were thinking of something evil.”

Subaru: “Huh? It’s not like I was thinking of something evil or anything, you know? Yeah, I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. Not at all. Not one bit. So, what do you need, Anastasia-san? I’ll listen to anything!”

Anastasia: “Ya really are bad at foolin’ people, aren’t’cha? Well, it’s fine. Natsuki-kun may be interested in what’s goin’ on inside, but I’ve got somethin’ important to talk about.”

Subaru shook off the dark disdain in Julius’s eyes, shot a thumbs-up towards Anastasia. Anastasia smiled lightly at that reaction and trekked over the sand in boots, and,

Anastasia: “Wow, it’s hard to walk. Ya ‘n Julius seem fine, eh.”

Julius: “I have trained, although I would not go as far as to say that it was for this specific occasion.”

Subaru: “When you feel unsure of your footsteps, don’t walk slow in attempts to check them, leave it up to the firmness of your shoes’ soles and take relatively hard steps. That is the Clind Style.”

It was the basis of the rough road running style he learned from the all-purpose butler, Clind, back when he was learning parkour.

Anastasia gave an admiring nod at those words, and after that, she lowered the neck of her robe, the lower part of her face now showing. She took a deep breath.

Anastasia: “I don’t get this sand, but it seems like it’s chokin’ me out. I’d like to go somewhere safe from this Sand Wind as soon as possible ‘n breathe as much as I want.”

Subaru: “Agreed. I’d like to take a bath too. My head’s already smeared with sand.”

He could now understand the reason as to why people in desert areas would wear turbans on their heads. Countermeasures for sand, heat, and cold. It was a reasonable yet inevitable way of life people living on rigorous land had to follow. Subaru too was moderately wrapped in cloth, but it was not enough to protect him from this type of conditions.

Anastasia: “A bath sounds good, yeah. It’d be nice if there’s a bath at that Sage-san’s place.”

Subaru: “…Of course, I don’t know that much. Is it like that?”

Anastasia: “Even if Echidna knows how to get there, it’s not like we’ve ever been in it.”

Anastasia pulled down the neck of her robe even further, the scarf that she always wore now in display. A major premise of this whole deal was that Eridna was the guide for their journey.

There was no point in doubting her, but he wished to work out the details.

Subaru: “I can assume that you’re going to tell me important things here on out, right?”

Anastasia: “Of course.”

Julius: “I shall listen gladly.”

Anastasia puffed out her slim chest, and Subaru and Julius got ready to listen. In response, Anastasia looked back at the dragon carriage pompously,

Anastasia: “We’ll be stayin’ the night inside the carriage startin’ today… But ya boys need to sleep at the front seat. Can’t have ya getting’ carried away with the women ‘n children in a small room, after all.”

Subaru: “That’s enough of that!”

Anastasia: “Hey, I just thought I’d loosen the tension… Ah, oh well.”

It didn’t matter at all that they would stay in the same room in the first place. His own lack of courage and the wariness of the other parties were enough for him to understand that.

Anyhow, Subaru screaming his inner thoughts was put aside, and Anastasia went into the main topic.

Anastasia: “After a full day of movin’ towards the Watchtower… How’s it lookin’?”

Subaru: “Even if you ask that… To be honest, the results weren’t anything special.”

Subaru was puzzled by her question, reflecting about the day that had passed.

After arriving at the Augria Sand Dunes around noon, letting the morning’s Sand Time pass by, and after that, Subaru and the others spent nearly half the day moving. The Sand Time that happened during the afternoon was now behind them, and it was now sunset. As for the results that were had up to this point, they would be――

Subaru: “The tower is perfect as a landmark, and we’ve got the mark for the way back that I requested of Emilia-tan. Also, Meili was more effective than expected. Those were the results, I guess?”

Julius: “The preparations we had beforehand and Subaru’s quick thinking were perfect countermeasures against Sand Time. But, the problem is Pleiades Watchtower, and why we cannot see the route up to there… perhaps.”

Subaru: “Can’t see the route?”

Subaru frowned at Julius, him having taken over speaking, but having reached a different conclusion. Julius sighed at Subaru, prefacing his speech with “Have you not realized?”.

Julius: “It is true that we have gotten this far in our journey without any noticeable flaws. I am also in agreement with the opinion that nothing has gone wrong thus far.”

Subaru: “Don’t beat around the bush. It’s a bad habit. Say it more directly.”

Julius: “Then I shall make it concise―― Subaru, have you not noticed anything peculiar about the tower?”

Subaru: “――――”

Julius asked him a question quietly, and Subaru gasped.

After that, looking at the Watchtower―― a mighty majesty that could be seen on the other side of the ice wall, even in the night asserting its presence.

Even after Julius had pointed out something was wrong, Subaru did not notice any abnormality in the Watchtower. Nothing should have been different about the tower at which he had stared at the whole day, compared to how it had been upon first arriving at the Sand Dunes.

――Nothing should have been different, surely.

Subaru: “――!?”

Julius: “It seems that you have noticed. That tower clearly is not getting closer, nor is it getting any farther. We have aimed at that tower, walking towards it this whole time… but the gap has not closed even slightly.”

Just like Julius pointed out, Subaru finally understood that abnormality.

The faraway-looking Pleiades Watchtower remained there, faraway, without change, its size such that it felt like it could not be overlooked. There was no sort of change in its appearance.

Subaru: “No way…”

Julius: “Subaru, I understand your frustration. However, we must be careful…”

Subaru: “So, after all the trouble we’ve been through today, being smeared with sand, and the distance we walked were all a waste!? Conquering this place is such a pain in the ass――!”

Julius: “…Yeah?”

Subaru kicked the sand at his feet, raising his voice, and Julius was at a loss for words. Squatting on the ground in front of a bewildered Julius, Subaru scooped out sand with his palm with his lips pursed in a pout.

Subaru: “Hey hey hey hey, you for real? I’ve suddenly become tired after finding that out. Saying that those efforts were a waste seriously just sucks ass. Wow, this is the worst.”

Anastasia: “Yer mental fortitude’s weaker than I thought.”

Subaru: “What are you looking at!? Don’t you see me suffering this much!? I’m extremely depressed, and I feel extremely awful. You should’ve said something earlier, you know, once you’d noticed it!”

Julius: “I thought to not say anything until I was sure. I did not wish to discourage you.”

Subaru: “This is how you people…”

He threw away the sand he had scooped up, and stood up while clapping his hands. Glaring at Julius from below, Subaru acted indignant.

Subaru: “Can you stop speaking in insinuations? It’s not like I’ll get mad if you talk about something that came to your mind! Rather, we might find a clue from it. Do you guys have a «I’ll just keep this inside of me» sort of mentality? Has that really made the situation better at all? Not once have I thought that I should have kept quiet!”

Julius: “Ah, ahhh, sorry.”

Subaru: “Speak up immediately, even if it’s something trivial. This is something I told Ram as well, a disabled character in this conquest. Do I need to say it to everyone, man?”

With Subaru becoming dumbfounded by the incompleteness of the three Ts, “Told, Tell, Talk about”, Julius also made a reflective look. With a rare assertion of dominance over the Knight Impeccable, Subaru took that something, which he barely considered a good thing, among the many troublesome things, and turned to Anastasia.

Subaru: “So, I guess it’s safe to assume you know what’s up with this phenomenon.”

Anastasia: “I apologize that I didn’t explain anythin’… Or rather, I felt confident ‘bout my suspicions all day. It’d help if ya thought of it like that.”

Subaru: “Start from when you had those suspicions. That’s all. So, what’s going on?”

He stuck his tongue out at Anastasia, who had stated her justifications, and prompted her to continue. When he did, Anastasia preceded with “Please don’t get surprised when ya hear this”, and――

Anastasia: “This sandy plain between the Dunes and the Watchtower, the space’s prolly distorted.”

Subaru: “The space is distorted…?”

Anastasia: “In other words, contrary to what it seems, it ain’t connected to land. We continue walkin’ straight ahead, and no matter how long we walk, we’ll never get there.”

Anastasia nonchalantly clarified the shocking fact, and Subaru could not keep his jaw from dropping in shock. Anastasia, or rather Eridna, should have known it from the beginning, considering how it sounded like the matter had been relayed by Eridna.

Subaru: “So I guess that’s why Reinhard and all the other challengers couldn’t reach it.”

Anastasia: “The destination itself can be seen there. All ya need to do is close the distance… Especially if they’d been frantically attemptin’ to escape the Witchbeasts Den along this path, they’d prolly want to go further.”

Subaru: “――――”

For some reason, he thought of the regret of those adventurers that had broken down halfway through their journey, their goal in plain sight, just in range.

This obstacle, which hampered those with the Watchtower as their goal, was an obstacle that even Reinhard had given up on conquering. The distortion of space and the end of the sand sea that actually could not be reached―― perhaps that was how it worked.

Subaru: “How do you defeat that?”

Anastasia: “…Ain’t’cha kinda missin’ the point by askin’ ‘bout defeatin’ and not defeatin’ it? This is a natural trap created by the Miasma. There’s no kinda unnatural power goin’ on here.”

Subaru: “A natural trap!? This!?”

On rare occasions, nature would set up traps that seemed to have an intrinsic murderous nature to them.

The frequently-seen mirages at deserts, and the snow-covered roads that bordered the cliffs of areas with heavy snowfall. Thinking about it generally, humans could get killed by things like bottomless swamps or even being pulled in by rising tides.

However, as one would expect, the existence of this Watchtower was――

Subaru: “This is a trap made by nature? That’s an exaggeration, isn’t it?”

Julius: “Well, Pleiades Watchtower was originally built at a place where this phenomenon occurs. If you think about it that way, it is not unnatural. Also, it makes sense.”

Subaru: “It makes sense? In what way?”

Julius: “You cannot forget. Yes, the Sand Dunes lead to the Watchtower, but you must not the tower is not the only location beyond the Sand Dunes. Why do you think the Watchtower is there in the first place?”

Julius chided Subaru’s rude tone, and urged him to think. An answer came to mind immediately after that question. The purpose of the Watchtower they were targeting, was to serve as a seal for the Witch’s Shrine.

Likewise, these Sand Dunes’ unsurpassable trap would be highly effective in deterring the Witch Cult, with their aim to revive the Witch of Envy. He really could not blame anyone for that.

Subaru: “…Hk! Fine. Anyway, forget the details about why and how that tower was built there. I’m concerned about something else. It’s how we’re going to break through that distorted space.”

Anastasia: “Ya know we can’t remove its source, right? This is the land we’re on.”

Subaru: “Daijobu[1]. I’ve understood the terrain and its peculiarities. Next, let’s look for a weakness. Since you volunteered to be a guide, naturally there’s a way out, right? A loophole.”

Anastasia: “I wouldn’t be talkin’ if there weren’t any… Puttin’ it as somethin’ like a loophole is sketchy, though.”

Anastasia smiled wryly at Subaru, who continued to pressure her, the former displaying a pompous sort of attitude. After that, she nodded at Subaru and Julius, who gazed at her, and spoke,

Anastasia: “During Sand Time, there should be a moment when the space connected to the Watchtower collapses. We’ll go through there, and enter the real sand sea. That’s the condition of breakin’ through, ya see.”

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――The attack on the Sand Dunes that started on the following day had a series of consecutive, difficult situation.

The condition for the path to the Watchtower that Anastasia had disclosed must be shared by everyone on the crew. In other words, most of their traveling would be useless until Sand Time, and meanwhile, the expectation would be too much for them.

However, that anxiety was――

Anastasia: “Even when that key Sand Time comes, whether we can reach the opening’ll depend on luck. Thinkin’ ‘bout it that way, stayin’ still doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

Meili: “Also, if we alwaaays~ stay at one place, the animals around it might remember our smell. I’ll be fine, buuut~ if by any chance you lose me or something, then they’ll chase you everywhere.”

Those were Anastasia and Meili’s opinions of how to survive without problems.

The former’s opinion was somewhat unreliable, but the latter’s opinion touched on the fact their life was on the line. It was not something he wanted to think about too much, but turning away from danger would be mere cowardice. Daring to be truly courageous, facing fears and nonetheless fighting, was something invaluable.

Subaru: “Right, Emilia-tan?”

Emilia: “――? Yeah, right.”

Subaru: “Emilia-sama. You shouldn’t take it so seriously. This is the time to make a face for a stupid occasion.”

He talked with the face inside the dragon carriage periodically, but his motivation did not diminish, even after hearing that the previous day of travel had turned out to be a waste.

They had quite a lot of flexibility with things like the food and water procured at Mirula. He wanted to believe that there was nothing to be anxious about, since the Miasma’s effect was being mitigated by Emilia and Beatrice’s Spiritual Arts ability.

Subaru: “Actually, I’m getting stressed out from not knowing how many days we’ll have to work at this.”

???: “Subaru, spit out the sand in your mouth, don’t swallow it, in fact. Even if it’s not a lot, it’s sand with Miasma, I suppose. If you deal with it improperly, you’ll have a painful experience later, in fact.”

Beatrice warned Subaru, who had become completely used to the feeling of tasting sand in his mouth and therefore less cautious. In Subaru’s arms as was usual whenever they would ride dragons, Beatrice took out a water container from his pocket,

Beatrice: “Look, I’ll rinse your mouth, I suppose. You can’t bathe, so at least clean your mouth, in fact.”

Subaru: “Hey hey… Come to think of it, you’re clean even without taking a bath.”

Beatrice: “That’s because Betty’s body is made up of Mana, I suppose. So Betty is always clean, in fact. Betty being pretty anywhere at any time is a given, I suppose.”

Subaru: “Yeah, yeah, cute, cute.”

Beatrice pouted at Subaru’s apathetic response, but he patted her head, and he played with the drills that had been pushed into his robe. They were done in braids, today.

Subaru: “Oh, we’ve discovered a group of Witchbeasts again… They only seem like mere animals when they keep away from us like that.”

Meili: “If you move away from me and come close to them, people like onii-san will get bitten in a flash. It’s strange, but aaall the animals around here stare at onii-san.”

He brought Patrasche near the dragon carriage, while looking at the group of Witchbeasts that were gathering at a place off to the side of their path. Meili, while looking at Subaru with a curious expression, murmured “That’s weird”.

It seemed like the girl did not know about the Witch’s Lingering Scent that surrounded Subaru. Subaru thought that it was of the same nature as the Miasma, but it looked as if like he would never be able to understand its true essence. Anyhow, it appeared that the scent had not faded away from Subaru, nor had its property of luring Witchbeasts disappeared.

Subaru: “Oh, could that be a nostalgic Witchbeast? Ram, take a look!”

Ram: “It’s really discomforting how you talk about that, like it’s a part of Ram’s memories. They’re nothing but painful memories to Ram, as well as to you, Barusu.”

The pack of devildogs that were looking at them from afar were the same kind of disastrous Witchbeasts that had attacked the former Roswaal residence. Ram acted harsh towards Subaru, who got enthusiastic unintentionally.

Subaru: “Don’t say that. If I were to depict what they are to me, you, and Rem, I’d say that they built the bridges between us. If they weren’t there, maybe I wouldn’t even be here right now. When you think about that, we don’t have a bad relationship with the… Wait, it is bad! It’s shit!”

Ram: “Stop killing your own enthusiasm by yourself. Watching it elicits pity, listening to it elicits pity, and just thinking about it elicits misery.”

The stress caused by the pack of Witchbeasts a year prior had been revived. Sighing at an heated-up Subaru, Ram quickly shut the dragon carriage’s window, thus concluding their conversation.

Unfortunately, it could not be helped. That incident from a year ago, inside of Ram, had been painted over into a state in which it had been resolved in cooperation with Subaru, with the absence of Rem’s existence. In truth, it was unclear how would they be able to take on the Witchbeasts without Rem, but it seemed that the amnesia was something she did not feel uncomfortable with.

If the memory of Rem inside of Ram were revived, then the missing parts would be filled, and topics would mesh well too. He would think about it once the time came, although he felt like he’d only get insulted.

Subaru: “Wooow! Sand Time is dangerous! Sand Time is ridiculous! Sand Wind is dangerous!”

Emilia: “I-I made the ice as clear as I could, but if it’s no good, then tell me, okay?”

Subaru: “It’s already pretty bad! The Almighty Ice Theory’s collapsing!”

The crucial Sand Time had arrived. They rushed into the Sand Wind, piercing it, looking for the distortion of space that would lead them to the tower, but they were being struck by the sand’s unimaginably overwhelming fury.

What had been a particularly bad miscalculation, was that the ice wall had been utterly defeated, despite having supported Subaru and the team’s venture with an imposing performance thus far.

Subaru: “It’s an ice wall, and yet the absurd sand is sticking onto it, so I can’t see what’s in front of me at all! Or rather, receiving such a strong wind with this wide area of ice is beyond suicidal!”

Emilia: “Eh!? What!? Subaru, did you say something!? I can’t hear you at all!”

Subaru: “The wind is too strong, and this is beyond suicidal!”

Emilia: “Eh!? You want to die!? No, you can’t! Don’t lose courage!”

Subaru: “Tell me about… Guwaaaah!! Sand violently went into my eyeeee!”

Emilia: “Eh!? Did you say something!? Say it again! Subaru? Subaru――!”

Subaru: “I’ll say it again, such a spartan act is… Guwaaaaah!!”

Emilia: “Subaru――!?”

The Sand Wind was already a gale, was now already close to being a sandstorm.

Although Subaru and the others were serious challengers, their interaction sounded more like a comedy act.

Even having a thin plate of ice with the sole purpose of protecting themselves against the thin sand blowing against them from head-on was nothing but suicidal. In fact, it would have been better to cover their entire body in cloth and make themselves small, to mitigate the wind striking them.

However, the bottleneck in that strategy was――

Subaru: “Keep going! Hang in there, Gian[2]! We can only rely on your horsepower!”

Gian: “――――”

The ground dragon took the the Sand Wind head-on as it charged it down. They had already spent a few days conquering the dunes, and the bond that had been forged between them was expressed in the name it was being called.

To put it briefly, the ground dragon of the Gyras species pulling the dragon carriage was named Gian. Its tenacity held the key to break through the Sand Wind. After all, the dragon carriage the girls were on did not have any way to diminish its size against the wind.

As a result, there was no other choice for Gian but to pull on the dragon carriage with all its strength towards the wind.

Julius: “Doing nothing but forcing ground dragons does not suit my style… But we depend on you now.”

Meili: “Heeey, hang in theeere! I don’t wanna go back to that unending sandy plain again!”

Julius cheered on Gian, him holding onto the bridle, as well as Meili, who sat next to him.

Precisely because they were the ones viewing its tenacity closer than anyone else, they could believe in that underlying strength, sending words its way.

???: “――――”

Emilia and the others could not even open the small window in the wind, but that they were praying with worry inside the dragon carriage was a sure bet.

As one countermeasure for the sand, Emilia had been asked to tamper with the dragon carriage with ice. Even though a sand-protective board of ice had been stuck onto the front, it could not handle the fierce onslaught of the wind.

Thus, Subaru brought out his last resort, a form somewhere in-between a wing formation capable of directing the wind, and a sharp shape―― A spear that would pierce fiercely into the Sand Wind had been fashioned.

Subaru: “It’s an application of a mini four-wheel drive. Reducing its weight to make it light would be fatal, so I couldn’t do that, but I did what I could. Alright, go, Gungnir[3]―― Penetrate!”

Gian: “――MM!”

Gian stepped forward with fierce footsteps in response to Subaru’s shout. The dragon carriage that had become a spear bit and tore through the wind closing in on them with a frontal assault, escaping, moving forward, and forward.

Before long, the dragon carriage crowned with the name of the spear of a God burrowed into the scar of the bitten and torn wind, gouged out the sand’s tyranny, and then it breaks through――

Subaru: “――――”

The moment they escaped the Sand Wind, what swept over Subaru was extremely sharp silence.

The wind that had made such an intense amount of noise close to their ears, the sand that struck them as if to shave their whole bodies, and the Miasma that excited activity from the Witchbeasts; all vanished as if it were all an illusion.

Subaru: “――――”

The Sand Time had certainly had an abrupt ending, but it was even more resonating. The vigor of the wind intermingled with sand gradually weakened, and before long, it slowly dissipated like being pulled in by waves, and nothing but the peculiar smell of the sand was left.

However, only at this instance did that occur. In other words, that was proof that the ending of this Sand Time was a special case.

Subaru: “――――”

Feeling thirst in his mouth, Subaru gyrated. Upon doing so, he laid his eyes on Julius and the others, who, much like Subaru himself, were dumbfounded on having escaped the Sand Wind. Of course, them being there meant that Gian and the dragon carriage were likewise.

Subaru: “――Julius.”

Julius: “Ahh.”

Subaru called out to him, and Julius, all tensed up, gave him an acknowledging gesture with his chin. After that and before any other thoughts, they both raised their hands at each other, clenching their fists, and displayed their mutual admiration for breaking through Sand Time.

To Julius’s side, Meili was seen wiping the sand off her body, then thanking Gian. This journey’s Most Valuable Player was definitely Gian.

They had to show their gratitude to their hearts’ content, their appreciation, and reward it as much as possible―― but,

Subaru: “Leave that for later! We broke through! We did it! We d――”

Beatrice: “What the! You’re always, always being so loud right in my ears, I suppose―― Kh!!”

Amidst Subaru’s display of joy, his chin got pushed up by the bottom of Beatrice’s palm coming up from below.

The excellent blow caused Subaru’s head to spin. Toppling over from Patrasche like that, Subaru fell defenselessly onto the sand. Subaru’s head was buried in sand, a large amount of sand entering his mouth, and so, getting up immediately, he lashed out at Beatrice.

Subaru: “Why’d you do that to me out of the blue!? What’s up with you, people were trying to be joyful! You scared me and made me swallow a bunch of sand!”

Beatrice: “Getting excited by yourself even while holding onto Betty is annoying, in fact! I don’t understand things like downshifts, off-roads, gene shifts, burning souls and all that, I suppose! My ears were on fire this whole time, in fact!”

Beatrice turned to Subaru, and she complained to him vehemently while mounted on Patrasche.

Subaru had various things to say about it, but he certainly could not deny the feeling that he had gotten a bit excited and shouted a bunch of random terms. What the hell was a Gungnir?

Subaru: “Ahem… A-anyways, we broke through the Sand Time safely. First, let’s celebrate that. Come on, banzai!”

Beatrice: “…Banzai, I suppose.”

Putting aside Beatrice’s sulky attitude, they certainly had broken through the sand obstacle.

Giving a few pats to Patrasche’s neck, as she had done her best, he showed his gratitude for the braveness of the beloved dragon that did not show tiredness on her gallant face.

After that, Subaru rushed up to the dragon carriage, and to share his delight――

Meili: “――Onii-san.”

Subaru: “Ah? What’s wrong? You can be a little happier too…”

Meili: “Shut up.”

Meili stopped Subaru, him trotting, her sharp words flying towards him as she turned around and looked his way.

What was included in them, was a clear warning about danger.

――Subaru was not enough of a fool to mistake what that meant.

Subaru: “――――”

In response to Subaru’s silence, Meili nodded while putting a finger on her mouth, and she slowly, slowly, pointed towards the front with her free hand.

Subaru, Julius, and Beatrice were lured by that movement, and gazed on ahead.

Beyond the Sand Wind they faced during Sand Time, the distorted sand sea up to the Watchtower had been cleared. Thus, the Watchtower’s silhouette, looming before them, was evidently clearer and larger in comparison to how it had been up until now.

It was possible to think that now there was a definite distance until their goal. However――

Subaru: “…What’s that?”

Colorful flower beds were spread in front of Subaru and the others, covering the sandy soil that led to the Watchtower.

Translation Notes:

[1] – Engrish flip. Means “(it’s) okay/alright” (大丈夫), originally “OK”.

[2] – Name is a Doraemon reference to the character with that nickname (ジャイアン).

[3] – In Norse mythology, Gungnir is the spear owned by the king of Norse Gods, Odin. For more information, see here.

3 thoughts on “Arc 6, Chapter 9 – “Break Through Sand Time””

  1. Thanks for the translation!
    I am gonna make a useful suggestion- can you please add these translation notes not in the end but right below the text it refers to? Its easier to refer than going all the way down, but thanks nonetheless .

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