Re: Kasaneru IF (Blu-Ray Special Version)

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Human Translated By:

  • Ringo (Prologue, Section 1, 2, 3 )
  • Ice (Section 4 (Partial))

Machine Translated By:

  • Kazatashi (Project Manager)
  • GioGioCat
  • Beloved

Proofread By:

  • Cirdan Lunae

Japanese to English Checking By:

  • Bell
  • Ice
  • ShadowTanaka
  • Vinicaian

Art Sources

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Prologue I

THE SHIELD OF THE SANCTUARY

――Roaring, he swung his claws toward the enemy surging from the environs.

???: [Gaahhhh――!!]

Their soft bodies burst open upon getting ensnared in his claws, his field of vision dyed with blood of a brilliant crimson hue.

The sensation of robbing the life of a living creature, despite being accustomed to it, could have never been enjoyable. Though he felt the hunting instincts seated within him galvanize, it was far from indulgence.

However, he immersed himself during these moments, forgetting said value of life and virtues.

If not, he shall be swallowed by the enemy―― no, by the fiendish, multitudinous “Appetite” advancing from every direction, and fail to hold fast to even his own life.

???: [Shiiihk!]

A wrathful bellow, swinging his claws with no set aim, unleashing kicks. He still hit. It hit them. Ahead of his arms, by his shins, rebounded the dull sensation of shattering the bones of a tiny being.

Nauseating. However, forsaking all sentimentality, he bared his fangs in enmity, losing himself.

???: [――――]

He was in a wrought state. For as long as time permitted, he had tormented his own body with pain.

Weakness was a sin. His self, had once lost what he held close to his heart due to this sin. Neither was he able to grasp an opportunity to never release what he cherished. That was why, for when an identical opportunity returned, or in order to not lose anything more, he sought the utmost of limits.

He could not, render those days futile. His self, was no longer his weak self. In order to prove that, sojourning an emotion akin to vomiting blood, he smashed, incised, tore apart the tiny lives.

The dusky forest of the night was tainted with blood. He felt the volume of this flowing blood, to be the fruits of the days he had accreted――,

???: [――Urgh.]

A sharp ache running through, his right calf burst open by scorching heat.

Look there and the fangs of a white ball of fur had been wolfing his leg, severing the flesh with not an instant’s worth of vacillation. He gnashed his molars and swung his right arm down like a sword, slaughtering the ball of fur into two slices.

However, he could not end this spar out of agony. In spite of robbing the life of the enemy, he had lost the firm support of his leg. Curtailment of mobility, in this battlefield, meant immediately shortening the distance to Death.

――Death, the instant he focused on that word, shivers ran through his entire frame.

???: [――This ain’t, no goddamn joke!!]

He did not want to think of these shivers as fear or dismay.

Raising his voice as though repudiating his weak self and shoving aside the thoughts coming to his mind, he elevated his wounded right leg overhead and energetically pounded it into the ground.

That moment, an immense power was invoked below his feet, and the soil and bare earth were vigorously overturned.

Entire hordes of fluffballs within five meters of his tiptoes were all toppled by the rising ground, many dozens of them giving rise to death wails as their bodies were crushed and perished.

???: [Now――]

???: [――――Kyuuuhn.]

However, he was bestowed not even the time to be elated with triumph. Paying no heed to the entombing of dozens of their fellow comrades in the horde, the enemy’s fervor was not withered by even an atom. ――No, rather than wither, saying it had augmented would also be appreciable. But, he was unable to identify any change in the horde charging towards his side.

The advancing white fluffballs, felt no rage, turmoil, or anything for that matter toward their comrades’ deaths. With simply a blazing glimmer conceived in their eyes, befitting of fulfilling the desires of the individual, they clattered their fangs.

Clanging, clanking, clunking, clinking, an infinite harmony of the sound of devouring life, abrading his spirit.

???: [――~hk.]

Faintly clearing his throat, he pounded his legs whilst seeking to fall back. What would happen should he fall back now. By falling back, and bracing his stance, just want would that amount to――,

???: [――I suppose by now, you must’ve gotten how crazy the enemy is, right, Garfiel.]

Garfiel: [――~hk! Shut yer mouth! Shut the hell up ~hk!]

He reflexively yelled back at the voice abruptly thrown at him from behind.

Lit with the flame of rebelliousness was the fighting spirit momentarily yielding to reason, subsequently repelling the surging vanguard of furballs with a barrage of fists, as by the spray of blood the forest was yet again tinted. Tinted. Tinted――.

???: [That amounts to nothing but buying time. They need to be dealt with from the source.]

Garfiel: [For the last goddamn time, I’m tellin’ ya ta shut the hell up! I ain’t listenin’ to yer directions, ya bastard!]

Upon getting preached by a visage indicating knowledge and experience, he howled back that nobody shall lend their ears to his say. Even should that advice hold accurate, he could never harbor the faith of entrusting his life to the one who offered the advice.

Never could he ever do so, at the very least, for the black haired youth spectating the battle from behind.

Garfiel: [――Piece of shit.]

With the gaze verging onto a sigh at his back, the battle with the white furballs resumed.

What he bore for the onlooker youth standing in the rear was distrust, and a sense of defeat excoriating his chest which he did not wish to admit. The resentment he directed towards his own self for having his state become per the youth’s anticipation, per his words, a maelstrom of rage.

――The crisis imminent upon the Sanctuary, one of the Three Great Witchbeasts, was something beyond what his hands could possibly manage.

Repudiating such seeming folly, he had entered the subjugation paying no heed.

However, the slaves of ceaselessly gushing “Appetite”, their overwhelming numbers and ruthlessness had waged a war of attrition as though sneering at his recklessness.

His wounds were deep. The Divine Protection of Earth Spirits that dwelled within his body accorded strength but could not heal wounds. He possessed no time, to use healing magic. Nor did he possess any comrades who would buy said time, nor did he possess any means to keep the enemy away.

He was alone. He was lonely. And that was something wished for by nobody but him.

That should he alone be strong, he would be able to protect everything till the very end. In order to make that childish illusion into reality, he had continued to train these fangs, these claws, this body.

And yet, and yet, and yet――

???: [It’s beyond you to be able to do everything alone, Garfiel.]

Delegating even the rage to retort with a “Shut up” into his fangs, he smote the enemies before him.

Their soft bodies shattered, flowers of blood blossomed before his eyes. Eating the fluffball now a slice of meat, another fluffball approached. The fluffballs he had assuredly crushed quavered, and multiplied into two like magic.

In an identical vein, the more he crushed the fluffballs, the more they multiplied. No matter how much he abated them, diminished them, they shan’t decrease.

Despair, distended within his chest. It felt as though it was being pronounced for him, that the entirety of the days he had spent until now had been futile, that illusions remained nothing but illusions.

――Warm tears of bitterness cascaded down his eyes, as he pierced them with his quivering fangs, and tore their flesh apart.

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CHAPTER I

RE: ACCRETING LIFE IN ANOTHER WORLD FROM ZERO

???: [——Stay put right here. Do that, ‘n I won’t be makin’ ya suffer.]

Dealt by the intemperate voice, Natsuki Subaru realized his error.

Limbs tied, mouth gagged, he was thrown upon the solid, chilly floor.

Having been blindfolded so courteously, he could gather zero information from his vision. However, vision was not necessary for him to know which location in the Sanctuary this was.

For this was not the first time he had been restrained and confined in the ruins in this manner.

Subaru: [~~hk! ~~hk.]

Twisting his body, he became desperate to unfasten the constraints on his limbs, but they seemed not to come loose even in the slightest.

On the other hand, he was feeling surprised by the unexpected meticulousness of the offender since it was serving to strangle his own neck. Right now he wished to implore said person to behave more wildly, the way he ordinarily conducted himself.

Anyhow―― since things had come down to this, there was not much left Subaru could do.

There was no scenario of him breaking out with his own strength and the pattern of support arriving depends on preparation. And this time, Subaru had not laid the groundwork for said support to arrive.

Thus, Subaru did not possess the means to escape from here.

Subaru: [~~hk! ~~hk.]

However, Subaru had not become so resigned as to give up and think nothing can be done.

Hands tied behind his back, he twisted his body, attempting to sever the rope by rubbing it against the ground. With half hearted resolve, worrying for his own body, making a bunch of scratches was the best he could do.

Had he wielded the guts to whittle down his own flesh, or even his bones, perhaps he would have been able to escape from these constraints.

However――,

???: [――――]

Atop the floor, as Subaru danced like a caterpillar, the sensation of a tiny hand pin him down.

It was obvious that this was the person who had confined Subaru―― Garfiel’s cooperator, and clearly a being exactly identical to Ryuzu.

An existence who could be called, without hesitation, a “duplicate”.

Puppets who took the form of Ryuzu, who simply abided by Garfiel, devoid of any will. It saw to the confined Subaru’s everyday necessities, simultaneously fulfilling the duty of surveilling him.

Even if his constraints were to come loose, then would come the issue of her―― no, them? Should he be discovered by them, it would be short lived joy. He would immediately be restrained again, with no hope to escape. Likely, this would happen even if he were to escape the constraints with the resolve to whittle down his own limbs.

――In other words, this conclusion was an inevitable one.

Subaru: [――?]

The time of being given food by a mute duplicate and having his excrements disposed of continued for a number of days.

During meal time, when the gag would be removed, he believed there might be a chance for a counter attack. But that too, was easily restrained by small hands of the duplicate.

In order to escape, he desperately thought up his next plan, when…

――In that moment he began to hear grinding and a dissonance that called out to his instinct.

Subaru: [――~hk.]

Guessing the identity of those sounds, anxiety and nervousness sprinted through his entire frame.

That which initially had been few in numbers, gradually built up their numbers and formed hordes, and was drawing near. No point in shrinking himself up and hiding somewhere. Their olfaction―― the ability to sniff out the mana stockpiled by living beings was remarkable, and had converged as their singular purpose.

Namely, the purpose of utterly eating away their prey, and satisfying their own “Starvation”.

Subaru: [~~hk!]

Limbs bound, blindfolded, and mouth gagged, he crawled on the floor akin to a caterpillar.

Bending his body back and forth, pulling the muscles within his body, unafraid of tearing them, he attempted to run away. Running away, running away, running away, dwelling not on what lies ahead. Simply running away, however――,

Subaru: [~~hk, ~~hk!?]

He could not get away at literal crawling speeds.

Caught up by the prancing predators, Subaru’s legs were eaten by a scorching like pain. In a matter of mere seconds, he felt the restraints of his legs he had so attempted to escape from come undone, but that gave him no delight.

It was meaningless, since along with the constraints of his legs, all up to Subaru’s knees had also disappeared.

He attempted to screech, but his mouth gag did not permit it. A groan as though vomiting blood in agony, the reason he managed to vocalize that was because the devouring fangs had crunched apart a section of his throat and opened a hole.

It was a shriek lasting but a moment, as soon a tiny creature penetrated into his body from the wound in his throat. One, two, at any rate, an infinite number of them, Natsuki Subaru was devoured from the inside and out.

Couldn’t make it in time, never did any such regrets graze past his mind.

Solely pain. The sense of loss from losing himself dyed his thoughts in murky black.

Die, he will die. If he was going to die, then he wished to die faster. His hands freed, he attempted to kill himself.

His hands were eaten from the fingers. He’s dead. Already, dead dead, dead dead dead dead dead de――,

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――His vision cleared, and Natsuki Subaru was standing beneath an open sky.

Subaru: [――――]

A grassland of verdant emerald stretched as far as the eye could see.

A refreshing breeze jolted the blooms, a calm spectacle contrary to any boisterousness or savagery. The grassland resumed till beyond the horizon, making him almost hallucinate that this tranquility shall persist forever.

Narrowing his eyes from the radiance of this scene, Subaru turned back with a long sigh.

Ahead of his gaze was a slightly elevated hillock. Atop the hillock positioned were a white parasol and a table, seeming to meld into the beautiful ambience of the grassland.

Setting foot on the hillock, he leisurely climbed the slope. Atop the table, whose silhouette gradually defined itself, was a cup of black tea, steam rising from it. The sweet fragrance, mingled in the gentle breeze, was that of the tea and tea cakes that went along with it.

Different tea cakes were arranged for each of his visits. Surprisingly faithful, he thought in admiration.

Though above all, he was aware that both of those things were all make-believe that appeared with a snap of the tea party host’s fingers.

Anyhow――,

Subaru: [Tch.]

Two chairs were placed around the table, both vacant.

Regardless of the invited guest, the absence of the host who invited him had Subaru furrowing his brows as he clicked his tongue whilst guessing what it was that she sought.

Afterwards, he took the cup atop the table in his hand, and bravely carried it to his lips. And, entwining the steaming amber fluid with his tongue, he quickly swallowed it.

Gulping in succession, he drank the cup’s content――,

Subaru: [――Oe~e~e~egh!!]

???: [Wait wait wait!?]

He vehemently spat out the black tea he just drank on that very spot.

Hot tea dripping from his mouth and nose, Subaru’s violent coughs made someone shout with a flustered, overturned voice.

???: [Surely this is quite rude!? To vomit tea someone had prepared for you right there immediately after drinking it, that is too much!]

Subaru: [Cough, cough… s-sorry. It wasn’t on purp… oe~e~egh.]

???: [Even if not on purpose, it does not make one feel particularly good! To begin with, you need not drink my tea in such a deteriorated condition…]

Subaru: [But, you wouldn’t have shown up if I hadn’t done that…]

Calming his regurgitation, breaths hoarse, Subaru’s words plunged the person into silence. Wiping his mouth and eyes with his sleeve, Subaru viewed the person immediately ahead.

Subaru: [――――]

Ahead was a gorgeous young lady, her frame consisting solely of a dichromatic white and black.

White hair as though achromatized of saturation, black eyes as though ensnarling all shadows in the world, and a jet-black dress garbing her slender, supple figure. Proprietor of an appearance that befitted her the description of a belle from the heavens, and also a succubus or a devil――,

Subaru: [――Echidna.]

Her name called by the feebly breathing Subaru, the young lady―― Echidna straitened her eyes.

She knitted her well-defined eyebrows, and slowly shook her head,

Echidna: [It does make me happy that you are so sincerely bearing to fulfill your promise to me, but… Assuming from your state, it appears you died in quite a horrific fashion this time as well.]

Subaru: […I’ve told you before. There’s no such thing as an easy way to die.]

Echidna: [I suppose so. That was a verbal gaffe on my part. I do wish to accord with your thinking as much as possible, but… this alone is something I lack personal experience in, you see.]

Subaru: [――――]

Subaru grit his teeth, refraining from having a sour expression, to whose words Echidna shrugged and gently caressed Subaru’s back with a hand.
「Echidna, while hearing those words from Subaru, who was making a sour expression, shrugged and gently caressed his back with her hand.」

Quite the unusual concern, he reckoned, but being grateful for it, he spoke nothing. Simply resuming his violent coughs for a minute, he remained knelt on the ground until he composed himself.

Some time later, Subaru’s mind and body calmed down at last.

The shock of slaughter from just before somewhat faded, it felt as though Natsuki Subaru’s torn and mutilated soul was returning to its original form.

Albeit he was aware, that this regeneration was nothing more than a patchy, shoddy one.

Subaru: […Sorry. I’ve finally calmed down.]

Echidna: [Is that so. I am glad. Now then, let me arrange for a second cup of tea…]

Subaru: [――――]

Echidna: [I simply jest, you know. I have received your good faith. Hence, I shall not be insistent. Though this is not really any meaningless entertainment either, you see.]

Halting the hand caressing his spine, Echidna stood up and snapped her fingers.

That very instant, the tea Subaru had violently thrown up, along with the soiled tea cakes and table, all vanished, and entirely new ones reappeared in their stead. As though a dream or illusion―― no, in reality, that was the kind of place this was, so these events were truly worthy of being called wondrous.

Echidna: [Now then.]

Echidna then placed her hips on the seat positioned on the other side of the table. Placing both of her elbows atop the table, and propping up her chin, her upturned eyes gave a warm reception to Subaru.

Conjecturing what she sought from her gaze, Subaru sighed.

Subaru: [I know, you don’t need to tell me.]

With that answer, Subaru sat on the chair opposite to the Witch and gazed at the cup of tea which had reappeared just like the tea cakes, and helplessly took it to his lips.

Watching this, Echidna faintly blushed and smiled.

Echidna: [Hm, very well. It makes me happy you have become significantly acquiescent, Natsuki Subaru.]

Subaru: […Why do you wish to make me drink your bodily fluids this much, wicked Witch.]

Whilst seeing the carefree Echidna’s smile, Subaru distorted his lips, feeling something repugnant instead of the taste of flavorless, odorless tea.

This was a dream world built in the graveyard of her, of the Witch of Greed―― the Witch who had already expired took form beyond death, a tea party incapable of existing in reality.

Originally improbable, the solitary space materializing the tryst of the Witch and her contractor.

△▼△▼△▼△

――Subaru was not particularly knowledgeable regarding the Witch of Greed.

Already expired, a young lady who was supposed to have died four hundred years ago. One of the seven Witches possessing immense might, a personage purporting to be the thirst for knowledge incarnate.

All of this was sufficient to raise eyebrows, but Subaru who stood before the genuine entity could not think of any reason to simply laugh it off.

As a matter of fact, the tea party where Subaru and Echidna met was held in her graveyard located inside the Sanctuary, and that she was enjoying this liberty after her death was proof of her might. He had met the other five Witches, but she even had the power to tether the souls of the deceased.

On top of that, there existed no margin of doubt in her being the thirst for knowledge incarnate, a clod of inquisitiveness.

After all, if not so――,

Echidna: [――To propose a Contract to you and risk being scowled at by that thing, is not exactly a stunt that can be pulled off, is it?]

Subaru: […I’m astounded. You’re really gonna say that yourself.]

Echidna: [It is not anything embarrassing or as such, after all. Rather, in order to have a deeper understanding of you I shall not keep away from all hazards; will this not make for a gallant maidenly appeal?]

Subaru: [It’ll just give more of the impression that I’ve got some crazy person’s eyes on me though, you know?]

Hearing the wry faced Subaru’s response, Echidna pouted.

A terribly beguiling attitude, but there was nothing dishonest about her say. In truth, what Subaru and Echidna were walking over, was a bridge of risking their lives altogether.

A tightrope walk risking life and death in order to not collide with the outrage of the being who, in some kind, was deemed as the utmost fearsome existence in this world――,

Echidna: [You need not be afraid anymore. To the utmost, the Contract is a secret pass tied between me and you. Even should the opponent be a Witch, our surreptitious meeting shall remain unnoticed.]

Subaru: [Can you stop going out of your way and speaking in this suspicious way please? It drains me.]

Echidna: [A girl is going so far as to say all this, and yet you have this attitude, I cannot say I approve of it…]

Echidna implored in displeasure, holding her cup to her mouth. But unfortunately, he had no time to lend an ear to any unserious comments of hers.

This tea party was not an occurrence of reality. Subaru’s body present in this location, Echidna’s existence before his eyes, the tea and tea cakes, from the table to the grassland, it was all make-believe. Outside of the tea party in the graveyard, Natsuki Subaru’s body was still lying on the chilly floor.

Still collapsed by Emilia’s side, who was tormented with nightmares after challenging the Trial.

And――,

Subaru: [As long as I don’t find a way to break this deadlock, neither Emilia, nor will anyone else be saved.]

Echidna: [I will say this, you need not fret over the time passed here too much, you know? In accordance with your knowledge, this is a dream world of my creation… self-aware make-believe. Even if you were to spend a hundred years here, merely a scant amount of time would have passed outside.]

Subaru: [You make me shudder. No way in hell I’m spending a hundred years here.]

Echidna: [Oh, how callous. Even when I have already been here for nearly four hundred years.]

Accreting a radical precedent atop a radical proposition, Echidna smiled at Subaru.

It might have been quite an attractive proposal from her perspective, but Subaru’s answer earlier was truly genuine. Spending a hundred years here would be outrageous.

――Even if, going forward, Subaru was to spend enough time with Echidna to rival that figure.

Echidna: [――Now then, you do not seem to enjoy small talk with me here anyways, so let us delve into the main issue.]

Subaru: [――――]

Subaru narrowed his eyes as Echidna set the cup down and clapped her hands before her chest.

Just before Subaru’s irritation verged onto its peak, the Witch’s observational perceptivity saw through it, making him feel the definite influence of her learning and bittering his mood.

However, Echidna seemed to enjoy even this mental state of Subaru’s,

Echidna: [Let me get straight to the point, in what manner did you die this time?]

A candid enquiry devoid of even a speck of considerateness was hurled at him.

Subaru: […I’m telling you every time, but you’ve gotta put it in a nicer way.]

Echidna: [Oh? Every time? How very intriguing. For in accordance with my cognizance, this is the first time I have asked you this question. If so, can it be inferred that I am receiving identical adjuration from you like this every time?]

Subaru: [That’s…]

Echidna: [That’s?]

Eyes glistening with inquisitiveness, Echidna reacted with a lean forward. Glaring at her, Subaru fumbled around the bottom of his neck.

And, pulling out a dusky crystal, he forcibly unfastened it from his neck.

Subaru: [Try asking yourself!]

Echidna: [Oop.]

Subaru domineeringly threw the dusky crystal atop the table. Rounding her large eyes, Echidna pleasantly picked it up with a “Let me see let me see” ――,

Echidna: [Myon myon myon myon myon…]

Touching it by her brows, her lips began to leak this suspicious note of efficacy.

In all honesty, it seemed nothing more than tomfoolery from Subaru’s standpoint. Above all, she would answer that she was being serious upon being questioned.

Subaru: [It’s supposed to be this formula that cannot be omitted in terms of magic, but… I’m goddamn sure that’s all bullshit.]

Echidna: [How upsetting for you to accuse myon myon of being lies, myon. This is a crucial rite, myon.]

Subaru: [You’re speaking your thoughts out loud. Are you really able to read its contents like this.]

Echidna: [Myon myon… do not worry. I can certainly read them. Phrasing it in your style, I suppose it feels like firmly downloading memories.]

Putting forward western words unused in this different world, Echidna ceded the dusky crystal from her forehead. Witnessing the intellectual glister dwelling in her black eyes, Subaru surmised she had attained her objective.

Echidna’s objective―― it was to retrieve the memories of Subaru’s previous Return by Death from the crystal dangling down his neck.

That is to say――,

Subaru: [In the dusk jewel, the proof of the Contract, accumulated are experiences identical to what all I did.]

Echidna: [And each time you return to the tea party, I succeed the Memories from you. What all you previously conversed with me, and what all experiences you underwent, I mean. Hm…]

Subaru: [What. Is there some defect in the Memories or something?]

Echidna: [No, they are perfect. However, you told me to ask myself, did you not? Once I actually investigate and explore the Memories like this, well well, this is quite astonishing.]

As Subaru sat puzzled, Echidna, smiling faintly, prefaced with a “I mean, is it not true?”,

Echidna: [As much as I could approximately affirm, this is the fifteenth time I have asked you the way you died… in other words, that is the amount of times you have accreted Death since exchanging the Contract with me.]

Articulating so, Echidna returned the dusky crystal atop the table. And, cast her enraptured pupils toward the jewel serving to slake her thirst for knowledge, and her contractor, Subaru.

Echidna: […Indeed, you are an individual difficult to ever attain. It was correct to have exchanged vows with you.]

Subaru: [Ding dong, you lost points on my amiableness scale once again.]

Echidna: [Hu~h? Even when I am complimenting you, that is strange…]

If that was her way of complimenting, then what Echidna ought to learn foremost was how to communicate with others. Subaru stood in no position to say this about anyone, but he could hold his head high for being far better off than the monochromatic Witch before his eyes.

Subaru: [At the very least, this is no time to be rubbernecking at someone else’s life and death.]

Echidna: [What a mortifying way to put it. By no means am I gaining amusement from the situation of you accreting Death itself. Most of all…]

Subaru: [Most of all what. It’s not too enjoyable of a spectacle anyways or something?]

Echidna: [No, most of all―― you and I no longer qualify as being “someone else” pertaining to each other in our relationship, you see.]

Gently tapering her eyelashes, Echidna lowered her pitch to whose words Subaru halted his breath.

Before his eyes, the white haired Witch directed a gaze at Subaru captivating enough to make one shiver, her black irises assuaged with a dubious gleam. Magical charm that made one involuntarily forbear to avert their eyes away from her’s.

His throat feeling parched, Subaru spontaneously gaped his mouth open, focusing on the numbness of his tongue. That was truly an acute manifestation of the sensation of “Enthrallment”.

And much to his vexation, Subaru possessed no means to refute Echidna’s words.

Because――,

Echidna: [――You, accepted a Contract with me. A Contract that on your forlorn road of innumerable stumbles hereon, I, the Witch of Greed, shall chaperone you.]

Subaru: [You don’t need to tell me, I…]

Echidna: [Already know, you say? Splendid. Certainly, it seems I have previously had this identical conversation with you before. Mhm, it is present within the Memories as well. However…]

Adjourning her words, Echidna slanted forward.

Subaru was on his chair, petrified like a frog leered by a serpent. Touching Subaru’s lips with a finger, Echidna then put her finger on her mouth.

Afterwards, in a beguiling display, Echidna lovingly caressed the finger that had felt his lips with her vermilion tongue.

Echidna: [Once again, this is the first time my present self touches on this topic with you. Therefore, I wish for you to close your eyes to some larks as part of the Contract.]

Subaru: […Should’ve properly documented the Contract’s details, huh.]

Echidna: [How unvarnished. But, that is precisely why you attract a special gaze from me. Oop, although what you attract are not my eyes alone…]

Subaru: [――――]

Echidna: [Even I am hurt by an expression so appalled. As a young souled, singular maiden, you see.]

Watching Subaru distort his lips, Echidna pouted and narrowed her eyes.

Young souled, this expression alone had plenty of substance to demur, but this conduct of Echidna’s vanished her of her earlier bewitching ambience. The Witch showed a multitude of expressions even in this short interval, to opine which amongst those was her true face felt akin to grasping clouds.

――Or perhaps, this enigma too would be unravelled once he had been in fellowship with her for a long, long period.

Subaru: […The succession of Memories is complete, yeah. Then, let me get to the topic. About this time’s cause of death…]

Echidna: [How impetuous. Certainly, it seems you could not see what killed you because you had been blindfolded… but that fashion of death is patent, yes? The calamity that assails onto the Sanctuary, it is the Great Rabbit.]

Subaru: [――――]

Echidna: [Drawn into the Great Rabbit’s foray, your entire body was devoured. To be quite honest, even I felt powerless upon browsing through your Memories, what a miserable Death.]

Receiving Echidna’s merciless delineation, Subaru felt a gastric influx in his gut once again.

The fierce death that he recalled, it could not have been more than ten minutes since he had experienced it. Unlike how it would have been if he were to be with Emilia or Rem, spending time with Echidna would not heal his wounds.

Even now, the sensation of his defenseless self being gorged away from edges of his body had been incised into his soul with clarity.

Echidna: [It somehow feels like I am being subjected to a rather rude comparison?]

Subaru: [――. Stop with the jokes. You’re the type of character who doesn’t understand the human heart, aren’t you. It’s too late for you to be malcontent about however I may think of you in my mind to begin with.]

Echidna: [If that is your liberty as an adolescent young man, then I am not opposed to it either.]

Subaru attempted to varnish the situation over, feeling as though his mind had been peered into, to which Echidna straitened her eyes. With a single one of her slender fingers, she alluringly traced her body garbed in a black dress.

A devilish gesture suggesting rousing or seducing――,

Subaru: [One hundred percent no.]

Echidna: [It is quite upsetting to hear you say it with such certainty too~! Despite appearances, I was even said to be welcomed by the king of a country as his favorite mistress.]

Subaru: [Well, it’s not that king’s fault since Emilia-tan wouldn’t have been there four hundred years ago.]

Echidna: [You are quite churlish when it comes to me alone!]

Setting her hands on the table, the prior seductive ambience dwindled from Echidna. In all honesty, Echidna pleasantly rattling on would bear to be of greater help to him.

In the sense of ignoring the impact immediately followed by Return by Death or the ache of wounds engraved onto his soul, as well.

Subaru: [Anyhow, I don’t object to the Great Rabbit being the cause of death. But the thing is, that’s the indirect cause of death. The direct cause of death is not the hare, but lies somewhere else. It’s――]

Echidna: [――Garfiel, right?]

Subaru: […Right.]

Subaru jerked his chin upon Echidna’s brisk, complicit response.

Focusing solely on the main issue and allowing no disruptions during the interlude in between, this Witch was dreadfully concise and brisk.

Testament of her peerless acumen, perspicacity, and most of all, wisdom, but perhaps it was for this reason did their conversations stray off to an infinite extent.

Anyhow――,

Subaru: [The reason he perceives me as a hazard is because of the Witch’s scent accumulating due to Return by Death. If it’s always going to be proportional to the count of death, then…]

Echidna: [There exist no means to win the confidence of a being who can pick the scent of Miasma.]

Subaru: […That’s what I’m worried about. What do you say.]

Pronouncing so, Subaru sought the Witch’s stance on the Witch’s Miasma.

Upon each repetition of Return by Death, Garfiel’s attitude quickly altered―― now fixed on by utter hostility, the situation was such that he had himself expressed the reason itself.

With the reason for his hostility established, he wished to believe he could change their relationship for the better by removing that facet, but――,

Subaru: [Does this scent last permanently upon getting tinged with it? If that’s the case, then I’ll be causing a good deal of distress to Rem once she’s opened her eyes.]

Echidna: [Concern that truly befits you, but how about you fear for the nearer future? To begin with, the Oni Clan is a race created such that they are capable of detecting Miasma, so even upon being placed in a distressing plight due to that, I suppose there is no choice but to give up on it by regarding it as an inborn quality of the race.]

Subaru: [You said something kinda impossible to overlook, but then that’ll mean I’ll have to live my whole life with Rem thinking of me as stinky, huh.]

Echidna: [Indeed, my deepest condolences… I am joking. Please do not glare at me like that.]

Once he glared at Echidna who went astray with unserious answers, the Witch shrugged her shoulders.

Echidna: [Your fear is needless. The Miasma is not overflowing from your own Od. It is but a scent in the end… as time goes on, it will fade and ultimately vanish. Provided it will need copious time for someone tinged to not smell anymore.]

Subaru: [Copious time… you aren’t exactly talking about a couple of days now are you?]

Echidna: [Considering your density, I would say think of weeks or months. Also, this is something I do not wish to say since you will likely get angry at me, but…]

Subaru: […I’ll get angry if you stop there anyways, so accept it and say it.]

One eye shut, a remark whilst peeking into Subaru’s mood.

Correlative bitterness of not wanting to say because of his foreseeable reaction, but also the inquisitiveness of seeing how Subaru would react.

The idiosyncrasy of the Witch of Greed seemed to be quite the nuisance.

Putting these contemplations of Subaru’s aside, Echidna pointed to the dusky crystal atop the table with a “Well then, allow me to”,

Echidna: [As I previously mentioned, the optimal way of making the Miasma fade is the passage of time. But, since it is simply scent, it is necessary to ward away from the odor’s origin…]

Subaru: [Yeah. So?]

Echidna: [You are my contractor, yes? Even should the Authority not be utilized, you cannot elude my Miasma, so there may never be a day when it fades away.]

Subaru: [In other words, the reason why I stink right now is also because of you…!]

Subaru glanced at his palm once again, eyes dilated. Echidna sulked, stating “That is quite an abashed way to put it”, but this was an unanticipated demerit.

Of course, with him sharing the truth of Return by Death and consulting for a way to abscond from this impasse in their relationship, one could say Echidna was an ally difficult to ever attain.

However, in terms of exclusively the Sanctuary, this relationship’s drawbacks were indisputable.

Subaru: [Echidna’s Contract, and Return by Death’s count… no matter which, if the scent won’t disappear then I’ll never be able to connect with Garfiel. This is pretty bad.]

Echidna: [Certainly, within a restricted span of time, to be shadowed by Garfiel who is far more adroit than you can be called the worst possible environment.]

Subaru: [Sounds so insincere… you better not have known what happens, yeah?]

Echidna: [What do you mean, what happens?]

Echidna tilted her head as Subaru glared at her, teeth gritted in rage. From her black pupils framed with white eyelashes, he could not infer her true motive veiled beneath conundrums. However, it had now already been fifteen times―― fifteen times had Subaru accreted Death ever since he contracted with Echidna.

Subaru: [Couldn’t you have given me advice about the problem posed by the Witch’s scent earlier. Had you done that, then Garfiel could’ve been countered while the scent was still weak…]

Echidna: [Ah, so that is what you mean. Certainly, pertaining to the Miasma shrouding you, I could have delineated it at an earlier stage. Regardless, it was still too late. Prior to entering into a Contract with me, you already reeked enough to buy the opponent’s distrust.]

Subaru: [――――]

Echidna: [A being who can pick the scent of Miasma surely would not have pardoned you.]

Arms crossed over her chest, Echidna replied whilst intercepting Subaru’s gaze.

Boldly riposted, Subaru failed to immediately refute. Her words could not be fully trusted, but he possessed no basis to allege lies or mendacity.

Once he was told it was too late to do something about his stench, he could not do anything but put his faith in it.

However, amidst an outwardly fruitless exchange, Subaru saw a faint glimmer of hope.

That was――,

Subaru: [Considering your fishy phrasing, it seems my guess wasn’t pointless either.]

Echidna: [Fishy… well, I suppose when anyone is pointed out something about a subject as delicate as their body odor, they would feel somewhat discomfited. Most of all, I hardly have any at all. I did not have much body odor when I was alive, and in this place, a dream after my death, I can freely…]

Subaru: [I don’t care if you smell like flowers or sewage. That’s not what I’m talking about. ――You’ve been repeating “A being who can pick the scent of Miasma” since earlier, haven’t you?]

Echidna: [――――]

Subaru’s identification had Echidna raise a single one of her brows, wordless.

For the Witch to pause and incline herself to listen was somewhat of proof that Subaru was not off the mark.

That as basis, Subaru grazed his jaw with a finger,

Subaru: [An unusual phrase. Of course, here onwards, Return by Death… though I don’t want to rely on it much, but if I’m going to use it then we can’t do away with the problem of me and the scent. So, it’s also possible you may have been looking at it from the perception of someone looking at the distant future, but…]

Echidna: [Hm. That is fine, resume.]

Subaru: [From what you said, our focus to the utmost is the Sanctuary. Yet, why are you using this discursive phrase instead of just saying Garfiel?]

Going further, Echidna had divulged Garfiel’s name itself.

Yet she was expressly drawing a distinction between Garfiel and “A being who can pick the scent of Miasma”.

Its true connotation was――,

Echidna: [――You definitely take notice of specifics. Mhm, admirable.]

Subaru: […I knew it, caught red-handed.]

Echidna: [Your intuition regarding my fixation was correct, that is all. I certainly was deliberately drawing a distinction between a being who can pick the scent of Miasma and Garfiel. However, is it not a matter of course?]

A faint smile, Echidna resumed with a “After all” whilst setting her elbows on the table, chin propped in her hands,

Echidna: [The Miasma shrouding you, the one who can pick its scent is not Garfiel. It is someone else.]

She pleasantly verbalized, unreservedly and lost of any diffidence.

△▼△▼△▼△

Subaru: [――――]

Subaru narrowed his eyes in response to what Echidna had said, an air of danger about it.

Deep inside his mind, he felt a certain sort of conviction, like he had muttered the phrase “I knew it”.

Echidna: [From the start, I was talking about someone else. So, naturally, I call them differently and differentiate between them. I mean, my thinking here should not be that surprising, no?]

Echidna spoke with an air of composure, like she was talking about the most obvious thing in the world. Subaru frowned in response to her matter-of-fact way of putting it, gawking at her in disbelief.

Subaru: [I’d originally been suspecting that possibility. If he could actually smell the Witch’s Lingering Scent, his attitude would’ve gone to shit right after I Returned by Death and exited the graveyard.]

Echidna: [And yet, even when you, drenched in all the more Miasma after returning while accreting so many Deaths, leave the graveyard with your beloved girl, the attitude of Garfiel, who awaits you there, does not change. Meaning…]

Subaru: [Right there and then, he can’t perceive my smell. That’s why his attitude doesn’t change.]

Echidna: [Correct.]

She snapped her fingers and confirmed Subaru’s conclusion.

She was acting like she was his classroom teacher or mentor, but he ignored his irritation towards that currently. Right now, it was more important for Subaru to have his suspicions confirmed.

There was someone out there, separate from Garfiel, who could smell the Witch’s Miasma that Subaru was clad in. In other words, the hostility Garfiel felt towards him was down to this certain someone putting these ideas into his head.

And, he needed not trouble himself over who the candidate for this someone was.

Echidna: [You also must have had an idea all this time, right? Unless you have turned your eyes away from it.]

Subaru: […Ryuzu-san, for sure.]

Every single time, Echidna’s knack for conversation would come along and block Subaru’s escape. Her skill of forcing Subaru to look ahead was a vector unlike that of Rem’s.

Compared to Rem, she was not as unsparing, but regardless, it was detestable.

Subaru: [Plus, not as kind, the hue’s darker, and it’s bitter in taste…]

Echidna: [I do not suppose I am being badmouthed, am I?]

Ignoring the words of the surprised Echidna, Subaru wrinkled the middle of his forehead.

Thinking about people that were able to smell the Witch’s Lingering Scent who would have given Garfiel that information, by process of elimination, it could only have been Ryuzu.

Rem also had that ability, but by now, it was obvious to Subaru that her older sister did not.

In the first place, the allies of Emilia like Ram and Roswaal had no reason to be hostile towards him.

Lastly, to think of the most unexpected, perhaps Otto was somehow able to smell the Witch’s Lingering Scent, but――,

Subaru: […He was killed right in front of my very eyes.]

Just by recalling it, it became hard to breathe, but Otto had been an absolute idiot that had thrown his own life away for Subaru, someone he had known for such a short period of time. Therefore, he was most definitely not the mastermind behind this.

Subaru: [Now that I think about it, I was held captive by Ryuzu-san and Garfiel in the past.]

That had been a collaborative effort of the both of them, but he had thought the main offender had been Garfiel. He had been mistaken. ――The main offender had been Ryuzu, and Garfiel was only a collaborator.

And, the reason Ryuzu took these actions was――,

Subaru: [Because she smelled the Witch’s Lingering Scent.]

Echidna: [She tattled that to Garfiel, whom she trusts. Believing his grandma’s words in a heartbeat, Garfiel’s behavior instantaneously changed, and he bared his fangs at you. Quite literally~.]

Subaru: [――――]

While wagging her finger, Echidna confirmed Subaru’s deduction.

With that explanation, the storm whirling inside Subaru had dissipated. But, without giving him a pause, black clouds began to appear inside his heart once more. Making their way through to his expression, Echidna tilted her head with an “Oh”

Echidna: [Your expression is quite stressed, perhaps there is something you wish to say to me?]

Subaru: [Of course there is! From how you talked earlier, you knew my real enemy was Ryuzu-san this entire time, didn’t you! And yet…]

Echidna: [Why did I not say anything, huh. It is reasonable that you would get angry, but for what it is worth, I had a reason. I do not think it is too late for me to say it?]

Subaru: [――Tsk, what is it?]

Echidna’s finger brushed against Subaru’s forehead as he gritted his teeth. Subaru took a listening posture, though his vigor was not dampened by the touch of the slender finger.

With her finger still pressed to Subaru’s forehead, Echidna prefaced her question with “Listen?”,

Echidna: [I mentioned earlier the problem with the Miasma surrounding you, did I not? As long as you have a Contract with me, the Miasma will never fade from you. Every time you use your Authority, the Miasma grows stronger and stronger, and it becomes impossible to make up for the impression you make on them.]

Subaru: […Ah, about that huh. What does that have to do with you not telling me anything?]

Echidna: [You are quite impatient. In other words, no matter what I said, their impression of you would not change… I want you to understand that it is a given.]

While roundabout, this was her crude explanation to justify her decision.

Even so, while her finger was still pressed to his forehead, without saying anything, Subaru urged Echidna to continue. If she kept spitting excuses, he might have changed the way he viewed his Contract with her.

Echidna: [――That, is extremely unsatisfactory for me.]

Echidna replied to his innermost thoughts, prompting Subaru to raise his eyebrows.

Smiling at Subaru’s reaction, Echidna shrugged while saying “It’s not a complicated matter”.

Echidna: [As a basic premise, the other party… For convenience, let us call them Ryuzu. That negative impression you left cannot be changed. As such, If she remains your enemy, Garfiel’s aggression cannot be avoided…. are we clear on that?]

Subaru: […Continue.]

Echidna: [On the other hand… if Ryuzu was no longer your enemy, Garfiel’s aggression towards you would no longer be an issue, that is what I am saying.]

Echidna briefly summarized the problem as if she were stating a simple theory.

Surely, Echidna was correct on a logical level. Since Ryuzu was the one who had sensed the Witch’s Lingering Scent, if her meddling was the reason for Garfiel’s hostility towards Subaru, then logically the best way to avoid that confrontation within the Sanctuary would be for Ryuzu to not recognize Subaru as an enemy――,

Subaru: [However, understanding the reasons behind their actions won’t change the outcome. In your own words, the Witch’s Miasma has drenched me with no hope of it fading away. If that’s the case, the reason for being hated won’t go away either…]

Echidna: [That is true. You still will be hated… Even so, that is no reason to be hostile.]

Subaru: [Huh?]

After those words that destroyed his previous assumptions, Echidna moved her finger away from the surprised Subaru’s forehead and snapped her fingers right before Subaru’s nose.

Suddenly, a white cup appeared on the cleared table, and the aroma and steam wafted into his nostrils.

It was the tea set that was served hospitably to Subaru every time he returned to the Castle of Dreams―― the “Dona Tea”.

Subaru: […The hell are you doing?]

Echidna: [Have I not told you? I do not just serve tea frivolously, nor am I asking you to sit at the table just a matter of formality.]

Subaru: [I thought it was just your fetish to make me drink your bodily fluids…]

Echidna: [Actually, while I do not mind seeing you drink my tea so reluctantly, that is not what I meant. Before entering your Contract with me, you had talked to Ryuzu. ――About the Apostles.]

――Subaru’s breath stopped at the mention of the word “Apostles”, causing Echidna’s black pupils to flicker.

Echidna’s assumption was correct that he had heard that word, before he had entered the Contract with her, before he had experienced Death fifteen times.

When the Witch of Envy had covered the Sanctuary in her shadow, and when Subaru had seized the opportunity to commit suicide through Echidna’s scheme, he had seen numerous Ryuzus―― her replicants, including Garfiel, who was accompanying them.

After that, Subaru had learned about the origin of these replicants, “Ryuzu Meyer”, and that the Ryuzu he knew was a clone of her, a part of the system that protected the Sanctuary.

Apostle, it was a word he had heard in a conversation with Ryuzu at that time.

Echidna: [Do you remember? I believe Ryuzu had told you. The tea that has been served to you…]

Subaru: [Something about it giving me the qualifications to become an Apostle of Greed.]

Echidna: [And, that Garfiel also gained power over the replicants under the same conditions.]

「───」
Subaru: [――――]

Echidna’s additional words fit together perfectly within Subaru’s mind.

With a click, the gears began to turn, and Subaru felt like he understood the Witch’s aim, along with the words she had added. The tea was something that gave Subaru power as an Apostle of Greed.

There might have been many other tricks up her sleeve, but for now, he would turn a blind eye to them. The important thing here was that fact, that Echidna had overlooked Subaru’s Deaths fifteen times.

What was the reason that Subaru had to stack up more than fifteen Deaths?

It was――,

Subaru: [――I’m waiting for my power over Ryuzu-san and the other replicants to surpass that of Garfiel’s.]

Echidna: [That is a great answer.]

Echidna clasped her hands in front of her chest and raised her voice cheerfully.

Echidna: [If two Apostles exist, then it would be natural to conclude that the one with the higher affinity would have priority when giving orders. It has been ten years since Garfiel challenged the tomb and became an apostle… So it is not surprising that he had plenty of experiences of being an Apostle. If you were to try to compete with him in such a short amount of time…]

Subaru: [Then it would be best for me to drink the tea over and over again… but what’s the point?]

Echidna: [Oh, are you concerned about what will happen after Death? Have no fear, since you are contracted with me, my interference will accumulate in your soul. It cannot be left behind when you cross over into Death.]

Subaru: […You didn’t tell me this before, that way I wouldn’t lose my motivation.]

Before Subaru’s eyes, as he mumbled in frustration, Echidna hugged her elbows in silence. A faint smile appeared on her lips, quietly confirming Subaru’s words.

During the fifteen Deaths that Subaru had experienced, Echidna had hidden the truth about the relationship between Garfiel and the Ryuzus. The reason was that there was no solution for dealing with them until the effects of the tea had taken hold.

――In short, Subaru had no other solution but to accrete Deaths.

Echidna: [Now that you understand, are you convinced?]

Furrowing her brows, Echidna peered into Subaru’s face as he bit his lip.

The act of her slightly lowering her tone and giving an upward glance towards Subaru caused a burst of rage to swell up inside of him, but he refrained himself from raising his voice. In fact, Echidna’s thoughts were accurate.

――He would not have easily agreed to something as ludicrous as sacrificing himself fifteen times for nothing.

Subaru: [You needed me to understand that it was a dead-end, and there was nothing I could do.]

Echidna: [Yes yes, that is correct. I knew you would understand.]

Subaru: [Ding ding ding, your amiableness score has gone down once again.]

Echidna: [Heeh?]

Echidna’s eyes widened at Subaru’s heartless announcement. Subaru finished another cup of tea on the table in one gulp, relishing the Witch’s reaction.

Despite the steam rising from the cup, he felt no heat. It was an odorless and tasteless tea of unknown ingredients.

It was surprising that the Witch’s scheming included such a bland tea, and even more so that it would help to conquer the Sanctuary.

Indeed, there had been no wasted actions. Not the fifteen Deaths he had accumulated, nor even this Tea Party where she had revealed her true intentions.

Subaru: [So, the secret has been revealed. Which would mean, the time has come… hasn’t it?]

Echidna: [Indeed. It seems as though you now rank higher than Garfiel as an Apostle. The replicants that shield the Sanctuary cannot resist your commands. Even Garfiel can no longer give them freedom.]

Subaru: [――――]

Subaru could not help but notice the irony of him being called “The Shield of the Sanctuary”.

Originally, Garfiel had appointed himself to that role. However, Echidna, who had created the Sanctuary, recognized Ryuzu as the Shield rather than him.

As proof of this, Garfiel would be left out in the dark.

Subaru: [The Witch’s Lingering Scent… if Ryuzu-san doesn’t tell Garfiel about the Witch’s Miasma, he won’t have any reason to oppose us.]

Echidna: [Even so, he would not essentially want the Sanctuary to be released.]

Subaru: […If there’s room for discussion, there’s a way to handle it.]

The biggest problem with Ryuzu’s inclusion was that it took away the possibility of discussing things with Garfiel.

If only he did not resort to violence and confinement first, then perhaps they could do something.

Perhaps, they could even give Garfiel a decisive reason to leave the Sanctuary.

For that purpose――,

Echidna: [――You have keen eyes. Even I, a Witch, shudder at the thought.]

As if reading Subaru’s thoughts, Echidna chuckled and picked up a crystal off the table with her slender white fingers―― picking up the magic crystal, she offered it to Subaru.

She did not want to miss a single fragment of Subaru’s experience as her contractor.

Echidna: [Now then, things are in order. And moreover, the chances we have are now endless. With the Authority you possess, let us repeat every single kind of experience, over and over and over again, ―― let us seize that world which you desire.]

With that, the Witch of Greed mercilessly pushed Natsuki Subaru toward his hesitance.

△▼△▼△▼△

――Frustratingly, the situation went smoothly, all according to Echidna’s plan.

???: [I am Ryuzu Shima… one of the first four replicants of Ryuzu Meyer, and a failure who had her role taken away.]

In the forest, dressed in white and hiding in the woods, Ryuzu―― no, Shima said so, raising both of her hands up in resignation at Subaru, who had found her.

Finding her was easy. He had simply gathered the replicants, distributed them throughout the Sanctuary with Pico as their leader, and gave them an order.

――He had instructed them to find the replicants who had been secretly meeting with Garfiel.

And, the Eyes of the Sanctuary, which Garfiel boasted about, found their target easily and told Subaru of her location.

Subaru: [Shima… the Ryuzu-san I know called herself “Ryuzu Bilma”. That difference, does it mean that you distinguish each other by your surnames?]

Shima: [――――]

Subaru: [Answer me.]

Shima: [――. Yes. We are all descended from Ryuzu Meyer. Thus, we cannot change the fact that we are Ryuzu. So, we sought individuality in another aspect.]

Shima, who had remained silent for a moment, answered Subaru’s question.

Forcing her to answer, despite her emotional state, seemed to be a privilege given to those who were deemed Apostles of Greed. The privilege of commanding the replicants, that was what had coerced Shima to speak.

Subaru: [Ryuzu-san… no, I’ll call you Shima-san, I’m sure you’re sensing the Miasma that seems to cloak me, right?]

Shima: [Hm…]

Subaru: [Please, don’t try to fool me. I don’t want to force you to answer me truthfully every time I ask you something. It hurts my heart to do so to such a familiar face.]

Subaru pleaded with Shima, who hesitated to answer.

It might not have been entirely accurate to say that Shima was a “familiar face”; however, she was the spitting image of the other Ryuzu that Subaru was acquainted with―― Ryuzu Bilma.

Forcing someone to bend to one’s will and twisting their true intentions would not be a good feeling. That method would be no different from brainwashing or blackmailing with how despicable it was.

Shima: […That’s true.]

Perhaps sensing his distress, Shima silently nodded her head in agreement.

So finally, one burden was lifted from Subaru’s shoulders. ――He felt that there was a glimmer of hope in dealing with Garfiel, a situation which had not progressed for a long time.

Subaru: [Shima-san, were you planning to meet up with Garfiel later to convey this information to him? Could you not do that, please? I don’t want to aggravate our relationship.]

Shima: […Even if you say that, if Gar-bo pesters me, I won’t be able to go against him.]

Subaru: [Is that really the case? ――Even if it is my request?]

Shima: [――Hk!]

In response to Subaru’s repeated question, Shima’s previously shrewd and relaxed expression stiffened for the first time.

Or, perhaps the calmness that had prevailed until just before was due to resignation. As such, Subaru’s words directly interfered with Shima’s calm, ocean-like state of mind.

Shima: [Could it be, Su-bo, that in just half a day, you’ve become an Apostle of Greed…?]

Subaru: [If the question is something like “Have you been awakened?”, the answer is an unwilling yes. Can you really bring yourself to lie to Garfiel through the persuasive power of my words?]

Shima: […Probably, I’m sure there wouldn’t be a problem.]

With her eyes downcast, Shima reluctantly nodded to Subaru’s question.

Her reaction simultaneously brought a sense of relief that it had gone well, and a sense of guilt that he had pushed her too hard into this position. It was truly bitter and left a bad aftertaste in Subaru’s mouth, like an act of self-harm that he had inflicted on himself.

However, the only real harm that had been done was to Subaru. ――He gritted his teeth and looked forward.

Subaru: [Pico, come here.]

Closing his eyes tightly, Subaru killed his hesitation and called out behind him.

Then, a silent Ryuzu emerged from the bushes―― one of the replicants. Of those scattered throughout the Sanctuary, she was also a hollow-like marionette with no purpose but to listen to instructions.

Information within the Sanctuary could also be obtained from replicants other than Pico. If Shima was not an enemy, this analog surveillance system could be extremely useful.

Subaru: [If Shima-san doesn’t provoke him, there’s no need to worry about Garfiel’s sudden outbursts. However, I’ll have a few of you take turns keeping an eye on him.]

Shima: [Su-bo, about Gar-bo…]

Subaru: [――He’s currently my number one potential enemy right now.]

Subaru gave Pico instructions, interrupted Shima, who was about to say something, and explained to her clearly.

Shima snickered at his decisiveness, but Subaru’s greatest sincerity was his honesty.

Of course, Shima had her own point of view. Subaru, too, had experienced Death nearly twenty times so far, and had interacted with Garfiel in the Sanctuary.

According to that experience, Subaru knew that Garfiel was not an incomprehensible monster. He understood that much.

However, even so――,

Subaru: [――I’ve already made my decision on what should be prioritized. Don’t get it wrong.]

Under Subaru’s firm gaze, Shima shut her mouth and turned her head away.

Subaru did not command her to be quiet or to disobey. It was just that she was painfully aware of the firmness of Subaru’s determination.

In Subaru’s mind, the words of someone, not of Shima who stood before him, not of Garfiel who opposed him, not of the Witch with whom he was cooperating, but of another person, resurfaced.

Those, were the words spoken by a terrifying man who sneered in a world painted with blood, adorned with white snow and flames.

A man who had even used his own life as a betting chip and had left a curse on Subaru.

???: [Liiisten~ well, Subaru-kun. ――This is important. The one thing that is truly, truly important to you. Cast away everything else except that one thing. Let go of everything else except that single thing, and think only of protecting your single most important thing to the end. If you do that――]

Subaru: [――You too, can become like me.]

Subaru: [I――hk!!]

As soon as the voice echoed clearly in his head, his throat trembled with anger.

His vision turned red, and the beating of his heart sounded incredibly loud. His breathing became ragged, and Subaru could no longer bear it, slamming his fist hard against a tree trunk.

Shima: [S-Su-bo…?]

Suddenly Subaru erupted into a tantrum, and Shima timidly called out to him in a frightened tone of voice.

The frightened tone of Shima’s voice reminded Subaru of his instability, and he replied “My bad…” with a hand to his forehead.

The contents of his skull throbbed painfully, as if the pain was a reminder of a nightmare that he should not forget. ――No, he must not forget it.

That was a warning. That curse was a binding chain that Subaru himself must consciously bear.

Subaru: […Don’t get me wrong, Shima-san. It’s true that I consider Garfiel as a potential enemy, but I’m not thinking of getting rid of him in any way.]

With a frown on his face from the headache, Subaru said this to alleviate Shima’s concerns. Shima’s eyes widened at his words and she leaned forward, asking, “Ho, is that true?”

In response, Subaru nodded his head and said “Yeah”,

Subaru: [However, I need Shima-san’s cooperation to get him away from here peacefully. It’s going to take a lot of work to convince him. Shima-san understands that too, don’t you?]

Shima: [That’s… because Gar-bo’s stubbornness is hardwired. But how?]

Upon hearing that he wanted a peaceful resolution, Shima also agreed with Subaru’s thinking. Subaru accepted it affirmatively and moistened his lips with his tongue.

He was not plotting, nor was he camouflaging about his true feelings. Sincerely, he wanted to convey with all his words, so that they would understand.

And, if possible, to achieve a satisfactory conclusion for everyone involved in this situation.

By doing so, he could prove himself. ――Once Natsuki Subaru accreted it all.

Subaru: [――Roswaal, I am not like you.]

He would never become the Warlock, who was obsessed with just one thing, and allowed the world to make everything a sacrifice.

Even if he were to take the hand of the Witch, he would not lose the soul and dignity of being “human”.

That was why――,

Subaru: [――I, won’t become like you.]

△▼△▼△▼△

It was with the cooperation of Ryuzu Shima and the twenty-one replicas who followed his instructions.

By using the power as an Apostle of Greed and skillfully manipulating them, the situation that should have been intricate was easily untangled, like light shining from beyond the dark clouds.

For Subaru, who felt as if his head was being held down and submerged in water, it was a level of emotion akin to finally taking in a breath of air.

However――,

???: [Gaahhhh――!!]

And, with a blood-curdling scream, claws were swung and lives were cruelly torn apart, a scene that was contrary to the divine radiance that shone from beyond the dark clouds.

Subaru: [――――]

Before the eyes of Subaru, with his arms crossed, there was a small shadow that was striking to the left and right.

Fighting against the overwhelming white malevolence that approached like a surging mist, literally, was a figure of a golden-haired boy―― the heroic figure of Garfiel Tinsel.

Garfiel: [Shiiihk!]

Roaring ferociously, slashing with claws and fangs, he destroyed the enemies that came at him from all directions, one after another.

――His figure, what else could one call it other than heroic?

Facing the enemy without the support of his allies and standing in isolation, Garfiel proved that he was a bold fighter as he mustered all the courage he had built up in his body.

His posture engraved his nobility and bravery more eloquently than words ever could.

In fact, Subaru had no choice but to honestly re-evaluate the fact that he, too, had underestimated Garfiel.

However――,

Garfiel: [――Urgh.]

Garfiel’s throat groaned in agony as a fang was plunged into his right calf.

The embodiment of gluttony devoured the muscles of his well-trained leg in one gulp, aiming to fill its stomach. Its round body was torn in half by a descending karate chop.

However, taking the opponent’s life was not enough to make up for the pain.

There were literally enough opponents to fill Garfiel’s field of vision.

Garfiel: [――This ain’t, no goddamn joke!!]

For a brief moment, a hint of weakness flickered in his emerald eyes, but it quickly faded away.

Biting back the weakness that had sprouted within himself, as if he was ashamed, the roaring Garfiel swung his blood-spurting leg and smashed it powerfully onto the ground.

Immediately after, the trampled earth burst forth, and the destruction swallowed up the white herd of animals.

Collectively, dozens of them―― no wonder they were frightened and realized their disadvantage, even if they were Witchbeasts.

Garfiel: [Now――]

Naturally, Garfiel, seeing this, also snapped his fangs in response to the blow.

It was a result worth being proud of. Or perhaps. he might have felt a tailwind at his back, almost like a plea, that he would be able to repel the enemy. ――But all of that, too, was just a trick.

Great Rabbit: [――Kyuuuhn.]

Stepping over the corpses of their own kind that were killed by Garfiel, the swamp of white furballs stirred.

All at once, without stagnation, like waves on the shore, the Witchbeasts approached like a surging wave. In an unchanged manner, with the deafening cry of kichi kichi.

There was no sense of fear for the death of their kind, or for Garfiel who made it happen.

Kichi, kichi, kichi; a quiet and cruel, life-devouring sound――.

「───」
Garfiel: [――――]

Before that demeanor, even Garfiel’s profile showed a frightened expression.

None could point a finger at him and demeaningly ask where that gorgeous figure from just before had gone. This was not the level of disaster that could be faced with a sound mind.

He thought this was the moment.

He had been waiting for the right timing to interject, to seize the opportunity to extend a helping hand, and he believed this was it.

Subaru: [――I suppose by now, you must’ve gotten how crazy the enemy is, right, Garfiel.]

Garfiel: [――~hk! Shut yer mouth! Shut the hell up ~hk!]

However, Garfiel shouted at Subaru as if shaking him off

It was a voice that rejected Subaru, even more than it refused to admit his own fright.

In front of Subaru, whose eyes were wide open in the face of a backlash beyond his imagination, Garfiel’s fists roused his deflated heart, and seized the white ball of fur―― the Great Rabbit, and crushed the small Witchbeast.

The barrage of fists that were continuously unleashed blew away the fragile Witchbeasts with each blow, but those that turned over and stopped from moving were mercilessly chewed up by the fangs of their own kind that followed, like a perpetual motion machine.

――No, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that they were not exactly members of the same herd, but more like they were the same existence.

The Great Rabbit, after all, was a being of mysterious biology that trembled and divided itself in the blink of an eye. Whether this was cell division or replication of itself was not clear.

The only thing that could be said was――,

Subaru: [That amounts to nothing but buying time. They need to be dealt with from the source.]

Garfiel: [For the last goddamn time, I’m tellin’ ya ta shut the hell up! I ain’t listenin’ to yer directions, ya bastard!]

Being told directly that he would not be heard, Subaru could only curl his lips.

But, it would be arrogant to just assume that Garfiel’s stubbornness was simply stubbornness.

In the first place, looking back on how he had to face one of the Three Great Witchbeats, it was clear that anyone would sympathize with Garfiel as he faced the Great Rabbit.

Subaru himself realized that this was a terribly malicious method that he had used to set this up.

Garfiel: [――Piece of shit.]

As if encouraging himself, or hating the world, or cursing Subaru behind him, abusive words leaked from Garfiel’s mouth.

It was natural for him to want to shout like that. Garfiel’s feelings could be easily understood, as one were holding them in their hands.

Subaru, too, was dizzyingly familiar with the feeling of helplessness that burned in his chest.

Caught between feelings of powerlessness and disappointment, that was the terrifying nature of the hell that was oneself.

At first glance, Garfiel appeared to be furious, but in reality, to Subaru, he looked like he was crying. Overwhelmed by his own sense of powerlessness and disappointment with reality, he was like a crying child.

And, it was the scheme of none other than Natsuki Subaru that made him realize this.

Subaru: [It’s beyond you to be able to do everything alone, Garfiel.]

This was not something that was limited to Garfiel personally.

It was known that in all kinds of hardships, the power of a single person was tiny. That was why, to resist the raging current of fate, even giving it one’s all was not enough.

At least, it was not something that could be changed with just one person’s life.

Garfiel: [――――]

Before Subaru’s eyes, Garfiel’s valiant struggle continued to be in vain.

Even if he shook off their claws and fangs and spilled their blood and flesh, the large rabbits’ numbers were replenished immediately. It was not a game of cat and mouse; it was an overwhelmingly one-sided battle of endurance.

Only his durability was being tested, and the enemy’s side was not running out of gas..

That was why they were called the Three Great Witchbeasts, and continued to threaten the world endlessly.

Subaru: [――This is the end.]

Tears streamed down Garfiel’s face as he grit his teeth, and his body was covered in incurable wounds.

If he took a moment to catch his breath, it seemed he would have been able to heal his wounds with the healing magic he had learned. But, he could not make the time for that. He should have felt the pain of knowing that he could not do it alone.

To make him realize that, he took him to the Great Rabbit that was assailing the Sanctuary.

With that goal accomplished, Subaru gave instructions for a replica to act as a bait for their retreat.

△▼△▼△▼△

Subaru: [They’re coming straight towards the Sanctuary. It seems like the people in the village are a feast for them. So, we have to evacuate them.]

Garfiel: [――――]

Subaru: [This isn’t the time to argue about whether or not to open the barrier of the Sanctuary. You understand how serious this is, right?]

Faced with Subaru’s question, Garfiel sat on the ground with his legs outstretched in front of him.

His back was pressed against a large tree and his face was downcast. He was conscious. He was also listening. That was evident from his trembling ears and occasional reactions in his breathing.

However, he probably did not have the capacity to respond to Subaru’s words. That was understandable.

He must have felt helpless against the Great Rabbit, and he must have felt like he had been denied the days he had spent accumulating.

Subaru, who had set up this outcome, did not feel great either. He did not even have a sense of accomplishment for being able to manipulate his opponent according to his expectations.

There was only a sense of exhaustion, and a dim expectation that things might work out. This expectation was neck and neck with the anxiety that things might not work out.

Garfiel: […What ’bout Granny?]

Subaru: [Ryuzu… Shima-san is waiting in the Sanctuary. Originally, I didn’t plan to take Shima-san and the others out in front of the Great Rabbit. But I had Pico and the others push themselves to do it.]

Garfiel: [Pico?]

Subaru: [One of the ones who look exactly like Ryuzu-san and Shima-san, except for the fact that she’s not them.]

Garfiel wrinkled his nose in displeasure at Subaru’s answer.

Subaru somewhat understood why Garfiel had that reaction. Garfiel probably wanted to distinguish between Ryuzu-san and the others.

The grandmother, whom he loved, from the replicas, who were just identical dolls.

Maybe Garfiel was more rational in his approach to the replicas. Subaru would not have named her Pico if he had known how the replicas worked.

But, he had already given her that name. Subaru could not change it now.

Subaru: [Even so, I had to borrow their strength to bring you out and to attract the Great Rabbit… However, it seems that even if we delay their advance, we cannot change their course.]

Garfiel: [Ain’t gonna know unless ya give it a shot, ya know…]

Subaru: [No, I do know. ――I’ve tried it many times already.]

Garfiel: [What…?]

Garfiel cleared his throat, dissatisfied when he could not understand what he meant.

However, Subaru did not intend to answer his question in detail. He only used the fact that his answer was not a bluff or anything of the sort as the basis.

The Great Rabbit’s course could not be changed. They were heading straight for the Sanctuary.

Therefore――,

Subaru: [Evacuate the residents of the Sanctuary. Everyone in Arlam Village, too. I don’t want you to get in the way of that. That’s why I warned you about the crisis.]

Garfiel: [――. I get that we can’t do shit ’bout ta Great Rabbit. But, what’cha gonna do ’bout it?]

Subaru: [What do we do?]

Garfiel: [It’s obvious! The barrier! As long as the barrier’s up, no one ‘cept my amazin’ self can leave the Sanctuary! Not ’til that princess smashes through the Trial…]

The residents of the Sanctuary could not escape the forest because their souls would be repelled by the barrier.

Subaru nodded in response to Garfiel’s point with a “yeah”. It was indeed a daunting task to overcome the Trial that Emilia had been challenging in the tomb.

Subaru: [But, there’s an alternative to that. Don’t worry about it.]

Garfiel: [Alternative? What’re ya gonna do?]

Subaru: [It’s simple. ――I’ll clear the Trial myself. And for the remaining two, I’ll do them in Emilia’s place.]

Garfiel: […What?]

Garfiel was surprised by Subaru’s confident assertion as he poked his own chest with his thumb.

Looking at Garfiel’s stunned expression, Subaru noticed that his face, which had lost its ruggedness, appeared rather young. He had not noticed it before due to the numerous tense situations, but perhaps Garfiel was younger than Subaru thought.

Anyway, the resolution of such an unhelpful question would have to wait.

Subaru: [I’ve already completed the first Trial. I know what the second Trial entails. Honestly, it’s difficult content… but probably just a matter of getting used to it.]

Garfiel: [Gettin’ used ta it?]

Subaru: [Yeah. I just hope I don’t get upset every time I’m shown something I don’t want to see.]

Regardless of whether or not such a forceful clearing of the Trial was intended, Subaru’s plan to overcome the second Trial was something along those lines.

The so-called unthinkable present showed many afterlifes upon worlds in which Subaru had Returned by Death―― the pain and suffering of which he endured with a broken heart.

Even so, Natsuki Subaru believed what stood beyond was a happy future for everyone, which he sought.

Subaru: [That nasty, evil Witch just keeps playing coy, refusing to share anything about the third Trial…]

However, since the first Trial was about the past, and the second Trial occurred in the present, one could vaguely imagine that the third Trial would be about the future.

Although it was unclear what kind of hellish future awaited him after the unpleasant past and the painful alternate present――,

Subaru: [――If that’s what’s supposed to break my spirit, then I won’t stop.]

He did not have an unbreakable spirit that would not be shattered by any impact.

Rather, the strength of Subaru’s heart, no matter how much he strengthened it, would only be as fragile as glass. Even though it might appear hard on the surface, it would crack and shatter with a strong enough impact.

However, the fact that it could be broken was not a problem. If glass were to be heated, it could be melted and reshaped.

The Authority given to Natsuki Subaru was, in short, the power to do so.

Garfiel: [――――]

Hearing Subaru’s confident words, Garfiel held his breath.

He probably wanted to bite Subaru’s head off and say, “Don’t be ridiculous”. However, Subaru’s actions up to this point had silenced Garfiel’s budding rebelliousness.

Subaru, as an Apostle of Greed, had demonstrated abilities higher than Garfiel; informing him of the existence of the Great Rabbit and the threat it posed to the Sanctuary, opening the barrier that originating from the tomb, assuring him that he could clear the Trial that Garfiel himself had been so frustrated by.

Subaru: […It’s not your fault, Garfiel.]

With those words, Subaru addressed the profile of Garfiel, who faced his own weakness.

No one was at fault. The situation, the environment, and the timing were all different types of bad――,

Subaru: [――It’s just that your luck was bad.]

△▼△▼△▼△

???: [――Congratulations! The threat to the Sanctuary has been eliminated!]

Subaru: [――――]

???: [Hmm? You are not responding well. From what I could gather from your Memories, I thought this was a stylistic element of a celebration.]

As she said this, Echidna tilted her head, having greeted Subaru with a loud burst of sound.

In the hands of the confused Witch lie a cone-shaped, cylindrical party item, which had exploded with a dry sound―― a party cracker, to put it simply.

Although it was probably an item that did not exist in this other world, in this fantastic space created by the Witch of Greed, it was no surprise that manipulating her imagination into shape was her specialty.

Subaru: […The idea certainly isn’t bad. Just, your ability to read the room is hopeless.]

Echidna: [Oh my, that is not something to just let slide. Saying that I cannot read the room is, quite simply, an insult, is it not? Why should I receive such an evaluation?]

Subaru’s comment on the colorful tape, which had popped out of the party cracker, as he removed it off his head was met with an objection from Echidna, who put her hands on her hips as if to express her opinion.

Echidna’s lips pouted, and she seemed to be very upset that her elaborate hospitality had not been well received. In the first place, her attitude was already an indication of her hopeless lack of discernment.

Subaru: [You can grasp what’s happening on the outside through this crystal, right?]

Echidna: [Hmm? Yes, that is correct. A proof of our Contract… through that magic crystal, I can see everything you can, including outside the Sanctuary. What about it?]

Echidna furrowed her brow as Subaru pointed to the magic crystal hanging from his neck.

Subaru sighed heavily at the confused atmosphere. Echidna, dissatisfied with his layered reaction, complained with a “What is it?”, but she was genuinely at a loss for an answer.

Subaru: [I took Garfiel before the Great Rabbit and made him taste powerlessness. Did you think I’d be happy being celebrated for something that didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth?]

Echidna: […I thought you would. Conversely, if you cannot be happy about this, then what can you be happy about?]

Subaru: [Ugh…]

When the question was asked back, Subaru stumbled over Echidna’s words.

Spreading her arms in front of Subaru, Echidna, with her quivering white eyelashes, said “Listen please?”.

Echidna: [At present, hostility with Garfiel, who was the biggest obstacle in the Sanctuary, has been avoided, and you now have the potential to save those close to you, including your beloved girlfriend. Is this not the result of your struggles and accumulated deaths? And yet, you cannot be happy about it?]

Subaru: [――――]

Echidna: [Natsuki Subaru, I am not asking you to become inhuman. Given Garfiel’s situation and position, it is understandable to sympathize with him. But, that does not diminish your own achievements.]

Facing the silent Subaru, Echidna reiterated her thoughts to make him reconsider.

Indeed, she was right; if he only looked at the results, he had chosen the best route. He had avoided hostility with Garfiel, and managed to steer clear of unnecessary confrontation with Shima. Garfiel, having learned about the threat of the Great Rabbit, would take the initiative to help evacuate the residents of the Sanctuary and the people of Arlam Village.

This would also lead to helping Emilia, Ram, and Otto.

Echidna: [Even if you were to praise yourself for your efforts, no one would blame you.]

Subaru: [Echidna…]

Echidna: [If I may add, my assistance has played a part in the results you have achieved. If you are feeling down, it would not give me, your contractor, a pleasant feeling either.]

Echidna, hands clasped behind her waist and leaning forward, peered upward at Subaru. Subaru felt suffocated by her gaze and words.

Subaru was so distressed by the sight of Garfiel fighting the Great Rabbit, shedding blood and tears, that it left him with a pessimistic view that he could not fully approve of his own actions.

That was why he had pointed out that Echidna could not read the room when they both saw the same thing but felt differently; however, it was Subaru who was actually unable to read the atmosphere, and had been hopelessly insensitive.

It was only natural that Echidna, his contractor, would be displeased.

Subaru: […My bad. I wasn’t paying enough attention to my surroundings.]

Echidna: [Are you reflecting on it?]

Subaru: [Yes, I’m reflecting on it.]

Echidna: [Can you promise to not excessively belittle yourself?]

Subaru: [Okay, I promise. Honestly, it’s not my strong suit.]

Echidna: [Can you say that you have been saved by the feelings of the intellectual and compassionate Echidna?]

Subaru: [Don’t get carried away.]

Approaching forcefully, he flicked his finger on the forehead of Echidna, who was gradually intensifying her demands.

“Gyah!” said Echidna, who was bending over and holding her forehead with her hand, becoming teary-eyed. With this little drama at his side, Subaru thanked the Witch inwardly and took his place at the tea party.

Atop a green hill, facing the Witch at a white table, that was Subaru’s reserved seat.

The backrest creaked as he sprawled and sat roughly with his legs stretched out. Watching Subaru’s behavior, Echidna, still holding her forehead, narrowed her eyes,

Echidna: […Could it be, that you are embarrassed?]

Subaru: [Ding ding ding.]

Echidna: [Does that sound mean “correct answer”?]

Subaru: [That’s the sound of your likability dropping.]

Her saying what should have remained unspoken, made him reconsider his relinquishing of her disgrace of being a “Witch who cannot read the room”.

In any case, Echidna took her designated seat, and snapped her fingers conspicuously.

Instantly, the Dona tea, which had become tradition, was prepared.

Subaru: […Hey, if you can bring out crackers, does that mean food and drinks are also free to choose? Then, can you give me a cola? Not bodily fluids.]

Echidna: [Even if I were to recreate that cola, the ingredients would be no different from the tea you despise.]

Subaru: [It’s about setting the mood. Warm and cold are different, right?]

Echidna: [Is that so? Well, I shall consider it.]

After receiving a less-than-reliable reply, Subaru had no choice but to reluctantly take a sip of warm tea. Since he would feel like he had lost if he tasted the tea, he swallowed it down in one gulp.

After gulping down his tea, Subaru rudely placed his cup on the table. At that moment, his eyes met with Echidna’s, who was gazing at him with a relaxed smile on her lips.

Subaru: [What’s up?]

Echidna: [Well, I have started to feel like I can rely upon you a bit more… If we get a bit more comfortable with our Contract, then you will be able to talk to me without having to come all the way to the tomb.]

Subaru: [――. Does that mean I can just talk to you normally outside?]

Echidna: [Ah, is that not delightful? Since you probably have a lot of situations where you wish to discuss your thoughts with someone.]

Echidna smiled at Subaru while resting her chin on her folded hands.

Subaru was hesitant to agree with her words, but it was true that if he could freely communicate with Echidna outside, his range of actions would be greatly expanded.

It was difficult for him to justify going to the tomb every time he needed to consult with her.

Subaru: [Is this like an expansion of the functionality of this magic crystal? Can you tell me in advance what kind of updates are planned in the future?]

Echidna: [Do you require benefits beyond constant communication with me? …Oh, no, I simply am joking. There is no need for you to give me that scary look. Let me see, for example…]

Subaru: [For example?]

Echidna: [You will be able to come and go from the tea party freely. In other words, you can meet me anytime you want.]

Subaru: [I see… so, there aren’t any significant benefits.]

Echidna: [You are really cold and unforgiving, no?]

He sighed at Echidna’s bland attitude, which was a response he should have expected.

However, he did not want to be greedy. Just being able to rely on Echidna as a consultant in his situation, where he was being thrown around, would bring him great mental relief.

If that were the case――,

Subaru: [――So, shall we aim to release the Sanctuary right away?]

Echidna: [Oh my, are you already planning to challenge the next Trial? Perhaps you could take it a little slower…]

Subaru: [Will I really not be punished for being lazy? …No, I will be.]

The more idle one was, the more fate would mercilessly take away what was important to them.

Knowing this from personal experience, Subaru did not succumb to Echidna’s tempting suggestion of idleness. Even if he could redo it, it was better to not risk losing anything at all.

Subaru: [It was a good opportunity to see what happens after each Death.]

Echidna: [Originally, the second Trial was not supposed to be that way. In your case, the alternate Present from the current one has become a deadly poison. However, it seems as though you can overcome this with brute force.]

Echidna raised both hands and teased Subaru’s head-on approach.

It was a banzai attack based on the premise that one’s heart would be shattered, and was deserving of being mocked as reckless. If Subaru were alone, he would never have chosen it, but――,

Subaru: [I have a lot of things to say, but I’m grateful to you.]

Slowly standing up from his chair, Subaru told that to Echidna before leaving the tea party.

It was an embarrassing topic to discuss eye-to-eye, so he turned his face away and spoke a little quickly. Perhaps that was why Echidna stared at him with a surprised expression and said “Eh?” as her eyes widened.

However, he did not feel like repeating it again. So, he turned his back and walked away.

Echidna: [Wait a minute, wait a minute! If you are going to say something, say it properly!]

Subaru: [Get lost. No, don’t get lost. You’re the type of character who can’t take a joke, so I can’t mess around with you. Just be quiet.]

Echidna: [Wah, you spoke so fast! Which means, that was not a misunderstanding on my part just now!]

Subaru: [Shut up, shut up, shut up!]

As if she had just taken a demon’s head off, Echidna was shouting at Subaru’s back as he walked down the hill. Subaru covered his ears with his hands and decided to ignore her voice, saying he could not hear her.

Subaru: [Damn it, I shouldn’t have said that…!]

It was just a whim, he had pressed the wrong button in his heart; that was how he convinced himself firmly.

He was sure that he had seen a glimmer of hope in this dead-end situation, which had relaxed the chains on his heart a little. He might have also been swayed by the Witch’s sweet words from earlier.

After all, he could not be proud of himself for crushing Garfiel’s spirit. It was difficult to pride oneself on the result of hard work. ――Even so, it was all thanks to Echidna.

Subaru: [You wicked Witch! I’ll deal with the rest of the Trials you’ve set up in a heartbeat!]

Subaru turned around and declared such to the Witch on the hill, flipping his middle finger towards her.

Since she was an ally rather than an enemy, there was no need to go out of his way to swear at her, but it was all due to the heat of the moment.

By encouraging himself in this way, he would be able to more easily attract favorable results.

It was a sort of jinx for Subaru, who had gone through a trial and error process before he caught this glimmer of light.

Echidna: [Isn’t wicked Witch is a bit too much…]

Echidna pouted at Subaru’s words.

But, she then quickly drove away her expression with a sigh, and smiled at her contractor as he pressed forth.

Echidna: [Give it a try, Natsuki Subaru. Are you really going to be able to pass a Witch’s challenge?]

Subaru: [Bring it on! I’ll show you what I can do. Go ahead and watch from the sidelines.]

The gazes of the Witch and the contractor crossed, and the challenge to overcome a new obstacle began.

However, there was no need to be afraid. With the Witch’s help, victory was assured. Even if it was just by a thin thread, the Witch had proven her insight to make it through.

The high, high walls surrounding the Sanctuary, which had seemed impossible to overcome alone. ――They had been overcome by Echidna, with two hundred and thirty-two accreted Deaths of Subaru.

Echidna: [I shall support you as much as possible, Natsuki Subaru. ――Please do your best, for my sake.]

Subaru: [I’ll do my best, but it won’t be for you!]

Subaru received the Witch’s cheers, unable to become serious until the end, and pushed open the door connecting the Castle of Dreams and reality, which lie beyond.

He was enveloped in a white light, and his consciousness returned. ――Again, this was a reality where he would continue to struggle against Death.

And so, the Witch that was left behind smiled as she watched her contractor depart.

The white chair she was sitting in creaked, and she let her white hair flutter in the gentle breeze――,

Echidna: [For someone who is not doing this for me… I wonder if that is really true?]

If that was so, why did the two hundred and thirty-two Deaths feel like a gift, stirring up her heart?

While rolling around this overwhelming feeling in her chest, the Witch of Greed sneered.

――With that smile, she decided to watch over her contractor’s struggles, fierce fights, and brave deaths through the magic crystal.

 

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Thank you for reading our translation for Re: Kasaneru IF (Blu-Ray special edition)! In fact, there are still three more chapters that are currently undergoing the translation process. We hope to release them as soon as we possibly can, please keep checking our socials for further news!

16 thoughts on “Re: Kasaneru IF (Blu-Ray Special Version)”

  1. Yess finally a more detailed explanation of subaru’s unending trial and errors can’t wait for the next one :⁠-⁠D

  2. While rolling around this overwhelming feeling in her chest, the Witch of Greed sneered.

    Is sneered the right translation? Has a malicious note to it, it does not fit with true feeling in her chest.

    1. It is right, or you could say it as “laughed mockingly”. Picture her expression similar to her vicious smile in the anime

  3. I’m guessing we won’t get anything useful from the third trial regarding this main timeline, because it would be a future that isn’t the main timeline. I don’t think Tappei will show him doing the third trial anyway, I’m sure he’ll skip that

    J

  4. So if we’re expanding greed will we also get a gluttony expansion? Cause I’d definitely read that

  5. When Subaru said “your luck was bad” was that the same line that Al sometimes uses before correcting it to “your stars were bad”?

    1. 運が悪かったんだよ = “your luck was bad” as used by Subaru here
      星が悪かったのさ = “your stars were bad” as per Al’s usage in Arc 8 Chapter 65 (seems to have been deleted in LN?)
      星が悪かったんだよ = “your stars were bad” as per the line in the Aldebaran Interlude

      The differences in the latter two may be attributed to speaking style as they’re spoken by different people, but that aside, the expression is similar, just with the Kanji for “star” replaced with the one for “luck”.

  6. Thanks so much. Looking forward to the Kasaneru If LN that also seems to be in the works.

    The “Meili’s Witchbeast Observation Record” short stories seem to include a lot of important lore, but I haven’t been able to find any translations past V. Would love to see WTC translate these as well if there is time before Arc 9 starts up.

  7. Quero muito ver a continuação da LN de Kasaneru if pfv continua with cult tranlation muito obrigado pelo seu trabalho e porfavor continue

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