Now, in answer to her questions, Subaru told her everything that lead up to here.
[Subaru: So that’s how, falling down after all sorts of things happened, and then walking around feeling hopeless and a little hungry, I stumbled into you. ……Satisfied?]
[Echidona: En, satisfied indeed. It seems you are a person who’s even surpassed my expectations]
Covering her mouth with the back of her hand, the girl let out a quiet laugh that sounded like “ku ku ku” as she noticed Subaru watching her with a guarded look.
Sizzling energy was building up in his legs as if he was readying himself to dash out at any moment, and he opened and closed his hands as if preparing to seize her.
But naturally, Subaru’s clumsy assault plan was…
[Echidona: There’s no reason to be so cautious. And besides, surely you yourself can tell how little of a chance you have if you go up against me? Bravery and a fool’s courage are easily mistaken for one another, and yet are quite different things]
[Subaru: Sorry, admitting defeat doesn’t really suit my personality. And when you say there’s no need to be so cautious…… considering I’m standing in front of a person who calls herself the Witch of Greed, is it even possible to follow that advice?]
[Echidona: I see. You really are as you say. It was my bad]
As she received Subaru’s agitated reply full of rebellion, the girl ―― the one named Echidona, did not alter her attitude. Rather, with tremendous ease, or perhaps finding the powerless Subaru’s dogged attitude amusing, her own attitude was one which transcended even the shifting of dimensions.
Almost like reading a Manga, it was as if she was looking down on a sketched out character with eyes of a completely different dimension. To her, Subaru had never even been standing on the same stage as herself in the first place.
It was precisely because of this, that Subaru regarded her with the greatest caution.
A person emitting an oppressive aura that surpassed even that of the White Whale. The one going by the name of the “Witch of Greed”. To what extent was all this real, was an irrelevant question. What was relevant, was that she was a person who was not to be taken lightly, whose overwhelming existence could be recognized even by the likes of Subaru.
However, as cold sweat emerged all over Subaru’s forehead, she sent him a playful glance,
[Echidona: Alas, to be treated so cruelly really hurts my feelings. As you can see, I am only a meek and gentle girl, you know? If a boy looks at me with those eyes, it’s not like I wouldn’t get any ideas]
[Subaru: You aren’t talking about the girl who’s got “DEATH FLAG” written in big red letters on it, are you? Just so you know, ever since I got here, my caution sensor’s been acting up like crazy]
After having tasted “death” so many times since coming to this world, Subaru had acquired some sort of an ability. Even though his deaths are still piling up in spite of this ability, his constant desire to avoid that experience again is forcing Subaru to incorporate more and more vigilance into his consciousness.
And according to that, the level of danger this girl posed was no less than when he was standing in front of Petelgeuse.
[Echidona: It seems we won’t be able to talk properly this way. It can’t be helped. ――In that case, how about this arrangement?]
Saying this, Echidona softly raised her right hand in front of her face. Subaru gulped down a breath at this gesture, and immediately after, the girl snapped her fingers with her raised hand.
A faint sound rang out ―― and the world transformed before Subaru’s eyes.
The cold stone space of the bottom of a crypt vanished, and panning out in its place was a prairie of green grass swept by the wind. ――And, on top of a small hill,
[Echidona: Instead of playing in a place like that, how about here?]
Laughing at Subaru’s amazement as he looked all around, on top of the hill, Echidona ―― sitting in one of the chairs surrounding a white table, showed Subaru a seat opposite her own, and pleaded for him to come.
With no idea what just happened, Subaru hesitated as he came up to her. Neatly placed on the table were steaming cups of tea.
Seeing Subaru staring at her silently,
[Echidona: Don’t worry, there’s nothing dangerous inside. I could take a first sip if you like? Although, if you suspect whether a Witch can’t be poisoned, then it wouldn’t prove a thing]
[Subaru: ……I’m beat. Since coming in here, all my common sense just keeps getting overturned. What happened just now? You could use Spatial-Transition magic as well?]
Before this, Subaru’s experience of Spatial-Transition magic had been at the hands of Beatrice.
With her hands, she had thrown Subaru out of the Forbidden Library and launched him all the way into a livestock barn in Arlam village. ***This happened right after Beatrice threw him out in the Arc 4 Chapter 3 Prelude: Arc 3 Ch71 [The Girl In The Forbidden Library] excerpt – TC
According to Julius, this magic was a lost art, but if the person in front of his eyes was a Witch, then it would not be such a surprising thing.
[Echidona: Spatial-transition…… oh, the Dark magic. No, this is your misunderstanding. That magic has a lot of disadvantages. I’m not fond of it so it’s not something I’d use. This now was just a small trick. I have some degree of freedom here. Because this is my Citadel, after all]
[Subaru: Your, Citadel……?]
Furrowing his brows at Echidona’s words, Subaru looked all around once again.
The wind-swept grasslands seemed to be endless, and in all directions there appeared to be nothing beyond the horizons. In reality, whether this empty landscape actually existed was another matter, but it was truly a fantastical sight.
Noticing this, Subaru gulped down his saliva and then shrugged his shoulders with a smile on his face,
[Subaru: Unfortunately, I can’t see a Castle or even a hut anywhere. What, is your Citadel being rebuilt right now or something? Or did they repossess everything except your table and chairs because you can’t pay back the loan?]
[Echidona: Fffhaha. You really are funny. In front of me, there are very few people who could throw such impudent retorts, except other Witches like myself. Surely, after my death, I never thought there would be an increment in that number]
As if the number of times Echidona could remember herself laughing at a joke was something that could be counted on one’s fingers, adding Subaru to that list seemed to bring her great joy.
But on the other hand, Subaru’s face loured as he caught a phrase which could not be missed from her words. Just now, she surely said this. That it was “after my death”.
[Subaru: If it is true that you are the Witch of Greed, then you should be dead if I remember correctly. I came here to visit your grave, after all]
[Echidona: Oh in that case I sincerely thank you. If you wish to bring me some flowers then please place it near the entrance. I am a person who is not fond of alcohol, so if you want to make an offering then something sweet would be appreciated]
[Subaru: So there’s a culture of offering in this world too, huh…… Sorry, but I didn’t bring any local produce and I forgot to buy the flowers. Please be satisfied with my smile]
It was a smile of flowers blooming in profusion–– the poisonous types of flowers, though.
As Subaru was showcasing that, Echidona purred pleasantly. She then brought the cup resting on the table to her lips, and, taking a sip, she went on,
[Echidona: I’ve never had a chance to drink tea so happily even when I was alive. Just as I thought, there are things to look forward to even after death. New discoveries are inexhaustible]
[Subaru: You know, this conversation between you and me being a thing in itself is already really weird. ……Damnit, I’ll drink it. I’ll just drink it!]
Acting so cautious and on edge in front of a person who had no guard up started making him feel stupid, so Subaru, as if plundering it, snatched the cup from the table and gulped down its contents in a rush.
It was neither water, nor tea, nor black tea, but had an inconceivable taste. It was not unpleasant, though.
[Echidona: Drinking up something a Witch gave you, you must be quite courageous]
[Subaru: Hah. Having come all the way here, how can I be frightened now. First of all, if you wanted to kill me then in the next panel I would have already been in cinders. So I shouldn’t be so cautious about a cup of tea]
Swinging his hand, he placed the emptied cup down on the table with [Thanks for the treat], and continued,
[Subaru: It was neither good or bad but, what kind of tea was this?]
[Echidona: Considering it was something formed out of my Citadel. If I put it into words, it’d be my bodily fluid]
[Subaru: What the hell did you make me drink!?]
Subaru jumped up knocking his chair away, and struggled to vomit out the liquid he just drank. But, she only softly giggled “kkuku” at Subaru’s dramatic overreaction
[Echidona: That was unexpected. I didn’t think my appearance was that bad]
[Subaru: However much it may be the body fluids of a beautiful girl, I don’t want to drink it without being prepared first! And even if I was prepared I don’t want to drink anything described as bodily fluids! I have normal fetishes, you know!?]
He had no property of being excited by saliva or sweat, at least he thought.
Although if that was Emilia’s or Rem’s, he thought it might not be too bad, but he quietly hid that in his heart, and went on,
[Subaru: Crap, I can’t vomit this out. –––Hey, this isn’t bad for my body or anything right?]
[Echidona: Don’t worry. It is easily absorbed by the body without obstructions. It is bodily fluid, after all]
[Subaru: You aren’t really saying something good, stop doing that face!]
Seeing Echidona’s slightly bragging attitude, Subaru winced. And Echidona, to whom Subaru was voicing his vehement objection, only tilted her cup with a refreshing expression, and went on [Anyways],
[Echidona: You really are an intriguing character. The fact that you are standing in front of me normally is proof of that]
[Subaru: What, you’re too much of a beautiful girl so normally other people’s eyes collapse when they see you or something? I’ll say this first, I feed my eyes on who I consider to be the most beautiful girls on a regular basis. So even looking at you I don’t have many opportunities to think of you as a that cute of a girl]
[Echidona: No, when normal people stand in front of me they vomit. It’s funny, right?]
[Subaru: What’s so funny about that!?]
Right from the beginning of their conversation, there had been nothing but unsettling words popping out. Subaru took another look at the girl sitting in the chair,
Her hair and her entire body were white like snow. Her black clothes looked almost like she was in mourning dress, and a remaining hint of youthfulness gave her beauty a color of bewitching glamour. He mused in his thoughts about how a beautiful woman in funerary clothes could have a certain magical charm, but her never-disappearing aura of oppressiveness kept making him regard her existence as a menace.
Then, looking up at Subaru whose vigilance had not dissipated, she placed her emptied cup on the table as well, and, tracing her finger on the edge, she went on,
[Echidona: Talking on like this would be a refreshing pleasure for me but ……it wouldn’t be so for you, would it? I think there must be something you want to say, or want to ask, isn’t there?]
[Subaru: ……Yeah there is. That’s right! Being swallowed by the atmosphere I had completely forgotten, but that’s right. You are …… no, actually before that, where the heck is this? Is this really inside the Tomb?]
For Subaru, this was connected to the place he fell into not long after he stepped into the Tomb.
He would have readily believed that the gloomy place from before was the bottom of the Tomb. But now, having been invited to a prairie like this, even that felt doubtful.
To that question from Subaru, Echidona softly stroked her own white hair with her hands, and,
[Echidona: That question was half correct and half incorrect. Your body is surely inside the Tomb, but your mind is in my Citadel. To put it into words, this is inside a dream]
[Subaru: A dream……? But, I don’t remember your face so much to see you in a dream]
[Echidona: You are inside a dream, I could say, but it does not have to be inside your dream. This is my Citadel–––so, it is inside my dreams. A space similar to this one… don’t you know it?]
To Echidona’s pursuit, Subaru held his breath. He then slightly shook his head,
[Subaru: Wha, what is your basis for saying something like that……]
[Echidona: I have no assured proof. But, somehow or another, I just felt it. Your attitude looks away from something you know; I just felt like that your’s resembles the behavior of a person like that]
[Subaru: ……It’s true, that I don’t know. But, what you’re saying is not wrong either]
It was not a severe way of putting it, but to Subaru, it felt like her words were an impeachment.
Echidona’s words were not mistaken, but Subaru’s reply was no lie either.
When he was told that he was inside a dream, Subaru, while he was surprised, also comprehended it easily. It was as if this feeling was well-known and understood by his heart already.
Why it felt like that ―― he could not find the reason even searching through all his memories, though,
[Subaru: I’ll accept that this is inside your dreams for now. So then, how do I get out of here?]
[Echidona: To wake from a dream, one either wishes to wake up, or is woken up externally. However, even if someone tries to wake me from the outside, my body is no longer present, and it is quite difficult to wake yourself from someone else’s dream. So, you can’t wake up until I feel like letting you go, and decide to wake up, I think]
[Subaru: ――! Then, are you actually……]
Subaru shivered at Echidona’s simple words.
Her Citadel, the meaning of that word now carried a shape of vivid reality. Subaru’s captured soul was now in her palms. The deranged wills of a Witch which Ram had spoken of―― the truth of those words swelled in his mind.
[Subaru: Not planning on letting me leave……?]
Even though he was exercising the greatest caution, he was throwing words which may enter him into a fatal rift with the Witch. The fact that if she revealed her true nature he would have no chance against her was well understood.
And then, to the question by Subaru, she spilled out a small sigh,
[Echidona: No, not really. I will let you go if you want to go back, you know? I was not the one who called you here, it was you who came by yourself, after all]
[Subaru: What are you doing to my nervousness? ‘Mr.Serious’ is not breathing, you know?]
[Echidona: Mr.Serious, unlike you, is not standing in front of me. Maybe he’s vomiting under the shade of a tree somewhere?]
In front of Echidona’s smoothly spewed venom, Subaru felt sapped of all his strength. In the end, what was she trying to do by coming into contact with him?
It had only been a short time, but even after their conversation he had no grasp of her character at all. Although, for a person referred to as a Witch, it was not surprising that it would not be possible to understand her so easily.
[Subaru: Anyways, then please let me go if you can let me go. There’s probably a girl who’s waiting and getting worried about me. If I had the time to drink your body fluids, I’d rather go back to that girl so she won’t be so worried]
[Echidona: That’s fine with me, but is it fine with you?]
[Subaru: Fine with what?]
[Echidona: To go back when you are right in front of me, that is. –––An opportunity to have a conversation with the Witch of Greed, it’s not something that people other than yourself could get even if they tried]
This being said, it was the first time that Subaru understood the meaning of her words and taken them into his focus.
Yes. It was. He had only been focused on her menace so far, but had overlooked the most important thing. If she was the Witch of Greed, if she was really the existence which had borne this name in life, then,
[Subaru: You……know the answers to, the things I want to know?]
[Echidona: You are asking me, for the whereabouts of knowledge ――are you?]
In response to Subaru’s wrenched out words, once again Echidona laughed with “ku ku ku…”. Laughing, this laughter which felt like it was her happiest yet, inflicted the sense of oppression upon Subaru more strongly than ever before.
The atmosphere distorted, and the ambiance of the endless grasslands suddenly began to collapse. The sky cracked, the prairie burned up, and the world beyond the horizons started to decay.
Feeling a non-existent tremble, Subaru hastily stretched out his hands toward the surely existing table. But the moment he touched it, it scattered as if changing into sand. Then,
[Echidona: Just as I thought, you are an amusing being]
Lifting her face, the scenery around Echidona deteriorated, and a bizarre pattern started to cover over the world. A shadow was expanding, extending out arms and legs that stuck and clung onto Subaru’s entire body.
In revulsion, he tried to desperately escape, but the collapse of the world had already spread very close to the two of them. The scaffold for escape did not exist. And just so, the world gradually lost out,
[Echidona: If you want to exchange questions and answers, then this space is plenty enough. To know what you want to know. Your desire for such a thing――or rather your Greed, I do approve of it]
What remained between them, was just the space between the chairs in which they were seated. It was a distance close enough to touch if he only stretched out his arm, a world in which they shall sit upon their chairs and have their talk.
The world outside of this had already disappeared. The bottom of the darkness to which his footing had been lost seemed to have no end. Probably without a joke, it would not be possible to come back if he were to fall.
As a chill ran down Subaru’s spine, seated on her chair, Echidona seemed to be in a good mood.
She clapped her hands, and gazed into Subaru with her shining eyes,
[Echidona: Come now, what would you like to hear about? If it is anything I know, then I would answer to anything. Is it about the “Witch of Gluttony” Daphné, who had created beasts differing from God, to save the world from hunger? Is it about the “Witch of Lust” Carmilla, who had granted emotion even to those who are not human, to fill the world with love? Is it about the “Witch of Wrath” Minerva, who punched and healed every person, out of grief for the world filled with conflicts? Is it about the “Witch of Sloth” Sekhmet, who drove the Dragon away, beyond the Great Falls, just to bring peace? Is it about the “Witch of Pride” Typhon, who kept on judging the guilty with the innocence and ruthlessness of her youth?]
They sounded unfamiliar ―― or rather, they were the enumeration of a history which should no longer be existing in the current world.
Instilled with the massive amount of information, Subaru could not utter a sound. In front of him, Echidona was still laughing.
[Echidona: Is it about the “Witch of Greed” Echidona, the Incarnation of the Thirst for Knowledge, who remain with her regrets in the world after death, to seek any and every wisdom in the world?]
Pointing to herself with a finger, she said as if with self-ridicule, and went on with [Or…],
[Echidona: The Witch of Envy, who destroyed all of these Witches and made them her food, and turned the rest of the world into her enemy ––– is it about her?]
-=Chapter 10 End=-
(OOOOOOOOOOOOO I’m freaking out!!! >_<)
(This one and the amazing thumbnail art are by @HaruSabin)
Thank you everyone for coming back to read, and for being so patient while I’m busy with my exams. Thank you.
I still read every comment, though if I’m busy I may not have time to reply until a while later. But every word you guys write gives me so much encouragement to keep going.
And everyone supporting me on Patreon, and everyone who’s ever supported me, I sincerely, sincerely thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. Thank you. Thank you!
TranslationChicken and team :3