Noticing Subaru’s tone weaken, Garfiel sneered back at him through the gaps between his teeth. Subaru opened his mouth wanting to refute him, but, unable to think of anything off the top of his head, no words came out.
Seeing him like this, a tinge of disappointment emerged in Garfiel’s narrowed, emerald-green eyes.
[Garfiel: Cough it up. What’re y’really thinkin’? Gonna wait till I cut open your gut before ya talk?]
[Subaru: Talking about cutting open guts kind of brings back some bad memories for me, so I’d prefer if you don’t phrase it like that……although, judging by the atmosphere, you might not be joking]
Garfiel was slouching down his already short body. Although his attitude wasn’t hostile, an unearthly aura of rage was emanating from his entire body.
While it was physical and direct, Subaru didn’t feel the need to worry about its violence being directed toward him. However――
[Subaru: First, let’s just be clear on this. I’m on Emilia’s side. I have total faith in her, without the slightest doubt. So I believe without a doubt that even if it takes time, Emilia will break through the Trials]
[Garfiel: As if I’d believe that tall-tale at this point. Your sheltered Princess-sama―― already had to be pulled outa there crying three days in a row now, you honestly think she can do it?]
Their opinions were completely irreconcilable.
Garfiel’s gaze held a sharpness that did not hide his contempt. While Subaru was at a disadvantage, he nonetheless tried to meet it by making his sanpaku eyes as sharp as he could――his feelings for Emilia would not allow him to lose.
This was the morning of the sixth day since Subaru and the others arrived in the Sanctuary. And three days had already passed since Subaru broke through the first Trial.
If you were to ask what happened in that time, then――
[Garfiel: Never would’of thought there’d be a restriction on starting the second Trial long as someone’s stuck in the first one. Thanks t’ that, the Trials’ not made a bit’of progress in three damn days]
[Garfiel: If we knew it was gonna be like this we might as well’ve sent you in alone, yeah? That way, at least we won’t be trippin’ over the same rock y’already could’a stepped over]
Garfiel’s words didn’t conceal any of his bitterness―― but he was right. He had described the reality facing Subaru and Emilia exactly as it was.
Since Subaru passed the first Trial three days ago――there had been no progress made in the Trials of the Tomb. The reason was simple.
Emilia was still in the first Trial. That is, she still couldn’t overcome her past.
[Subaru: The past that needs to be resolved is different for everyone. Unlike me, who got to live a carefree life, obviously she’d be weighed down by all sorts of things. So I don’t think of her as a burden at all]
[Garfiel: That so? Y’re just bein’ gentle with the one you’ve got a thing for. But d’you think anyone else cares about her like you do? Honestly, my opinion of Princess-sama’s been droppin down’n’down’n’down, even as we speak]
[Garfiel: It’s ‘bout time you admitted it. If we get rid of Princess-sama, at least you can get your ass into the second Trial. That way, ‘least we’d be doin’ something real about freein’ this place, anyone can figure out that much]
Garfiel’s made it sound easy――but it was a decision that would mean trampling on Emilia’s resolve.
It would mean abandoning the bulk of Roswaal’s designs, and tarnishing that pristine nobility of Emilia’s heart which Subaru believed in. No matter what, will not agree to it.
But, what made Subaru hesitate instead of firmly shaking his head was,
[Subaru: If only there was time, she can definitely get through it. There wouldn’t be any need to rush her or hurry her. But…..]
[Garfiel: Even you can see that time’s not something we have, right? Beginnin’ with me, our short-tempered guys in the Sanctuary are startin’ to run out’of patience, and the hostage-fellas aren’t gonna take much longer of bein’ caged-in. ――It’s only a matter of time before th’growin’ discontent bursts, don’t y’think?]
――In the end, it was all a problem of limited time.
No matter what kind of “Past” Emilia must face, Subaru had no doubt that she will overcome it in the end. But it takes time to defeat such deep-rooted wounds. If Subaru could help, he’d have the spirit to challenge anything in the face of all hardships.
But the bygone “Past” existed only within her, and Subaru had no way to offer his outstretched hand. From Rem, Subaru had received the courage to face his past, and he couldn’t help but wonder if somehow he could do the same for Emilia.
As long as there was time, she will be able to overcome the Trials. But right now, they didn’t have the time for that.
Just as Garfiel pointed out, the two groups inside the Sanctuary were both nearing their limits while time was constantly draining away.
They mustn’t wait any longer. Therefore, Subaru came to a single conclusion.
[Subaru: ――I have, a proposal]
Touching his jaw, Subaru wrenched out these words between his lips.
Seeing the change in Subaru’s expression, Garfiel closed one eye and twisted his mouth into the shape of smile.
[Garfiel: I’m all ears]
[Subaru: I think we can agree that the problem for both sides is time. I have faith in Emilia to pass the Trials, but to do it she needs time. On the other hand, you guys are right on the verge of the time limit before balance collapses. No problems so far?]
[Garfiel: Nothin’ wrong so far. If I just got one thing to add, I honestly doubt Princess-sama will end up passin’ the Trials, or if she’s even capable of it]
[Subaru: ……I think we should just reserve our own opinions on that part. Either way, if we can both agree that time will become the bottleneck, then you should be interested to hear my proposal]
Listening to Subaru’s case, Garfiel touched the white scar on his forehead without saying a word. Sensing that Garfiel was beckoning him to continue, Subaru returned a nod, and,
[Subaru: Right now, the imprisoned refugees are at the end of their ropes. It won’t be long before someone breaks, and in the worst case, there could be a clash between the factions inside the Sanctuary]
[Garfiel: Won’t really worry to me if that happens? Even if there’s a mob of a hundred or two villagers, I’ll just be flippin’em all back, not much to it]
[Subaru: There’s forty two……and it’s not a matter of what you’ll do. I’m talking about an undesirable conflict, and the damage it would cause. I’m sure even you don’t want to use violence on the people you’ve been making meals for every day, do you?]
[Garfiel: Well, y’got a point]
Turning his gaze away, Garfiel clicked his tongue somewhat awkwardly. From his reaction, Subaru could sense that Garfiel had some goodness inside, and secretly nodded in his heart.
[Subaru: So, to avoid such a conflict, I would like to request the release of the prisoners. As it is, I don’t think they have any more value as hostages. What do you say?]
[Garfiel: Oyoy, hold it. This’n that’re two different stories, aren’t they? First tell me what y’mean they’re no good as hostages?]
[Subaru: In the first place, the reason you imprisoned them was to lure us…… or rather, lure Emilia here, wasn’t it? We already entered the Sanctuary as you intended, and began the Trials in accordance with your conditions. The food and care, and the need to watch over the hostages aren’t free, and you don’t have unlimited supply. In fact, the fact that you are diligently out here hunting at a time somewhere between night and dawn couldn’t have nothing to do with it]
From what Subaru can see, the Sanctuary was a vast territory when including the forests, but only an extremely small portion of that was being used―― in fact, the number of Half-Bloods living in the Sanctuary was probably about the same as the number of refugees from Arlam village.
To put it simply, the food consumption within the Sanctuary would have been doubled from what it was before. Due to the special characteristics of the land, it was obviously unlikely that they’d be able to purchase any food from travelling traders, so their food could only be coming primarily from hunting and local produce. ――Therefore,
[Subaru: There’s no need to keep holding onto hostages that’ll only be a burden on your supplies. Even without the hostages, we already have no way to leave, now that we’re half-way through the Trials]
[Garfiel: ‘S that so. Either way, immediately upon entering the Sanctuary, the Half-…… Princess-sama would already’ve been bound by the curse of the land. If Princess-sama wants to leave, one way or another, the Trials will have to be overcome…… Ah, so that’s how it is]
Saying this while digesting the meaning of Subaru’s proposal, Garfiel nodded several times as his cheeks twisted into a cruel smile. Seeing him like this, Subaru understood that he certainly wasn’t slow in the head at all. Aside from his usual attitudes, if it was purely a matter of making decisions based on the facts, then,
[Garfiel: If we release the hostages, whether it’s food supplies or th’internal rifts, we’ll get t’ avoid these unavoidable problems. That’s the idea, yeah? In fact, looks like the only thing standin’ in between the hostages and and outside world is ME, ain’ it?]
[Subaru: If everything had been going along with your plans so far, wouldn’t you prefer to let it carry on to the end? After all, your goal is to be released from the Sanctuary, not mutual destruction]
[Garfiel: Guess that’s what it’d be if we respect the Granny’s opinions…… Well, it’s just details anyway]
With a wave of his hand, Garfiel took in Subaru’s opinion for the time being.
Then, touching his jaw, he sank deep into thought,
[Garfiel: But why on earth’d you come talkin’ to me? The head’of this place is Granny, not me? If you wanted someone to approve your idea, you coulda done better talkin’ to Granny. Odd havin’ t’say it myself, but, you do realize talkin’ to me could just be makin’ things more complicated?]
[Subaru: It’s to keep things from getting complicated that I’m talking to you. If I properly explain all the pros and cons to Lewes-san, I think I could convince her. But if I do that, I still wouldn’t know how you’d react]
If it was the rational and pragmatic Lewes, she would probably accept Subaru’s proposal without any issues. In fact, Subaru was confident that he could convince her.
But when it came time to face Garfiel after concluding the high-level talks, then,
[Subaru: One way or another, convincing you is the hard part. Unfortunately, according to my self-assessments, I’ll be totally helpless if you decide to use force. So I figured I should sort out the unpredictable factors first, so that I won’t have to worry about them later]
[Garfiel: Ain’t that a pretty clever way’of thinkin’, oy. That’s it, yeah? If you bring your proposal to Granny, I’ll come screwin’ it up, that it? You got somethin’ you wanna say t’me? Wanna say it with my fist in your face, huh?]
[Subaru: We were just having a civilized conversation a few second ago, how did it suddenly go tumbling in that direction……]
[Garfiel: I only get t’use my head for talkin’ for three minutes, tops. You already gone over th’time limit, no point sayin’ anythin’ now]
[Subaru: Why are you saying that looking so smug!]
Garfiel held up his fists, and Subaru held up his hands to surrender. Of course, Garfiel wasn’t being serious, and only sighed as if he was bored, and,
[Garfiel: Hah, gettin’ hit with this stuff first thing in th’mornin’. Yeah, sure, do what y’want. If you can convince Granny, I won’t say nothin’. They’re a damn nuisance anyway. Do it however you like, long as you get rid of’em]
[Subaru: Is that so, then I’ll take you up on that and……]
[Garfiel: ――But, I got one condition]
I’ll be free for the rest of the week! Continuing Part 3 now!
Chapter 22 Live Draft: