ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
JAPANESE WEB NOVEL SOURCE: HTTP://NCODE.SYOSETU.COM/N2267BE/189/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 23 [A Step Forward]
[Subaru: Alright, I’ll just be gone for a bit. We should be back by tomorrow and…… I know I said this a few times already, but, there’s no need to push yourself by taking the Trials anymore. Just rest a little]
[Emilia: I know~ I get it already. Gees Subaru, you don’t have to look so worried. I’ll be good and take the day off, just like you told me to]
Emilia pouted her lips as she said this, looking up at Subaru aboard the carriage.
Subaru wryly smiled in front of her adorable antics, and made an effort to hide the pain inside his heart.
The time was a little before noon on the same day as his conversation with Garfiel, and several hours had passed since he visited Emilia in her room.
[Otto: Natsuki-san, we’re all set here. You can just say the word]
[Subaru: Oooh, that was quick. The speed at which you must be able to skip town after committing some heinous deed is truly impressive. From now on, shall I call you “Otto the Night-Skipper”?]
[Otto: I’ve no idea what the term “Night-Skipper” means, but I’m almost definitely certain it’s something disreputable and so I’m afraid I’ll have to firmly decline]
Otto curled his lip into a scowl and started shooting Subaru a stink look, to which Subaru only shot an unreservedly-wry smile in return. Looking past Otto, one could see the dragon carriages of Subaru’s party lined up along the road.
Numbering six in total―― they would accommodate 42 people in all. Which would be the total number of refugees and hired merchants from Arlam village, if you didn’t count the one extra traveling merchant who happened to be tagging along. This meant that,
[Subaru: Really, it’s almost disappointing how easily they went along with the idea…… Honestly, I was preparing for a little more resistance]
[Ram: That’s because Barusu cleverly went behind everyone’s back to negotiate with Garf beforehand, isn’t it? You figured Lewes-sama can be reasoned with, so as long as Garf didn’t interrupt your negotiations, there won’t be any problems]
While Subaru was busy scratching his neck, Ram, dressed in her usual maid’s uniform, threw these words at him from the base of the carriage. From beneath her peach colored hair, she was looking up at him with her usual expression of disdain.
[Ram: Ram would have liked to lodge a complaint about how you didn’t obtain freedom for Roswaal-sama as well, but…]
[Subaru: Being the HOSTAGE OF ALL HOSTAGES, he’s a bit more suited to stay behind, I think. Even if you wanted me negotiate for him, I wouldn’t know what to say to them. All things considered, it was already a pretty big accomplishment getting them to let the villagers go, so please understand!]
[Ram: …you did well, for a Barusu, that’s all I have to say. Now show some gratitude to Ram]
[Subaru: Why do I get the feeling that if I thanked you here I’d be losing out somehow?]
Just as all of Heaven and Earth shuddered at Ram’s acknowledgement of Subaru’s success, Subaru turned his eyes back on Emilia, who was fidgeting beside her.
There was anxiety and gloom within her violet eyes, but when she noticed Subaru’s gaze turning towards her, she quickly chased those sentiments away.
[Emilia: Thank you…. You know, if you hadn’t gone ahead and said anything, I, don’t think I would’ve even noticed what was going on]
[Subaru: Emilia-tan already has an important enough role as Emilia-tan. All the things that are going on around you, you can just leave that stuff to us. You’ve only got one big task to focus on. And we’ll handle everything else, so don’t worry]
Watching Subaru forcefully slap a hand onto his chest, Emilia covered her mouth, but couldn’t stop a giggle from leaking out. Then, wiping away the tears that had welled up in her eyes, she nodded with an [Enn], and,
[Emilia: I understand. Then I’ll leave it to you, Subaru. And…..]
[Subaru: I know, I know. Don’t worry, as soon as I get everyone to the village, I’ll come back to you right away. Of course, I could also take the opportunity to bring back any precious stuffed animals that you may have forgotten at the Mansion?]
[Emilia: I outgrew that stuff a long time ago. Also, I’m not asking you to come back quickly. But of course, I would be happier if you did come back quickly……]
[Subaru: Then, what’re you trying to say?]
[Emilia: ……come back safe. Of course, the sooner you come back the better, but, I’d be even happier if you came back safe]
[Subaru: AAGH, my heart!]
Wriggling around for a second, overwhelmed by the pain of LOVE in his chest, Subaru covered his love-sick heart with both hands and stumbled backwards. Emilia tilted her head in confusion, but Subaru, still busy hyperventilating, extended his palm towards her.
[Subaru: OK OK, I got it already. Quickly, and safely, I promise I will come back to your side. Unless you want me to pinky-promise too?]
[Emilia: That thing you did with Petra about what happens if you lie? ……Sure, ok. Let’s do it]
[Subaru: Ouuuggghh, so straightforward]
Emilia took a step forward, and Subaru bent his knees to meet her. Just like this, Subaru, from up on the carriage, and Emilia, standing below, tangled their pinkies together. And then, chanting out the traditional spell, they sealed their promise as their fingers parted.
For a moment, Emilia continued to stare at her finger that had separated from Subaru’s, and then, she took him into her violet eyes,
[Emilia: Subaru. To a spirit-arts user, promises are……]
[Subaru: Super important, right? I’ve learned my lesson, and I’ve become painfully aware of that. So I’ll never break another promise with Emilia-tan again. Also, I’ll try to keep my promises with other people too, if possible. I hope you can accept that]
[Emilia: Hmm, I suppose I’ll have to]
A smile emerged on Emilia’s face. And, after making sure of this, Subaru straightened up his legs, did a big stretch, turned around, looked up, and raising both his hands up into the air,
[Subaru: Al-right, let’s get this show on the road! Destination: Arlam village! Total travelers: 44! This is a great migration we’re doing here, I’ll be counting on all of you from here on!]
A series of cheers went up in response to Subaru’s shouting, and, just like this, the great migration got underway.
――After the hard-won victory at the negotiations, the released hostages embarked upon the road leading back home.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
After he concluded his conversation with Garfiel, while watching over the stricken Emilia in her sleep, Subaru came to the decision―― that he would accept Garfiel’s condition, and negotiate to release the hostages from the Sanctuary.
Once he had put Emilia to bed, Subaru waited for everyone to wake before gathering all the key players into Lewes’s house, where he planned to put forth his proposal.
Given the battle of words he had with Garfiel, he had expected a fair amount of resistance. ――But, in reality, Lewes did nothing but agree with him the whole time. Rather than oppose him, she had even offered several additional concessions. The result was that everything had gone exactly as he envisioned, but still, he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that it was different from what he expected.
Later, when Emilia woke up, he explained to her everything that had happened, and then gave the same explanation to the refugees inside the Cathedral. The villagers were surprised and skeptical at first, but when they understood that they would be allowed to return home safely, Subaru was happy to see them overjoyed.
Although Subaru was the reason they ended up in this situation in the first place, once he announced they would be allowed to leave, all the villagers showered their gratitude upon him, which was rather embarrassing. And after all of that, it was finally time to put the plan into action.
[Otto: But I have to say, this was pretty unexpected]
The one who said this was Otto, who was holding the reins beside Subaru.
Just like on the way to the Sanctuary, their dragon carriage was drawn by the ground dragons, Patrasche and Furufu, only, this time, Subaru was sitting next to Otto on the driver’s bench.
[Otto: You were asleep just now, weren’t you?]
[Subaru: I was just deep in thought, and don’t say that like I was hiding something or anything. Anyway, I was only half unconscious so I didn’t hear what you said. So what were you saying?]
[Otto: If you’re going to cover things up, at least have the courtesy to see it through to the end…… At any rate, I was trying to say this current development was pretty unexpected]
As usual, the back and forth between Subaru and Otto was all over the place. Perhaps because Otto had already gotten used to Subaru’s antics, he didn’t react as dramatically as before, but merely gave a perfunctory nudge at their surroundings to indicate what he was talking about.
[Otto: I didn’t think they’d let them go this easily. We merchants have a saying, “You should keep hold of all the weaknesses you can in case you have use for them later”]
[Subaru: Is that really a merchant’s expression? You sure that didn’t come from some corrupt Edo-period magistrate? My impression of your profession just became way way way way shadier. What do you have to say for yourself?]
Thinking back, Subaru had very few memories of Otto ever acting like a merchant. There was only the one time when he made the unsubstantiated claim that he had bought too much oil, when in fact, it was entirely possible he was just a pyromaniac. Even now, the background of this so-called merchant was quite suspect.
[Otto: What’s with those eyes looking at me like I’m someone suspicious?]
[Subaru: That’s because I am looking at someone totally suspicious here. Are you really a merchant? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do anything merchant-y in front of me]
[Otto: Weren’t you the one who forced me, against my will, to file those documents and ledgers loaded to the brim with confidential information!? Are you suffering from amnesia!?]
[Subaru: No, that could simply be your clever attempt to convince someone who thought you were a spy that you really are a merchant. Thinking about it that way, you’re far more likely to be an enemy agent……]
[Otto: With that kind of ridiculous logic, it’d be easier for me to become a God than try to convince you of my innocence, Natsuki-san]
[Subaru: Hey, Patrasche, did you hear that? This guy sitting next to me just said he thinks he can become a God…… I’m a bit worried about my safety]
[Otto: Huh? Dammit! Why did you have to…… aaah! Now even Patrasche-chan is looking at me with a look of pity! Please stop it already!]
Responding to Subaru’s voice, Patrasche made a short cry. Hearing this, Otto fell into despair and hugged his head with his hands. That seemed to have been Patrasche offering her own input about Otto. In times like these, one might prefer not to have the Divine Protection of “Anima-Whispering”. It was then, that,
[Garfiel: Y’fools don’t change no matter where y’go do’ya?]
Garfiel, who was running alongside their dragon carriage, interjected himself into the conversation.
The dragon carriages were traveling down an animal path through the middle of the forest, so they weren’t at top speeds. Even if Subaru had been sprinting with all his strength, he wouldn’t have managed to keep up with their current pace, but Garfiel was easily able to catch up, and accompany the winding carriages of refugees.
Not even short of breath, Garfiel was kicking off the ground and leaping great distances with each stride.
[Garfiel: Y’know, y’got the charm o’ someone straight outta “The Tale of th’End of Bakimu the Horse Wrangler”]
[Subaru: Aren’t idioms supposed to be short and clear ways to express your meaning to whoever you’re talking to? ……It doesn’t even feel like we’re having the same conversation here]
[Garfiel: Huh? What ya try’n to say, y’bastard?]
Garfiel crimpled up his nose in annoyance, and Subaru simply shrugged at that carnivorous expression, saying [Come to think of it],
[Subaru: You volunteered to guide us out, but I don’t see you doing much guiding. Aren’t you kinda shirking on your duties?]
[Garfie: Didn’t want it t’be like this. But y’fella’s ground dragons’re pretty smart, aren’ they? They only walked this road once but they’re remeberin’ it perfectly]
[Subaru: Well, that’s only to be expected of my girl Patrasche. This is just beginner stuff for her. Stuff like leaping through a hoop of fire, balancing on a ball, or even riding a unicyc-…… hey wait, Patrasche-san, why’re you swerving around!?]
In response to Subaru’s outrageous claims about her acrobatic abilities, Patrasche began expressing her displeasure by running in zig-zags. Subaru, gluing himself to his seat, started making a scene aboard the carriage. Observing this display, Garfiel snorted [What in th’hell are you doin’?], and then, looking toward Otto who was trying to hang onto the reins,
[Garfiel: Lil’bro here said somethin’ interestin’ just now. Somethin’ ’bout bein’ “Profitable t’be grabin’ yer opponents where he’s weak”?]
[Otto: Yeah, I do think it’s true. Not that I personally believe it’s a good way of thinking, but……for instance, the more hostages you have at your disposal, the more options you give yourself for how to use them, right? Like, if you want to create a sense of danger, the more hostages you have, the more options you’ll have to……]
[Subaru: Oyoyoy! There’s some serious doubt whether this “little bro” is legitimately a merchant here. He’s definitely the kind of guy who’s committed some horrible atrocities and was forced to flee a country somewhere!]
[Otto: Why are you so convinced I’m some kind of criminal!?]
“I wonder why Otto always manages to fall right into those”, Subaru tilted his head, thinking. Then, to get the conversation back on track, [Anyhow], he started again,
[Subaru: For the time being, basically, it’s because I already talked it over with Garfiel beforehand, and decided to accept his condition……. that’s why the rest of it went so smoothly]
[Otto: Accept…… your condition?]
Since Subaru didn’t seem to want to talk about it, Otto raised the question to Garfiel instead. Garfiel grinned with his canine fangs, before opening his mouth to speak,
[Garfiel: Simple, ain’t it? Instead of the crybaby Princess-sama, our boy Subaru’ll be finishin’ the rest’of the Trials and liberate the Sanctuary right’n quick]
Otto widened his eyes at Gafiel’s words, before shooting a sidelong glance at Subaru. Then, after opening and closing his mouth a few times, mumbling incoherently,
[Otto: Are you sure that’s alright, Natsuki-san?]
[Subaru: What do you mean “alright”?]
[Otto: You’re already taking the Trials, so that’s not the issue…… but I suppose what I mean to ask is if it’s alright to just take away Emilia-sama’s part in the whole thing]
That was Subaru’s dilemma as well. Although Otto had struggled to get the words out, he had cut to the heart of the matter. Subaru frowned, but Otto continued to push the issue,
[Otto: Of course, I have no idea what the Trials would entail, and I understand Emilia-sama’s isn’t doing very well. But, if Emilia is to win the Royal Selection, she needs the support from the people of the Sanctuary and the Roswaal domain, right? This is her chance to get both at once, and I don’t know if throwing that away so soon is……]
[Subaru: It’s time…… we don’t know how long it will take. If, in the meantime, her base collapses from underneath her, that would be the perfect definition of putting the cart before the horse. More important than that is Emilia herself……]
[Otto: You think she’s at her limit, then? I would disagree. I’ve only known her a short time, but I think Emilia-sama’s made of some tough stuff. Sure, right after she came out of the first trial, she was pretty out of sorts, but other than that she’s been able to keep herself together pretty well, don’t you think?]
Upon hearing Otto’s perspective, Subaru bit down hard on his lip.
It’s true that from Otto’s point of view, it must look like that Subaru was selling her short.
――But, what Otto didn’t see, was that she had been putting all her effort into just keeping up appearances whenever there was anyone besides Subaru around her.
Just like when she was sending him off at the start of their present journey. Whenever a third party was involved, she seemed to be able to maintain the same calm demeanor as always.
On the other hand, when it was just her and Subaru alone, the facade would fall away, and she would return to the miserable state Subaru had found her in that morning.
She depended on Subaru―― and her true state was not something anyone else could see.
Seeing Subaru holding his tongue, Otto wanted to continue speaking. But it was someone else who interrupted him,
[Garfiel: That’s ‘nuff. We’re ‘bout to pass through the Barrier o’ the Sanctuary. I can’t go no further than that]
[Subaru: …….Just out of curiosity, but, what would happen if you tried to force yourself through the Barrier?]
[Garfiel: Haven’t tried it so I wouldn’t know, but I imagin’ it’d be similar to when your Princess-sama lost consciousness. But it doesn’t matter either way]
Glad that the topic changed, Subaru jumped right on it, while Garfiel turned his head, and leaped into the air. Without a sound, he nimbly landed on the luggage compartment of Subaru’s dragon carriage, and pointed a finger at the two on the driver’s bench who were looking back over their shoulders.
[Garfiel: Accordin’ to the condition, after you drop ‘em off, you just turn right around and get your asses back here….. Ah, well, that lil’bro next to ya don’t matter though]
[Otto: Stop joking around, of course I’m coming back. After all, I still haven’t even gotten an audience with Margrave Mathers yet!]
[Subaru: Oh? Really? You still haven’t introduced yourself?]
[Otto: That’s right! I’ve been asking for a week, but no matter what time I come Ram-san tells me “Your timing is inconvenient” or “He’s resting”…… and keeps chasing me away!]
Angrily breathing out his nostrils with his shoulders huffing up and down, maybe Otto truly had divinely bad luck when it came to timing, but――
[Subaru: Well, that was probably on purpose. Ever since the Trials started, they’ve been giving me some half-assed excuses to not let me see him too]
Subaru mumbled his own guess under his breath.
After they had begun the Trials, Subaru had barely seen Roswaal at all. Always standing in between them, Ram had been rebuffing Subaru exactly as she had rebuffed Otto. On the surface, it was all for Roswaal’s recuperation, but that was obviously just a pretense.
In fact, it seemed that ever since Subaru first told him that he had taken the Trial, Roswaal stopped taking any visitors.
Subaru couldn’t forget the change in Roswaal’s expression when he heard that Subaru had passed and Emilia had failed. At least, it was the first time he had ever seen such an expression from him before.
For just a brief moment, that care-free look on that painted clown-face fell away, and beneath it ―― was an emotion that was neither fury nor sorrow, but something more complicated altogether.
[Garfiel: Don’t put t’much thought into it, yeah? Anyway, when yer comin’ back just use the same road. This time I’ll pay ‘ttention so I don’t attack ya, but don’t forget the password]
[Garfiel: Long as ya say the words when crossin’ th’ barrier, nobody will be assailin’ ya, got it? The password is “Baira Baira below th’Grimoire”]
[Subaru: Huh, what? “Baibai to the grime”?]
That was the worst password ever, using a completely incomprehensible idiom.
Subaru scowled. It was immediately obvious who came up with this password.
Garfiel just stood there looking smug as it was all natural, while Otto was bewilderedly writing down the passphrase on a memo. Leaving the task of remembering important things to Otto, Subaru gave a long sigh, and,
[Subaru: Anyway, long as we say it we can come back in, no questions asked, right?]
[Garfiel: I ain’t the only one who’s on patrol, y’know. There’re others more hot blooded than I am. From their point o’ view, that migh’ be the perfect time to take ya out and stop ya from completin’ the Trials]
[Subaru: ……I do remember you saying something like that]
Lewes was at the head of the faction that wanted to be liberated from the Sanctuary. But there was also the other opposing faction that wanted to stay.
Garfiel’s warning, then, was telling them not to let their guard down and give the other faction a chance to take advantage of their carelessness.
[Subaru: Ok, gotcha. Thanks for all the ways you’ve been looking out for us…… I guess there’s no reason to say goodbyes, since we’ll be seeing each other again in half a day or so. But, thanks anyway]
[Garfiel: Jus’ followin’ orders from the old hag, I don’t care one way or the other. More import’ntly, well uh…]
When Subaru thanked him, Garfiel waved his hand to dismiss him, but his words trailed off toward the end. Seeing something quite uncharacteristic from him, which Subaru furrowed his brows. And then, Garfiel finally continued [Uuuh],
[Garfiel: When y’get back to the mansion, is that Frederica girl gonna be there?]
[Subaru: Yeah, she should be. Speaking of which, its sounds like you know her somehow. What’s up with that?]
[Garfiel: We’ve got a complicated relationship, that’s all. Nothing I really wanna talk about, it’s just……]
[Subaru: I’ll tell her that you’re totally thinking about her. Maybe she’ll even have a message for you too]
[Garfiel: ……I ain’t askin’ you t’…]
Suddenly averting his eyes, as if to get away from Subaru’s smirk, Garfiel jumped right off the carriage. And, as he landed on the ground, the train of dragon carriages passed through the Barrier between the Sanctuary and the Forest. Putting both of his hands on his waist, Garfiel sent them off, shouting,
[Garfiel: Don’t even think’of runnin’ away, Subaru! Y’better keep your promise even if it kills ya! That was my one condition for lettin’ you outta here!]
[Subaru: Yeah, no worries on that count. My promise-keeping POWERS’ been super buffed lately!]
Letting these words of farewell resound throughout the forest, with a smile, Subaru raised up a fist at the distant figure. And Garfiel matched it by pumping up his own fist in response.
Watching as the caravan vanished into the shadows of the forest, Garfiel continued standing there with his fist raised up in the air.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Thanks Zantifications for doing the draft for Part 1/2!! ❤
I’ll start on Part 2/2 when I wake up tomorrow, good night!
Chapter 23 Live Draft: