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/190/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 24 [False Start]
The very first sensation that cut into Subaru’s consciousness was one of discomfort.
[Subaru: Uech! Oueh! Upuegch!]
Feeling the strange foreign-body-sensation of chewing on gravel accompanied by a bitter earthy-taste dancing around on his tongue, Subaru immediately went into a coughing fit trying to spit the stuff out, when he opened his eyes.
He could see only darkness, and felt as if a cold touch was running across his entire body. Judging from the hard tactile sensation, and the direction in which gravity was pulling him, he determined that he was lying sideways on the ground. Then, slowly looking around with eyes that were just growing accustomed to the dark―― he realized that he was inside the old ruins he had seen many times before.
[Subaru: I’m, inside the Tomb?]
As if to make sure, he gave his mouth a swirl. The taste left over from spitting out gravel was still fresh in his memory.
Last time, too, he remembered waking up with pebbles in his mouth. In other words, the point in time must be,
[Subaru: Just after First Trial, then……? So I came back here…… no, more importantly……]
If this was really right after returning from the first Trial where he had made peace with his past, then Subaru wouldn’t be the only one who had collapsed here,
Right away, in the darkness, he found the silver-haired girl collapsed beside him.
Approaching her, and seeing the same agonized expression as last time, just as he was about to extend his finger to touch her sleeping cheeks, Subaru hesitated.
Having already accompanied and watched over Emilia several times as she took the Trials, Subaru knew. That if she was touched in her sleeping state, regardless of what was happening in the Trial, it would be interrupted and she would be returned here.
As such, it’s even possible that she could be woken up right when she was about to pass the Trial. Therefore, he had to be very careful about touching her while inside the Tomb. But,
[Subaru: I already know this attempt doesn’t end well……]
Shaking his head, Subaru crushed his hesitation, and burned her sleeping face into his eyes as he took her body gently into his arms. Her pained expression quickly receded, and she immediately began to wake――
[Emilia: su… baru……?]
[Subaru: Yeah, that’s right. It’s me, Emilia-tan. Are you alright?]
Opening her eyes, Emilia called his name as if still half asleep. Subaru answered her with a reassuring smile, and waited for her to regain her bearings.
Just like this, he waited. For her to remember where she was, to take in the results of the Trial, and to begin crying like a child.
Even knowing full well that she will be breaking down in tears, there was nothing he could do, for such was his powerlessness.
Whereas, in spite of it all, the girl would will herself to stand up, for such was her noble purity.
All he could do was to gently cradle her to keep her from shattering, and, until she calmed, he would hold her firmly in his arms, and will not let go.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
It was after carrying the crying Emilia to Lewes’ house, and making sure that Ram had put her to bed, that Subaru settled down and began to put everything, and his Return By Death, in order.
Ram, Otto, and the others inside all wanted to inquire about what had happened, but Subaru cut them off, saying [First, let’s wait until Emilia wakes up], and so now he was alone.
Having withdrawn himself from the rest who still wanted to talk, he gazed up at the night sky outside of Lewes’ house, allowing the wind to wash over him, while within Subaru’s heart, complex calculations were taking place.
[Subaru: Still..….happened again, huh…]
Touching the left side of his waist, he felt for the wound that should have been there.
A deep wound had been gouged out by a blade, where his intestines had spilled out. An opportunity to see one’s own organs isn’t something that happens to most people, he thought, and in that regard, he had probably surpassed most people in experience points.
[Subaru: Whether or not I’m happy about it is a different story. I don’t have some kind of deviant fetish where I’d get excited at the idea of seeing my own organs..….although someone I know might]
Coming to this point, the words flashed across Subaru’s mind.
[――Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t we promise?]
He guessed it was that glamorous woman’s voice. The blood-drenched, immorally glamorous voice, the voice of an abnormal person reaching ecstasy at the sight of life draining away.
Subaru abhorred that voice, that promise, and that perversion down to his very bones.
On top of that, it was not the first time he had his belly torn open this way.
[Subaru: So here’s where the “Bowel Hunter” makes her re-entry……give me a break……]
Putting his hand on his forehead, Subaru turned up to the sky and sighed.
In the back of his eyes, he saw that beautiful woman with long jet-black hair which was the same color as his own. That murderer, wielding wicked blades, who had already ended Subaru’s life twice before. The menace who had driven Subaru into a corner in the First Loop, whom he had only driven away with Reinhardt’s aid―― Elsa Granhiert.
[Subaru: I couldn’t actually see her, but that was definitely Elsa. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe there could be anyone else like that. Let’s just stick with it being Elsa]
It felt like it had already been two months since their encounter, but in real time, it had only been less than a month. The wounds she had sustained back then were not light, but the aftereffects didn’t seem to be enough to stop her from killing Subaru.
Was it because he was too easy, or perhaps she had completely healed?
[Subaru: It’ll be safer to assume that she’s healed. Come to think of it, the healing magic in this world seems to be able to heal pretty much anything besides death itself. Can’t say how many times I would’ve died if…… Well, I actually did die, but]
Being almost dead and then coming out alive, and being almost dead and then actually dying had both happened to him so many times that, from his standpoint, it was a bit hard to grasp exactly where he stands on this.
But either way, Subaru had concluded that it was Elsa who had attacked the Mansion. With that settled, the next question would be――
[Subaru: Why was Elsa in the Mansion, and what happened to Frederica and Petra?]
When Subaru arrived at the Mansion, there were still some signs of regular life left behind, such as the lamps in Petra’s bedroom, and the lighting in the entrance hall. Not counting the office that led to the escape tunnel, the fact that the lights were on in the other two places meant that,
[Subaru: At least we know that nothing happened before that night…… right?]
He considered whether he had come to that conclusion too hastily.
There was also the possibility that those lights were simply left on all day and that Subaru was mistaken in his conclusion that nothing had occurred until that night. However, the key to rejecting that possibility lay in the amount of time the lamps could stay on.
[Subaru: Unlike Lagmite ore, the crystal lamps need to be charged up by absorbing mana from the atmosphere during the day. I know from personal experience that if you just leave them on, they won’t last half the day.]
One night, while in the middle of learning the alphabets in the Mansion, the crystal lamp he had forgotten to turn off during the day suddenly went out. Subaru thought there was some paranormal phenomenon at works and made a huge fuss, and Ram would have blown him away if Rem hadn’t gently caught him, and all the while, Emilia made herself small in a corner and started trembling. Subaru still couldn’t help but smile thinking of that memory. But now was not the time to be nostalgic. So, just picking out the important part,
[Subaru: If the lights had been on during the day, it would be very odd for them to still be on at night. Thus, it should be alright to eliminate the possibility that the house was empty before that day. That means my time limit is…..the sixth night. This is the night of the second day, so there are four days left. No, three and a half days]
In terms of time, Subaru had about 84 hours remaining.
Within that limited time, the task imposed upon him this time was:
[Subaru: Defend the Mansion from the Bowel Hunter, or at least keep the people there safe]
There was no way to be sure whether or not the girls had been able to escape before that serpent-and-spider-esque killer arrived. He didn’t know where the escape passage led, but if Frederica had escaped, they would most likely try to meet up with the master of the house, Roswaal, at the Sanctuary.
[Subaru: It could be the case that the escape passage is stupidly long and leads out to the middle of nowhere, and they escaped safely. Or……]
He didn’t want to think about it, but there was also the possibility that they hadn’t been able to escape.
Considering the gap in fighting strength between the two sides, the possibility that Subaru didn’t want to think about was more likely.
He furrowed his brows at the thought. But the fact is, from what Subaru had seen, Elsa’s combat ability was certainly that high. Within his limited experience of this Parallel World, he had already met some very powerful people here. If that murderer were to be judged solely on her fighting ability alone, then……
[Subaru: Stronger than Julius, but weaker than Wilhelm-san…… or thereabouts. And it pretty much goes without saying… not an opponent I can beat even if I try really hard]
Even under the best circumstances, Subaru’s base-stats were too weak. If one were to compare them, it would not be an exaggeration to say that their difference in strength was like comparing a cat and a tiger. The chance of him winning alone was effectively zero.
During their last exchange, in the end, it was only a massive coincidence that saved him.
[Subaru: It would be great if the invincible Reinhart could just happen to pass on by right about now, but…… no matter how much of a contrived, overpowered, handsome main character he is, for him to suddenly show up at a time like this is asking a bit too much]
If this was a story Subaru was reading and the author tried to pull a stunt like that, Subaru would throw the book across the room. But since this was really happening, he would gladly welcome such an absurd development with open arms.
After giving in to the urge to entertain that escapist fantasy for a moment, Subaru chased it away with a single, quiet sigh.
[Subaru: Elsa’s reason for coming to the mansion…… is most likely the same as last time, to disrupt the Royal Selection. After all, she’s been hired by someone to get in Emilia’s way]
In the capital, Emilia’s Insignia was stolen by Felt. While Elsa was the one who hired Felt, the real mastermind was the one who had hired Elsa. By following the clues as to who would steal an Insignia from Emilia that qualified her for the Royal Selection, Subaru had once believed that it must be one of the other factions, but,
[Subaru: After seeing the other candidates……I don’t think I can be so sure]
First, looking at it from the angle of someone dispatching an assassin to steal an Insignia:
Right from the start, Crusch could be taken out as a suspect. Having witnessed her heroic character first-hand, Subaru could guarantee that without a second thought. She was not the kind of person who would do such a thing.
Felt was naturally not a suspect either, so that leaves only Priscilla and Anastasia, but――
[Subaru: Priscilla……would that haughty young lady really have a thing for cloak-and-dagger stuff? I could be mistaken, but she seems to be the kind of person who believes the whole world revolves around her. I don’t think she’d go out of her way to do something like this. Then that just leaves Anastasia……]
The purple haired merchant girl came to mind.
Underneath her gentle appearances, was the sheen of a sharp-nosed hunter, and an awareness of her surroundings that would allow her to turn any situation to her advantage. ――In fact, Subaru had made good use of that characteristic of hers.
If it really was her doing, perhaps she would have been choosing the most logical method to remove the opposition. Happily letting her imagination run wild and hiring a third party with gold to carry out some clandestine operation seemed to be her strong suit too. Only, if there was one factor that refuted that argument, it would be,
[Subaru: I just, don’t think that Julius guy would overlook something like that. No no, it’s not like I’m singling him out or anything. Right, yeah, just a gut feeling, that’s all]
Or, perhaps she had managed to hide it from “The Greatest Knight”. But the question remains, would she really risk creating an irreparable fissure within their otherwise perfect master-servant relationship?
In the end, the theory of Anastasia’s faction’s involvement must also be rejected.
[Subaru: That accounts for all the suspects among the candidates. But even so, there is still more to think about. If we consider how people treat Emilia…]
If the culprit wasn’t another Royal Selection candidate, then it could be someone from a faction that simply wanted to exclude Emilia from the Royal Selection. It would make sense if someone who despised the Half-Elf Emilia had chosen this as the most simplistic method.
But would anyone really go that far? Subaru must be naive to even entertain such a question. The hatred for her Half-Elf lineage was certainly that deep.
[Subaru: But if that’s true, then there’s virtually no chance of figuring out who her employer is. Unless Elsa herself spits it out]
And he didn’t have the power to make her――so he was right back where he started.
In the end, the only possible way to deal with Elsa’s attack would be,
[Subaru: It’s kind of disturbing how weak our faction is. I’m completely useless. Otto doesn’t even count. Emilia and Puck could put up a fight if only they were both around, and Ram’s stamina becomes worrisome if we ever get into a drawn-out fight. Roswaal is injured, but it’s not like he could be counted on anyways. I have no idea how strong Frederica is, but, unless maybe Petra has some kind of secret power and suddenly develops into a CHEAT CHARACTER……that’s not gonna happen. So basically,]
Subaru could think of two viable plans.
The first was to go back to the Mansion, get Frederica, Petra, Rem, and Beatrice and escape to the Sanctuary to avoid Elsa’s attack.
The other option was,
[Garfiel: ――What’re ya wastin’ yer time out here fer?]
Coming out of the house, Garfiel looked down at Subaru, who was sitting on the ground leaning his back against the wall. Since he was so short, it was quite rare to see Garfiel looking down at him. Savoring the new experience, Subaru let out a [No], and shook his head,
[Subaru: I’m just putting my thoughts in order, thinking through some stuff. How’s Emilia?]
[Garfiel: Princess-sama’s still sleepin’ like a log. She’s sleepin’ like “Mororoku nappin’ for a whole day an’ night”]
[Subaru: I don’t know who that is, but sounds like Mororoku sleeps too much.]
Responding to the usual incomprehensible idiom, Subaru stood up and turned to face Garfiel.
Half a head shorter than Subaru, he had a head of short blond hair. Between his sharp eyes, there was a white scar on his forehead. His pointed canine teeth and his ferocious beast-like body gave off an otherworldly aura――and there was a confidence in himself which only the strong possessed.
Of the two plans that had come to mind for dealing with Elsa, the second one was this youth.
If they passed the Trials and released the Sanctuary, Subaru would be able to take him out of this place. Then, if he was as strong as he claimed to be, he would hopefully have enough strength to defeat Elsa. Rather than fleeing as a temporary measure, it would be better to repulse or even subjugate Elsa and remove the threat altogether.
[Subaru: Hey, Garfiel]
Thank you everyone for being so patient!
If you’re wondering, I ended up spending most of Ludum Dare thinking, and ended up making this in the last 9 hours:
After Ludum Dare ended this week, I set out on the road and I’m currently translating while wandering from place to place in a minivan. I’ll try my best to get Part 2/2 done tomorrow or the day after!
Please let me know if you find typos or missing words ❤
Chapter 24 Live Draft:
(While I’m on the road, the Live Draft will only update when I get access to free Wifi :3)