[Garfiel: The hell y’want?]
[Subaru: You’re the strongest, aren’t you? You’re confident you’ll never lose to anyone, right?]
[Garfiel: Haa? Yer damn right. Don’t matter who it is. I’ll crush‘em, send‘em flyin’, kill‘em dead and come out on top]
Although a bit annoyed by Subaru’s question, Garfiel’s confidence didn’t waver for a bit. Encouraged by that response, Subaru nodded,
[Subaru: Once we get you out of the Sanctuary, there’s something that’ll require that strength of yours really soon. When that time comes, we’re gonna have to rely on you to be the strongest]
[Garifel: What ya talkin’ ‘bout?]
[Subaru: Prove to me what you told me just now, ok? I’ll be counting on you]
Patting the confused-looking Garfiel on the shoulder, Subaru headed back into Lewes’ house. When he opened the door and stepped in, the three people inside――Ram, Otto, and Lewes, all focused their sights onto Subaru. With their gazes washing over him, Subaru turned his steps toward the room where Emilia was sleeping.
[Ram: Barusu, Emilia-sama is still…]
[Subaru: Hmm, I think she’s woken up by now. ――Emilia-tan, I know you probably don’t want to come out, but we need to talk. Everyone’s waiting for you]
After calling through the door, he heard the faint sound of breathing coming from the other side.
Here was a brief hesitation. Then, after a few seconds had passed, the doorknob gently turned, and the door opened, revealing Emilia timidly standing behind it with her head slumped down.
[Emilia: Um…….Sorry I’m always causing you trouble. In the Tomb, and now as well……]
[Subaru: Being troubled by Emilia-tan is no trouble at all. I want to do it, so it’s fine. More importantly, are you feeling heavy or hurt anywhere? If you feel strange anywhere, I’ll gently rub it for you and make it all better]
[Emilia: Mm. When I fell down I think I hit my waist or something so it aches a little bit……]
[Subaru: Understood. I’ll start to carefully…… Ram-san? Ram-san? The pointy end of your cane is jamming into my liver area!?]
While Subaru was busy cracking a joke bordering on sexual harassment, Ram snuck up behind him, pulled out her cane, and jabbed him with it. When he pointed that out to her, she made no reply and only jabbed him harder, until Subaru yelped like a puppy and jumped out of the way.
[Ram: Emilia-sama, how are you feeling? Please forget Barusu’s insolent remarks, and tell Ram everything about your physical condition]
[Subaru: What you’re not even going to give a comment on what you did!? Look, I’m seriously kinda bleeding here. It even went through all these layers of clothes, just how much strength were you putting in?]
Subaru protested while rubbing at the jolting pain left over in his lower back. Ram only sent him a sidelong glance as if she was looking at an insect, and snorted [Hah]. Then, turning back to Emilia,
[Ram: Then you are alright, Emilia-sama? If there are no problems with your health, then……]
[Emilia: A-ahuh, I’m fine. We have to……talk about what happened during the Trial, don’t we?]
Having guessed what Ram was going to say, Emilia nodded and stepped forward into the middle of the room. Garfiel soon came in as well, and so all the usual faces now circled around Emilia.
Then, under the gazes of everyone around her, Emilia stammered out an explanation of the Trial and its outcome, just as she did last time. If there was just one difference…..
[Otto: So then, how come Natsuki-san is alright after going inside?]
Otto raised his hand a little, and asked on behalf of everyone.
Until that question was raised, Subaru hadn’t explained any of the information from his side. Part of it was because he wanted to hear Emilia’s thoughts about the Trial, but also,
[Subaru: I told you, didn’t I? I got the Qualifications, so I can go inside. If you ask me where I got it from, it was probably when I went inside the Tomb yesterday afternoon. And as for what happened when I went inside…… I took the same kind of Trial Emilia-tan did. But it kinda looks like I passed mine]
Subaru’s announcement ignited an uproar throughout the room.
Emilia, who had taken the same Trial and failed, was even more shocked than everyone else. She stared at Subaru in silence, with a baffled look in her violet eyes.
Subaru nodded to her, and,
[Subaru: Just to get this out of the way, the reason I passed the Trial wasn’t because I was better or anything. The Trial was about facing your past. I’ve already made peace with mine beforehand, so it was basically just a BONUS STAGE for me]
[Lewes: I don’t know what a “bo-nas” is, but if Su-bo passed the Trial……hmph, that’s a surprise]
[Ram: However, based on what Emilia-sama said, the Trial doesn’t end with just one stage, correct? Since the word “first” was mentioned, one would expect there to be more]
Ram said this as Lewes seemed to accept it as it is. While nodding at them both, Subaru stole a glance at Emilia. She still kept her silence, and there were waves of complicated emotions carried within her eyes.
Subaru tried to imagine what she might be feeling inside her heart, but he soon shook away this naive notion.
There was the time limit imposed upon him on the one hand, and the difficulty of Emilia’s Trial caused by her Past on the other. Having to balance the two at once, there weren’t many options left to him. Therefore,
[Subaru: I heard something when I passed the Trial…… Apparently, if two challengers go in at the same time, the next Trial won’t start. Then we’ll have to wait for a different day to go in again]
[Ram: ……Hmm, which means?]
[Subaru: If Emilia-tan and I enter the Tomb together, Emilia-tan’s Trial will start while my Trial…… basically, I won’t be able to start the second Trial]
[Otto: W-wa-wait a minute, Natsuki-san]
Just as Subaru finished his sentence, Otto immediately cut himself in. Seeing Subaru pretending not to notice his unsettled gaze, he stuck his hand into his light-greyish hair, and,
[Otto: By the sound of what you just said, Natski-san, you’re planning to challenge the Trials as well? But wasn’t this whole thing supposed to set up an achievement for Emilia-sama so that…..]
[Subaru: Otto, you dumbass]
Subaru tried to stop Otto from blurting it all out, but it was too late. And Otto, realizing that he had just said something he shouldn’t have, quickly covered his own mouth. But everyone else―― including Emilia, had already heard what he was trying to say.
Otto awkwardly held his breath, and Subaru stared at him with eyes of disdain. And Emilia, looking at them both from a distance,
[Emilia: What did you mean, just now?]
[Subaru: Emilia-tan, let’s calm down. That was uh……]
[Emilia: Don’t try to dupe me, tell me properly. ――Please, Subaru]
Emilia’s eyes clung onto Subaru, pleading.
No boy would have had the heart to refuse a beautiful girl’s tearfully-voiced plea, and he would not be Natsuki Subaru if he could refuse such a plea from Emilia. He wished he had the willpower to say no, but Subaru dropped his shoulders and abandoned his hesitation,
[Subaru: If Emilia-tan passes the Trials, the villagers of Arlam will be freed from being hostages, and the residents of the Sanctuary will be released from their bondage to this land. If you could overcome the Trials, you will gain the support of both of these two camps…… that was the real plan behind all this]
[Emilia: ……Is, that so. So you knew, Subaru?]
[Subaru: No no, I didn’t notice anything at all until someone told me]
Seeing Emilia clearly shaken before him, Subaru held up his chest and brazenly lied. In front of Subaru’s shameless lie, Ram and Otto looked at him as if they were chewing on something bitter, but Subaru hinted to them to keep quiet by shooting them both a glance.
Then, turning back to Emilia,
[Subaru: All of it was Roswaal’s plan. Honestly, I’m even suspecting whether his injuries are just a part of the performance]
[Emilia: Even Roswaal wouldn’t go that….. why can’t I finish that sentence. Looking at the
situation now, it does seem like something he would do]
[Subaru: I’d hate to let everything go along with that guy’s intentions…… I would be joking if I told you that was my main motivation, but that’s definitely a part of it. But more than that……]
Emilia looked confused, and lowered her head. Subaru bent down beside her to look up at her face from below, and saw her long eyelashes trembling with surprise.
[Subaru: I want to become your strength. I don’t know what you saw when you faced your past, but if it brings you so much pain, so much heartache, and so many tears…… then I want to offer you my hand]
[Subaru: If the goal is to take the Trials and liberate the Sanctuary, then it’s fine if I do it. If an achievement is needed, then you can have all of mine. My achievements are your achievements. No matter who it is, everyone has a past…… but nothing good comes out of believing that all of them have to be resolved]
Last time, in the World before his death, those were the words Garfiel had said to him.
In front of Subaru, who had wanted Emilia to continue challenging the Trial even knowing the pain that facing her past would cause her, Garfiel had said this about the need to overcome the past.
That new perspective had struck Subaru like a thunder on a clear day.
Emilia widened her eyes in surprise, and bit her lips with an expression like she was sinking into thought.
Subaru understood why she would be conflicted. The truth is, deep down, she must be frightened of facing her past. But because she is so pure and noble, she wouldn’t possibly consider pushing this burden onto someone else. And it was for this reason that she was so conflicted.
There was no way to say for sure that the remaining Trials wouldn’t wound Subaru’s heart just like her Past had wounded hers.
[Subaru: It’s alright if you have to think about it. I understand it’s not something you can decide right away. ――But if it’s alright, I hope you can at least let me have one day tomorrow]
[Emilia: One day, tomorrow……?]
[Subaru: Either way, I can’t be the kind of devilish-instructor who drags an exhausted Emilia-tan into the Tomb like “Go take the Trials!” Since I still have plenty of energy left, I should be the one to go next, even if it’s just to do a practice-run into the second Trial. And if I end up passing the Trial, that’s even better, isn’t it?]
If he could gain a single day, and then gain another day after that, then by passing the Trials as soon as he could, he could liberate the Sanctuary on the day after tomorrow.
He would relieve Emilia’s burden, accomplish his goal, and have enough time left over to save everyone at the Mansion. That would be the most ideal result.
Subaru knew that Emilia would be shaken by his proposal.
It bothered him to be deceiving her at a time when she was most vulnerable, but it’s a technique in negotiation to throw down a large issue first before following it up with the smaller and more vital ones.
Since her mind was still not at ease, after hesitating to accept the first one, she would not be able to bring herself to deny his proposed concessions.
Tomorrow and the day after, Subaru will pass the Trials. There will surely be another opportunity to give Emilia the time to stand back up.
But that time isn’t now. There isn’t enough time, and the uncaring hand of Fate had――
[Garfiel: Y’expectin’ us to just listen quietly while y’move the conversation along any way y’like?]
Just as Subaru’s improvised tactic was about to succeed, a voice stopped him from behind.
The golden-haired obstructor narrowed his fierce emerald-green eyes, and, clacking his sharp canine fangs, took a step forward――
[Garfiel: I say, other than Princess…… Emilia-sama, I ain’t agreein’ t’anyone else takin’ the Trials. At least, I defin’tly defin’tly defin’tly, ain’t gonna let you be th’one to free us]
Those were words he never expected to hear.
Subaru tried to make sense of the words that had been thrown at him, but unable to connect the speaker to the content of what was spoken, Subaru only groaned in confusion.
Watching as Subaru’s eyes wavered, as if slamming down reality in front of someone who could not understand it,
[Garfiel: Y’listenin’? Do I have t’say it again? I ain’t gonna approve of anyone other than Emilia-sama takin’ the Trials. Get that into yer head, think of it as my condition, and not even the Granny’s gonna change that]
Just like this, Garfiel crumpled up the skin of his nose, and spat this out with his displeasure in full display.
-=Chapter 24 End=-
I got back home! I just want to go to sleep T_T
Matthew sent me a draft for the first part of Chapter 25, I’ll start on it as soon as I wake up!
Please let me know if you find typos or missing words! ❤
Chapter 25 Live Draft: