[Subaru: Wait, calm down. Take a deep breath. The conversation’s just taken a bad turn, so…]
[Emilia: Wrong, you’re wrong…… I didn’t, mean to…… I, just…… just]
Once again, Emilia returned to the state she had been in within the Tomb, immediately after the Trial.
Confused, disoriented, beginning to ramble incoherently, her violet eyes that were wet with tears reflected Subaru within them, without seeing him at all.
She reached out her fingers and clenched onto Subaru’s sleeve as if she was going to tear it off,
[Emilia: I, Everyone…… even Mother, I…… but no, you’re wrong. It’s not true. It really isn’t. At the time I…… really…… I]
[Subaru: Emilia, what are y……]
Holding tight onto Subaru, Emilia desperately rambled on. Unable to understand the meaning behind her frantic words, Subaru could only pray that his sincere, meaningless consolation could get through to her.
When, in front of the helpless Subaru, a shadow suddenly moved. It was,
Without stopping to respond to his call, Ram slid herself behind Emilia. Reaching out her hand, she gently covered Emilia’s mouth. As the silver-haired girl’s eyes widened in astonishment, Ram quietly uttered [Forgive me],
And suddenly, Emilia’s body began to powerlessly collapse to the floor.
Immediately reaching out to Emilia who was falling right in front of him, Subaru breathed a sigh of relief as he managed to wrap her within in his arms. Then, looking up at Ram,
[Subaru: What did you do!?]
[Ram: Only a quicker way to calm her down. Did that make Barusu mad?]
[Subaru: I wanted to say it was too forceful…… but I guess it was for the best. Sorry for all the trouble]
[Ram: It’s strange that Barusu would be apologizing on Emilia-sama’s behalf. Since when did you take over the Great Spirit-sama’s position as Emilia-sama’s protector?]
[Subaru: It’s not like I was……]
“Trying to”, was what he was about to say. But Subaru realized that it would have been an unconvincing rebuttal.
Since for one reason or another Puck was refusing to show his face, it was true that Subaru was looking out for Emilia even more than usual. And now, knowing that challenging the Trials was wearing her down, that feeling had only increased.
And for Emilia, now that the Great Spirit who had always protected her was no longer at her side, she was relying on Subaru more than ever before.
In any case,
[Garfiel: If she’s gotta be taken care of, the talk ends here]
Watching Subaru cradling Emilia, who had been forced asleep by Ram, Garfiel snorted and spat this out.
Subaru was about to raise his voice to object, but, feeling Emilia’s small movements in his arms, he unwittingly shut his mouth. And so, having lost his chance, he did nothing more except watch as Garfiel turned his back to leave.
[Garfiel: Today’s Trial’s the exception. From t’morrow onwards, th’ one t’take the Trials’ll be Emilia-sama. I won’t accept ya takin’ em]
Baring his fangs, Garfiel spoke his part and left Lewes’ house. And, the tiny shadow behind him―― Lewes, continued,
[Lewes: Sorry, Su-bo. But I’m of the same opinion. The earlier the Sanctuary is liberated the better, but….. it would be more convenient to stick to Ros-bo’s intentions]
[Subaru: What do you mean, it would be more convenient……]
[Lewes: Even if the Sanctuary is liberated, it doesn’t change the fact that we will continue to be Ros-bo’s subjects, under his protection. So, it would be in our best interest to avoid going against him if possible. ……I hope you do not think badly of me, it was not my intention to be selfish]
Realizing that Lewes’ words must have represented the true thoughts of the residents of the Sanctuary, Subaru lost all room to object. After Garfiel and Lewes of the Sanctuary-camp left the room, the only ones remaining were the odd-bunch members of Roswaal’s Mansion, plus one extra.
[Subaru: So, plus-one-extra Otto, what do you think of this situation?]
[Otto: I got the worst feeling about where this is going and I intend to keep quiet and let this pass, so would you mind not dragging me into this? ……But, if I were to give my honest opinion after listening to that conversation, I think Garfiel is right]
Otto lifted up a finger as he said this, nodding several times while watching Subaru kneel down,
[Otto: It would make more sense, whether it’s for the Margrave’s aims, or for Emilia-sama’s as a Royal Selection candidate. I’m sure if Natsuki-san takes the Trials in her place, it could be made to become Emilia-sama’s achievement, but……. regardless of how other people hear about it in the future, will the people who are currently stuck in the Sanctuary really think of it this way? And will it really win her their support?]
[Subaru: ……I understand that too. No matter which way I think about it, letting Emilia be the one to liberate the Sanctuary will be most beneficial, but……]
[Ram: ……but Emilia-sama is incapable of overcoming the Trials?]
Ram’s words kicked right through Subaru’s indecisive muttering. Yet, in front of her refreshingly blunt attitude, Subaru grew calm.
[Subaru: As far as I can tell, I think it’d be too much to expect quick results. I don’t know what exactly happened in Emilia’s past…… but I’m sure you both understand that we don’t have that kind of time, don’t you?]
[Ram: At the very least, I would like to see this end within three years before the Royal Selection is decided]
[Subaru: That’s being way too patient about this!]
That was probably some kind of joke, and since she said it with a straight face, he could pretty much rule out the possibility that she was being serious. As if understanding Subaru’s meaning, she nodded,
[Ram: There is also the burden of the refugees, and the matter of food supplies. Looking at this in the long term, it’s unrealistic to keep sustaining this many people]
[Subaru: Well, that’s the gist of it. They’re already stressed out as it is after being suddenly forced to evacuate. If they stop receiving enough food on top of that, their discontent will explode. And for the Sanctuary guys, there’ll be no point in keeping the hostages if their own living standards start dropping because of it ――at least, there’ll be no point in keeping all of them]
[Ram: You think Garf will start culling the villagers?]
Ram’s voice became slightly more animated as she asked this.
Subaru raised his brows at her rather unexpected reaction, and even she herself seemed to be surprised about her own attitude. But, stroking her forelocks in order to distract away from it,
[Ram: I would rather not think about it, but with Garf’s personality, it is possible. If it really comes down to it, he won’t hesitate to follow his own priorities]
[Subaru: He’s kinda like you in that. My opinion’s the same. ……So, I’d like to suggest that we free the hostages from the Sanctuary before that happens]
Last time, that proposal was accepted on the secret condition that Subaru would take the Trials. Since that won’t work this time, he could expect it to be far more difficult to negotiate the same terms. But even so, he was sure that he could win some concessions in the end,
[Subaru: In any case, if the Sanctuary guys are going to push Emilia into taking the Trials no matter what, hopefully I can do something to make things easier for both sides]
[Ram: ……I’m surprised. I thought Barusu would be more opposed to it and behave like an unreasonable little child]
Seeing Subaru apparently put away his worries about Emilia taking the Trials, Ram made this brief comment. Subaru nodded, and started off again with [Well],
[Subaru: It’s regrettable and unfortunate…… but it makes the most sense to go along with Roswaal’s plans. Yeah, that’s right. If I can overlook the fact that Emilia will be hurt, then it’s definitely for the best if we do it this way]
[Ram: Even knowing that she’ll be hurt, you’ll let her go on with it? What a demon you are]
[Subaru: To have real demon tell me that, I must really have changed. Except……no, nevermind]
He was about to say something, but Subaru closed his mouth again and shook his head. Seeing that he wasn’t going to continue, Ram furrowed her brows, but didn’t bother commenting on it.
Gently, being careful not to wake her, Subaru lifted up Emilia in his arms.
She was light. People were supposed to be heavier when they are unconscious, but she was still as light as a feather.
Just how much must she be carrying within this small, delicate body, he wondered.
[Subaru: Ram. After I set Emilia down in the bedroom, I want to talk to Roswaal. Is that alright with you?]
[Ram: Roswaal-sama is resting. No one may enter his room for the time b……]
[Subaru: I want to talk to him about the Trial. We won’t get anywhere if we low-ranking guys just keep talking amongst ourselves. I need the mastermind’s opinion on this]
If he used the Trials as bait, then even Roswaal will have to take down the “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door and meet him face to face. Subaru already had experience of this from the previous world.
Ram closed her eyes for a moment to scrutinize Subaru’s words, until, looking as if she was very tired, she spilled out a sigh,
[Ram: I will wait at Roswaal-sama’s side. Barusu, please take Emilia-sama to her bed……without doing anything suspicious]
[Subaru: What are you saying to SERIOUS MODE me over here? I wasn’t even thinking anything until you went and said that, and now that I am acutely aware of the soft DIRECT CONTACT sensation with Emilia-tan, my knees are shaking out of control! How are you going to take responsibility??]
[Ram: Otto, keep an eye on him]
[Otto: Yes ma’am!]
Ignoring Subaru’s jape, Ram left a simple order for Otto and exited the house. Now the only ones left were two guys and one pretty girl. Under such circumstances, Otto kept up his saluting pose and stared at Subaru closely.
[Otto: Go on, please take Emilia-sama to the bed. Unless you need any help?]
[Subaru: Before that, what’s with this obedient attitude you’re taking toward Ram……]
[Otto: Well, see, Ram-san’s a direct subordinate of the Margrave, right? With that in mind, unlike Natsuki-san singlemindedly sticking to Emilia-sama, if I suck up to Ram-san instead, I’ll have a better hope of getting close to the Margrave, won’t I? Heheh]
[Subaru: Your initial impression as a skilled merchant is slowly shifting into a sly minor-villain, you know! Aren’t you going to do something to salvage it? Will I have to treat you like an obstacle from now on and quietly kill you off in the shadows?]
Complaining about Otto’s identity shift, Subaru sighed, and carried Emilia into the bedroom. He lightly smoothed out the messy bedsheet with his palm, and slowly laid her down. When,
After drawing the bedsheets to her shoulders, just as he was about to leave, Subaru noticed Emilia’s fingers clutching to the hem of his shirt. Sensing the reliance conveyed through the touch of her fingertips, taking in her adorableness, Subaru gently picked her fingers away. Then, wrapping them up within his hands,
[Subaru: Wait for me, Emilia]
[Subaru: Somehow, I’ll find a way. So that you will no longer have to cry, or be hurt anymore. I promise]
Saying this oath, Subaru released Emilia’s hand.
Standing up, and turning around, he headed for the house’s exit. ――And to Roswaal.
Because there were far too many things he must hear from the devil himself.
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I caught a bit of a cold yesterday so I’m a little woozy while going through this, please let me know if you find any typos and I’ll fix them right away!
Chapter 25 Live Draft: