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[Roswaal: ――I see, I think I mo~re or less understand the situa~tion now]
Touching a hand to his jaw, after quietly listening to Subaru’s long speech, Roswaal nodded his head.
The location was in a room of the private residence where Roswaal was resting, and the only two people inside were Subaru and Roswaal. Lying on the bed, Roswaal lifted his upper body to get a better look at Subaru. And Subaru, shooting him a stern gaze in return,
[Subaru: That why, if we incorporate the Sanctuary side’s interests as much as possible, I think this would be the best starting point to launch the negotiations]
[Roswaal: A~~hah, it is true, that from the moment Emilia-sama entered within the Barriers of the Sanctuary, Garfiel and the others’ plans might as well have alre~ady been realized. Emilia-sama herself cannot le~~ave the Sanctuary until she overcomes the Trials. So if the hostages they have taken for insurance simply become useless baggage draining their food supply, then there is reason to let them go…… that is the idea?]
[Subaru: I think it’s a sensible argument. Of course, we won’t be throwing away or putting off the Sanctuary’s problems. This is just to take the unnecessary components out of the equation]
[Roswaal: Sounds almost too go~od to be true. Deep down, you have such doubts too, no? If the liberation of the Sanctuary ever becomes far beyond reach, or, if Emilia-sama falters, and her heart could no longer withstand the Trials, then the hostages can be used as a resource to coerce Emilia-sama. Perhaps that is why you thought you’d eliminate that possibility beforehand…… or something along those lines?]
With one eye closed, Roswaal looked at Subaru through his single yellow pupil. Subaru crossed his arms as he took in the contents of those words, and then, nodding,
[Subaru: Sorry, but, I didn’t really think that far. Or actually, the fact that you managed to immediately come up with that terrifying idea kinda makes me want to recoil a bit]
[Roswaal: A~~ah it di~~d? Was I thinking too much into it? Sorry. Bu~~t still, that is another way to thi~nk about it, no?]
Roswaal smiled as if to cover up the fact that he had surprised even himself with his pessimism. Seeing that smile, Subaru only looked at him wryly in return, and wondered whether Garfiel was really capable of going that far.
No matter how stubborn or inflexible he was, and even if there were times when words can’t get through to him, he wasn’t the kind of person who would stain his hands with something truly irrational or immoral.
Subaru had only known him for a few days, but that was his assessment of Garfiel.
In any case,
[Roswaal: So? What would you ha~ve me do, Subaru-kun?]
[Subaru: If possible, instead of me, I want you to be the one to propose these terms. This time, it looks like…… things won’t end well if I do it]
[Roswaal: And wh~~y is that?]
[Subaru: I have a feeling that bastard Garfiel’s got a thing against me. It’s not that I’ve given up on convincing him, but it’s going to get rough if I go talk to him today or tomorrow]
Subaru could still remember the sharpness of the gaze Garfiel had given him when they parted.
Filled with hostility and disdain, it was as if those eyes were looking at someone who killed his parents―― though Subaru had no clue why he would look at him this way. Had he done something that Garfiel deemed impermissible, or had he mistakenly said something that trampled on his beliefs? Either way,
[Subaru: Now that he’s gotten emotional, he’ll probably reject my ideas no matter what it is. And on top of that, if Garfiel objects, it seems Lewes-san will passively go along with him as well. I can already see that happening, so I hope we can avoid that possibility]
[Roswaal: So that’s where I come in, is tha~t correct? Well, alright. I will speak to granny-Lewes-sama and Garfiel. Although, it seems Garfiel dislikes me as well, so even I’m not sure if I could convi~nce him]
Upon receiving Subaru’s proposal, Roswaal lightheartedly accepted the task.
Hearing that encouraging reply, Subaru breathed a sigh of relief. Anyways, one of his worries had been resolved for now. Then, the remaining problem would be…
[Roswaal: Well~ then. Is that all the business you ha~ve with me?]
[Subaru: No, not yet. ――I haven’t brought up the most vital issue yet]
The most important conversation that was the reason he came here hadn’t even begun.
Roswaal tilted his head, and, closing a single eye, he brushed his long, flowing hair behind his back. Subaru wasn’t sure if it had become a habit, but he would inadvertently straighten his back whenever he was stared at by that yellow eye.
[Subaru: The Trial inside the Tomb showed Emilia her Past. Do you have any idea what that Past might be, that was so painful for her to look back on?]
Subaru asked this question about the past that Emilia was desperately trying to hide.
And, receiving this question, Roswaal closed his yellow eye, and slightly inclined his head as though sinking into thought. Just like this, the room fell into silence, and the only sound Subaru could hear in that muted world was the sound of his own anxiety as he waited. Then,
[Roswaal: Don’t you think that asking me, instead of asking Emilia-sama directly, is a rather co~~wardly way to do it?]
[Subaru: You can call me an underhanded coward a much as you like. And I would certainly rather hear everything from Emilia herself if I could. But…]
The secret that she was trying to hide even with all the tears and all the pain, how could Subaru bring himself to ask her?
But even if he could understand why she wanted keep it secret, just as he himself wanted to hide his pain about his parents, he mustn’t hesitate.
[Subaru: It’s because I want to know about her, and because I have to know. And if there is anything I can use, I will grasp at any straws I can]
[Roswaal: I’ve had people call me all sorts of things, but to be treated like stra~~w certainly is a new experience for me…… Alri~~ght, then]
After letting out a small laugh, Roswaal’s expression disappeared.
He exhaled a short breath, and then stopped breathing altogether as he took in Subaru through both of his mismatched pupils. Placing him under the gazes of those different-colored eyes, Roswaal touched his raised hand to his forehead, and,
[Roswaal: Emilia-sama is a Half-Elf. A~nd due to the Witch of Envy, the Half-Elves are looked upon with discrimination. Thi~s much, even yo~u must already know, isn’t tha~t right?]
[Subaru: ……Yeah. I can tell how unfairly Emilia must have been treated from the way she acted in the Capital. And when I met those assholes as well]
The images of those abominable Witch Cultists came to mind. Watching Subaru trying to shake that out of his head, Roswaal continued with [Howe~~ver],
[Roswaal: While it’s true that Half-Elves are the targets of particularly severe pe~~rsecution…… it does not end there…… By the way, Subaru-kun, did you ever see an Elf while you were in the Ca~pital?]
[Subaru: Elf? Not just Half-Elf? ……No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one]
Holding his chin, Subaru mobilized his memory to look through the different worlds he had seen. But never once, within all those worlds, had an Elf―― or the fair, long-eared features of the popular impression of that race ever crossed into his memories.
Hearing Subaru’s reply, Roswaal simply remarked [Right],
[Roswaal: The Half-Elves aren’t the only ones being harshly persecuted throughout all pa~rts of the world. The Elves, for being, in part, the sires of Half-Elves, are also at the end of the spear]
[Subaru: ……! But, that’s way too indiscriminate no matter how you look at it. If you follow that logic, then……]
[Roswaal: Humans would also have to be eradicated? Unfo~~rtunately, in this world, Humans are fa~r more numerous than the Demihumans, and their nations are far more powerful. It was only owing to the sheer magnitude of the ever expanding rift between the Humans and the Demihumans, that the “Demihuman War” had dra~gged on for so long. But that has little to do with the topic at hand]
[Subaru: So then, what does the history of persecution against Elves have to do with this?]
The Demihuman War was a phrase he had never heard before. Although he was intrigued, Subaru decided to get back to the original topic before they ran off on a tangent. Roswaal drew in his chin and with [In o~ther wo~rds], he shook his head and continued,
[Roswaal: Naturally, it would be difficult for Half-Elves to show their faces in a place like the Capital, and the Elves, being their parent race, shared the sa~me difficulty. That would be why you have not seen any Elves insi~de the Capital]
[Subaru: That part….. I get already. But, how is that connected to this?]
Roswaal appeared unconcerned about Subaru’s request for an explanation. Leaning his back against a pillow, and, feeling its softness pushing against his back, he slightly lifted his head, looking up,
[Roswaal: As an extension of the prejudice against Half-Elves, the Elves are also met with repression where~ver they go. In that case, just whe~re should the Elves live?]
[Subaru: If they’re Elves…… I get the feeling they’d live in a camp inside a forest or something. Keep to some part of the forest that’s inaccessible to people, and quietly hunt and stuff]
[Roswaal: I don’t know where you got all that information, but it is roughly along those li~~nes. The Elves were chased away from the towns, and so they could only live secretly in the depths of the fo~rests. ――The Great Forest of Elior, was once one of these homes to the Elves]
All of a sudden, Subaru noticed a change in Roswaal’s voice, and couldn’t keep himself from shuddering.
It felt as though the temperature of the room had suddenly dropped, but, naturally, it was only an illusion. And the real reason must have been Roswaal in front of him, and the indescribable power carried within his words.
As for the name of that place, Subaru had a feeling that he had heard it before.
――The Great Forest of Elior. That name had come up several times over the course of negotiations in Crusch’s mansion. They had mentioned that it is a territory within Roswaal’s domains rich in magical minerals. And that,
[Subaru: It’s now frozen in ice, and no one could go near it……]
[Roswaal: The beginning of the freezing of the Great Forest of Elior, and its subsequent spread, is recorded as an event that happened over ninety years ago. All was frozen, and all living things were sealed in ice, in a world of absolute zero. ――And she lived in that world, all alone]
As if confirming Subaru’s fears, the usual strange intonations disappeared from Roswaal’s voice.
Ninety years. An exceeding long time. And who was that person? From the flow of the conversation up to now, only one answer appeared in his mind.
And, seeing Subaru at loss for words, Roswaal plainly told him.
[Roswaal: ――In the depths of the Great Elior Forest, the village and the villagers of the Elven tribe that resided there remain frozen in ice even to this day, stopped in time]
[Roswaal: All except one, all except the Half-Elf girl who committed this mistake……]
-=Chapter 25 End=-
I have a day off today! I’ll get the greater chunk of Part 1 for next chapter done tonight and post it tomorrow before work.
Chapter 26 Live Draft: