(Thank you Jason, John, Jeffry and Alex, Aaron for helping me with editing and proofreading in the Live Draft! <3)
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/200/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 34 [The World That Was Ending]
He sensed the portents of incoming pain.
It was an unpleasant sensation, but ever since coming to this world, there had been no shortage of life-threatening injuries in his life. That sensation told him: these next few seconds will decide victory or defeat.
While Petra’s shriek echoed down the narrow passage, Subaru reached out his hand towards the two skewer-like things sticking out of the left side of his waist. He knew that the instant he touches them, it will begin. And so, before that, Subaru forced his mind to turn at an incredible rate.
Two darts, not fatal wounds. There were still a few seconds before the pain catches up. Petra was frozen in place. Where did the attack come from? His hand was still touching the door. The high-pitched echo went on. And, in its midst, a murderous voice had snuck into Subaru’s ears.
Before his eyes, he saw a shadow lurking in the unlighted void. Its posture was low, almost crawling, as if poising itself to strike. It was Elsa.
The projectile that skewered him through the waist was thrown from the other end of the passage. That disgustingly accurate control, aimed directly at the bowels as a matter of doctrine. He almost wanted to applaud.
A stupid thought, a frivolous idea. Why was Elsa here now? There was supposed to be a grace period. Why was she hiding in a hidden passage that no one was supposed to know about? And how did she know? All that can wait. Questions can come later. At this moment just focus on survival and force all brain cells to fire――!
No weapons, no means to intercept, horrendously unprepared and unready.
Faced with this split-second situation, there was only one thing Subaru could do――or rather, he had already decided in his heart that he would take that one action the moment he encountered Elsa, regardless of appearances.
Answering Subaru’s call, his damaged Gate rallied his body’s Mana at his chant. Black smoke spouted out from the tip of Subaru’s extended right hand―― covering the passage in darkness.
A pitch-blackness darker than light-given shadows engulfed the narrow space, instantly dividing Subaru and the immediate threat before him. The expelled smoke had no effect of restricting actual movement. Charge forward, and it will give way like brittle mist. But,
[Subaru: WALL OF INCOMPREHENSION, IF YOU THINK YOU CAN SCALE IT I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU TR――Gaaaaaagghhhh!!]
Before he could finish his taunt, the delayed attack of excruciating pain assaulted Subaru. Beginning with his left hip, the searing heat coursed throughout his body, and his scream sounded out as though the roots of his brain and his lower waist were being pierced by red-hot spits. On top of this were the consequences of spellcasting in his damaged state. Drawing more Mana than his body could afford, he felt the strength of his body sucked dry, and, overcome with exhaustion and fatigue, he fell to his knees.
Yet, it was then that something pulled him from the verge of collapse,
A small and soft sensation was gripping onto his lifeless hand. He looked, and saw Petra worrying over him, her long lashes trembling and on the brink of tears.
Within her eyes, was fear of circumstances that were beyond her comprehension, as well as rejection of the existence of the preposterous threat closing in before her. But most of all, they held the deep colors of worry for Subaru’s safety.
The moment he recognized it, the wrenching pain of his mangled nerves and the soul-rending sense of loss were all forgotten in an instant. And before that effect could fade, he squeezed back on Petra’s hand.
[Subaru: Anyways, let’s go up――!]
Since they couldn’t go forward, their only escape was to go back the same way they came. Even Subaru himself wasn’t sure how long Shamac would last. So far, the only improvement was that his body didn’t faint after blowing out all his Mana since his body must have grown accustomed after so many uses.
Regardless, he mustn’t allow the opportunity granted by the cover of the black mist to slip away――
[Subaru: Gukh……. aagahhh!?]
The moment he stepped forward to run, again he was struck by the pain of something sharp gouging into his flesh.
Turning his eyes to the source of the pain, he found four more metal darts nailed into his back from his right shoulder to the base of his neck. Fortunately, the piercing wounds weren’t deep, but the pain of having multiple darts as thick as his pinky fingers burrowed into his flesh was only intensified by the sight.
[Subaru: She can see……!?]
She could see through Shamac’s smoke? For an instant, Subaru thought this, but he immediately realized that could not be so. Then, intuitively, he understood what Elsa must have done from the other side of the fog.
Having judged the black smoke to be a threat and deciding that diving in would be dangerous, Elsa had blindly thrown her darts through the mist without aiming at anything in particular.
The passage was narrow enough to be filled with three Subarus side-by-side. If she had the control to aim at the very center of the passage, there was a high probability of hitting somewhere on his back.
The moment he realized this, Subaru yanked on Petra’s arm and embraced her against his chest. [Hya!] she squeaked, and just as she got out of the way, the same metal darts as the ones sticking to Subaru’s body whizzed past.
If he hadn’t pulled her away, the darts would have lined up precisely with her head.
[Subaru: Fuck my life……!]
Spitting out saliva laced with blood, Subaru shook his head as he sprinted down the passage towards the Mansion, pulling on the lagging Petra’s arm to force her onward.
His vision was flickering in pain. The world was flashing black and red. A thin blue light was glowing from the dim passageway. That, and the alternating red and black blended into one as the world grew indistinct.
Only a single moment of attack and defense had completely depleted Subaru’s energy and stamina.
Even if he returned to the Mansion like this, he would have no immediate means of breaking out of this situation. And, relying only on the hope in front of his eyes, he clenched his jaw and continued to run.
The terror coursing up his neck in that instant was perhaps the sensation of impending death, which was only perceptible due to his countless experiences with “Dying”.
With that terrible fear guiding his neck to turn, his black pupils saw the tracks of death.
“Slicing through the air” would be too simplistic of a description, for the incoming blade was slaying through the air. The curved blade that was the greatest and vilest weapon in Elsa’s arsenal――the Kukri knife, bearing down with its own momentum, was spinning vertically with tremendous speed towards Subaru and Petra’s backs.
A velocity that made reaction impossible. Sheer power that made parrying unthinkable.
Faced with such a thing, the fact that Subaru could make this sudden motion with his arm was nothing short of miraculous.
He reached out his right hand to catch the tip of the knife with his fingers, and indeed managed to pinch it between his index and middle finger――but without reducing even a fraction of the blade’s velocity or power, the middle, ring and pinky fingers on Subaru’s right hand scattered into the air.
The knife went on to cut vertically through Subaru’s arm straight from the wrist to the elbow, splitting it in two. The chopped off outer flap of the arm slammed into the wall, as the spraying mist of blood dyed the passage and Subaru in dots of red. Screaming. Shrieking. Creating a noise that made one wonder if his throat will break, rip and crack.
His vision filled with red, and his molars fractured under the force of his clenching jaws. He lifted his half-sheared arm. It was red. Only red. He saw something white. But it was instantly turned red. He couldn’t think of this thing as belonging to him anymore. It was only an unnecessary object, giving off pain.
Cut it off. Go away. I have no use for an organ that only gives off pain. I don’t want you. Go away, begone, fuck off. Fuck you! Just die! die! die!―― a touch.
There was the touch of a hand holding onto his. Opposite the limb of nothing but pain, there was still a warmth here. The moment he felt it, his scream stopped. His throat was broken. The neurons in his brain, having gone far beyond their capacity for feeling pain, bursted. He forgot the pain. But not that warmth.
Drawing in his arm, he swung out his steps, and shaking his throat that had lost its voice, Subaru ran through the passage painted with blood. Legs. So heavy. Arms. So heavy. Was he pulling them, or were they pulling him? He didn’t even know. Didn’t know. Didn’t know. And didn’t want to know.
End of the passage. Back to the staircase. Run up the spiralling stairs and he will be in the Mansion. What will he do once he’s in the Mansion? Who will, who could, who can help him there, Emilia, Rem――?
[Subaru: i… wi..ll……!]
Not let it end here. It is not over yet. It cannot end yet.
He couldn’t see a way. He didn’t find anything. He tried to reach, but hadn’t grasped a thing. But how could he throw everything away here?
He looked up. It was a long way to the top of the spiralling stairs. His legs were tangled. His tongue was numb. Life was draining through the blood dripping from his arm. Eroding, fading, he drew up the warmth of his left hand. And,
The call of a wild beast. And the sound of a heavy object landing from above. On the steps in front of Subaru’s eyes, he saw a broad back. Shrouded within the smoke and dust, was an expensive black apron-dress. Her long golden hair swaying in the icy wind, she rose up from her crouched landing.
Seeping through the stern face that turned around―― was a familiar emotion of worry,
[Frederica: Don’t talk! That wound is…… too serious]
Just as he recognized her and tried calling her name, Frederica’s face turned pale at the sight of Subaru’s wounds. She looked painfully at Subaru’s half-sheared-off right arm, and then, trailing her eyes over the blood that covered half of his body,
With a gasp so quiet as to disappear, she swallowed her breath. That was probably how shocking Subaru’s dreadful state was. By now, owing to the endogenous anesthetics flooding through his brain, Subaru himself had already lost sensitivity to the pain. Breathing raggedly, there was saliva endlessly dripping down the corner of his mouth. Spitting out the overflowing bloody foam in his mouth, Subaru was trying to tell Frederica something,
From across the darkness, the Kukri knife came slashing once more.
The revolving blade pregnant with death was aimed directly at Frederica’s head. Seeing the shimmer of steel, Subaru raised his voice, and Frederica reacted by drawing something from her waist. With a flash―― the darkness of the passageway was scattered by sparks, and the curved blade was deflected with a high-pitched ring. What had achieved this was,
[Frederica: It seems we have an intruder]
Crossing her arms as she said this―― there were now clawed gauntlets attached to Frederica’s hands. From that self-possessed reaction, it would seem that she was facing a familiar prey.
In a way, that rugged equipment was all too fitting for someone like Frederica. Ripping the air as she readied her arms before her, Frederica looked back at Subaru,
[Frederica: Get to the Mansion. Signal when you’re at the top. Then I’ll disengage]
[Frederica: With your injuries you’ll only get in the way. ――Please take care of Petra]
Though he wanted to stay, Frederica’s final pleading words pushed Subaru from behind. Swallowing the rest of what he was about to say, Subaru pulled Petra’s tiny body close. Compared to dragging her by the arm as he ran, he could be faster if he held her. Petra entered his arm without resistance, and Subaru backed away towards the stairs,
[Subaru: d…on’t die……]
[Frederica: Of course not. ――I’m not halfway through yet]
Dragging his legs, reluctant to leave, Subaru dashed up the stairs with his sights set on the top. Making his way up the spiral, the sounds of blade clashing on blade followed him from below. The narrow space robbed Elsa of her mobility, so in a direct confrontation it would be a match of raw power. In that case, Frederica may even have a chance of winning―― at least, that was the hope he wished to cling to.
Spitting out his crushed molars, Subaru cursed at his useless legs. Faster, defter, every second he spent climbing the stairs brought Frederica a second closer to her fate. Faster faster, to the top, to the top, to the top――
Reaching the top, panting with ragged breaths, his knees dropped onto the carpet. Crawling in that collapsed state, he stuck his head into the passage and shouted down the stairs.
[Subaru: fre, derica! Now――!!]
He could seal the passage to cut Elsa off as soon as Frederica reaches the top of the stairs. Realizing this as he shouted, Subaru turned and tumbled toward the statue-switch that controlled the door. Taking its head in his hand, he waited for Frederica to fly out of the gap. But――
The overwhelming crashing roar of a tremendous impact and collapse lashed onto Subaru’s ears. Falling building materials breaking into each other spewed up a swirling plume of smoke as it sent tremors through the entire Mansion.
What happened… Subaru left the statue’s side and returned to the passage. Then, peering inside―― he saw that the winding, spiraling stairs had collapsed as if having vanished into thin air.
[Subaru: This…… a]
This destruction was not the consequence of shoddy architecture. Breaking off so cleanly without causing the slightest damage to the passage itself, it was nothing like an unanticipated collapse. It was by design that the stairwell collapsed on its own when some mechanism was activated.
Perhaps it was meant for covering one’s tracks after escaping, or, like now, to guard against the passage from being used as an invasion route, though he couldn’t be sure which it was. The only thing that was certain was that,
――At this point, Frederica could no longer come back up.
The possibility of Elsa coming up the stairs had been eliminated, yet it also meant that Frederica had doomed herself. Maybe she could defeat Elsa through pure combat strength and come back around the mountains, but Subaru knew, deep down, that this was impossible.
The moment Subaru thought this, his forgotten wounds twinged with pain as he spat out clots of blood. The darts that burrowed within his neck, shoulder, and waist began to eat at his flesh. He tried to pull them out, but his fingers kept slipping, and the fear of mass bleeding made his fingers tremble unresponsively.
[Subaru: no..w’s not… the time to be doing this…….idiot, I’m……]
There was no time to stop his feet or his thoughts. Whether Frederica’s survival was doomed still depended on Subaru’s next actions.
Enduring the pain and propping himself on his knees, Subaru tried to stand himself up. But suddenly, he remembered Petra who should still be in his arms. He was holding her when he fled into the office, but where had she――
[Subaru: Pe, tra……?]
Turning his head around, Subaru found her on the opposite end of the room―― Petra was near the statue. She was lying on her side as if sleeping. He must have inadvertently dropped her in the chaos.
Perhaps she lost consciousness from exhaustion, and would not respond to Subaru’s calls. Most likely, in a state of extreme fear and fatigue, she had fainted.
As much as he was worried about Frederica’s safety, he must follow her instruction and keep Petra safe. Forcing his trembling knees to stand, Subaru dragged his legs to where Petra had fallen. And, picking up the little girl from the floor,
――He saw the curved blade sticking out from the back of the fallen girl’s head to the base of her neck.
Large volumes of blood had seeped from the wound, and a part of her brain had spilled from the fracture in the back of her head. Her soft, chestnut colored hair had been dyed the deep shade of blood, and her gentle, warm palm will never move again.
He held up his right hand. A miserable clump of flesh missing three of its fingers. When he reached out to stop the curved blade, it had passed right through his arm and struck Petra. Even offering up this much, he hadn’t protected anything.
From his shattered throat, he howled out that bloody wail.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Limping across the Mansion’s carpet, Subaru headed toward the West Wing with the expression of a ghost. Cradled within his arms was Petra’s corpse. He had covered her with a white sheet, so that no one would see the sight of her death.
The look of surprise was still frozen on her lifeless face, which proved the sole consolation that her death was instantaneous. It would have been too cruel if she had to experience the same pain as Subaru on top of losing her life. But he couldn’t save her. There was no consolation to be found anywhere.
Didn’t he come back so that he could save everyone in the Mansion? Didn’t he resolve to do everything in his power to help them?
Once again, he had allowed Petra to be caught in this spiral of death. This was already the third time Subaru had seen Petra die―― all of those times, he could have done something to prevent the way they ended.
But unlike last time, when everything was initiated by the Witch Cult, this time, there was a decisive difference.
If Subaru didn’t want Petra to be caught in this spiral, he could have opposed Frederica’s decision to take Petra as an apprentice.
He should have known the danger of being at his and Emilia’s sides.
[Subaru: if i… if only…… there’s no end to them]
If he were to talk about what he should or could have done, it would go on forever. Subaru knew this. And yet, although he knew, Subaru’s weakness was such that he could not bear but to think about them.
In accordance to those broken thoughts, his steps dragged on heavily. The unstoppable flow of blood left a trail of dark-red spots on the carpet, and every single step sent wrenching pain grinding at his nerves.
One step, and then another, the sound of his flesh and spirit shaving away, pain. Even receiving this punishment was a grace. If Subaru had sinned, then Subaru deserved to be punished.
So that the girl in his arms, the woman who stayed so Subaru could escape, and――
At the end of his path, the girl who went on sleeping ――no calamity must be permitted to touch her.
The West Wing. At last, he had reached the servant’s quarters. Despite choosing the shortest path from the office on the highest floor, it felt like it took a lifetime to drag his wounded body here. The room he was trying to reach was opposite the stairs, at the furthest end of the hallway.
What he would do once he got there was not on his mind even now. His only objective was to get there. His only objective was to touch the girl lying there ――for he had already lost the will to live.
He had lost too much blood, and carried away with that flow of blood, his determination and resolve had already drained from his body. This time he had lost too much. Shrouded in this sense of loss, he didn’t seem to be even capable of raising his head as he walked.
So, at least, let it end by her side.
By the side of the only girl in this world whom Subaru could reveal his weakness to.
Dragging a trail of blood behind him, half leaning on the wall, turning that meager intent into obsession, Subaru’s body arrived in front of his destined room―― in front of Rem’s bedroom.
Setting the cradled Petra down against the wall, he pulled aside the sheets and closed her eyelids. It was the only thing he could do to dress up her appearance in death. Touching her cheek, and lightly tracing his finger on her lip, he lowered his head at her cold empty vessel,
[Subaru: Sorry…… i’m so sorry…… I’m a stupid… useless……h]
There should have been a way, but Subaru’s own stupidity didn’t allow him to see it. The result was Petra being the sacrifice, and his words of apology could no longer reach her.
His falling tears landing on Petra’s knees, Subaru shook his head, and lifted the sheets over Petra’s lifeless face once more. Then, standing up, he turned around.
[Elsa: ――I think it was rather mean to leave me there like that]
On the other end of the hallway, stepping on the same stairs Subaru had just limped down from, was a gorgeous black haired woman. Playing with the ends of her long black braid with the fingers of one hand, she dangled her blood drenched Kukri knife from the other .
A black mantle over a black bodysuit. She was wearing the same combination as when he saw her in the Capital. She was supposed to have been fighting Frederica, but there was not a single trace of battle visible. Whether it was in terms of wounds, or fatigue.
The fact that she appeared here―― and the way she appeared, undeniably proved what must have happened to Frederica.
Adding one more to the list of people his apologies could not reach, all Subaru could do was look up to the ceiling, cursing his own incompetence.
[Elsa: You managed to walk this way with those wounds. I’m very impressed]
[Subaru: is… there a prize for that? your life would do fine……]
[Elsa: Can I take that as a profession of love? That my life is your heart’s desire?]
[Subaru: i’ll trample it to mush… hand it over……]
Wanting to vomit at Elsa’s non-sequitur reply, Subaru glared at the murderer as he stood himself up against the wall. Turning up his gaze, he locked Elsa’s face in his sights. Her eyes were looking up and down Subaru’s torn-up body,
[Elsa: The aroma of blood, the scent of rage, the fragrance of Death…… ahh, you are exquisite in every sense. Your intestines are exactly to my liking too, I’m all too pleased to say]
[Subaru: abnormal bitch…… what’re you going on about……]
Embracing herself, with an expression of ecstasy on her face, Elsa looked at Subaru with a gaze that could not contain its arousal. Even though she was a beautiful woman, those deranged, abnormal eyes injected only disgust and horror into Subaru.
Seeing an emotion of rejection surfacing on Subaru’s face, Elsa retained that debauched glamour on her cheeks,
[Elsa: It’s nice to talk to you, but…… I wouldn’t want to be scolded for losing sight of my objective. That spirit and the Half-Witch girl I met in the Capital, do they happen to be home?]
[Subaru: You should’ve phoned in before coming, would’ve saved you the trouble. We would’ve hired some mercenaries and put on a grand big welcome]
[Elsa: You’re not going to answer. Then, I better ask your bowels]
Opening her red lips, sensuously wetting it with her peach-colored tongue, she lifted up her knife, and smiled in ecstasy as she licked the drops of blood off the side of its blade.
Then, lowering her posture, she made the blade scream as she dashed forward like a spider. Too fast. Can’t imagine intercepting at all. But,
[Subaru: Like hell am I gonna die at your hands……!]
Saying this, Subaru pushed open the door to Rem’s bedroom.
Elsa furrowed her brows at Subaru’s action, unable to understand, and he felt just the slightest satisfaction to see that reaction.
He had already resigned himself to the fact that there was no way out. His wounds were deep, and he could not stop his life from seeping sway. The fate of this loop was like a candle flame in the wind. In that case, at least he will not give Elsa the satisfaction.
He had no wish to die by those blades. If he will fall into Elsa’s hands, he would rather die first. But before that, he will not allow her to be violated.
It would be a euphemism to call it “the bitter choice”, but it would mean nothing more than a one-sided lovers’ suicide.
If the alternative was the way Petra and Frederica fell under Elsa’s blade,
Then, in this world that was ending, he will at least dispatch her with his own hands――
[Subaru: and follow you right after……]
She will go on ahead, and he will follow behind. With this resolve, he turned into Rem’s bedroom――
――Lined with bookshelves, row on row, the Forbidden Library welcomed Subaru as he was preparing for the end.
-=Chapter 34 End=-
Happy 4th of July from Canada! ❤
I’m back!! Thank you everyone for so being patient over the last week! The next whole chapter release won’t take this long :3
And I really need to update the giant thank list… >_< I’ll get it ready for next chapter release!!
Chapter 35 Live Draft: